Thursday, February 23, 2012

Candelaria Take 2

Well, it’s February and that means party time in Puno.  It started out with the Candelaria, the big celebration of the Virgin de la Candelaria, now we are into Carnivales (Carnivals) and Corta Monte (Cut a Tree).  Below are some pictures from the Candelaria this year.  Truly, this year it didn’t seem as big of a deal as it did last year.  I don’t know if it really was not as big of a deal for the people here or if we are just used to Puno and their parties by now.  We didn’t spend much time checking out the festival but Franci and I were able to watch the procession of the virgin.  Wow, it was a big ‘to-do’, people were on their roofs throwing flower petals on the doll, the street was decorated in its honor, there was a line to walk up in front of the doll before the procession and pray/worship it.  Really, it was disgusting and sad.  I know some people just do this out of tradition, because their parents did it and its what you do in Puno.  I know a lot of the people don’t really believe in the virgin and her so called powers.  But, even so, to see the time and effort put into this procession of……a DOLL, it was sickening and I know it does not please God. 

The culture here is interesting, the dances are fascinating, the costumes unique, but the pagan chains have spiritually imprisoned these people for generations and it continues today.  Pray for Puno, pray that these chains would be broken, that these customs and traditions would be left behind in order to seek a new way of life with Christ.  I never want these people to lose their culture, its a beautiful thing, I love watching polleras (typical skirts) waving as women walk in the fields, I love the importance of greeting everyone in the room when you arrive and leave, I love the dances and the way they are being passed down to younger generations.  But, the paganism must be lost, forgotten and buried forever. I want Puno to worship and praise God and only God, I want them to celebrate Him, to dance for Him, to get together and fellowship in His Name.

DSC_0356 DSC_0365 DSC_0372 DSC_0377 DSC_0387 DSC_0399 DSC_0408 DSC_0416 DSC_0419 DSC_0422 DSC_0424 DSC_0430  DSC_0443DSC_0434 DSC_0449 DSC_0472  DSC_0469 DSC_0474

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wheely Cart

I just finished reading 1 Chronicles last week.  I will be honest, I was not excited about reading and studying Chronicles, but I had been reading though the Old Testament and came to 1 Chronicles.  Gritting my teeth, I started studying an average of one chapter a day of this Old Testament book.  The first few chapters were exactly what I expected, boring chronology, but really, just the first four chapters were brutal.  Then, things started to get interesting.  I started to see examples of God’s faithfulness between the lists of genealogy. 

So I found some little gems, some little things that spoke to me among the lists of names, of sons and fathers.  Then things started to get really good in chapter nine, there’s not as many chronological lists, but is instead the story of David and his reign until the end of the book in chapter 29.  I learned a lot going through these chapters, God really used His Spirit to guide and teach me as I read through 1 Chronicles.  And I have been impacted specifically by chapter 13.  In this chapter, David decides he wants the Ark of the Covenant in Israel, he confirmed with his officers and commanders that this was a good idea.  But, big mistake, he didn’t confirm this plan with God.  So David got everything in order to bring the Ark from its current home in Kiriath Jearim. 

Verse seven is my favorite, its says, “They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it.”  Why is that my favorite verse?  Because this is the verse I’ve been thinking about and meditating on the past few weeks.  David and his men fashioned a fancy new ‘wheely cart’, as I’ve been calling it, so they could move the Ark.  Why is that such a big deal?  Well, the law of Moses clearly stated that only Levites were to carry the Ark.  So David got around this detail by using this fancy new fangled wheely cart to carry the Ark instead of the Levites. And all I’ve been able to think about in these past few weeks is what am I carrying on a wheely cart instead of carrying the way God intended and commanded?  His Word, His Gospel. 

When I first got here to Peru, I didn’t like the word evangelize, I didn’t like the idea of telling people they are sinners, I hated the idea of knocking on doors.  I wanted to reach the people here indirectly, I wanted to start by teaching English and then working up to a conversation about God.  I wanted to be very passive about our approach to the Gospel.  But I’ve been convicted of this.  God has been teaching me that too often, I’m using a wheely cart to carry the Gospel to these people instead of carrying it how He intended.  My way is not better, His way is better.

I’m not saying that we can’t start off with friendship before we share the gospel, I’m also not saying that we can’t use impact events to reach people.  What I’m saying, and what I’ve been convicted of myself is that we may put on an impact event or make a new friend, but then we leave out the other half of it, we don’t confront the truth.  It’s difficult, and it’s taken me a year and half to be okay with the idea of ‘evangelizing’.  But Jesus was clear in Matthew, in the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Jesus said, GO!  He said, MAKE DISCIPLES!  He said, TEACH THEM!  He did not say, passively make new friends and show them my love because you are kind and generous without saying my name.  Yes, we can do that, we can be a light for Him.  But too often, that becomes an excuse not to go deeper, it becomes and excuse to not avoid that conversation where you have to say, you are a sinner, you need God, you must make a decision. 

In our daily work, I’m trying to be more direct in evangelism.  I’m trying not to beat around the bush but instead trying to be up front and honest, sincere and concerned for this person’s future instead of being concerned about what they are going to think about what I have to say.  And apart from this, our team has decided to separate one day a week to go out as a team and evangelize in one of our locations.  So far we have been out to Juliaca, Yanamayo, Salcedo and Rinconada de Salcedo, knocking on doors and using the evangicube to tell people about sin, why Jesus came, and how they can have a relationship with our Father.  The method has been surprisingly successful!  Yes, people tell us they don’t have time, people don’t answer the door, people think we are freaks, but, in the big scheme of things, I don’t care.  If one person truly listens to the story of Christ and a seed is planted or even a new life begun, it makes all the rejections worth while.  And, above all, we are pleasing God by carrying His Message, not indirectly on some fancy schmancy wheely cart, but we are carrying His Message the way He intended, by going out to these places and teaching people the story of Christ in hopes of making disciples. 

Again, I’m not saying its the same in the states.  I’m not saying you should go out and knock on doors with an evangicube.  But, I challenge you to think about that word ‘evangelism’.  We are ALL evangelists, not just me because I’m supposedly a missionary (probably the worst missionary ever) in Peru.  Daily we are to evangelize the Gospel.  I challenge you to think about the wheely cart with me.  I ask you to look for opportunities to give up that excuse of ‘evangelizing’ with your attitude or way of life and challenge you to carry God’s Message like He commanded.  Who cares if you are embarrassed, who cares if you lose a friend, who cares if you are made fun of?  Because you know what……the result of using the wheely cart is death.  In chapter 13 of 1 Chronicles, Uzzah dies, he was struck down by God and died right there.  That’s the consequence when we use the wheely cart.  People are left behind, people, souls are left to die because we were too embarrassed or too timid or too cool to be blunt and carry the Message. Think about it. 

1 Chronicles 28:9-10

And you, my son/daughter (fill in your name), acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.  If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.  Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to (fill in your call).  Be strong and do the work.