Visas

A visa is an endorsement in one’s passport that indicates that the holder is allowed to stay for a specified period of time in the country that granted said endorsement. It also limits the types of activities one can carry out while in the country.

Pablo and I have come to realize that having to solicit visas will forever be a part of our reality. It was somewhat of a sobering realization. The visa process can be long, expensive and full of uncertainties; there will always exist the possibility that one of us may not be able to reside in the other’s home country.

I guess in some ways it serves as a continual test of our faith.

Thankfully, everything in regards to Pablo’s visa for our recent stay in the States turned out well, and I’ve never had any trouble with my Chilean visas until recently. Because I was outside of Chile for more than a year, I lost my Chilean residency and must start the visa process all over again. This was something we anticipated, but we did not think I would have to start back at zero.

Within the next couple of weeks, I have to first apply for a temporary visa that will allow me to be in Chile for a year. If I am granted the visa, next year around this same time, I should be able to renew it for another year. Just before the second year ends, I will finally be able to apply for residency again.

Because of our future plans to serve in long-term missions outside of Chile, or if we were to ever spend more than a year in the US again, we will need to constantly repeat this process–unless we’re able to get to a Chilean embassy where we can petition for an extension of the time I’m allotted to be outside of Chile. The situation for Pablo in the US would be similar. Unfortunately, neither country seems to have a visa option that really accommodates our chosen vocation, though we will need to continue investigating the matter.

I have a tendency to worry about things before their time, but rather than be discouraged by the situation, we’re trying to stay light-hearted and take it all one step at a time. Please join us in praying that this will be an area where we continue to experience God’s faithfulness. He really has been good to us thus far!

Finally, an Update!

It’s been a long time since we’ve updated this blog, but we’ve finally given it a new look with more up-to-date information. Have a look around and check back for ministry updates and thoughts on what we’re learning in life. We’ll do our best to add more frequent posts, and we will continue to send occasional newsletters to accompany the blogs on this site.

Missions involves getting to know the heart of God

Some people [Christians and non-Christians alike] really have a problem with the idea of missions and evangelism. They find it to be intrusive and intolerant of others’ beliefs. I mean, how could we be so arrogant as to think that what we believe is correct and that everyone else has it wrong, and then to go as far as dedicating our lives to convincing the world of this one and only gospel?!

Timothy Keller, one of my favorite preachers, used this simple illustration in one of his sermons to help us understand the heart behind missions.

If someone I know is sick with the same deadly disease that I once had, and I know what they need to get well, the right thing to do is share with that person what it was that cured me. I wouldn’t want to keep the information to myself unless I am incredibly selfish and unloving! So if I know that a real encounter with Jesus will transform lives and save souls, how can I keep it to myself?!

There are others who know that missions is something of importance. They might even be able to enthusiastically quote Matthew 28:19-20 or Acts 1:8 where Jesus gives the command to “go.” But could they really tell us why it is important to be involved in missions? Do they understand why it is such a big deal? Do you?

There will always be a lack of commitment [in anything] if we don’t have a clear understanding of the why behind it. Reading through the Bible, one realizes that God started with the why behind missions. It’s all there in black and white [and red for those of us with the fancy Bibles that put Jesus’ words in red].

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? When God created the heavens and the earth, mankind was in perfect relationship with God, with others, with self, and with the environment. Imagine a world where it’s easy to spend time with God because he’s right there in front of you, where there are no conflicts with other people, no self-esteem problems, and no natural disasters. WOW! Right?! But when Adam and Eve sinned, they ruined God’s creation and these perfect relationships were broken. I don’t know if you realize this, but God totally could have just destroyed the earth at that point, but instead he initiated his mission to redeem mankind. WHY?! The only conclusion I’ve come to is that something about us being with him in heaven someday was worth it to him – worth the rejection he would experience from his people, the pain of watching us suffer the consequences of our disobedience, and the brutal death he would endure on our behalf.

Shall we continue with the story? In chapter 12 of Genesis, God called Abraham to GO so that all people on earth would be blessed through him. From Abraham came Isaac, from Isaac came Jacob [God changed his name to Israel by the way], and from the 12 sons of Jacob the nation of Israel was born. God miraculously rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and set them apart to be an example to other nations. They were meant to be a nation that would give glory to the one true God and attract others to him. But what eventually happened? Israel was influenced by the sinfulness of the other nations to the point of declaring that they wanted to be just like them, and instead of making God known, they rejected him and worshiped idols.

See, God wasn’t just concerned about Israel! He wanted them to assume their identity as his people and live accordingly so that others might come to know him as well!

Throughout the entire old testament you can see God’s concern for the foreigners among his people and his interest in reaching the nations. Thus, one realizes that missions is something that comes from the very heart of God, and it is based on his love for mankind.

Now here’s the best part, the missionary heart of God in its maximum expression: JESUS.

God himself came to earth as a man to make himself known and offer a way of salvation for all who would believe!

“For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life!”

Now, what did Jesus’ ministry look like. He taught [individuals and multitudes], evangelized, he trained and prepared his 12 disciples, he healed the sick, and he set people free from demons…jews and foreigners alike. He entered the Jewish temples and he took time to talk to the Samaritan woman by the well. Seems like a good model for us to follow.

When we read Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says “go.” It is a command. We are commanded to go and make disciples of Jesus who obey his teaching. It is not optional! Most of us don’t like to be told what to do and we make what we want of these types of statements in the bible, picking and choosing the parts we like and ignoring the rest.

The work of redemption was finished on the cross, but the work of sharing this good news with the world was left to Jesus’ disciples…US!

Now, a better translation of “go” would be “as you go,” because the original verb is in the continuous tense. “As you go” implies constant movement to somewhere outside of your comfort zone, at the very least!

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Our lives as Christians should be proof of the existence of God! That is what a witness does. But the implications of this verse actually go a bit further than that. That word “witnesses” in the original greek is “martyr,” someone who is killed because of their belief in Jesus. Many of us want the power of the holy spirit in our lives, but are we willing to give our whole lives completely to Jesus!? To the point of death? Are we willing to die to our carnal desires and live according to what he taught? REALLY?!

We are called to take the gospel wherever we are. The book of Acts is the story of those who have gone before us and the new testament letters are our guide for the expansion of the Kingdom of heaven. What a privilege it is that God allows us to be a part of his plan of redemption.

When we realize that missions is something that originates in the heart of God, we begin to experience the joy of doing it in every moment of life no matter where we are. We GO because we truly know the love of the one sending us.

So my prayer for you is that you receive a revelation of this love that is so strong that it keeps you restless and motivates you to get involved in missions!

Lessons from the Life of King Hezekiah

I’m not sure if you know the story of King Hezekiah. It’s one of my favorites [just because I can relate to some of his character flaws]. If you are asking yourself, “who is King Hezekiah? What country did he rule over?” You can read about him in the Bible, but I’m going to tell you a bit about him here.

Reflections on Personal Responsibility & the Fear of God

If my math is correct, Hezekiah was born when his father, Ahaz, was 11 years old. Nine years later, Ahaz became King over the nation of Judah, and he did incredible evil as king. He was an absent father who exposed his son to gruesome idolatry that was undoubtedly fueled by fear and self-satisfaction. Hezekiah may have even had to watch his father sacrifice his brothers in the fire to appease the gods.

I often wonder how in the world Hezekiah could have grown up in that environment and become a man who trusted in the Lord and chose to do right throughout his life. Somehow his devastating history pushed him to seek God, to hold fast to the Lord and never cease following him. I guess we don’t really know exactly when or why Hezekiah chose to serve the Lord. Maybe he saw the failure and constant dissatisfaction in his father and bitterly hoped for something different, declaring, “I’ll never be like him!” The point is, he was responsible for his own choices, and he chose God. His father’s failure was not an excuse or curse on his life.

Sometimes bad things happen in our lives, we are seemingly set up to fail, the odds are against us, but we always have a choice.

Hezekiah must have had a hard exterior. After all he’d experienced, I would imagine he kept to himself with a self-sufficient, “nothing can affect me” attitude. He evidently had issues with pride, and oh how I can relate. I like to do it all on my own. I don’t like to show my emotions. I don’t want people to see my weakness. I struggle to admit my life had difficult moments and open up about the wounds they caused. I swing from an artificial smile to cover up the pain to an apathetic shell until I hit a breaking point. God is teaching me that emotions are not good or bad. We have to allow ourselves to feel and process them so we can discover what they are trying to tell us.

Self-sufficiency and a fake smile won’t get us anywhere; it will just keep us lonely and lost. 

I’m impressed and challenged by Hezekiah’s fear of the Lord. It says in 2 Chronicles 31:20-21 that he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. Though there is evidence of Hezekiah’s weaknesses, he truly and intentionally sought holiness in his life.

This is not something that is simple; it requires effort and humility [which was a constant area for growth in Hezekiah’s life]. The habitual areas of sin in our lives are the result of lacking reverence in our relationship with God, moments when he is diminished, ignored, rejected for a momentary, self-gratifying experience that never accomplishes what we are really looking for. We often self-justify something we know is wrong, and sometimes our fear of other people finding out is greater than the reality that God was present in the moment we sinned against him. Here is where there is a lack of conviction in our knowledge of who God is, it is reflected in our apathetic stance toward sin.

There are areas in our lives where we need to set a higher standard. We need to recognize the places we are vulnerable and set up boundaries that we take seriously, that we are unwilling to cross. We cannot allow the fear of man to bring intimidation and thwart what God has for us. Legalistic self-sufficiency keeps us from advancing in this area as well. We can’t defeat the sin in our lives on our own. We have to let God into our struggles instead of allowing the weight of guilt and fear to be a wall in our relationship with him.

Make a choice today to stop blaming your past, your circumstances, the people who hurt you, and take personal responsibility for your life. Hezekiah had every reason to live life as the victim and spit in God’s face by embracing the same sinful lifestyle he’d been exposed to by his father, but he didn’t. He feared God.

Questioning God

I recently became friends with a girl named Jael. She was a student in our five month Discipleship Training School, and we got to know each other the last month she was here. There was suddenly an instant connection as we began to spend more time with each other, and Jael became my unexpected gift from God.

Then, the DTS ended and she had to go home.

Thankfully she only lives two hours away, and I know our friendship is one that will last. However, I have to admit that I find myself a little bit frustrated with God. I had been praying for a close friend on campus since returning to Chile, and I know Jael was an answer to that prayer. Yet here I am asking why God answered my prayer for a friend with someone who wouldn’t be sticking around.

Sometimes I just don’t understand the way God does things! Sometimes I want to know the why behind his methods because there are some things I just don’t find to be very strategic. I most definitely would not have done it this way.

Maybe at some point in the future I’ll get it…maybe not.

Maybe not?

Maybe not.

We’ve talked about this how many times before?

I know there are far more difficult things that happen in our lives that lead to these types of questions and feelings of frustration with the God of the universe [i.e. Job]. They are things that challenge our confidence in the goodness of the God who allowed the bad thing, right? But God remains good, and there’s really only one thing to do; keep trusting. Yep, I went there again. We have to believe that God is who he says he is.

I know it’s easier said than done, that’s why I keep having to write about it.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be upset with God and ask him why. It’s part of relationship. God is not at all threatened by our questions; in fact, I think he delights in them. However, you may not get the answer you’re looking for, and be prepared to be humbled in the end. Who am I to think I know better than the God who created me? The thought is so ridiculous it’s funny. The Creator of the universe, King of kings, all-knowing, all-powerful, personal God really can be trusted.

I’m thankful for the friend God gave me, and I can only trust he has his purposes in answering my prayer the way he did. I may never know exactly what they are, but at the end of writing this blog, I’m realizing that at least part of the reason must be that I needed to be reminded that my hope should be placed in him and not in any human being. People come and go from our lives, they won’t always be there and they let us down, but God is not like man.

When far greater difficulties come my way, I pray I’m able to apply this truth and see God glorified in my life.