Church in the Year 2050

Fifty years ago I was a busy and often dirty faced-little boy, contented to play outdoors in the woods. My friends and I loved to climb trees, primarily because we reveled at the task of building a “tree house” up there. Our motto was “up, up and away!” The higher the tree house, the better it was. Of course it also demanded a stronger, more well-rooted tree to sustain our rickety structure. Tree houses were a great outdoor past time, but they were often left to rot in the trees since we boys grew up and soon had more exciting adventures to conquer…like dirt bikes and motorized go-carts!

Fifty years ago the local church was a safe haven for many believers and even those who were only “sympathizers.” A church could fill its pews with only a minor amount outreach. Other means of filling the church were good singing, interesting preaching and active youth programs. Neighborhood churches were a part of the local scenery and most people respected that or at least they honored the church’s place in the community. That is not the case today. Many people, like my friends and I back in the early 60’s, soon leave behind the “tree house” of the church and move on for more exciting things like “motorcycles and go-carts.” Today, many churches are being left to rot alone. No one seems to care any more. 

That is, I admit, a drastic evaluation of the church. The churches that I am most familiar with in the United States are not being left to rot. But, they may be in about 25 or 30 years. In other words, there is a trend I see that must be addressed now. The sad truth is that every year hundreds of churches are closing their doors forever. They are losing their youth, their families and their single adults. Many churches will disappear from the local scenery, because they are not reaching their communities and have no sense of a passion to make the necessary changes in order to reach the younger singles or those young marrieds who have moved on to other more exciting things, like podcast sermons, electronic Bible study groups or even the buffet style mega church with its vast variety of activities and groups.

While I do not pretend to know all the causes nor have a magical wand to wave over the problems to make them disappear, I feel that a few questions might be in order to help a church that is lagging behind in outreach or that is becoming preoccupied with paying the mortgage or keeping the staff’s salaries paid. Perhaps by looking at what we are going for, we can see how to steer through this maze of change that the church is facing. 

First, ask the “front line” leaders and workers in your local church, “when was the last time you had an unsaved person in your home to show the love of Christ and to explain the Gospel to them?” If they answer that it has been more than 6 months, then kindly suggest that they need to re-evaluate their participation in the Great Commission. The Gospel of Christ spreads most rapidly when it spreads in one-on-one settings.

Second, ask your leaders  (ask yourself): “how much time do you spend each week in prayer for the lost or for unsaved people you personally are seeking to win to Christ?” Prayer is the back bone to evangelism, and evangelism only becomes a top priority when you pray for opportunities to speak out about your faith. Do you have a list of names of the unsaved? Do you know your neighbors well enough to say “I am praying for you” and be truthful about it? One good way to tell if you are praying for the lost: your neighbors ask you to pray for them, because they know you are a person of prayer.

Third, investigate your church’s budget. Ask your treasurer or the deacon or elder in charge of finances this question: “During the past 5 years has our spending for evangelism and missions gone down, gone up or leveled off?” Once you have identified a trend, you ought to take note that trends usually are not visible until after they have already begun to have an impact. Therefore a decrease in missions giving or a reduced item for evangelism probably already has produced some weakening impact in the church’s outreach. The results may still be in the making, but it can be averted if evaluated and corrected decisively. 

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Giving out the good news! One heart at a time.

Fourth, now this question may make some uncomfortable, but be sure you ask it in a spirit of love. Ask “how has your church family demonstrated Christ’s love in some tangible means over the past year to those who are needy, defeated, beaten down, rejected by society? How is your church ministering to those you wish to reach before they are believers in the congregation?” I am convinced that the church today, as well as we believers, often attempts to rush into the evangelism mode and forget about the pre-evangelism that breaks down the walls of fear and distrust. The acts of serving, of loving and caring for the lost gain you a hearing and in turn, open the door for explaining your motives, which according to 2nd Corinthians 5:14, must the be love of Christ which controls us. 

Will there be a day that the church congregations we all know and appreciate end up like those tree houses that my childhood friends and I built some 50 years ago? Abandoned, rotting, empty, useless. Will churches in the next 25 years continue the trends we see today of the small, traditional church that soon cannot pay the bills and ends up turning off the lights forever? What possibly could be done to turn this disheartening trend around? One thing is for sure: one part of the answer is to turn our hearts to God in humble dependence and in desperate prayer, and call on Him to turn us from our complacency and coolness. If you and I are not avidly involved in evangelism, the church will soon fade away. As one well known historian has said: “the church is only one generation away from extinction.” 

The other part of that answer may come, I believe, when we see the masses of Christians take seriously their personal responsibility to witness to the lost. That starts with a renewed commitment for each one to employ his or her spiritual gifts for God’s glory and in God’s plan. One thing that the unsaved world cannot resist and that is a multitude of committed, godly, faithful believers functioning in harmony in the Body of Christ. 

The churches of 2050 will thank us for it!

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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An Unparalleled Presidential Election 2016, Final Post

united-states-flag

On the eve of the election, and after a week long seminar I participated in, I’m going to pull together my closing thoughts on the election. I ask you to hold on for a longer ride this time as I attempt to pull the draw string together on the foremost issues that offer, in my understanding of US politics, a compass to guide you and me when voting.

The first of these watershed issues is Foreign Policy. I for one do not believe that the United States ought to see herself as the global policeman. The choices and consequences on the world’s stage are so complex today that the administration can never be 100% informed of what is out there. As a United States citizen living abroad for more than three decades I have experienced the sense of embarrassment that comes from the botched attempts of one nation attempting to steer the destiny of another, like when the George W. Bush administration decided to enter Iraq because of alleged weapons of mass destruction. We all know how that turned out. Such motives are noble, but idealistic at best and in truth, crusader-like at worst. They are out of touch with the reality that we don’t live in colonial days where the “great white father” will be seen as all-wise or worthy of absolute trust.

That being the case our next president needs to have a humble view of our bilateral relations with each nation with which we cooperate. We need policies that will proof friendly, respectful, informed and especially given to honoring the national sovereignty of sister nations. Nations that honor one another promote understanding and mutual help. Why, for instance, after Hurricane Katrina, did we not see any offer or delivery of relief to those thousands left homeless from our “Allies?” Why did not the wealthier nations send in medical help or emergency shelters? If we are enjoying a relation of mutual respect, then countries who feel honored by their agreements with the US will readily offer help when we are facing wide spread devastation.

I’m all for a president who knows not only how to serve and provide assistance or relief to our Allies. But we need to achieve a mutually beneficial treatment of these nations with whom we partner. Let’s change the model we use in the White House, as it were, with this one truth: an effective foreign policy starts with mutually accepted parameters in order to achieve a reciprocal benefit and a mutual service. The U.S. is not the world’s police, not the world’s judge. 

The next watershed issue is that of Immigration. This is a ticking time bomb! I would like to think that the problem will be solved within the next administration. But the longer we delay a just, simple and humane solution to the presence of over 11 million illegal immigrants, the longer our entire society will be divided and hamstrung.

To be honest we have made this problem for ourselves. How? We are soft on crime, tolerate drug abuse, ignore the destructive nature of pornography, wink at prostitution, and especially deny white collar crime. Why would our authorities deal with this problem differently? Our culture looks the other way when it has to do with honesty and dignity. We continue  to the same with the illegal immigrant. We hire them under the table. We ask them to do things we would not ask others. We treat them as second class human beings. We even think of them as less human, because we think they are impervious to pain and suffering. Illegal immigrants are people, therefore any path to citizenship or legalization (they are two very different processes) must be humane and dignified.

But treating an immigrant with dignity implies there are laws that protect the United States people equally. We cannot offer an immigrant what we ourselves as a nation do not possess. Therefore, our next president will be called upon to insure that the native born US citizen not be displaced in any way by those seeking refuge in our country. In other words immigration flows out of the understanding that all  men and women are created equally. It is the Creator God who gives the value to every human being and therefore the steps to provide a place the visitor can identify with and call his or her home depends in large measure a biblical view of who we are as people.

As a result we need a president who begins with the basic truth of the equality of man so that we as a nation under God will retain the immense priority of treating people with dignity. That dignity begins right from the point of conception and carries through a persons entire physical life. We teach people to respect others by obeying the laws. And you teach people to obey the laws by showing that they not receive privileges without first of all proving their respect for the people that already live in the land where the immigrant longs to call his home too.

Another very important issue is Gun Control and the Second Amendment. What is at the core of this issue? Is it personal safety? Is it the right to bear arms (a phrase that comes from the Revolutionary war period)? Is the issue gun violence? Is the issue the fact that police are using their state-ordained authority without reasonable restraint (now I’m sounding like a political pundit…!)? The issue is  simply are those of us who are gun owners willing to be 100% responsible for the welfare of those around us? To own a gun is to bear a solemn oath of personal responsibility and to assume the protection of all whom we encounter while bearing that weapon. A gun is no more lethal than the one using it.

Therefore our next president will of necessity have to take the stand in favor of teaching our culture to be a nation of responsible citizens. We  need to ingrain the concepts of responsibility for our own actions. We need to teach our children in school to be responsible for their choices. We need to be a nation of responsible participants in the political process and in the development of a culture of mutual respect and mutual protection. The abuse of the Second amendment by criminals and anti socials comes from the erroneous attitude and belief that my rights are the most important  thing in life. Such a posture is FALSE.  If a person is no willing to take full responsibility for his or her choices and actions, then they are not competent to own a gun or to be granted the privilege of carrying a gun.  The point behind the Second Amendment is that all citizens are capable of making sane, healthy and wise decisions as to the use of a firearm.

Let us call upon the highest office in the land to be the staring point for the reformation of our culture to one that is law-abiding, personally responsible and committed to self preservation, not self exaltation.

I want a president who can see through to the heart of the issues! I believe that the United States will cease to lead the nations of the world by the end of next generation. Other more sober, more wise and more morally sound cultures may outpace us. But if we take our civic duty seriously we will not only be at the voting polls tomorrow, we will speak for what is right with conviction and love. We will stand with those who seek truth and justice for all. We will support those political leaders who know that they are only a small piece of the whole process and not consider themselves superior to it.

I close this series of posts just hours before the polls open, fully aware that I do not have all the answers. We will continue to struggle as a nation to see the light of day even after November 8th. But if anyone has led you believe that you should not vote or that your vote does not matter, to them I say the following: you and I are creating a reality that our grand children will live with. If you are not satisfied with today’s reality in the United States, stop complaining and start acting! Freedom is never free to those who long for it. There will be a cost. There is a cost to be a democratic nation: that cost is, in part, informed, timely, smart and decisive participation.

November 8, 2016 is the day you and I must participate in our country’s processes without doubt and without fear.

If you have read your Bible, you will see that no way is He limited to one political moment or process. I take great hope from know that God used tyrannical depots like Cyrus of Persia and Cesar of Rome to fulfill His plan and purposes. He will use this election to further his plan for the United States of America.

Most importantly, keep in mind that as you go to vote you will have repeated opportunities to speak up for the Savior! What the USA needs is God and His truth. The answer to our problems in the US is the Savior, and the way God will showcase Christ is through the local church. Point others to the living Lord Jesus Christ with sensitivity and care. Live out your faith and your faith is in the eternal God Almighty, NOT our political system.

May we, as His representatives, prove worthy of the privileges God has entrusted to us.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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An Unparalleled Presidential Race in the USA: Part 2

The SECOND ISSUE that is shaping the presidential race is climate change. The link that I posted in the previous post was only slightly helpful concerning this topic. There are three questions there that the compilers have gathered. They all refer to energy and relevant topics. Did you visit that page? There is good information there, to be sure!

Think with me about the matter of climate change. Hillary Clinton mentioned in an advertisement for her campaign the fact that her “good friend, Al Gore” has mentioned a particular issue. Frankly, that fact alone makes her position suspect, but the fact is, that Mrs. Clinton, and many in the Democratic Party, have come to accept and fully endorse the mantra of the idea that our society is on a crash course to destroy the entire planet. Her thinking along this line is questionable, but merits examination. The thing is, her platform does not provide in depth answers about the possible direction that her administration would take, if she is elected.

On the other hand, Donald Trump prefers to look at the issues from a pragmatic view point. This is true of other of his ideas in the field of the economy and the choices that the administration is called upon to make. He needs to be more informed, however, and not unlike other areas where he is out of the loop he knows where to obtain the first class help necessary to make informed choices.

The other two more well known parties and their candidates, on the other hand, have much to say about the issue of climate change. The point that I want to make here however, is not which candidate has the most viable solution to the problems of climate change, since quite honestly there is NO 100% SURE WAY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE. The American public is following the Piped Piper towards a blind dance over this matter. Unfortunately, the scientific data is in conflict on this issue. Neither Trump nor Clinton, nor Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson have the final answer on this issue. 

It makes for a good rallying point to cause young voters to get behind the candidate. For others it is a rallying point to speak out against all industrial research and developmental work that tied to or interested in using fossil fuels. The matter of climate change, unlike many other issues, is not a black and white or a “cut and dried” topic. It still needs much investigation and much clear headed and honest evaluation of the feasibility of human intervention in the planet’s climate.

Unlike other watershed issues, the matter of climate change represents other philosophical positions. Don’t be duped into thinking that this matter will change the future of the nation, such as other crucial matters (see this link to help you sort through those issues). My thinking? TAKE HEED America to those who chose to use global warming as a means of economic deterrents for the country. And especially take heed to those tho try to say that the USA is responsible for destroying the climate around the world. It’s those same people who also say that the USA has to solve all the problems of the developing nations, ignoring the fact that the best way to develop other countries to to teach the local people how to build their own economy, including how to tap their own natural resources.

When you vote next week on Nov. 8th, remember alarmists and doomsday sayers often prefer hype over common sense and the real issues of our country’s future like the matter of our national debt, our national leadership, the lack of a moral compass, the failure to protect the weak and the defenseless in our culture. Climate change is inevitable. Administrations will change in the White House. But we are still responsible to stand for the wise, reasonable and efficient use the natural resources that the United States needs.

See you on the 8th!

David Rogers, M.A.Min. 

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An Unparalleled Presidential Race in the USA: Part 1

We the people are faced with three, well, now four people to choose from for the 2016 Presidential election. Can you name all four tickets? I could not until today. At least not by the candidates’ full names and party associations. Much less could I articulate their political stances and platforms.

That is part of the problem with our entire political process as a nation. We, I confess myself included, focus on the heroes, the celebrities or the financially successful. I remember that popularity won even before I was in elementary school and the candidates were John F. Kennedy, and…who was that other guy? All we seem to really want or follow is the trendy, the popular and the favorites (kind of like your phone or iPod…just play the “favs”). But in the end it was the other candidate, Richard Nixon, that really made an impact in our nation in the years following!

I ask you, why are we not looking at the candidates as people? They are simple public servants, who will work for us as a nation. And a person who wants to serve the nation’s interests will not seek to be the hand that pounds “the nails in the coffin” of the other candidate (as though he/she were a henchman). He or she will present himself by his life of service to the people and his respect for the guiding principles of that nation. When you choose a president who is a playboy, a demagogue or a racketeer, you will get what you asked for: a corrupt, careless, biased tyrant who turn a deaf ear to the truth and the guidelines our country has chosen to be governed by, namely the Constitution. It is as though you choose his lifestyle and his view of others over his speeches or his catchy phraseology or even his “distinguished experience in politics.” You cannot ignore WHO he or she is as a person.

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United States Constitution on Display

Now I am not here to praise or to belittle any of the four parties and their candidates. I have watched and participated in presidential elections since 1976. That means I have cast a vote for a candidate ten times in my short pilgrimage here. During those 10 times I fear that I have not always fully understood what was at stake in the election. Therefore, it is my promise and commitment to you who read my blog to help identify the issues, and to give some light on the character and the person of each of the candidates. 

ISSUE NUMBER ONE:

–Supreme Court Justices–

In the next one to four years, the president in the oval office will have the responsibility to name at least one and most likely four supreme court justices to the bench of the highest court in the land. If the trend continues whereby the 9 judges make “value decisions” or choices that mean the interpretation of the Constitution of the USA, then it stands to reason that you and I vote for person who is going to choose to name justices that have a fear of God, a respect for human dignity, a love for the truth and above all, a sense of their own temporariness as a judge. We need judges on the Supreme Court that have a solid grip on the matters of truth, knowing that truth is not a “transient, shifting, cultural preference” but rather a solid, timeless, defensible reality that determines our future as a people. The crucial question here is: does the candidate have a respect and appreciation for the Constitution and its character as a timeless document that we must interpret and apply but NOT rewrite or deface. 

How can the person I vote for influence the future of the United States? The obvious answer: by virtue of the executive powers that are invested in the president and the office he represents. Yes, indeed the president will bear the duty and the right to make executive choices, which in turn will present a picture of his or her lifestyle and person. We dare not ignore this fact since the choice he or she makes will live on perhaps for a generation in the Supreme Court Justices he names.

Therefore a major point of contention in this election begins with and revolves around the candidate’s attitude toward our national Constitution. This will be decisive in matters pertaining to topics such as the right to life, gun ownership, gender equality, education, military and just about every other issue that touches our existence as a human being.

Ready or not, we will be asked to vote for the person whom we believe will best defend the Constitution. Look at this link to see what each of the candidates is saying about it.

The NEXT ISSUE…CLIMATE CHANGE.

See you soon,

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

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Summary of our Term in Ten Minutes

We could tell the story in a dozen different ways. Looking back we can clearly see how God has sustained and blessed during our eighth term of ministry in Chile. Statistics can’t tell the whole story of the variety of ministries God has allowed us to be a part of. The video below summaries the Lord’s working in Chile from a perspective of church growth and church planting, through our family and the Church we’re presently serving in, the New Life Baptist Church. 

Please take a look at how God has opened doors of opportunity to multiply our church planting efforts in Chile. The video does not include all of our areas of service, and so in the future we will, through other means, inform about the Editorial “Crece” (Grow Publishers), the Baptist Bible Seminary, and the interaction with sister Baptist churches. Dave works with many other churches in the steps required to gain their own properties and facilities. Dave and Ruth Ann partner with a tremendously gifted and dedicated ABWE Chile team as well. 

Thank you to all you partner with us! To those who care, who pray, who give and who have shared with us in Chile the work of Church planting.

Our God is a great God and worthy to be praised!

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

 

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Returning Home? Or Leaving Our Home?

After completing our Bible study for the week, a young man in his 20’s said to me “Don’t go, Pastor. Don’t go.”  I have been meeting with him on a weekly basis for the past 16 weeks. We were just discussing the next steps of his discipling when I told him that I would be stopping for about 6 months due to our trip. 

Another friend and partner in ministry commented “Pastor, is it already time for your to leave us? And how soon will it be until you return?” 

One more example: a brother with whom I have been developing a ministry for men during two years looked at me with a bit of sadness in his eyes after I commented that I did not know what the future holds after our 6 month home ministry, who then said “…but you are returning to our Church, right?”

God has called my wife and me to serve the people of Chile. Some times that is easy and joyful. Some times it is not. But people are people and they come complete with their warts, their baggage from the past and they have their quirks. But love them we must and love them we do. 

 What do I say, then, to those that we have come to know and love after working for three years? How do we explain the life-long dilemma of the missionary? One missionary statesman summed it up this way: “The two words a missionary uses the  most are: ‘thank you’ and ‘good-bye.'” I cannot just say “oh, don’t worry. It will be alright.” Nor can I say “we will be back sooner than you think.” These are people who have come to mean something to us/ We mean something to them. 

I think that both my wife and I have come to accept the inevitable: furlough or home ministry is necessary. And all the more now that we are grandparents! But we still struggle with the distance and the fact that we will loose touch to some degree with those we have been shaping and mentoring. 

Let’s face it. Leaving the country where God clearly directed you is not just a “quick trip to the States.” It’s not like we are just going away for a trip to the beach and back. The travel means, among other things, setting up house back in the USA. It also means transferring schools for our children still in school. It requires finding a renter of our home in Chile. Often times we must sell car to buy one there in the USA.  The list of tasks is not short!

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Getting read to return to the USA entails many challenges. We face the issues of not having a license to drive (both our licenses expired while in Chile), of not having a place to live (sometimes) and we also face the matter of needing to be ready to speak in a number of churches. Traveling means, in some sense, a restructuring of our lives, our family and our ministry. 

These things can be and are often good. But, we are not “returning home” since we have now lived in Chile more than we have in the USA. In all reality we are really leaving home our home in Chile. 

We love many things about our birth homeland. We have many loved ones there. We still keep in touch with a few close friends. But returning to the States is not easy. But the negative side is that we know the ministry here will slow down too. It all requires adjustments, ministry shift, change of paradigms, and even acting, thinking and dressing a bit differently. This transition reminds us we will ALWAYS be strangers, always be foreigners, no matter where we actually hang our hats. 

The key is: keep our minds and hearts set on the people and the needs of those around us, NOT on ourselves. I pray that we can make the transitions smoothly…other wise we will end up needing to rethink about which country is actually home. 

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

 

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Writers Learning the Craft

January 2016 marked an historical milestone for the ministry and our team in Chile. After several years of working to coordinate and plan a seminar for writers, the goal was finally reached! What a joy to see 7 people (myself included) learn how to write with creativity and effectiveness!

During the 4 day seminar, which was conducted by Mrs. Patricia Adrianzén from Lima, Perú, we covered topics such as the value of writing as a ministry. We looked at the reality of how very few Latin Americans have learned to sharpen their writing skills enough to be able to publish books, articles and tracts. The purpose of the seminar was introductory and foundational, and it clearly generated a hunger to use the power of the printed page for the cause of building Christ’s kingdom.

Mrs. Patricia Adrianzén, author and editor of Ediciones Verbo Vivo

Mrs. Patricia Adrianzén, author and editor of Ediciones Verbo Vivo

You can read about the seminar on the blog of the United States based organization that helped set up the seminar. Please follow this link: www.littworld.org.

Continue to pray for the Lord to raise up men and women committed to communicating God’s truth in Chile and Latin America in a way that reaches and touches lives for His glory.

By God’s grace, with much training and patience, not only will we see more unbelievers reached through the message transmitted in book and article form. But we can also enrich and strengthen believers in Chile and all of Spanish speaking Latin America with tools, books and materials that speak directly to their culture and their mindset with the life changing truth of the Gospel! This is still an undeveloped element in the work of church planting and church development. We are working to see Editorial Crece help change that!

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

 

Students who took the Creative Writing Seminar in January 2016

Students who took the Creative Writing Seminar in January 2016

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Bits and Pieces, Here and There

“What? Seven months since my last post?” Actually the reality is, I have some 10 or 12 posts in my head that just have not seen the light of day. One of them stole some of my sleep last night!

“No good there! We have to see it in writing or we can’t get the benefit of it” you reply.

“I agree! So I am dusting off the keyboard once again. Let me do a “Captain’s Log” style post this time. Then I will begin to treat the issues and questions that relate to my theme: missionary life and ministry. ”

“So tell me, what has been happening since July?”

“I am glad you asked!”

Starting from the most recent and working backwards…

February saw the making of history in our ABWE family! The Spanish speaking missionaries of our South American countries gathered in Lima Peru for a 5 day “Regional Partnering Conference (RPC). Every day was packed with times of interaction, worship and study. An old friend and former intern from Calvary Baptist Church School of Church Ministries in Grand Rapids, Gil Thomas (also former missionary in Portugal with ABWE and now director the Good Soil ministry of ABWE), guided us through an enjoyable and dynamic training session called “Moving Beyond Lecture.” Highly recommendable! And our sincere thanks to all our ABWE family and leadership that made the RPC possible! But especially we thank our supporters who give so lovingly and faithfully. They are the real reason we could go to the RPC. THANK YOU, supporters!

January was also a history-making month. After years of prep and planning, the Editorial Crece (TM) (Grow Publishers in English) organized and hosted its first ever “Creative writing Seminar!” Held in Santiago at the New Life Baptist Church, and attended by a fervent and passionate group of seven people, the seminar was the first ever hosted in Chile by a national Christian publishers. Those who attended began to break down the barriers of fear and nervousness about knowing what and how to write well enough to be published.

As December rolled around the year 2015 ended with a splash! Our Church ministries at New Life concluded with yet another “first time event.” The Adult Bible Fellowship organized a Missions Fair. The purpose of the fair was to give “feet, hands and wings” to the priority of local church global missions involvement. From the work done to prepare and present the fair to the Church family four important goals were identified, each of which serves to mobilize people. Two of them have been met: our own missionaries in Mexico, Marcelo and Vicki Ramirez received financial help to come back to Chile for their 2 month home ministry stay. Also another national missionary serving Chile’s islands, Marcelo and Julia Henriquez, received a generous 50 pounds of staple food items for their family, and a brand new chain saw to cut their own firewood.

In November…and here we could certainly e-x-p-a-n-d on the events…it was our family’s privilege to welcome Joel and Sarah Rogers along with their little 1.5 year old, Anne, to spend almost 3 weeks with over Thanksgiving! We enjoyed being grand parents to Anne, since Joel and Sarah took 5 days to travel to the south of Chile. We also reveled in fun times of watching Anne plan  in our home. Joel and Sarah live in Raleigh, NC where they both work. This was their first time to travel to Chile with their daughter. Maybe the next time they come, they will have their second child! Sarah is expecting in June.IMG_6354IMG_6393

October was a month to travel, both for Ruth Ann and me. The annual trip required for Dave to meet with all the field team leaders of Spanish South America was held in Orlando, Florida. But, don’t draw any premature conclusions…we didn’t even see the world famous Disney world. The week there was dedicated to networking with other Spanish speaking fields. We met both husbands and wives, and we invested the majority of the time planning on shared goals and objectives.

Family needs are important solve too. So the trip to the USA in October allowed me to spend a week with Melissa, who lives in Fredrick, MD. God put me there just at the crucial time to be able to assist her in getting our family’s vehicle repaired. That very week the car’s fuel pump began losing fuel all over the ground my third day there. But previous to that, we already knew there were other major repairs that had to be covered. So, the last three days with her were spent repairing the car. Mely was grateful she did not have to work that out by herself!

In the month of September Chile celebrates her independence as a nation. The weekend of Sept. 18 and 19 are traditionally absorbed by cookouts, flying kites, visiting the city’s large parks and of course, remembering God’s graciousness in making a Chile a democratic and free nation.

This year we celebrated it as a church by obtaining permission to close the street in front of the Church building. This is a whole-church evangelistic outreach event! The Lord blessed us with about 200 people participating. The Gospel was preached at the mid way point through the program of games, folklore music and skits.

And, unlike any year previously, we had some uncommonly good help! Brenda and Gordon McComb and their 2 year old son Alex came to work and serve with! Having brought along a couple of friends from their church, the Fairview Baptist Church in Statesville, NC, the work was lighter and the fellowship sweeter! Brenda, our oldest daughter, and her husband, Gordon have been serving at Fairview Baptist for almost 2 years, where Gordon is the pastor of music and worship.

Finally the month of August. What happened in August!? Well, I should let Ruth Ann tell you, but let’s just put it this way…she reached an exciting highlight in her life as she celebrated her ??? birthday! With a little “Scottish” flavor, friends from Church and our mission team, made the evening a memorable event for her.

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And here we are in February 2016! However, the issues and the trends of the United States continue to impact the work of missions world wide. Just one blip on the radar, but clearly an important matter: the Southern Baptist Convention’s “International Missions Board” (IMB) has “recalled” a significant number of missionaries that are between and 10 and 12 years from retirement. The reason? The IMB is facing critical financial pressures caused by the loss income for the Board.

Here in Chile, three families were faced with a tough decision to either leave their field of ministry and return to the USA to receive an early retirement package. Or, stay on the field and find employment! The large IMB employs over 4,500 foreign missionaries. But, due to the shortfall of over $210 million dollars in 2014 and 2015, the IMB has dismissed about 800 missionaries. Chile was one country touched in that difficult and urgent step.

I will share more about trends and concerns in the missions scene in my next blog! Thanks for going along for the ride on this compact 7 month summary! I would really love to know what you think about my blog, so if you have thoughts or questions, please submit them below.

Grateful for Grace,

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

 

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On the Downward Slope, Continued

In my previous post (“On the Downward Slope”, posted April 18) I presented what I feel to be the fundamental truth upon which life and liberty are founded, namely this: all moral considerations and all ethical postures depend on the common ground of God as Creator and men as created in His image.  This truth has brought healing and renewed vision for the United States throughout history, and if we truly and objectively apply it in all realms,  it will open our eyes once again.

However, I regret to say that this foundational truth has been ignored, maligned, twisted and essentially rejected by the popular culture in the United States of America. Moving ever distant from this pivotal truth, the average person in the USA does not consider their very own children, let alone those living down the street, as persons of worth, persons whose heart and soul are precious and of unequaled worth in the sight of the living, personal Creator God. 

Let me illustrate this for you…

  1. June 17, 2015, a young man 21 years old sits for an hour in a prayer meeting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. and then proceeds to open fire with an automatic weapon, killing 9 people, including a South Carolina senator and the senior pastor of the church.
  2. Dec. 14, 2012, a mass shooting of 20 children and 6 adults in the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School  illustrates the extreme cruelty and destructive tendencies of those youth that have come to hate others and then take out their anger on others.
  3. April 3, 2009, the Binghamton, NY shootings carried out by a Vietnamese immigrant that walked into the building where he was studying English, and opened fire killing 13 people.
  4. April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech shootings was the deadliest attack perpetrated on a school campus in the history of the USA (33 people lost their lives). The killer was a senior at the University who suffered a mental disorder, but nonetheless was both intelligent and calloused enough to plan out such a terrible atrocity on his own, and successfully entered two separate classrooms, killing and wounding fellow students and teachers.

And on and on the list goes…the Columbine High School massacre, the Aurora Colorado theater shooting…there are more examples than I can list here.

According to the FBI records list 146 mass shootings since 2006 that matched the FBI definition of mass shooting, where four or more people were killed. (USA TODAY, article dated Dec. 2, 2013, “Mass Shooting toll exceeds 900 in past seven years.”) And this sickening total  represents only…1% of the total of all homicides committed in the United States. The total amount of deaths caused by firearms in the US in 2012 reaches over 65,000 people! Lives that were suddenly eliminated by killers who judged others just like Cain in Genesis 4 viewed Abel. That is, instead of seeing him or her as a person of worth, created in God’s image, Cain saw Abel as a competitor and as a threat. He killed his brother because he hoped by doing so, he would sooth his guilty conscience. All he did was bring God’s wrath upon him. Cain, like all murders, attack the image of God in man in an attempt to destroy or deface what they hate most: God himself.

These homicides and all similar killings demonstrate the danger that comes when a person looks at another human being as anything less than worthy of just and honorable treatment. All such hate crimes, drug crimes, settling of accounts, armed robberies, assault and attacks on innocent victims, senseless shootings, and the like have one similar concept at the core: the one perpetrating the crime or attack considers the victim as less valuable than him or herself and therefore expendable. 

How did we come to this point? For that matter how do all killers (from the rogue dictators to the mafia hit man) come to see their fellow man as a disposable and useless, just “taking up space”? How does a killer become so indifferent to the fact that the same life blood that courses through his or her veins is in the body of the one that he/she chose to eliminate? They do so by sliding down a slippery slope of self-deification (“I can do what I want! This is MY life!”). Then by  dumping their anger and hurt on others (“You cannot do that to me and not pay for it!”). From there, the dominoes tumble steadily toward the attitude of vengeance or of unbridled hate and disdain for the chosen victim or victims. After all, they have been taught, that only the strong will survive. Only those with superior tentacity and intelligence will survive. He or she thinks it is only a cycle of the “survival of the fittest.” In other words a wanton killer or a heartless murderer sees himself a worthy of taking the innocent life (even of small children) because he is better, he is stronger, he is more powerful than the victim. He has the will to do so.

This is nothing more than a social version of evolution. This way of thinking has been deeply ingrained into our minds, since the mid 1960’s in the USA when it became the norm to teach biological evolution in public education. But evolution does not stop on the physical or the biological levels. It filters down into all areas: marital, parental, familiar, societal and even political or national. Evolution teaches us that we have to remove the barriers to advancement as a society by eliminating the weak, destroying the sick, manipulating the feeble.

evolution of computing

This is I believe, the inevitable result of the second major step downward in our culture in the west. This is true in Europe, in Canada and in the USA. People have now come to believe that those who don’t meet their standards of the”evolving conscience” are expendable.  If you don’t believe me, look at what was just approved in Europe recently: euthanasia, physician assisted suicide and up next on the playlist…infanticide!

In no uncertain terms, I am convinced that “biological evolution” (an unsubstantiated theory, NOT a scientific fact) has opened the door to a second slippery slope: the slope of believing that God is not active in the world, that humans are not responsible before God and that we have to “make our own future.” Because modern western culture has fully accepted the idea of biological evolution, he has now applied it to all of life and has come to believe that men can dispose of  other men, women and children at will.

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (deceased), a very respected Christian philosopher wrote this over 45 years ago:

“What should we say about out country? Of course, we should be glad for the freedoms we do have. But, having said that, should we not also understand that since our culture no longer has a Christian base, there’s going to be death in the city? Do you think our country can remain as it has been, after it has thrown away the Christian base?…In Jeremiah’s day God worked into history upon the basis of His character, and He continues to do so. Those people were going off into the Babylonia captivity not just for military reasons or economic reasons. God, as a holy God, judged them as they had turned away from Him. He will do the same in our generation” (1) if we do not wake up and turn back to God! We can only plead with God and lead the way by falling on our knees in humble repentance and confession. God will patiently respond, in love and grace. But time is running out.

Cain now dresses in a white lab coat and lifts his knife against all who stand for the Biblical truth of the dignity of man as decreed by the Creator God.

What is the next step on the downward slope in the USA? Stay tuned…

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

Citations: 1) Schaeffer, Dr. Francis A., “Death in the City”, L’Abri Fellowship, (c) 1969, pp. 30-31. emphasis mine.

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On the Downward Slope?

Are you concerned, agitated, worried about the future of the United States of America? If so, you may want to hear what I have to say.

American Flag Reflected on Vintage 1967 United States Nickel

I believe that history has a few things to teach us. First of all, those whose primary purpose in life is to chase comfort, pleasure and personal good at the expense of other higher values will eventually self-destruct. This was true of ancient Israel, and of every other major civilization since then. The most prosperous king in Israel’s history, Solomon, learned the hard way that “God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.” (The Message, by Eugene Peterson, Prov. 14:30, emphasis added). 

As a nation, the Israelis had peace, prosperity and power. The country flourished for over 100 years! But it came crashing down when their own king and leader became swallowed up in the mire of hedonism and entertainment. Because their king chose to not see the inevitable end in sight after years of willful blindness, both he and Israel saw their “perfect dream” crumble when the country was divided over trivial causes. The people of Israel have never known the productivity and the power that was theirs under King Solomon. Not even today is their country close to that level of achievement. But they squandered it all away on the altar of personal comfort. It opened them to danger of civil war, blame casting, and eventually, of political suicide. Israel’s greatness was sacrificed in the civil war that lasted for generations which pulled the nation apart. The last straw on the camel’s back was not an attack from a neighboring country or an ambitious king who led them to war (although God did send two nations to attack then and finally lead them into national captivity). Israel fell prey to her own blindness to see the real reasons for her crumbling culture: namely weak character and lack of spiritual leadership.

Secondly, not only does history have something to teach us, but morality does too. What enables a people like the hodge-podge, rag tag, scrapping tough and often careless people like the early settlers of the “New World” that was once the United States to come so far from their humble roots? One undeniable truth central to the strength of the nation was the dogged commitment to honesty, truth and hard work. But it was not always this way at the beginning.

The very first settlers of the New World where people seeking religious freedom because their minds were made up about the rights and responsibilities of every human being in the eyes of their Creator. But the experiment that we now call the United States of America was highly unlikely to succeed as it first started out. That all changed when the preaching of God’s Word during the period right before the Civil War and especially the period after it. Many citizens yearned to know the truth. Not the truth about a nation politically but the truth about man: what caused brother to kill brother and neighbor to kill neighbor (the Civil War saw more casualties than the Revolutionary War)? Because of a lie that many had come to believe. What lie is that? It is a lie about man’s dignity before his Creator and about who we are as people, no matter what our race, skin color or ethnic heritage.

The United States needs to hear the truth once again, because once again we are a nation that is deeply divided. This is the fundamental truth: human dignity and equality before God bridges the gap between peoples and in turn makes them people of great worth, both temporally and eternally.

I am not ignorant that many well meaning, and some not so much, used God’s Word in a manipulative way, trying to get the upper hand on a people or a race. Some found what they believed to be good reasons to further their personal preferences and their prejudiced view of others different than than one’s self. But those kinds of ideas were eventually silenced by the bare bones truth that God “has shown me not to call any person common or unclean” (in the words of the Greek historian Luke, in his book called “Acts of the Apostles” ch. 10, vers. 25). In other words, this text shows us that Peter, a highly prejudiced Jew one with an ingrained bias against other nationalities, finally understood God’s perspective on the issue. Equality is part of God’s original design for all nationalities and races and skin colors and genders.

Therefore a view of equality of all persons comes from the truth that God Himself makes all men equal. All moral considerations and all ethical postures depend on the common ground of God as Creator and men as created in His image.  This truth has brought healing and renewed vision for the United States throughout history, and if we truly and objectively apply it in all realms,  it will open our eyes once again.

What I fear, however is that central truth has been readily disposed of on SEVERAL major turning points in the United States. In my humble opinion these were several key touchstone moments in recent history:

Number ONE> Roe vs. Wade, January 22, 1973. Human life in the womb was relegated a position as second class and in turn, because of the purported “mother’s rights over her body” all embryos and fetuses have become disposable property of one person: the pregnant mother. Today I read on the Newsflash, “Urgent” category of Dr. Albert Mohler’s blog this statement: “For me, I´m the mother of three children. For me, life began when I delivered them. They’ve been probably the most important thing in my life ever since. But that was my own personal decision.” Who made this uncommonly brash and direct statement? None other than Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, the United States’ most famous abortion machine. Maybe it’s time to change their name to “Planned Parent Elimination.” The death culture has grown to unimaginable dimensions in the USA since the January 1973 Supreme Court decision. It is unlikely we will ever see that decision reversed.

Number TWO> what might this be? I will share it in my next post.

Stay tuned.  More about the downward slope of morality in the USA.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

 

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