Happy Semana Santa, everyone! (Semana Santa is “Holy Week”, or, the week before Easter Sunday)
Speaking of Easter, for those of you who are curious, they do not eat ham for their Easter dinner here in Peru. They eat fish, “the food of our Lord”, since that’s mostly what Jesus ate. Pretty neat concept. But my rebellious nature can’t help but crave the huge, tasty, Jewish-law-breaking ham that is traditionally served in the U.S. But this year Walter and I will be celebrating with a group of missionary friends who are providing a smorgasbord of chicken salads. I guess it doesn’t matter what you eat as long you understand the reason for the celebration: not only that Jesus Christ died in place of us to pay for our sins, but that he defeated all sin and was resurrected to heaven where he awaits our arrival into the perfect eternity he so graciously offered us through his sacrifice. John 3:16 (NIRV) says, “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.” If you just skipped reading that because you think it’s cliché or lame, I encourage you to go back and actually read it. Think about it. If you don’t understand it or never really gave it any thought before, feel free to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about it or any other verse you might be pondering. I’m no expert, but I’d be willing to share whatever the Lord has revealed to me about his Word.
I’m happy that, here in Peru, I get the chance to share the Word with others by being a part of a team of Peruvian average Joes who volunteer their time and talents to organizing bi-weekly youth meetings in town. This youth group is called Alto Voltaje (“High Voltage”). We come together once every two weeks for a time of fellowship, fun, worship and a biblical message. As I’ve mentioned before, Walter is part of the team that organizes games and activities and he also is part of the praise band. I work with Jimmy Sisley to come up with the biblical message for each week and use the internet to research other tools such as videos and stories that pertain to the lesson.
Last week we had to cancel the youth group meeting due to violent protests in the city over gas prices. The protests were going on in another city a two and half hour drive away as well. During this time no gasoline or food was coming into Pucallpa and most people didn’t risk leaving their homes. School and work was canceled. Thankfully it only lasted about 3 or 4 days, but those were some long days of staying locked up inside to avoid getting attacked by angry protesters who would steal your tires and burn them in the street. Unfortunately, a few people even died during these protests, though I doubt that made headlines in any newspaper. It may have made the news, but most of us don’t know since the city of Pucallpa turned off power and water for a day or two as a threat to get everyone to settle down. It worked. Everything is now back to normal…even the gas prices. Here are a few pictures that some other friends or missionaries managed to get during the protests.
Burning ties in the street
Police try to control street fires
The streets were empty and all the stores/business were closed
Those who had no choice but to go out paid off police to escort them for protection
I don’t mean to scare any of you by telling stories like this, but this is part of life here in Peru. It’s not that protests such as this are common, but they’re certainly not abnormal either. The corruption amongst the government and the people is out of control. I know that everyone says that the United States is on a rocky path right now, too, but let this story be a warning to the chaos and loss of control that will come if the American people don’t start standing up for themselves and educating themselves on how to take care of our nation.
I know that the purpose of this blog is not to be a political soapbox, but I believe that the political realm is a missionary field as well. The Lord sends some to far-away countries, but to others he says, “stay.” That doesn’t mean that those who stay are not called to be missionaries. It simply means that they are to be missionaries right in their home country. Jesus taught us to feed and clothe the poor, but don’t you think that if we cleaned up our nation, took care of the corruption, there might be less poor to feed and clothe? What if instead of giving a poor man a coat, I dedicated some time to research political candidates and vote for the one who will put more jobs in place, allowing this same man and many others the means to buy their own coats. Is that not also a way to clothe the poor?
Ok, I see that I’m starting to get preach-y so I’ll end it here. But please do think about these things. Please spend some time listening to Lord and asking him how He would have you serve him in the context of your own culture and home-town.
If you’ve gotten this far and are still reading, thank you. I hope that the length and intensity doesn’t make you decide to not read my blog in the future. My next blog will probably include pictures of my newborn son, who is due to grace us with his presence in about 5 weeks, on May 22, 2014! If you’re less of an analytical thinker and more emotional, you’ll probably appreciate that one, so stay tuned! Thanks again for reading. God bless!