Thursday, October 26, 2006

An Unexpected Surprise (or rather, Disappointment)

I had my first talk with Mormon missionaries the other day. I'm actually surprised that it has taken so long to actually bump into them because they are, as my grandpa used to say, thicker than hair on a dog's back. It seems like hardly a day goes by that I do not see Mormon missionaries spreading the gospel of Joseph Smith (and here).

The Mormons I talked with said they have 29 Mormon churches in Trujillo with over 100 missionaries here. One of my friends here said he was at the airport the other day where a group of Mormons were saying goodbye to 7 missionaries who had completed their 2 year stint while at the same time receiving 20 more newbies from the next plane.

Needless to say, this is of great concern for us. The Roman church here has given the folks of Peru a notion of who Jesus is, and most people here have great respect for Him. But most folks having only vague notions are very ignorant of who Jesus is, who He claimed to be, and what He has done. Thus, the Mormons are able to capitalize on this ignorance. As one of the Mormon missionaries told me, "Everyone here has heard of Jesus, but most folks do not know much about him, so we can spend hours talking to folks about him."

Of course, the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of historic Christianity. According to Mormonism, Jesus is the brother of Lucifer (Satan). Mormons believe that good Mormons one day will become gods themselves over their very own planets.) Joseph Smith and his family were superstitious gold-diggers who were involved in the occult. In fact, Joseph Smith "translated" the Book of Mormon by putting his head into his hat with "seeing stones" similar to if not exactly the same stones he used to see hidden treasures buried in the earth (the trade he and his family had by which they milked gullible people of their money).

Quick facts about Mormonism:
•Over 11 million members (most of which are nice neighbor-types who vote Republican).
•Over 60,000 full-time missionaries—more than any other single missionary-sending organization in the world.
•More than 310,000 converts annually.
•As many as eighty percent of converts come from Protestant backgrounds. (In Mormon circles, the saying is, “We baptize a Baptist church every week.”)
•Within fifteen years, the numbers of missionaries and converts will roughly double.
•Within eighty years, with adherents exceeding 267 million, Mormonism could become the first world-religion to arise since Islam.

To learn more, check out these books:
The New Mormon Challenge
One Nation Under Gods
The Kingdom of the Cults

And check out these websites:
Institute for Religious Research
Utah Lighthouse Ministry
The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry
Mormonism Research Ministry

One of the things I am very interested in is developing a course on Mormonism for our seminary here. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Teaching Opportunities

I had two opportunities to preach recently. One was at our RUF/SSA meeting on Friday when our campus minister, Geraldo, had to make an unexpected trip out of town. I filled in and preached from the Gospel of Mark about the rich young man who came to Jesus asking "What must I do to inherit eternal life." We are consistently having a group of 25-35 or so students out for our meetings. Here are some photos from recent meetings with the university students.

I also had the opportunity to preach at our church in Arevalo this past weekend. Arevelo is one of the three churches associated with Peru Mission. Below are some pics from the church in Larco which is also under construction.

Blogging de Heathercita

Sorry this is so late – Just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm actually doing something down here besides taking care of the family, learning Spanish, walking the dog and keeping my cat from jumping out the window. On Wed., Sept. 27, Jami Baker, Allen Bradford and I (Heather) headed out to Hogar de Esperanza a local orphanage with which Peru Mission has developed a relationship. We had been asked by the director of the orphanage, who attends the Larco church, to come and speak to the house moms and other women who help with the kids, in order to encourage them an help them think through what it looks like Biblically to teach and discipline in love. They are in such a unique and difficult position. Many of these kids have been abandoned, some have been brought because their home is not safe, some have been brought because their family does not have a home and can not take care of them.

As of now, there are no men helping at the orphanage, so not only are the house moms having to guide these children from such difficult circumstances, they are having to do it with no male “father – figures” to help support them in their efforts. The women are strong, patient, and love their kids very much, but, needless to say, they were in much need of encouragement and affirmation. We enjoyed our time there very much, and have been asked to return sometime this month to continue the discussion. Please be in prayer for these ladies as they seek to love these kids with the love and energy of Christ.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

How Great The Father's Love For Us

A friend sent me this video that left me in tears. It is a perfect illustration of the Gospel. The story by Rick Reilly originally ran in Sports Illustrated about a father's love for his son that propelled him into action, to do for his son what he couldn't do for himself.

Read this and then watch the video. And then collapse in tear-filled praise.

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''

"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore For two weeks.''

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''