We graduated from Bible classes last night! And by "we", I mean the Puno team. We started classes in the middle of August and had our last class yesterday morning, then graduation last night. Through a variety of circumstances and revisions, we finished the courses in a record 4.5 months (normally its a 6 month process). There were classes on culture, discipleship, relationships, Bible history, prayer and more. Some classes were incredibly insightful and useful to me personally and to our work in Puno. Other classes weren't quite so useful to me but hopefully spoke to others in a different way.
Graduating is a huge transition. Since I have been here I have been living in Arequipa and either in spanish classes or Bible classes. Now I will be moving to a new city, Puno, and be working with people everyday, trying to explain Christ's gift and the Father's mercy & love and the ability to have a personal relationship with Him. Quiet different from sitting in a classroom! These first 6 months have been so helpful to acclamate to the culture, learn how to communicate in spanish, build relationships with my Extreme family, grow spiritually, help with cell groups and help with impact events. I think more than any class we took in our classroom, I learned in the classroom of this city, Arequipa, in the class called "time". Time can be our biggest enemy and our best friend. Time is my enemy in that there is so much more time until I see my family again, so much time until I eat a meal with friends, hug my loved ones, and wear the variety of pumps waiting for me in my closet, hehe! But, time is my greatest advantage here. I've had time to let God prepare me, time to learn, time to grown. And I will have time in Puno. Time to build relationships, time to disciple, time to let God plant 3 churches through me and my partner Francisca. Time make a difference.
That all being said. Even though these 6 months have been awesome to prepare me, and I feel more prepared today for what God has asked me to do than the day I set my foot in Peru. I still feel unprepared and inadequate. God called me to a task that is impossible, impossible without Him. Of course I know deep down that God has and will continue to equip me, that He is working through me. A couple weeks ago I read Matthew chapter 10 where Jesus has just given the disciples the authority to drive out evil spirits and miraculously heal the sick. I feel like that's the point we are at right now. We just graduated and God has said, ok, now go. Go and make disciples, go and play with the children, go and help the physically ill, go and tell the story of my son.
Well, in Matthew chapter 10 Jesus gives the disciples instructions before he officially sends them out to do the work of the Father and evangelize. I took the mandates he gave the disciples and put them into my own words thinking about planting churches in Peru but these are mandates from the Father, mandates to ALL of His disciples no matter where they are. We all need to practice these commands as disciples.
*Go to the spiritually lost (v.6)
* Tell the story of our Father and His son (v.7)
* Help people physically (v.7)
* Show the love and mercy God has shown me (v.8)
* Give of myself, my life, my spiritual gifts and everything God has given me without holding back (v.8)
* Trust in the provisions of God (vv. 9-10)
* Give a solemn warning to those who reject God's message (v.14)
* Guard my innocence in Christ but be wise to the ways of the world (v.16)
* Be street wise and on guard (v.17) * In times of trouble, don't worry about what to say, just let the Spirit work and speak through me (vv.19-20)
* Accept the fact that I will be hated or persecuted because of who I love & proclaim (v.22)
* Stand firm in my beliefs through the strength of God (v.22)
* Be like my teacher, Jesus, follow his example (v.25)
* What God speaks to me personally in the quietness of my personal time with Him, speak to others, share it without holding back (v.27)
* Don't be afraid of man, be afraid of the work of the devil in man and fear God (v.28)
* Remember that I am worthy in the eyes of my Father (v.31)
* Demonstrate to God and man that I am His follower by proudly acknowledging His name in public (v.32)
* Put my love for God above everything and everyone in my life including myself, my mom, dad, sissy, and more (v.37)
* Daily commit myself, my being and my life to Christ and follow Him (vv.38-39)
* Give up my life, the life I had planned and exchange it to God for His perfect plan for me (v.39)
* Receive hospitality with a humble and grateful heart because those who show hospitality to me are actually showing hospitality to Jesus through me and God through Jesus (v.40)
* Be hospitable and giving to the people I encounter (v.42)