Monday, June 26, 2006

Long Sunday, Happy Sunday

Well, they got married. I had a part but they are the ones making the big decisions. The groom and the bride are both active Christians and involved in the church. But Miguel is moving into a new home, much closer to the church where his new bride attends.

They say you don't lose a son, but you gain a daughter. I hope we may gain some more members that can continue blessing us with the kind of service our church has received from Miguel. At least we know other believers on the island will benefit from the labors of this fine Christian couple. I suppose we can view him a kind of missionary, receiving Christ in our town and going out from us to promote the Lord's work in other regions.

Everybody loves a Wedding!

This little girl is the daughter of a young man I led to Christ. I performed the wedding of her parents about four years ago. Now she is waiting to see her uncle Miguel get married. We led Miguel to the Lord about five years ago. It was a happy day for everybody!

Demolition Missionary

Company is coming! Our home church, Southside Baptist, is sending a group of 5 adults and 7 teens to lend us a hand. With a housefull like this on the way, we decided to make some improvements around the house. The old tub had to go. I discovered that it refused to go peaceably. The tub was 60" long, but the walls are only 58" apart! Well, after many tries ands a lot of help from Tina, together with many scraped knuckles and sore muscles , I got the old tub sawed in half, the walls widened and a new tub set were the old one sat.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Is the Church Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

I saw this sign and was grateful that our church has helped a good number of people overcome personal problems. It is one thing to read a missionary story, but another thing to be in one! But the great part of being here is that we get to see the power that the gospel has to change lives.

Sunday afternoon I will see Miguel Fontanes get married and be in the ceremony. We led him to the Lord five years ago. He completed an alcohol rehabilitation program, came to our church, was baptized, and got involved. Ever since then he has served faithfully in our church. As his old beer-belly got smaller, Miguels life got better. Now he is getting married, has a good job and is a much happier man today than when we met him five years ago.

It sure is great being part of something that is a part of the solution and not part of the problem!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Scary words, "I took your advice, and...!"

I stopped by Puerto Rico Baptist College to do some work yesterday and got a surprise. A student from Grenada named Eorl said, "I did just what you told me to do last year when I returned to Grenada. What you said would happen, happened exactly as you described it!"

Well, I was a bit nervous about what was to follow! He told me that I had advised him to speak to all the pastors in the area where he wanted to start a church. The reason being that he might pick up some useful local news and maybe even find a group of Christians left over from an abandoned work. It sometimes happens that a missionary or pastor has problems and leaves an area and a group of believers before a church is successfully formed. By asking around you might find such a situation, or maybe a group about to be abandoned. If you can find one of like faith and practice, it can give a real boost to your church planting activities.

Eorl told me that he did the survey as I suggested and ran into just this situation. A local pastor said to him, "I am leaving this town. You can take the work I have started!"

When he told me that he took my advice, I remembered the poster that shows a group of managers watching some employees and crying out in panic; "Oh no! They did it just like we told them to!" I felt a bit like that first, and was nervous about him following advice I gave out in some forgotten conversation. But I am relieved it turned out well. We are happy to find students putting into practice what they learn from us and especially when it results in advancing the work of church planting in another island in the Caribbean. Amen!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Helping Hands Need Attention

I knew something was not right when Tina said I should go to town and get a haircut. Tina has been cutting my hair for the last 20 years of our marriage, but lately her hands have been bothering her. More than one person has suggested she get checked out for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Tina has been reading up on it and is planning on seeing a specialist to check out if this is the problem.

Please pray for her. Tina plays the piano and clarinet for church, paints, does needle-work and many kinds of handicrafts for others as well as for her own personal enjoyment. If an operation is needed, please pray that she may come out it well and enjoy many pain free years in her labors of love.

I Heard a New Christian Confess a Bad Habit

I met William Baez in town yesterday and he said to me: “Pastor, I have a bad habit. I don’t go out at night for church activities. But if you will be patient with me, I hope to mature and get more involved. Maybe by the end of the year I can go out with you all on visitation. I want to go with you all at night and witness to people in our town.”

I wish I would hear more confessions like that one!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Happy Results from an Uncomfortable Moment

Communion Confusion Has Unexpected Happy Ending

I led the church in a celebration of the Lords' Supper this morning and an awkward moment arose. I usually give a general admonition about self examination before the elements are passed out, but leave it to each person to decide to either partake or let the elements pass. Today I gave these instructions and had a deacon pass out the bread and then an elderly gentleman named Joaquin pass out the communion cups afterwards. Well, Joaquin, forgetting our policy, took it upon himself to skip a man named William Baez in the distribution of the communion.

Now Mr. Baez is a man I met during visitation about two years ago. After much visitation he finally came and really liked our church. He told me something like this: Just let me take it all for a while and I will let you know what I think. I think I might like it, but do not try and get me or I will get scared and run off. Well, I continued to encourage him, but was cautious about being too forceful after this declaration.

He was upset about what happened and wanted to know why he should have been passed by in the communion service. He spoke to our head deacon about it after the service. Luis calmed him down and showed him from scripture the symbolism of communion but how much more critical it is to have the relationship with God of which communion is the symbol. In short, William Baez bowed his head and asked Jesus Christ to be his Lord and Savior.

I was afraid we scared away a potential church member. But God used this bit of drama today to bring a soul to Himself. What a privilege to serve a God who, in spite of our errors, is able and gracious enough to bring success out of our efforts to serve Him. Amen!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Winning Friends or Winning Arguments?

Galatians 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

I studied a bit this afternoon to try and make some progress in my Doctoral program. I enjoy studying Apologetics (defense of the faith) and meditated today on this thought: "It is more important to make a friend than to win an argument." Though not always true (Sir Neville Chamberlain found that it didn't work with Hitler), I feel a lot more heat is generated than light in many debates and both sides forget that good men can disagree on difficult issues.

We are working with students from many different churches and rub shoulders with different missionaries as we endeavor to work together to train believers through Puerto Rico Baptist College. A Bible college is not a one man show. I am thankful to God that we have been blessed with many seasons of peace in working with each other. My hope is that in our witnessing and evangelism may be as equally effective. In our work of church planting, we must find ways to go on the offense with the gospel without being unnecessarily offensive.

Come on down here and help us! We don't bite!

(I borrowed the photo from the blog of Joyce DeWeese, Joyce is on staff with Continental Baptist Missions and is the mother of Leann, our intern last summer.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

We Made It! Prayer Protection Kept Us in Good Hands!

We just got our internet connection installed and running, so now we can update our recent activities.

We spoke at Amazing Grace Baptist Church in St Cloud, Florida, and the next day flew to Puerto Rico. The flight went so smoothly that the Puerto Ricans did not give the usual applause to the pilot and crew for a landing well done that they customarily do if we suffer a bit of turbulence in route.

We found the house in good condition and were happy it was not robbed in our absence. But 6 months away do make for lots of dust. Our cats apparently did not make it, but the next door neighbor has some cute kittens almost weaned, so it looks like we won’t have to endure a cat shortage. Our dog Cookie was well cared for and was ecstatically happy to see us.

There was some wear and tear on some items that we will need to replace. Kristin’s computer monitor had a bad contact and damaged the video circuits in her machine. I had an extra small monitor on hand but had to replace her machine. I got one from Sam’s Club for $550. Our dryer belt broke, but we bought a new one and will try to get it installed this next week. Our landlord raised the rent $50 a month. But that is the first raise in rent we have had in the last 8 years, so we are not complaining.

Our church people rejoiced to have us back. The attendance was low, but I have spoken to a good number of people in the last week and anticipate a rise in attendance, Lord willing, in the weeks ahead.