Thinking of the work here, let me give you a brief look at what is happening in some of the various stages of ministry here in Paraguay... areas of ministry we're preparing missionaries for. Let's get a glimpse at Arrival, Equipping, Exposure, Preparation, Fruit, and ultimately... Hope.
Laurie, Laurie and I were reminded of this as we headed to the interior of the country to attend the funeral of a friend of ours who was killed in an accident. We went to be with the family, with a huge burden in our hearts since, as far as we know, the lady had never chosen to trust in Christ and his sacrifice on the cross.
On February 12th I got a chance to travel with Mike Goddard, Bryson White, and his Paraguayan friend, out to visit the Aché colony where we used to live to celebrate with them the dedication of their new church building. Though it had been raining for days, we were able to make it into the Aché colony in spite of the very slick roads and mud. It was great to see friends again who I had not seen in many years. Laurie and I worked among the Aché from 1989-1994.
"For we are God’s fellow workers..." -- 1 Corinthians 3:9 I never cease to be amazed a what God is doing in the world and how he give his children the privilege of working together and being involved in the work He is accomplishing in peoples lives. On December 3rd we had the opportunity to host a special dinner for all the Pastors and their families and Host Families from the Host Churches that are partnering with us in further equipping the new missionaries to Paraguay as well as others who are directly involved in helping the missionaries with learning language and culture. There were just under 90 who attended from seven local churches. We used the time to thanks them for their partnership with us, encourage them with what the Lord is doing among tribal people in Paraguay, and also allow them to connect with other churches that are involved ministering as Host Churches. It was a great night.
Matthew 13:19 relates how Jesus, in his Parable of the Sower, said, " When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside." This is one of the many passages in scripture that mention the need for understanding of the message, not just "hearing" it. There were five of us from three different mission organizations in Paraguay, who attended the ICLL7 There were five of us from three different mission organizations in Paraguay, who attended the ICLL7 With this in mind, the end of September I had the opportunity to attend the 7th International Congress on Language Learning, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was an encouraging and helpful time getting together with other Language Consultants and Coaches to learn form each other how to best help and equip missionaries that are ministering cross-culturally and in other languages. If missionaries are going to teach the Bible in a way the people understand it, the missionaries themselves must first understand well the people's language and culture.
"When these ladies finish up their time in Asunción and head out to work with tribal people here in our country, they are going as an arm of our church." -- Pastor Enrique The "ladies" (Jenna Currey and Rebekah Huffman) have gotten settled into an apartment near their church, been able to purchase necessary appliances and some furniture, and are in what is called a "Warm-up Stage" of their studies. The Warm-up Stage lasts for a few weeks before moving on to more in-depth language and culture study. It involves a focus on informally visiting and starting to build relationships with people in the community and church, noting common events and daily routines, training the ear to distinguish the sounds in the language, memorizing practical expressions, etc.
“Well, I found out that whenever anybody says anything to me I don’t know what they’re saying.” - Elijah, the six year old son of Bryson and Mindy White (New missionaries to Paraguay)
"It seems like we've know each other for a long time." This is the comment we've heard a couple times now from folks in Host Churches for newly arrived NTM missionaries. It is interesting, since in each case we had only know the people for 4-6 weeks. It is definitely the Lord working.