Hey everybody!!!! Here’s my latest video blog episode:
Also, here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:
Even vinegar can be a tool to share the Gospel. The week before Easter, I really wanted to be serious about teaching the kids and youth at our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria about Jesus’ sufferings and death for us. So the Monday before Easter, I needed some strong-smelling vinegar for one of my Bible classes with the kids. After searching in the mission office (where I live) I only found a bottle of really diluted vinegar that barely had any scent. So I ran over to the tienda (a small grocery store) just a few hundred feet from my house to find a better bottle of vinegar. After completely butchering the Spanish word for vinegar as I asked to buy a bottle, I brought it back to the mission office and asked our Peruvian secretary to smell it (my sense of smell is horrible so I needed a second opinion).
“No, this doesn’t smell very strong,” he told me in Spanish. “What if you tried buying a bottle of red vinegar?” So I hustled back to the tienda and ordered a bottle of red vinegar (which I was hoping would be stronger). As the lady at the cash register (who had also sold me the first bottle) was walking over to grab me a bottle, she asked, “What are you cooking?” At first I just said, “Oh, it’s for a Bible class with kids.” Obviously, that wasn’t a very satisfactory answer, so I ended up explaining to her that I wanted to teach on Jesus’ time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested (check out Matthew 26:36-46), specifically talking about the “cup” that he was asking be passed from him, i.e., the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus received on the cross when he took the full punishment for our sins. So a quest for the perfect prop for a Bible class became an opportunity to share the Gospel.
I never ended up finding a more potent bottle of vinegar (everything I could find was really diluted), but thankfully I found a few other odd ingredients to mix together with the vinegar in a cup, and it ended up having a very nasty stench. So during the Bible classes that day, God used me to talk with the kids (after they had all gotten a smell of the vinegar-potion and gagged) about how much nastier our sins are, as well as how much Jesus suffered for us on the cross to save us and give us a relationship with God by grace through faith in him.
The next day (Tuesday) I got to use the nasty smelling potion (which I had made sure to save) again. Deaconess Caitlin Worden (one of my fellow missionaries) and I had the youth during our youth group meeting go through a Holy Week meditation activity. I set up different stations where the kids would sit and read a Bible passage from the story leading up to Jesus’ death (from Matthew 26-27). Additionally, there were some extra words to meditate on at each station (often verses from one of our hymns), and the youth were also encouraged to take time to prayer. There were also different objects to see, touch, and smell (the nasty-smelling vinegar-potion!) that would help to illustrate each part of the story.
It was awesome to see how much the youth enjoyed all of it. They spent over an hour reflecting and praying as they moved from station to station, and a lot of the girls in our youth group were actually moved to tears as they pondered the story of what Jesus suffered to save us. After it was all over, Caitlin and I sat down with them and processed with them what they had experienced and learned, while having them read through some Bible verses to truly remind them why Jesus did all of that, like the following verses: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself….” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV).
Life is also exciting as God continues to use me to build relationships with different adults who are connected to our church plant in San Borja. During our Friday night Bible studies (which is the main gathering time when I see a lot of these people) I often have to be ready for a wide range of questions, since a lot of them have read just enough of the Bible to have some really good questions about different confusing topics. Through it all, God has been using me to emphasize the clarity of the good news of Jesus Christ—that he came to suffer, die, and rise again to live for us, so that through faith in him we could have forgiveness of sins and eternal life for forever with God.