Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Strongholds and Prayer

Well, we've been here a week-and-a-half already. Amazing, because it feels like we just got here. I talked to some of our family, and they feel like its been forever already. I guess that's because the adventure/newness part of it is on our side. I want to thank all those who have donated financially to us, and those who are currently donating. The only reason we are here is because of every last one of you. I mean that, because we are right at our financial goal, and that means every one of your dollars counts! I also want to thank every one of you who are praying for us. I imagine we'd still be in the States if not for all the prayers. (Within this post are prayer requests in bold. Many have asked for specific ones...here are SOME to start.)

Speaking of prayer, it is why I wrote this post and titled it "Strongholds and Prayer." This place is so dark. Satan has many, diverse strongholds. On the brochure I made, I listed that the evangelical percentage is somewhere around 5-18% (and that includes cults such as Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, along with all other Protestant denominations). Since being here, I'm learning that there are a lot more JW's and Mormons than anything else. Of course, Catholicism reigns. I'm also learning that many are more loyal to their Catholic roots than I thought. That is not saying that they know anything about what they say they believe though. They are just stubbornly against anything "different." Perhaps this is why at our last witnessing opportunity (the dad of a young lady who was recently saved), the man tried to suggest Christianity and Catholicism are the same. His intention was to give us the satisfaction that there was no reason we needed to be there and could therefore leave. I told him if that was true, then he should come to worship with us the upcoming Sunday. He agreed that he would but never showed up. But, many take the obvious route and just shut their ears after we mention we are Christians. Having ears, they do not hear, and having eyes, they do not see (Mark. 8:18). Mark 4:12, however (a difficult passage), says that Jesus spoke in parables, lest the people saw and perceived. I don't want to get into a theological discussion on that right now, other than to say that I see in this passage a hope that these who are deaf and blind can turn and repent if the Lord would grant them understanding. Please join us in praying that the Lord of the Harvest would open the eyes of the blind and deaf (upwards of 98% in my opinion) in this place. That is spiritually speaking of course.

So Satan has a stronghold of cultic following as well as false religious adherence that only can be defeated by prayer. And we know that the gates of Hades shall not prevail (Mark 16:18. Note: This verse is talking about the prevailing of the Kingdom of God, not hell as is commonly understood). Another stronghold Satan has is within the church. Now I must confess, that the Strong-man (Mark 3:27) in the body of Christ is the Holy Spirit, but there are areas within every believer's life that need to me more fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. Permit me to call these "footholds." There are many footholds within the churches here. Much of that stems from a lack of ability to read. Imagine trying to live the Christian life not being able to read the Bible! That is one reason we are discussing the implementation of a reading class, with the Bible being our text book. Though I cannot speak Spanish well yet (more on that in a minute), I can read it fairly well. If we accomplish nothing (in say 2-5 years) other than teaching the people to read the Bible, than I would have to realize that could pay off with eternal dividends. However, we are praying that God would give the churches here a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened...(Eph. 1:17-19). We are praying for hunger and thirst for the Word to increase in their lives as Christ allows them to see more of Himself. Please join us in this prayer. I more than anyone, realize that many who call them self, "Christian" are no more saved than those in Matthew 7:21. We are praying Ephesians 1:17-19 for them as well, in order that the Lord may open the eyes of their heart to see Christ for the first time and in doing so, develop a craving for Him.

Personally, Celia and I need prayer as well. When you lift us up before the throne of grace, please remember Tony and Christen and their family as well as Pastor Jose and his family. We all need to grow spiritually in our discipline. Things were so hectic the couple of weeks before we arrived, that I confess my focus swerved. I kept hoping once I arrived, I would regain that immediately. Well, this past week-and-a-half has been just as crazy! Hopefully, we can move into our place tomorrow (Tony, Christen, and the kids have been so gracious in letting us crash at their place). One major concern that remains is that our water pressure has dropped a lot since the cleaning of our cistern. This is a short-term prayer request and insignificant compared to what I've stated prior, but please pray for the Lord to give wisdom to a plumber we choose in order to identify and fix the problem. In getting back to my point, I did want to mention that the Lord is pulling me to Himself. I feel it every minute of every day, and this gives me confidence our sweet fellowship is returning (even though He never went anywhere). What frightens me more than anything I can think of is that I just moved to another country to do the Lord's work and I've drifted somewhat in the process. I know it is has to be strange for some of you to read this, but I'm praying for the Lord to rejuvenate Celia and myself. I know we just got here, but we are flat worn out already. Pray the Lord leads us by His still waters and restores our soul (Psalms 23:2-3) as we drink from the spring of living water (Jeremiah 2:13) through our communion with Him in prayer and His Word (James 4:8). 

I started to mention spiritual discipline at the beginning of the last paragraph and then I got on to something slightly different but related. I want to get back on track. As you are praying for our close communion with the Lord (what I got slightly off track on) please lift us (and Tony and Jose with their families) up in asking the Lord to increase all of our discipline. To go to bed early, and rise early; to eat the word before we eat anything else-memorizing it to the amount the Lord will grant; to fast often and not forsake the closet (our secret prayer time). People need to see Christ for all the above significant prayer requests to be answered, and I so desire to let them see Him through my actions and words as I open the Bible to teach and witness. I know we all do. I would like to thank the Lord that He has used Tony and myself these past two Sundays in touching many with the preached Word. To what extent, I do not know. What I do know is that it can be to more of an extent and I believe God will allow us to come in a greater demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor. 2:4) as we know Him more, forsake the world more, and trust Him more through our closeness with Him.

Lastly, I want to learn Spanish! I'm learning alright, but I want to be fluent now! Ask the Lord to grant me and Celia and Christen and their kids the ability to grasp the language quickly. I can only follow bits and pieces when Tony teaches for a while and less than that when hearing a native speaker go on for a while. I get tired quick as well because I'm using so much "brain power" in trying to concentrate. It is literally exhausting. Thank God, Tony is here to translate so I can be used (and am being used) in bringing forth the Word already. However, I day dream of preaching in Spanish!

Lastly, please pray for Arianna's health and safety (she's doing good) along with the rest of us. A dangerous place we live in- no doubt- but we are at rest in the safest place of all...His hands! Nothing will reach us, unless it passes through them. There is comfort in that!

Thank you and God bless you for your prayers. Know that we pray for you as well.


Jared and Celia

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We have arrived!

Written around noon: On November 9th around 8:45 PM Eastern time we touched down in Santiago, DR. Since that time, we have been staying with Tony Salgado and his family (the other missionary couple here). There are some things we need to do on our house before we can move in (plumbing work, paint work...which could be hazardous to Arianna, and the furnishing of the home as it is completely empty right now).
Arriving in Santiago

This morning (Sunday) I preached in Esperanza out of Ephesians 1:3-4. Tony translated. Of all the concerns I have, learning Spanish fluently is one of the top on the list (but not the top-that would be the spiritual growth of the body, and the salvation of lost souls). There is no way to be as effective as I'd like until I learn their beautiful language. But I imagine there is a thing or two the Lord will teach me in the meantime. 1 Corinthians 2:4 comes to mind: Paul says, "and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

Making sure I know what I'm going to say
Written around 7PM: We just got back from the church in Pierda Gorda (see pictures...Celia stayed home today because Arianna had a rough night). I preached again. Same sermon, totally different "feeling." This morning was powerful, and not only by my account. Many commented on the fact. However, this afternoon, I felt like gravel was coming out of my mouth. Hopefully, Tony did not feel the same way because He was speaking the Spanish! Pierda Gorda does need serious prayer though. I think it wise to be here more than just one day before I pronounce my verdict on the place though, so I'll say no more at this point.

Coming soon, I will publish a new post with some specific prayer requests. For the meantime, please pray for the Spirit of God to move upon this place and call to Himself those that are His own. The work of the missionary (along with all forms of ministry) is one of faith. We are reliant upon Him in every aspect. Please ask Him to move in this place for His glory!