Nov 21, 2011

Posted by in Featured Articles, Jorge, Spiritual Reflection | 0 Comments



Remembering the trip to South America

Written on March 10, 2010

I turned 27 a couple of days ago. All I know about that day is that it was a Tuesday, the year was 1983 and I was born at or around 1 AM. I also know that I was born on my mom’s birthday. A pastor of Iglesia Shekinah, the church where I’m serving, placed her hand on my shoulder and together, with a group of brothers and sisters from the church, prayed over my life in thanksgiving to God. “Father, you knew of him before that day, how much more during that day, you knew the time, the temperature, the emotions of everyone during his birth, the future that awaited him; You knew he would be with us today,” she prayed. How great is it to be reminded of God’s attention to detail, to know He is in control, that He is aware. That’s just about the feeling I get amidst where I am; and what a great feeling to be getting nowadays.

I wanted to thank you for your prayers. God is listening and God is working. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be part of a weekend youth retreat with the church during the Carnaval holidays called Retiro de Carnaval 2010. As far as I’ve learned, churches here in Bolivia engage in this practice religiously (no pun intended). For everyone here, Carnaval is painted as a happy, joyful time, but the truth is that behind the canvas, there’s a thick layer of violence, drug usage and other substance abuse, and even satanic worship roots. A brother in Christ at the church hypothetically asked me to go to any maternity ward and ask the nurses which month is common of teen pregnancy deliveries; “They’ll tell you November, 8 to 9 months after February,” he said. But taking a bad thing into a ministry opportunity is what His people do best, and that’s what we did with the youth. You see, everything else is too attractive out there in the world and in the streets, for the eyes of young and old people alike. So we took the trip to Buena Vista, 2 to 3 hours northwest of the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, both in the department of Santa Cruz. And there we stayed, Saturday through Tuesday, seeking God’s presence, worshiping the one True God, ministering and being ministered to, sharing our lives and the greatness of our King and enjoying fellowship with one another.

The week following the retreat, an opportunity came about to travel with a couple pastors from Iglesia Shekinah in Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Trinidad, Beni and Ascencion de Guarayos, Santa Cruz. The trip was in support and outreach of Semirad, a nationally accredited seminary and educational initiative that reaches Iglesia Shekinah’s family of churches in East Bolivia. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the leaders here is that God has placed a special zeal on them for preparing the next generation through sound doctrine and education of the Gospel paired with spiritual growth. Whereas many laborers in other circumstances would have to leave their home church to go to a larger city, or even another country, in order to become educated, Semirad equips the local churches and allows them to prepare pastors, church-planters and missionaries right where they are. So that they may be ready for every good work (Titus 3:1). This is strategic in many ways, as the local body of the church benefits from and is encouraged by having local leaders raised up and able to stay or go as the Spirit leads them.

The academic year starts this March and several people have already enrolled throughout East Bolivia. Even though I will not be here for the entire duration of the academic year, I have already enrolled. Their zeal for learning and teaching about God has become a vision I now treasure. In a culture where works weigh heavier than Grace, where they teach that what you do gives you the keys to heaven, where the Sacrifice of Christ is reduced to a series of to-do’s, I find myself thirsty for Truth, for knowing Him more, for continuing to allow the Holy Spirit to use me, and uphold and share the news of the gift of Salvation that is offered freely to all (Ephesians 2:8).

And that’s where things currently are. I purposely set out to be part of something larger, and my heart continues to be soaring at every sight and turn. In Trinidad, we rode around on motorcycles with the pastor, as he took me around to know some of the neighboring communities. The floods that have taken place as a result of heavy rains of summer have left many displaced. But a thought came to me, as we rode through the asphalt and saw water to our left and water to our right. These people have been displaced for a reason. They all take shelter near the road. They are close to us. They are closer than they ever were.  And more and more each day I become flooded with Kingdom dreams, to take what I see, what I learn, what I do, what I experience and share it. To be used and to be useful in the Hands, all at the same time. I’m praying about this constantly.

The journey so far
Check it out. As you click through the markers on the map, please read and pray through the needs of each location. I will continue to update this map. To see the journey (thanks to Google Maps), go here: Mission: East Bolivia

Please pray

  • The Lord provided Iglesia Shekinah in Santa Cruz de la Sierra with an acoustic guitar last month, and I’ve been rehearsing and leading worship with the team ever since. I am reminded of the sister in Christ who encouraged me to “never stop playing my ax.” Please pray that the goals for better programming and excellence in worship of the team may be fulfilled. Please pray for the successful implementation of strategic worship planning and presentation software. Please pray for the leaders of worship, that we may continue to lead ourselves and others to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23).
  • God moved in the hearts of many young adults during the Retiro de Carnaval 2010, at Iglesia Shekinah in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, as well as many other churches in the family in East Bolivia. Please pray that the convictions of the hearts that weekend, that the seeking of the Lord and what He showed our youth continue to be a living reminder of His Faithfulness. That they may continue to pursue love, righteousness, peace, faith. That we may flee the evil desires of youth not only during an organized retreat, but daily (2 Timothy 2:22).
  • Before Semirad existed, it was in God’s heart. Let’s be thankful to God for this initiative and for the One who holds it together.  Please pray for the next generation of leaders being raised up. Pray that they may be encouraged as they grow in knowledge and closer in their relationship with Christ. Please pray for every local church in East Bolivia and every teacher and student, that they may be able to handle the Word of Truth correctly (2 Timothy 2:15).
  • Please pray that my eyes continue to be open, that my heart continues to be touched. I’ve been praying that I may be a man after the Heart of God, that I may be burdened with the things that burden Him, and rejoiced with the things that bring joy to Him. I want to do everything He wants me to do (Acts 13:22). Please join me in this prayer, as I continue to dream these Kingdom dreams. I can’t wait to see how the Lord’s plan will continue to unveil.


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