Saturday, December 19, 2009

L-rd please rescue me from my brothers in Christ!

Please Father, protect me from the extreme right wing of dogmatic Christianity that preaches that there is something spiritually wrong with me because I do not feel extreme conviction at the idea of drinking alcohol. Please deliver me from my brothers in Christ, who stand and point at me (with 3 fingers pointing right back at themselves) to condemn me for having friendships with sinners, for not being as conservative as they are, for not condemning anyone who partakes of alcohol or cigarettes or who listens to non-religious music and dances, for not wanting to loudly and dogmatically evangelize anything with two legs and a pulse. L-rd please give me your peace and fill me with your love to the point that it cannot help but overflow into the lives of these people. I earnestly want your help in this L-rd. I am in a desert, begging for a sip of the water of life that will allow me to love my brother instead of being disgusted by the words of his lips.

I do not want to slander my brother or hate him or condemn him as I am being condemned by him. I want to show him the same love that you have given me for those who do not believe in you. It is so much harder for me to have love for a fellow Christian who behaves in this way than it is for me to love a non-believer who is only acting according to the flesh by which he is bound. Please soften my heart L-rd and forgive me for hating my brother and judging him according to my prejudices. It is easy to see why non-believers so often hate Christians, but I ask that you would forgive me of that attitude and change me so that I cannot see why anyone would hate another person who is not blaspheming your name. Please forgive me for being equally guilty of the same actions that I am condemning.

Always the Cynic

Two years ago, my friend and mentor (and now brother in law) Ben was giving a talk to a group of Campus Life staff at one of our “three story evangelism” training seminars. I will never forget what he said.

“When I first heard about ‘three story evangelism’, I was not completely sure if I bought into it or not. It was not until I saw Andrew Bishop, who is extremely critical and cynical of everything, whole heartedly embrace ‘three story’ that I knew for sure that this is good stuff.”

Fifth Story

I have just finished reading Donald Miller’s latest book, and I am about to start reading it again. I talks about stories in a way that is real, but that still inspires me to make my own life into a better story.

Reading this book has really helped me to take a look at my life and start evaluating the stories that I am living. I have realized that most of the stories that I am living are really not great stories so much as great adventures. They are mostly fun and interesting and challenging, and I believe that they help me to grow, but they are also mostly self serving. Most of my life is done because of a desire to gratify my own curiosity, rather than a desire to serve others. There is, however, one exception. My time with Campus Life is the best story that I have lived. It is the best thing that I have done with my life, and it is something that I greatly miss. I want to live more great stories like that, rather than devoting my whole life to personal adventures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Higher Pastures

The farm in Delta (the name of the region), is located on the banks of a river which floods every year. Like much of the Amazon basin, the land is actually highest at the riverbanks, sloping gently down into swamps and lagoons as you move farther from the river. Parts of our farm are high enough that they only flood by a few inches, while other parts can be submerged up to waist or even chest height.

Our cows need a place to rest at night where they can be dry, and because of this need, we are currently in the process of building a mound of earth which will act as a base for our future corral. We began the process by hauling old and rotting lumber into a large rectangle that is roughly 8 meters by 10 meters. Using two shovels and a wheel barrow we have spent the last few days hauling earth from different parts of the farm in order to raise the level of the ground by as much as two feet in places. When we finish, we will start construction of the corral that we need and eventually we will build a roof as well.

I feel like so little of my time actually goes to working on spiritual matters. On Sunday we lead a church service, and we do spend some time with neighbors, but it is a difficult transition for me to go from spending 20 hours a week working with students through Campus Life to spending about 5 hours a week leading a church service. It is such a different pace here.

I would love to be in the schools leading bible studies, but we have certain jobs that we must get done quickly before the floods arrive, and to travel to the schools and talk to the teachers in Jobo and Zapotal is an entire days worth of work, and costs about $20 worth of gasoline. We are going to try to talk to the teachers this Sunday, but even if we can get permission to start, we wont have time to visit all the schools until we have finished the corral, and Juan has finished the boat that he was contracted to build for the neighbors.

I have been praying and I ask that you also will pray for opportunities to share the gospel and talk with people about the word of God throughout the week. Also please pray as I am making decisions about whether to start teaching (English, and maybe math and reading) in a local school that currently has no teacher (they may not even want me to teach).

One neat thing did happen this week. One of our neighbors has a 15 year old sun named Alfredo. Alfredo loves to be around gringos, and the other day we invited him to eat with us. Before eating, we asked him to pray over the meal. He claimed that he did not know how, but after we explained to him that praying simply means talking to God, and gave him some ideas about things to pray about, he lead me and Juan in a wonderful blessing over our meal.