I’m going to have a bumper sticker made that says “I’D RATHER BE EATING GOAT”. Because it is not about the goat that we ate last night but the abundant blessing we all shared, sitting together as a family on Rachel’s birthday, just after ministering to an extremely poor but so grateful community of Peruvians. (My precious cheerleader turned 58 but will never be a day over 19 in my eyes.) It’s like what Jesus said after sharing with the poor woman at the well. He told His brothers “I have food to eat that you do not know….” ( Jn.4:32). Jesus was full of the joy that comes from giving the Father’s life to someone who is hungry.Actually I would bet that Jesus did eat goat. This alone proves His divinity. I would imagine it was a staple of that culture. It is cheap but the taste….well…let’s just say if I had nothing else to eat I would LEARN to like it.
Rachel just learned Psalm 5 in Spanish and I put together a song that expresses our love for a God Who has written joy into the experience of walking in His destiny. We are so unworthy. We were ministering at a large park the other day that had a saying written on a wall that expressed the thinking of the people here. It says “WE HAVE NOTHING SO WE WILL BUILD EVERYTHING”. It says more than you realize. There is a deep sense of self-pity in a people who live in a desert in despicable conditions with no real hope of escape or change. So how do you share the gospel with such a people? What exactly do you say? The typical one-liner pat “Christian” “Just Accept Christ” thing just doesn’t fly. Pray a prayer and “confess” a prosperous life-style works amongst religious yuppies in a first world American culture but not in a devastated third world country.
Yet Jesus came for the poor. So surely He offers a real joy in the midst of suffering. People want magic but God offers divine life. A difficult situation can be transformed, not by replacing it with “Disneyland”, but by teaching you how TO BE and providing a SUPERNATURAL grace. Thus the situation OUTSIDE DOES change because YOU have changed INSIDE. What was once overbearing and determined your disposition suddenly shrinks down to a size that you can dominate and now enhances your personal sense of capability. So many times we have met a majority of poor and oppressed people but within that large group there is an individual of an entirely different disposition and thus proves it all depends on EACH PERSON to be vulnerable to the gospel of faith. The people of Jesus day lived in worse conditions. How did He relate? What could He offer them? Divine theory? Did He stop off to buy some soccer balls and hoola hoops to pass out to people? Did He hand out zoo passes or CD’s teaching of a “Give and you will get” formula ? The gospel changes men from the inside out. INDIVIDUALS! The sole requirement is FAITH.
No matter how long or how “serious” a person is about striving to be a “Christian” if they are honest they will admit that nothing significant ever really changes in their life. The ceiling of “church” prevents it. Jesus, the Person, the One Who brings His Father’s joy, is the answer. But how do you get to HIM through all of “IT” ? INDIVIDUAL effort. The other day we were carrying signs through a gigantic market place. It reminded us exactly of India. Just an overall oppression of poverty and hopelessness. Yet for the most hopeless there is hope. One person here. One there. For those in the most utter darkness is light. We have to get beyond all the unbelief and despair and base our attitude not one what we see but what we believe in God’s Word. Do we really believe God can give anyone a real means of escape? If not then God is a liar and the whole gospel is a sham. Such a culture as this is the real test of the gospel.
Joshua caught the scene of a naked woman crouched up on a street corner completely humiliated and desperate. She was frozen in absolute shame. What could she possibly do to even be able to try to remedy her dilemma? Couldn’t move. He was by himself and being a man what could he do? He went and bought a dress for her and gave it to her. A bit later he saw her finally able to walk about. No big deal just a sense of the reality of so many. So many aimless and destitute. Real people. One day, long ago, they were each little peanuts in the arms of a mother not knowing the horrors that awaited them in their future. It is our job to take them back to being a child and re route their lives onto a path that will lead them out and UP.
So many children who, by nature, should be laughing and clowning have faces being molded by the attitude of their parents into frowns at such an early age. You got to give them a dream… a dream of hope…a dream of change….a dream of a caterpillar. The dream becomes a reality from a mustard seed of faith. ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. Faith has power. No fairy tale. Satan knows it better than you do. To his dismay he’s seen it.
Yesterday a woman started crying when, after asking whether a bird can become a fish, or a dog a cat, I asked if a man can become an entirely DIFFERENT man….or a woman a different woman. God knows what she was dealing with. But she came up afterwards with such an open and broken heart.God has actually composed a means whereby a man can become a different man and a woman can actually become ANOTHER woman! Not a renewed woman. Not a better woman. Not a happy one day sad the next. A different man a different woman. Nothing less than a “NEW CREATION” (2 Cor.5:17). This is a promise and a holy God CAN not lie. But a wicked man does so by nature.
Peru is so very different than Colombia. In so many ways the people reflect the history of their culture. We learn more each time we go out. There is a lot of “evangelical” influence that is quite an obstacle. It is a system of delusion and false reality that breeds hopelessness and even mental illness. A pagan enters a system of lies. He realizes that, in a bizarre way, all who are involved have resigned themselves to a conspiracy of hypocrisy. No one has any actual idea of how the death and resurrection works so they just pretend. They never find any practical answers to their complex problems. But everybody is doing it so it must be right. They are supposed to act happy, because of Christ, yet nothing but hopelessness fills their minds and hearts. They become content with a temporary hype based on terms and ideas that have no basis in the reality of their lives. The good thing is that many of them, when confronted, realize and admit it. The mask like misery etched in their facial makeup contradicts everything Jesus reveals. What is very beautiful, as we saw last night, is to behold the actual dawning of light on a person’s face when one realizes that all of that is a lie; “SO THIS IS THE TRUTH OF JESUS?!”.
The city driving is insane here. Abraham had the ladder on the side of our van ripped off by another car the other day. Imagine the scene of bumper cars at a carnival only on city streets and you got an accurate picture. We thought it was bad in many other countries but this place takes the prize for “crazy”. Every day the danger of being on these roads is no little thing. It is normal for cars in any lane to just cut across in front of you to turn. We don’t know how long the Lord will have us stay here. It surely won’t be like Bogota. We are thinking that we will head on to Bolivia which is another extremely long desert but also mountain drive.