Friday, October 28, 2011

Beauty From Ashes

      I arrived at the church on Sunday to discover that instead of setting things up, fine tuning the sound system, and getting organized, we were doing damage control and itemizing what was missing. We had been not only robbed, but viciously and maliciously attacked by vandals.  I know that the church is on the front of the spiritual warfare that is engaged in the world, but this still took the wind out of our sails.

      The theft was limited to three guitars, but the destruction went beyond that.  They added insult to injury by urinating all over our sound board and frying it.  They slashed our drum set, and then cut the wires that enable us to do simultaneous translation of our service so that we can teach God’s word bilingually. Our church has not ‘offended’ anyone other than through holding to the Gospel in the midst of a catholic and a pagen society.  I guess that it is our offensive truth that caused the vandalism.  The theft I understand, but peeing on the equipment?  That is just hatred.  Hatred of God.  Hatred of truth.  Hatred of the church.

      We had our service thanks to the hard work of a group of Christians, but emotionally I kept struggling between anger, frustration, and pity.  Since then, I have spent this week praying about this, a principle of the Scripture came to me, and I believe that God is going to practically apply it in this case.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, (Psa 30:11)

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

       Here is what I am thinking.  What if God used this attack and turned it into a blessing?  My church is not wealthy.  We live in Bolivia, the poorest country in North, Central and South America.  We don’t have a lot of money to put into equipment, whether we are purchasing new items or replacing broken ones.  To be honest, we could use new sound equipment, speakers, microphones, cables, computer, etc.  We could use it, but don’t have the money to purchase them.  However, now we are in a position where we have to purchase some items.

      So, what if the end result of our robbery and vandalism…of this spiritual attack by the enemy…was that we came out better than we were before?  Wouldn’t it be cool if we did not just ‘replace’ our equipment, but ended up with GOOD stuff?  Wouldn’t it be a slap in Satan’s face if this malicious event ended up blessing the Kingdom of God?

      It can.  You can be blessed.  We can be blessed.  Cochabamba can be blessed.  Satan can be ticked off.  I have arranged with my home church in the States, Blue Ridge Bible Church, to receive money for my church here in Bolivia.  The purpose of these gifts is for our church to purchase needed equipment and supplies.  My prayer is that we end up with a lot of money, way more than we need to replace our equipment.  I am praying that we could reimburse the two men who had their guitars and pedals stolen, and then buy a better sound board, nicer microphones, and improve our speakers. 

      I am praying for beauty from ashes, for mourning to be turned into dancing.

     So, send your money to Blue Ridge Bible Church 770 South 20th Street Purcellville VA 20132.  Be sure and write on the memo, FOR CIC BOLIVIA.  We will give people a few weeks to respond, and then Blue Ridge will send a check for the amount to the Cochabamba International Church here in Bolivia.

      Let me make sure that I clarify something.  This is NOT a fundraising effort for me or my ministry.  NONE of these monies will go to the Holmans in any way.  This is a way for churches and Christians in America to work with a sister church in Bolivia and help her live out the victory in Christ.

In Jesus,

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Migrant Worker

How about a different perspective to all of my anti-immigration friends out there?  I am an immigrant.  I have moved to another country and am seeking to establish permanent residency there.  Because of this, I have a, shall we say, more rounded viewpoint of the whole immigration issue that is currently a political platform in the USA.  Let me give you a little insight.
If you look at that photo, you will see over 360 pages of documents inside.  I am not finished.  This three ring binder is 95% complete…for my ONE YEAR visa.  Before I get my permanent visa which gives me permission to live here as a resident-alien indefinantly, I have to get a one year, then a two year, then a five year visa.  Each visa cost money and entails a ton of paperwork.  I was thinking about writing an article making fun of some of the requirements (like I had to show that my Bolivian landlord had paid his last month’s electric bill…to get my visa…what does his electric bill have to do with me?).  But instead, I thought I would just talk about the process and maybe shed some light on an issue in the States.
I added it up, and so far I have spent $6,922 on my American and Bolivian paperwork.  That is $692.20 per person.  The Bolivian side of this has been $4672, or $467 per person.  Before I receive my permanent residency I will spend another $500/each.  It costs right at $1,000 to go from visiting foreigner to resident alien.
I am from the USA.  I have advanced degrees and come from a middle/upper middle class area.  I have resources and access to resources.  THANK YOU ALL OF YOU THAT SUPPORT US!!!!
I am from the wealthiest country in the USA, where the median household income is $46,326.  My point is this: I have a great backing and some financial foundations to stand on, and this amount of money HURTS.  I was shocked to find out that it was this much. To keep costs down, I did all the legwork myself, including five trips to Consulates and Embassies.  In spite of that, I am choking on the amount of money that it cost me to get my residency.
Now, are you ready for something?  If I were a Bolivian wanting to move to the USA, then I would have to spend MORE THAN it cost for a United States Citizen to move to Bolivia.  It cost more money to legally move TO the United States from here than it cost to move FROM the USA to Central or South America. The median income in Bolivia is about $1,000.  If I were migrating to the USA from Bolivia, I would have to pay over one year’s salary in American fees.  That would be like you paying $46,000 to move to Bolivia.
My first point?  It is not impossible, just highly improbable for the average person to be able to legally migrate in the USA from Mexico and South. (for more on this, such as the hype about the ‘free-loading’ and the ‘cost to the taxpayer’ see my earlier blog )  Wherever you want to take this in your thoughts/arguments about immigration, take it and run.  It is just something to think about, and something that I have thought about a lot since I am in the process and incurring the huge financial burden of being legal.  I just find myself asking, “What would I do if I couldn’t live where I live, but couldn’t afford to move somewhere else?”
My second point is this.  We should all be migrant workers.  Our job is to move through this desolate place called earth, working our way to our true home.  Our King and our Kingdom is not of this world.  As a migrant worker, I should be constantly on the move THROUGH the land, not building a castle in it.  My home is not here.  My home is not now.  It is there.  It is then.  I am walking and working my way through this world.  One day I will be home, and my Father will welcome me into the City He has prepared.  I will lay all my burdens down.  I will enter into His Rest.  I will worship Him without sin in my life, my presence or the world.  I will experience true joy, true passion and truly experience experiencing for the first time.
This world is not my home, so why am I always so intent on behaving as if it were?

Leia Mais…