An Encouragement from Jorge
As I was preparing to depart for my Honduras teaching trip in late July, I was surprised and blessed by a short, simple, and encouraging e-mail from Pastor Jorge Pérez in Guatemala. The fruit of all our investment of time, travel, teaching, money, and resources in Guatemala — including pastors' basic Bible study books; laptops; powerful, lightweight travel projectors for their teaching assignments; and helping to send the Guatemalan leadership-training team abroad — was summed up in that email:
I desire that God would give you a good teaching time in Honduras, and that the pastors there become lovers of Bible reading, just as it happened in Guatemala.
ROI (Return on Investment) #1
There's a whole lot in that short “stockholders' report” from Pastor Jorge Pérez, so let's unpack it.
#1: The Guatemalan leaders rose to the challenge I gave them in 2008 and 2009, when I told them, “You can't preach and teach ‘the whole counsel of God' if you don't know the whole counsel of God, and you can't know it unless you read the Bible cover to cover every year.” They have all been doing that for at least all of this decade – and it shows! Jorge's life and experience show that – and he is one of the Guatemalans traveling to Honduras and Perú, encouraging other leaders along the same line.
#2: When I was in Quilalí, Nicaragua this April, discussing with the local leaders their need for a three-book Bible study “library,” two of the Guatemalan pastors were there. (They came to teach, too! More on that in a minute.) I asked Pastor Victor (who is a dear brother, as well as my toughest critic), if the study books delivered to Guatemala in 2009 were of value. His response was an enthusiastic and unequivocal, “¡Sí!” (Side note: Even now, the Guatemalan pastors are praying about whether they, as a group, can collect enough for one, two, or all three of the books necessary to give to a Nicaraguan pastor. This $105 Sacred Treasure House Initiative challenge would be huge for them.) The Guatemalans not only read – they study!
#3: I see some of the laptops every time I go to Guatemala. I see them used in leaders' business meetings, to project hymns for worship services, by pastors in Internet cafés, and by students working on homework. There's now a stronger infrastructure for e-mail, sharing files, typing up reports and Bible studies, etc., and they're making good use of it. Ditto the projectors we've donated to their teaching teams.
ROI #4#4: More work for me – and that's a good thing! It's the “fault” of Atilio and those Guatemalan teaching teams. The Guatemalans were building an infrastructure of basic leadership training long before I arrived. Up until a few years ago, those efforts were mostly in-country, training pastors, church planters, and other leaders. Under the decade-long leadership of Superintendente Atilio Chávez (now raised by his denomination to international bishop in recognition of his servant heart and fruitful leadership), these teams have become so effective at what they do that they are being invited elsewhere – El Salvador, Honduras, and Perú come to mind immediately – and are having fruitful, please-come-back-again-soon results. These others see the blessing and fruit that men like Jorge bring from Guatemala's discipline and training programs. And as for God giving me “a good teaching time” with the Hondurans, as Jorge said in his email, Jorge knows first-hand how important that is since he, too, functions as an itinerant teacher.
There's blessing for me, too, because the Guatemalans have become (like Jorge said) “lovers of reading the Bible” – and studying it! In the special studies I do with the pastors and leaders every year, we tackle one subject or Bible book in depth. It began with hermeneutics, and for the last few years the theme has been holiness and sanctification, especially in 1 John. This year we started the Epistle to the Hebrews. But that's not the “more work” I mentioned. No, the “more work” part is that when these leadership training teams teach abroad, they are recommending to their international “students” that they invite me to come for more in-depth teaching. Their suggestions along those lines have generated invitations from and open doors to Perú (last Oct.-Nov. and again in less than three weeks) and Honduras (two months ago, with another visit probably in March). Other countries have been mentioned. We'll see what God has up His voluminous sleeve….
Dividends and Interest
Other than the subject of this year's teaching (Hebrews), this newsletter doesn't tell you much about this year's Guatemala visit specifically. But it does show something of the cumulative results and “returns” of our work in Guatemala over the last nine years. This is your work as well – whether you pray for this ministry or give to it. Annual reports talk about “dividends and interest.” I think God measures ROI on “Kingdom Advance”; and in Guatemala, that speaks for itself! If I had to write a real “report to the stockholders,” there would be something contrasting our “shoestring budget” with a very big God who has a huge love for Latin America and its leaders.
Peruvian Investment: Prayer and “Principal”
In less than three weeks, Denise and I make our second trip to Perú for a two-week teaching stint. As we invest more of ourselves in these leaders in Lima, Huánaco, and (new location!) Jicamarca, we prayerfully ask you to invest in this ministry, both in prayer and “principal.” Your financial gifts to Finest of the Wheat, which have already had great ROI in Guatemala and elsewhere, will make this and future trips possible – and, Lord willing, will yield future Kingdom-Advance ROI in Perú, Nicaragua, Honduras, and, of course, Guatemala.
Much love in Jesus,