Update from JohnE: A View from Above1
Update from JohnE:
A few thousand feet below me the Bolivian landscape stretches in every direction, each block, every home, representing a window into life here. I was treated to a taste of Bolivian life these past days (quite literally). Pastor Matias and his family's warmth and hospitality really made it easy to feel at home and to go about the work we had prepared.
I joined the team just after the conclusion of the conference in Santa Cruz, as the team caught a few days of rest before gearing up for the journey up to the mountains. Samaipata, a quiet mountain town in the Andes foothills, was our home for much of last week. We stayed at Pastor Matias's childhood home, where so many years ago God brought him into his adopted family. (He was adopted into a missionary family in Samaipata -- that is how he came to know the Lord. Incredible story.) It was humbling to see Pastor Matias, now with his own family, faithfully using his childhood home as a base for ministry.
The small group of pastors and students who gathered in Samaipata for the conference were eager to learn. It takes a genuine love for God's Word and a willingness to be challenged in order for a conference like this to be possible. The men understood the centrality of the Word in the continued health of the church. Conviction like this cannot be taught; it is evidence of God's work in the lives of these men.
As a student of the Word myself, I sat alongside the brothers and felt the challenge to apply 2 Timothy 2:15: to rightly handle the word of truth. Carefully handling the Word is not a priority only in Bolivia, but for all of God's church. And while the team from Gateway returns home, these pastors will have the ongoing responsibility of feeding and shepherding their respective flocks. Please pray for these men, called by God to minister His Word.
In all our preparations for the trip, I don't think I quite anticipated the ways that God would be teaching me in Bolivia. There is something about being far from the familiar that challenges me to break out of my "personal" Christianity, whereby my eyes are opened to His hand at work in bigger and mightier ways.
As I am now flying over the Caribbean, I am awed by the vast expanses of land and sea. God is no stranger to this view from above, for He is doing His work in every corner of the world, places that I may never know. But I am thankful that I have had the chance to be a part of it in Bolivia. And as much as I am overwhelmed by all that there is left to be done for God, I am remembering to find my confidence in His faithfulness to bring about the fruit.
Photo: Santa Cruz from the plane
Photo: The mountain country near Samaipata
Photo: Pastor Rod teaching at the Samaipata conference
Photo: Matias Jr. and JohnE