Who am I?

My photo
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, January 25, 2010

Church anniversary: Half Church, Half Party, All Fun

Cooking lunchSunday was the second anniversary of the Heavenly Zion church here in Santa Cruz. This is the church where I attend on Sunday mornings. Although this was the second anniversary of the church the roots of the church go back 4 or 5 years when the pastor, Rubén Perez, decided that he wanted to do something for the kids in his neighborhood.
Singing in the rain
Making limonada, always a favorite drinkPastor Vicente, national president, brought the messageSo he began a Good News Club, literally Happy Hour in Spanish. Every Saturday afternoon a group of 20 to 30 kids meet in Rubén's yard for a time of learning from the Bible. Eventually Rubén decided that something should be done to try to reach the parents of these kids. So the idea of beginning a church, after much prayer with his family (Rubén lives a home with his parents) was decided on. The church holds services in the patio of Rubén's home. On a given Sunday there will be 15-20 kids, a small handful of teenagers and 12-15 adults. But other churches were invited to

attend the anniversary celebration so yesterday was a full house, actually I should say a full patio. It began to rain early Sunday morning and so the entire group of around 100 people had to be scrunched up under the patio roof instead of sitting out on the lawn. The celebration itself consisted of music, LOTS of LOUD music.Then there was a quizzing game in which I won a prize. More music and finally the message. A special treat for the church was that the national church president happened to be here. So he gave an excellent message from Daniel 3. Following the message there was more music followed by words of encouragement from whoever wanted to talk. And finally, to end the service there was (surprise!) more LOUD music. Following the service dinner was served to everyone present, a really good plate of saice, rice, potato and chuño with a meat sauce on top. While eating we were treated to, you guessed it, more music. By the time church was over the rain had ended and the sun was back out so folks had spread out onto the lawn to eat. All in all a very fun Sunday morning.celebrating what the Lord has done for the church in its second year of life.
Good food!
The BandShould your church ever plan an anniversary celebration give me a call. I have all kinds of great ideas. We'll start with some really LOUD music.

Plea for help!!!!!!!!
As you can see, I cannot get the photos to line up nicely and let me arrange the text around them. If you know anything that can help me, please let me know by leaving a comment with this article. Thanks.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Testimony From a Friend

As a mission we are giving scholarships to six or seven students from our churches here in Santa Cruz who are studying at the Bolivian Evangelical University (BEU was the first private university in Bolivia and the first Evangelical University in South America.) One of those students is Isabel Ramos Sanchez. The daughter of one of our pastors, Isabel, besides studying nursing at BEU, is also a recognized pastor of the Santa Cruz district and co-pastors the God Is Love - Happy Town Church. Isabel is entering into her last year at BEU. Below is her testimony.

I thank God for guiding me. From the time I was a child I knew God and I can say that it is a difficult road. Now that I am a young woman the trials and temptations that come to my life are difficult to overcome. But with the help of God, praying and always having our best friend Jesus of Nazareth by my side, everything is easier. A lot of perseverance is needed to gain the goals that one sets in life.

As a student my life is different. The responsibility that I must fulfill and my studies require me to be careful with my time in order to not fail but to continue on. At the university there are many barriers that would separate me from Christ, fame, pride and lack of time. But it has been good for me to study and it has helped me to improve in my communication skills and to improve the sermons that I prepare.

When I became the pastor of the church I attend, I thought I would not be able to do it and that it would be impossible. But with the help of God and with a lot of effort [I have been able to do it]. There have been a lot of roadblocks that have tired me out; all I could do was pray because my body was worn out. God has sustained his people in the church and we remain united without any divisions. Many times one might want to quit because there is not enough time, but God loves us and likes to see us working all the time and gives us strength to serve him.

God is my great helper who helps me to reach the goals that I have. Without Christ I would not have been able to do anything because the attacks of the enemy are strong. I give thanks to my creator for caring for me.

I wish for you the greatest blessings in your life. Don’t [look] back, follow Jesus.

Monday, January 11, 2010

And The Leadership Adventure Begins

On Sunday I began teaching a class on leadership at our Linage of God church. I had 13 students come and boy did they blow my first illustration all to bits. The lesson of the first class is that leadership is serving not bossing. So, to start, I wanted to boss them around to do all kinds of little tasks without saying please or thank you. The problem was, they started to do some of the things without being bossed first. And then there was no reaction to my ordering them around. When I asked how they felt they replied, "Useful!" So much for the first lesson in servanthood. I guess they didn't need it.

I have been in Bolivia since 1986 and in Santa Cruz the last twelve of those years but they still confuse my name. Am I Elliott Gordon or Gordon Elliott? So I wrote both options on the white board to try to clear up the confusion. I cleared up the confusion all right and discovered that I had written my name in permanent marker instead of dry erase. So I guess my corrected name will be there for all to see for a long time to come!

Next I asked them to draw a picture of what a leader looks like. (See the artwork below.)

Please pray for this group of leaders, many of them young adults, as we together explore what true leadership is all about. And pray for me as I lead them that I too will learn more about being the leader that God wants me to be.

Interpretation of art work #1: A leader must have a big heart, many hands to help, eyes to see and be guided by the Bible. (I liked the fact that this one was a woman.)

Interpretation of art work #2: A leader must have ideas, leave a clear path for others to follow and carry the concerns of his followers, hence, the backpack. (I liked the backpack concept.)

Interpretation of art work #3: A leader must have hands to serve, feet to serve, and a heart to serve. (I liked the emphasis on serving.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

History In The Making

Today is a historic day for Evangelical Church Missions in Bolivia. This morning we sent off Kevin and Lisa Hoffman to move to the town of Mizque, Cochabamba. This marks the first time in mission history that we will have missionaries living in three different communities at the same time. Up until 1997, all our missionaries lived in La Paz. In July of that year our family moved to Santa Cruz, becoming the first ones from our mission to move outside of La Paz. We were soon followed by the Gary and Sarah Healy who left La Paz for Cochabamba. Santa Cruz became the real focus of our missionary presence after the Healys returned to the US. But in August of this past year, James and Jenny Wolheter and their boys left Santa Cruz for the city of Cochabamba. Now with the departure of Kevin and Lisa this morning we will have missionaries living in three cities. Please pray for Kevin and Lisa beginning this new adventure. And pray for us as we adjust to being the only missionaries in Santa Cruz from our mission. We will miss Kevin and Lisa very much but know they go with God.