Sunday, July 21, 2013

Shining Moments

These are proud days if you are Catholic and Carioca (person born in Rio).  The Pope arrives in Rio tomorrow.  Traffic proves that an extra two million people are in the city.  Everywhere billboards have been transformed into pictures of the Pope with the Christ Redeemer statue.  The next two weeks will be shining moments for the youth who will follow him around the city and at some point honor him with the world's largest flash mob. 

Shining moments.  We all want them.  Those who trust Jesus Christ as personal Saviour want Him to shine forth in all His truth into this world.  As missionaries we want the truth of His life changing Gospel to shine into our religion darkened city. 

As we walk the path of church planters it is becoming more and more obvious that shining moments are happening less and less here on this earth.  When the gates of Hell seem to be storming through the church doors four out of the seven days in a week, it is hard not to wonder what is happening. 

When we drive past a beautiful, bigger than big catholic church crammed to capacity on our way to a faithful Gospel preaching church in existence for 16 years to find barely fifty people there, it's hard not to be disappointed. 

When we read glowing reports of missions in other parts of the country, it is hard not to compare.

And then we have to take a step back and look at the life of Jesus.  In His greatest shining moment, completing His Father's mission on the cross, it looked anything but shining to the world. In fact, it looked like a big mistake.

That's the thing, we don't always understand how God works, but in the end it will come clear.  In fact, we have an eternity of shining moments waiting for us.  An eternity to discover every single little and big way that God wove His plans while we labored here on earth. 

These next two weeks will be the biggest shining moments for some people, but in the end that is all they get, nothing more. 

May the Lord find us faithful~ no matter the cost, no matter the circumstances, no matter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Helping Blind Men See

Monday we were on our way to a monthly pastor's meeting.  We were excited to get there and take part in the surprise baby shower that was being hosted for one of the pastors and his wife who are expecting their first baby.  Suddenly without warning our car just stopped working.  We were on a very busy stretch of city traffic loaded with buses and cars.  BJ was able to get the car off to the side of the road just in front of a bus stop. 

Our first reaction was, "What?  Why today!!"  We hadn't been stopped for more than 10 minutes when a blind mad stumbled into our car, then past us heading into oncoming traffic and was nearly hit by a bus before our very eyes.  BJ sprinted from the car to rescue him and find out exactly where he was going so BJ could help him get there.  Come to find out, he was not only blind but drunk.  A deadly combination on the stretch of road he was on.  After helping him get to where he wanted to go, BJ took off for some help for our car.  The Lord protected the kids and I as we sat in the car waiting for him.  Busses careened past us, mere inches from our car, while foot traffic on the other side streamed past.  After a mechanic did a few things in the engine we were on our way...only to have the car die again about ten minutes later. 

At this point we were questioning whether we should even try to continue to the meeting.  After another very long walk for BJ and some gas we were once again on our way and arrived safely, but several hours late, missing the baby shower.  It was a great lesson for us and for our kids that God sometimes chooses to use us in unexpected ways and that everything doesn't always work out the way we want it too.

After a not so cheap car repair, the car seemed to be normal once again, only to die on Thursday night late on the highway just minutes from the exit for our house.  BJ had been taking a seminary student home from our church that night so he was by himself, thankfully.  Moments after he called me to relay what had happened, a tow truck "happened" to be passing by and towed him home.  BJ had the chance to share the gospel with the tow truck driver.  He doesn't see himself as a sinner since he does some many good things to help other people.  After all, he has chosen for his profession to be an all night tow truck driver that just drives up and down the highway looking for stopped cars that may need his services.  He has been blinded to what his true condition is.

This morning the car went back in to see what could be happening and why.  The mechanic said there was nothing he could do until it died again and then he could diagnose the problem.  He gave BJ his cel phone number and told him to call when it died again and he would come to us to figure out what the problem was.  We decided to make the Walmart run we've been trying to make all week and see how the car would do.  We arrived at the parking lot without a problem!  After shopping and loading up on chicken nuggets and smiley face fries for a certain seven year old's birthday today, we tried to head for home as it was already past lunch time.  The car would not start!  A phone call to the mechanic and an unexpected lunch at the restaurant inside Walmart while we waited is what followed. 

Turns out it was the fuel pump.  The mechanic took our whole family and our groceries home from Walmart and then went back with BJ to fix our car right there in the Walmart parking lot and then gave us a discount on top of that!  Once again BJ had the chance to explain the whole gospel to another blinded soul. 

God turned the frustration of a car repair into two one on one gospel encounters.