8.15.2008

Would Christianity Like Me?

In Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, he tells of the conversion process of Penny, a very insecure college student. When she was getting to know a fellow student who practiced her Christianity in a whole new way, Don writes:

“Penny began to wonder if Christianity, were it a person,
might in fact
like her” p. 46).

That quote has stopped me in my tracks. I’m surrounded by a hurting and insecure world. There are people all around that would just like to be liked. In their own misery, I doubt they’ve even considered that there might be more to Jesus than an empty religious ceremony. If he were here, he’d like them!

And the good news is, he is here! Now, how to show them that he really, really likes them?

8.05.2008

Welcome to One Crazy Summer ’08 Version
I’m sure we’re not at all unusual to be enjoying a crazy-hectic summer. (Do they make them any other way?)

For as long as we live here, I can’t imagine we’ll ever grow accustomed to the short summers. Quincy’s last day of school was the 27th of June. (That is just too late if you ask me.) The day before, the 26th, we received a campaign group from Grass Valley, CA.

After the group left, so did Kim and the kids for two weeks. They returned a week ago and that leaves us with two more weeks until school starts.

24 from Grass Valley, California joined us for one week.
The group from Grass Valley originally planned to go to Hawaii, but those plans changed when their airline went under. Since they couldn’t afford other tickets, the group of 24 quickly made plans to join us for a week of service and fun. (Eight of the 24 were actually relatives! Kim’s sister’s family as well as her mom and cousin were a part of the group.)

We painted a school, and also the home of one of our Christian sisters, visited sick kids in a children’s hospital and fed hundreds who were visiting family members in the hospital. We helped with a Kid’s Club put on by the church in Jardines del Valle, and helped the church in Jocotan provide a kid’s day in their back yard (with plenty of face painting). And we still had time to make a day trip to the beach.

After the group left Kim’s family stayed a few extra days so that we could have a little time alone with them. Then Kim, kids and grandma Kay flew back to
California together. Kim along with her two sisters helped her brother move from San Diego to New York. While they were driving across the country, grandma Kay and papa B. kept all seven grandkids.

Last year we proposed to Jocotan that we serve their community with a campaign group. They were not open to the idea. This year, however, they organized two service projects.
We feel like it shows a shift in their desire to reach out to their own neighbors


Follow Up
Between the group from Grass Valley and the groups from Texas and New Mexico that joined our team earlier in the summer, the church has sown seed throughout Guadalajara. We expect that God will bring fruit that we might never even know about. But we are encouraged by some of the open doors that we are beginning to see in our own neighborhoods.

The groups from Texas and New Mexico worked together to clean up the colonia where the Shroeders, Burns and AIMers live. They worked for a day cleaning up the streets from fallen trees (normal after summer storms) and trash. Since then, the AIMers have been constantly approached by people in their colonia asking if they were a part of the group that helped clean up their streets. They continually express their gratitude that these young people would care about their neighborhood.

One night we took our group to a taco stand that we’ve just recently discovered. With a group of over 30, we practically took the place over. I’ve returned a couple of times since the group left and they keep asking about the youth that were with us. Two high school boys that wait on tables continue to ask about specific guys that were here and tell about specific conversations they had.

We’re anxious to reconnect with the teachers who helped us paint their school as well as some of the families that brought their kids to our Kid’s Day events. One dad called last night and invited our family to join them for a family outing in the coming week. We’ll see how it goes.

Thank you in advance for your prayers. We know that our job is to plant the seed and allow God to cause growth. So we covet your prayers, begging God to bring fruit to Guadalajara.

Jocotan Leading us into Ministry
Months ago a friend of Omar’s, Jose de Jesus, joined the assembly in Jocotan. It was one of those neat church moments when we were able to minister together to Jose, who feels all alone. After his mother passed away he was left alone in the house with his father who is basically a very angry man. I think I mentioned at the time that in our effort to encourage Jose, we as a body were encouraged by all that was being shared.

This past Sunday Omar (pictured to the left, helping out at the kid's day) told me that Jose’s dad had a stroke and now it’s up to Jose to take care of him. Omar has been visiting them and spending time praying with them. So before I left, we walked around the corner to Jose’s house and prayed together. Because of his sudden frailty, Jose’s dad is softening. How wonderful to see Omar noticing open doors and having the courage to walk through them.

After telling this story to Kim last night, she informed me that Jose’s sister was actually at the Kid’s Club in Jocotan when the guys from Grass Valley were here. She’s recently moved out of Jocotan into a nearby colonia. She expressed to Kim that she wants us to remember her and invite her to events in the future.

Visiting the Church in Cerro del Cuatro
While the family was away, I had lunch with the AIMers along with Gerardo and Martin from the church in Jardines del Valle. Martin planted the church in Cerro del Cuatro and he studies with them each Wednesday night. He invited me to join them later that evening for the study.

I don’t know why, but I feel like we’ve got a special connection with Cerro del Cuatro. For some reason, every time we’re with them we walk away encouraged.

We had a wonderful study on Acts 5. We discussed the apostles being thrown into jail and even beaten and told not to tell about Jesus. It was fun to see these new Christians find applications to their own lives. Martin asked them if they are good Christian people, might others still find reason to dislike them, and even mistreat them. Serafin answered that no, if they are Christ-followers all people will like them. So Martin invited them to look at the text again. I just watched as the Bible reformed their ideas about Christian living. Their eyes were being opened to the fact that suffering at the hands of others isn’t out of place in the Christian’s life. Instead, it was actually a place the apostles found intimacy with their savior.

On another note:

In May, (Memorial Day to be exact) we celebrated 5 years in Mexico. It sure doesn’t feel like 5 years, but at the same time, it feels like Amherst was really just a dream. To celebrate, we all took parasite treatments!


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