Who am I?

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Monrovia, Liberia
I live in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa with my wife and youngest son. We are recently arrived in Liberia where we are serving as missionaries with Evangelical Church Missions working under the Liberia Evangelical Mission. For most of the last thirty years we have served under ECM in Bolivia, South America. We are the happy parents of four children and the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How Much Is A School Worth? or Anybody Have A Spare $50,000?

Liberty School was a special project of our national church here in Bolivia. It was started some years ago under, shall I say, false pretenses. The brothers had the idea that a school would not only serve the community (which needed the school) but also would be a source of revenue for the church. So under those assumptions, the Liberty School was opened. Part of the expectation has been met. It has proven to be a ministry to the neighborhood. With monthly fees running less than $15, Liberty has been able to offer the poorer families of the area a private Christian education. The parents are happy with that. They like the values that the school has instilled in their children. But the other half of the expectation never came to pass. Charging $15 a student will never transfer into revenue. Rather than generating revenue for the church, the school has cost money over the years. (Now I could have told them that would happen but who listens to me, right?) So now the school is in a big bind. It needs around $50,000 now to do much needed maintenance and build a new classroom building. The church is struggling with what to do with the school. Do we keep it going or shut it down? One thing is certain, without an influx of money there will be no choice. Please pray for the leadership of the church as they struggle, wrestle, fight with the future of the school. Pray that if it needs to continue that somehow God will provide what is needed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

But For The Grace of God . . .

I was in La Paz a couple of weeks ago to do some business. I had stopped to allow a shoe shine boy to polish my shoes. (Shined shoes are a thing in Bolivia.) I began talking to the "boy" who was shining my shoes. Actually he was 18 years old and his name was Denis. He doesn't know anything about where his family is. At age 10 he was taken to a children's home to live by his parents. There, they were given an evening meal, a bed and breakfast in the morning. Then they were all turned out onto the street until evening. At about age 15 Denis left the home and began living on the street. Now three years later he is still on the street and shining shoes to earn enough to eat. He is going to school and hopes to be able to finish high school. He still has three years to go.

My heart went out to this young man. What hope does he have for the future? And then another thought came to me: where would our son be if he hadn't found us and become a part of our family? Would he be like Denis, living on the street, always scrambling for enough to eat? Thankfully, I don't have to know the answer to that question. What would have been is not in our realm to know. But what about Denis? Will he find something to give him hope? Will he come to ever know the love of God in Christ for him? Will he ever know that God will not kick him out on the street or abandon him? I can only hope so.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Not To Interpret The Bible

Bible study is an important thing to do. In fact it is so important that we need to take great care in how we study it other wise we may come to the wrong conclusions. One danger we need to avoid is wooden literalism, that is putting the letter of what is written above the spirit of what is written. Now for my story.

Last week I was in La Paz along with James to take care of some things that needed done. Every year we have to submit a report to the government about our activities, finances and so on as a religious institution. Well, the government did not like our report from last year so they sent us a love letter telling us what we did wrong. Ok. We responded with a letter, repented of our many failings and thought we had everything taken care of. But when we arrived in La Paz we discovered that the government had sent us another letter. Apparently they did not like my first letter. Specifically they did not like the fact that last year only two people (James and Jenny) were holding all four offices that our by-laws require. There must be four people holding four offices. Now the problem was that in 2008, James and Jenny were the only career missionaries on the field after Niki and I had gone on furlough. Our by-laws also specify that field officers must be accredited by the mission in the States and they tell us that only career missionaries are able to hold offices (which makes sense, to me). I had written and explained our situation that there had been only TWO people in the country and so they had to hold all four offices but that this year we had taken care of that situation since we were also in the county. So, we had our secretary write another letter explaining all that again. But we also decided that it would be a good thing for James and me to go and talk to the lady in charge. Which we did. In fact, it was the lady who wrote the letter who listened to my explanation. There were only TWO in the country and so it was physically impossible for FOUR different people to hold the offices. But that still did not satisfy her. Our by-laws say FOUR officers and FOUR there must be. Well she finally did acknowledge that we could not go back to 2008. I asked her what we should do in the future if we have a similar situation. Plan ahead, was the reply. (Of course. Why didn't I think of that?)

I'll leave it to you to figure out the moral.