There is no doubt that unity is God’s will for his people. There is no doubt that the church has found unity to be among the most difficult aspects of its life in Christ. Though there is always so much to say on this subject when it comes down to brass tacks, I just want to celebrate with a simple word of praise the fact that we have unity with other Christians in Arequipa.
Jesus announced the kingdom in word and deed. Mark’s first story about Jesus’ ministry holds these two together perfectly. Jesus enters the synagogue to teach. An essential aspect of his identity is teacher. Mark tells us, however, that he was not just a garden-variety instructor. The authority with which he taught was astounding. From this point on, authority will be a key word for Mark. As will be evident when we come to some of Jesus’ particular teachings, he was a man with extraordinary insight into the will of God revealed in Scripture.
This summer will see the beginning of a number of new projects for ICDU and I want to take a moment to let you know about them. While the natural flow of events has pushed the start of these to the summer it couldn’t come at a better time. Not only are we ready to start involving church members in projects but this summer we have three interns to help with the work! Last year Aaron was with us as we began getting to know the people of El Naranjal and this year our interns will help us continue the work we’ve begun there.
Our method is sometimes referred to as “friendship evangelism”. That just means that we don’t spend our time recruiting in more direct ways, like knocking on doors, holding large meetings, or advertising. Rather, we have chosen to step into the lives of the people around us, walking alongside them, learning from them, and watching for opportunities to guide them to the life found in Jesus Christ. It’s slower than other methods, but we prefer to grow depth rather than breadth and leave behind a movement that can carry itself and will no longer rely on us.
I recently walked with some friends of mine on a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Chapi located to the Southwest of Arequipa, Peru. We left Arequipa around 9:30 pm on a Friday night, taking a bus two hours outside the city, where we were dropped off in the middle of the desert to begin the walk across the desert to the Sanctuary, where hundreds of Catholics journey on the eve of the 1st of May. The actual hike took approximately three hours over sandy inclines and steep rocky descents.
I am home. It really means a lot to say that, because I just returned from a 2 week stay in the States. (If you weren’t aware of this, it’s because we kept it top secret--I surprised my sister for her college graduation.) Before we ever left for Peru, Greg would tell me how important it was to stay on the field at least two years before returning. Many times, if missionaries return to their homeland too soon, they don’t want to return to the mission field. I am 3 months shy of that 2 year marker, and it was a difficult decision to make. But we decided that the reason for the trip was important enough for me to go. For the record, I traveled with the two girls and Greg stayed here in Peru.