Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thanks for Writing ...

The sponsorship program for Latin America ChildCare (LACC) invites sponsors to write their sponsored child. When a child gets a letter, we always ask them to write back. Some letters are perfunctory and some are unusually honest. This is my favorite for this year. It came from a 5th grader:

Dear Sponsor,

One day I fell from the mototaxi* and my mother screamed and my father told me that I broke a bone and I said, "No Daddy." And one day I cut my hair all by myself and my mom hit me for cutting my hair. And my dog died last Tuesday. My whole family cried.

Thanks for listening. I leave you with a big hug.

*Name changed. A mototaxi is a three wheeled motorcycle taxi.

For $32 per month, you can change the life of a child like Jay--providing him with the Gospel, a quality education and maybe even a real haircut!

A Tale of Two Histories

Willy, at age 7, is the budding Evangelist in the family. Recently, he was playing in the park and mentioned Jesus to his friend. The boy said, "Who is this Jesus guy you keep talking about?

Willy replied, "Don't you know Jesus? He's God. He made us and the world and everything!"

The boy responded, "God didn't make us. We came from monkeys and the big boom!"

Willy, never having heard of the big "boom," was as perplexed as his friend who had never heard of Jesus. Willy came home and told the rest of us, "That kid really needs to learn about Jesus, because he thinks we came from monkeys."

It's like Charles Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities," in which the city was the same, it was the perspective of the people that was different. In this case, you don't have two "cities;" but rather, two "histories." THE original history is Willy's, who has been brought up to believe in a loving God who protects him and wants what is good for him. The fruit of that is that Willy is a generally happy kid. Why be afraid when God is on your side? The other history is that of the other boy, who was brought up to believe in unexplainable physical processes that have the power to create or destroy--entirely without love or reason. As such, the other little boy has a surly and cantankerous outlook. The explanation for where we come from shows on the faces of each child.

I'm proud of Willy for sharing about Jesus and, even though he climbs like a monkey, he didn't come from one. Below is a letter Willy wrote to Jesus, back when he was just starting the first grade. It reads, "Dear Jesus, Thank you for coming into my heart. Love, Will." Ironically, he spelled "heart" as "hert." If you pronounce it "hurt," it would be just as true.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Willy and Abi at the Park

Lena, Bill and the two youngest Shraders (Willy and Abi) went out to the park on May 2nd. It was a holiday weekend, so we couldn't get into the big attraction (gigantic sailing ships in the harbor). Instead, we ended up at the park celebrating crowd control. In South America, crowd control is the kind of thing people celebrate! They had old police cars, water canons and a fiberglass statue of a soldier with a machine gun. As we were walking along, I turned to see Willy standing in front of the statue with his hands up. It was very funny and called for participation from Abi. Willy has a natural sense of humor that we all appreciate. Abi, for her part, has a natural beauty that we all appreciate. Below, please note Willy driving the water canon. In the picture of Lena and the kids, note that behind Lena is an armored vehicle for driving through an angry crowd. We drive through angry crowds everyday ... its called traffic.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Overcoming the Spiritual Cynic Within

This from Lena:

I remember James Dobson, years back, talking about how it is good for couples to go back to the places where they first fell in love, and let these places stir up the memories of those first electric experiences between you and your mate, thus restoring those feelings of the first flush of passion. But what if we apply this same principle to our walk with the Lord? Same thing.

Recently, I have had the privilege of watching my oldest daughter fall passionately in love with her Savior. She has always been steeped in things of the Spirit through ministry life and her own decisions to jump into the presence of the Lord, but has begun to experience the pull of other things, and as a result has run right to the feet of Jesus. I am so proud of what I see in her, but as she seeks my counsel on things, I sometimes hear coming out of me a note of fear—that she will do something that will “offend the brethren” in her newfound zeal. As cautious pearls of wisdom fall from my mouth, I am caught remembering all the “overly zealous” stuff I did. And I did REALLY zealous stuff. Stuff I don’t want to even tell her about, for fear she will do the same! Crazy. And I am caught between the idea that wisdom keeps us out of unnecessary trouble, but passion is always throwing us into conflict-with the world, with those who are embarrassed or challenged (or both) by our passionate zeal, and even with ourselves, as we try to reason with ourselves why running into a room full of strangers with a bottle of Chanel No. 5 to pour on Jesus’ feet is a bad idea.

Why was it that we decided to take the safe way? Oh yeah. We got burned! Lots of people reject us. After all, a little flicker of light might manage to go unnoticed, and even give off a pleasing glow that attracts…but a raging fire is bound to get a response. Someone will run to put it out!! “No fires allowed!! Your fire offends me!” (Your fire convicts me!)

Why is it that the Lord chose passionate people as the leaders of his church? He chose Peter. He was clearly a hothead, but his first instincts were almost always those of absolute zeal. “You are the Son of God!” He knew it in his gut, and it was his first instinct to let it out. The Lord chose Paul, who was dying to go all the way for a cause, and the Lord chose him because He knew that once Paul knew the truth, he would not let the church veer from their course, no matter the personal cost to his own reputation. When the Galatians got off course with legalism, he wastes no time in correcting them. After the niceties of the normal greetings, his first words are, “Oh you foolish Galatians!” Passionate zeal. A centering desire that sometimes bypasses courtesy.

So, I am looking deep into the eyes of my teenager, and remembering the fires that gave me life. I am listening to Keith Green. I am remembering college students crammed into an old van, driving 24 hours to do beach witnessing in Fort Lauderdale. Witnessing to whomever the Spirit brought my way. Date nights with Jesus, letting him be the Great Pursuer of my life, and loosing the hope that there would be another…. I am stirring up my First Love.