A ministry of discipleship is a zig-zagged road. It's not production-based, it's people-based. Even more, a person's growth, engagement and heart change is their own. Add 7 different tribal cultures to the mix, multiple different languages and, just for fun, the slow mix of latin culture into tribal culture and you have one tough situation to decode!
All is not lost, however. Some norms remain. People need people. People need connection; to be known. People hunger for genuine connection. This is our goal - to form real connections, listen to their hearts and needs, facilitate cooperation to meet those needs and support an incredibly able generation of indigenous leadership; to give them a voice and encourage the act of listening. This is not a production-based ministry but a slow, people-based lifestyle of service.
This unfolds very differently every day here in Ecuador. Marriage counseling peppers our days. We have many conversations about boundaries with children, selflessness in marriage, nutrition, true rest and more. It is our joy to encourage our friends to dream and to reach for those dreams with a plan.
Discipleship often looks like serving. A friend is in the process of building a house for his family. This is one of their dreams. To have their own home. A small wooden jungle house with no running water or electricity is being pieced together in the corners of a jungle plot.
Connection with this particular friend was tough. His heart had a hard shell around it because of past pains and failures. His desire for connection inconsistent. One might not invest in someone so withdrawn if they weren't thinking with their "people-based" brain. Several times Chris asked to help him build his house. And finally, the offer was accepted.
While these men carried huge jungle trees through deep mud together their heart connection grew. The joking began. The sharing of food and drink. The sharing of dreams and ideas. Carrying one another's burden is a real thing, and, it makes a real difference.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
We continue to attend our little jungle church. Each week the numbers vary from low teens to the low twenties. The study is straight from scripture and the songs sung in Spanish and other tribal languages. We are growing in our love for each other and will meet on Valentines Day to celebrate together. And, contrary to the cultural norm, the men volunteered to cook!
Our last service was sweet as after the “service” ended one of the attendees asked a follow-up question. The group discussion continued for over an hour and visual aids for very complex concepts were drawn out in the dusty ground with a short stick.
Although our hineys were sore from sitting on wood planks for almost 3 hours, our hearts were full of joy when we left. What an encouragement to be a part of a dialogue and see the locals using whatever resources they have to speak truth.
This little church continues to prompt personal introspection. Do we have a stick and some dusty ground that we aren’t using to the fullest? Truth doesn’t need to be in a perfect package. It just needs to be spoken in love so light can do it’s work in darkness.