I love Mexicans...especially my wife :) but it wasn't always that way. Three weeks before I graduated from The Master's College, a friend of mine was in my room, sifting through Spanish flashcards, when he said to me, "Josiah, you're really good with languages, why don't you learn Spanish?" I retorted quickly, "Why would I want to do that?"
I was a biblical languages major. I had learned Greek and Hebrew, at least in my mind, to unsheathe the Sword of God's Word for the nations. Yet my comment revealed the true nature of my heart. I was stuck in the middle of Los Angeles, where the predominant language is Spanish, and yet I wouldn't lift a finger to reach them. I went to my room in tears that night, praying that God would forgive me for my very prejudiced comment.
That day I began praying that the Lord would give me a love for Hispanic people (A prayer He answered much more specifically than I had ever anticipated in Crystal). So, not more than two months after I graduated, it was arranged for me to fly down to Guadalajara Mexico to learn Spanish from a non-english speaking Missionary Family.
Upon returning, I took the position as a Hospital Chaplain at LA County Hospital. Since about 80% of the patients are Spanish speaking, I have been daily confronted with the needs of Hispanic people. At the Hospital, under the discipleship of Chaplain Phil Manly, I have learned many things. One of the more important ones is the need to disciple others. As I shared in our January Newsletter, the answer that we see to the overwhelming needs of the Hispanic Community, is not only to serve them, but also to train Native Spanish-Speaking Pastors. They will be able to minister far more effectively than we would ever be able to do. This is for two reasons. First, they not only understand the language/culture better than I can, but they are accepted far easier than I am. Secondly, if I can see 50 people in a day, 100 trained pastors can see 5,000.
Therefore, when Luis Contreras told us what the Lord was doing in Mexico City, how the Lord is blessing the Seminary so greatly that they have to turn people down because of the lack of faculty, we knew what the Lord would have us do.
-What will we be doing in Mexico?
Our primary role will be at the Seminary "Palabra de Gracia" (Word of Grace). Some of you may remember that I taught there Spring 2005. Among the other classes I will be teaching, one of the most exciting projects that I am looking forward to is the chance to establish the Biblical Languages program. Very few materials are available to the Spanish speaker to learn Greek or Hebrew, so I look forward to writing as much as possible to help.
Another need for the Seminary is for someone to promote it. Mexico City has around 35 million people in the Metropolitan area. We will have the opportunity to travel throughout the city and speak in different locations, spreading the word that there is a Biblically based Seminary in Mexico City...something more rare than you might think.
Since the majority of the students at the Seminary must keep their full time jobs to support their families, classes take place from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. This answers another question many have asked, which is, "What will Crystal be doing." While she would respond, "Washing my husband's socks," being the wife of a Seminary Professor / Assistant Pastor will entail much more than that. One of the nice things about the Mexican culture is the hospitality. For example, wives of the faculty cook meals for the students, since the majority of them come straight from work. Also, we plan on taking an assistant pastorate, which will provide many opportunities for both of us to minister. Crystal, especially, will be able to work with the women and children of the church.
Mexico City is a very spiritually dark area. The country of Mexico is predominantly Catholic, however, the more free-thinkers of Mexico City combine their Catholicism with a little Aztec Mysticism and Post-Modernism. The few Christians that do emerge are typically radical Charismatics, since fleeing from the rigid sacramental Catholic system typically sends them seeking a more emotional religion.
Please pray, that the Gospel light would shine clearly in our message, and that men and women would find He who is, The Light of the World.
-When do you leave, and how long will you be gone?
A man plans his way, but the Lord determines his every step (Prov. 16:9).
That being said, we are planning to leave for Mexico City at the beginning of June 2007. However, because of the difficulties that doctors think I will face, we do not plan on staying forever. For this reason, we have only made a two year commitment. Of course, I'm sure many are curious what our plans will be after that...so are we. As the Lord directs, we will keep you informed.
-How can you pray for us?
First and foremost, we desire to be faithful. Please pray that God would empower us to divide His truth rightly, and stay true to the daily tasks to which He has called us.
My health is also a major concern. Mexico City is one of the most polluted cities in the world. This combined with the fact that Mexico City is at an altitude of 7,500 ft. makes for a tough living environment. The first time I was there, I found it interesting that two of the first people I met were both full time respiratory therapists (They have plenty of work).
Crime is also a factor. Kidnappings and such line the papers every day. Please pray that the Lord would use us as He sees fit, and that we would be given the strength to be His witnesses in whatever situation He allows us to be in.
Please also pray that I would be enabled to clearly communicate in Spanish. While I do feel very comfortable speaking in Spanish, teaching another language in a foreign language presents some extra challenges.
Finally, there are time constraints. My doctors, because of the health challenges that Mexico City brings to my sin infested body :), have recommended that we not make Mexico City our permanent home. Our commitment of two years does not seem like enough time to accomplish all we would like. However, since God's power is made perfected in our weaknesses, we will praise Him as He provides the strength.
-What is GMI?
Very simply, GMI (Grace Ministries International) is the Missions Organization of Grace Community Church. If you would like to learn more information about GMI, you can visit the church's website at: www.gracechurch.org
TMAI (The Master's Academy International) is also a ministry of Grace Community Church. The Seminary in Mexico City, where I will be teaching, is an Academy linked to TMAI. If you would like to learn more about TMAI, you can visit their website at: www.tmainternational.org
-How can you get involved?
Crystal and I do need to raise support before leaving for Mexico. Of course, it is your prayers that we covet most, but if the Lord places it on your heart to give,
we would be very grateful. Currently we are looking for those who would commit to giving throughout our two year stay. For example, if we estimate that we will
need $3,000 a month to live in Mexico, GMI requires us to find enough supporters to commit to that amount before we leave. There are two ways made available
for you to do this. First, GMI has a website http://www.gracechurch.org/ma from which you can sign in to support us. Also, any checks can be sent to the Church
(address listed below). Finally, if you do give, please let us know. We would love to thank the Lord for you, and also need to keep record of our finances.
In May 2007, Lord willing, I will graduate from The Master's Seminary. This semester, I believe I am in my favorite class so far. It is called Preaching Lab. Basically, eight of us men are in a class where we take turns preaching at each other, and then critiquing each other :) It has been an immense blessing, not only in helping me understand how to communicate God's word more clearly, but also in spurring my own soul on toward godliness. One unique aspect of the class is that we are video taped so that we can watch ourselves afterwards and see the many things we do to hinder God's truth from being more clearly communicated. Of course I wish I could change a thousand things in each one of these sermons, but if you'd like to listen, here are the *.mp3's
Deuteronomy 3:23-27Mensajes en el idioma de los cielos:
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