Monday, May 29, 2006

Average Peruvian is 157cm tall

One of my favorite web sites is It contains news articles of great importance like this one:

"The average height of Peruvians at a national level is 1.57 meter (61.8 inches or 5.15 feet). The average height of men is 1.64 meters (5.38 feet) and for women 1.51 meter (4.95 feet), according to a recent survey made by the Executive Direction of Monitoring Food and Nutricion (DEVAN), part of the National Health Institute (INS)."

It's good to know that at 5' 10" tall, I'm going to be the tall guy in town. The down side of this is getting shoes to fit. When Lena and I were in Peru two years ago, I saw some great sandals. I asked if they carried my size. The guy said, "We go as high as a size 10." I'm an 11 or an 11 1/2. At least nobody will mug me for my shoes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Our Call - The Sweaters

On Christmas Eve of 2003, a friend gave us two Christmas gifts. They were alpaca sweaters from Peru. She proceeded to tell us that in 1993, ten years prior, she did a missions trip to Peru. While she was there, the Lord spoke to her and told her to buy these two sweaters and to wait until He told her who to give them to and when. She waited ten years. The Lord spoke and told her to give them to us Bill and Lena Shrader.

As I stared at my sweater, our friend said, “There’s a message from God in those sweaters.”

I said, “What is it?”

She said, “That’s for you to find out.” (Note: never trust a prophet who does your homework for you. When the going gets tough, you need to know you got your orders from God.)

I took up the challenge and took my sweater to our bedroom, where I do my morning devotions. I would lay the sweater out on the bed and kneel with my forehead on the sweater. I cried out, “God, what’s the message?!” I cried that out, over and over.

In the second month, I changed the prayer to, “If you want us to go to Peru, just say the word. IF you want us to go to Peru, just say the word.”

By the time we reached the third month, my heart had started to change. After 20 years of working with college students, my heart was starting to change. In the third month, I took the word “if” off of my prayers and started praying, “Just say the word.”

By the fourth month, God had spoken so dramatically that I knew I was in disobedience praying about it anymore. The time for prayer had past. It was time for action. I picked up my sweater and said, “Father, I’m going to Peru!” But there was still some fear in my heart, so I added, “And if this turns out to be a big mistake, you’re going to have to stop me.” Even as I said it, I knew it was no mistake.

P.S. People ask us if the sweaters fit. The answer is a resounding Yes.

Answered Prayers

Thanks to everyone who has been praying for us. I've had two all-nighters in the past week, working on a paper for a doctoral class. I'm grateful to the Lord for giving me clarity of thought and the motivation to press through my sleepiness. That is a gift from the Spirit that I believe has come my way because friends are praying. Thanks!

We've been in a quandary over whether we should sell or rent our house. I asked many of my missionary friends for their input. Many said to rent. Most said, "It depends on if you know the renters." Finally, one friend wrote from overseas and suggested that we rent for the first year and see if it works. That advice had the ring of wisdom to it, so now I feel good about renting the house. I guess that our new prayer request should be for the right renters.

I thank the Lord for giving us peace each step of the way.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Prayer Request - Stop & Listen - May 18, 2006

Colton is playing soccer this Spring. After a recent game, I asked him why he stopped short of kicking the ball.

He said, "The coach told us to stop and think!"

I explained that the coach did not mean for Colton to stop running every time he got to the ball; rather, to think about the play before wildly kicking the ball.

That's good advice and Lena and I are having a hard time following it. We need the Holy Spirit's help to know how to live a normal life while preparing to move overseas. I remember when we moved across town five years ago. It took months to quit obsessing about the house and the move. That's where we are now, only with a much bigger move. Please pray for us, that the Holy Spirit would help us to "stop and listen." We long to be quiet and listen to the Lord's voice--to know the peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Prayer Requests - May 14, 2006

1) For my parents: In my last news update, I asked everyone to pray for my father’s health. He has less than 20% of his heart capacity and severe emphazema. He had contracted pneumonia and was close to death. After everyone started praying, he turned the corner and is still with us. Praise the Lord! Thanks to all of you who prayed and sent emails asking about him. He is now at home, where a hospice nurse checks in on him. I’m grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend with him during his illness—especially given our impending departure from the states. That departure is an ever present part of our consciousness—like a loud clock ticking in the room. That leads to the next few requests…

2) That God would give our families comfort and assurance as our departure date draws nearer.

3) Wisdom concerning whether to sell or rent our home.

4) God’s help and wisdom in packing. What to take and what to leave?

5) That we would raise our budget before our target date of August 29.

6) Inspiration and stamina as I read and write papers for the doctor of ministry degree. Our August 29 departure target and itineration are putting the squeeze on my study time.

7) For the upcoming presidential elections in Peru. The front runner, Ollanta Humala, is a socialist. If he wins, most of the Andean region will be socialist. Humala’s opponent, Alan Garcia, was previously president from 1985-90, when he was overthrown. Whoever becomes president, please pray that it will be a person of righteous wisdom, humility and godliness.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Leaving everything

I drive hundreds of miles every weekend, which provides a lot of time to daydream. My daydreams are very predictable, depending on the season. Since this is Spring, I’ve been dreaming about camping. I love camping. We have a pop-up camper that is the focal point of many dreams. There’s nothing as wonderful as laying in the pop-up’s bed, feeling the night breeze and listening to crickets. We knew when we got the call to Peru that we’d have to give up many of the things we cherish. Obviously, the daily relationships with friends and family are the most costly. The good news is that using an internet phone service, we’ll be able to have a phone number in Ohio that will ring directly in Peru. So, we’ll only be a phone call away…more or less. Emotionally the thought of leaving close relationships behind is overwhelming, so we don’t dwell on it by choice. Nonetheless, our subconscious emotions have a way of breaking through our defenses. For me, this happens when I’m driving and see somebody’s new camper or a great place to camp. Then it gets me—we won’t be camping anymore. Aaaahhhhh! My subconscious goes into overload and I see myself trying to fit our camper in the overhead baggage compartment of the plane. The flight attendant says, “I’m sorry, Sir, but you’ll have to leave that behind.”

I say, “Of course I’ll have to leave it behind, anybody can see that. I just brought it on so I could say goodbye.”

The scene ends with some brutish baggage handlers ripping the camper from my steely grip, while the captain and flight attendant hold me back. With my arms stretched out, reaching for the camper, I say, “Goodbye sweet breezes…Goodbye pitter-patter of the rain of the aluminum roof…goodbye…”

In Luke, chapter 5, Jesus calls out to Peter, Andrew, James and John and says, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Luke 5:11 says, “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” (NASB)

He’s worth it.

Above is a picture of the camper from a XA trip back in September, 2004. Lena is holding Abi, who was one month old. The other people are XA alumni from Wilmington College (Shannon Treadway and Katrina Frazee). Tara Lydy (XA staffer at Wilmington) is preparing the teaching skit for that smoky Sunday morning.

This is a picture of Hannah, reading in the camper at Table Rock Lake. We'll be selling the camper this summer. If you're interested, send me an email at

The raven brought beans

I preached this past weekend at Willow Bend Church in Clarksville, TN, which is pastored by my good friend Buster Gilliam and his wife, Sandy. Buster was my next-door neighbor at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, while we both were working on our Masters of Divinity degrees.

Buster was an incredible blessing to me. I moved to Louisville after living in Boston for 3 ½ years. I went to Boston in the fall of 1985 to attend Gordon-Conwell Seminary and to help plant a church ( Boston was a struggle for me, given the high cost of living, crazy traffic, cold weather, a failed romantic relationship and the difficulties of a life spread too thin. There is a silver lining to the Boston cloud in my life, I made some really wonderful friends, learned how to drive in the city, matured in my faith, and ate some great food. Nonetheless, by the time I left Boston, I was worn out spiritually, physically and financially. I showed up in Louisville feeling like a wrung-out rag.

I transferred to Southern Baptist Seminary to finish my Master’s degree. I lost my wallet in the parking lot, where it was picked up by Buster Gilliam. Buster had recently retired from the Army. He took the wallet to the administration building and found out the owner was his neighbor—so he brought the wallet home. That was a fateful day for both of us. Buster is a great cook and loved to make pinto beans with ham hocks. I would make rice, and the two of us would eat all week. Those beans, and the great conversations we had while eating them, soothed my soul like a healing balm.

Buster went on to get his Doctor of Ministry degree and planted a great church in Clarksville, Tennessee ( When I was preaching in the area, I stopped by and saw Buster for the first time in over a decade. I asked the Lord to give me a scriptural picture of how He had used Buster to minister to me. The Lord gave me the picture of Elijah being fed by the Ravens. In 1 Kings 17:1-6, God provides for the prophet Elijah during a horrible draught by commanding ravens to bring him food. Verses 5 and 6 say, “So Elijah did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” (NIV) This is a great example of God’s miraculous provision for a guy in a tough situation. It is also an excellent example of how my friendship with Buster was healing for me.

I’ve been studying Emotional Intelligence for my doctoral project. Daniel Goleman says in his book entitled, Emotional Intelligence, that one friend can make the difference between a life of wisdom and contentedness and a life of discontent, marked by destructive decisions. When I needed a friend who would help me stay on the path of wisdom and contentedness, the Lord sent Buster—like a raven with beans.