Right now I am in a city called Oruro, which is about six hours outside of our base camp in Pocoata. I just wanted to update about what is going on with our team and ask for a lot of prayer. This is quite a long post, but it would be great if you could take the time to read it.
I have two partners on the team. Caleb is from Sicuani, which is just outside of Cusco and is Quechuan. Javier is from Samán, a small community on the river between Pucallpa and Iquitos. For them both to work on our team that have had to raise support from their local churches. They were promised a certain amount, just enough to be able to live and work in Bolivia. After they completed their first investigation, they were out of money and came back to Oruro, which is the closest city that has an ATM, to get money. They only had enough money to get to this city but not enough to get back. When they arrived there was no money in either of their accounts. That night they slept on the street and went without food as well.
The local church was able to help out a little, enough for them to have a room to stay in and some crackers to eat. They used some of the money to buy back the camera they had to pawn in order to get some food. Coming back from Chile, I finally arrived to give some support. We have talked with the churches and are trying to work all this out. At one point Javier called his church and they had told him they changed their mind about the money and didn´t believe that he needed it. Right now we are still waiting on the churches to send the promised money.
At first the guys were really down, if you can imagine. They felt abandoned in so many ways, and felt even guilty for having feelings of resentment. Last night we met as the church and just start praying and reading scripture. To be honest it was really the first time our team was together and had such an opportunity to do so. It was such a beautiful thing. We had a time of confession, sharing what we learned and what we are learning, and as more time went on we really felt the presence of the Lord and our confidence grew that He was in control of the situation and we were able to start resting in that.
We read the passage in 1 Corinthians where Paul talks about what it means to be a missionary, a servant of Christ:
¨For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ´s sake…we are weak…we are held in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.¨
After reading this passage you could see the change within my partners by the appearance of their faces. It was like a joy washed over any disappointment, any sense of abandonment. We talked about what a privilege it is to be the refuse. This is what we signed up for, and more so what we are called to be. For now we see all these things of hardship and difficulties as a sign that we are in the lowest ranks, the most desired of all.
This is not to say we have faced so much, but only as all this happened as to prepare us for whatever the LORD has for us. That when we face hunger, thirst, sleepless nights, and total rejection, that it is not something strange happening but it is our life as Christians.
Caleb, the Quechua, is very soft spoken and even at times it is difficult to hear what he is saying, unlike Javier who loves to talk and at quite a substantial volume. Caleb shared the story of the Caleb in the Bible, and how at the end of his life he asked Joshua for the territory promised to him. He says, ¨And now behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.¨ My partner Caleb then said, that when the LORD called him to be a missionary He gave him such strength and such a desire to do so, and after all that happened, after so many years of training and waiting, like his name sake in the Bible, his strength and desire hasn´t diminished a bit.
Both of my partners have such a desire to see the lost who have never heard come to Christ, and they absolutley have to trust God´s provision for them to be able to do so.
One day in Pocoata, Caleb and I were eating lunch. We thought Javier was still in Peru because he had not received his money yet from the church. Caleb looks to me and say, ¨I feel as if Javier hasn´t eaten today. I don´t know why but I feel someone is telling me this.¨ Later that night, Javier shows up unexpectedly and turns out that he had been traveling all day and hadn´t eaten anything.
I have been blessed with the best partners, who are just so broken for the lost and so humble before the LORD. Please pray for them, that they can receive the support they need, and just be able to praise the LORD for His sovereign provision.
·Caleb is on the right and Javier is on the left