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Posted by jallston on May 28, 2013 in Blog, Nicaragua | 0 comments
Travis Hendley was kind enough to put his journey to Nicaragua down in writing so that the rest of us could see a snapshot of life on a Teaching Team. Travis joined Patrick Shealy and Harry Stevenson for a pastoral training expedition to Matagalpa, Nicaragua, earlier this month. Here’s the second installment of his journal.
TUESDAY, May 14
I just got done with my talk on 1 Timothy 2, specifically addressing the topic of women’s roles within the church. OH MY GOSH!!!
Sidenote: Fabricio, our Nicaraguan team leader, has a favorite phrase whenever he wants to say “oh wow” or “oh my gosh”. He says instead, “Oh George Washington!” So in the same vein, I say, after talking about 1 Timothy 2, “OH GEORGE WASHINGTON!”
That was so hard for me. As I said in yesterday’s blog, the Nicaraguan culture is heavily based in women. Women have a very strong role in the culture and within the church. They also have very little experience or training in knowing how to think Biblically through an issue or topic. Most of their thinking is based on their culture, in their experience, or in how they feel about a topic, (in my humble opinion). Therefore, for me or anyone else to get up and say that they should be thinking about women’s roles according to the Word and not according to everything they’ve ever known is a tad challenging for them.
I explained as carefully and as lovingly as I could, what the Word had to say about women’s roles within the church service. I tried to explain how the Bible shows great value for women and does not in any way view them as less than or unequal with men. The instructions given by God are meant to create order according to HIS design, not because men are superior or more gifted in any way. We said that the WORD says that within the church service and in authoritative roles within the church, men were called by God to be the leaders and the teachers of the word to the body of Christ.
The time when I realized I had really gotten myself into something was when I said something, looked at our interpreter Mario for him to translate what I said and he just stared back at me. He said, “This is very difficult for me to say because there are a lot of women pastors in here”. Oh George Washington! To his credit, he translated, and we made our way through it together. To say it was hard and awkward would be a gigantic understatement. To their credit though, the Nicaraguans did not run out, did not hit be over the head with a frying pan, and listened to what we had to say. After I got done, there was about 45 minutes left, so Patrick felt it would be good to have some question and answer time with the Nicas. Boy did they have some questions! Patrick did a great job patiently and lovingly answering their questions and pointing the audience back to the Word. He exemplified “speaking the truth in love” as it says in Ephesians 4.
So after a very eventful afternoon, we headed back to the hotel. I was exhausted. Harry, in his own loving way, laughed heartily at me. (If you know Harry, you know it was all in kindness). But I will say that I learned something tremendous that afternoon. After we left the church, I was apologizing to everyone for “getting them in trouble”, especially Mario, the interpreter. Patrick interrupted me and said “we should never apologize for what the Word says. I was struck by the comment. I knew it was true before he said it, but to have it reinforced very forcefully, with love, was a blessing to me. It reminded me that I should not act in a spirit of fear or apology, but in confidence with what the Word has to say.
That evening Patrick preached at the same church. He did a great job preaching on the passage of Jesus walking on water in Mark, (I think it was). We enjoyed the time of fellowship and the Word, but were very ready for our beds that evening. I was thankful because Harry would be teaching in the afternoon!
Dios te Bendiga,
Posted by jallston on May 27, 2013 in Blog, Nicaragua | 0 comments
Travis Hendley was kind enough to put his journey to Nicaragua down in writing so that the rest of us could see a snapshot of life on a Teaching Team. Travis joined Patrick Shealy and Harry Stevenson for a pastoral training expedition to Matagalpa, Nicaragua, earlier this month.
MONDAY, May 13
Have we only been here three days? It feels like we have done so much, traveled so many places, and experienced so many things that is has been a week at least. All of it has been such a tremendous blessing.
Today we had our first day of teaching at the church where we are working. The church sits up on a hill from where you can see the entire city of Matagalpa. It really is a beautiful city. Another thing that is beautiful about Matagalpa is the weather. It was so hot in Managua, but here at a higher point of elevation, it is cooler and there is a good breeze from time to time.
We met the pastor of the church, Roland, who greeted us warmly. He also shared how God has worked in his life and in his church. He said that when he initially got here, there were a lot of problems with people trespassing on the property, vandalizing the church, and there was also a lot of gang related problems around the church area. He sought help from the local authorities, but they did not seem interested in helping. But he and the church committed to praying to God for an answer. Roland sought out the gang members and shared the gospel with them. He said that many of them accepted Christ and the gang now doesn’t bother the church any more.
Patrick is teaching a series called Peacemakers, based on a book by an author I can’t remember right now. The series is focused on conflict resolution, but more than that, it is focused on teaching people, from the perspective of the Scriptures, how to live at peace with each other and with God. In the very first lesson Patrick was able to share the gospel clearly, how all people stand in conflict with God, yet how God has sought to resolve that conflict through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus. Patrick is a good teacher. He is very even keeled, which is a little unusual for the Nicaraguans who are used to a lot of emotion an excitement from their preachers. Even so, they respect him because he carries the title of “pastor”. Titles and positions are very important to the Nicaraguans, as we would learn.
In the afternoon, Harry opened the 1st Timothy series. I was able to be involved in giving a short introduction about myself. I also wanted to let the audience know that even though Harry did not have a “title”, he still had impacted countless lives in the way he taught and disciple others. Harry started by thoroughly explaining the context and background of the book. We wanted to make sure we modeled the importance of understanding the context of the Bible when we read it. 1st Timothy has a lot to do with Paul confronting false teachers who were not holding to the truths of the gospel and the Word. Like Patrick, Harry was also able to thoroughly explain the gospel to the Nicaraguan pastors and teachers, based on 1 Timothy chapter 1. We didn’t know our audience so we wanted to make sure we covered the basic truths of the gospel as often as we could.
The Nicaraguans were very hesitant to respond, answer questions, or warm up to us. We were very concerned about this, that somehow we were not teaching correctly or contextually to our audience, but our Nicaraguan team members told us it was normal for the audience to be wary the first day or to and we should not be very concerned because they would warm up to us soon enough.
After the day concluded we returned to the hotel for a brief time of rest and then headed to Norman’s café de Los Angeles for another splendid meal. Tonight we didn’t have any assignments to preach or attend a church in the area, so we returned to the hotel to prep for tomorrow’s lesson. I was REALLY nervous because I was assigned to talk about the 1st Timothy chapter 2, which talks about women’s role within the church service and in the authority roles of the church. This would be hard because the Nicaraguan culture is a matriarchal society where many, if not most, of the pastors are female. Telling them the word of God says that women should not be teaching the Word in the service or having authority over men will probably not go over very well.
Harry spends time with me that night trying to help me prepare and then we go to bed for some needed rest.
Dios Te Bengida, (God bless you)
Travis, official blog secretary of Team Nica
Posted by jallston on May 22, 2013 in Blog, Eleuthera | 0 comments
On Monday and Tuesday, the Culturally Engaged Training Camp spent time doing various work projects on the island of Eleuthera. The locations for this engagement included the Eleuthera Bible Training Center, a local elementary school, and a local medical clinic. On Tuesday, the team also had the privilege of facilitating all-school assemblies at two elementary schools. The team will be making the trek back to Greenville today. Thank you for your prayers and for your generosity that has allowed Grace Church to facilitate this training opportunity.