Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Puerto Ricans Do Christmas Different

First of all, Christmas is so loooong here! From the week-end after Thanksgiving till the Sunday following Jan 6 is Christmas! 

The main Puerto Rican holiday is not Christmas, but Three Kings day, on January 6th. To celebrate, the kids keep shoe boxes under their beds filled with grass for the horses of the wise men. In Puerto Rico, the wise men always ride horses, never camels.

Then their parents sneak in at night and take the grass out and put the presents in the shoe boxes. In the morning the kids find the grass gone, proof that the wise men came and fed their horses the grass. The presents left behind are in gratitude for the kindness of the children for feeding their horses. 

I like this because at least it is more from the Bible than many of our traditions..

But because the United States now governs Puerto Rico, they celebrate Dec 25th with American customs besides just the January 6th festival. Christmas here now comes complete with inflatable snowmen and reindeer in the yards. Of course all the kids want presents on BOTH Christmas AND Reyes (Three Kings Day)! 

We have an unusual custom called Matutinos (Ma too TEEN ohs). It involves sneaking up on houses in the middle of the night and singing until they invite you in for a snack. Our church people do it every year and it is a lot of fun. We used to do it till 4 AM some weekends, but I guess I am getting older, because I am ready to head for home after midnight! 

Of course, if you stay at home, they may sneak up on you! Nothing like having 25 or so surprise guests drop by in the middle of the night for coffee and snacks! Of course we read the bible story of Christmas and sing Christmas hymns. It is a lot of fun, but it does take a little getting used to! Fortunately for us, that didn't take too long.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Daughter Bethany & Husband Abe Begin Adoption Fundraiser

Bethany (our daughter) and her husband Abe serve in the youth ministry of Southgate Baptist Church, in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

While they minister to the youth of this mission field, they have no children of their own.

They have been approved by the adoption agency, but are just beginning the long and expensive journey of the adoption process. Please be an encouragement to them and give them some help. Your prayers and financial support would be a great blessing to them.

They just started a blog and have kicked off a 10 day fundraising drive. Get a t-shirt, send a note or make a contribution. The link below will tell you how.

Here is their address and email: 

Abe and Bethany Kennedy
P.O. Box 24248
Christiansted, VI 00824

The Kennedy's Adoption Journey: Hope is my Anchor Fundraiser: "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast..." Heb. 6:19a Our first adoption fundraiser starts t...

Monday, December 09, 2013

A Death Notice and a Birthday Party in one Sunday Morning

(Note the man at 0.01 sec, on the left, in the orange shirt and white coat with the gray and black stripes. This is Juan, and this story is about a tragedy and a celebration involving him and me.)

Last Sunday, I was proud to let one of our deacons preach. He studied hard for a class on sermon preparation and wanted to give one of his sermons for our church. So I got comfortable and was enjoying the sermon when one of our ladies called me to the back. I saw the same deacon's wife sobbing and a few people clustered around her praying.

"Juan died" I was told.

Juan was her brother. Tina and I had just visited Juan in the hospital, where he received Christ as his Saviour. He attended 2 services after returning home and asked us to hold a special afternoon service in his home, which we did.

Juan was in his mid-fifties I believe. He had a great sense of humor and was usually the life of the party. He had started chemo therapy and we were expecting him to be around for a few more years at least.

Well, after this sad turn of events, Tina said someone wanted me in the back of the church. I expected to hear more of the same kind of news, but I walked into a birthday celebration, complete with a cake with my name on it and 1 candle.

That is quite a range of emotion for one Sunday morning church service.

What was especially poignant about this was this: I had prostate cancer surgery in June and celebrated my birthday last Sunday. My doctor wrote "Cancer free" on my last exam. Juan found out about his cancer a few months after I discovered mine. The same Sunday I celebrated another year of life was the day he died.

Because of my own struggle with cancer, I was able to witness to Juan with some good results. Please continue your prayers for our family. Our struggles have been rewarded, but they are still struggles and we need your prayers and support to stay healthy and remain fruitful in the work of missions.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Former Non-Christian Fiancee of a Church Member Confesses and Blesses.

After church today, Carlos came and sat next to me.

He said, "Pastor, I haven't been here in a while, but I want to take advantage of my visit today to tell you something."

Not knowing what to expect I said, "OK. What do you have in mind?"

Carlos smiled and said, "You know that when I was engaged to my wife, I was not a believer and neither of us was serving the Lord. But you were open minded and willing to council with us. Because of your challenge, we decided to begin our marriage as believers and have a Christian family. Today, both of us are serving the Lord. Thank you. If we can ever help you in any way, we will be there for you"

I remembered that, indeed, they were in an unequal relationship. But instead of outright rejecting their idea of matrimony, I decided upon another strategy. I said that I would consider it, if they came to 3 premarital counseling sessions.

During the second session I said, "I can't marry unequal pairs. I could marry two sheep or two goats, but I can't marry a sheep to a goat. I will do the wedding on this condition: 1. You both become sheep (Christians) or 2. That one of you rejects your faith and you both become goats (non-Christians).

They looked doubtful, but I said," I do not want an answer this week. Talk about it among yourselves. Decide. Do not give me an answer I want to hear. Tell me the truth about the foundation you wish to build your future family upon. It is a big decision. Take your time. I hope to hear that you both deide to found your family in Christ, but whatever you decide, you should be united."

I am glad Carlos and his wife decided in favor of Christ and that they have built their young family upon the rock of his teachings. He came by today to thank me for his happiness and the part we played in his decision. It was a blessing to hear that, but I didn't make the difference in his life, Christ did. I am happy though to have had a part in introducing him to someone who makes all the difference.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What a Monkey Experiment Taught Me About Being Thankful

I was surprised by the results of this interesting and funny experiment on the roots of discontentment and envy.

A monkey throws away food that made it happy when it sees another monkey get better food, even though they were both doing the same amount of work. The food for the monkey on the left remained the same. It made him happy before. The animal was the same and the reward was the same. The only thing that changed was his expectations. Seeing someone get more raised them. After that, his pleasure was replaced by rage.

The expectations that someone has are internal things. Being internal,  they should be under the control
of one's mental processes. Learning some self control, celebrating the success of friends, being content with what you have are also internal conditions. The internal landscape we posses does not have to be tossed about by the chaos of emotional torments. It can be cultivated and ordered to bring about peace in our inner world.

True peace doesn't come from getting what the other guy has, because there will always be somebody that has more than you. True peace comes from being thankful for what we do have and learning to be content with what we have received.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sleep Update

Because of some nagging hip pain, I struggle with sleep deprivation. I am able to do my work, but getting 4 hours of sleep or so a night over many months makes me feel really ragged during the day.

Searching for the cause of this led to finding cancer in my prostrate and having it removed this Summer, so I can be thankful (kind of) for that.

But the problem persisted.

Last month, I went and saw a specialist in arthritis and he prescribed a medicine called 
Gabapentin or Neurontin. It worked great. I have been able to get back to my 6 hour a night schedule and I feel a lot better.

Thanks to God, your prayers and modern medicine, I feel a lot better.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fellowship of Suffering

My prostate cancer experience has opened some doors.

Tina and I visited a man named Juan in the hospital. He was there because of a tumor affecting his lung.  Juan used to attend our church in the past, but he showed little interest in taking serious thought about his life. That is until recently.

When he found out he had lung cancer and the prognosis was bad, his attitude changed. Juan listened intently to my story of cancer and recovery. He decided it was time to get serious and prayed with me.

 Sunday, he was in pain, but he came to church anyway. Later he invited us to hold an afternoon service in his home. He is having a lot of emotional ups and downs, but is finding comfort and encouragement in our church and in fellowship with our people.

I have been accused in the past of having an exaggerated sense of humor myself. I still have it. But my encounter with cancer has provided what some people call "gravitas" or a serious side. It has served as a bridge to share and sympathise in the sufferings of others.

Please pray for Juan and myself. I think we can each help each other, as God helps us both.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We teach kids new songs, But then this happened...

On our way to church, I stopped by the college dorms and picked up two of our Sunday School teachers. Adaia, our student from Barcelona, Spain, came out and was depressed. I asked her what happened.

She sighed and said "Pastor, I made song sheets for the kids, but then I put them on an ironing board just a minute ago, and I guess someone spilled water on it, because it soaked through and ruined the song sheets."

I told her it was OK. We used what we could and the kids had fun anyway. Later I took the college girls to Office Max and we loaded up on new poster board, colored markers and stuff to decorate them.

We appreciate our workers and consider any money spent encouraging them as money well spent.

(In the video, we sing Joshua 1:8 "Nunca se apartará de tu boca este libro de la ley, sino que de día y de noche meditarás en él, para que guardes y hagas conforme a todo lo que en él está escrito; porque entonces harás prosperar tu camino, y todo te saldrá bien."

In English: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success")

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We Celebrate a Special Persons' Special Day

Our faithful helper, Genesis Robles, is a good Bible college student, a fine young Dominican lady, and a great Sunday School teacher. We celebrated her birthday with a good cake, one candle, and some off key singing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Your Marketplace as a Mission Field

A Duck Call Business phone call changes a mans life because the owner thought of his market place as his mission field.

You should too.

Just 1 Phone Call -- Phil Robertson, The Duck Commander from Gdirect Missional Marketing on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Simply Do It

In spite of the new technologies available to missionaries today, I find that nothing takes the place of simple evangelism, using simple materials, used to present the gospel simply.

Acquiring new tech and methods is often just a way to delay doing it.

Do it simply. Simply do it.

I Have a Puerto Rican Cultural Experience at a Funeral and Survived

I was invited to a funeral of the mother of one of our church members. She loved Puerto Rican music, so they honored her with over an hour of songs like this. I found the conga and tambourine (at about 4:12 min) a bit deafening, but I have to say, it was certainly an interesting night for me.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Little Kids Learning Big Truths

Our Spanish Awana program just started, but we have already managed to teach some little kids some very big truths. 

This little Sparky ("Chispa" in Spanish) says her first Bible verse: John 3:16.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Daughter & Son-in-Law: Rescue Mission Missionaries to an Island Next Door, St Croix

My daughter Bethany and her husband Abe work in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, just 90 miles east of us. Abe and Bethany work with the youth at Southgate Baptist, but also are involved in an After-School program and also help feed the poor though a mission outreach run by their church.

I visited and preached there. The island is much smaller than Puerto Rico and the culture and language is different. They even drive on the opposite side of the road! So be careful if you visit. That activity was a bit unnerving for me!

It is good to see Baptist churches reaching out to the poor in a loving, yet intelligent way. Light House Missions is doing a great job and they are doing it right.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Baptism, BBQ and More

I baptized a young 8 year old today, who is just a few inches shorter than I am. At first, I felt bad that we have to use an above ground pool for our baptisms. 

Not anymore. 

We follow our baptisms with a song, a prayer, a church BBQ and a time of fellowship. When the neighbors peek over the fence to see what we are doing, it becomes a time of public testimony as well.

Baptisms like this gives our church hope for the future. The food is great too!

Friday, September 20, 2013

A One Minute Missionary Method You Can Use

Some Christians think that evangelism and missions should be done by the professionals. But really, every believer should do and can do something to extend the Kingdom of God.

Here is a really simple thing you can try:

On Friday, when leaving work or school, don't say "Have a good week-end!'

Try this instead: "Have a good Sunday!"

It leaves people puzzled for a minute but then they realize you are encouraging them to go church. I get smiles and rolled-eyes, but most take it in a friendly way. I even had a few take me up on my invitation to come along the next Sunday and enjoy it with me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Longevity in the Ministry of Missions: Blessing or Not?

Sometimes a missionary works as part of a team and for one reason or another, important members of the team drop out or other wise leave and all of the work falls into the lap of the person who remains on the field.

 So, what to do? You could ...

1. Resent being "trapped"in a ministry, become bitter and quit, or

2. Give that ministry 100% of your best efforts and determine to serve God there, believing that God often puts us in difficult places so that we can make a difference for His glory and for the increase of His kingdom.

Our many years on the field have given us some insights. I personally believe that longevity on the mission field is a great blessing. In our first few terms, we used to think that we were Americans who worked in Puerto Rico, but who would leave when the job was done. We were relieved to leave and longed for "real food" and the company of people like ourselves.

Now, after 20 years on the field, we feel that Puerto Rico is our home and that the people we are reaching are people we love. We plan to continue reaching them for Christ because we do love them and know that Christ has the power to give them a better life. They are our friends, our neighbors, and some may soon become members of our family.

We are happy now that we have the opportunity and liberty to reach these people we care about with something that we know that can help them. What could be more exciting and satisfying than to see the souls saved and the lives of those you love transformed?

So, is being on the mission field a long time a blessing or not? It is a blessing, and the longer we serve as missionaries on the field, the bigger that blessing becomes.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Our First AWANA Meeting

AWANA is a program for teaching the Bible to kids in a fun and life changing way.  We are trying to adapt it and put it into practice down here in Puerto Rico. Today was our first meeting. We had three kids and five adults teaching them! I know, that small number makes it sounds sad, but really we all had a lot of fun. If this first Saturday is any indication, I think our church is going to get really excited about reaching kids and have fun doing it.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What the Doctor Wrote...

What the Doctor wrote
Cancer Free!
I had a very unpleasant visit to my Doctor, but I left with some very good news.

The Doctor left something inside me, on purpose, to promote healing after my prostate surgery.

It was a a "stint," a coiled spring of plastic that anchors the kidney to the bladder so that it won't pull away and put stress on internal stitches. They put it in when I was under anesthesia. But when the day came for it to be removed, no such luck.

I was led by a young nurse into a room where I was asked to sit in a reclining medical table that had stirrups attached to it, similar to the hospital beds you see women give birth in. It looked very ominous to me.

What happened next, I will not divulge, other to say that I was asked to breathe and when it was all over, I did have something to show for my considerable pains.

The Doctor examined me, then looked over my lab results and wrote this on the bottom of the last page "Cancer Free!"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Lullaby for Pastors and Missionaries

Ever find something by accident that was great? I glanced at a page on "Lullabies" and saw a Christian title. The song is really about taking care of a flock, and so has a great message, not just for parents of little kids, but for us pastors and missionaries as well. 


Shepherd, show me how to go 
O'er the hillside steep, 
How to gather, how to sow, 
How to feed Thy sheep; 
I will listen for Thy voice, 
Lest my footsteps stray; 
I will follow and rejoice 
All the rugged way. 

Thou wilt bind the stubborn will, 
Wound the callous breast, 
Make self-righteousness be still, 
Break earth's stupid rest.  
Strangers on a barren shore, 
Laboring long and lone, 
We would enter by the door, 
And Thou knowest Thine own.

So, when day grows dark and cold, 
Tear or triumph harms, 
Lead Thy lambkins to the fold, 
Take them in Thine arms; 
Feed the hungry, heal the heart, 
Till the morning's beam; 
White as wool, ere they depart, 

Shepherd, wash them clean.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why I was Fingerprinted by the FBI and what that means...

The Civil Air Patrol was looking for a chaplain in Puerto Rico and I was looking for a new way to reach Puerto Ricans for Christ, so I applied.

Chaplain Whit Woodard, an experienced chaplain and a member of a supporting church, encouraged me and helped me navigate through the process.

Part way through the application, I was called by a fingerprint technician and had to make an appointment for rolling my fingers in the ink and smudging up an official looking card. They sent it all in to the FBI and had me checked out.

I passed their scrutiny and then had to be endorsed by an ecclesiastical authority. That meant contacting the group I was ordained through and passing a very long and thorough vetting on their end.

Now all I have to do is wait for the Department of Defense and the Civil Air Patrol to receive and give final approval.Sometimes  I think it would have been faster to enlist!

I really do appreciate their thoroughness. They are guarding a precious resource after all: the youth of today and the future defenders of America's future.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Building the Future of Our Church

After the service today, we had a small luncheon and were about to begin our business meeting. Jake, an 8 year old boy almost as big as me, came over by himself and said; " Pastor, Can I be baptized?"

I said, "Sure! That's great Jake!"

Jake's Grandfather laughed and was pleasantly surprised to hear the young man come to me on his own and ask to be baptized. We all were encouraged by his boldness and sincerity.

Baptisms are a big deal here in Puerto Rico. They are not just part of a Sunday service. We usually do them on a Saturday and outside at a swimming pool, river or even the ocean. This makes it also an opportunity to invite neighbors over and makes the church more visible in the community.

And since everybody has come in the afternoon to a body of water, we bring chairs, tables and provide a BBQ lunch and the meeting becomes a church picnic and fellowship time. After the baptism and picnic, we let the kids swim and the adults fellowship, play board games or just relax and sip some strong Caribbean coffee.

And why not? A baptism is more than just an individual's step of obedience. It is also a time when the church is encouraged by the addition of a new member, with new gifts, giving the church hope for the future. We celebrate important things like this in a big way and make a big deal about it, because it is a big deal to us.

Thanks Jake for taking a big step. We are happy for you and happy for our church because of you!

My Quick Cure for Church Gossip

 I Discover a Gossip Cure

Someone in the church came to me and excitedly began to relate a rather exaggerated and negative story about someone I knew.

I took the person aside and said "Really?? "

They nodded their head, and began to say "..and not only that, but..."

I said "Wow, Let's prayer for him!" and then I bowed my head and began praying. 

What I saw when I finished was a surprised look and a red face. What happened later was that person never talked to me again about anybody else. 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

What I Lost and What I Gained

Would you trade a body organ for some church growth? It happened to me and I am glad it did.
Missionary Steve Prelgovisk & Wilfredo Negron

Two months ago, I went in and had my prostate removed, due to the finding of a cancer in a biopsy that I had. I was in the hospital for a week, had a Foley bag (catheter and receptacle unit) for another two weeks and was generally housebound for a few weeks after that.

During that time I asked one of our deacons , Wilfredo, to preach for me. Wilfredo did a great job, but during my recuperation, the attendance really dropped low and alarmed him. He asked me if he could take the Wednesday night prayer meetings that had been suspended and start them up again as well.

I was delighted. I had always hoped that he would finish his training and take the church anyway. The last three weeks he has led the prayer meetings and the attendance has risen.

So I lost a prostate and got a deacon more involved in the ministry in return. So I guess it was worth it all.

P.S. I am also losing my recuperation time beard as well. Oh well, you can't have everything.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Promised Greater Evangelism Later is NO Excuse for No Evangelism Today

Busy with work and the demands of family life, many well meaning Christian do little evangelism, but placate their guilt feelings with the thought of doing more for the Lord at some future time.

I have heard: "After I retire...," " When I get to the Mission Field...," "When the kids leave home..." and "When I find someone to go with me..." and a host of statements that seek to placate the troubled conscience of those who are not doing evangelism today. Somehow it is felt that a promised future and greater obedience is an expectable substitute for non-obedience today.

I learned as a missionary, that much of this is based on the idea that somehow evangelism will become easier at some future point.

It doesn't.

When you do evangelism in a different country with a fraction of the vocabulary that you enjoy in your home country, it is very much more difficult. If evangelism is hard on the ego and embarrasses you, try doing it when you might sound like an unintelligible idiot to some people who can't decipher their language spoken to them in an American accent that is difficult to shake.

The thing to know is this: present obedience in missions and evangelism, however difficult, will prepare you to succeed in future missionary and evangelism outreach.

Don't fool yourself. If you won't do it now, you won't do it later.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A hole that made a hole in our budget

This is the continuing sad story of an attempt to dislodge a flushed paper towel that escalated into a damaged underground sewer pipe, a big hole in front of our house and involved two plumbers working two days to get it fixed.

Someone visiting our home flushed something other than toilet paper, which caused a clog in the sewer pipe. We called a plumber, but in the process of unclogging the pipes with his plumbing snake, he destroyed the old pipes. Unfortunately, plumbers don't pay for what they break. 

To be fair, the pipes were old anyway. Its just a shame the snake caused them to crumble apart during our ownership of the house.

We had to call in another plumber. We got a good reference from some other missionaries here and called Marzan Plumbing. The owner is a mid-twenty something young man with two vans and a couple of helpers. They came by late Monday night and commenced digging immediately. I was impressed by his good attitude and willingness to get muddy to solve our problem. But the deeper this hole got, the more nervous we got.

But, what could we do? It's not like the toilet is an optional frill in the entertainment category of our budget. We just had to get it fixed, cost what it may. Puerto Rican rates may be lower than the same work in the US, but this job is a big one, so we are holding our collective breaths for the final tally.

The rest of the story: $425 for everything. That is a lot of money for us, but not bad when you consider two plumbers working over two long days and all the thick, muddy, sewer soaked dirt they moved to make it happen. It could have been worse. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Hard Work over Time Brings Blessings: A former student gives us an offering

A lesson I have learned in missionary work that applies to other areas of life:
Little things done over time add up to great accomplishments.

We have been on the mission field long enough to experience the blessings of longevity, and these blessings are significant. Yesterday, a former student that I taught in our Puerto Rico Baptist College came to my house. He had returned to Columbia as a missionary to his own people, but was in the area representing a Bible College he is starting in Columbia, the country of his birth.  He heard I was recovering from prostate surgery and wanted to encourage me. He surprised me by giving me a handshake and putting a $100 check in my hand!

I imagine the early church in Jerusalem felt the same way when they were in a famine and the missionaries came home, bringing an offering to those who in the past had been supporting them. That feeling is one of surprise, humility and joy. 

How was it possible to experience this blessing? By every week, witnessing, teaching, training and never stopping until a man was won to Christ, who in turn could begin a work for Christ and bring it to the point to where they could contribute in turn to the work of missions and help a fellow missionary.

We just had to keep at it long enough and be around for the moment when the work reached a point of maturity that made these blessing possible. I am so thankful that the Lord has given us the priveledge of remaining on the field long enough to see the fruit mature and be able to participate in the harvest of it and to taste its sweetness.

Not just missionaries can benefit from these kinds of blessings. Consider this:

The average American watched 5.11 hours in 2012.

What if you took just 2 hours a day and did something else, consistently and over time and never stopped?

With just two hours a day, or 14 hours a week of that TV time invested on a consistent basis, someone could take a Karate class, take flying lessons, learn a musical instrument, go to church and still have time left over. At the end of a couple of years you could have a black belt in Karate, have a pilot's license, play the guitar and still have the 14 hour a week to invest in other things.

Imagine if you just spent just 15-30 min a day on a task, like memorizing Bible verses, learning foreign language vocabulary, preparing to pass an exam that would get you a license. Now imagine that you never stopped that practice and kept it alive every day for a life time. Where would you be then, what progress could you have made?

It's not to late to start. Start each day in reading the Bible and prayer and use your time, however little it is, wisely, daily and consistently.

A little, over a long time, will go a long way if you just never stop. Blessings come to those who never give up doing what God wants them to do. We know it's true, because it happened to us.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Recovery: Sleeping is Difficult. Please Pray that I Can Get Needed Rest.

"...he giveth his beloved sleep."  Psalms 127 

I have never been much of a fan of sleep, but my opinion has changed recently. 

After my tubes were removed, I was able to move around and enjoy some freedom. But at a cost.

The Doctor told me that due to the nature of a prostatectomy, many patients become incontinent and are required to wear a "Depends."  He asked me to wear them during the first stages of my recuperation.

The good news is, I have not really needed them. The bad news is, whenever I feel an urge to go, I can't just lie there, but jump out of bed and head to the bathroom. This happens 7 or more times a night.

Part of the problem might be caused by a "stint."  The Doctor said that one kidney was low and almost directly attached to the prostate region, so he lengthened the tube somehow and had to install a kind of plastic spring that would connect the kidney it to my bladder. These internal devices may be  contributing to a feeling of urgency that is hard to ignore. 

While I can rejoice in successful removal of the cancer, the sparing of my nerve bundles and my apparent continence, I am anxious to get some much needed rest so that my recovery may continue unimpeded by lack of sleep.

Sometimes you never miss something until it goes away. Right now, I am a big fan of sleep and will welcome its return.

Monday, June 17, 2013

You Are Wanted, But to Whose Call Will You Respond?

In 1913, the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton ran this recruitment ad in a London newspaper for his expedition in search of the South Pole. The romance of the idea of adventure, along with the power of advertising, were enough to generate more than 5,000 responses to this ad which ran but once.

People respond in great numbers to calls that promise pleasure, or even pain, if there is enough romance and glory involved.

But who today will respond to the call of God upon their life to become a pastor or missionary? I think few today would even answer this ad by Ernest Schakelton, inspiring though it is. Fewer still surrender their lives to God and respond to the call of full time Christian service. Yet, serving God is the greatest adventure and promises the greatest rewards, not to mention eternal recognition by God Himself in front of the entire assembled population of eternity.

Respond to God's claim upon your life. The sacrifices are real, but temporary. The glory and honor of serving our Great King is forever.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

My Date with the Robot and What Happened After

Monday June 3rd, Tina accompanied me while I checked into the hospital and we waited together in the frigid waiting room. We discovered later that each section of the hospital was colder than the last. The operating premise seemed to be that since bacteria multiply more slowly in Antartica, they should make your stay in the hospital replicate that experience as closely as possible. Tina brought blankets and some extra clothes for me, but ended up wearing half of them so that she wouldn't freeze while waiting for me to recover.

After a few hours of waiting on a gurney in the hallway, I was finally wheeled into the surgery room and saw the multi-armed robot that would be used to remove my prostate. The atmosphere was quiet. There was some very low classical music playing in the background. A number of surgery room personnel slid a bedsheet underneath me, and then lifted the ends to form a hammock like devise and then dragged me from the gurney to the operating table in one smooth move.

I felt a comfortable, warm sensation underneath as they eased my body into position under the operating room lights. I think there was a liquid filled pad that  had tubes and warm water moving through them. It felt good. Since I was expecting a cold table, the sensation of warmth pleased me. It is also the last thing I remember.

No one spoke to me, nor did I count backwards from 100, like they do in the movies. Nothing faded to black. I had no sensation of even falling asleep. I was just thinking about the nice warm heating pad one moment, and the next moment I was wondering when they were going to start the surgery.  Realizing that I was in a different room, I touched my stomach area and felt the little round scars, revealing to me that the robot had been there and had done its work.

After nine hours of waiting, Tina met me in the hall and we went to my assigned room.  The doctor was not there when I woke up, but Tina was able to give me a summary of the results.

1. The doctor said that the procedure went well and they were able to preserve all my nerve bundles. He felt that all the cancer was removed with the removal of the prostate. This portends well for a full recovery.

2. One of my kidneys was lower and closer to the bladder than they expected, so they had to attach it to a tube or a shunt, that will need to be removed later. It will be removed without surgery in the doctor's office. This should cause no problems, but means that I should take extra care during the recovery time .
3. Because of the unexpected kidney adjustment, and to monitor me for infection,  I stayed in the hospital for 5 days.

These 5 days were unexpected and proved to be difficult for me.

Tina came every day and cheered me on and helped me greatly. As soon as I could, I was on my feet and taking walks up and down the hospital hallways, tubes, bags, IVs and all. My main problem was this: I had been inflated with gas during the operation and I felt like my stomach was a balloon ready to pop.  Because of that I could barely force myself to eat.

The nurse said that if I walked a lot and chewed gum a lot, then I would eventually be able to work the gas out of my system and get some relief.  It was a strange experience walking up and down the hospital hallways with my wife, waiting for and then both of us celebrating the sound that eventually came and signaled the arrival of relief.

I was able to witness to an interesting man in the hospital. He was a doctor in the Cuban army, but had immigrated to the USA. He was not allowed to practice medicine as a doctor, but they allowed him to become a registered nurse after completing a certain program. I encouraged him to consider this idea: The government of Cuba cannot eliminate God by decree: if God exists, a governmental decree will not make Him disappear. His existence does not depend on governmental approval. We had some good discussions. When I was released from the hospital he came to see me off and we left on friendly terms.

I am at home now and am under instructions to walk every day, take pain pills as needed and not lift anything more then 10 lbs. for a 6 week period. The return to normal functions should "only" take from 6-8 weeks or up to 6 months. Some patients require 2 years for complete recoveries, while some never do have a recovery that is fully complete.

Please pray for us as we travel through this valley of recuperation. Besides the physical and mental stresses of it all, we also have the financial challenge of it to weather. Some have already helped us with portions of the expense. Thank you for your help, gifts and prayers said on our behalf.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Robotic Surgery Scheduled for Me

Monday morning I have an appointment with a robot.

I am having my prostate removed because of a cancerous nodule found in it. My doctor suggested that we use this robotic surgery technique to remove it. It has some advantages over older methods, so we decided to go with it.

Please pray for me that I would have a good outcome and a rapid and complete recovery.

(The video below gives a brief, animated overview on what I will be going through and explains how the robot will be involved.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Print and Share Prayer Letter for May-June 2013

Please print out our prayer letter, pray for us and then share it others. You can download the PDF by clicking on the "Download"symbol at the bottom of the image of the letter below. 

Please pass it on physically, post it where it may be read or send it as an email attachment to others who might be willing to pray with us.  

Thanks - Steve Prelgovisk

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Medical Update: What we need and what is happening.

I have surgery scheduled Wednesday, June 5th. I have a nodule that proved to be cancerous in my prostate gland and they are going to remove the entire prostate to make sure they get it all out.

The doctor and the tests seem to indicate that I am a good candidate for a low risk out come, but I am still nervous about it when I hear "only" 30 percent suffer from one complication and 10 percent from another. So please pray for us as I can have peace and a good outcome from this procedure.

Our blessings:
Some of our Puerto Rican churches have sent us checks already and have prayed for us during their services. It is wonderful to us to receive help from churches we have helped in the past.

Our needs:
We have insurance but have to pay about 40 percent of the expenses of such things as CT scans and lab tests. We are facing a $1,500 expense for the surgery and the cost of the medicine, etc. afterwards. Also, during the summer, our income usually dips and we have less resources to meet these needs. Your prayers, encouragement and financial help during this time would be greatly appreciated.

Hurt but in Church

A man in our church had a bad fall and was in the hospital yesterday with a bad skull injury and injured, possibly breaking his ribs. He is awaiting his x-rays to see if they are broken, but in the mean time, and while in pain, he came to church.

He said, "With everything going on, I just had to come here. You are like a father to me."

I had mixed emotions about his attitude. First of all,  I am only 5 years older than him! Also, whenever he heard something he thought was funny in my sermon, he would laugh and grab his ribs and wince in pain at the same time. I hate to see people suffer, but on the other hand his attitude was a good example. He felt troubled and in pain and his first instinct was to come to church and pray with us over his problems.

I wish more people felt that way, running to the house of their Father when in trouble.  Our church is still small, but at least to some in Puerto Rico, it is the place to go to find that help and comfort that comes from God.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The New Normal & What's Next: Balancing Ministry, Opportunity and Recovery.

I was tethered to an IV for about 8 days in the hospital to make sure that I didn't succumb to the infection I received in the same hospital during a prostate biopsy. Now I am free! Almost...

They let me go home Friday, but a nurse has to come to my house for the next 21 days and give me antibiotic through an IV. She comes to our home and sets up everything in our living room. She hangs the IV antibiotic dispenser on a hanger on the window curtain bar and then inserts the IV into a vein in my arm. I sit on the couch for about 15-20 min. as it drips into the tube and I receive the full dose for the day.

When the nurse leaves, she leaves the IV connectors in my arm for the next time she comes around. I can go about my business, but I decided to wear long sleeve shirts and light jackets to cover the apparatus so that I won't alarm anyone.

Ministry wise, I have had to call in a lot of substitutes and slow down some of our activities, but the work is still progressing and moving forward. I am having our Puerto Rico Bible College kids fill in at our church Sunday until I feel better. My Bible college kids are to do their school projects on video and submit their homework by email.

My Civil Air Patrol Chaplaincy application is just awaiting for the final references to come in and they already have appointed me the rank of Captain, based on my education and experience. When I get final approval, I will be able to speak on a regular basis to the flight squadrons here. There are about 14 pilots in the local squadron that I attend. I am also scheduled to be the speaker at Summer Camp this July and also we plan on a Summer Vacation Bible School for a week towards the end of July.

Late May or early June is when I have to schedule the procedure for the prostate removal. I understand that the recovery time from this can take a while. Please pray for us that we will strike the right balance between doing too little (which doesn't seem to be happening) and doing too much (which tends to happen more often.)

Maybe it's time to green-light some back-burner projects. As a "Father/daughter" project, I am studying Japanese, because my daughters are doing it and it gives us a project in common to work on. I have been stuck on disk 3 of a 9 disk program, so I might catch up on that. I also do have a high frequency radio transmitter and a FCC license to use it ( I am WP4NVR), so if I am house bound for a few weeks, I might explore extending our ministry that way while I recuperate.

Please pray for our emotional stability also during this time. I have faith, but I am nervous about some life changing side effects that prostate surgery may bring about. Whatever happens, we are committed to seeing the work here advance. We are encouraged by your prayers and support that makes it possible.

Please keep us in your prayers and take some time to encourage us as you are able.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My Week in a Puerto Rican Hospital: Why it happened and Why I Need Your Prayers

A few months ago, I used a hammer drill to remove a concrete step in our carport. I spent about 2 days using a little plastic carton as a stool. I sat on that thing for about 6 hours both days as I chiseled out all the concrete. I got a bit of joint pain and a sore bottom later and took some Ibuprofen and didn't think any thing of it.

Over the next few weeks, the pain did not go away. The pills helped, but I was afraid of hurting my liver and kidneys with too much medication. So I went to Dr Jordan, our family Doctor. He sent me to get an x-ray to check for arthritis or a damaged ligament.


Then he sent me to the Gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. The results:
He: "Your fine."
Me: "Why do I hurt?
He: "Check with another specialist"

Back to the family doctor. This time he guesses the prostate may have swollen when I was sitting on it so hard for so long, and swelled and pinched a nerve. So he sent me to a Urologist for a prostate exam.

So I went to the Urologist. During digital exam:
He " It is slightly enlarged. Do you have any trouble usung the bathroom?"
Me: "None whatsoever"
He: "Just in case, we will schedule for an ultrasound."
Me: "Could sitting on it make it swell and cause nerve pain?"
He: "What? Who told you that? I never heard of such a thing."


The ultrasound showed a small nodule, which lead to a biopsy, which lead to an infection and prostatitis, giving me all the symptoms that I didn't have before I saw the doctor. So I have to spend over a week on intense antibiotics to purge myself of a microbe that I didn't have before I went to the hospital. After all the medication I was given, I actually got worse the first 3 days I was here.

I am typing right now from a hospital bed, hoping to return home sometime next week. I just had a consultation with Yuri, an infectious disease specialist who will be planing some tests for me. The closer I seem to going home, the harder it gets. Please pray that I make it back home.

All this did find some localized, early stage cancer. Even though the cancer did not cause any of this pain, it was the pain that led to it's discovery. We don't want to fool with cancer, so we opted for the complete removal, maybe near the end of May or early June. Please pray for Tina and me as we face this new challenge of cancer and some unpleasant side effects that may occur.

The doctor says that prostate removal involving an early caught and localized prostate cancer has a very high success rate.

After all this...

Me: "Doctor, Is this the reason I am having pain in my lower regions? Will this help me sleep without using medicine?"

Him: "Nah, It's probably hemorrhoids. You should see a Proctologist!"

Friday, April 05, 2013

Being "Anti-Church, Anti-Religion, Pro-Jesus" Is Not Helpful to Missions

It is popular today to bash the church and to denigrate religion, but does popularity mean that it is a good thing to do?

I say "NO!"

Instead of picking on the church, we should take our place in it and serve the Lord in some capacity to make it a better place for new Christians to grow up in and an effective home base to launch and sustain mature Christians as they take the gospel into all the world.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Our First "Ladies Retreat" in Puerto Rico.

Our Ladies held their first Ladies Retreat today. We rented out a Fishing Club building along side a pretty lake, set the theme as "A Wise Woman Builds Her House. Prov. 14:1,"  made plans for a nice dinner and sent out the invitations.

Tina, who was the MC of the event, said that the ladies were a bit nervous that  maybe no one would come, or maybe we would be overwhelmed with too many.  But it urned out to be just perfect. About 58 came, representing women form about 5 churches and their guests.

We had special music, great messages from Omayra Roman-Ponce, the wife of a Bible College college colleague of mine, a fine dinner and wonderful fellowship.

A few of us men did come along to set up and serve the ladies.

I am so glad that the women of our church are taking their part of our church's ministry so seriously and doing such a tremendous job in reaching out to others.

Thank you ladies! You did a tremendous job and our church is better for it!

PS Here is a video clip showing the ladies listening to a very pretty special sung by one of our college girls, Adaia Portugal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Extending Ourselves Through Others

Meet a serious Quechua indian, Julio. I helped train Julio for the ministry, which in his case was to return to the Bolivian-Brazilian border area and start churches there.

Julio representes a challenge, an opportunity and a blessing.

The Challenge: He seems to be very unlike me in a number of ways. He is a very serious man. He is a martial arts instructor who runs something like 5 miles, does 300 pushups a day and has some martial art schools he runs in Bolivia. He also speaks Quechua (an ancient Incan indian dialect) as his primary language, so I,  an English speaker, had to teach him things like Biblical Greek in Spanish, which he then processed in his own mind into Quechua. That year was tough on both of us, but we both survived.

Teaching someone very unlike yourself is a challenge. but it also turned out to be an opportunity and a blessing.

The Opportunity: Julio came back to Puerto Rico looking for missionary support for church planting in some pretty tough areas of South America. besides speaking in a lot of churches, he has volunteered to work on construction projects and then accept any love offerings that the people are led to make. We were blessed to be able to help him and he did some amazing work, like re-cementing and painting our carport roof, putting in 12 hour days and doing an incredible amount of work. He is doing the same all over the island, hoping to return with funds to help his new ministry.

He is physically tough, mentally focused and spiritually dedicated to build churches.  He is also uniquely equipped to deal with a culture and a language very alien to our own. He can go places we would not be able to enter and is equipped to do things that we would not do nearly as well as he can do them.

The Blessing: In Julio and students like him, we find our ministry of reaching the Latino people for Christ is reaching into new areas and multiple languages. We find that good discipleship really extends and expands the work and effectiveness of missions.

Please pray for Julio and help us help him and others like him. Your  support is a blessing that enables us to help him and, through discipleship, multiply the blessing and pass it along to others.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

When Teaching Others Might Save Your Own Life...

Besides our busy schedule church planting, Bible College teaching and being a Civil Air Patrol Chaplain, I have the opportunity to give devotionals and also to teach things to young teens in a Christian school near our home.

We had a CPR class the other day and the kids loved it. A health care worker was able to bring some training aids. I demonstrated to the kids the proper technique while she talked them through the steps. I do teach these kids God's plan of salvation, Bible lessons and about how to live the Christian life.This is all really great. But now they know how to do CPR.

Being a missionary certainly does not pay well, but it has it's benefits. Besides the spiritual benefits of teaching others God's Word, I am now teaching in a room full of people who could save my life if I had a heart attack!

 You never know, but when you help others, you just might be helping yourself.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fun Day, and What's so Fun about it.

We took some young people to a "Fun Day" and tried out a new game called "Defend the Castle." The fun part of the day for me was this: I taught some of the teachers that are now teaching these kids. Now they are teaching me something new. What fun!

I explain about the game at about the 3 minute mark on the video clip.

Monday, February 18, 2013

When the Past Catches Up to You and It's Good!

My classroom full of young people getting a great message from a "young" person I helped to train at Puerto Rico Baptist College. Good memories from the past and a great ministry opening up before our eyes in the present make us exited and full of hope for the future.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

30 years Married, 20 years Missionaries

 Tina and I discovered, early in our married life, the joy of giving to others. We have given the last 20 years in service as missionaries to Puerto Rico. We are very happy on our "mission field" but to us, it has become "home."

People think it is a life of sacrifice, and so it is. But it is just that kind of life that is worth living, and also give the greatest satisfaction.

Being married for 30 ears is worth a celebration too. We are trying to think of a good way to celebrate. But our problem is, we are already happy doing what we are doing and can't think of anything more fun to do. A trip to a tropical island and a nice sandy beach? We live on one and can go for free. A nice hotel and a big meal out? We don't like spending money on hotels and Tina likes her own cooking better.

 So what to do? Maybe we will get the house a new piece of furniture that we can both enjoy. Better yet, if we can afford it, maybe we could fly the Twins down here for their one week vacation from the college work program in Pensacola.

 The best way to celebrate is to share the fun with others. Please do yourself a favor and give of yourself to support the work of missions. When you do that, you will feel what we feel, and that is something worth celebrating.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

One-Way Tickets To Florida: Puerto Ricans Escape Island Woes

I knew it was true before I heard it was true.

In visiting door to door, talking to people in the street or trying to make medical appointments, this phrase kept popping up: "They just moved to Orlando..."

It is so significant now that NPR radio just made a four part special just on this one topic.

It is affecting our ministry. But not just negatively, as I feared.

It is true that a significant part of what I would call prospective members for our church have moved or are planning a move to the States. While some have moved to Texas, New York and Connecticut,  the vast majority of them are relocating on the I-4 corridor,  a strip of central Florida that extends from Tampa to Orlando on continues on a bit towards Daytona Beach.

At first I was unhappy to lose some good prospects and some good mature Christians as well.  But I am happy that our work here has meant that a number of these immigrants are now good Christian people and will join churches of like faith and practice and help them grow.

This opens up the way for a new kind of ministry: Referring Puerto Ricans to good churches in the States and helping churches in the States minister to the incoming Puerto Ricans (and other Spanish speaking peoples).

Giving back is a lot of fun. We have been blessed  in receiving help, now we get to experience giving help to some good churches and helping those who have helped us.

Please pray for our ministry here. We need your help. We still have a lot of Puerto Ricans to reach before they move to the USA mainland, and we would like as many of them as possible to arrive saved, baptized, discipled and ready to serve the Lord in some good churches.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

A Quick Quote from Ken Lynch at Our Pastor's Fellowship

A picnic table surrounded by a couple of missionaries and one evangelist can be a pretty fun place to be. It is also an intellectually stimulating and a spiritually uplifting place to be, given the great people who gathered there today. 

Evangelist Ken Lynch shared a quote with us during our Pastor's Fellowship on the mission field of Puerto Rico that got me thinking. Here is a short clip of it. The iPod video is a bit shaky, but it will give you a sense of the fun we had together.

Evangelist Ken Lynch Plays the Violin for Us

Evangelist Ken Lynch came to Puerto Rico to help a missionary friend of mine with an evangelistic campaign.  They both came to our Pastor's Fellowship today. Ken gave the devotions and we were treated to an impromptue violin concert in the carport where we had our pot luck dinner.

I recorded one of the songs on my Ipod and posted it here to give you a sample of the blessings we had. It is hard being away from "home" (the USA) but that makes visits like this all the sweeter.Thank you Ken Lynch for being a blessing to us this week.

An Open Letter of Thanks for a Special Gift

Dear Friends at Grace Baptist Church,

We heard from our home office at Continental Baptist Missions that a special gift of $50 came in from Grace Baptist Church, Paso Robles, CA. Please pass our thanks on to the church and to whoever designated it toward our work here in Puerto Rico.

It is true our family has needs. It is also true that our greater family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, are providing what we need to survive and thrive out here on the mission field.

May God Bless and Prosper You All Accordingly,
Steve and Tina Prelgovisk

PS. Our mission agency has posted a new "Financial Support Declaration" document online that can be printed out and mailed in for those who wish to make a official written declaration of support. Phone and email contact information is available on the CBM web site for those who wish to declare a gift through those means.

Thank you to those who are helping "Hold the Rope!"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finding the Right Place to Cry

The first man to come through the doors of the church had been waiting for me. He was trembling and had to sit down to speak. He shook as he told his story.

Mike was in New York visiting his daughter when he heard some bad news from Puerto Rico. His ex-wife dropped dead of a heart attack. Even though they were divorced, Mike felt she was the closest person to him after his daughters. The death came as a shock. She had not showed any symptoms and was in her early 50's.

We prayed together. Mike gave me a big hug and said he loved and respected me.  He said that the first thing he did when he came back to Puerto Rico was to come straight to the church, because he knew he could get help here.  Since we weren't there Saturday, he had waited anxiously all night for the doors to open.

When our members began arriving and the service started, I shared Mike's story and we prayed for him. After that, Mike walked to the front of the church and told his story again. He then pointed at me and said, "I love this guy" and gave me another hug in front of everyone.

Later Mike raised his hand and volunteered to paint the church for us, all by himself.

Clearly I have made a convert, but is Mike a convert to me or to Christ? I am glad we could help him through this rough time and also that he knows where to go when he needs to cry and find help. But making a convert to the missionary or even the church isn't the same as being saved by Jesus Christ.

Mike seems to be on the right path, but please pray for him, that he may find new life in Christ, who alone can save.