Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Earthquake Update

Hey folks,

With the money that we collected from folks in the states and here in Peru, our Mission was able to give $3381 to aid in the relief work among those affected in Peru.

Clara Lee & Pastor Jaime Avellaneda from Peru Mission just came back from a trip to some of the areas in southern Peru affected by the recent earthquake. Here is a brief report from Clara:

Dear all,

A brief report on the relief trip we took to Chincha this weekend, exactly ten days after the earthquake. The worst of the cleanup has already taken place, but I believe we were able to deliver help to some people in real need.

Jaime coordinated our relief effort together with the brothers at Los Olivos church in Lima, which has been collecting donations. He rented a bus and purchased about $1000 US worth of blankets, plastic sheets, diapers, food and water, and adding in the food and clothing donations collected at the church there was barely enough room for us to fit in.

We decided to go to Chincha because one of the brothers at Los Olivos had a sister there, and they were able to coordinate with a group of neighbors and families in need to gather at her house. We left Lima about 6:40 am and traveled down the coast, past lots of sand dunes and ocean views. A few sections of the road were damaged and we had to travel on a single lane, but the traffic was well regulated and we did not have any major delays. We began to see damaged highway rails, walls and rocks when we got closer to Chincha. Driving through the town itself, there were collapsed structures everywhere, and some tents outside where people had taken shelter.

We arrived around 10:30am at the sister's house, finding about 20-30 families (nearly all women and children) gathered outside. We carried pre-packed sacks of groceries and blankets into the house for later distribution. Jaime preached a short message to those gathered. Knowing of the region's devotion to local saints, he preached rather strongly about the futility of idol worship - gods who cannot see or hear - and asked the group to repeat John 14:6 after him, "Jesus said to them: 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" The crowd was responsive, but we can only hope they will have more chances to hear God's word being preached. There are very few evangelical churches in the region.

I asked the sister's husband whether other help had arrived, and he said the gov't had delivered some food and supplies. It appeared the people were getting some help, and access to water had been restored, but of course much more help would be needed to reconstruct people's homes. He told me that about a third of the homes in Chincha had collapsed. (Pisco, further south, suffered much more destruction, and currently is receiving most of the aid.)

Afterward, we decided to drive out to the pueblos jovenes, since aid was being distributed out of Chincha's Plaza de Armas and we did not want to duplicate efforts. We drove through several neighborhoods, first going from house to house, but quickly discovering that wherever we went people would gather and form a line, requiring us to distribute directly from the bus. For the most part the distribution was orderly; we tried to only give to women so that we would be more likely to reach families rather than individuals. Those who were elderly or carrying a baby were sure to receive a new blanket. Several of the people told us they had not received help out in the pueblos jovenes. Everyone was very excited about our gifts, and curious about who we were since we were traveling in a Lima city bus!

Finally around 2pm we had distributed everything we had. We had to turn away 5 people at the last distribution point, where the largest crowds had formed. However in the end I think we must have given something to at least 200 families, maybe more. The most popular items were the blankets, plastic sheets to reinforce shelters, and diapers! Food was also in high demand; clothing was not as needed.

At one point we crossed paths with a bus giving "Atencion Medica Gratuita", to whom we gave our donated medical supplies. They asked me where we had been, so as to know which areas were getting help and which still needed it. We also passed a few other gov't trucks distributing goods. What we saw confirmed the news reports we'd been hearing: that a lot of aid was arriving, enough to keep people from being destitute, but not enough to meet all of the need, and not in a very organized manner. Those who were lucky enough to have a bus pass by, and who ran to get a place in line, received aid; but it was difficult to know whether those who needed help the most were being reached.

All in all it was a good day, fortunately without any danger or strife, and with the amount of goods we distributed we gave some help, whether it be a lot or a little. It was a twelve-hour day counting the four hour trip out, four hours of distribution, and four hour trip back. When we got back to Los Olivos, we had a short "debriefing" session, during which the brothers from Los Olivos expressed a desire to continue to go back, get to know the people a little better, perhaps preach more and raise up a church. Jaime and I were a little more cautious, knowing how much it takes to start a church plant, but we all remain open to God's calling for future involvement with the area, especially how to contribute the additional funds we've received toward reconstruction.

You can view my photos at this link: http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=7fd7gr5.5uum7v9l&x=0&y=-wrn7db. I took about 200 photos in all, but cut this album down to 125. Perhaps we can send some shortened form of this to our supporters.

Grace & peace,
Clara Lee

Monday, August 20, 2007

On a lighter note...

Our friend, Sara Joy, sent us this video. We haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Not only is it funny, but it captures a sense of what we feel like trying to use all our meager Spanish to communicate. Enjoy....

Earthquake Relief Fund

Hey folks,

We are sending out a request to join Peru Mission in collecting aid to send to the earthquake victims in central-south Peru. It was reported by Peru's National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI) that "16,669 homes have been destroyed. Reports are for the areas of Ica, Lima, Junín and Huancavelica. It was also reported that 9 highways, 8 hospitals, 4 churches, 2 schools and 2 hotels have been destroyed."

Below is some information on how you can help. Our plan is to send the first wire of funds from the states this Thursday, followed by another wire 10-14 days later. Thank you for your participation, and please continue to pray for those affected and for the Gospel & the Church of Jesus Christ to shine at this moment.

Grace & Peace,

[You can view the original Peru Mission e-bulletin here.]

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As many of you know, a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Peru Wednesday evening at 6:40pm, killing hundreds in the southern cities of Pisco and Ica. One church in Pisco collapsed during a memorial service, which alone has left an estimated 200 dead.

The quake thankfully did little damage in the capital city of Lima 90 miles away, a city of nearly 10 million where many more might have perished. The mission's own RUF pastor John Ferguson, with his wife Heather and their children Colton, Jason, Justin, Kevin and Miranda, and our SALI director Caleb Sutton, all happened to be in Lima at the time and experienced some of the panic that occurred there. In northern Peru where our mission works, we felt the tremor, but did not suffer any damage.

The quake thankfully did little damage in the capital city of Lima 90 miles away, a city of nearly 10 million where many more might have perished. The mission's own RUF pastor John Ferguson, with his wife Heather and their children Colton, Jason, Justin, Kevin and Miranda, and our SALI director Caleb Sutton, all happened to be in Lima at the time and experienced some of the panic that occurred there. In northern Peru where our mission works, we felt the tremor, but did not suffer any damage.

The people of Peru are responding to the disaster and sending aid to the affected regions. As a mission, we will also be sending aid through the local church and/or the National Evangelical Council of Peru, which has already taken steps to collect needed items. If you would like to give to our brothers and sisters in need, you may send your contributions to the following address:

Christian Missionary Society
Re: Earthquake Relief Fund
PO Box 53363
Knoxville, TN 37950-3363

We will pledge to use 100% of any contributions received by Thursday, August 23 toward buying emergency supplies for those left without water, electricity or shelter, and 100% of any contributions received afterward toward ongoing care of the victims of this natural disaster.

Thank you again for your prayers.

In His Grace,
the Peru Mission team

Thursday, August 16, 2007

We're all fine after the Earthquake in Peru

We wanted to give you an update on the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Peru last night. As of this writing, some 337 have been confirmed dead and some 1,350 injured, mostly from the region south of Lima. The death toll is expected to rise.

We have just arrived back home from Lima where we spent a few days on vacation. We were in Lima last night on the 6th floor of an 8 story hotel when the earthquake struck. We were getting ready to go out to eat at Chili's (our favorite home away from home restaurant in Lima and a little taste of Texas!) and Heather had just entered the bathroom to freshen up. I was checking out the news on the TV when the bed started shaking. My first thought was that a couple of our kids had started started wrestling on the bed. That's when Kevin yelled, "It's an earthquake!"

It was pretty freaky. I gathered the kids to stand under a door frame. We probably should have made a run for it outside but the building was moving so much that I didn't think my five kids could have maneuvered the six flights of stairs (plus Heather had been sick throughout our vacation). Things were falling off shelves, lights were swaying, our legs felt like jelly--as if we were on a boat that was rising and falling, and we had sensations of being dizzy and disoriented. I can only imagine what the building looked like from outside.

The whole thing lasted about five minutes, maybe longer, maybe less. At one point it eased and I thought it was passing, but then a second more powerful wave hit. That's when I started getting scared not knowing how this was going to play out. As soon as it was over, we ran down the stairs. On the way down, we saw plaster that had fallen from the ceiling. Most buildings didn't suffer damage in Lima, but some lost some windows, some small concrete pieces & rubble had fallen, especially where buildings connect to each other.

FoxNews is reporting that this quake struck about 90 miles SE of Lima and 25 miles down. A couple little cities called Ica and Pisco took a severe hit where most of the casualties occurred. We had planned on visiting this Ica to see the famed sea lions that live on the coast there, but we never got around to making the arrangements for that leg of the trip so we ended our trip a day early.

For those who don't know, we live in Trujillo which is about an hour flight north of Lima (or a nine hour bus ride which we took last night), so most of the tragedy is occurring on the opposite side of the country from us.

For more info, check out these news reports: FoxNews Photo Essay, Breitbart, 24 Dash & CNN.

Thanks for the emails & voice messages! Please pray for Peru, & especially for the Church of the Lord Jesus in central and southern Peru.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Joy's Eternal Increase

My friend, Allen Smith, sent me this amazing message by Sam Storms, called, "Joy's Eternal Increase." It was given at a conference on Jonathan Edwards and this message is about Edward's biblically-shaped thinking on Heaven. You simply need to listen to it. I've listened to this sermon three times now and it continually causes me to hunger for Heaven.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that Christians need to recover a sense of where we are going, or more accurately, where the Biblical Story is headed: the New Heavens and New Earth. This must fill our horizons and thrill our imaginations. [That's one of the reasons I recently read to our kids Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven for Kids. This is basically a condensed version of his book, Heaven.]

Storm's message makes the last chapter of his book, One Thing. I have recently acquired a copy of it. I'm sure the rest of the book is good, but this chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

He says, "The essence of heaven is the vision of God and the eternal increase of joy in Him." And, "Heaven is characterized by the increase of joy. Heaven is not simply about the reality or experience of joy, but its eternal increase. The blessedness of the beauty of heaven is progressive, incremental, and incessantly expansive."

"They will see His face" (Rev. 22:4)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Late Bishop Newbigin on Thinking Correctly About Election

“No one can say why it is that one was chosen and another not, why it is that here the word came with power and the Holy Ghost, while there the same word carried no regenerating power. The answer to that question is known only to God. But if we cannot know for what reason one was chosen, we can most certainly know for what purpose he was chosen. He was chosen in order to be a fruit-bearing branch of the One True Vine, a witness through whom others might be saved. He was chosen in order that through him God’s saving purpose may reach to others and they too may be reconciled to God….

“While the ultimate mystery of election remains, one can see that the principle of election is the only principle that is congruous with the nature of God’s redemptive purpose. And we can also see that wherever the missionary character of the doctrine of election is forgotten, wherever it is forgotten that we are chosen in order to be sent, wherever the minds of believers are concerned more to probe backwards from their election into the reasons for it in the secret counsel of God than to press forward from their election to the purpose of it—which is that they should be Christ’s ambassadors and witnesses to the ends of the earth—wherever men think that that purpose of election is their own salvation rather than the salvation of the world, then God’s people have betrayed their trust.” ~ Lesslie Newbigin, "The Household of God"

Links That You Should Check Out

Christians Worldwide Too Busy For God: "[I]t may be the case that (1) Christians are assimilating to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to (2) God becoming more marginalized in Christians’ lives, which leads to (3) a deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to (4) Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to (5) more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload. And then the cycle begins again."

Apologist says Church is Producing Atheists: “It [i.e., "Apologetics" - 1 Peter 3:15] should not be left to professors or specialists, such as C.S. Lewis. It needs to be incorporated into everything we do as the Church from cradle to grave.”

Signs of the Times: Church-Hopping in a Consumeristic Culture: the rise of "consumerism and narcissism" — when people expect to customize every experience to personal taste.
[HT: SermonAudio]

David Fairfield notes that each of the top 5 church planting churches in America are reformed. "...their theology is a particular kind of reformed theology, it is reformational not just reformed. This distinction is important. To use reformed theology as a cul-de-sac in our churches is to move against the entire point of God’s work in this world. Good reformed theology is going to be church planting, kingdom driven, multiplying, culture engaging, and grace centered or it is not good reformed theology."
[HT: JollyBlogger]

Friday, August 3, 2007

What informs JK Rowling's "Harry Potter" Series?

Probably taking a risk in posting this, but this is for my friends who are in on this conversation. Check out this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal:

It has been widely observed that J.K. Rowling owes a creative debt to Christian fantasists J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (apart from their fondness for initials). It's odd now to remember that, at the same time, some parents have objected to the magic depicted in the Harry Potter books as a glorification of satanic practices. For "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" confirms something else apart from the well-thought-out-ness of Ms. Rowling's moral universe: It is subtly but unmistakably Christian.
For some good stimulation, check out this informed lecture by Rev. Jeff Meyers on "What Should Christians do with Harry Potter?" (comes with an nifty power point).

Also, this October 2000 Vancouver Sun interview is interesting in light of Book 7:
Are you a Christian?

“Yes, I am. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books.”