++ Graduation! A Mile Marker Reached ++

When we reach the finish line of a major accomplishment, we experience satisfaction and joy. Graduation brings a sense of relief. It’s that feeling of “I’m finally done!”  And there’s the “I can’t believe I’m done” exuberance on top of it all! Graduation means a whole lot of things for everyone. But, one thing graduation is NOT: it is not the end of the road to learning.

This June our youngest daughter, Andrea, who is a junior in High School, worked with discipline, with determination and with patience to complete the year. Good grades don’t come easy for her, so it takes a lot of effort! 

With her third year of High School almost behind her she was looking forward to taking some pleasure in the Junior-Senior Banquet. There was the decorations, and the class planning meetings and the decisions about who does what. She and all of the other Juniors created and rehearsed and then filmed short videos with messages and jokes for the Seniors. The small group of juniors put their best foot forward and in so doing, made for a really sweet night of memories, laughter, photos and yes…good-byes.

But after all that effort and planning in advance, one little snag changed it all for Andrea: she contracted a bad cold the day before the banquet, making it impossible for her to attend! She had spent weeks preparing for that all-important night, but would not be there to see it all. For this Junior, the year ended with unexpected abruptness.

What does this family story have to do with the missionary endeavor? We, like Andrea, have worked in anticipation of reaching a goal. We have organized, trained, planned, prayed and discussed the many facets of our goal. Our mission team worked for long months and together we sensed that God was leading and working in us to complete a certain plan. What we did not expect was that one very important part, one valuable member of the team, would not be there to see the goal reached. Although no one saw it coming, one of our partners would bail just before reaching the finish line.

With that unexpected change comes various consequences: the efforts are detained, the goal appears to be unreachable and possibly the team will be stalemated in this aspect of the work. How do we interpret this detour? What is point of this set back? And why does the team have to face the delays, frustrations, and unfulfilled longings in place of what appeared to be God’s clear leading and desire for us?

Recently the team we serve with has been forced to accept and to deal with delays in team member appointment, project financing, churches that should or could have become self-supporting and autonomous…all a bit of just some of the ways we’ve come close to reaching a “graduation” in some aspect of the ministry, but then a missionary had to leave, and did or could not continue.  The detours, these forced retooling of plans and ministries have brought us up short and like it or not, have forced our team to rethink our objectives. Just like Andrea, we thought we were nearly reaching the completing of an exciting and significant accomplishment, but then the whole picture changed.

Like it or not, teenagers face hard moments of disappointment that teach them lessons about life: about delayed gratification, about having a mature look at the matters of life, and the way that one handles those matters. Andrea can be at peace that at least she did her part for the good of the cause.

The same truth can be applied to our missionary team, and for us personally. If we have done our part through prayer, in seeking God’s will, in leaning on the Lord for at every turn, then even if the results don’t turn out as planned, we can be confident that the cause still is progressing, the Name of Christ is being held up, the work of making disciples around the world still moves ahead.

While it might seem more acceptable when looking at set backs, moral failure and spiritual struggles as one way God teaches us, maybe there is another lesson too. When a missionary colleagues leaves the field this may leave the team strategies in ruins, leaving one to wonder what to make of it.  I have seen missionaries change mission agencies  only to return to the same country. I have also witnessed missionaries who depart from the ministry itself, which has caused a major delay in the expected plans.

It’s in these situations that I feel we need to ask the question: what should be priority on the mission field, family or personal goals? Or team and country goals? In other words, to make the most of a strategy, those struggles and setbacks could be a way that God trains us to actually SEE and THINK of the strategy from His view point, rather than our own.

So like Andrea, we have learned that even after graduation, or in her case, the year-end banquet, we still have much to learn in the missions endeavor.  When we run into setbacks, we see personal failure and team dysfunction. But when God sees setbacks, as the Lord the Harvest, He opens a new perspective to us to learn about ourselves and about how he does His work. Before graduation comes, the lessons must be learned. What is that? God’s work of missions is God’s first priority, and His strategy of making disciples of all peoples, all tribes, all peoples. His goal will not be frustrated!

One Biblical example comes to mind that illustrates this principle, the situation of Paul and Barnabas whose team ended up being dissolved over a difference of opinion. The text states “and there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed..” (Acts 15:39-40, ESV)  The two premier missionaries of the early church…SEPARATED WAYS? Yes, their difference of opinion over a former teammate brought a team dysfunction. Was that the end of the  missionary enterprise? NO! It was only a new configuration of that team, and out of the setback came two teams.

And they soon were out on the missionary trail again. Even though a hard time for the missionary team, the Lord used it to bring about a new team and through it, cover more ground, train more leaders, and reach more people with the Gospel. May that be how we can see today the challenges so many servants face. God uses them to train our vision of the way He does the work. This means we can look at setbacks as graduations in our missions outlook.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.
Santiago, Chile

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Mercy Killing Increasing in Europe

Can you believe it? A society that is supposed to defend the defenseless (as with the handicapped) and protect the innocent (ex. animals) and nurture the weak (for instance the sick and the terminally ill) now defends mercy killing. See this FACTUAL SOURCE:


If you visited the link above for ProCon.org, you will notice something here. All but two are European countries. Meaning…? Those countries leading the world in economics and medicine are also those with the least amount of hope and or belief in the ability of money or science to SAVE people, to SAVE LIFE. Merely looking at statistics we can see the the conviction that live is worth saving has no direct relationship with wealth or education. Again, these European countries are among the richest and most educated in the world. Exempting the fact that Canada is every bit as secularized and humanistic in its belief system (Canada also approves PAS), this startling fact of those countries that allow euthanasia and Physician assisted suicide (PAS) shows the depths of the despair and the disdain for human life.

May the United States of America finally make a difference now that the Supreme Court has on the bench a judge who understands life related issues from a dignified view of human life and who understands that one’s own opinion of what is “convenient” and what is “expedient” does NOT validate determining end of life issues. Life is a constitutional RIGHT. No one can take that away from me…not EVEN myself.

The decision is not about “liberal” vs. “conservative,” but simply about preciousness of life versus “individualism.” I hope that the USA doesn’t follow the nihilism of Nietzsche, lest sooner, rather than later, the world become populated by “the last man” (as he called the desperate, immoral and aimless human beings).

The LAST MAN will be those who know NO VALUES of any kind, which will enable them to dispose of, treat as useless and dispose of anyone, anything and any idea that does not meet popular approval.

THINK ABOUT IT on Nov. 8th as you vote.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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Balancing My Roles as Dad to an MK

I have mixed emotions as I think about our who I am as a father. I am a missionary. And when a missionary is visiting the United States, or wherever his/her home is, coming back to that place sometimes urges one to do some self-evaluation. Returning to where your roots are stirs you to ask, “how far have I come since I was here last time?” I have been thinking just that: “how am I doing as a Dad for my children?”

As  I think about my role as a father, some challenges pop into my mind. Yes, being a dad from the “front seat of a car”, where I am supposed to provide insight and wisdom to a teenage daughter proves a distinct challenge. Here are two of those challenges.

 First challenge: keep the school work top priority. Yes, we cannot let our daughter be “truant” just because we are 5,000 miles away from school. Home schooling an 11th grader, facing Geometry, US History, Grammar and Science demands not only her time and effort, but one of the parents as well, who in this case, is Mom.

I am assume that you already know that while in the US for a home ministry stretch requires that school age children still study. I mean who would put up with an academic slacker? But what about the matter of motivating or insisting on that assignment being done before the student goes to a church activity or meeting? And what about reminding her that school work while not limited by strict schedules cannot be put off indefinitely? And all this, while still showing parental concern about what she does or doesn’t understand. She is, after all my student and my daughter!

Sometimes this matter of trying to fulfill both roles—both teacher and parent—as many more families have learned in the flux of the home schooling movement, that one way to deal with this is to divide the tasks between parents. One parent teaches, and the other helps review, correct, encourage, and generally “pound it into their heads!” (as a figure of speech). But, the lines are not always so clearly drawn!

Communication with your teenager

Parenting an MK poses unique challenges

And that’s where I find myself today. Our daughter is sitting on the couch, studying while Mom, who is the “first string” teacher, is preparing for the ladies meeting she is committed to speaking at today. At this juncture, the question becomes, “how do we divide the tasks this time?” And that is my challenge today.

I probably don’t have the ideal solution, but here is what I have been thinking. Since school work is a constant from now until we return to the field, and because Mom is preparing for a speaking commitment, the first priority is being “Dad” to my daughter. That means, keep reminding her of the assignments while offering study helps. But, if the student runs low on energy, I will step in and be there to support, to help share the burden, and be a source of encouragement, rather than be a hard-nosed teacher. After all, as I always say, “there are only 4 people who can call me Dad, and they will always deserve the best I can give them.”

The second challenge, not just for an MK or while in the States traveling, is how to instill in our daughter, or any of our children, true spiritual-mindedness and a tender heart for God and His Word? Of course this question requires much more thought and time. And actually it is one we have been asking ourselves for over 20 years or more, since our oldest daughter became a teenager. It’s a question that so many missionary parents wrestle with, especially when we know that our teenagers must fight (I use that word seriously) to live between two cultures, two “boxes” if you will, as a way of life. I am not here zeroing in on the “tri-culture kid” reality so much. I am only thinking of how to guide a teen to have a tender heart toward the things of God, and specially, toward spiritual genuineness. I want her to not be not trapped or swept away in the current trends of pop culture, infinitely unending distractions and critical attitudes toward all that is anchored in a moral and spiritual certainty.

My take on this subject ranges from the more structured, such as give the teen a spiritual journal, spending time every day in family Bible study and discussion and putting a Bible app on her tablet, to providing a more relaxed way like finding windows of opportunity to talk openly about issues, struggles, fears, or putting good reading material in her hands, or just sharing personal lessons from life. It is crucial after all that she learns to stand against those practices that are self-destructive. The reality is, however, that there is probably never just “one silver bullet” to meet the need in a teen’s life!

While not trying to over simplify things, at this point in time, our teen’s spiritual life needs to be built up, encouraged and supported. She has been getting to know a pastor’s wife in one of our supporting churches. The pastor’s wife asks simple, loving and open ended questions, which are to draw out her deeper thoughts and feelings. Through this simple, personable and timely approach which I have witnessed in just two short encounters with this pastor’s wife, that lady is on to something! She is building a friendship with our teen and opening up windows into her soul. Looking and listening, asking and digging in, helping her see and understand her own reality as she grows, matures, and faces new challenges.

Spiritual growth, spiritual-mindedness, tenderness towards the Word and toward God himself can often come in little doses and from other fellow pilgrims. Praise God for a chance for our MK to hear from other people as with this caring, joyful cancer survivor who as a pastor’s wife who just knows when and how to ask a valid and yet constructive question!

What to do to help our teenage daughter respond to God’s love and truth? One great option is to let her see it played out in the life of others who also love and follow the Lord. That can open doors to her heart, and allow me as Dad, to show that parents can learn too.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.
Atlantic City, NJ

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Do Missionaries Need Friends?

At first glance this question may seem to have an obvious answer. “Of course they do! All people need friends.” True as that may be, a genuine friendship for many missionaries is not easy to come by. Nor it is easy to keep. Here are a few reasons why.

First of all, a genuine, open, mutually supportive friendship requires contact: person, real, regular contact. That is exactly what many missionaries do not have. Why? Well first of all, because they live and work in far away lands. And even when they return to their home country (this is true of North American, Canadian and all other national missionaries), they return to a place that no longer looks like nor feels like home. As a result, while a missionary longs to feel “at home again,” circumstances, context and surroundings often work against it.

Secondly, friendships take time to cultivate. Here again, many missionaries are pressed for time. Just to return to their home land is a mad rush of weeks of pressure. This pressure comes from needing to wrap up many details and often, transfer responsibilities, ministries and normal, every day “home life” tasks to others in their respective country of ministry. Once in their home country, the new pressures come to the foreground: reporting to churches, preparing visual and print information, setting up a calendar and meeting family needs. Pressures on both sides of the trip back “home” keep the missionary frazzled, and often unable to unwind or relax.

Thirdly, missionaries often feel like they need a friend when they return, but unfortunately, many people are not expecting their arrival back. Like the time when we arrived back in our home church after being gone for over four years, and were met at the door of the church by well-meaning friends who said, “Hi! What brings you back into town? Just visiting for a while?” However that was one of the very friends to whom we had recently sent an email stating the purpose and length of our travels back to the US. Of course, I am sure that once she read the email, it became abundantly clear that we were returning for a full year of furlough while one of our children attended his first year of college, and that we would be living in the church parsonage, right behind the church!

Making new friends

And fourthly, while missionaries not only need friends and want to build their friendships with new-found and long-time friends, no one really wants to be a friend to someone who is out of touch with reality, or that is not a part of one’s daily routine. A friend is a friend when you know you can count on him or her to be there in times of need. Unfortunately missionaries usually are not in any one place for very long. What does that mean? Those dear people you once thought were your close friend have moved on to other relationships in your absence. And while this is natural and normal, what a missionary may need more than anything is just someone who remembers. To remember old times, previous events, and former events you experienced together. In other words simply making them a part of your daily routine will do wonders to help them pick up where they left off in that friendship.

For that to happen requires something very simple. It requires that there be someone who opens up, who asks the tough questions, and then persists and asking, until he or she feels confident enough to answer those questions. And for that to happen of course, both the missionary and the would-be-friend need to make a time priority to meet, to talk and to listen to each other…until the call moves him on to the next phase of life. Even though he or she will have to move on, a friend still gives the time it takes to renew old relationships and to nurture one another in their new found stage of life.

In answer to the opening question, “Yes!” Missionaries need close friends. They are often secretly longing for personal, intimate and mutually healthy friendships. Honestly, not a few missionaries are looking for that right now as they seek to fulfill God’s calling while also being able to count on a few close friends to help them process and adjust to their new stage of life.

Maybe you could help a missionary find a friend…just by being one.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

 

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Life in the “Wild West”

Lawlessness was typical in the days of the expansion to the west of the United States during the 1800’s. It was “every man for himself,” as the saying goes. It was common place to carry a weapon, and even women and children were schooled in the use of firearms. Many feared the “wild savages” of the frontier lands. Saftey, the reasoning was, depended on bearing arms. Then a different kind of problem surfaced, however. They started to use the weapons to sack and destroy other colonizers for the sake of personal gain. That was the day of the reckless and feared “outlaw.” The issue was no longer saftey, rather it was to pillage and to rob. A firearm became a way to gain advantage over others.

In the United States today we may be seeing resurgence of the same wild western attitude toward our fellow citizen as had dominated in the days of the west-ward expansion. People lack respect for others, only because they are in the way. People show hatred toward others just because they are odd or strange. People fear and belittle others today in the USA because they have no fear of God. And it now would appear in even schools and the public market place (such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida) the lives of others are dispensable in the eyes of a few “outlaws” who have turned their backs on a sense of law and order.

(Photo: Time.com, 3-2-2018)

How did we get here? Why are so many mass murders happening in the USA? What is going on in the heart of America?

The answer to that question is not an easy one. Some think the answer is in the gun control laws, or in the minimum age to purchase assault weapons. Others see the cause in politicians who are unwilling to change or improve laws at the risk of losing their sponsors (like the NRA or major manufactures of firearms). Popular rhetoric almost always chooses to burn the straw man in spite. It sort of helps to bring some catharsis to the pain. So far, in just 2018 over 100 people have been killed by random acts of violence in the USA. And the pain continues to grow.

However, it is worth noting that virtually every democratic nation in the world allows its citizens to own and bear firearms. The issue of owning a gun has nothing to do with whether or not a person will chose to aim that gun and fire it at an innocent person. If someone has come to a point where he or she (and more often that not it’s a man!) where it makes no difference who he kills or injures with his weapon, the boy could have a BB gun or a pocket knife and still cause severe damage to some people nearby. It’s not gun ownership that causes mass shootings. The cause lies deeper…in the motives of the person who chooses to kill and harm others.

While not trying to oversimplify the causes, experience shows that a person who has not learned to control his anger or to forgive those who have hurt him may become a time bomb. Sooner or later he may explode! Over and over again men are belittled, berated, baulked at or bullied…and then the lash out to try to settle the score. This leads to having men who are angry, at themselves and at others. The result: men who have lost their manhood and are told to get out of the way. Men are told they have no value it they don’t prove their toughness, their power or their independence. Some find that the only way to recover their manliness is to destroy the weak.

What causes that boy or man to feel that way? More and more we are realizing that it is often rooted in the family. Our families are dysfunctional, oppressive, and led by foolish, weak men who have no convictions about their role in the home. The problem starts where we all live day in an day out…right in our out back yards.

As the epidemic of mass shootings grows in the USA, we must wake up to the elephant in the room. The problem is us: it is our way of thinking of ourselves and our way of looking at others. America, come to your senses! Stop blaming others. We are the problem. A lawless spirit finds its home in every human heart that is bent on getting its own way. When the seed of anger and hatred is watered by a lawless and vengeful spirit, the result of often a dangerous root of bitterness that soon produces the fruit of harmful actions and thoughts

America, please hear this simple truth! We have “stopped up our ears” and will continue to suffer if we reject reality. With simple and penetrating accuracy the Lord Jesus warned “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12, NASB)

How long will we turn a deaf ear to the warning signs all around us? He wants to remove that spirit of lawlessness and put in its place a heart of compassion and trust. But first the United States, as with all people in all lands, need to repent of that lawless, willful, and persistent stubbornness called sin and selfishness. We must come by simple faith to the cleansing fountain of the healing waters that Christ offered.

Only those who know they are sick go to the doctor for help. America is sick and we need to run to the only Physician who can heal the heart…to Christ Jesus Himself.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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Time Priorities in a Frazzled Culture

Today, in the past 24 hours, how much time have you spent on social media? How long you do linger over the news on the internet, all the while clicking on the adds, the promos and the links…the eternal, never-ending links for the “up- next- breaking- news” items? Let me put it this way: are you an addict of the media? Are you losing touch with reality because of always thinking about or looking at the hot topics on the social media?

In Spanish social media is called the “redes sociales” or the social networks. There are an infinite number of people, places and things that you can connect to via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. But, what are you stealing time from to spend that time on the networks? Who is missing out on your personal interaction and your personal discussion because you are handcuffed to the social networks?

A friend sent me a funny but very telling image on “Whatsapp” recently (yep! I got it from a social network!). The image tells a sad truth. That is: we need to free up time from the social media, from the news broadcasts, from the blogs and podcasts and the constant flow of information that bombards our minds each day! We need to break away from the habitual diet of music, commentaries, entertainment and the ever-growing information highway. But when (and if) we do what will you fill that time with? In other words, how will you “renew your mind” (Rom. 12:1)?

las redes que nos esclavizan, nets that control us

The image above points to a sad truth for our teens and young adults…and not a few older adults that I know! Phones, iPads, tablets and computers are great tools. But they can control you! The Spanish text above the image states “…and leaving their nets, they followed Him.” In other words, leaving behind the “social nets” (“redes”), you and I can more possibly follow Christ with undivided attention. Do you and I benefit from the social media? Of course. Do you and I live attached to social media? More than we want to admit.

Here are a few suggestions that I would like to encourage you to try…maybe you will begin to break a habit and build new, healthier ones, while also blessing and encouraging others.

  • Take the extra 10 or 20 minutes you would have dedicated to Facebook and call a friend or a brother in Christ. Ask how you can pray for him or her. And then, pray right there on the phone for him/her!
  • Read two or three extra chapters in the Word of God, followed by opening up a notebook and writing down the thoughts and lessons learned. Make time to process and to capture what the Lord is saying to you.
  • Open up a new book on your Kindle, and start reading it. Rather than looking all over Amazon or “Best Buy” to find your favorite gadget or new accessory, look for a biography of a missionary, of a person God worked through in some special way, and examine her or his testimony. Learn from the victories and the mistakes of others.
  • Put a good symphony on your sound system, fix yourself a cup of herbal tea and sit and talk, face to face, with your spouse or son or daughter or friend. Leave the digital talk behind momentarily and practice talking face to face. You will really enjoy it! Even if it seems awkward at first.
  • Listen to each other, rather than just “texting” or imaging each other. Focus on the moment, on the heart feelings, on the heart attitudes of your family and friends. Open yourself up to their input and then bless them for what they share with you.

Our intake of social media and digital communication need to be limited. That is true of any good thing. Too much dessert is not good for your sugar levels or the fat intake. But an occasional brownie with ice cream is a treat. Likewise let your use of and time in front of the screen be brief and specific.

As Solomon so aptly instructs “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, but the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth” (Proverbs 17:24, NASB). Let your focus be on that which you can best touch and respond to, not on those things or people or events that are “at the ends of the earth!”

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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My Travels towards Contentment

Back in Chile, we are! Back home, back in the southern hemisphere. We are back in the place where God has called us.

Since arriving in Chile back in January we’ve found ourselves reflecting the needs of the moment that abound in this culture and society. Chile is predominantly Roman Catholic. It is a western culture and her people largely live for the moment. Chileans enjoy the present. Life is about what today offers…about the immediate.

I too love to enjoy the present. But not at the expense of the future. My focus is to look at what God is teaching me now, in light of what He wants me to learn for tomorrow.

One example is the matter of being contented with where I am in life. As I rode my bike today for my weekly trek I was praying for God to touch the hearts of the unsaved people I know…as I prayed for myself too. Then the thought came to mind: what God often uses to bring people to himself is their own feelings of discontentment with life. Just yesterday a young woman that Ruth Ann is discipling told us that for years she had a feeling that she needed to find out more about God but was afraid to do so. Suddenly cancer brought her to life to a halt, and following the surgery she began to sense that her life was missing something. A sense of inner discontent opened her eyes to her lack of a relationship with the God she never knew.

However for me as a child of God, one of the great privileges I have is to know that my Heavenly Father cares for me and that He is fully attuned to my needs. He is the “giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).” He is the source of our satisfaction. In the Person of our Living God and Creator we find rest, joy and contentedness.

When you think about that truth, expressed for instance by Paul when he clearly affirms “..for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11b), you can see that our travels through life are designed, in part, to teach us to learn to be content. The thing is, we are not untouched by our surroundings, we cannot disconnect from our reality. These things tend to pull us down and create discontentment. If you and I are honest, when we are discontented, it is much easier to “turn our eyes”…not upon Jesus, but upon the world, its pleasures and its toys.

I am thankful for a God who patiently teaches us to rest on Him. Sometimes He does it through need. Sometimes he does so through hurt in our dearest relationships. Sometimes he does so through sudden loss. But every time He does, the goal is to bring us back to the “Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17b NIV). If you are feeling discontented, ask yourself, “If all I had were God’s presence and company, could I, would I, be contented with Him?”

lightstock_939_medium_david

When we move away from God, we find that nothing satisfies. When we rest in His life and sustenance, we find only HE satisfies. In reality only HE can bring contentment.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min

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