Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thank You

To My Most Amiable Readers;

Thank you for your prayers. These last few days have been pretty incredible. We've met with pretty much everyone involved and heard their stories; praying with them and offering here and there the "word in season". Obedient to sound counsel, we've refrained from trying to "repair" the church. In a vigilia (night vigil) the other night we remained silent while the Spirit moved within the group. One by one they began confessing their sins one to another, asking forgiveness and extending it. When asked what lay on my heart as a need, I offered that I needed to worship God with fellow believers-that I couldn't minister to the lost without having the family of God to encourage me, pray for me, and hold me accountable. I know God will provide that; whether it is with them as a new emergent fellowship is between them and the Lord. We are willing to walk with them as brothers and sisters if they should choose to walk as a Chilean church.

Tonight we heard the pain and frustration of another family. We love them so much and it pained us deeply to see them so hurt and perplexed. After many tears and talking, we came to a place of joy; that God was leading us to work together in a new way. Though this does not involve what I'll call for the moment "the remnant" (the aforementioned group), we believe that this is right. I wish I could be more specific, but these are our beloved friends and these issues are not for public airing. Know that we feel God's peace in this new direction of his Kingdom expanding here in Puerto Montt.

Splits are terribly wounding, but new life and purpose can come from the wreckage. Please continue to pray that God's Kingdom would advance with power in this place; among these groups we have the honor of working with. Please pray that all grievances would be put in the light in an honorable way; and that God would strengthen the Chileans in forgiveness and love.

Your Most Devoted, Sarah

P.S. Keep praying!!!! Please!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Walking Thus

To My Most Amiable Readers;

We've been here all of a week, and have been in conversation. Part pain, part hope. It overjoys us to just be with these people whom we love, and it pains us to see bitterness/pain/frustration boiling in their eyes as they speak about others in the church. I can't express how conflicted this leaves me.

The beautiful thing is that we're going to worship on Sunday with two of the families in one of their homes. I crave to go to Him who can help with them by my side. Tonight we're going with one of the other families to their small group they're leading with unbelievers. Tomorrow we're attending a vigilia (night prayer vigil) with another family; specifically praying for the church. Interestingly enough, I showed my art from my last post to one of the men in the church and he looked at it intensely and told me that he had had a dream that looked very much like the picture I drew. In it the men are represented by the orange figure, the women by the red, and the children by the pink. We all soberly agreed that church splits tend to alienate the children, who feel like one less thing in this world is secure. I expressed this by drawing the child figure half out of the picture; nearly forgotten.

So here we walk. We ask that you pray for the Chileans, that love and forgiveness and forbearance would grow in them to such an extent that healing can be made.

Your Most Devoted, Sarah

Monday, June 16, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Great Expectations

To My Most Amiable Readers,

When we left Chile for the States we had a host of great expectations. The church had passed completely into Chilean hands, and we were buoyant (the job of the missionary is to make their job unnecessary), thinking of all the extra time we would have to focus outwards; to our neighbors, friends, rowing youth, and the families in the mountains. We felt that we had contributed through the Holy Spirit's leading to the unity, cohesion, and organization of the local church, leaving behind an empowered national church, which we could stand with and invite our un-churched friends to, not to mention receive our spiritual refreshment and encouragement from.

I am currently reading Dicken's "Great Expectations". In it young Pip, a blacksmith's son, arises from his circumstances through the favor of a mysterious benefactor. I am watching as he grows to disdain the "commonness" of his former life and adapts his self image to his new "expectations". I am only half-way through, so if you know the ending, don't betray it.

We had great expectations. Roughly a week before we returned to Chile we were notified that the church had split. And this not neatly between two factions...but totally dissolved. We were at a complete loss. What had been expectation quickly turned to dread. We love every person involved in the church; we've cried and worshiped and laughed with them. Now they are fragmented, some claiming total innocence, some accusing others, some blind to their sins against others, some siding with this family or that, some walking in outright bitterness. Their accounts differ so widely that I feel as though I am constantly trying to make out who is lying. But to what use?

I am not up to this task. Pip, in my story, would have just received notice from his benefactress that henceforth he is summarily dropped from the will, all his education and instruction meant to carry him through his new genteel life was all for nothing, and rather a waste of time. Now he'll have to put his pansy hands through torture back at the forge...regaining his calluses one by one.

Our Chile team has counseled us to simply love each person involved and support them in any way needed; caring for the broken body piece by piece. This is hard to do when the ear starts slandering the eye, and the foot bids "outta my face" to the shoulder. I can't stand to see people I love tearing each other apart; especially in flowery spiritual ways: "So and so's such a lovely, wonderful person, BUT......"

The oddity of it all is having my neighbors ask how the church is doing. Uh.....

What a excellent witness.

Please pray for the broken body here; pray for reconciliation, forgiveness, and redemption.

Your Most Tired,