Thursday, December 25, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
The national bird of Peru is the "Cock-of-the-Rock." It gets its name from the practice of building its nests on rocky cliffs. It is rare and beautiful.
But, in popular culture, the Cock-of-the-Rock is overshadowed by the massive Condor -- which is worshipped by indigenous peoples throughout South America.
Then there is the ignoble vulture. It is extremely common and not at all impressive—unless you like animals that eat garbage and cool themselves off by pooping on their legs. It is to the Amazon basin what rats are to New York -- ubiquitos, filthy and very large. If Ansel Adams can be famous for his pictures of National Parks and Annie Liebovitz can be famous for her photos of celebrities, then I thought that maybe I (Bill) should try my niche at a lovely collection of “The Vultures of Iquitos, Peru.” These shots were taken on the playground of Luz del Saber (one of our Latin America ChildCare schools) in Iquitos.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
This from Lena:
I was in the market today and noticed as one of the vendors bowed her head to pray before she ate her lunch. I was touched at her reverence, and asked her if she was a believer in Jesus. I wasn’t really looking for a witnessing situation—just a moment to connect with a Jesus lover.
The conversation continued, and I asked if she was an evangelical believer. She said no, but that she was a Christian. I had never met people here before saying that they were Christian, but denying being an evangelical, apart from an occasional Catholic. I asked her what she perceived the difference to be, and she informed me that she doesn’t sin anymore.
I told her that First John was a great book in the Bible, and that it says that he who says he is without sin is a liar, and the truth isn’t in him. She looked shocked, and questioned my version of the Bible (just for the record, she was King James only, but in Spanish). She was new to this path, but not very shaken by my challenging words, and invited me to come to her church so I could understand better.
I left my new friend, telling her that I wasn’t interested in an argument, and I encouraged her to get into the Book herself, so that she could start to sift things that are taught in regard to the true teachings of Christianity. I was afraid to push her—I have heard stories of people starting out with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Mormons, and becoming disillusioned when they realized that what they were learning was not true, and throw all of it out together. I left a bit deflated, and angry that someone had routed a soul’s honest attempt to follow Christ as a repentant sinner. Now she is “sinless.” I feel sorry for her family and friends, who now have no way to speak into her life, as she is currently completely free of sin!
Peru is a minimally literate country. Latin America in general is not a print-rich region of the world, but compared with the rest of Latin America, we fall toward the very bottom. This creates vulnerability among our believers, because many of our brothers and sisters here have never read an entire book of the Bible---and I am talking about faithful ones! These are the 20% who do all the work, lead the worship, and facilitate cell groups. So what happens when a false teaching comes along? The heresy sensors don’t go off, and the church is often fighting off bad teaching.
Bill and I are passionate about Peruvian believers becoming strong in the Word. This is one of the reasons Bill is teaching in the seminary this year, even though it comes at a high cost in time and effort. We need pastors and leaders who handle the Bible well and teach their people to read it and study it for themselves. This is also a reason why I am doing an English conversation group based on the life of Christ aimed at university students (nonbelievers and believers combined). We want to get people into the Word by all means possible until it penetrates—separating even the bone from the marrow. It never fails to do the same for me!
Lena teaching university students about discipling new believers in Argentina
Bill giving our first pitch to Peruvian youth leaders on the importance of university ministry
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
On September 25, I was in a small bus crossing the border from Peru into Bolivia. Lena called with the news that my friend, Mark Randall, had passed away. Mark was one of my closest friends. We worked together in XA since 1989, when I was serving at the University of Louisville (with Joe and Jayne Zickafoose). We worked together on the SALT and SICM planning teams. We also vacationed together. My kids loved going to "Uncle Mark's" lake to go skiing. Mark was one of the friends who continued to call me, long after we moved to Peru. And he was one of the friends that I called whenever I had a hard decision to make. He was filled with faith and had a very good head for business. He was an inspiration, especially in the area of Evangelism.
It was painful to not be able to go to his funeral--especially since I wanted to comfort his many disciples, who were like children to him. Mark never married, but that didn't stop him from having a lot of love in his life. He loved my kids like they were his family. He also loved his XA disciples the same way. He had a gift for encouraging the best in others and steering them to use their gifts for the Gospel. As such, the verse that came to mind when I heard of his passing was Isaiah 54:1, “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD. (NIV)”
Since I couldn't be at the funeral, I decided to make a video of what I would have said. I posted that video here.
I'm grateful for Mark and I have no doubt that on September 25, Jesus said to him, "... Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness! (Matt. 25:23)."
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Everyone else had given up on the Village Scary Guy. You know who I am talking about—the one who sets your spiritual Geiger counters to the tune of the William Tell Overture. The Bible clearly states that folks re-routed their paths to avoid the lifeless zone where he wandered. Where everyone else took their u-turn, Jesus headed straight in his direction and cast a whole crew of demons out of him and into a herd of pigs worth a fortune. The townspeople react like a mother who just found her toddler “decorating” her new Coach bag with permanent marker. They weren’t happy.
To Jesus, the treasure of one soul was worth the porcine fortune lost in one glorious episode of rescue. The freedom of one soul was worth more than a treasure trove of bacon and pork chops. Can you imagine how much even one of those pigs cost? Can you imagine how freaky it was to see the Village Scary suddenly sane and harmless-looking at the same time you see a herd of dead pigs floating in the river? It was disgusting, gross, scary, and messy. So they asked Jesus to leave.
This one fact—that they asked Jesus to leave—won’t leave me lately. I can’t stop feeling broken over their desire for him to leave.
At that moment of determining to follow Jesus, every truly-saved sinner knows what was going on in his own heart. The sense that this Jesus is really going to “mess up my life” is imminent. He starts reviewing all the things he suspects this crazy savior—crazy enough to give his life for us willingly—is going to ask of him. The first rays of light in ages breaks into his creepy attic, and instinctively we know that a housecleaning is about to begin.
Even more so, there are moments when seeking Jesus looks weird or even crazy…praying for someone with serious disabilities, cancer. I suspect that casting demons out looks more orderly for those with a lot of practice, but so far my experiences have been crazy looking. Following Jesus means that you begin to walk in a reality that is not visible, and you become a member of a Kingdom that has different rules than this earth.
I remember a moment when I was still new in the Lord and I was in a coffee house with a friend. She was such a sweet believer…the Lord had rescued her out of many things, and as we talked, we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit growing stronger. There was an electric presence of the Holy Spirit that day. We were talking about revival and how much God wanted to touch the little college town where we lived. I remember thinking, “What are you up to, Lord?” One of those famous local crazy guys was also in the coffee house. If I had been alone, I probably would not have engaged him, but my friend had such a loving presence, and she began to talk to him. She told him how much Jesus loved him and had such a sweet tone. I was already feeling the presence of the Spirit, and I can’t tell you if it was the “mature” thing to do, but I started rebuking the evil spirits in my prayer language, and the guy threw his cup of coffee at me. The owners asked us to leave, called the cops, and closed the coffee shop for the afternoon. True story.
I know that there are those who will say that I was immature, that we shouldn’t have “gone there.” To be honest, I am not sure it would play out like that in my life today. I can tell you, though, that our hearts at that moment were set on following Jesus and seeing his Kingdom come, and that is how it ended!
I have a hate/love relationship with these crazy moments when He wins me….I hate risk, and I am anything but an adventurer at heart, but when He gets a hold of me, there is no telling what He will talk me into.
I wish I could say that every time he has tried to break the part of me that prefers control to holy insanity, that he has won. I don’t want to ask him to leave, ever…and yet, I know that my actions betray me. There are days when you just know that if you step just one baby step closer to the Lord, you are going to be signing your name to some costly enterprise. Costly perfume is going to pour, or some pigs are going over the cliff. We reach that moment of decision and…we either take a step closer or step away. Some say the cost is just too high and they ask Jesus to leave. Others step into the crazy without regret.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Each year, the Shrader family has one or more entries in the International Christian School of Lima Science Fair. The 2014 entry came from Will, who built a small electric motor, then had to explain how it works. Will produced two videos: the first is entitled, May the Force be with you, is short and sweet (but to see it, you have to go here). The second is below.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
This from Lena:
We have been enjoying a fresh season these last 8 months of seeing a baby church take shape! We are part of an international team of missionaries who are working together to sort out the difficult task of forming our identity as a church and how we present it. One of the great joys of this process is seeing people come to Christ and being witnesses to the transformation that is taking place—and also the great responsibility we have to correctly present the Kingdom of God to these baby believers! As I have specifically focused on the Kingdom of God in my recent studies, here are a few scripture points that have stuck in my heart. I wanted to share them with you, too!
In the Kingdom of Heaven…
Mark 1:15 Repentance is a precursor for citizenship. We can paint things as pretty as we like, we can try to de-uglify sin and make it sound as though they have just made an oversight until now….but if the recognition of our own sinfulness is not there, followed by sincere repentance, we run the risk of misrepresenting the gospel. I remember being 18 at an Amy Grant concert, trying to convince myself that I was fine—that my dark little teenaged soul didn’t need rescuing (yeah-back then there was an altar call after an Amy Grant concert! And tracts on the way in!). It was a horrible experience. I was so glad to finally walk that humiliating walk to the altar and lay my burdens down. We need to not cheat others of the revelation of their own sin and need for a root change of heart.
Luke 11:20 Demons gotta go. I am not sure why, recently, we have had so many encounters of the demonic kind—but we have had many in the last 8 months. I think it is interesting that demons can even sit through a sermon politely, but once the individual starts doing serious business with God, demons get pretty angry about the breach of contract. At first, I wanted to try to make sense of the fact that in 20 years or more of ministry, I have not seen anywhere near the consistent appearances I have seen in the last 8 months. Now, I sort of wonder what was wrong before, that they were comfortable to hang out around me. Perspective!
Luke 9:2 Citizens of the Kingdom of God are supposed to be praying for the sick! I have heard testimonies galore of healings and I have been present for some healings…but I want a lot more. I think we should be totally going for it. I have heard that Heidi Baker became determined to just keep praying for healings until she saw them up close. She prayed for hundreds before seeing anything. I don’t want to quietly accept sickness. If we don’t ask, we won’t receive.
Matt 21:31 Audacious sinners of the past who are now obeying Christ passionately are entering the Kingdom quicker than good religious talkers. I think we all better take note of this one. What a dangerous place it is to be where you know how to play the game all too well; that is, to make people think you are on Jesus’ speed dial, when you are just playing a game. It doesn’t matter if you are a missionary, pastor, worship leader, or the church’s accountant. Obedience is where the blessing is—in the secret place, where nobody knows what you are doing. But someone does. And we are not talking about yesterday. Today. Now.
Matt. 13: 1-23 You’ve got to sow a lot of seed to get some of it to stick. People are hindered from entering the Kingdom by a variety of things—sometimes they are just blind to the truth because they are so lost in sin and haven’t been made desperate enough yet for an alternative. These folks are the blank stares and social smiles we get when we try to evangelize. Then there are those you have a good conversation with, but it goes nowhere. It may not have been because you did a horrible job—which you might have. But even the fact that you were trying calls them to wake up to their real need. I am convinced that a lot of people don’t let on that they know Jesus is real because they know life is going to change radically the minute after they give their life to him. Let’s not lie—that is very true. You might lose your friends, your addictions (those are DEFINITELY gonna have to go), your comforts, or even your job. All this to say—sowing is hard work, and you don’t have any control over the soil you are preaching to. The only thing we can control is how much seed we scatter. Let’s scatter a LOT.
Matt 13:31-2 Some of that seed you scattered is going to surprise you with how big and well it grows. If you scatter enough seed, you are going to get to see some folks really explode. Maybe they will even pass you! In our later years of campus ministry, Bill used to tell our university students that they were his last hope for greatness! He said it jokingly, but he meant it. “Grow as far as you can grow little seed! Pass me up!” That should be our heart for all we nurture in Christ.
Matt 13: 24-30 You don’t really know who’s who until the end. I suspect that this dynamic is a little like reading our donors list. We realized long ago, and with great humility, that some of the sweetest little ladies on Social Security are the most faithful and have been the longest, steadiest supporters. I think it will be that way at the final judgment. I try to warn myself periodically to not become Miss Fancy Pants Missionary—because there may be some rude awakenings at the end, if I see some surprises up ahead of me in line!
I hope this list at least gave you something to think on. I am so thankful for the opportunity to help form a new church and disciple the new citizens. Blessings to all of you!
|One of our sweet young believers giving her testimony of how the Lord has been changing her life!
Monday, April 21, 2014
This from Bill: Here's a recent video I made in Catacaos (Piura), Peru. It's a brief introduction to two very needy Latin America ChildCare students -- Mario and Aaron. Their father passed away last year, leaving their widowed mother with three kids. She's a faithful member of the church we work with. As you can see, they live in a grass hut, which has a dirt floor.
If you'd like to sponsor these boys, please let me know.
If you'd like to sponsor these boys, please let me know.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Lena and I are grateful to serve as missionaries to Peru. We're also grateful to our friends who've partnered with us in this great adventure. Thank you!
Please click on the picture (at right) to see our latest update.
Bill and Lena's Peru Update - click here.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
This one is from Bill:
It was a dark night in a strange town. I was in the mountain town of Ayacucho, which means “Corner of the Dead.” It is a town well known for spiritual warfare and is the same town where my transmission died in November. So, now I want to rename Ayacucho to mean “costly town” or even “Ouchy-cucho” (which is what Charo, the famous flamenco guitarist, says when she hears how much it costs to fix a transmission). Colton, Willy and I went there to give out Christmas gifts to students and orphans in our Latin America ChildCare program. We finished giving out the gifts and were heading for the bus station. The street was really dark and on a steep hill. As I crossed the street, I stepped onto a storm sewer grate that was broken. My leg went through a separation in the iron bars and I fell with my leg trapped in a small shaft. It was horribly frightening and left me crying out, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God!” I also said some other things that might be translated to mean, “Oh no! Wow, what a surprise!” and “Oh boy! I wonder how deep this shaft is and if I’m going to survive!” Colton and I were sure that my leg was broken; but after I pulled it out of the hole (with help from equally frightened bystanders), I was able to walk. The only apparent damage was that my shin was scraped and bruised.
Two weeks later, still bruised but able to walk without pain, I found myself in the city of Trujillo, doing ministry with my friends Shawn and Melissa Pallotta. We went to Trujillo to do a retreat for college students and people involved in Campus Ministry. (College students + prophetic friends = my favorite kind of retreat!) Trujillo is on Peru’s northern coast and is famous for surfing and the pastor we were working with (Jhonatan Boulangger) loves to surf. So, with a few hours of free time before our afternoon session, we hit the waves. I got up right away and rode many successful waves that day. When I was taking off my wet suit, I noticed that my ankle was swollen. I thought it was from a bug bite and didn’t think much of it. A week later, back in Lima, I noticed that my leg was really swollen, again. After chatting with some friends about it, I finally came to the realization that it may have been a good idea to get my leg X-Rayed after that fall in Ayacucho. Sure enough, the leg was broken. The doctor showed me the X-ray and said that the Fibula (the smaller of the two bones in your lower leg) does not support your weight—which is why I was able to walk. He then explained that surfing with a partially healed fibula was the broken bone version of grinding your teeth together—thus producing a dumbfounded missionary with a swollen leg. So, that is the fun and the folly. Surfing with friends while on a retreat for college students was the fun part. But, surfing on a broken leg is great folly, no matter how much fun it is. Since the Fibula was already healing (and it’s really hot here), the doctor opted against putting it in a cast. I have to put my foot up for a week and give it a chance to heal. It’s actually working out well for me. Being forced to sit still has given me a chance to focus in prayer – which sometimes leads to an unintentional nap! And we all know that that is what my leg needs to heal.
P.S. I posted the picture at the top of the page to try and make it look like I'm in control. The picture directly above tells a more complete story. You can see from the wake behind my board that I had just cut off Colton. I was heading straight for the folks to my left and had to swerve to avoid wacking them in the head. So, I cut to the right and screamed, "Colton, look out! I can't steer this thing!" Thankfully, Colton ditched out on what was turning out to be one of his best waves of the day. My son gave up his "glory wave" so that 1) his dad would look good riding all the way to the shore, or 2) to save his life!
P.S.S. 40 years ago, my mom and dad planned a trip to Hawaii to celebrate my father's 50th birthday. He was really looking forward to surfing. Just before they were to leave, my father had the first of a long string of heart attacks. He never got to Hawaii and never got to surf. Now, whenever I get in the big waves (whether I'm surfing or boogie boarding), I dedicate the experience to dad.
P.S.S.S. For those who might be tempted to think that by surfing, we're living "high on the hog," I'd like to clarify two points: 1) We don't even own a hog, and 2) it only cost me $12 to really damage my partially healed leg.