Sunday, April 26, 2015

Unity: What Christ desires Most in the Church

                Last weekend the Hospital Diospi Suyana had their biannual retreat.  In the past they’ve had one in town and one away.  In the past it had been open only to us foreigners who where not paid by the hospital so that they could address challenges unique to working in a culture and country that is not your own.  I don’t use the word “missionaries” because Diospi has attracted a number of Peruvians to come work and serve there because of its mission.  They Peruvians who come work here with for these motives are effectively missionaries because they have left their homes, families, and better paying jobs.  And just like the USA has various different cultures (northwest, east coast, south, etc), so too does Peru, and consequently many of them are working “cross-culture” too.
                In an attempt to try to encourage our Peruvian brothers and sisters serving at the Hospital, the retreat held here at the hospital this year was open to Peruvians and foreigners alike.  It was a beautiful thing!  God’s hand was all over it.  At one point Martina (the co-founder/director of the hospital) said to me, “Look there are more Peruvians here than foreigners.”  My heart was filled with such a joy, because this is why we are here: to help our Peruvian brothers and sisters reach their own people.  Every mission class I’ve ever taken teaches the same truth, people can reach people within their own culture for Christ more effectively than a foreigner ever can.  The place of the foreigner is to start the movement and enough/support the movement, but to step out of the leadership role as fast as wisely possible.
                God’s fingerprints were all of the retreat.  The retreat started with dinner Friday evening and ended Sunday with a lunch.  After dinner Friday night, Martina commented to me that she and Klaus (her husband) had had a good talk with the guest speaker, Rosefeld, over dinner.  “I think he should be good to hear from,” Martina said.  Caught off guard and a little surprised that she didn’t know him even though she and her husband were mostly likely in charge of approving the selected speaker, I asked, “Who invited him to speak then?” “I did,” Martina responded.  I laughed.  Turned out there had been a large movement of unification between the churches in Cali, Columbia after persecution of the church there, resulting in the death of a preacher.  A volunteer from Columbia had recommended the assassinated preacher’s wife as a speaker for the retreat.  But the wife was busy and had recommended Rosefeld who was also part of the movement.
                It was amazing.  Rosefeld started by asking, “Who wants to have a ‘heart after the heart of God’, like David?”  Since it was a room full of missionaries obviously everyone wants that.  Rosefeld explained evidence of that type of heart are the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5).  He asked, “with what one word can you summarize these fruits of the spirit?”  He received the answer “love.”  “But its not love,” Rosefeld responded, “Because love is in the list.  Therefore you can’t used it to summarize the list.”  His answer was “Forgiveness.”  “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control can all be summarized with the word “forgiveness.”  He took us to 1 Cor 13, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance….that’s forgiveness.”  Rosefeld defined forgiveness as: giving someone the same place they had before they wronged you…that’s hard.  I’d just heard a lesson on forgiveness the week before that when we forgive we don’t have to trust that person at the same level again…but the problem is that then I’m remembering the offense and therefore not truly forgiving. 
                Rosefeld told numerous stories of God teaching him this lesson of forgiveness the hard way.  He’s a pastor of a large church in Cali, Chile.  He said one time he invited a member of the church to preach.  He ended up being a good preacher.  But then all of a sudden he left the church with a number of the members and the praise team and started his own church without talking with Rosefeld.  Finally God convicted Rosefeld to  forgive this man.  So he forgave him and started meeting with him weekly again.  But God later asked Rosefeld if he’d really forgiven this man. “Yes of course I have, God.  I’m sharing coffee with him each week and I’ve not put poison in his drink yet.”  God asked three times.  And then said, “if you’ve truly forgiven him, give him the same place he had before.  Ask him to preach in your church again.”  “No god.  Forget it, anything but that.”  So the next time Rosefeld was with this man he asked, “What are you doing Wednesday night?” “Nothing. Why?”  “God, not I, wants you to come preach at my church.”  And so he spoke.  And the man talked about their story and how he’d stolen part of the church to start another church.  And afterwards no one changed churches.
                Rosefeld told various similar stories.  And it was evident that this was the type of forgiveness God desired of us because God blessed Rosefeld so much more every time he truly forgave his offenders.  The church grew and grew and grew. And he closed by asking if anyone at the retreat wanted to forgive anyone.  If you read the blog a couple weeks ago about Easter Sunday and the division and lack of unity in the churches here in Curahuasi that is so strong and toxic that they can’t even agree enough to celebrate together the resurrection of Christ, the very thing that makes us Christians.  And one of the pastors came to the front.  He invited one of the leaders of the hospital to the front and forgave him.  A week later this leader in the hospital forgave another missionary family and allowed them to served in Diospi ministries, which he’d been sternly against prior to this weekend.  And God worked and worked and worked.  And representative/leaders from all the Christian churches in town met together the day after the retreat and talked and prayed together for the work of the Lord in Curahuasi.  And they decided to  continue to meet and pray together regularly.  And God worked and worked and unified and unified his body! Praise the LORD!!!

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