Thursday, April 28, 2011

Persecution in Puerto Rico, Subtle but Real

I just saw a CNN news clip about the Chinese government practice of spying on and detaining Christians. It is amazing how much manpower they dedicate to following and recording church activity.

In Puerto Rico, persecution takes a subtle, but very real form. When our churches wish to build, we are required to go by a certain building code that is not applied to businesses, schools or churches in favor with the government. Parking is a problem here, for example. Most businesses and our church have only 2 or 3 parking spaces in front of them, so people just park where they can and walk to get there. The government limits our attendance to 5 people per parking space, but the Catholic church, the taverns and even the Post Office in our town,  can have hundreds of people and are not required to limit their attendance.

I think it works this way: They find out you are an Evangelical Christian and wish to build, so they take out a large, rarely used book of odd laws, blow off the dust and trot out the most expensive or onerous ones they can find. If you were a tavern, or a church in favor with the government, that dusty book never comes out.

I guess that is why we have the book of Nehemiah in the Bible. He went through problems with local officials, but got it done anyway. But not until a lot of tears, prayers energy and money had been spent.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday Service - Good Music, Special Friends

We had a surprise Friday. We had an afternoon Good Friday Special Service and some of our old members came and worshiped with us and they even brought visitors.

Then Carlos Maldonado, a man that served as a deacon in another church I helped start, came and preached as our guest speaker. He sang a great special, "Jesus is the Cornerstone." I got the last verse on a pocket video camera and posted it here so you could here a sample of the good music we enjoyed.

It is a pleasure having trained men who can preach and give us a break  so we can relax and enjoy a service once in a while.

 Cornerstone (translated)

Jesus is the Cornerstone, came for sinners to atone

Though rejected by His own, He became the Cornerstone

Jesus is the Cornerstone

When I am by sin oppressed, on the Stone I am at rest

Where the seeds of truth are sown, he remains the Cornerstone

Jesus is my Cornerstone

Rock of Ages, so secure, For all time it shall endure

'Til His children reach their home, He remains the Cornerstone

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me find my rest in Thee

'Til the breaking of the dawn, 'til all footsteps reach His throne

Ever let this truth be known, Jesus is the Cornerstone

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Furlough, Flying, Family and Taxes

We need help to get home this summer. We are scheduled to report on our ministry to supporting churches, and visit some new ones in the states of Washington, California and Montana. Furloughs can be expensive. Sometimes we have to put our plane fare, car rental and lodging costs on a credit card and then pay it off as love offerings come in. We have a problem this month. We have our calendar full of meetings, but might have a hard time getting those tickets.

Because of two recent challenges, buying those tickets is a lot harder to do. The first challenge is the need to provide airfare and tuition for our Twins, Sarah and Kristin, so they can begin their first year at Pensacola Christian college. The second challenge is this: we just paid our 2010 taxes to both US and Puerto Rico and also First Quarter Tax installments to both the US and Puerto Rico. Taxes must be paid. But, this last week was especially tough.

Meeting these two challenges has drained our savings and used up the available credit we need to begin our furlough. In short, after taxes, we find ourselves hard pressed to buy those airline tickets for our furlough and for our daughters trip to begin their college education.

Please pray for us. You can also help us by:

1. Helping with our airfare.  (About $500 each ticket)
2. Helping our daughters financially.
($250 a ticket. Books, tuition, etc. Help sent to them directly lowers our tax liability.)
3. Providing a car for June-July so we won't have to rent one.
4. Providing Hospitality for the weeks between Sunday meetings.
5. Communicate positive things about our ministry, along with our needs, to your church, pastor, missions committee or prayer circle.
6. Come visit us in Puerto Rico, catch the vision for the work and share it back home.
7. Come, stay and help us! The army needs boots on the ground to win. We need your feet on the field to bring in the harvest!