Friday, March 19, 2010

New Year, New Servanthood

This last year was a crazy one with Pastor Tito and his wife Patty out of the country because of Patty's breast cancer. Praise God she is well and they are both back in Tacna.

For over 16 months we were working hard in Tacna for God's glory and it was a great year for growth within the three churches, especially Local Central and Ciudad Nueva. With the vacuum created without Tito and Patty many members stepped up their dedication to the church. God moved greatly in the hardest time of the church's existence in Tacna...as he usually does in our lives.

Now that they have arrived it is a new year and there are new changes in the churches and a big change for us...I am now officially the lead pastor in Ciudad Nueva. It is very exciting, but practically the same responsibility that we had these last 16+ months. The new responsibility adds a new level of ambitiousness towards planning the year and working closely with the team of leaders that God has raised up. We are looking into studying at a seminary together as a group once a week, planning visits every other week to get to know all the children's families at the church, and praying and talking over the visits every other week. Our hope is to get to know the families, help them in any way possible, and share the good news of Jesus whenever possible.

Please keep the church in Ciudad Nueva in your prayers, as with the other churches in Tacna. Please keep me in your prayers. I have always had a fear of power because I have seen what damage it can do...but I also know that these positions can and should be used to serve the church, serve the community, and glorify God through it. I am very excited and very fearful. Pray that humbleness and desire for GOD to be glorified will always guide my ways, my thoughts, and my steps. Please pray for wisdom to lead God's church and serve his children and creation.

Lastly, God has opened up a door to possible financial support from the east coast and we also ask your prayers through the process of being evaluated. It is a very missions oriented church. A friend has made a connection and we need to turn in some information for review by their missions committee. Please pray.

Thank you all for your support in every way. Thank you everyone who has helped financially to open up the School Supply store which is blessing to many. Thank you all for your constant prayers which are so necessary and appreciated for the good of God's work in Tacna. We love you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Education...

...the way up the social ladder and the way out of poverty.

The reality in Tacna is that "free" public education is a joke. The education is low quality; the teachers are not very interested in their students; at the end of the day if the students don't pass many can pay their corrupt teachers for passing grades. It is a sad cycle of corruption which seems impossible to defeat, impossible to overcome. At the beginning of each school year the teachers send out a list of approximately $50 in school supplies that each student must purchase in order to begin classes. For many families that only make $150, $200 or $300 a month, having a few kids studying can take up a month or two of salary.

What we can do for now is provide for the poor a helping hand to purchase these school supplies. Thanks to six different donors we were able to give out 30 scholarships worth $50 in supplies. The conditions are simple: the parents must make sure their children are studying hard and getting good grades, and next year they will be able to qualify for another scholarship next year.

We want to be responsible with the donations God has provided. This is why we want to work with the parents to make sure the children are well educated. It would make no sense at all to give away scholarships and have the children not learn. Our long-term dream would be to open up a school of our own to ensure good quality affordable education, providing jobs for many people and raising up a new generation from amongst the poor.

In the end corruption will continue. We can only hope in Him who has the power to overcome, for who are those who overcome the world but those who believe in Jesus the Son of God. Our hope lies not just in education or jobs or businesses, but in he who can provide them. This is the end of everything we do...that our Lord we be glorified and His creation restored.

Monday, March 1, 2010

2009 Goal Reviews

The first week of January last year I took a few days away from Tacna to rest, pray, and meditate. During that time a few goals for the year of 2009 were set. Here those goals and others by the Peruvian leaders.

I. Youth Group
a. 15 Baptisms
b. 9 Discipleships
c. 2 Guitarists
d. 3+ families coming to the church
e. Teaching in Sunday School
f. More responsibility and less anger

II. Tacna Churches
a. Train Leaders
b. 1 new preacher
c. 2 Cell Groups
d. 3 Marriages Counseled

III. Self-Sustained Vision
a. One business up and running by years end
b. Preparing second business for 2010

We had a pretty good year, even though there were some pretty big setbacks. Not all of our goals were met, but many were and we are happy to have had some things change during the year that the spirit moved in us and the church. Here is a brief review of each goal:

I. Youth Groups
a. Baptisms: 7 in Ciudad Nueva, 4 Culto.com
b. 10 Discipleships started...sadly none finished. But we have already begun with some of the same disciples this year and quite a few more new disciples.
c. 3 guitarists were being taught last year from the youth group in Ciudad Nueva
d. 3 families from the youth group have attended the church many times throughout the year
e. 2 youth are now teaching in Sunday School in Ciudad Nueva
f. There is considerably less anger and the youth group is helping out a lot more with missions, cleaning up the church, and helping out with the activities in the church

II. Tacna churches
a. The leaders began reading a leadership book together and we have begun to do evaluations on a regular basis
b. The person we were hoping to raise up to preach has come into some serious financial problems and has no free time at all to be trained
c. The two cell groups were not accomplished, but we were able to bring groups together and read a book together to help their marriages called, The 10 Commandments of Marriage.
d. 6 couples attended marriage studies or counseling.
e. We celebrating two weddings

III. Self- Sustained church
a. The School supply store was started late December and is going very well
b. We have a plan to get the Hardware Store up and running the end of the third quarter of 2010

I will write more on the goals for the fiscal year which begins today. Some are a continuation of the goals mentioned above and others are completely new and exciting. Thank you all for your support and prayers.