30 January 2012

Praying for Politicians in Argentina

Praying for politicians

by Maria Elena Baseler on January 30, 2012

Miguel Angel Parisi takes seriously the biblical mandate to pray for authorities                           (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Parisi, an Argentine Baptist, works in logistics at the Argentine National Congress building in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In that role, he has contact with Argentina’s 72 senators and their staffs as well as the country’s vice president. Parisi also has access to senate offices and the senate chamber, where the senate’s official business is conducted.
When the senate isn’t in session, Parisi sometimes enters the empty senate chamber and sits down to pray at each senator’s desk. He prays specifically for that senator’s needs and his or her future decisions.
“The most important thing a Christian can do is pray,” says Parisi. “By being here in this building, we [who are Christians] can actually put our hands on the walls and pray [for what goes on inside] this building.”
Besides praying for politicians, Parisi participates in a weekly Bible study for senate employees, held in a lounge that opens into the senate chamber. The study is led by Luciano Bongarra, president of “Parlamento y Fe” (“Parliament and Faith”), an evangelical ministry to politicians in Latin America. Manuel Sosa, a soon-to-retire missionary with the International Mission Board, has helped Bongarra teach the study and minister to senators and their staffs.
This ministry “is very important because it makes an impact on the senators and other politicians who come by here all the time,” says Parisi. “We are ‘inside the kitchen’ of the whole political process here.”

For more stories check out http://americanpeoples.imb.org/.

25 January 2012

Burden of Proof

Today's the day!

The halfway point, that is. A year ago today I was arriving in Virginia in the cold, getting situated for training and still reeling from too many goodbyes (you can read the post from last year). Today I am on the back side of 365 days, 4 different homes, 14 plane flights, 5 new countries, 1 new language, about 15,000 photos, and many dozens of new friends. Whew!

Last night we returned home after two weeks of working retreats and meetings with colleagues and our extended team in Chile. When mentioning to someone that we were at the halfway point, someone asked if hadn't it flown by. I laughed. Yes it has...and then no it hasn't. It is hard to believe that a year has already gone by and only a year remains. But at the same time, when I think of ALL that happened, I think "could that all possibly have happened in just a year?!" My word! When you condense it all down it seems like a pretty productive year, but in many ways I feel like I am just now getting started with the work, and there is still so much I want to do before time expires.

While I am thrilled to be done with the weeks of meetings, I am also very thankful for the opportunity to attend and for the fresh wind I feel like I caught from the time of rest and refocusing. The last month or so I have felt somewhat frustrated with work, creatively stagnated, and lacking a clear direction. I guess in the daily drudges I had lost some focus and inspiration. But it was great to meet and discuss ideas, stories, and projects and be reminded of our aim:

 "Our vision is a multitude of disciples among all peoples of the Americas
 equipped to fulfill the Great Commission to the ends of the earth."

It's a big vision and I'm one tiny person, but I have a part to play, as do you. I am excited about the potential of this second year and also reminded that it is as important as ever to focus on making the most out of the time we have. Odds are I won't be living in Lima, Peru again in my lifetime and I don't want to leave it with any regrets about how I used my time and what I invested in while I was here. You may not live in a foreign country, you may assume that a year from now your life will look very much as it does right now. But the truth is we each have to make the most out of the time where we are. You can't get it back. So go ahead and do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

So with that said, halftime is over, let's get the second half started!

(I really wish I could do a first year recap of my favorite photos, but let's be realistic. I'm not that organized! Sorry. So instead, here are a few favorites from our recent time in Santiago and Olmué, Chile.)

02 January 2012


Here's a little more of what New Year's Eve in Lima looked like. I toasted with...what else...Dr. Pepper! Decided to craft some ridiculous headgear for skyping in the new year in a few different time zones. Also note that I am wearing a tank top with gold stripes because A) it's the only thing sparkly that I own in Lima, and B)...it was hot. Remember, it's summer here! Got up into the 80s today, and no A/C. 

You can also enjoy this video taste of the ridiculous unregulated fireworks going on across the city at all hours of the night. Keep in mind that you have to magnify the sound by a factor of about 20. And compared to Christmas eve, this was pretty tame:

I also really liked the Decemeber 31st entry in "My Utmost for His Highest," so I thought I would share.

"Security from Yesterday: "God requires that which is past." At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God's grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders.  But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.

Security for Tomorrow: "For the Lord will go before you." This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our reward. God's hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.

Security for Today. "For ye shall not go out with haste." As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him." - Oswald Chambers

Bring it on, 2012! The God of Israel will go before us.

01 January 2012

525,600 Minutes

It's something I've done pretty much every year since I was a kid, and maybe you do it to? At New Year's Eve I stop and reflect on the past year. I like to sit down and list out in my journal all the major events, or the things that stand out to me.  I think it's exceptionally interesting to look at a year in its entirety, see where it began, and where it ended, and to think of all the life that happened in just 525,600 minutes. Of course the small events of my life seem dwarfed when we look at the scale of world events in 2011:

 Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi, and Kim Jong Il are all dead. The space shuttle made its final flight. The middle east saw the upheaval of the "Arab Spring" uprisings. The horn of Africa suffered a devastating famine. Japan weathered the sudden tragedy of the major earthquake and tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and forest fires seemed to touch every corner of the globe. Europe faced fiscal crisis while the U.S. struggled through its own economic woes and related protests. The world population surpassed 7 billion. U.S. troops finally left Iraq. Planes crashed, wars were fought, terrorists attacked, people murdered. 

In all, the world continued very much as it has since man first sinned. And those are the events by which the rest of the world will measure 2011. Of course we all have our own methods of weighing and measuring a year. What did I accomplish that I'm proud of? Did I achieve any goals? What were my favorite moments? What was fun? What was crazy and unexpected? What was difficult? Did I end up where I thought I would?

2011 was certainly not a dull year! Lots of change, lots of learning, lots of stretching, and some struggle along the way. I added Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela to my "Countries I've Visited" list. Learned a new language, made dozens of new friends who are scattered around the world, developed my abilities as a photographer, tried scuba diving, lazed on a Costa Rican beach, experienced a chilean rodeo, and made a new home in Lima. And we heard, saw, and shared lots of stories about how God is moving in Latin America. Lots of lots of blessings in 2011 for which to praise the Lord! 

Certainly there were sad and difficult parts of the year too, and I think it's important to reflect on those and praise the Lord for them as well. We appreciate the good times more when we have tasted of the bad. But also, looking back at the challenges that 2011 brought reminds me of the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father. He was there just as real and present in the tearful farewells and lonely moments as He was in times of rejoicing and laughing with friends. His faithfulness has never been contingent upon my circumstances. 

Of course, maybe boiling a year down to major events really isn't the best way to evaluate it. As I've been pondering, I'll admit I've had "Seasons of Love" stuck in my head from Rent. It asks a good question, "How do we measure a year?" And even more importantly, "How do we measure a life?"

Seasons of Love-
Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand Moments so dear

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love?How about love? 
Measure in love. Seasons of love.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned, Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned, Or the way that she died

It's time now to sing out, Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love.

So how do we measure it? 525,600 minutes? That's what we are handed every January 1st. (Of course this year will be fewer since the Mayan's have declared the world is ending, so you better really get busy!) It's a lot of minutes. But in the grand scheme of things, it's less than a breath, and we're not promised a single one of them. The song suggests that we measure it in love. It may be a secular song, but I have to say I don't think they are far off. What matters more than the goals we checked off, or the experiences collected, is how we lived the majority of minutes when nothing exceptional was happening at all. How did we love God, and how did we love others? How did we leverage the 525,600 minutes we were entrusted with to glorify God and share Him with the people around us? 

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 reminds us that, "Not all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." 

How our years, and ultimately our lives, will be measured is by whether we accepted the gift of salvation that is available to all men through Jesus's sacrificial death, and then, what we do with the new life we have in Christ after that. If I died today, how would my life measure up? How would yours?

Of course the really great thing about New Year's is that our time of reflection on the year past is also the time we consider the year to come. We evaluate our lives,  mull over changes to be made, and consider what we want to accomplish. As we go about the process of setting goals and making changes this year, let us be mindful of what really matters. Sure we can try to eat healthy, exercise, floss, drink more water, spend less time on facebook. Those are all good things, and could very well be honoring to God, but no matter what your resolutions are this year, remember to make your personal relationship with Christ your top priority. Unfortunately it's a lesson that I constantly struggle with. As Oswald Chambers writes, "There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfill His purpose through our life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes, and yours may be that life." 

If you haven't put your trust in Jesus, I can think of no better way to begin a new year than with a new life in Christ. And if you have a personal relationship with Christ, I pray you'll use the new year to share the Good News with those around you and show His love in the way you live. 

May you be blessed abundantly in 2012 and may God be glorified in the year to come!
Happy New Year!