I just wanted to give you all an update as to how the Lord has been working in our lives, the things that He is showing us, the direction that He is providing, and the ways in which we have been able to walk in His grace to bring glory to His name. Though language school certainly demands much of my time, we want to also allow the Lord to work in our hearts and use us for His glory while we are here.
So, from some previous posts, you can see how the Lord has been drawing me closer to Him and bringing about more surrender in my life. I have been learning a lot about how easy it is to lose sight of my first love, even amidst the busy activity of ministry and all that entails. I thank the Lord for my wife whom God always uses to bring challenge and conviction to my heart. Though I am often quick to be offended by some of her direct, yet challenging statements….or uh…rebukes, I am really thankful that God has given her a love for me and a great concern for my spiritual maturity. So, sometimes it’s not fun to have your wife corner you and say, “Hon…how has your quiet time with the Lord been going these days? I notice that you seem so busy and I’m concerned that you’re not spending enough alone time with Him.” Yeah, in my wretched flesh, which is often the first thing to rise up, I get offended and bothered by what she says. But then, thanks to the Spirit of God in me, The Lord brings forth the truth to what she says and He exposes my own deceitful heart so that I can be corrected and grow in holiness. Our hearts can be so deceitful at any given moment. I can trick…or justify myself into thinking that I’m okay with God because I’m reading my Bible every morning for 5 or ten minutes while sitting on the couch with everybody else around me. But the truth is that I need so much more of Christ in my life, and only when I get myself alone with Him can I really cry out to Him in prayer, go deep in His Word, and develop more intimacy with Him. So, I’m thankful that I have a wife who challenges me to seek the Lord above anything else. She’s a gem. And I’m thankful that I can cry out to the Lord in naked truth and say, “Lord, give me greater love and desire for You because I’m seriously lacking”, and in that prayer Christ comes and stirs my heart for more of Him. Oh, to know Him more. To have so much more of Him and so much less of me. That is what I desire.
So, even amidst school and studying, we have been growing and walking in His grace. We have become friends with many others here at language school who are also just living to worship the Lord and surrender their lives to Him for His glory. We have really connected with 2 other couples who are just radically sold out for Jesus and just want to talk about Him all the time and share His love and truth with all those whom they meet. I have been very challenged by them both to be way more intentional about sharing my faith even among strangers on the street. And I hope that they have been encouraged and challenged by me as well to give glory to God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. I have learned a lot through them about being all for the Gospel and they have learned a lot from me about trusting and glorifying God in pain and suffering. Isn’t it so amazing how iron sharpens iron?
Anyway, we all go to church together at a little reformed baptist church (la iglesia bautista reformada) about 40 minutes outside of the city. The church building is very simple. The worship is only with voices and an old organ. And yet it is the greatest, richest, most God honoring, Christ exalting church service. We love it. It is so simple, yet so rich and full of love for the pure truth of God’s Word. No fluff. No stuff. Just Christ. And isn’t He truly more than enough? It is wonderful to worship the Lord in such a way. When God’s Word is taught without feeling the need to make it so “cutting edge”. God’s Word alone is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. And by this way of upholding biblical teaching and instruction, the church is growing and reaching unbelievers in many different areas.
The church has recently been contacted by 2 different groups of people, one from a little town in the mountains and the other a few hours away on the coast. Both groups have contacted the church simply to ask them to come to their area to teach them the Bible. Both these groups found out about the church from their website and are hungering to know the truth from God’s Word. How awesome is that? So, my friends and I go with the Pastor every Friday either up in the mountains or to the beach town for these Bible studies. It is a great time to improve on our spanish as we talk in spanish on the way there and back, and the Bible study and fellowship is all in spanish. It is great that I have learned enough to understand a lot of what is being taught, but I still have such a long long way to go before I am able to speak well. I can’t wait for the day when I will be able to preach the Gospel in spanish. Lord, quicken my mind to learn this language!
These 2 friends that I’m speaking about go out each week to the city plaza and try to share the Gospel with people on the street. They have had some great conversations even with their own limited knowledge of the language. Their passion for the Word of God and their conviction of its power is awesome! So, next time they go, I will be joining them. Please be in prayer for all of us that God would use us for His glory as we share His word with those who need to hear.
God gave Maria the opportunity a few days ago to share the Gospel with two ladies she encountered on the street. Being the fact that she is fluent in the language, she was able to clearly articulate the Gospel. Praise the Lord that the Gospel has power. As it states in Corinthians, we are the fragrance and aroma of Christ to the world around us. To those who are rejecting the truth of the Gospel, we are the stench of death, but to those whose hearts are being opened to His truth, we are the fragrance of life. Pray that the Lord leads us to many whose hearts would be prepared to receive life in Christ.
In addition to the weekly Bible study with the church, there is also a Bible study at the Institute that my friends Scott and Tim (the two guys sold out for Jesus) started last trimester. So, they have asked me to be in the rotation to teach. I’ll be teaching from James chapter 5 this Sunday and talking about suffering. Please pray that the Lord would be glorified as His Word is taught. There are about 25 or so people who attend the study each week.
Maria also is attending a woman’s Bible study being held at the institute each week. I thank the Lord that God has put godly women in her life that can encourage her as well as be encouraged by her. We are thankful to be part of a great student body of believers who love and worship the Lord.
Today, I was given the privilege of teaching and sharing during chapel hour at the institute. I shared about our journey through suffering and cancer and death and how in and through it all, by His grace alone, we can confidently say, “God is enough.” Even though that doesn’t make the pain any less, it does give purpose for such pain. And I shared in our hope and promise of eternal life that we as believers hold fast to. I hope and pray that the Lord was glorified as I shared from 2nd Corinthians Chapter 4 and weaved some of our story throughout. I only wish that I had more time to really share all that was on my heart. I’m so thankful that my wife was there to show support as she and I have walked through this together from the very beginning.
I’ll be teaching again at the chapel in a few months. It has been awesome to have chapel twice a week. What a joy it is to take time to gather as believers in the midst of intensive language study and learning, and just come together to worship the Lord and set our hearts fully upon Him.
Lastly, I want to share with you something that we are excited about and are in much prayer about. We have been invited to join our two friends on the mission field in Cuzco, Peru! As we have gotten to know each other, we really see that our passions, vision, and personalities all fit very well together. So, as we have been praying to the Lord and asking Him to show us where it is that He is leading us after language training, perhaps He is answering our prayer. I asked Scott if he and Tim were open to the idea of us joining them in Peru, and he told me with great excitement that he has been praying about that very idea since he and I first met. So, we have talked at length about what their vision is in Peru and how this might just be the Lord who is orchestrating all the details. These guys just love the Lord so much and have a burden to bring the Gospel to the people of Peru, both the Peruvians and the Quechua indians who live up in the mountains. Our desire also is to share the glorious Gospel of truth with those whom have not yet heard and see churches planted by nationals who we can raise up and train. We are very excited about this and we have talked about the endless opportunities that there are in this area of Peru.
The city of Cuzco is 11,000 feet above sea level in the middle of the Andes Mountains. But it is a fairly large city. The population is about 300,000 people. And it is fairly modern. And then all around the city there are higher mountains where the Quechua Indians live. The population of them is nearly 1 million. These are the descendants of the Inca. They need the Gospel desperately. Both Maria and I actually get goose bumps when we think of the possibility of the Lord using us to bring the message of salvation to those who have not heard about Jesus. To think that He can use us to build His Kingdom where we will see people from other tribes, tongues, and languages gathered around His throne is just so amazing. God has ravished our hearts for Him and our greatest desire is to let others know of such amazing love.
So, during our break between trimesters, we will all be traveling to Cuzco, Peru together for about a week. For us, it will be a vision trip, a time for us to ask the Lord to confirm if this is indeed where He is calling us. We don’t want to make any premature or immature decisions. We just want to hold this out to Him with an open hand and give Him the complete freedom to direct us wherever it is that He wants us to go. So, please pray for us as we pursue this direction. Pray that the Lord will open the doors for us all to go there in April to scout out the land. Pray that the Lord provides the finances that are needed. I have also been invited by them to attend a Reformation Montana Conference in May. Paul Washer is going to be the main speaker there and my friend Scott will have the opportunity to drive him around all over the place and get to glean from His wisdom. I would love to join him and get the opportunity to sit under some amazing, passionate, biblical leaders. If you have never listened to Paul Washer, please do a you tube search under his name and watch any video that comes up. The guy is absolutely amazing! His passion to know the Lord and walk in His ways is incredible. Maria and I have spent much time just watching different godly teachers and leaders on you tube, and Paul Washer is one of our favorites. He was a missionary in Peru for about 10 years and is now the founder of Heart Cry Mission Society. So, please pray that the Lord will provide the funds needed for me to attend this conference. He is in complete control of our lives, and we are just thrilled to see what He is going to do.
Scott has his own blog which shares about his own mission journey and how the Lord is leading his family to Peru. Feel free to check it out by clicking here. Tim also has a blog that details his life and ministry and how God is leading his family to Peru. Check that out also by clicking here.
I’ve had my first few exams and I thank the Lord that I did really good. But our teachers are beginning to crank up the work load and we are motoring through at warp speed. So, I have a feeling that it is going to get much more difficult real soon.
Isabela is doing great! She loves going to school, but is also completely ok with being home schooled again if we ever have to. She has many friends. One of the things that her and Mommy do a few times a week is watch this spanish cartoon on you tube called “Candy Candy” As a matter of fact, they are watching it at this very moment. It is all in spanish and so it is good for her to watch so that she can learn the language. It is an old cartoon that Maria used to watch when she was a kid. When they’re not watching this, we are all watching “Little House on the Prairie”. I bought Maria the entire 9 season set for Christmas. So, we usually watch a few episodes per week. I think its an awesome show. Shhh…..don’t tell anybody.
Jake is doing great! Man, I love that little boy so much. He is growing like crazy. He’s huge and he’s only 5 months. I hope he starts growing long soon otherwise it looks like we might have a linebacker in our family. Mom and he spend lots of time together every day as Isabela and I are in school. Mom and baby boy look so beautiful together.
Okay, I think that is all for now. Thank you all so much for praying for us and showing your love and support for our family. Through our hardship and pain, we still see the beauty of the Lord, and we just want to continue pressing on to let the world know of His great love. Please continue to pray for us as we follow hard after God and work through grief at the same time. It has almost been one year since our little princess entered her Heavenly home. May we be found faithful as we run our race until that great and glorious day where we too will cross that finish line and see the living God in all His glory! Ven Senor Jesus!!!! Ven!!!!