Saturday, October 30

Firing on the saints

Many years ago, the British Navy arrived on the Atlantic coast near what is now Quebec. They were told to wait until reinforcements arrived and then begin attacking the city. Growing bored with the wait, the commander of the British fleet decided to do a bit of target practice, and so he ordered his gunmen to fire the ships cannons with the goal of destroying all the statues of the saints, which sat on top of a nearby cathedral. By the time reinforcements arrived, most of the ammunition was used up, and there were insufficient military resources for the British to soundly defeat the French. Two hundred years later, Quebec is still a French city, because the British decided to "fire on the saints" instead of the enemy.

--read some time ago on Joel Rainey's blog

Wednesday, October 27

Prayer bombs

Before pastoring a church in Texas, Bruce Parsons and family served alongside us as missionaries here in Ecuador. In light of all ongoing media attention being given to Islamic issues in America, my friend writes about a far more effective strategy we who call ourselves Christians could be using with Muslims. Better than bombs or bullets is prayer...

Jesus commanded us to "pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that He send laborers into the harvest." Every time a believer asks God to send more laborers into the harvest, it is done immediately. I pray this daily, and lead my church in praying it when we are together. Our one small church has used this promise to unleash thousands of laborers into the harvest. Imagine what would be happening if every church in America began to pray this prayer, regularly and fervently.

So what does this have to do with bombs? I believe that we at our church are bombarding the kingdom of the evil one with these prayers, which he sees as "weapons of mass destruction." Prayer hits the very foundations of Satan's kingdom. It crumbles the base on which he has built. It destroys his work.

In one way, I, as a Christian, am like these radical Muslims. I believe that there is one true God, and one true way to salvation. I believe that the Christianity that Jesus Himself brought to earth is the only way to God's favor, and that all other religions are wrong. I don't even accept Allah as a true god, but see him as an imposter.

My difference is in my response. I do not believe that it is my job to "kill the infidels." I think it is my joyous obligation to love them, to pray for them, and to ask the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into Allah's back yard with the truth of the Gospel.

Christ's coming put an end to the edge of the sword. True conversion is not brought about by intimidation or extermination. I desire no one's death...

From my prayer closet, I am bombarding Teheran, Baghdad, Kabul, and Riyadh. I am dropping prayer bombs all over the Middle East that is cloaked in the darkness of deception. I'm also praying for Jerusalem, where Christ is excluded. I'm praying for Pyong Yang, for Calcutta, for Moscow, for Shanghai, and for Manila. I am an equal-opportunity bomber. I am dropping prayer bombs on New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami. I am also remembering small communities, and I have dropped bombs in my own neighborhood.

One well-said prayer, in accordance with God's will, can do infinitely more than bombs, bullets, or ballots. We need to bombard the strongholds of Satan in our world, whether it's on the other side of the world, or in our own backyard.
I whole-heartedly agree with Bruce. But are we using this powerful spiritual weapon as given to us by our Lord? How effective is prayer? Is praying the Lord of the Harvest for laborers just church talk, or does it really "bomb Teheran"?

Sunday, October 24

Bearing fruit in season

"...he shall be like a tree planted 
by the rivers of water, 
that bringeth forth his fruit 
in his season..." Psalm 1:3b

I write these words in our backyard tree swing. Most mornings I enjoy my first cup of coffee out rocking under the ciruela tree. To my left is a mango tree. This time of year the branches are loaded with fruit. From where I gently swing I can count more than 50 mangoes in a single 2'x3' branch area. Every year in December/January this tree bears an abundance of sweet juicy mangoes.

This morning as I was expressing my disappointment to the Lord over the last few months of lean Kingdom harvest, the Spirit turned my attention to the mango tree. Every year that tree bears its season.

I can pray fervently throughout the year for fruit in March, June, August, or October and it would make little difference. The tree will bear fruit, but will do so only in its season.

God's ways are not our ways. Our ways are to set annual "fruit goals" which we then average out over what we expect for the year. My own 2010 Ministry Assessment Profile (MAP) states by 12/31/10 we will have trained 300 house church planters to begin 200 New Outreach Groups (NOG). Hopefully, at least half of these NOG will result in true NT ekklesias if those trained "do it right."

To attain this goal we must train 25 people every month so that at least 16 of these will bear some kind of measurable fruit. I can assure you we are FAR BELOW achieving these numbers! Last weekend we graduated 15. That was the fruit of, not one, but three months of work. Discouraging indeed from a MAP point-of-view.

But God works not on monthly averages, but on fruit bearing in season. If the tree remains planted by the rivers of water (Ps.1:3), abiding in the vine (Jn.15:4), Jesus says there will be much fruit (Jn.15:5,8).

Just like those mangoes to my left, my "real job" is not to achieve our MAP goals, but to remain/abide in Him. Staying attached to the branch, allowing Him to do the work in, through, and around us--THAT IS OUR TASK. To bear fruit, yes; but to do so in His season, timing, and way.

Two young ladies who never missed a single training session. Who knows what all the Lord of the Harvest has in due season for these two potential mango orchards!

Friday, October 22

Mobilizing Ecuadorians to the Nations

Campamento de Movilizadores, 
Manglaralto, Septiembre 16-19.
Mobilizers Camp, Manglaralto, September 16-19, 2010.

Tuesday, October 19

For want of a nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

We rightfully need to keep our focus on the "battle and the kingdom", but unless we tend to the "nails" that keep the shoe on the horse, the battle for the kingdom can be lost.

For two years now, these seven nails have helped keep the shoe on the horse.

1) daily time spent with the King,
2) daily exercise for at least 30-minutes,
3) daily family readings/devotions/prayer,
4) daily one-on-one focused conversation with my wife giving her my full attention,
5) weekly date with my wife,
6) keeping the Sabbath (actually for us the Sabbath is Thursday),
7) at least one daily family sit-down-together meal.

While your list probably differs from my own above, I believe we must give adequate attention to some kind of basic life-maintenance rituals. To ignore these eventually leads to troublew. In our quest for seeing kingdom purposes fulfilled, I am learning that I must not ignore those small nails that keep the shoe on the horse.

Sunday, October 17

Interruptions are my ministry

The past two weeks have been frustrating. For every item I am able to cross off on my "To Do" list, 2-3 more are added. Calls needing to be made, reports overdue, projects waiting attention, documents needing translation, individuals needing counseling, materials needing to be re-worked, follow-up visits that should have been taken care of weeks ago, banking and financial matters needing attention yesterday, etc.

In the past fourteen days, I have only been able to cross off fourteen items total out of 40+ things needing attention yesterday. That averages to one item accomplished per day!

Why am I getting so little accomplished these days? I can answer that with one word. INTERRUPTIONS. And what is the definition of interruptions? PEOPLE!

People calling. People needing help. People asking favors. People dropping by the house. Endless correspondence where you respond to an email and there are two more that pop up in the inbox while answering! Night and day, it never lets up. When is one supposed to get around to doing "our stuff" when everybody else's stuff is taking up all our time?


What if God also has "to do" lists? What if God has on his list today for Juán to call me and see about our getting together for coffee at 2:15 this afternoon and talk about his problems?

When I seriously pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done..." am I not in effect saying, "Lord, your "to do" list has priority. Your agenda today takes precedence over my own." While meeting Juán at 2:15 may not be on my list, I would be foolish to blow off meeting Juan at 2:15 if he is on God's list.

I am reminded of a Mark Batterson quote I once came across,
One of my mottos is "ministry happens." I think that at least 90% of the ministry that happens in the gospels is spontaneous. Jesus was headed from one place to another and an opportunity would present itself. Jesus was willing to get off the beaten path and take the road less traveled. He didn't see them as detours or dead ends. Too often we mistake human interruptions for divine appointments. --from a Mark Batterson message entitled "Wild Goose Chase."
For people like myself who are geared toward intentional ministry and "to do" lists, the above thought is a needed reminder. Am I too busy to take time for someone interrupting "my ministry?" Am I so geared towards that 10% intentional ministry that I overlook the 90% God sets in my path daily?

Is not that 90% as much "real ministry" as the 10% I set out to accomplish?

"Intentional ministry" people often hide behind the excuse of thinking I am too busy with real ministry. I simply do not have time for unplanned spontaneous ministry from people interrupting my busy schedule. The truth is I view my own agenda as more important than the needs and concerns of others. Their need for feedback and/or attention is secondary to my accomplishing what I think is my own more important agenda.

Was that Christ's attitude who often left the crowds and made time to go eat at Zaccheus' house? Healing blind beggar Bartimaeus? Stopping in his tracks on his way to a resurrection when an unknown woman touched the hem of his robe? Taking time for children while leaving the crowds to wait?

90% of ministry happens when we seize those spontaneous opportunities that come disguised as detours or interruptions.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 14

How to be a missionary: Lessons learned by a missionary serving in Brazil

Stephen Young II and family serve the Lord in Brazil as missionaries. Recently he blogged a great post sharing practical lessons learned on How to be a missionary. Good stuff!

Don’t spend your time trying to create groups. In 2004 and 2005, I spent a lot of time trying to coax five families into meeting together for a Bible study. I got three of them to finally do it. As soon as we started to make progress, as I defined it, Satan broke up the group. He caused confusion and mistrust to separate the families in a brutal way. I spent 3 years trying to corral families together for Bible studies and was unsuccessful engaging many willing families, because I could not form the groups I wanted.

Disciple groups that already exist. The families on the hill is one of the biggest success stories of this blog. A major reason for the success was that they are a family with already existing ties and relationships. There is a bond there that is not easily broken (though Satan did try again). Existing groups will generally either accept or reject the gospel as a group, rather than splinter and disband. When they do decide to follow Jesus, discipleship is natural and often faster than expected.

Give preference to oral communication. I had tried several times to start a Bible study with the families on the hill. At one point, I was going weekly for a long period of time, but making no headway in evangelism or discipleship. The day I suggested we put away our pens and notebooks, and began telling the scripture was the day they started “hearing” the message. This happened in a lot of places, even among the highly literate.

Don’t be a Bible scholar. When I first arrived in Brazil, I loved to talk theology and apologetics. This was expected in many pastoral circles in America. Inadvertently, I began to create a dependency on me as the expert and not the Bible. People would not trust themselves to understand the Bible or apply it correctly. (Incidentally, this is an extreme problem in Brazil, even in evangelical churches. It creates a passive and shallow form of Christianity.) I had to change from teaching to asking questions, and guiding discovery. Huge difference.

Be consistent and proactive. People who know me know that I have a tendency to get distracted and start a new project before finishing the one I am on. There are several sub-items under this.
  • Go two by two. This Biblical command and example creates greater consistency by nature. This is why we have workout partners, study partners, accountability partners, golfing buddies, etc. When I have a partner for a particular ministry, evangelism project or home Bible study, it usually thrives. When I don’t it is 50-50.
  • Don’t create obstacles. It doesn’t really matter how sincere you are, if you are discipling a family that lives 2 hours away and it costs you $20 and half of your day every time you meet with them, you aren’t going to do it for long and you aren’t going to do it consistently. ($20 is a lot of money in my context.) Either move closer to them, disciple closer to home, or plan on training a local leader very quickly.
  • Create an accountability network. Even when we were not successful forming groups and planting churches, we were successful winning individuals and families for Jesus, because we asked people to pray for certain individuals and hold us accountable for sharing the gospel.

Don’t celebrate decisions and move on. Discipleship is a process. This, I learned the hard way. I’ve led people to Christ and let them die of alcohol addictions. I’ve led people to Christ and watched them divorce. I’ve led people to Christ and left them in their pornography addictions. I’ve led people to Christ and left them to figure out the Christian life all on their own. Yes, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell every new believer, but the great commission commands us to make disciples obedient to Jesus’ commands, not just win converts. Winning converts and leaving it at that is something that is done with Satan’s approval. He knows it will never spawn a real movement.

Sunday, October 10

Is there still a need for missionaries in the major cities of Latin America?

What if, for some reason, we suddenly had to pull out of all the major cities in the Americas? No more missionaries in Bogotá, San José, Lima, Asunción, Sao Paolo, BA...would it really make any difference? Would we really be missed? So why are we still in the cities? Why are most of our missionary personnel still in places like Caracas, Santiago, Mexico City, Quito, Guatemala City?

I have a few thoughts about the roles we missionaries play in the cities of Latin America where the Gospel has already taken root. If we use the analogy of the missionary task to that of a field being planted, the farmer first plows the ground, plants the seed, waters the seed, pulls the weeds, and eventually harvests his crop.

Those missionaries who came before us did an excellent job in plowing the hard ground, planting the Gospel seed, and watering the seed through a host of ministries, institutions and programs.

But I would argue that those initial three phases now belong primarily to the national church and are no longer our tasks as missionaries.

In many parts of Latin America the work is mature. The national church is effectively carrying out these roles as effectively--or better in many cases--than we foreign missionaries were able to do.

So, what then is the missionary task that justifies our presence in the major cities of Latin America?

I propose that our missionary role and presence in the cities is validated by the extent of our engagement in the later phases of "weeding" and in many places "bringing in the harvest."

How do I define "weeding?" Weeds are what compete with the sowed grain and negatively impact bringing in a bumper crop. After two decades in Guayaquil I can name those weeds that are most hurting us: discouragement, distractions, divisions (the 3 D's of the Devil.) The missionary task, as I understand it is to be a prophetic voice "weeding out" the 3 D's of the Devil. There are probably other "weeds" out there, but these three seem universal in harvest fields. Our role is to help identify in the churches, ministries, institutions, and conventions, the weeds which are choking out the harvest which God wants to bring in.

Nobody likes to pull weeds. But what happens to a crop if nobody hoes weeds? All the hard previous labor will fall short of its potential. The thieving weeds will ruin a harvest! How weed pulling is played out will surely vary from city to city and region to region, but it must be addressed.

The other final phase is to bring home the harvest.

I see in this missionary phase the task as primarily an administrative, logistical role of coordinating, training, mobilizing, motivating, and inspiring people. We can't possibly bring home the harvest by ourselves. To finish the task, the Lord of the Harvest is going to have to touch many hearts. Our part is to be an instrument that He uses as a mouthpiece, a voice, the go-between to get people from point-A to point-B where the harvest is taking place.

We are the ones who need to thoroughly understand concepts like partnering, networking, mobilizing, how people communicate today, and understanding today's generations and cultural values to harness that energy to bring in the harvest the Lord has been preparing for decades in the cities of Latin America.

So, what do you think? Should we still be giving our missionary time to plowing, planting, watering, as well as to weeding and harvesting? Would you add/subtract anything to the above? Again, I am speaking more in the context of the missionary task, not as what we the Church should be engaged in. Till Christ returns, the church should be out there making disciples of the nations. But where do we engage our priorities as missionaries? That is the question.

Friday, October 8

October 9 - Guayaquil's Independence Day from Spain

Guayaquil was founded on July 25, 1538[1] with the name Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil (Most Noble and Most Loyal City of St. James of Guayaquil) by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana. Even before it was founded by the Spanish, it already existed as a native village.

On October 9, 1820, a group of civilians, supported by soldiers from the "Granaderos de Reserva", a battalion quartered in Guayaquil, overwhelmed the resistance of the Royalist guards and arrested the Spanish authorities. Guayaquil declared independence from Spain, becoming Provincia Libre de Guayaquil. -source: Wikipedia

For the past 24 years Guayaquil has been our home. See below a short video slide-show of some of the historical parts of the city.

Wednesday, October 6

Ecuador's agony could spark awakening

The following appeared yesterday in Baptist Press. Thanks for praying for Ecuador and for that spark that could ignite a spiritual awakening in the country!

Guy Muse Posted on Oct 5, 2010

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (BP)--In a matter of hours Sept. 30, a nation of 14 million people found itself at the mercy of gangs and hoodlums, ransacking and looting at will.

Ecuador, the South American nation I have served as a Southern Baptist missionary for 24 years, isn't known for being politically stable. With eight presidents in the last 10 years, Ecuadorians have seen many uprisings, strikes, demonstrations and unrest. Trouble struck again Sept. 30.

That day, as we were going out to celebrate my wife's birthday, we noticed people running down the streets. Traffic backed up along the side streets of our neighborhood. Within minutes, word spread: "The national police are striking. Go home immediately, lock your doors and stay there!"

Even as I rushed to get back to our house, businesses were locking up and people were jumping into their cars. When I stopped someone to ask what was going on, he shouted, "They've robbed the bank down the street! There is looting all along the shopping district a block away!"

With the threat of more than 40,000 national police walking off the job, chaos and terror soon reigned across the country.

Here's the short version of the disputed events that sparked the violence: On Sept. 29, the National Congress did away with some of the benefits and pay bonuses police were accustomed to receiving. Angered, police officials called the strike.

Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, went to the national police headquarters in Quito, Ecuador's capital, that afternoon to challenge officials to get their units back on duty. After a tense exchange, Correa was roughed up and tear-gassed. He was taken -- irony of ironies -- to the Police Hospital across the street for medical treatment. While being treated, Correa allegedly was held against his will by the police.

Around 9 p.m., the military was called out to free the president. In an operation televised live to the nation, military units moved on the hospital. For more than 30 minutes, they exchanged heavy gunfire with the police inside. Eventually the president was whisked out in a dramatic rescue that left several dead and wounded.

Things have calmed down in the days since to about 70 percent "normal," but the country remains under a declared state of siege.

After living in Ecuador for 35 years (11 as a "missionary kid" with my parents, 24 as a missionary) my heart has become closely knitted to the warm and gracious people I love. Along with our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters in Christ, my wife, Linda, and I felt deep sadness at seeing such needless destruction, fear and chaos.

While this latest round of political unrest is tragic, we ask Christians around the world to pray that it will become the catalyst for a long-awaited harvest of souls here in Ecuador. On Oct. 10, all evangelical Christians in Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, will unite in a citywide evangelistic effort. We will blanket the city's schools, parks, media, homes, government offices and sports arenas in an attempt to reach the entire city of 3 million people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pray that the tragic events of Sept. 30 will prepare people's hearts to respond to the Gospel. Pray that Oct. 10 will be used by the Spirit of God to usher in a spiritual awakening here on the coast of Ecuador that will spread to all the Americas -- and to the world.

I believe with all my heart that Ecuadorians are one of God's chosen peoples to take the Gospel to the nations. They are suited to the task in every way -- much more so than we North Americans. For many years, however, Ecuadorian Christians have lagged in their willingness to follow Christ beyond their own borders. This recent political and economic "persecution" may well be God's way to get Ecuadorians out of their "Jerusalems" and into their "Judeas," "Samarias" and "ends of the earth" -- as Christ commands in Acts 1:8.

Please pray that God will use this disaster to awaken the sleeping church of Ecuador to take its place in reaching the world!

Monday, October 4

Kingdom Giving trumps Storehouse Tithing

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." -Malachi 3:8-10

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Jesus (Matthew 6:33)

The last book of the Old Testament is emphatic that Jews were robbing God unless they brought the "whole tithe into the storehouse."

The very next books in the Bible, the Gospels (Matthew-John) resound with the theme of THE KINGDOM. Little is said by Jesus about the temple except, "...not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

Jesus himself is introduced in the early chapters of the Gospels as traveling throughout Galilee "preaching the good news of the kingdom." The kingdom theme is mentioned nine times in just the first six chapters of the opening book of the New Testament, with Jesus himself bringing the matter to the forefront with the first command He issues his disciples to "seek first his kingdom."

While there is no denying that Malachi 3 storehouse giving is biblical for Jews living under the Old Testament Law of Moses, Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom, not about the importance of the temple system. The very "storehouse" that the Jews were to bring the "whole tithe" was destroyed in 70 A.D. The Jerusalem temple no longer exists. Since the temple no longer exists in Jerusalem, it seems strange to continue to insist from the Malachi passage that NT believers are now to bring their "whole tithe" into one's local church. Is this consistent with sound hermeneutic Biblical interpretation principles?

If storehouse giving is still applicable to NT believers today, then it would seem all Christians should be giving to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, or at least to some future reconstruction of the Jerusalem temple. Yet somehow the Malachi passage gets interpreted to mean I am personally robbing God unless I give 10% of my income to First Christian Church of Peoria, Illinois--or whatever local congregation I am a member of in the place where I live.

How is it that we are able to twist the Malachi passage into saying something that it actually does not say?

Like many of you reading, I was brought up with the understanding that 10% of what one receives should be given back to the Lord through one's local church as our "tithe." Anything beyond the initial 10% is considered "offering money" and we are free to give as generously to other kingdom causes, as long as the "tithe" goes intact to one's local church.

It seems obvious that if believers started to "tithe" to whatever kingdom causes they felt led to give to, the local church program and infrastructure would surely suffer--probably even collapse overnight. Or would it?

But does "storehouse giving" align itself with Jesus own command to SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM? Are local church budgets, programs, buildings, parking lots, salaries, maintenance, etc. synonymous with Kingdom interests?

To me, the Kingdom is a much broader sphere of Christ's reign than just my local gathering of believers and how it is we decide amongst ourselves to disburse the collected tithes/offerings of local saints.

While storehouse giving can certainly in line with Paul's admonition to give what one purposes in his heart (2 Cor.9:7), it should not be seen as the one and only biblical way of giving. For me, kingdom giving trumps storehouse tithing.

But if everyone practiced kingdom giving, the argument goes that our churches and programs would crumble overnight. The economic system of financing church-as-we-know-it would collapse. Would this be a bad thing? Undoubtedly things would be terribly chaotic for many of us, especially for those of us like myself who depend upon storehouse tithing/giving to pay our bills and buy our food. But I am convinced that after the dust settles from such a 9.0 magnitude earthquake by this transfer of assets from the storehouse to the kingdom, there would be a dramatic surge forward towards the fulfillment of Kingdom purposes in all spheres of life and giant steps forward in making Christ known amongst the nations.

Yes, some people, ministries, churches, organizations would suffer and probably die off within days. I am not saying it would be pretty! Many of us would suffer the consequences of this upheaval. But others, who have long been neglected or underfunded, would flourish with fruit bearing 30,60, and 100-fold.

To me there is little doubt the current storehouse financial system under which Christendom operates is crumbling. It would seem the Lord himself has allowed the current global economic crisis to set the stage for the next major shift in Christianity where storehouse tithing gives way to kingdom giving.

As a missionary, all around me on a daily basis I see need. I see pain, suffering, disease, violence, poverty, and hopelessness. Within the community of Christ followers in just the city where we live, there is ample human and financial resources to make a major impact upon not only this city but the nation of Ecuador. Yet, very little is being done. Why? All the resources are tied up within the budgets of maintaining local church ministries, programs, salaries, buildings, etc. When will we begin to break out of the storehouse giving mold that retains between 90-98% for our own use, and truly start seeking first the kingdom? What would our world look like if we retained between 2-10% for ourselves and gave 90-98% to Kingdom causes?

The prevailing Christian mindset wrongly assumes that if a believer is faithful to tithe to one's local church, the remaining 90% is ours to spend as we deem best upon ourselves. This flawed example has long been modeled by the very churches we give to week by week. The typical church retains 90-98% as it's storehouse "right" to spend how it deems best. The time has come for kingdom giving to become the norm for Christ followers. This doesn't mean we neglect or turn our backs on those who serve us in the Lord, but it does mean we get serious about seeking first the kingdom, rather than seeking first the needs of our local storehouses.

Saturday, October 2

Sad day for Ecuador

The past few days have been wild and crazy here in Ecuador! Thank you for all the prayers and notes sent the past couple of days inquiring about our well being. We are fine. Things are slowly returning to normal nationwide after the failed coup attempt on Thursday. As many of you already know, Ecuador is not known for being stable politically with 8 Presidents in the past 10 years.

The short version of what happened was that on Wednesday the Congress did away with some of the police and national benefits and pay bonuses that they traditionally received. In response, the entire 40,000 nationwide police force went on strike leaving the country completely unprotected. In a matter of minutes massive looting and chaos erupted across the country with stores, businesses and banks being broken into and looted.

When Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa went to the Police Headquarters to reason with the police authorities, he was attacked and tear-gassed and had to be away taken to--irony or ironies--the Police Hospital in Quito. While he was being treated, he was detained (kidnapped) by the Police and held against his will in the hospital throughout the day not willing to release him until he gave in to their demands.

Around 9pm the military was called out to free the President from the Police. In a live televised rescue operation, military crack units staged an attack upon the hospital to free the President. For more than 30-minutes heavy firing took place ensued between the military and police. Eventually the President was whisked out in a dramatic rescue operation, leaving several dead and wounded in the process. The country is currently under a declared State of Siege with the military seeking to restore law and order. Sad, sad, day for Ecuador to say the least.

For those interested in viewing some amazing video footage or reading good summary news releases, click on one of the following: (news report) (video news report)

All of the above took place on Thursday, which was Linda's Birthday, September 30. The night before, her missions English class threw her a surprise birthday party which was a lot of fun. The students had hired a Mexican Mariachi singer to come in and serenade Linda. Some of the photos can be viewed by clicking here.

Yesterday, October 1st, was our son Joshua's 19th birthday. We missed being with him in that he is now living in Seguin and in his first semester of studies at Northeast Lakeview College in San Antonio, Texas. We very much appreciate your prayers for our son as he continues to go through many adjustments from life here in Ecuador to life there in the USA.

And finally, we would appreciate your prayers for us these days in that we are contemplating some changes in our lives. There are a couple of new assignments we are praying about that our IMB mission organization leadership is asking us to consider. We can see ourselves in either one of the two positions, but are waiting upon the Lord for clarity before accepting either. Thank you for joining us in prayer. We very much appreciate your asking the Lord to grant us peace and clarity in understanding His perfect will for our lives.

Again, thank you for your faithful praying for us over the years.