Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Faithful and Full of Faith - Jeremy and Elizabeth

Jeremy Haddock and Elizabeth Ramsey lead the first ever STINT Team in Buenos Ares, Argentina. Students are on winter break until March, so all they do every day is sport paraphernalia from their alma mater and sip licuados. Okay, that’s not true. In reality, their team and two of their students right now are on a week-long missions project serving among the Mapuche Indians in the southern part of Argentina.

and Elizabeth arrived in this city of 600,000 students in September and focused their energy on the Universidad Argentina de Empresas. Jeremy said, “Everything was all new ground for us since our team is made up of five inexperienced STINTers pioneering a new movement. However, we know that we were never alone in this. For example, our campus is a private campus that has high security and the only way to enter is if you are a student, so God opened the door for us. The Argentine staff were able to negotiate with the administrators to arrange for us to take Spanish classes and have private lessons. Within the first week, we learned that two out of three of our professors are born-again Christians that are passionate about reaching the lost! From then on, most of our lessons usually incorporate worship songs or vocabulary to help us in sharing the gospel.”

In the few months they have been there, Jeremy and Elizabeth’s team have seen several students trust in Christ that are excited about telling others about Jesus Christ. Three students from UADE went with them to the Argentine student summer camp (similar to a Winter or Christmas Conference in US) just before this mission trip. Jeremy concludes, “God is doing great things. There have definitely been challenges, but by pressing through those challenges we have seen the fruit of our trust in God, and we are excited to see what God has in store when we return to campus in March.”

My oldest son Luke is fascinated by deserts. He likes to draw desert scenes with cacti and scorpions and wants us to take a family vacation to Arizona. He also is fascinated with Africa. So this week as a family we sat down and watched a National Geographic video on a desert in Namibia. Killing two birds with one stone, you might say.

Along the coast of Namibia is the 1000 mile-long Namib Desert. Talk about a huge beach! There are species of animal and plant-life that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Robin and I were mostly fascinated though by the woman scientist from America they profiled. She had lived on the edge of the desert something like 20 years. I kept wondering what would drive someone to leave everything and live in virtual isolation in a desert in a poor country in Africa. There she was for years living in obscurity faithfully studying these sand beetles, reptiles, plants, etc. I am sure apart from desertphiles she was forgotten by many back home.

When you think of it many great leaders of the bible – Moses, Joshua, David, John the Baptist and Jesus – all spend time in deserts - and not just literal deserts. We think of Jesus and the great crowds but we forget how close followers turned and walked away. Paul is famous to us but it seems like he always had to say stuff like he ‘doesn’t need to commend himself again’ and how he was ‘known, yet regarded as unknown’. I am sure he was forgotten by people back home. "Whatever happened to that guy Paul?" They certainly forgot him at important times.

Jesus appoints us and called us to bear fruit (Jn 15:16). But Jesus (Matt 24:44-46) and Paul (1 Cor 4:1-5) also tell us also that those who have been entrusted as his servants are to be found faithful. I am sure I have been far more pleasing to him in fruitless times when I was found faithful than in times where I saw great fruit but my motives where self-centered. I got my reward then. I hope I enjoyed it.

Perhaps too my faith was greater in the desert when I believed for things unseen. It takes more faith to believe life will come to the desert than to a fertile land. Yet as I watched this video there was life. Fog would roll across this Namib Desert and life would spring up even plants and animals that had lived in doormat for years. Even ministering in the desert there is hope and faith.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. - Is 35

May we be found faithful and full of faith no matter where He has us.
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