We often pray too generally. Sometimes I think it’s because we respect the “not my will but thine” posture of prayer--why ask for particulars if we’re content with letting him decide what will be? Sometimes I think it’s because we fear the disorientation of not receiving--avoid the whole mess of asking for the wrong thing or wondering if my lack of faith it at fault. Prayer is a complex and untamed subject. My present feeling is one of pragmatic surrender. I don’t know what else to do but ask for what we need. If it turns out otherwise, well, I had to ask. So, let’s get specific.
My wife, who provides for me the sensitivity to academic tediousness that I lost somewhere along the way, said that this introduction is like lots of others: “You just have to get through it.” I take that gentle criticism seriously, though I have found no other way to talk about these introductory issues. To those who will simply skip this part: I understand. To those who will, after graciously reading it, wonder whether this is a sign of things to come: I assure you it is not. The study itself will be totally geared for the uninitiated. Think of it this way: The introduction is for you, the evangelist. It is not, however, something I would introduce into the study itself. The body of the study, while also intended to be preparation material for you (behind the scenes in a sense), is written in such a way as to indicate how to present Mark.
I have now been in Peru for over a month. I am almost settled into my apartment (I still lack some furniture) and language classes are going well. I have taken over teaching the children’s Bible class, and have begun planning the curriculum for the children’s events with Megan. As I look back over the last several weeks I have discovered several things. First, being on the mission field for an extended period of time is vastly different from a short campaign or even a summer internship. In my past experiences with short term mission trips there were always activities planned and things to do. While this structure limited my freedom, it heightened the experience and I always fell asleep at night knowing I had accomplished something worthwhile.
During the planning process of our ministry here we decided early on that any project we would implement would be two things reproducible and sustainable. You might say those are the ‘core values’ of our development projects here in Arequipa. Of course our reasons for doing this type of ministry are based in our beliefs on the ministry of Jesus and our duties as his followers, but when seeking to start a new project we always check the project against those core values; reproducibility and sustainability. Our simple definition of these two points is that we do not want to execute any project that can- not be sustained/continued/maintained by Peruvians or reproduced/copied/multiplied by those same Peruvians. Oversimplified? Yes. Important? Absolutely.
What does evangelism look like to you? I believe that evangelism has many forms. God gives his children gifts, and he expects for each of us to use those gifts in evangelizing others. Before coming to Peru I could not give you a specific name of anyone I had “brought to Christ.” Sure, I am certain that I may have influenced people in a positive way. I attended a Christian college, participated in a Christian drama group, purposefully taught middle schoolers with a Christian attitude and perspective. There were many relationships that I wanted to deepen so that I could connect on a spiritual level, but I fell short of investing the time or energy into it. Since being here in Peru I have changed my view on evangelism somewhat.
We live in the southern hemisphere. This causes some interesting differences in life that I did not realize be- fore we moved here. For example, the sun is strongest in the morning and gentler in the afternoon, which is the opposite of the States. More significant is that the seasons are also the opposite - June, July and August are the winter months, while January and February comprise our summers. Thus, when schools let out for Christmas, it’s also summer vacation until the first or second week of March.