Thursday, April 15
Tuesday, April 6
Sunday evenings we meet at Angel and Katty’s house for church. Our normal crowd is usually 8-9 adults, several youth and children, along with an assortment of dogs who wander in and out entertaining themselves by barking at every passing vehicle on the nearby street. Due to Covid restrictions, we space ourselves in a circle of plastic chairs out under the stars. Little did we know how bizarre the evening would end up being.
Maritza, our fellow Ecuadorian missionary partner, shared an evangelistic message. There were a number of first-time visitors who received Christ as Savior. Two of the couples present asked forgiveness of their spouses and children for the way they had acted. It was a beautiful time of reconciliation and healing. A visitor asked a question about baptism. An offering was collected for a sick member who could not afford medication. Our meeting ended about 10:15 pm.
As we were loading the car to go home, an unknown man arrived. Angel introduced the man as "Pedro" reminding us that he was the same Pedro he had asked the church to pray for. Pedro arrived in a state of visible anxiety and tension. He looked physically exhausted and said he had come for us to pray for him in that he could no longer bear the load of his troubled life.
Though we were very tired and ready to get back home, Maritza, Linda, and I walked him out to the street and began ministering to him. Maritza, the evangelist, began witnessing to Pedro asking him if he had ever had a personal encounter with Christ.
Pedro seemed confused and unresponsive. There seemed to be some kind of invisible barrier. As we continued to talk I noticed another man headed towards us from down the street. As soon as Pedro saw this person approaching, he pulled a foot-long knife out of his sleeve. In an instant Pedro's countenance transformed into what was clearly a demon-possessed person. He was filled with hate and rage as he tightly gripped the knife in his hand.Linda, Maritza and I were only steps away from Pedro who then turned his attention from the other man and directly faced us. We began shouting at Pedro en el Nombre de Jesús to drop the knife! After a minute or so of him glaring and hissing obscenities, he dropped the knife. I quickly scooped it out of the street and threw it into the back of our car.
For the next 30-minutes, we were in an all-out spiritual battle casting out the demons who were clearly in control of Pedro at that moment. I have never heard such hatred and vitriol coming out of anyone's mouth. Mercifully the Lord blocked our ears from the horrid things the demons were saying. Maritza began to read aloud a Psalm. Other church members including Angel gathered around us to pray. Some began to sing praise songs, but still, nothing was happening with Pedro.
By then a small crowd of bystanders had gathered out on the street to watch at a distance. Neighbors peered from their windows. The small band of new believers gathered around us and began singing all the praise songs they knew from our green songbook. The three of us continued to pray over Pedro casting out the demons in Jesus’ Name.
After some 15-minutes of praying out loud, Scripture reading, and back-to-back songs, Pedro began heaving—as if throwing up—as the demons were expelled from his body. This happened over and over for several more minutes. When he finally stopped heaving, Martiza asked if he wanted Christ to come into his life. Pedro said yes, and we asked him to pray aloud inviting Christ in and confessing Jesus as Lord. We prayed again over Pedro asking the Lord to forgive his sins, cleanse him, and rid him of any remaining demons that still might be refusing to leave.
Pedro seemed soothed by the singing and kept asking us to “sing another song.” Not knowing what else to do, we continued to sing and pray as he stood there with his eyes closed soaking in the Spirit’s presence. By this time Pedro was very weak. Angel and I had to physically hold him upright.
Finally, though, he collapsed into my arms like a dead man. We gently laid him down in a dry spot on the muddy road. He appeared to be in a deep sleep. After a few more minutes Pedro again opened his eyes but had NO IDEA where he was, or what had happened. It was surreal. He looked all around him and asked who we were and why was he lying in the middle of the road. We calmly explained to him everything he had been through. Everyone was amazed at what they had witnessed—as were we!
I asked two of the men to accompany me in our car to take Pedro home. We set up a time for the following day to visit and follow up on his decision to follow Christ. What transpired during that first visit and other visits is another bizarre story altogether. Suffice it to say, we have seen a dramatic change come over Pedro from that Sunday night to the present! He sleeps with his new Bible and goes out fishing with a new partner who is also a believer.
Last Sunday Angel and I baptized Pedro along with seven others in the ocean a few feet from our back porch. To God be the Glory; great things He hath done! Please pray for Pedro. He still has many serious issues to deal with in his life and very much needs our prayers.
Saturday, March 4
Monday, February 6
Tuesday, January 31
Pocas líneas capturan tan profundamente el misterio de Dios y sus caminos.
Uno de los regalos más notables que Dios ha dado a la humanidad es la libertad de elegir. Podemos optar por ver el arbusto y agarrar las moras, o ver a Dios ardiendo en la zarza. La elección es nuestra. Cómo percibimos a Dios determinará como interpretamos los arbustos comunes de la vida.
¿Realmente está Dios en cada arbusto común? ¿Está Dios en la taza de café sentado a mi lado, o el portátil sentado en mi escritorio? ¿Existe realmente tal cosa como un celular santo o un clip de papel ungido? ¿Es eso lo que Browning está tratando de decirnos?
Creo que ella está dando a entender que cada persona elija lo que va a creer acerca de Dios. Elegimos nuestras respuestas a las cosas que entran en nuestras vidas. Es como la historia de dos prisioneros mirando desde detrás de las rejas - uno ve el barro de la calle y el otro ve estrellas en el cielo.
La vida puede ser vista desde ambas representaciones, barro o estrellas. Podemos ver las cosas desde la perspectiva de Dios, o elegir verlas literalmente como se presenten ante nosotros a través de nuestro cinco sentidos. Todo depende de nuestra percepción de cómo Dios obra en nuestra vida.
Cuando Moisés encontró la zarza ardiente en el desierto lo primero que le asombró era, "aunque el arbusto ardía no se consumía."
Cuando el Señor vio que había ido a mirar, lo llamó desde la zarza: "¡Moisés! ¡Moisés!" y Moisés dijo: "Aquí estoy."
Entonces, pues, ¿sigue llamándonos Dios desde los arbustos comunes? Creo que sí. Pero sólo cuando elegimos verlo, oírlo, y lo percibimos en todas las cosas. Nuestra respuesta tiene que ser el mismo que tuvo Moisés, "Aquí estoy, Señor."
Cuando alguien llega tarde a una cita a la cual hemos esforzado para llegar a tiempo, tenemos la opción de ver un arbusto "encendido de Dios" o un arbusto irritante que sirve solamente para enfadarnos. Nuestra respuesta común es la frustración y el pensar del tiempo perdido. Pero si en la realidad cada arbusto es uno encendido por Dios, ¿habrá una razón espiritual o importante para que las cosas sean como son?
Oswaldo Chambers lo dice de esta forma,
Todos podemos ver a Dios en las cosas excepcionales, pero requiere de la cultura de la disciplina espiritual para ver a Dios en cada detalle. Nunca permita que la casualidad de la vida sea nada menos que el orden señalado por Dios, y esté listo para descubrir los designios divinos en toda circunstancia.
Elisabeth Elliot, misionera al Ecuador, elabora sobre el Salmo 16:5, "Señor, me has asignado mi porción y mi copa, tú sustentas mi suerte."
"No conozco de ninguna simplificador para toda la vida. Pase lo que pase todo me viene asignado.
¿El intelecto humano rebela al oír tal cosa? ¿Acaso podemos decir que hay cosas que suceden en nuestra vida que no pertenecen a “mi porción asignada?” ¿Tenemos derecho de decir, esto sí pertenece a mi porción, pero lo otro no? ¿Existen cosas fuera del control del Todopoderoso?
Cada asignación es medida y controlada para mi bien. Al aceptar la porción dada por Dios las demás opciones se cancelan. Las decisiones se hacen más fáciles, las direcciones más claras, y por lo tanto, mi corazón se tranquiliza."Al escoger aceptar la vida tal como nos viene asignada por la mano de un Padre amoroso, de hecho aprendemos la verdad que cada arbusto común de la vida literalmente arde con la presencia de Dios.
Dios está con nosotros en toda situación.
Dios está en nosotros obrando sus propósitos eternos.
Dios está aquí en este mismo momento.
Dios está por nosotros no importa que nos pase en la vida.
Dios nos ama. Nada que hagamos pueda cambiar esta verdad.
Dios asigna mi suerte y porción para mí bien.
Dios hace que todas las cosas me ayuden para bien.
Dios nos cuida y podemos descansar en su presencia.
Dios está en control de cada faceta de mi vida;
nada me suceda sin antes pasar por su permiso soberano.
Monday, January 30
One of the most remarkable gifts God has given mankind is the freedom to choose. We can choose to see God in every common bush, or we can choose to see bushes and pluck their berries. The choice is ours. How we see the common bushes of life determines how we embrace life and God.
Is God really in every common bush? Is he in the coffee cup sitting by my side, or the laptop sitting on my desk? Is there really such a thing as a "holy telephone" or an "anointed paper clip"? Is that what Browning is trying to say?
I believe she is hinting we have the choice about what we choose to believe about God. We choose our responses to the things that come into our lives. It is like the story of two prisoners gazing out from behind bars – one sees mud and the other sees stars. Life can be seen from either perspective: mud or stars. We choose whether to see things from God's perspective or see what literally stands before us. Perspective is everything.
When Moses encountered the burning bush in the wilderness what first amazed him, "though the bush was on fire it did not burn up."
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."
Does God still call us from the common bushes? I believe He does. But only when we choose to see, hear, and perceive Him in all things. Our response has to be the same as Moses, "Here I am, Lord."
When someone is late for an appointment that we have ourselves have made the effort to be on time for, we have the choice to see a bush "afire with God" or a bush to sit round and pluck blackberries (and fume!) Our common response is frustration, loss, and thinking of the wasted time. But if every common bush is afire with God, might there be a spiritual reason or significance for even delayed appointments?
Elisabeth Elliot elaborates on Psalm 16:5, "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure." She comments, "I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say there are things that happen to us which do not belong to our lovingly assigned "portion" (This belongs to it, that does not?) Are some things...out of the control of the Almighty? Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter."I think the key word in the above wise words is, "...as I accept the given portion..." As we choose to accept life as it comes assigned to us from a loving Father, we indeed learn to see "every common bush afire with God."
ETERNAL TRUTHS TO CLAIM:
God is always with us in every situation.
God is always for us no matter what happens.
God loves us. There is nothing we can do that will change this fact.
God assigns to us our portion and cup—that which is best for our good.
God is here right now.
God cares for us.
God works all things together for our good.
God is in control of every facet of our life;
nothing happens without first passing through his divine permission.
Sunday, January 22
A true story heard from a fellow Ecuadorian church planter working in a neighboring region of our province.
Luisa was eager to start with her new church plant. She had no where to go, and did not know where to start. After praying, she felt led to start under the shade of a tree near where she lived. Her first gathering consisted of herself and two other girls. Luisa was ecstatic. She was on her way to becoming a church planter!
Two weeks later, the tree was cut down by the owner of the property. Luisa was devastated. She went to her church planting mentor and cried, "Now, what am I supposed to do? I have no where else to meet. The tree has been cut down."
Her wise mentor told her, "Thank the Lord! He has now provided you with a place to sit! Resume meeting in the branches of the fallen tree."
Luisa did so, and the group meeting continued to meet for a couple of more weeks. All was going well until the owner decided to burn the fallen tree.
Luisa went back and lamented, "Now what are we going to do? The owner has burned our tree. Now we don't have anywhere to sit when we gather."
Her mentor told her, "Go back and continue to meet in the midst of the ashes. Church is not the place, but the people the Lord has given you to work with. Trust God. He is with you."
Luisa did so. She and her little band of new believers continued to meet in the spot where now only ashes remained.
Meanwhile, the intrigued owner continued to wonder at the group that so faithfully gathered no matter what he did to the tree. Finally, out of curiosity, he too began coming to the gatherings to learn more about what was going on.
A few weeks passed and he too gave his heart to Jesus. With his new heart, he donated the portion of land where the church had been gathering. Since it is hot out in the equatorial sun, he also decided it would be nice if everyone could have a shady place to sit. He then built a shelter large enough to accommodate the growing group out of the hot sun.
Many lessons can be learned from this story.
One that registered with me, is that God often has to reduce our "tree" (works) to ashes before He can build the church He intends on having.
Another lesson is the idea that set-backs, trials--and even tragedies are often viewed as detriments to the work. But more often than not, end up being the very means God uses to accomplish His purposes.
What other lessons do you see in this story?