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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Work Teams leave a legacy in Lives

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a part of a repeated and a long team ministry team, perhaps this video will give you and idea. One of several churches that have faithfully partnered with us for over 5 years in the construction of the New Life Baptist Church and Ministry Center is Bethel Baptist Church of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Back for their fourth trip to serve the believers, they have put their “hand to the plow” without looking back! This group of brethren did jobs they never imagined and in so doing touched hearts with the love of Christ.

Pleaase take a minute to watch this video. It will give you a clear picture of the value and the reason to serve on a missions trip: that is, to INVEST IN LIVES!

Click on this link to see the video.

To God be the Glory!

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

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A Fresh Start

Read about one of the lives changed through the ministry and outreach of the New Life Baptist Church, located in center city Santiago, Chile. Please visit the link below to read about how God is changing lives through the message of Christ!

A Fresh Start.

Like Marta, there are over 30,000 college and university students just 8 blocks from the New Life Baptist Church and Ministry Center. Our focus is to reach those students through counseling, through friendship evangelism and through Bible Studies.

Please pray for God to open the hearts and minds of many more like Marta!

Serving the Savior,

David L. Rogers
ABWE-Chile

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