Jaclyn and I returned from our two month furlough in the states at the end of January. August traveled well and is now adjusting to sleeping in her own bed and not in the arms of a cousin, aunt, or grandma. Here’s a photo of our little world traveler on her way into the U.S. in November. Thanks to all the friends and family who hosted us and shared meals with us during our time in the states.
While on furlough, I was asked to speak on three consecutive Wednesday nights at our supporting church in Bonne Terre, Missouri. I took them through some of the things we have been learning as a church in Arequipa about sharing our faith this past year. We did the “my gospel” exercise and the Bonne Terre church agreed to set the same goal as their brothers and sisters here in Arequipa – to have shared their gospel with at least one person at the end of one year.
It’s almost been one year already since we set this goal here in Arequipa. Two weeks ago at our monthly “celebration Sunday” meeting (where the three house churches get together) we took time to share stories of how we’ve accomplished this goal. I say “accomplished” because the goal was to share the message, not to convert people. We count it as success even if we can say, “I prayed for this person, I shared the Gospel with him/her, and nothing really came of it.” The Gospel taking root, like a grain of wheat, and flowering into something that brings new life is a miracle and the work is really something that God has to do. He asks us to just be faithful scattering seeds – even scattering willy-nilly on every pathway and rocky place we see – like the sower in the parable.
Reflecting on this goal, one sister here shared that it was in a moment when she was feeling especially introverted in a taxi that an opportunity arose to share faith. She said that it was one of those times when she was tired and didn’t necessarily want to chit-chat with a stranger. But, she saw the opportunity when the driver brought up spiritual matters on his own and she was able to share a bit about what her church family means to her. The time we spend in prayer beforehand opens our eyes to the people God brings into our lives every day.
Others shared experiences and commented that people are not always open to what we have to say. A lot of times, especially in this culture, a lack of prior relationship or “confianza” makes accepting new ideas very unlikely. The question then becomes, “who do I already have confianza with, and how can I develop confianza with new people?” Katie and Jeremy shared about their experience with their neighborhood pizza nights and how several people on their block have recently shown interest in this Gospel that inspires the Daggetts’ lives. Below is a picture of a study of the gospel of Mark that was born out of the confianza developed at pizza nights.
I hope that some of you reading this chose to participate in this goal with us this year. If so, we’d love to hear your stories of faith-sharing experiences. If you receive this newsletter by email, you can just click reply or address your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you didn’t set this as a goal for yourself, it’s not too late to start. Make it a goal to write your gospel and share it with various people in your life this year. Remember to be praying for those people ahead of time and be praying for God to open your eyes to the opportunities He’s giving you to share faith.
I thought I’d finally share my short version of the gospel here in the newsletter. It’s still a work in progress, even after a year.
We’d really love to read your version if you don’t mind sharing that with us too.