Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Do I hate support raising?

A lot of people ask, "Don't you hate support raising?" The answer is no -- though it can be very challenging. I like to call our time of raising our missionary budget as a time of connection. Here's what I wrote to a friend in Peru today: "We feel the Lord's calling strongly (to the mission field), so we know that this time of connection here in the states is temporary. We embrace it for a time, drinking in our time with our loved ones here and encouraging the American church to not forget that the great commission is still the heart of the Father." The last line is important: God is still calling his church to fulfill the great commission! 

#followingJesusisgood #gratefulfortheblessedadventure
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bill and Lena's Peru Update - September 2015

Thanks to the Glorious Savior who called us and to all those who've partnered with us to reach Peru!

Please click on the image below to read our latest newsletter. Or, download a printable copy here. In this edition, Bill shares about what we do in Peru and about our recent return to the states to connect with our friends and support team.

We have a great story to tell of God's faithfulness and of a people hungry to hear the gospel. We have openings for services starting in December, 2015. Please email so we can set up a time to get together. Thanks!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Five Stages of Packing Grief

This from Lena:

I have an undergrad in psychology, but that is not how I have learned this lesson.  I am actually not a mover by nature or choice.  I am what I would call a long-term nester--so much so that when I was dating Bill,  I was concerned that he might uproot me periodically (he moved several times a year in his childhood).  As it turns out, he actually did very little of that--only a reasonable amount--but God moved us into an international life that has shaken me loose of many nests.  I am actually really glad that it has taught me that I can be happy in lots of different places, that it can be fun to discover the joys of a new spot, and that I can generally survive.

However, it HAS wreaked havoc on my nerves.  I try to keep these lessons close, and I have been laughing at myself a lot lately (mostly because I am still in the shock phase).  These stages of grief are actually fairly accurate, and some of the images I paint are actual memories.  For anyone of you about to go through this or have experienced it, I hope that at the least it gives you a laugh!

So--here they are.  The five stages of packing grief:

Shock- In this stage, you walk around saying that you can't believe you are really leaving. Somehow you relaxed, painted, added touches--made it your own.  But now it is becoming real that you will have to bundle up your tender roots and put it into storage or haul it somewhere.  Either way, it is going to involve a LOT of packing tape and cardboard, and you have vivid memories of the chaos it has been in the past.  You shake off the nagging fear that it is going to go exactly like the last move, when you woke up every morning three weeks before the move, completely wired and rightfully concerned that you were going to drop a very big ball of packing tape.  You square your shoulders and begin to survey the territory.  You consider color coding the rooms, plan your box log system (complete with list of the contents of every box).  You can feel it.  No nerve-wracking last-minutes this time.  A little here, a little there, and we will take this bad boy out.  During the last week, you will be reminiscing with friends, having rich moments of connection over coffee.

Anger- What in the world!  You have been trying to pack all the un-necessaries in ONE bedroom for TWO WEEKS!  GET OVER IT, WOMAN! IT'S A DUPLO SET, NOT GOLD BRICKS!  GET RID OF IT!  And don't even try that, "It's for the grandchildren" business.  Not working.

Depression-Time is running short.  You wake up with packing tape in your hair, and are weeping openly now, because you can't get the bunk beds apart.  Two weeks out and you are starting to get that glazed-over look.  You consider an emergency phone call to that one friend who you know will clean your refrigerator and it will be done before you had time to worry about it.  You are in the pit, and need a hand up. Bad.

Acceptance- You call out the cavalry, and your band of faithfuls show up.  There are teenagers in your kitchen, duping all your cooking utensils into plastic bins and stacking unwrapped coffee mugs on top, then sitting on it to make it close.  You walk into another room, thankful that at least someone else is doing it.  You hug your friends, and somehow manage to get those special moments in anyway, even though you haven't showered in three days.  You pick your toddlers up from the neighbor's house as you leave (in Peru, with a taxi), who thought your kids looked like they needed a bath and cleaned them.  You cry in the taxi, unsure if it is mostly the because you are sad to leave or just relieved it is over.  You know it isn't perfect, but neither is the rest of life, so--hey, not so  bad.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

What Jesus Said

This from Lena:

From the time I first discovered the power of the Word of God as a young believer, I have been captured by the power of Jesus’ teachings.  “Guard your heart against all kinds of greed!” (How many kinds are there?  I could think about that a good long time!) It’s always fresh to me…no matter how many times I read it, I come away knowing I have only begun my journey of obedience…seeking the Kingdom of God first of all, making sure that I am more concerned that my cup be clean on the inside than the outer appearance.  I chuckle to myself when people talk about how gentle Jesus was, knowing how many times I have been rocked and threatened (but also amazingly comforted) by his words.  The gospels are a plum line by which we must consistently be measuring our lives, and I find myself more often than not wincing as I sneak a peek at the slant of my life.
During some times of prayer walking, I began to dream of how we could begin to reach out to university students in our mammoth metropolitan area.  I began to formulate the idea for an evangelical Bible study in which we offer a chance for university students to practice their English and at the same time examine the teachings of Jesus for themselves.  Seeing as how subtlety has never been my strong point, I thought that sort of fit my personality: “I have English, I want you to think about Jesus!”  That was when “What Jesus Said” was born!  We (meaning me and one super-faithful young lady from our church who has a really gorgeous smile) hit the streets and started to invite. 
We have been meeting since November, and the group has grown.  One girl we met is actually Peruvian, but grew up in Columbus, Ohio!  She not only attends the group, but now she also attends the church plant we support.  Our group has consistent attendance from young believers, with a sprinkling of those who are seeking.   We are excited about the possibilities!  We are also looking to open two new groups before long with two different young leaders in other locations. 

This has been the easiest evangelical program I have ever had the joy of promoting.  When I tell people about it, they often ask if there is a cost, and are shocked to find that it is free!  Please pray for us that we reach many with this tool, and that it opens up opportunities on campuses all over Lima!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

What we eat

This from Bill:

I was recently asked about our first eating experinece in Peru and thought I'd share the story here. Our first eating experience was very positive. It was at McDonalds. We're blessed to live in Lima, which has a population of over 9 million people and has a lot of "first world" products (like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Starbucks). We do not have Walmart--so it's still a mission field! Outside of Lima, Peru is poor and undeveloped.

Arroz con Mariscos (seafood with rice)

Even though our first meal was at McDonalds, that doesn't mean we haven't had some great food experiences. Peru has some of the best food in the world. On the Pacific coast, Peruvians eat a lot of seafood. The most famous dish is called Ceviche and is raw fish "cooked" in lemon juice and onions. That was our first real experience with Peruvian food. We tried it after we had been in the country for a couple of days. I was shocked at how strong the flavor was. My first reaction was that it was "OK," but that I didn't want to make a habit of it. Now, I'm ready any time! I usually order it with "Arroz con Mariscos," which is seafood mixed with stir-fried rice. I like that dish with a side order of fried squid. YUM!

The second famous food of Peru is Cuy (otherwise known as guinea pig). You can eat it baked or fried. It tastes like the dark meat of chicken. It's not bad at all. It just takes too much effort (in my opinion), because the pieces are too small. It is also gross when they serve it with the head still on! Here, I've posted a picture of a Guinea Pig claw held by my son and a picture of my friend Ken Lydy (who does Chi Alpha at Wilmington College) with the claws in his mouth (that's me in the background).

Ken Lydy eats Cuy claws

Sabalo from the Amazon River

When I'm in the Amazon jungle town of Iquitos, I often eat Sabalo. It's a meat eating fish (like a piraanha) from the Amazon river and it tastes very good when cooked over a wood fire. I also like the deep fried caimon (alligator).

In the mountains, I eat cuy, trout, goat or llama. My favorite of those is goat. I love it.

On a daily basis, the peruvian people eat rice with rice. Then they have some more rice. They also eat chicken. Rotisserie chicken with french fries is very popular and VERY delicious. Missions teams that visit eat that three or four times in one week. We eat so much of it, we almost get sick of it--but not quite. The problem is that no matter how many times you've had rotisserie chicken and fries, it still smells good!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Bill and Lena's March, 2015 Newsletter

Thanks to everyone who has helped us proclaim the Gospel in Peru and the Andean region. Thank you! Please find, below, our latest newsletter. You can read it here -- or click on the caption to open it as a printable PDF. In this newsletter, Bill writes about ministry in the Amazon and about our upcoming return to the sttaes to connect with our friends and support team. There's also a few prayer requests. Enjoy!

Click here to read Bill and Lena's March 2015 Newsletter

We'll be returning to the U.S. at the end of June to let those on our support team know what they've been supporting! We're looking forward to it but moving back to the states for a year involves a lot of logistics and questions. For example, where are we going to live and what will we drive? How will the kids handle the transition? For all of this, we ask for your prayers. When we get back, we'll need to share the story of what God is doing here. As such, we'd love an invitation to share in your church or home fellowship group!
This from Bill:

Working with college students and teaching in the Seminary, I am frequently confronted with the idea that the Bible is just the invention of men. This morning, in my quiet time, I was reading Galatians and noted that Paul confronted the same issue! That lead me to the following thoughts:

Gal 1:11 “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.” – People often say that they don’t trust the Bible because it is just teachings of men. Paul addresses this directly, continuing to say, Gal 1:12 “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Paul is saying that he is a prophet like Moses; that is, just as God and Moses met on the mountaintop, where God revealed the Law to Moses, Jesus did the same with Paul, explaining the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith. Paul didn’t just think of it. He didn’t make it up. Jesus revealed it. Some people, even some Christians, are not comfortable with that. They like to think that the Gospel evolved, naturally. It did not. It was a supernatural, burning bush, shining light, knock-you-off-of-your-horse-on-the-road-to-Damascus epiphany (God appearance). 

The question is, does God really speak? Does God really appear on the scene? The notion of the Gospel being invented by men or just a collection of human teachings presupposes that God does not appear on the scene, or that God does not talk or reveal things miraculously. In Paul’s context with the Galatians, some humans have added to the Gospel, to make salvation a thing of grace plus works. Their fallacy was thinking that they could add to what Jesus had miraculously revealed (like they could improve on His revelation). The modern day fallacy is that God doesn’t reveal anything; i.e., that Moses never saw a real burning bush and that Paul never actually met the resurrected Christ. Paul’s first-hand testimony to the Galatians doesn’t allow for either.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bringing hope and the Gospel to Iquitos

I love ministering in Iquitos, Peru -- in the Amazon basin (a. k. a. jungle). We have two LACCC schools there: Victoria de Jesus in Belen and Luz del Saber in Punchana. The district of Belen floods every year, so our students have to walk to school on a network of planks, above the water. It's often scary, dirty and stinky. But it's also a blessed adventure filled with lovely people (like Venice, Italy, but without plumbing). I thank the Lord that we can bring hope, food, education and (most of all) Jesus to these beautiful kids. Thanks for making it possible. Below are some of my favorite photos from my trip last March, when the flood waters were high. You can find more pics from this trip here: 2014-03 Iquitos.

Pastors Fernando and Jose are great friends and I'm honored to work with them bringing the Gospel and hope to Iquitos.

Where did you drop it?

You can see more from this trip here.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

University Evangelism

This from Bill:

Lena and I began the past year with a strong emphasis on University ministry. Here, in Peru, we call Chi Alpha, La Red Universitaria de Las Asambleas de Dios -- the University Network of the Assemblies of God. It's been an exciting experience for both of us. Lena is doing multiple evangelistic Bible studies with students from various campuses, and both of us have taught at churches and national youth leaders conferences about how to start a campus ministry. The pictures above and below are of us teaching on Evangelism. These pics were taken at the "Christ - Light of the World" church in Trujillo, which has six small groups on 5 campuses! I'm a big fan of using a white board, instead of PowerPoint slides (because I like the organic nature and the intentional emphasis on content over form). After I teach, I take a picture of the white board and invite the students to do the same. Looking at these boards reminded me of what a great time we had! After taking the college students and leaders through some basics of university evangelism, we hit the streets and had a blast talking with people about Jesus. I was very proud of Will, my younger son, who (with unassuming warmth and friendliness) is an incredibly effective evangelist! 

For this event, we were joined by our friends Shawn and Melissa Pallotta, who (along with their kids) have a very prophetic ministry. Shawn and I taught on making godly decisions.

Some of the evangelism themes we covered included: 

1) The power of your personal testimony (Rev. 12:11). 
2) Basic components of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15). 
3) Apologetics -- explaining why the Christian faith is reasonable (that is, it's requires faith, but not blind faith). Also, Jesus claimed to be God, therefore he is either a Liar, a Lunatic or the Lord (hint: it's the last one!)
4) The best 3 questions to do Evangelism: If you died tonight, do you know where you would go? If you were in front of Jesus and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what would you say? And, the best question of all: How can I pray for you?

Peruvians love their late night soccer matches, which provides a great way to make friends and share the Gospel with your neighbors. These pics are of Colton (above) and Antonio Pallotta (below) playing.

Colton and Antonio also teamed up for some street evangelism, outside the C&T Restaurant.

Why I disciple

This from Bill:

Matthew 28:18-20 is the Great Commission, in which Jesus commands us to "make disciples." But, that isn't what motivates me. On an emotional or motivational level, the reason why I disciple people is that I’ve had a life changing encounter with Jesus that is real and profoundly positive. It’s not like everything that happens to me is positive, but experiencing Christ and being transformed by Him – that has been overwhelmingly positive. I strive to introduce others to Jesus and his way of life because I want them to have as good a life as I have. I frequently challenge young adults who are making self-defeating decisions to imitate my life, because I know that I have a better marriage and a happier life than the vast majority of the world. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)”