Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bathroom Receipt 2

When we traveled to Panama last year, I received a nice bathroom receipt at the border. (You can see it here: At the time, getting a receipt for using the bathroom was a new experience for me. It is a special experience to get a receipt for something so personal. Now, I have a new receipt to add to my collection, a receipt from one of the 7 wonders of the World: Machu Picchu! As you can see, it is a quality receipt with a little picture of the wonder right on it. As the 749036th person to use the bathroom at Machu Picchu, I'm happy to report that the bathroom, while not a world wonder, was very nice.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A funny story of my friend Joe Zickafoose

Having written about the loss of my friend, Joe Zickafoose, I want to share one of my favorite stories. Joe and I were leading worship during a XA meeting at the University of Louisville. There was a new student there that night—whom I will refer to as Tad. There was a pause between songs and Tad began to call down the judgment fires of heaven on every sinner on campus. He listed all the possible sins of college students and screamed out, “O God, let them burn in hell! LET THEM BURN!!!”

I interrupted and said, “Let’s break into groups of three and pray for one another.”

Joe and I ran to Tad. He looked at us and said, “Hey, I know where I’ve seen you guys before! It was in my vision. You guys were on the right and left side of Jesus.”

Joe and I looked at each other, then blurted out at the same time, “Which side was I on?”

Tad’s head bobbed like a person who had just gotten off of a corkscrew rollercoaster. He was struggling to focus and said, “Uh….uh…you were on the right and you were on the left.” We looked at each other and, again, blurted out together, “Your right or Jesus’ right?!”

Tad now looked like a guy who got off the rollercoaster and was about to barf. He said, in highly nervous tones, “Uh, uh, I don’t know!”

So, if there’s any doubt about where Joe is, I have good reason to believe that he’s at Jesus’ side.

(A couple of months after this encounter, I saw Tad again. He said that he felt God calling him to XA because the people in the group were misfits and social outcasts who needed his help. Thankfully, he was apparently called to help another group and never came back.)

Thanks to Marc Cauthon ( for the photo.

Thoughts about the loss of my friend--Joe Zickafoose

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my dear friend, Joe Zickafoose. Joe and I became friends when I joined him on staff at the University of Louisville Chi Alpha group in February, 1989. He was a friend, a ministry mentor and a great guitar player!

After he died, I struggled to make sense of it. He was young, with a family and an influential ministry. Theologically, I understand the promise of heaven and I’m glad for it. Emotionally, when you have to say goodbye to someone you love, it is hard to feel the good feelings of heaven. As one who believes in healing, it is doubly hard to say goodbye to a friend and minister who seemed to be in his prime. Since Joe’s departure, I have been mulling these thoughts over and reading the Gospel of John. I was convicted, encouraged and challenged. In John 14:1-3, Jesus says,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

In this passage, the Lord knows he is about to leave and that his friends will be very upset, so he says:
1. Don’t be upset by this—trust in God.
2. I am going.
3. I’ll take you to be with me.

The parts that really hit me were points 2 and 3. Jesus said he was going. It is clear from the context that he is not referring to the crucifixion. He’s referring to AFTER the resurrection. In 16:28, Jesus says, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” So, it is clear that, even after Jesus defeated death, he had no plans of sticking around here. And, if he had not plans of sticking around, why do I think it’s such a great idea? That brings me to the point. Not only is he going away, but he’s going to take us to be with him. The key word in that sentence is “take.” The Father’s house is the destination that we’re all supposed to be looking forward to and I was. I always read this passage from the standpoint of my own encouragement. “Hey,” I said, “He’s coming to get me and one day I’ll be living the sweet life with my savior in the Father’s house!” I never ever thought, that he was talking to the person standing next to me—which in this case was Joe.

When Smith Wigglesworth’s wife died, he rebuked death and brought her back to life. She was not happy! As I recall, she rebuked her husband and said, “The Lord wants me and I want to go.” Wigglesworth said that he couldn’t bear to let her go. Even though she loved him, she had already tasted a bit of heaven. She said it again, “The Lord wants me and I want to go.” So, Wigglesworth let her go. That’s where the “Trust in God” part comes in. It is so much easier to do when you are not the one left behind. I want to live with Heaven as a reality—both for myself and those I say goodbye to. I don’t want to view it as a failure, when one of us moves into the Father’s house. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the place where saying goodbye will be easy, but I definitely don’t want to feel that we had failed as faith healers.

Revelation 22:3b-5 says, “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” That’s the goal.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Birthday Bourgeiosie

Abi's fourth birthday came, and we celebrated it in a lovely, low-key American birthday party, with just a couple little girlfriends and some good dress-up. I just happened to mention it to Abi's teacher, her "Miss," which is pronounced with a thick Spanish accent, "Mees." (At first I thought that this was some sort of word I didn't know yet, but then I realized that they were saying an English word-instead of seƱorita; they have anglicized it, and the teachers are the "Mees"es.) She seemed a little surprised that we hadn't done anything with Abi's classmates in school, but I didn't think any more about it; that is, until she asked me if maybe we could have a party for her at the school. My first thought was, "Bill will not like this at all," because Bill is a sort of traditional birthday minimalist, preferring to send the kids out to the backyard with a new stick to mark the passing of another year.

Now, something you need to know is that Lima, Peru is the Happy Birthday capital of the world, especially for those who have a little bit of dough to spend. It is very common for us to look out onto our little park and see rented tents and tableclothed, color-coordinated tables, a huge inflatable, and rented musicians, or just the music from High School Musical blared through a sound sytem. This is just for little kid parties, too. Abi attends a preschool with the priveleged, and therefore gets invited to some major parties, but we don't usually go, as they are normally at suppertime and it can get a little disruptive, not to mention expensive, to keep up her busy social calendar.

So, to make a long story short, we had a party at the school. But I had no clue as to what I had to bring. I had to ask the "Miss"--and very sheepishly--what all "having a party" entailed. When I showed up, it was clear that I didn't really get it, as she had to cue me on all the way to do things. I felt like the representative for the Birthday Party Burgeiosie. Totally clueless. I had no tablecloths, no clown. If it wasn't for the "Mees," I would have been up a creek. But at least my jello went over really big. Abi hid her face in her hands the whole while they sang to her, but clearly enjoyed all the attention, getting up to do a little jig to entertain her public now and then. As for the ballet class she normally takes on Fridays, that went by the wayside, because she couldn't wait to get home to check out the hall of new toys to play with. As we made our way out of the center, balancing all the party makings and Abi's gifts, her "Miss" said to me, "See, how happy she is?" I think at least one of us will adjust just fine to the Latin birthday haul. Oh..., I mean culture.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Enjoying the call

People ask if we like living in Lima. The answer is yes, but it is not without costs. Obviously, being away from family and friends is tough. But, on the bright side, we have the joy of touching lives in a deep way. Recently, I spent four and a half days in the jungle town of Iquitos, Peru. Latin America ChildCare (LACC) works with two schools there. The schools did not have running water, so the kids had to carry buckets of water in each day. The water always ran out, leaving the bathrooms smelling horribly and there was no way for the kids to wash their hands. I was blessed to help put in two wells--one at each school. The picture here is of the Luz del Saber school. A few minutes after I took this picture, the water started running out beautifully clear. It was a total joy to see the kids soaked and happy. Many don't have the capacity to shower in their homes. As such, this school will have a shower outside on the playground, for kids who want to freshen up after playing. That means a lot when it's 97 degrees out! While I was there, I also preached at two churches and prayed for many hungry and hurting people at the altars. It was very fulfilling. So, today I am enjoying the call of God and grateful that I get to be on Jesus' team.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Taxi Driver, the Checkout Girl, and the Rooftop Rescue

I have been in awe lately at how hard it is for the human nature to get a grasp on the core message of the gospel. I was talking to a taxi driver about the fact that Jesus died for his sins, and that he just had to receive the gift of salvation, and begin walking with Jesus, and He would do the rest--make him clean. He had such a hard time getting his head around that idea. There are no "few things" we need to clean up in advance, no preparations to be made. Just Jesus and a naked soul, waiting for the rescue on top of a house that has been flooded and will never have people living in it again. That simple, and that hard, because we so want to save our image of ourselves as capable, independent, righteous. But we are not.

A few days later, in another conversation about the Lord in the checkout at the supermarket(this is a lot easier here than in the States. I LOVE THAT ABOUT THIS COUNTRY.) , the girl asked me if I was religious. I told her that I was a sinner who was saved by the sacrifice of Jesus for my sins. I like that answer a lot better than, "Yeah, I'm an evangelical."

I really want to say to all the world that Jesus came for the sick, and not the healthy, and only those who can see their own need for help can receive it. Praise God who saved me from the consequences of my sin!

And if there is some precious soul out there who reads these blogs but who has not yet given their life to the Lord, please understand that there is nothing you can do to help or heal yourself so that you are ready to recieve Him. You are on the top of the flooded house, and if you don't let Him rescue you, the results are obvious. Please let Him rescue you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cincinnati Chili Fiesta

We've been through some tough challenges lately, but we are not without the things that bring comfort to the human soul. For example, we have the hope of salvation, the power of the Spirit, friends who love us and ... cheddar cheese! Thanks to the team from Cincinnati, we have Cincinnati Chili mix and the cheese to put on top of it. As the Lord said when He created Cincinnati Chili--it is good.

Abi's 4th birthday

Abi turned 4 on August 9th. She celebrated with a tea party. It's important to celebrate #4, because by the time you reach 44, the crown doesn't fit as well!

Willy's first day of kindergarten

Willy just started kindergarten. Here's a shot of him going off to conquer his first class. A few days afterward I woke him up and said, "It's time for school!"

He replied, "Again?!!!!!"

Back in the jungle

I'm back in the jungle town of Iquitos. I'll be visiting two of our LACC schools, preaching the Gospel, thanking our teachers, meeting local pastors and filming the installation of two new wells for the schools. It's very exciting and I feel blessed to be a part of it.

The damper on my feelings of blessedness comes from the news that my great friend, Joe Zickafoose, has passed away. Joe and I worked together at the University of Louisville back in 1989. He was the senior pastor and I was the new guy. He was a close friend, brother-in-the-Lord and ministerial mentor for many years. Please pray for his wife, Jayne, and their two boys, John and Andy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

He is coming soon.

This entry is from Lena:

About a month ago, I saw a rather home-made movie of the testimony of a Peruvian man who was brought back from the dead. His descriptions of heaven and hell were so real. I felt such an urgency to warn people. Heaven is awesome, and no one who goes there ever wants to come back, even with loved ones back here on Earth. This is hard for us to imagine, because our view just isn't quite big enough to keep eternity in our hearts and minds all the time. Frankly, we don't think enough about the reality of hell, either. It is so uncomfortable, even stressful to think of what really is at stake when we share the gospel.

Not long after, some missionary friends of ours were moving into their new place. I felt the urge to share the gospel with their new maid-- a young lady with a baby--smiley, pleasant. But I thought twice, because I didn't want to look like I was trying to out-missionary anyone, and I was certain that they would begin sharing with her soon.

About a week later, we received the news that she had gone to the hospital, and within just a few short days, she had gotten very ill and died. I couldn't believe it, and more than that, I couldn't believe that I had missed my chance over perceived territory issues (which I am quite certain were nonexistent--really awesome folks).

I wish this was a happy note, and that I had led her to the Lord. But I believe that every day, we are passing people who only have a short time left. Mostly, I think of Peruvians in this, as their health care is such a thing of faith from first to last. There are no guarantees of the medical community going to great lengths to save a life here where there is a lack of funds. Even when there are... you get the picture.

The truth is that this very week, Bill's brother and a very dear friend have their lives hanging in the balance, and they have great health insurance and the best the States can offer.

I did take the opportunity to witness to my taxidriver this week, though. He was amazingly open, but unwilling to make a commitment to the Lord. I warned him that Jesus is coming back soon, and in that moment, all who have not made Him Lord will perish. He was well-warned!! I am not willing that any should perish.

And if there is anyone out there reading this who has not yet given their life to Christ, I need to tell you that you are in serious danger. You must be found safely under the protection of Jesus Christ if you are to escape Hell and find Heaven. You do this by surrendering your life to Jesus, admitting that you can not pay your debt of sin, and receiving his gift of salvation. There is no other way to get in. Only through his sacrifice. Please do it now, because you do not know when He is coming back-- to the whole earth, or just for you.

Blessings to all of you, our friends! may He help us all to walk awake to the fact that He is coming back soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Witnessing in Cusco

One blessing of being in Peru is that the people are open to talking about their faith. When the First Christian Missions Team was with us, our time in Cuzco and Machu Picchu turned out to be a significant ministry experience. Everywhere we went, the Lord opened doors of witness for us. The team brought Bibles and we gave many away--showing people important verses and explaining that salvation is the gift of God. The team encouraged me to be more aggressive in personal witness. Two guys I talked with were our guides for the Machu Picchu tour and the Sacred Valley tours--one named Renato and the other, Augusto. Both are of Quechua Indian descent--the mountainous people most closely associated with the Inca empire. Both mentioned worshipping "Mother Earth" while we were there. I asked Renato who Jesus was in his life. He said, "He's a great guy, ... a really great guy."

I said, "Yea, but is he your Lord?"

Renato said, "Yea, ... a lot of the time."

I laughed and said, "I think this whole thing works a lot better when he is your Lord all of the time."

Renato said, "That's really difficult because I'm Quechua."

He was implying that it was incongruent to be a Native American Indian and to also be a Christian. There are two reasons why he thinks that. First, the Spanish conquered the Quechuas and tried to assimilate them--changing their names, their worship practices, their theology, culture and language. The Spanish failed. To this day, the Quechuas lead double lives. They speak Spanish in the market place and Quechua in their homes. They are Catholic in name, but continue to follow the ancient worship practices of their ancestors. To Renato, to become Christian means becoming Spanish. Since the Spanish conquistadors were very cruel and failed to exemplify proper Christian living, becoming like them is not an acceptable option for him. The second reason is Jesus, himself. Romans 9:33 says that Jesus is "the stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." Since Jesus demands exclusive worship and the identity of the Quechua Indians is integrally tied to their worship of the sun and the earth, it is painful even to be confronted with the name of Jesus. I tried to share with him that Jesus created us (not mother earth), and that when we worship him we do not lose our identities. Jesus loves the Quechua Indians. Nonetheless, he is the "name above all names," and does not permit us to even play games that imply we are worshipping the earth or the sun.

He listened, then said, "You know, when I was a teenager, I attended an evangelical youth group."

I thought this was interesting, because it implied that he wasn't a closed to the idea as he had implied previously. I said, "Why'd you quit?"

He said, "Because they were all hypocrites. They sang worship songs in the youth group, then went out drinking afterward."

I told him, "A lot of people talk about being Christian and others can see that they're not, but their failures don't change the truth. Jesus really is the Messiah and we can't tell the Lord that we didn't serve him because other people were phony."

He agreed. He would have talked more, but our train came and the rest of the team were already on it. It was one of those scenes where I had to run and catch the train before it left the station.

Please pray for Renato and Augusto. I think about the book of Revelation, which tells us that there will be people from every tribe and tongue worshipping Jesus. I want Renato and Augusto to be two representatives from the Quechua Indians in that glorious choir.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Prayer Requests

Having a missions team from the states produces many effects, one of which is spiritual warfare. When the team was here, I was sick with digestive problems and cramps. When they left, I got a bad cold. The night they were leaving, I found out that both my mother and brother were at the hospital emergency room. They both stayed in the hospital a couple of days, then returned to their respective homes. Today, my brother went back for emergency surgery. Last week, he had arterial bypass surgery on his leg. It clogged and developed a staff infection. Today, they removed the bypass and left the wound open to heal. I'm grateful that he's alive. The news I received this morning made his survival seem questionable. My worries for my brother were compounded by the ongoing problems with my mother's health and a serious blood-pressure problem with a close friend here in Peru. I also found out, from the team, that a good friend in the states has terminal cancer. I currently have 5 friends, all roughly my age, that have cancer. I found out tonight that a friend of Sarah Olejarz is in critical condition in the hospital. We are all worried about our friends and, at the same time, are struggling with the knowledge that we can't just run home and be with them. So, I ask for your prayers for: My mom, June, and my brother, Jan. Also for these friends: Joe, Scott, Russ, Lisa, Edith, Oscar and, Sarah's friend, Fern.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

John McCain & my cousin

I read my local newspaper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, on the internet. Today, I saw a great story regarding my cousin, Janice Karl, and John McCain. During the Viet Nam war, people would wear bracelets with the names of men and women who were MIA's (Missing In Action). I remember my cousin wearing her bracelet, which had the name of an American prisoner of war, John McCain. My cousin kept that bracelet all these years. Last night, she got to give it back to him. Here's the story from

Janice Karl of Landen has waited more than 30 years to give something to John McCain - a POW bracelet bearing his name.

Today, when McCain, now the Republican candidate for president, comes to Four Bridges Country Club in Liberty Township for a campaign fundraiser, she will get that chance.

"I wore that bracelet for a long time and after he came home, I kept it in a box," Karl said.

"I always intended to return it to him but just never got around to it. Now I can."

Karl was one of millions of Americans in the early 1970s who obtained bracelets from a national POW/MIA organization. Each had the name of a prisoner of war or missing serviceman and the date he was captured or went missing.

Many of them have presented the returning POWs - or their surviving family - with the bracelets they wore to honor their sacrifice.

The bracelet Karl wore is etched with his name and rank - Lt. Cmdr. John McCain - and the date of his capture, Oct. 26, 1967.

McCain was a Navy aviator in October 1967 when his plane was shot down over North Vietnam.
McCain was badly injured in the crash and was held prisoner for the next 5½ years, during which time he was frequently tortured and beaten. He was released in March 1973.

Karl said she remembers watching the television reports when McCain arrived back in the U.S.
"I remember thinking how awful he looked," Karl said. She recently decided it was time to give the bracelet to the former POW. When she heard that McCain would be coming to the area today for a fundraiser, she began making calls to McCain's campaign and Senate offices to arrange to meet him.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Taste of Home

The youth missions team from First Christian Assembly of God (in Cincinnati, Ohio) just left. First Christian is our home church. As such, their departure has caused my heart to be flooded with emotions. We had a fabulous time when they were here. We painted part of a Latin American ChildCare school and did street evangelism (while handing out invitations to attended an evangelistic service) in three different districts of Lima. We also did street witnessing in Cuzco. There were 13 teenagers and 5 adults. The adults were already friends. Of the teens, 9 or 10 were the children of our friends. They were all like a sweet taste of home. It was a joy to hang out with people who knew us and with whom we could express our thoughts and emotions. It was also a thrill each time someone on the team had a great witnessing experience. I'll be adding pictures of their visit, and the work they accomplished, over the next few days. For now, I want to thank God for old friends and the chance to advance the Gospel. I also want to eat the Cheddar cheese they brought, spread over a nice hot bowl of Cincinnati Chili.