Monday, June 20, 2011

Bible Study Break

This week was particularly academic. We learned about the Bible; what is really is, why to read it and how to interpret it as accurately as possible. I anticipated this week’s teaching to be much more boring, but it proved to be a surprisingly rich time of learning. To do this, we looked at a variety of scriptures from all both new and old testaments, but then focused in on the book of Philemon, which is only 24 verses long.

The Bible is a collection of 66 books, written by different authors from different cultures over a span of 1,500 years. It was written in primarily three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. It is meant to be God’s personal letter to humanity, revealing who He is and conveying His desire to be in relationship with man. We read the Bible to know God, His person, His word and His plan. We read it to understand brokenness and the necessity of salvation. We read it to understand who we are and our purpose in life. We also read it use a reference for what is true or false.

In order to correctly study the Bible, one needs to recognize the historical context in which the Bible was written. It is necessary to examine author, setting, main idea, tone, and literary form. Some portions of the Bible are historical, some are poetic and artistic, and some parts are letters. When we read the Bible, we need to understand that relationship is the driving motivation behind everything in the book. If you just read it without understanding these hidden details, you won't get the full message.

Philemon is such a rich letter from the Apostle Paul. He writes to his friend Philemon from a Roman prison. During his time in chains, Paul meets Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus and leads him to Christ. Paul writes to Philemon, as well as the church that meets in his home, encouraging them to accept Onesimus back as their brother, because in Christ there is no difference between the slave and the free man. It’s an awesome letter. It speaks so much about accountability and equality. It also shows the necessity of tactfulness. You should read it; it’s really short. Use a study Bible, though, so you can cross reference other books in the New Testament.

In contrast to our intense studies, this week was peppered with equally intense recreation. Our base leaders, Giacomo and Marjolein are gone for a few weeks to visit family in Holland, so Spencer was running things. He already plays such a huge role around here, managing the base’s finances, so he had a busy week ahead of him managing everything else. It was also his 40th birthday, so his wife organized an 80’s dance party to surprise him when he came to work on Tuesday morning. Everyone dressed in ridiculously bright colors, short shorts and side-ways baseball hats and danced along with this aerobics’ instructor Vanessa brought in. That night, we went to the movies for as a small group activity. We saw the new X-Men. Movies are so cheap here! It’s only $3.

Finally, I’ve been given some more information about this summer. While some things are still up in the air, Julia and Val shared with us the general picture of what we’re going to be doing in Peru and Bolivia. We’re going to begin in Lima and go south towards Bolivia, trying to get involved with various ministries along the way. They mentioned working with disabled peoples in Peru, as well as orphans. We’re apparently going to go on an eight day hike in the Andes, to minister to backpackers. There was more, but I honestly forgot the rest. I suppose I will find out soon, won’t I?

Our leaders assured us that, despite our business this summer, we would have times of rest and rejuvenation, too. We’d have one free day a week, and we’d have times of solitude to spend time with God to relax. We’d continue our Bible studies, and continue to keep one another accountable and process together. Julia and Val also gave us roles for our Outreach team. I was assigned to help supervise what ministries we will be involved in, along with two other people. This wasn’t very clear, either, but I’m excited. Val told me we’d mostly be assisting her in praying about what God wants us to do, where He wants us to go, talking to church leaders etc. It was pretty exciting to hear more, after not hearing anything for so long.

We went to help at Spencer and Vanessa’s new house again to help them with construction. Everyone was sanding this time. They split us up, putting half of us downstairs and the other upstairs. This time we had masks, so we weren’t breathing in the dust. This didn’t protect the rest of us, though. By the time we were all done, everyone was covered in white dust from head to toe. It was pretty funny. We kept slapping one another on the back or the leg to “mark our territory.” It started raining really hard, so a few of us ran back to the base to shower off.

On Friday night we were invited over to house of one of Freedom Street’s leaders, Elizabeth, for a game night. I played battleship with Chris and Phillip. Needless to say, I took them down. It was quite close, though. Phillip and I hung out outside for a while and went for a walk. My Bolivian brother is such an encourager, I love talking with him. We talked about some concerns I had about the upcoming events of YWAM, which I’ll describe more below, and gave me some really good advice for taking on what lies ahead. Remember his knee I prayed for? It’s completely healed, thanks be to God. He told me he jumped into a river a few years ago, but it was too shallow so he hurt his knee. Years of playing basketball didn’t help, either. He gleefully confirmed that it was now in perfect condition. God is so powerful.

This weekend was kind of random. The two outreach teams split up on Saturday; Central America went to practice their dramas and skits with Metro Ministries, a local children’s outreach, and the South America team was planning on bonding over a picnic in this big park downtown. Unfortunately, this attempt at a nice afternoon in the park failed very quickly. We couldn’t find parking near the park, so we had to park about half a mile away. As we walked towards the park, it started pouring rain and thundering like crazy. We were stranded under this awning for like forty-five minutes, while some of us ate sandwiches and played Frisbee in our limited dry space. Someone went to go get the car, and we decided to go to McDonald’s since it was raining so hard. This took forever, of course, because of the traffic. When we got there we were informed the power was out, so we couldn’t order anything. We decided to go to the one near the base. After we ate and hung out for a bit, we found that our van had broken down and we couldn’t start it. Immediately following this discovery, the car next to us backed into the van. In Costa Rica, you don’t exchange information; you have to call the police. So we had to wait for that to get resolved before we got out in the rain to push start the car.

To my great disappointment, Freedom Street didn’t go out this Saturday. The ministry always begins with prayer and worship before heading downtown. Our leaders, for some reason, didn’t feel peace about going and many people felt a leading from the Holy Spirit to stay behind. A common impression was that it was for some reason more dangerous for us to go than usual. At this point, I don’t know if this was ever confirmed…but either way I suppose I have to just trust that God didn’t want us to go. Instead, we stayed back and prayed for San Jose. We prayed for the prostitutes that Freedom Street has been involved with, that God would keep them safe and encounter them despite our absence. We also prayed that God would stifle any violence in the streets.

I had a hard time accepting that, I have to say. I’ve wanted to go to the streets so badly. But God wanted me to stay again. At least I wasn’t alone, though. No one got to go. My friends and I were pretty confused. Everyone wanted to go, but everyone pretty much felt like we weren’t supposed to. It felt like one of those things where a child wants to tag along with their parent, but can’t because they’re too young or it’s too dangerous. I really hope I can get another opportunity to go down, because our time in San Jose is running very short.

This next week is our last week of Lecture Phase. This coming Friday, we’re leaving for the beach for the weekend, and then to the jungle to go camping for a week. It’s a YWAM tradition (for some bases around the world) to go on this camping trip before Outreach Phase. It’s supposed to be extremely challenging. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s called the Niko Camp, which is Greek means “to overcome.” This is what I was talking to Phillip about on Friday, because he staffed a camp in Bolivia. When we get back, we’re going to begin our outreach phase within Costa Rica for two weeks. No more classes. From here on out, we’re going to be serving. After those two weeks, we’re leaving to catch our flight in Panama to Peru.

Prayer Requests
- My check from PCC hasn’t arrived yet in the mail. Apparently, it takes three weeks for a check to process. If it doesn’t get here soon, I technically won’t have all my funds by the time we leave for Peru. I will be $800 short. PLEASE PRAY IT ARRIVES THIS WEEK.
- After this week, we will be officially on Outreach Phase. Pray for rest and preparation for all of us. Pray that we could spend time with Jesus, and that we can get sufficient sleep.
- Pray for healing for the sick and the injured.
- Pray for courage for Niko. I’m pretty nervous about it.

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