Sunday, July 27, 2008

Team Update & CNN

Our team coming from Cincinnati hasn't arrived yet. They were in the air, when a loud popping noise made the flight return to Atlanta. Please pray for them. They've been up since yesterday and are not scheduled to arrive until tomorrow.

Here's the CNN article on it:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A Delta Air Lines flight en route to Peru was forced to return to Atlanta, Georgia, after attendants heard a loud "popping sound," a Delta spokesman said. Flight 351 had taken off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport shortly after midnight Sunday and was heading to Lima, said spokesman Kent Landers. Landers said attendants heard a loud popping noise when the plane was south of Fort Myers, Florida.
The pilot returned the plane safely back to the Atlanta airport about 2:45 a.m. ET. It was not immediately known what caused the sound. Landers said passengers would be flown to Peru on a different flight.

(These pictures are from my last flight from Atlanta to Peru--possibly on the same plane!)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sharing the Gospel & 2 prayer requests

Here's the text from our latest email update:

One of the blessings and curses of being a missionary is the fact that I stick out—but God has a way of using that. Last week, I was in Piura to preach, to make friends and take pictures of the kids in our Latin America ChildCare school. I was leaving the church, when I was stopped by two teenage boys walking down the street. One of them spoke, while the other just listened. The one who spoke asked, "Is that church Christian?"

I said, "Yes."

"Are you a missionary?"


The area I was in was not entirely safe. There are gangs there and I was afraid the two teens were going to harass me. Instead, he asked, "Why did Jesus come to the earth?"

"To pay the price of our sins. Sin separates us from God, but God loved us and wasn’t willing to be separated. So, something had to be done about the sin. That’s why Jesus came—to pay the debts we had incurred by sinning."

He continued, "If God loves us so much, then why is there suffering in the world?"

I said, “That is a great question. It’s not really easy to understand from our perspective. The short answer is that, for now, suffering is part of having the ability to love freely. God wants to have a relationship of love with real people, not just with robots. So, people have to have the right to make choices. When people make a choice to sin, they set off a chain reaction that hurts innocent people. God could stop it and take away everyone’s ability to make choices, but he couldn’t really have a relationship of love that way. Nobody wants that. But, it’s important to remember that this place, along with the suffering, is not the end of the story. Jesus said he’s building a mansion for us in a place without suffering and that he is coming back to take us there. But in order to go, you have to be his disciple. Is Jesus your Savior and Lord?

The two young men stared at me and fumbled to find an answer. So I continued, “Are you in a relationship with Jesus where you show your love for him by obeying him?”

One young man looked down without speaking. The other said, “No.”

I said, “Do you want to confess your sins to the Lord and ask him to be Lord of your life?”

“How do you do that?”
That is the very question all missionaries want to hear! I said, “You say, ‘Lord Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner, but I want to walk with you. I’m asking you to forgive me, to save me and to give me your Holy Spirit.’” I then asked, “Would you like to pray that prayer right now?”

They both looked down, silent. I waited, but they wouldn’t look up again. That’s a common way of ending a conversation in Peru. I had to change the subject. I told them that the church I was at was having a concert that night and I invited them both to come. They smiled and asked what time, then they left. I don’t know if they came, because there was a huge crowd at the church that night. I don’t even know their names. So I’m asking you to pray for them.

I have a second request. This week, we’re hosting a team of youth from our home church in Cincinnati. Please pray that the whole team will have conversations like the one I had with those young men. Pray for safety, salvations and life impacting ministry for all.

Thanks for being part of our team!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Our trip to Piura and Trujillo was really long--20 hours of driving north, then 20 hours back to Lima. One friend said it sounded "crazy long." It was crazy, but not because of the length,...rather, because of the fear! For a large part of the driving, I was very afraid. Early on in the trip, we were stopped by a cop who wanted a bribe. He had an accent that was unbelievably thick. So, I was nervous, not knowing what my rights were or what the proper response was. He was applying pressure for me to pay him off. At the same time, I had to keep asking him to repeat himself. That frustrated him. When Lena told him that we were Christians who do not pay bribes, he backed off of his extortion attempt, but was still agitated. He told us about bandits attacking cars on the highway at night. He did this to frighten us, but it is nonetheless a legitimate warning. The bandits wait until the dark of night, then put logs or rocks in the highway to force you to stop. If they can blow out a tire, they wait until you get out of the car to change the tire. I have a friend who was attacked in this way. He and his wife lost $800, all their jewelry and nearly their lives. When the cop stopped us, we were still many hours from our destination, meaning that we had to drive on a deserted highway in the dark. Once the sun set, I was filled with fear. I’m not accustomed to being afraid and it was an unpleasant experience. It left my body full of nervous chemicals that clouded my brain when I needed to think clearly. The good news is that we made it to our hotel safely and were not stopped by bandits or extortionists. (Praise the Lord!) After a few more days, with more time on the highway (during daylight), I eventually got to the point where my fears lessened. At that point, I started to enjoy the trip and felt more capable of handling the challenges ahead.

The kids asked, "What are bandits?" The kids had never even thought of the possibility of being robbed on the highway. It made Lena and I aware of how blessed people are in the US. We've driven all over the US where, apart from the inner city, I never feared of being robbed. But, now we’re not in the US anymore and are much more able to empathize with the Apostle Paul. He traveled all over the middle east and Europe—on foot! In 2 Corinthians 11:26-30, Paul wrote, “I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

Becoming a missionary definitely reveals your weaknesses. So, I’m going to take this opportunity to proudly boast, “I was afraid!”

(The pictures are of the road. That's me driving. The first picture shows desert brush; the second, desert sand that goes on for miles and, finally, a fort left over from an ancient civilization.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

A long journey

We just returned from a trip to Catacaos (near Piura). It took about 20 hours to drive there--all of it on a two lane road with an average speed limit of about 40 miles per hour. It reminded me of what it must have been like when my parents drove from Ohio to Florida in the early 50's. The good news is that it was hot. It's currently winter in Lima, so the sun and the heat were welcome. Here are a couple of shots of the kids in the Betel school in Catacaos.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dunkin Donuts -- Nutricious!

In Hebrews 11:1, the Bible says that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." That is definitely the case with the Dunkin Donuts stand at the Lima airport. The receipt says it all: "NUTRA -- Dunkin Donuts." I had the hope, a long time ago, that donuts were actually good for you. Now I'm certain of it!

The currency on the receipt is Peruvian Nueva Soles, which are about 3 to 1 against the dollar. Therefore, our 10 donuts and 2 cups of coffee cost a little under $4. That's not too bad when you're hankering for a taste of home.