Shapes

We all want to get the most out of our lives. Some want to be remembered and some just want to be the most productive as possible to give God thanks for his compassion. When thinking about productivity we often evaluate what is most important and prioritize accordingly. There is a great analogy of filling up a jar with sand, pebbles, and rocks. If we put the smaller things in the jar first the bigger things won’t fit.

rock-pebbles-sandBut if we prioritize and put the bigger (more important) things in first then the smaller things will fit after. Sometimes not all of the sand is going to fit in the jar, but at least we’ll have the more important things inside.

The way we choose to prioritize our jars (live our lives), is just that, it is a choice. These choices mixed with our personalities, acquired skills, and God-given talents make up our shape. We each have our own shape that is unique for each individual life or path to which God calls us.

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Many of you know that one man may have ONE shape and one woman may have AN OTHER shape, and when they are married before God and become one flesh, they also become ONE shape.

IMG_0354We know a few things about our shape as one that we will strive to follow with our whole hearts as these principals come directly from Scripture.

  1. God is first: Worshiping and serving God is always our number one priority. Our wedding rings even say, “God First” and “Dios Primero” (same thing in Spanish). God is #1 and we are each other’s #2. It’s fun to say that to each other. 🙂IMG_1001 2

  2. Our family unit is second: We believe that we are responsible for maintaining a spiritually healthy family unit and for raising our children to walk in righteousness (we’re hoping to have at least two or three years of before starting that journey though). Nevertheless, our family unit, comprised of Dani and myself at the moment, must come before ministry. I have heard so many sad stories about ministers and missionaries who devote so much of themselves to their ministries that they loose their families. It seems to be much wiser to invest in the lives of our wives and children (even if we haven’t had them yet) than to leave them uncared for. In fact, we believe that all parents are commanded to do so in The Bible, and that the husband is responsible for leading his family in spiritual growth and worship of the Lord. We all have, and I certainly will, fail along the way, but these are the plans and the priorities for our life. 🙂

  3. Ministry is third: It’s not that we don’t care about the rest of our family and friends, but ministry is the next priority after our smaller family unit. As our SHAPE develops we will figure out which ways  we are most productive and which ways we are least productive. This will happen through experience and prayer. And bit by bit some ministries may be given less time so that others may be given more.

This is how we are going to live our life intentionally to be the best worshipers, spouses, and servants that we can be. It’s all for giving God the most thanks and honor that we can. Speaking of ministry. It’s time to tell you what’s new.

Capitan Thompson Church: Relationships are developing into good friendships with some of the members. The minister and his wife won’t be able to attend the wedding unfortunately, but the three youth Dani and I have been getting to know did confirm their attendance, as well as the friendly pastor in the neighboring community of El Bosque. We hope to begin working with a couple of youth from this church when we return from our honeymoon. We’re very excited that the other pastor from El Bosque and his wife will be able to attend along with the youth. The wedding is a great time for us to share a special event with these friends and other ministry contacts to strengthen our relationships so that we can be more united in what we do together.

Evangelism Team: The evangelism team being developed in the community of San Juaquin may draw upon the youth of these two first communities mentioned, in its final stages of development. Although, right now, everything is moving slow as it is time for summer vacation and many Chileans leave to go on vacation for a MONTH at a time. So, we’re not planning on meeting again until march. Furthermore, the pastor who is the catalyst for this team has advocated for a street-preaching approach while I have stated from the beginning that this method appears to be unfruitful to me. My elders, mentors, and other wise counsel agree. However, this pastors son, Ismael, while conversing at my bachelor party, had the idea of inviting people to an event that would share the gospel with them. I LIKE THIS IDEA A LOT, because it, unlike preaching on thee street with a megaphone, gives people the opportunity to choose wether or not they want to listen to your message. The invitees can even say, “of course I’ll be at the event.” even if they have no intention of coming, and they will not be forced to listen to something they care nothing for hearing. The other great thing about this idea is that it is Chilean, not Gringo. Write now we seem to be at a standstill with deciding on an evangelism model, So please pray that God will help us to love each other through the difficult time and for our relationships to grow through the rocky places so that we can emerge stronger than before and make a difference in the lives of the world that He loves.

Mike and the Institute Option: Mike Boyce is a more experienced missionary in Santiago and he and his family are an important part of Dani and I’s life. We met during my initial visit to Chile and talked about the possibility of me teaching at the bible institute he has been developing. As our friendship has grown and I have settled into missionary life and Chilean culture, we have slowly been considering what it might look like for me to teach the things that I’ve been learning at Johnson University here in Santiago. We recently met and talked about which concentration would be best for me, from the Master of Arts in New Testament program and why. But more on that later. We also talked about what classes might be wise for me to take next, so that by the time I do take those classes he might be ready to offer them at the institute. We’re thinking my Spanish might be good enough to teach more profound concepts at this time as well. I mentioned that it might be good for Mike to teach the class the first time around so that I can sit in and watch and learn how to teach the subject, how to communicate the ideas in Spanish, and that we might converse the content and way of teaching objectively in an “iron sharpens iron” fashion. This is all a rough sketch of what might happen, in the future, but it is good to be proactive and thinking ahead to be the best we can be. Mike and I also talk about all sorts of things and I think we are both thankful for our friendship. Here is a pic of Mike and I at the Mens conference in Concepción a couple of months ago, having some fruitful conversation before the first worship service in the morning.

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The sun was a little bright. lol. 🙂

Church Planting???: I’ve always had a passion for being a minister of a church, but I thought those dreams were kind of squashed when moving to Chile, because it seemed that a Gringo wouldn’t be a good pastor of a church, because Chileans wouldn’t understand him or he wouldn’t do a good job of understanding the Chilean context. I have been troubled because a passion for this kind of ministry has been growing in my heart again, but I thought it was impossible because I am not Chilean. While talking about this with Mike the other day, it seems that this dream is not out of reach, which should have been obvious to me as nothing is impossible for God. Mike and I were discussing the concentration I chose from the program options with Johnson which is the preaching concentration, which will obviously be beneficial for a church-planting ministry, but will be an asset for whatever path Daniela and I take.  PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD WOULD CONTINUE TO GUIDE US IN DECIDING WHICH TYPES OF MINISTRIES TO PURSUE AS WE DEVELOP OUR SHAPE TOGETHER. 

Visits: There are some important visits coming up. Firstly, Ed Aller, an elder of Cornerstone Christian Church, may be visiting in February or March to get a better idea of what is happening with Cornerstone Chile Mission so that the mission and my home church can be more united. This is a great opportunity as Ed is originally from Peru and so speaks fluent Spanish, which means he will be able to understand everything happening, probably even better than myself. lol. Second, I’ve been talking with a pastor from Osorno to schedule a trip to visit one of the most southern regions of Chile, which will be very beneficial for understanding the Iglesia de Cristo on a national level. And my mom just arrived Monday evening for the wedding. The legal ceremony is on Friday and the real deal before God is on Saturday January 20th.

There is a lot going on, and I feel so good having communicated it all to you. Hope you all have an amazing week and that you all stay warm up there. 😦

Much love, in Christ, to you all;

Todd

 

 

Evaluation

Evangelism Team: The “evangelism team” has been meeting over the past few months, exploring the qualities of being a Christian leader, requirements of salvation, the origins and doctrine that make up other major world religions, and the ideas and doctrine behind the Restoration Movement. Last weekend we spent time at Luis Vejar’s (local pastor and producer of the evangelism outreach) house on the coast where we participated in classes taught by Luis and Mike Boyce and worked on building our relationships together. Following are some is a picture of the group and of Luis and I.

We may have been at the beach, but let me tell you… It was freezing! 🙂 Anyhow, things are moving along, but we still have some work to do for defining our mission, vision, and creating a practical plan for achieving our goals. I do appreciate the passion this group has for helping churches evangelize. Even yesterday the need for this project was communicated to me in a deeper way that I had not understood before. What’s cool is this is a Chilean vision for a Chilean project to meet Chilean needs that only Chilean people would understand, AND MY FRIENDS STILL TRUST ME TO HELP WITH IT EVEN THOUGH I’M A FOREIGNER.

One-on-One Ministry: I’ve been meeting with a friend for over a year, teaching English. We talk about God sometimes, but I’m going to see if he is interested in reading The Gospel of Luke together. He belongs to the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and although they have their own version of The Bible that is permitted for them to use, I’m hoping that we can read Luke together, he with his translation, and me with mine, and practice English in that way, and also grow in our faith together.

Fernandez Family: Unfortunately when visiting with the Fernandez family I typically hurt my back stretching Juans arms or moving him… and unfortunately he seems to often get himself in situations that he can’t get out of on his own, which in turn requires my help, because I won’t opt to leave him where he lay. Thankfully, last week I was able to coordinate a visit with the Fernandez’s while Ross and Raquel (from the ministry sight of the Swanson’s) were visiting, which allowed me to help with other things around the house as Ross is more able to take care of Juan at the moment. I’m hoping to be able to visit with Ross, Raquel, and the Fernandez family again tomorrow, but only if Ross will be there to take physical care of Juan while I help with other things.

Johnson University: This has been a great semester learning about different biblical analyses (or criticisms) as a stepping stone for developing my own exegetical method. The knowledge gained this semester has me reading The Bible differently now and asking questions about the text that I had not in the past. It’s very exciting! Because I fell behind in the course work earlier in the semester, I opted to take an “emergency grade” which means that I’ll have until the US Spring to complete the work for this semester. I am not planning on taking anymore classes until I get caught back up. Which probably means enrolling for more classes next US Fall.

Capitán Thompson Youth: Two siblings attend regularly now and one other semi-regularly. Trust continues to build and Daniela and I are excited that they are showing more interest in participating, even if the change isn’t drastic. They’re bringing their digital Bibles to the meetings and participating in the readings as well. We are going through The Gospel of Luke and every week seems to get a little better. We’re also beginning to work with a newly formed church in the neighboring community of La Cisterna, called El Bosque, within Santiago. This church has two or three younger youth that may want to participate. Were hoping to all have dinner together next week to get to know each other more. Below is a shot of my fiancé’s amazing ping-pong skills while playing with the youth at Capitán Thompson.

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I still attend the Thursday prayer meetings at Capitán Thompson and the Sunday night services, primarily to communicate our desire to work with the pastor in community and not to just use their church facilities to minister the gospel.

Visiting Chile’s Dixi Land: Osorno is a region in the South of Chile that I have not known yet. A significant percentage of the Iglesias de Cristo of Chile are located in this city and its neighboring towns. It is important for me to visit there to understand the Iglesias de Cristo better as a whole in its Chilean context. I plan on spending a few days there in April to get to know the churches and their needs better. It may be wise to swing by San Carlos on the way to promote an idea for a website and directory that would help unite the Iglesias de Cristo on a national level and help to promote sound doctrine within the Restoration Movement here in Chile. This idea of organizing a website and a national directory may have to wait until a more opportune time depending on how other ministries are developing.

This update is entitled “Evaluation” because everything must be re-evaluated from time to time to make sure that time is spent most wisely. Please be praying for the above ministries and that God would help Daniela and I see clearly to follow the direction He has for the future.

– Todd/Toni

Transcultural

Looking for the right girl for me was something that I had been doing even before arriving in Chile. I was very cautious as looking for your mate, obviously, deserves care. There didn’t seem to be any “fish in the sea” for me in Florida, and I went to Chile knowing that if God blessed me with a Chilean woman to love, our intimate relationship would break down cultural barriers and bridge cultural gaps. I spent thirty years alone and God used the hard times to make me stronger, but now here I am, finally, where He wants me to be.

The fact that I love my Chilean fiancé more than anyone, after Christ, is helping to build trust between myself and other Chileans, as witnessing proof of someone’s cross-cultural love seems to speak more loudly. Obviously we can still build strong cross-cultural unity and friendships without marrying someone from the other’s culture as my good friends Mike and Tabi Boyce exhibit so well. However, the hypothesis formed from my multiple cross-cultural experiences, is proving to be correct, that it does help. 🙂

Apart from my beautiful Chilean wife-to-be giving me some “street-credit”, I had the opportunity to publicly declare my long-term (life) intentions to a large number of ministers and other brothers from the Iglesia de Cristo at the men’s conference in Concepción this weekend. For the first time I publicly elaborated on my mission and intention to dedicate my entire life to ministry in Chile. Multiple opportunities presented themselves for me to use my education at Johnson University in a way that allowed us to exalt one another within personal conversations, and then to communicate an application of God’s grace for us, during public discussion, after a sermon on “the Lord’s supper” given by a friend from Osorno.

While at the conference I did some interviews for K2H, a new-born radio station out of Santiago that is ran by members of the Iglesia de Cristo. The interviews gave coverage to the conference and I tried to pick someone from each region represented, for the interviews, in order to bring unity to the Iglesia de Cristo. And a trust-building conversation with a pastor late in the conference on Sunday presented an opportunity to exhibit my knowledge of cultural differences and that I do respect and, am growing in my understanding of, the Chilean culture specifically, more than some past missionaries, in that I don’t spend time with people from my own culture. I was able to advocate my trustworthiness as a missionary, where there may have been wounds in the past, because the people I spend the most time with are Chilean. Furthermore, these are not just people that one has surface conversation with. I truly love my in-laws and the rest of Daniela’s family. I was able to empathize with the pastor’s assertions of the cultural insensitivity of past missionaries, and at the same time strongly advocate, with integrity, and without much effort, that I am living out this idea of putting Christ before my own hometown, country, culture, family and other things that try to take my identity before who I am in Christ. Like the rest of us, I am still a long way from perfect, but am thankful that by God’s grace in my life, my actions and lifestyle testify that the gospel comes before the United States, Chile and any other people-group, culture, or government. None of it compares. Finally, after the past year and a half, another important mile-stone was reached.

Although the original plan was to visit the Osorno region of Chile before the wedding, the back injury has prevented this from happening. However, I did make a promise to the pastors of the region that my next trip, would be to the Osorno region to get to know the churches in the area and to better understand the Iglesia de Cristo in it’s national context. This will be a fact-finding trip, that will help me understand what the churches in Osorno need, by observing and more importantly, by listening to the pastors and brothers in Christ of the area. There may not even be anything there for me to help with, but I’ll return with a better understanding of Chilean culture, the Iglesias de Cristo on a national level, and will be able to provide insights of the needs of the region for others who may want to help, wherever they may be from.

Meanwhile, the youth meaning on Capitán Thompson was canceled this week due to the men’s conference. Miguel and I will be meeting after the weekly prayer meeting, for young people, on Thursday, and I hope to spend a considerable amount of time with him in prayer together sharing our thoughts with God to promote a unity in our spirits before Christ. We’ll probably be talking about where the youth ministry is as it stands and bouncing ideas for the future off of one another as well. Please be in prayer that God would help us understand his direction for youth outreach in our community that is best in a Chilean context.

There is much more to say, but I would like to end with a note on the importance of culture to the majority (of the) world. For those of us who were born and raised in the United States, we may be less understanding of other cultures as our culture typically does more of the impacting, as it is more developed in various ways. At least we should be able to agree that the US is less influenced by people outside of it’s boarders. The movies and shows we watch aren’t typically in subtitles from French, We don’t know many songs in Polish, and news about what the president of Japan is doing does not typically air on our local TV stations… But in Chile, and the rest of the majority world, people do see close to the same amount of coverage on news about the president of the United States as they do of their own president. The majority of the movies and shows come from other countries (with the United States leading). Chileans know songs in English even if they don’t understand what the words mean. It may be that United States citizens don’t think so much about culture, because it would be virtually impossible to argue that the US is not a front-running trend-setting country in the global context. This innocent ignorance of the US’s position in global cultural development has produced obstacles to the progress of the Gospel in the past (in Chile, in the US, and everywhere else in the world). This kind of problem is not new to the spreading of the Gospel. I imagine even the early church was faced with the issue.

The point is that, although cultural awareness and sensitivity is growing in a post-modern society, reading about it in a book, or learning about it from a documentary, only scratches the surface of all the information one can understand when actually experiencing it and living it out in daily life. The US is obviously a melting pot, and their are people from all over the world right next to you. So, I invite you to ask your foreign friends and family what they think about the US’s position in world-wide cultural development and how they perceive the cultural impact of the US on the culture of the country where they are from. It seems that people who have less impact on the greater cultural development of the world as a whole, might be more eager to prove that they have something to offer to that global cultural development. That is why it is so important for missionaries to be culturally sensitive. Especially gringo missionaries like myself. 

Please pray that God will continue to use my growing love for this beautiful Chilean woman and, my ever-deepening relationship with her family to bridge cultural gaps and brake down cultural barriers that will help me better understand my other chilean friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.

In Christ;

Todd

Esfuérzense sin Esforzarse.

2 Pedro 3:14-18

Por eso, queridos hermanos, mientras esperan estas cosas, hagan todo lo posible para que Dios los encuentre en paz, sin mancha ni culpa. Tengan en cuenta que la paciencia con que nuestro Señor nos trata es para nuestra salvación. Acerca de esto también les ha escrito a ustedes nuestro querido hermano Pablo, según la sabiduría que Dios le ha dado. En cada una de sus cartas él les ha hablado de esto, aunque hay en ellas puntos difíciles de entender que los ignorantes y los débiles en la fe tuercen, como tuercen las demás Escrituras, para su propia condenación. Por eso, queridos hermanos, ya que ustedes saben de antemano estas cosas, cuídense, para que no sean arrastrados por los engaños de los malvados ni caigan de su firme posición. Pero conozcan mejor a nuestro Señor y Salvador Jesucristo y crezcan en su amor. ¡Gloria a él ahora y para siempre! Amén.

El llamado de Pedro, para “hacer todo lo posible” (v. 14), es más fácil que distorsionar la realidad para estar cómodos viviendo en el pecado.

¿Por qué queremos cambiar las Escrituras y crear enseñanzas falsas?

Para distorsionar la realidad para que la esclavitud al pecado sea cómoda.

¿Quiénes tuercen la verdad?

Vv. 16 y 17 nos informa que esos son los ignorantes, inestables, y libertinos.

Todos nosotros queremos la paz de que refiere v. 14 y el consuelo que esta paz nos trae.

Y también ¿piensan ustedes que Jesús quiere que nosotros estamos en paz?

Obvio que sí. Jesús siempre quiere lo mejor para nosotros.

Entonces, ¿de qué forma nos instruye Jesús para encontrar esta paz?

Por esforzarnos con “todo lo posible para que Dios [nos] encuentra … sin mancha ni culpa”.

Otras maneras que La Biblia habla del tema de “hacer todo lo posible” en buscar la perfección, que nos ofrece Cristo, son encontrados en:

  • Deuteronomio 6:5 “Y amarás a Jehová tu Dios de todo tu corazón, y de toda tu alma, y con todas tus fuerzas.”

  • Mateo 12:30 “El que no es conmigo, contra mí es; y el que conmigo no recoge, desparrama.”

  • Apocolipsis 3:16 “Pero por cuanto eres tibio, y no frío ni caliente, te vomitaré de mi boca.”

En resumen, esa “diligencia” es la actitud de arrepentimiento.

Por lo tanto, Las Escrituras nos dirigen para tener una actitud de arrepentimiento de corazón entero, mientras el opuesto pecaminoso es distorsionar nuestras percepciones de la realidad para que la esclavitud al pecado parece cómoda.

Puede ser que esto concepto parece difícil y se de miedo. Tal vez pensemos, “¿Cómo nosotros debemos superar estos vicios que han tenido tanta autoridad en nuestras vidas por tanto tiempo?”


Por eso, vamos a prender con una mejor definición del “arrepentimiento”.

Hay que notar que hay dos partes del “arrepentimiento”, confesión y el esforzarnos con “todo lo posible” del v. 14.

Igualmente, hay dos partes de la confesión también.

Muchos fijan en el obvio de recontar los pecados pasados y pierden el punto que, tal vez, sea aún más importante de la confesión.

Esto punto que es demasiado pasado por alto es la adición de confesar que, sí, hemos pecado en el pasado, pero aún más admitimos que nuestros corazones son tan egoisticos que aceptamos que vamos a volver a pecar otra y otra vez, Y que la única forma que vamos a pecar menos es por crecer en nuestro entendimiento de la gracia (del amor) por experimentar arrepentimiento por nosotros mismos de nuevo y de nuevo.

Por eso, cuando estamos desanimados en ver la senda de la paz que tela adelante, es importante recordar que la esencia misma de “ser diligentes” o “hacer todo lo posible” en v. 14 no es que camináramos el camino solos, sino que vendríamos humildemente a los pies de Jesús y que le permitimos a Él levantarnos y aún llevarnos por el camino de paz (v. 14).

No hacemos “todo lo posible” para caminar ninguna distancia solos. Hacemos “todo lo posible” para postrarnos donde mismo que estamos, porque El Maestro ya ha venido a dónde estamos y ha estado esperándonos.

A eso refiere Pedro cuando habla de “tener en cuenta que la paciencia con que nuestro Señor nos trata es para nuestra salvación” (v. 15).

Pedro nos amonesta para confiar en la gracia de Dios, para nosotros, como el primer, y último, paso que jamás necesitamos tomar por el “camino de la paz”.


Entonces, ¿como se ve cuando volvemos al pecado?

Sería como si Jesús nos llevara por la senda de la paz interna y nosotros empujándonos violentamente de sus brazos para ver que hay por el otro camino, cual es pecado.

Lo más maduros que somos en la gracia, lo más rápido entendemos que solo porque fuimos a ver que había por la senda del pecado, no significa que somos obligados a doblar por esto camino. Digamos, aún si tomamos pasos por la senda, puede ser que la rapidez de que nos postramos, es un espectro para medir crecimiento en la gracia.

Si, era malo que rebelamos violentamente contra nuestro salvador. Pero, como maduramos en gracia, nos da cuenta, cada vez más rápidamente, cuando doblamos la cabeza y miramos atrás que Él ya está rodillado en una posición para recibirnos en sus brazos de nuevo, y para llevarnos aún más allá por la senda de paz.

Sabemos que Dios no crea la maldad, pero que Él puede utilizar la maldad, como nuestro pecado, aun para nuestro bien. Así, cada vez que arrepentimos de nuevo y experimentamos Su gracia de nuevo, nuestro entendimiento y fe en Su gracia es fortalecido y eso es como “crecemos en la gracia y el conocimiento de nuestro salvador Jesucristo” (v. 18).


Ahora que tenemos la idea de cómo se ve “caminar por el camino de paz interna” pero, ¿como se ve caminar por la senda proverbial del pecado y deformar nuestras percepciones de la realidad para que una vida engañada en el pecado nos parece cómodo?

Primero, notamos que él que miente a Dios es Él que distorsiona verdades escriturales que son descritos como “difíciles de entender” (v. 16). Eso es para crear incertidumbre, lo cual, sucesivamente, crea la confusión. De esto vienen muchas enseñanzas falsas que alistan una fundación inestable para que otros construyan un entendimiento torcido de la realidad encima.

Un ejemplo de cómo las realidades falsas llegan a ser enseñanzas falsas es:

  • Juanito tiene 18 años y él manipula el versículo en el principio del Evangelio de Juan, que habla de cómo Jesús cambió el agua a vino, para justificar su adicción al alcohol y su amor para emborracharse.
  • Eso es una realidad falsa.
  • Unos años después, alguien, tal vez menor de edad, que está explorando la gracia del evangelio, pregunta al mismo Juan (ahora está más viejo el Juan). Pregunta el joven, “Juan, ¿cómo es que dices que sigues a Cristo, pero te emborrachas?”
  • Juan responde, “porque Jesús cambió el agua a vino, por eso se puede emborracharse.”
  • Ahora la realidad falsa ha llegado ser una enseñanza falsa.

En otras palabras, eso es mentir a Dios en nuestros corazones. Después de todo, ¿el opuesto de la verdad es la mentira, ¿No?

Entonces, ¿dónde termina esto camino?

También en v. 16 nos confirma Pedro que la senda de pecado termina en “la condenación”.

Entonces, ¿cómo podemos saber cuándo nosotros o alguno de nuestros queridos está viviendo en el pecado?

¿Recuerdan que el acto de arrepentirse consiste de dos partes? La confesión y esforzarnos “con todo lo posible”.

Una pista para nosotros que vivimos en pecado es que nuestro arrepentimiento no es completo. Digamos, tal vez solo hayamos confesados nuestros pecados pasados, pero no hayamos madurados en la gracia para confesar que nuestros corazones mismos son egoisticos y rebeldes.

O, tal vez hayamos cumplido con las dos primeras partes, pero no nos esforzamos con todo lo posible para que Dios [nos] encuentra en paz, sin mancha ni culpa”.

Recuérdense que esta expresión de hacer “todo lo posible” es blanco y negro. No hay área gris. Somos completamente dedicados o completamente, al contrario.

Por lo tanto, esta devoción no está completa en el corazón de los que no están quitando todos los tropiezos potenciales de sus vidas.

Por ejemplo:

  • Si confesamos adicción al alcohol, pero no botamos nuestro alcohol, nuestro arrepentimiento no es completo.
  • Si confesamos nuestra lucha con el chisme, pero vemos fotonovelas todo el día, probablemente no estamos esforzándonos con “todo lo posible” como Pedro nos está llamando.
  • Si confesamos que tenemos sexo con nuestros novias o novios, pero seguimos viviendo con ellos, nuestro arrepentimiento probablemente no está completo.
  • Si confesamos una adicción a la pornografía, pero guardamos materiales pornográficos en casa y no buscamos a la contabilidad con nuestra actividad en el internet, no estamos esforzándonos con “todo lo posible” que Pedro está llamándonos.

Así, si no atacamos a todos los tropiezos conocidos en nuestras vidas con “todo lo posible” y todavía proclamamos que seguimos al Maestro, estamos mintiendo y somos los mismos de que refiere Pedro, en este pasaje, que son “los ignorantes”, “débiles”, y “malvados” que “tuercen” las escrituras que nos enseñan de la realidad, porque son la palabra verdadera, sin error, de Dios.


Esto nos presente a unos de nosotros con un ultimátum que nos deja mirando por la senda de paz con miedo y aprehensión.

Tal vez entendamos el proceso general del arrepentimiento, pero no podemos pensar claro para tomar el paso primero.

El paso primero siempre es postrarnos a los pies de Cristo en humildad. No solamente confesando nuestros pecados pasados, pero también que ni tenemos esperanza en nosotros mismos para tomar el próximo paso sin Él enseñarnos como, y aun llevándonos.

No le permites al enemigo (el diablo) fijarte los ojos en el camino, sino quédate en el presente y manténganse los ojos en Él que te lleva y recuerda que Él (Jesucristo) es el salvador del mundo.

Así el llamado de Pedro para esforzarnos con “todo lo posible” (v. 14) es más fácil que distorsionar la realidad para estar cómodos viviendo en el pecado, porque no es nuestra esfuerza que ocupamos para caminar por el camino de paz.

Recuérdense el primero y último paso que tenemos que tomar por esto camino de paz es postrarnos dónde mismo que estamos, y allí mismo ya nos encontraremos a los pies del Señor. No porque hemos caminado ninguna distancia, pero porque Jesucristo sacrifico y venció todo para nosotros.

Él camino toda la distancia. ¡ya!


Aplicaciones practicables para esforzarse “con todo lo posible” sin esforzarnos:

  • Biblia
    • Los evangelios nos enseñamos a nosotros quien es el Salvador en quién podemos confiar.
    • Los salmos nos ayudan que no somos los primeros ni los últimos para experimentar sufrimiento y tentaciones en este mundo y nos enseñan como orar a Dios.
  • Formar amistades con otros que también desean crecer en el entendimiento de la gracia de Dios. Típicamente se hacen por participar en una iglesia. En seleccionar una iglesia, hay dos cosas que son esenciales.
    • La iglesia cree que La Biblia es inspirada por Dios, y que no hay error en este libro como fue escrito originalmente.
    • El segundo es que la familia de creedores cree que Jesús es parte de la Trinidad, y que solo podemos ser salvos por Él. Cuál es el contenido de esto mensaje entero.
    • ¿Se puede creer en Dios sin congregarse? Obvio que sí, pero Jesús nota que aun los demonios creen en Dios.
    • La pregunta mejor sería, “¿Puedo esforzarme ‘con todo lo posible’ para seguir a Cristo y aprender de la gracia que dios tiene para mí, y no participar en una familia de iglesia?”
    • La respuesta, de nuevo, es obvio. “No”. Eso tampoco significa que debemos medir nuestra madurez espiritual por cuantas reuniones de iglesia que asistimos por semana. Esto significa simplemente que Dios quiere que buscamos relaciones y actividades que nos desafían madurar en nuestros entendimientos de Su gracia.
  • Últimamente, hable con Dios. La oración no debe ser fijado en las palabras bonitas que adornan la oración, aunque imagino que eso puede ser bonito a Dios también, sino fijado en compartir los profundos de nuestros corazones con Dios. Eso típicamente toma tiempo y reflexión silente entre frases y oraciones.
    • Aun puedes buscar oraciones escritos de otros para ayudarse con cómo hablar con Dios.

Give Your Best Effort Effortlessly.

2 Peter 3:14–18 (NRSV)

14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also, our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

 

Peter’s call to “strive” is easier than distorting reality to make sin comfortable.

Why do we want to change the scriptures and create false teachings?

To distort reality so that living in sin is comfortable.

Who twists the truth?

The ignorant, lawless, and unstable. (vv. 16 and 17)

We all want to be at peace as described in v 14, and to enjoy the comfort peace brings.

Does Jesus want us to be at peace as well?

Of course. Jesus always wants the best for us.

What way does Jesus instruct us to find peace?

By “striving to be found blameless”.

Other Scriptures that refer to this striving, with everything we have, are:

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 (NRSV)  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

  • Matthew 12:30 (NRSV) “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

  • Revelation 3:16 (NRSV) “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

In summary, this is the attitude of repentance.

Therefore, the scripture instructs us that the best way for us to “be at peace” is to have a wholehearted attitude of repentance, and not to do the sinful opposite which is twisting our perception of reality so that slavery to sin seems comfortable.

This may sound hard and be scary. We might be thinking, “How are we supposed to overcome these vices that have had such authority in our lives for so long?


That’s why it seems good to start with a better definition of “repentance”.

Firstly, there are two parts of “repentance”.

Confession and “striving to be found without spot of blemish” (v. 14).

Likewise, there are two parts to “confession”.

A lot of people focus on the obvious part of recounting one’s past sins to God, and miss what may be the more important point of confession.

This aspect is the confession that not only have we sinned in the past, but we also accept that our hearts are so selfish that we will return to sin time and time again, and that the only way that we are going to sin less is by growing in grace through personal experience of repentance again and again.

Therefore, when we are discouraged at the sight of the proverbial “road to peace” that looms ahead, it is important to remember that the very essence of this “striving” is not that we would walk the road alone, or even holding the hand of Jesus, but rather that we would humbly come to His feet and let Him pick us up and carry us down the road.

We are not “striving” (with our whole heart) to walk any distance at all. We are “striving” to prostrate ourselves right where we are. Jesus has already come to meet us and has been waiting.

This is what Peter means when admonishing us to “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation” in v. 15.

Peter is admonishing us to trust in God’s grace for us as the first, and last, step we ever need take down this “road of peace”.


So then, what does it look like when we return to sin?

That would be like Jesus carrying us down the “road of internal peace” and us violently pushing ourselves out of his arms to explore a different road that is sin.

The more mature we are in grace, the more quickly we understand that just because we looked down this road, that doesn’t mean we are obligated to take it. Even if we take steps down the road, the speed at which we humbly prostrate ourselves may be a spectrum to measure growth in grace.

Yes, it was wrong of us to violently rebel against our master, but as we grow in grace, we more quickly realize that when we turn back to Him, we will see that He is already kneeling down in a position to receive us into his arms to carry us even further down the road of peace.

We know that God does not create evil, but that he can use evil, like our sinful rebellion, for good. Thus, every time we repent and experience grace anew, our understanding and faith in His grace is strengthened and that is how we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our savior” (v. 18).


Now that we have an idea of what it looks like to walk down the road to internal peace, let’s see what does it look like to walk down the road of sin, or to twist our perception of reality to make living in sin seem comfortable to us?

First, we note that he who lies to God takes scriptural truths “that are hard to understand” (v. 16) and uses uncertainty to create confusion. Many false teachings come from this confusion that prepare an “unstable” (v. 16) foundation ready for others to choose to build their own warped realities.

An example of how these false realities create false teachings:

  • Johnny is 18 years old and uses the passage of Jesus turning water into wine, recording in the beginning of The Gospel of John, to justify his addiction to alcohol and his love for being drunk.
  • This is someone warping their own reality.
  • A few years later a younger person, exploring the grace offered by the gospel, asks now-older-Johnny, “Why are you getting drunk all the time and still saying that you follow Jesus?”
  • Johnny responds, “Well you see, Jesus turned water into wine. Therefore, it’s ok get drunk.”
  • Now the false reality has become a false teaching.

Another way to describe this twisting of truth might be, “lying to God”. After all, lying is the opposite of truth.

So, where does this sinful lying to God lead us to?

“[T]heir own destruction” (v. 16).

So, how can we tell when we (or someone we love) are walking (living) in sin?

Do you remember that the act of repentance consists of two parts? Confession and “striving” with everything we have (v. 14).

A hint for us that we are living in sin is that our repentance is uncomplete. We may have only confessed our past sins, but haven’t matured in grace to understand that we must also confess that our very hearts are selfish and rebellious.

Or, maybe we have completed the first two pieces of the puzzle that make up confession, but we aren’t “striving to be found by Him at peace, without spot or blemish”.

Remember that the “striving” Peter references is “black and white”. Its either all in or all out. There is no “gray area”.

Therefore, this complete devotion to be blameless before God is not present in the heart of anyone who is not removing all known temptations in their lives.

For example:

  • If we confess getting drunk, but don’t dump our alcohol, repentance is not complete.
  • If we confess our struggle with gossip, but watch soap operas all day, we’re probably not “striving” in the sense that Peter encourages us.
  • If we confess that we have sex with our girlfriend/boyfriend and will not live separately until we are married, our repentance probably is not complete.
  • If we confess a porn addiction, but still keep pornography in the house or won’t seek accountability with our internet access, we’re not “striving” in the sense that Peter encourages us.

Therefore, when we are not “striving” with everything we have to attack known stumbling blocks in our lives, we are the very ones that peter is referring to who are ignoring, unstable, and lawless (who distort reality to make slavery to sin feel peaceful).


That presents some of us with a very severe ultimatum that leaves us looking down the “road of peace” with apprehension and fear.

Maybe we understand the general process now, but can’t think straight to take the first step.

The first step is always prostrating ourselves at the feet of Jesus in humility. Not just confessing our sin, but also that we don’t even have any hope in ourselves to take the next step without him showing us how and, even carrying us, down the “road of peace”.

Don’t let the devil scare you by focusing your eyes on the difficulty of the road. Stay in the present and keep your eyes on the one who is carrying you and remember that He is the savior of the world.

So, Peter’s call to “strive” (wholeheartedly) is easier than distorting reality to make sin comfortable, because the effort given is not our own, but Christ’s.

Please remember, Peter is admonishing us to trust in God’s grace for us as the first, and last, step we ever need take down this “road of peace”.


Practical applications for learning how to “Give Your Best Effort, Effortlessly”:

  • Learn about the character and strength of God by reading the gospels of the New Testament.
  • Learn how to pray by reading The Psalms, located in the middle of the bible. The Psalms are also helpful because they show us how others, biblical characters that we know God loved, go through trials and sufferings. We benefit from reading how they cried out to God.
  • Make friends with others who also seek to grow in their understanding of Grace. This is typically done by participating in church. When selecting a church, two traits stick out among the rest as essential.
    • The church believes that The Bible is inspired by God, and that there are no mistakes in this book as it was originally written.
    • The second is that the family of believers believes that Jesus Christ is part of the tri-un (trinity) God-head, and that we can only be saved through him. Which is what this entire message is about! J
    • Can you believe in God without attending church? Obviously, but as Jesus notes, “even the demons” believe in God.
    • The better question would be, “Can I give my all (do my very best) to follow Christ and learn about God’s grace for me and not participate in church?
    • The answer is, again, obvious. “No”. This also does not mean that we should measure our spiritual maturity by how many services they attend per week. It simply means that God wants us to be looking for relationships and activities that challenge us in our growth in His grace.
  • Lastly, talk to God. Prayer shouldn’t be focused on the pretty words that adorn the heart of our prayer, even though I imagine God appreciates them as well, but focusing on sharing the depths of our hearts with God. This usually takes time and silent reflection in between phrases and sentences.

Undiscouraged – October 2017

Good afternoon everyone, I’ll try to be as to the point as possible as there is a log to cover this month.

First off, the herniated disc in my back is feeling much better as we’re in the second week of therapy and medical treatment. The physical therapist has been showing me ways to help avoid a reoccurrence of the problem.

Iglesia de Cristo Capitán Thompson: Youth meetings continue to take place every Saturday evening with a peak in attendance two Saturdays ago. The attendance thus far has been something like 3, 2, 3, 8, 3. Members of the church are determined to get attendance up in an effort to reach out to the immediate community. One person promised to send their children and vowed that they had convinced to new youth to “promise” to come as well. That family ended up being in another part of Santiago, but what is interesting and even bothersome is that some members seem to be forcing their seventeen and eighteen-year-old children to attend. We suspect that there is at the least significant social pressure guiding the youth’s decision to attend… and to attend the Sunday worship services as well. Another participant has decided not to return as she feels too old for the group. While it is good that parents are trying to take responsibility for their children, forcing or manipulating anyone into seeking Christ is not the right way to go.

However, every week I get better at working with Daniela and Mike on developing important topics well for the youth meetings. And even though numbers are small, trust is growing with us that do attend. Miguel (the pastor) joined us for the second half of last week’s meeting and people seemed more trusting as they saw they’re pastor approve of the material being discussed. I will ask him to “pop in” spontaneously in the future to help with the trust building. The youth and I set up a time to play basketball, as I am trying to add dynamic to our relationships, but only one showed up. I’ll continue to reach out to the known youth of the community (those that have affiliation to the church through family) in this same way in the future until I am successful in reaching out to other youth in the community. A creative way to evangelize to the immediate community, especially youth, is also being brainstormed and developed.

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This is a picture of the youth meeting that had the highest attendance, thus far. 🙂 

Every Thursday evening members of the congregation gather together to pray for the youth of the community. It strikes me as odd that the members gather together to pray to God for the youth while not actually praying in unity or even listening to each other. Everyone prays at the same time, out-loud, and the person with the loudest voice is heard most. It doesn’t make sense to come together to share a time of prayer before God if we aren’t going to share the actual prayer we’re praying before God. With that in mind, I have asked for, and received permission from, Miguel to share a short update on what has and will be going on with the youth meetings in hopes of unifying us in prayer before God. The end goal is that we would all share a prayer, together, before God (taking turns speaking and listening to one another’s prayers), but those kinds of changes have to do with deeper doctrine and it will probably take time and trust before someone to be open to something that contradicts a religious belief they have held their entire lives. The good news is that with every week that passes, every youth meeting or worship service we attend, every extra activity we reach out with, we build trust. We ARE realistic, but we are NOT discouraged!

Inner-church Evangelistic Project: We moved forward with our first pre-scheduled meeting for studying evangelism, which consist of a series of classes, concerning or related to evangelism, taught by Luis Vejar (the Chilean pastor heading the group) or by Mike Boyce (president of the newly-formed Bible institute in Santiago). Over the next few months we may be part of this Chilean-developed and Chilean-focused evangelism project that reaches out to young people in Santiago and the broader country. The plan is to be merely supportive in this ministry. It is not part of my life goal and that has been communicated to those involved. The plan is to stay focused on doing a few things with excellence instead of doing a lot of things halfway.

People in need: Yesterday I had the opportunity to swing by my Haitian friend’s house, the one you’ve been reading about for the past half a year or so… He was under the weather, so I got so share some left-over meds with him and some healthy veggies I picked up for him and his family at the street market on my walk over. We always have such a good time talking and he and his family are even invited to Daniela and I’s wedding in January. Hopefully I’ll be able to get him a job interview at a factory where a friend is veteran employee in accounting. It’s usually best not to just hand out great opportunities like this to the first person you meet going through a hard time, but since our relationship has been developing for some time now and it is easy to see that my friend takes advantage of what he has, I hope this possible job opportunity will help him, his family and their relationship with our family as well. The friend who works at this company is also a minister and would be a great friend to my Haitian friend and his family. I don’t mean to single him out as Haitian, it’s just the best way to identify him without giving his name. LOL. J

Studying: I did have the opportunity to do some studying last week, although there is still much ground to cover to get caught back up. The stand-up desk I jimmy-rigged has been disassembled and now we’re hoping that I’ll be able to sit and study for decent periods of time by using the stretches and exercises taught by the physical therapist.

That’s a bit of a black and white informational update. Click the link below of the “Prayer Partnership” tab for more on how you can pray better for Cornerstone Chile Mission.

https://cornerstonechilemission.org/prayer-partnership/

Misfortune and Milestones

Good morning everyone,
     I hope you all are doing well. Thank you for praying for the work here in Chile. Unfortunately I have a herniated disc in my  back, and several other issues. The herniated disc is the most serious. And I may have to have surgery, although we are praying for an effective outpatient alternative.
      As a result, I had to spend a lot of time in bed and used what time I was on my feet to focus on ministry instead of school. I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE MINISTRY OVER SCHOOL WHEN THE CHOICE MUST BE MADE. Now I am behind on one of my classes and will not be able to catch up. I plan to find out if it is possible to move the class to the next semester. More info on that as it develops.
     The good news, FINALLY… I was invited to preach at a church on the north side of town yesterday. What is exciting about this preaching experience is that the pastor let me pick my own topic and so for the first time I DID, EXACTLY, WHAT I CAME TO CHILE TO DO… I taught the people of Chile what I have been learning about in school. This was a milestone, because for the first time God brought me to practical application of my long-term life goal!! 🙂
     Please praise God in celebration with me. This was especially exciting because the church we visited was one of the larger ones of Chile, therefore more people were affected by the message. And better yet, the pastor invited me back to preach whenever I want, and is giving permission to LET ME PICK the topic of the message.
     Being able to pick my own themes, means that I can simply teach on whatever I am learning about in school, and I don’t have to work so hard to prepare. It’s also exciting to apply something learned from Jack Swanson, that when you have to give multiple messages at the same time, preach on the same topic. By the time you get to the last audience, your more practiced at giving the message. Though you may change the topic here and there to better communicate to your audience, the overall pattern is that you are reaching more people with less time, which in turn gives you more time to reach more people. 🙂
     So, that is what I did starting out with the same message last Saturday night at the youth meeting for the Iglesia de Cristo on Capitan Thompson Street. Everyone was more attentive than usual, but next week, and as time goes on, we’ll be trying to make the meetings more interactive. It’s just taking some time to find a healthy balance. 🙂 Please pray for progress in this area.
    So, how did I go from “bed-ridden” to “doing more” if the back problem is more serious than initially supposed? Once we had a better idea of the diagnosis, I purchased a back brace that helps me stay straight when moving around. Hopefully I’ll be referred to a specialist today to get a better idea of what’s really going on.
     It feels like there were a lot of “I”‘s in this letter, so it seems appropriate to give some honor to the One who can use all of the good and the bad for His glory. He will get us through the hard times and He is the One who blesses us with the good times.
     Todd/Toni

September – Pray for God’s Providence

The two ministries for this semester have both started, along with the long-term relationships that continue to grow.

English Outreach with Oasis: is in it’s second month of the second semester of the year. Betsabé, Pedro, and I have been attending and apart from the English outreach itself, the others and I get to spend time together on the hour or so trip to and from the event. Pedro, his mother and I had dinner the other night as well and always have good and challenging conversation about The Bible.

Iglesia de Cristo (on Capitan Thompson Street) Youth Gatherings: Two Saturdays ago we met for the first time in the side-room of the church one block or so away from where I live. Most attendees of the church live within a three block radius. The first week Daniela and I’s attendance expectations were surpassed by 33.3% as four young people showed up in stead of three. That is not said to make light of the situation. We are very thankful that God helped us minister to more people. This is only for communicating our realistic goals and the typical attendance situation as has been occurring at for the youth gatherings. Last Saturday two showed up, Betsabé (the pastors daughter) and Silvana (a special needs adult). But even though only two came, we still had a great study on what The Bible says about substance abuse, a theme the young people elected the preceding Saturday. Betsabé and I had spiritually impactful conversation and it was rewarding to include Silvana in the discussion as well. 🙂 She is very sweet.

Praying in Community (a cultural topic?): At the end of the first youth gathering I suggested that we always close with a time of prayer for one another. The youth were confused when I asked who wanted to pray, asking why we couldn’t all just pray at once for each other. After politely expressing my view that it is pointless for us to pray in community if we are not going to listen to each other, we began to pray for one an other one by one. One of the young persons seemed to be apprehensive of praying aloud for others to hear and agree with him in mind before God. Although this youth is one of the most active in the church, he quickly evacuated the gathering in the middle of the prayer before it was his turn to pray.

After speaking with Dani and others it appears that engaging people’s minds in prayer and study of Scripture is not a priority in Chilean Christian culture. One Chilean said, “People just go to church and say, ‘amen!’ without having to think about what the pastor, or minister, is saying”. So it makes sense that the thought of praying in community and sharing your thoughts, and way, of speaking to God with others might be daunting.

Logical Next Step: These first few weeks have been essential in discerning those young people of whom their relative say to be members of the church from those who actually want to come and participate on their own accord. At this point we have a better idea of the situation. The plan is to engage more young people in the community with the teachings of Scripture beginning by seeking out those who have a link to the church, but do not necessarily attend.

The Biblical example seems to put high priority on taking time to form relationships with people one day, and step, at a time, and praying for their spiritual growth. Therefore the best thing to do seems to be to pray for God’s help, and to seek out the youth who do not attend even though their families may like them to, and to spend time with them playing fútbol (soccer) or whatever they like to do. The blessing is that Betsabé is interested in learning, so as people do begin to come, we will have a healthy model for a Bible study already taking place.

Overcoming Obstacles: Unfortunately, there has been something wrong with my back for a few weeks that makes it hard to walk around. At times it’s nearly impossible to walk. I saw the doctor yesterday and we are hoping for improvement over the next week. We’re hoping that there is no chronic issue as a result of a long medical history.  So as a result, I plan to use social media to reach out to youth in the community during the week until I can get mobile again.

Prayer:

  • Please pray for God to bless the youth ministry on Capitan Thompson Street.
  • Dani was involved in a cell-phone-robbery (extremely common in Chile) in a pharmacy. They were not violent with her, but were with some of the others and guards. She is still a little shooken up. Please pray for comfort and peace.
  • Please pray for God to bless my recovery.
  • Pray that God would provide good outcomes for reaching out to youth through social media this week, and reaching out to them in whatever way God provides during the rest of the month.
  • Thank God that Irma didn’t end up hitting Florida as hard as we thought it would.

Don’t forget to check out the new home page and other places on the cite! 🙂

August 2017 – Blessings

This month has been filled with so many gifts from God as he develops practical ministries for me to engage in this semester. Ministry is all done for His glory and it is all possible because of His grace and patience with us. 🙂 There is not anything or anyone like our God.

Last Thursday evening I had the opportunity to present some ministry opportunities to the Elders Committee at the Cornerstone Christian Church. Everything presented went well, and their wise counsel for this semester’s plan of action is very appreciated. We were also able to touch on some things for the distant future.

Capitán Thompson Church Youth Ministry: The first and most local ministry for the semester, continuing to be developed is leadership of the youth ministry at the local Capitan Thompson Iglesia de Cristo (Christian Church or Church of Christ). Monday night I implemented one of the ideas from a book I’ve been reading on youth ministry which advises to include youth in your existing schedule instead of carving out more time. So we all went to an English learning activity on the north side of town. We had a good amount of time to get to know each other. Below is a picture of the young men being goofy.

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Oasis English Events: Every Monday evening a ministry for university aged students has a community outreach for teaching English. I will continue to attend these events and participate in their ministry. The longterm benefit is to get a fresh perspective on teaching English and new ideas for making the activity fun. 🙂 We really enjoyed our time at Oasis last week and I believe we all learned something.

There is also an evangelism project being developed separate from the Capitán Thompson Youth Ministry. Five of us are meeting this afternoon to continue our discussion of the structure and vision of the project. Hopefully there will be more to come on that in the future. Please keep it in your prayers.

Family Ministries: This past month God has provided lots of contacts and friends here in my immediate community. It seems that living so close to all of these new acquaintances will provide a greater opportunity for relationship building than others who live in different parts of the city. For example, the Pierre family invited us over for lunch on Sunday and we’re hoping for more opportunities to know them better. I may have time to attend a gathering with the husband of that family, Renaud, after the evangelism project meeting this evening. You may remember Renaud from past letters as we have been practicing English together for sometime now. The Fernandez family seems to be hanging in there as usual. It’s always an adventure with them as they have so many obstacles to overcome. Juan was recently in the hospital with Pneumonia and the medication really aggravates his Parkinson’s Disease. But, he is back at home now and doing better.

Johnson University: It’s so exciting that term starts this weekend. If you have been praying that the textbooks would all be accessible for me, please take time to thank God with me that he did provide everything I need to study. 🙂

Familia Kepschull Vera: I am falling more and more in love with my beautiful wife-to-be every day. We are both looking forward to a life of serving the Lord together. The wedding date has been set for January 20, 2017.

Prayer Requests: 

  • Wisdom for the best way to develop the two youth ministries.
  • Wisdom with how to interact with the youth in the most helpful way.
  • Praise God that he has provided everything I need to study. Thank You Lord.
  • Pray that God would continue to bless all of the relationships recently beginning to be formed and that he would provide wisdom for the best direction to go.
  • Pray that the Lord would eliminate cultural and linguistic communication barriers with the Chileans and myself.

Thank you all for your support in whatever way you give it;  🙂

Todd