This morning I cannot help but put my calender week on fast-forward and write this blog two days ahead of time. I don’t know exactly when I will publish this post, whether that will be tonight or on Tuesday, but I just have to write, right now!
I am completely moved this morning. And I’m utterly humbled, at that. I love the Lord’s Word and how He speaks to us through it. There is a book that I’m reading called Doctrine by Mark Driscoll in which he explains that there are only two ways of knowing God, 1.) by speculating and 2.) by revelation. It is an amazing privilege to have this book we call the Bible in which God has revealed himself to us. We do not have to speculate! We have his revelation. This is the verse that I read this morning:
Not only that, but we frejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering gproduces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 andhhope does not put us to shame, because God’s love ihas been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I know it’s a verse that we have probably read before and found much encouragement. But, it’s something of a whole different breed when we read something in the Bible that is true to our very lives in the present. I mean, when you read the Bible and you see how the Word of God has materialized itself into your own life, that is an amazing thing!
Last week, I wrote about a praise, that being that the Lord is doing a great work in Juliaca, but I just want to expand upon this. It’s so important that you see what I’m talking about here!
Perhaps five months ago Sammy and I were on a bus coming back from Cusco. I wrote about my trip back from Cusco back in January but I didn’t mention this part of our conversation. I told Sammy that we had to come up with a plan of what to do with Juliaca… that perhaps, if it came down to it, we would have to plan to tell people out there to start looking into other churches. I was obviously full of doubt, but there was evidently something that convicted me of this doubt and instead to have faith. In that same post in January I asked you to fast and pray with me for the people of Puno, this is what I said:
Fast with us as we plead to God His work and change in the people of Puno. We have little time left, and humanly we would consider it a lost deal, but I have faith that God has a plan here.
Oh, dear readers! The Lord certainly has a plan! As I write this entry I just realized that this fruit is just as much YOURS as it is ours here in Peru. We both can learn from Romans 5:3-5.
We prayed earnestly through fasting for these people and it took four-five months to see the fruit of these prayers. The tribulation that we faced was possibly leaving Juliaca with absolutely nothing. But, at least for me, the tribulation caused me to have patience. Actually, looking back I’m surprised how patient I was! I taught me patience.
The Lord graciously opened doors to give us a meeting place and not only that, but one we are free of paying rent. We only pay the electric bill. It is better than we could ever have dreamed for. In fact, the Lord gave us something better for which we had ever asked! What a loving Father! And now, we are seeing a consistent attendance of 10-13 people coming each Sunday, and this past Friday for our prayer service we had 11 people. We are quickly outgrowing our location, but I want to see this place packed as full as it gets. This is the experience mentioned in Romans. It’s actually the word “proof:”
…that is, experimental evidence that we have “believed through grace.”
And this beautiful, beautiful proof has caused in me this morning an inexplicable amount of hope. This proof is also for you readers! You who prayed with me, who were patient with me, this is proof to you also! This, I hope and pray, is encouragement to you, is hope to you.
I am so relieved that this is the passage that God allowed me to read this morning. I feel so free of stress in this moment and so heavy with joy. Now, I want to put before you another challenge that will require more patience. Please, take upon yourselves another tribulation. Pray with us, and eve fast with me on Tuesdays, asking the Lord for 12 members before July 20th (the day I leave Peru and our project finishes). I have faith that the Lord can do it! He can do anything! He has shown us the proof! This is a challenge for me just as it is for you, but I urge you that you take it. Let’s grow more in our hope and faith in Christ together. Join me, and pray fervently to the Lord that He will raise us 12 members before July 20th.
I suppose I should tell you why I feel it so necessary to have 12 members. Why is this my goal? Because, by actually achieving this goal the church in Juliaca becomes officially recognized in Peru as a Nazarene cell group and it will become more probable then that they will receive trained leadership. It’s crazy how much these people really become like your sheep. I can relate to Paul and how he must have felt toward his flock and the concern he held for them. I want what is best for our flock in Juliaca, and I believe that can be achieved by getting them to 12 members.
How many do we have so far? The answer is zero. We have not one member. But you know, it doesn’t matter. God can do this. He has given us proof that He can. Pray with me. If you decide to undertake this challenge, will you email me? firstname.lastname@example.org