A harvest

0 comments

Four of the kids I work with were challenged to study a method of evangelism and teach it to the entire group.  The next week we all (even a group from the USA who was here on a two week trip and who don't speak Spanish!!) took a big breath and went to the park to "practice".

Four of us sat out to paint faces and to tell the story of God's perfectness, man's sin, and our desperate need need of a Savior, that led to God's perfect plan of redemption.

One of the mother's listened intently to the story as one of the girls painted her child's face.
"Where can I find that story?" she asked.
"It's in the Bible, do you have one at home?" I asked her and then pulled mine out of my bag to show her.
"I have that exact one." she responded.
"Great!  It uses really easy language to tell the story.
"Can you tell me how to get to THAT story you told?  Do I need to start at the beginning and read the whole book?"
I smiled as I thought through my recent readings through the Old Testament stories and saw God Story of Salvation written on every page.
"Well, the entire book tells this story but you can get a summery by reading the book of John.  It's really beautifully and simply written and if you want to know Jesus, it a great place to start."
As I showed her where to find the book of John, close to a dozen other parents huddled over my shoulders, interested in knowing where they could also find it?

And then the park official came over.  Would he also want to know about this story I was telling?  Not today.  Today he would tell me that my story-telling time was officially over.  And my heart plummeted. (both from the nervousness of being told I had broken the rules, and from disappointment that we had to stop.)

As we packed up our paints and told the children we had to leave it was hard not to feel the sting of rejection.  It was easy to forget the thirty kids and their parents who had heard the gospel message in full.

As we walked back to the meeting place half an hour earlier than planned, the sky lit up with a rainbow and we stood under it staring at the majestic colors that swept across the sky.  All four of us had forgotten the rejection and we just stood in awe of the backdrop of mountains and a rainbow.  It was a double rainbow with a reflection inverted underneath and as we stared a third rainbow appeared.

Three rainbows.  God's promise.  Disappointment forgotten.

As we stood and watched the magnificent display, our other team members were leading six new souls to the throne of God.  They reported that the rainbow appeared just after several of them prayed to accept Christ.  An amazing harvest!  Punctuated by God's promise.

But as we celebrate we remember that a prayer does not a disciple make and no where does the Bible command us to make converts.  The hard work is still before us as we teach these six new believers how to follow Christ.  Our work has just begun as we follow God's command to make disciples.

And I am humbled as we consider the best way to do this that I am part of a great team of people- national believers, all youth, who are dedicated to the task.

Will you pray with us.  Will you pray for us?  Will you take on this task of making disciples by partnering with us?  It's exciting work, I promise :) (rainbow promise)



Category:

Working with the Holy Spirit in Discipleship

0 comments

Have you ever thought about who your co-workers are in your ministries?

Several years ago I took a discipleship course.  The instructor told me something that really changed my perspective.

"When you are discipling, you do not work alone. You are part of a team and your co-worker is the Holy Spirit.  Don't try to do this alone.  Find out where the Holy Spirit is working and then join Him."

The basic idea is that we often walk into a relationship with someone else, easily identifying areas of needed growth and then struggling to help that person overcome their spiritual obstacles.

This had happened to me numerous times and almost always ended in a terminated relationship.  Usually because the person I was discipling simply became disinterested and walked away.  I had wondered, "What is the problem?  Are they just not serious about walking in Christ?"

But now I had my answer.  I had not been looking to see where the Holy Spirit was already working in that person's life.  Instead of finding out where He was working and joining Him... I was praying that He would join me and then crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.  It wasn't working.  It was frustrating and discouraging to see people I dearly cared about continuing to struggle with sin and complacency.

Understanding that the Spirit was already working in the life of a believer and that I could join HIM in that work means that success does not, in any way, depend on me.  I just step in and allow God to use me as a tool to do the work He was already doing!

Let me tell you a story to better help you understand the difference:

A man becomes a believer.  He is a rough man who has had a rough life.  His story of salvation is beautiful and full of redemption but his life habits tell a different story and he still struggles in ways that make his new Christian family cringe.  For example- each Sunday morning the church arrives to see him smoking on the church property and when he gets excited he has a habit of using Christ's name in a way that is unappreciated by everyone else.

Finally, the older gentleman who is discipling him decides that these issues are needed to be dealt with and they begin to study what it means to respect his body (as the temple of God) and the needed respect for the name of God.

Meanwhile this man's heart is breaking from a deeper unrepented sin.  He is twisted up inside and does not even know how to begin to deal with the ugliness he has in his life.  He tries to hide what he is doing but each time he does it, the Holy Spirit causes him to writhe in agony.  

Instead of talking to anyone about it, he pours his spiritual energy and his time of accountability into those two things that seem so important to his discipler.  He tries to quit smoking and he starts replacing Jesus' name with "Jiminy Cricket". Meanwhile he is physically abusing his wife and son.


So how do we avoid entering a relationship like this?  Well, it takes being intentional about knowing where the Spirit is working.  And that takes TIME and EFFORT.  It takes shared meals, it takes prayer, it takes sharing a life together.  It takes extra phone calls during the week and follow-up questions that make everyone squirm a little.  It takes transparency on the part of the discipler who must also share their struggles and failures.

As Dustan and I continue with our work of discipleship, will you commit to praying for us?
Here's what you can pray for:

That we would be innocent as doves and wise as serpents.
That God would reveal His workings to us so that we can always join Him.
That our relationships with those we disciple would be healthy.
That our language skills would continue to grow so that we can understand better and express ourselves better.
That we would continue to make discipling others a priority in our ministries.


Praise Points:
For Gaby and Karen who faithfully meet with Becka each week for discipleship and for the spiritual growth Becka has seen in her own life as a result of helping these two young ladies deal with struggles she similarly deals with.


Category:

Impact the Person, Impact the Church, Impact the World

0 comments

May 31st- It's my birthday and as I prepare for a week of grueling work my heart is thrilled that my favorite day of the week also fell on my birthday.

Every Tuesday night I get to see the answer to six years of prayers.  I look around at a room filled with people, who like me, are dreamers.  And they are prayers, and they are doers.  The fourth floor of the SIM ministry center fills with singing...

Open your eyes and see
The harvest is ready
The time is here
the harvest is ripe

Be strong. Be brave.
Get up and get preaching
to every nation
That Jesus is the life.

Six years ago I began dreaming of seeing the church in Loja take part in the great commission.  I dreamed of them seeing their potential in reaching the nations for Christ and I dreamed of them sending missionaries into the uttermost parts of the earth.

Six years ago I started praying that a movement already happening in Guayaquil and in Quito would take root in Loja.  But Loja was tiny, the church a little slow and no one seemed to take a gigantic dream seriously.  Most of the time it seemed that God Himself didn't take my dream seriously.

Until one day Susy walked into Sendero and told me she had had a dream.  A literal one, while she was sleeping.  "In my dream I was preaching to muslim women" she told me.  "I think that maybe God wants me to be a missionary."

I told as many people as I could.  And the wheels moved so slowly I couldn't even see them moving.

Then another young woman told me about her calling to a country so closed I won't even type it here.  I told her she was crazy and she responded that she was quite sure it was God who was crazy but that she was willing to follow Him with her life.

I told as many people as a could.  And I could see the wheels start turning.

And yet another young woman told me of her dream of being a missionary and a young man asked me if I thought God wanted Lojano believers to participate in missions, and things started to spin...

And I won't lie to you.  After six years of praying, I might have been a little giddy, and I may have come across as more than a little like a crazy woman.

And the wheels starting turning so fast I could hardly keep up.  I wasn't the only person with a desperate dream and God was no longer holding us back.  In the course of a month we held a huge missions event with a visiting Ecuadorian missionary, we sent one missionary candidate to Guayaquil for an interview and a young man to receive training in mobilization.

One week later I sat in a room of 15 people who had committed to mobilizing the Loja church into a missions participating entity.

It was Tuesday night.  Our little group meets each week and we study topics that will prepare each of us for the mission field as well as prepare us to be mission senders.  We praise God for His deep love for every nation and we pray that God will raise up Lojano missionaries and send them to the ends of the earth.

We have a lot of work to do. A LOT.  But I can't wait each week to get to work.

Gaby teaching us about the Sikka people group and teaching us how to pray for them.

This is our group during a study on Spiritual warfare.  We will be studying this topic for the next four weeks.


Prayer Points:

Please pray for Washington, who is the young man who is coordinating Impacto Mundial Loja.  Pray that God will guide him in supernatural wisdom as he meets with pastors to tell them of Impacto's vision and begins the hard process of mobilizing the churches.  Pray that God gives him patience.

Pray for the three young people who have shown extreme commitment in becoming Loja's first sent missionaries.  Pray that God will help them to make good decisions that will prepare them for the mission field and that they would not be distracted from their calling.

Pray for the local church, that God would create in them a burning desire to prepare, send, and support missionaries.

Pray for the city wide missions service that we will host on July 10th.  Please pray that we can find a church that will allow us to use their facilities and that the service will be well planned and well attended.

Pleas pray for the missions conference in Guayaquil 7-9 of July.  Please pray that we will be able to send one of the Loja members so that they can receive some training in how to host a missions conference here in Loja.

Please pray for our group that we will stay committed and focused and that God will give us direction in how to we can help with the recent earthquake crisis here in Ecuador.

Praise points:

We now have a Missions Mobilization project in Loja!!!!
We have a committed godly coordinator.
The meetings are well and faithfully attended.
We have a plan of action for the current year.





Category:

Developing a Discipleship Manual

1 comments

If I were to ask you what your definition of a disciple was (in the Christian context), what would you say?

If, as missionaries our job is to fulfill the Great Commission, and part of the Great Commission is in the area of discipleship making, How do we go about that without a clear definition of what a disciple is?

Our SIM Ecuador Edification team began with the premise that we first must define what a disciple would look like within the context of the Lojano church.  We decided on a 2 part definition.
1. A disciple is someone who follows Christ.
2. A disciple is someone who makes disciples.

One of SIM Ecuador's goals to to build up the local church and one of the ways we are going about this is to teach the church to be and to make disciples.

Now, I imagine that in the US church there are a mountain of resources.  Perhaps one of the biggest challenges would be choosing which resource to use.  That isn't the case here.  Even though several discipleship resources have been translated into Spanish, they are often difficult to use because of the lack of contextualization.

So, over the last 4 months our small group has been working through one of our favorite discipleship manuals and then contextualizing it (and correcting Spanish).  One of the biggest challenges is that the place we will be teaching is an oral learning culture and the manual was definitely written from a literate point of view.  We take a hard look at each lesson and decide how to best teach the concepts.

We have a couple of months worth of work to do, but when we are done, we hope to have a resource that we can use to teach a small rural congregation to to be AND how to make disciples.

Prayer points:
Please pray for our Ecuadorian team mates David and Rocio Martinez and David and Sandry Ludena as well as long time missionary Chandra Smith as they have been tasked with the bulk of the contextualization work.  Pray for wisdom as they choose which passages and questions will best teach the discipleship concepts in the rural Loja context.

Please pray for me (Becka) as I teach the manual to the SIM Edification team as it is written so that we will have a clear understanding of the concepts we are wanting to teach.  Pray that my Spanish will be clear and that as we review these important concepts, that it will effect the way we work for God's Kingdom.

Pray that we can finish the manual in the next couple of months and pray for Becka as she formats and types up the work that the team has finished.

Pray for the community of Portete where we will first teach this course.  Pray that God will be preparing them to learn some very new concepts and that they will begin to diligently join us in our work of making disciples.

June 1st will be an 8 hour work meeting in our home to finish up lessons 4-5.  Please pray that God will give us energy and wisdom as well as unity during this important work day.

Praise points:
That we have a dedicated team of people, especially including Ecuadorians, who have been faithfully working with us on the project.

We have finished 3 out of 6 lessons.  Half way done!!!






Category:

Grace explosion

0 comments

I wrote this in 2011 but needed to be reminded of it again today.  Maybe you also needed to be reminded of the magnitud of God's grace in our lives- so I repost it hoping that your day is an explosion of grace!

You know what I love? I love when Christians embrace grace so hard that it explodes and oozes out all over anyone who stands near them. Try it today.

Do you have a load of dirty dishes, a mountain of laundry, and children who would rather be chasing each other around with knives than singing Koombaya? Did your homemade yogurt curdle? Did your homemade laundry soap leave your clothes smelling sour? Does your garden have more weeds than carrots? Are you a housekeeping failure?
Did your child get seriously ill from a vaccine? Did your son get hepatitis from your lack of vaccinating him? Did your 15 year old daughter come home and tell you she is having a baby? Did you have to place your parents in a nursing home? Did your two year old paint his walls with peanut butter (or something far worse)?  Is your 8 year old hanging upside from a tree, his arm in a cast from when he fell last week? (You might want to go get him down.)  Are you a mothering failure?
Do you have a husband who comes home and sighs because his personal time is interrupted by you handing him a stinky baby, his son handing him a notebook of unsolvable math problems and you giving him a list of all the ways your day WAS HORRIBLE?  Are you a wifely failure?


Did you forget to read your Bible today? And yesterday too? Oh, and last week? Was the last time you touched your Bible on Sunday when you carried it to church? Did you forget to pray for your kids today? Was your mind filled with terrible language when your neighbor’s dog wouldn’t SHUT UP at 3 am? Did you actually say THAT aloud?  Are you a Spiritual failure?

Did you hear the phone ring and then ignore it because, well, you just couldn’t deal with her today? Did you avoid opening an email from the church children’s worker leader so that you can later say. “Oh, I am sorry, I never got that email?” Did you eat that package of snicker bars that were meant for the food pantry? And the cans of tuna too? Are all that you have left those 15 cans of Rutabegas?  Are you a ministry failure?

Did you start ANOTHER diet today? Which is different than the one you started yesterday? Did you gain 5 pounds on the “eat the snickers that were meant for the food pantry diet"? Did you skip a shower today? And maybe yesterday too? Have you skipped shaving you legs for over a year? Did you throw out your fat jeans because they were too small?  Are you a personal failure?

I have some news for you. Sit down, because it will blow you away. Today I embraced God’s grace for myself, and it’s about to explode all over you!

Guess what? God loves you. He doesn’t care that you are a failure. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS FOLLOWERS ARE FAILURES.

All that stuff above? It’s pretty bad (especially if you kids are chasing each other with knives. I would put a stop to that if I were you). It’s REALLY REALLY BAD. It’s selfishness, it’s manipulation, it’s lying, it’s... well, if you really ate those snickers bars, it’s stealing. You are a BAD person! Yay! You are a FAILURE! YAY! 

Cause guess what? Everything I know about God says that every single person he loves is a PRETTY bad person. A failure. An utter and complete disaster of a human being.

God is a lover of people failures. 

I don’t know how it is. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t have any analogies that even come close to describing it. Fathers don’t love this way. Mothers don’t love this way. God is different and HE loves me.

People. Do you get it? Even while I am mired in sin (which will be the rest of my ever lovin’ life) God LOVES ME.

So. You are a failure. Good. Means you are human. Like me. 

Oh, and guess what?

GOD LOVES YOU!!!!

So, accept it and then go explode yourself all over someone with all that pure joy you have.

Disclaimer: I KNOW that God doesn’t want you to keep cussing the neighbor’s dog out every morning at 3 AM. 
And I have found that the best way to find that explosion of grace is by digging into His grace-filled words on more than just Sunday mornings.
But He also wants you to embrace HIS GRACE! And He wants you to do that first.


So, tell me. What will your grace explosion look like today?

Category:

What's up with those Kings?

0 comments

Just a little hit and run post to let everyone know some of the upcoming plans so that you can be praying for us over the next few days...weeks...months.

Alfa to Omega has had an incredibly busy season and we have another presentation of the first third of the OT on the 9th of January.  We will be traveling 4 hours each way and making it a day trip.  So please pray for our preparations, for our safety and for our energy.  This is an evangelistic trip made alongside a local Loja City church to an unreached area.

The church youth group will begin to study the book of Romans for the next twelve weeks.  Pray for Dustan as he prepares those lessons and that the group will continue to be unified.  We are running between 5 and 10 youth each week and would love to see attendance stabilized.

Our church has an emphasis this year on discipleship.  Pray for us as we move into discipling more believers, especially within the youth group.  Rebecka also has a discipleship Bible study starting in the new year with one of el Sendero's former employees.

The SIM Ecuador internship program is getting stronger and it looks like we may be receiving several seminary trained couples from Latin America to do their on-field training with us.  This has been one of Becka's dreams since we first arrived in Loja, and to see it happening is very exciting.  Pray for Becka as she continues to nail down details and work administratively (which is not her cup of tea)

Pray for the SIM Ecuador team who will be making plans on how to move forward with youth and student ministries over the next year.  We have identified a local church who has an ongoing work at the university campus and we will be praying about how to join them in that work.

December 31 we will be hosting a New Year's Eve party at our home.  This is a way for us to try out the idea of hosting "El Sendero" events at our home, with the purpose of uniting Christian believers in fellowship and eventually in the work of evangelism.  We have several churches who have reserved for the party and we are excited to see what God will do with this idea throughout the next year.  please pray that God will guide us as we try to unify Christian youth to further His Kingdom.

Pray for Dustan as he continues to meet weekly with Christian and Fabricio for discipleship.

Dustan will continue on in his role as SIM Ecuador bookkeeper for the year of 2016.  It is a role he is gifted for and one which he enjoys.

These are just a few of the irons we have in the fire over the next month or so.  And we appreciate your partnership in prayer as we work alongside our church here in Loja and with the local believers to reach all of Loja for Christ.

Category:

Let's Go

0 comments

It's 6 am on Christmas morning in a place that suddenly feels familiar at Christmas time.  It could be that we have now spent 5 Christmases here in Loja or it could be that as Christmas commercialization hits this tiny city it brings with it a sense of the familiar.  Cut out snowflakes, and fake snow dot the windows of shops and Christmas trees have become the norm.

So as a North American-looking "Christmas" sinks southward, I caught myself wondering why it just didn't feel like Christmas.  I spent December trying to capture the awe and the majesty of the miracle birth of Christ.  Advent readings (two per day), a specialized Christmas playlist, Scripture writing...

The truth is, I filled my days with that search for Jesus; but those same stories (read three times each day) were old and stale.  My heart was old and stale even as a longed for the fresh beauty of the Christmas story.

In the midst of so many familiar things, something was missing and that missing piece began to replace longing with sadness.  I kept wondering what was lacking. My heart was in the right place, my actions lined up with those desires... why wasn't I "feeling" it?


Two days ago, my scripture writing led me to a passage I have read an uncountable amount of times in my lifetime.  It was the story of the shepherds and I found something there.  Something new, something I hadn't noticed ever before.

Writing scripture is a new habit for me.  I just began to do it this month and it has been an enjoyable part of my morning routine each day of December.  It slows me down.  It causes me to take in every single precious word and in that slowness I caught something new.

After the big event ended.  The last angel had faded from the sky, the songs still ringing in the shepherds head, the instructions still freshly on their mind but before their arrival at the manger scene we get to see a little bit of humanity.

"Well, let's go.  Let's go to Bethlehem and see this baby."

Said as if there was an option.  Stating the obvious?

As I wrote it down it seemed jolting and out of place, this little quote from the shepherds.  The proceeding scene is so filled with God's glory that the lowly shepherd is quite forgotten.  A sky filled with a multitud of angels singing the most quoted song in history  "Glory to God in the highest.  Peace on Earth, good will to men."

Why do we need to know that the shepherds ended that glorious event by standing around and.. what?  deciding if they were going to actually go to Bethlehem or... not????  Really?

Really.

Really.

They had to turn inwards momentarily, because they had a decision to make.

Of course they had just seen the unseeable and heard the unhearable.  Of course God himself had just revealed Himself in a magnificent way with a promise to reveal himself further.

But those shepherds had to decide for themselves if they were going to take the risk of running off to Bethlehem.

I can imagine them huddled together.
"Well." says one of them.
"Well" says the other, because who can really speak when stunned by angel glory?
"So what do we do?" asks one.

And here it comes.  Here comes the key.

"Let's go.  Let's go see the baby.  Let's go to Bethlehem."

Decision made.  Now action can be taken as faith sinks in and response is given.

And even today, as God reveals His glory to mankind, we, like the shepherds must respond.

We can't just stare at the sky in awe of the angel's song.  We have to come back down to earth.  We have to talk it over.  We have to give faith a practical outlet in response.

We have to take a pause in the advent readings, we have to take a pause in the sky gazing and awe of Christmas beauty to return to our here and now environment and make a real honest to goodness decision.

We have to stop doing all the GOOD THINGS so we can do the important thing...

Let's go. Let's go to Bethlehem and see God in human flesh.

Will you come with me?

Category: