Friday, January 08, 2010
Here in Puerto Viejo, life moves along at it’s own pace. It’s one of those immutable laws of nature akin to night following day and day following night. There’s no changing it so you just have to learn to roll with it. Case in point: at church, we have repeatedly emphasized how important it is for us to start “on time” (meaning within at least 1/2 hour of the official start time) so that new people who are being invited, along with everyone else, can have some idea of what to expect.
Something about the tropics though; schedules seem to be dictated more by the quality of the surf or the sunset than by a clock or watch. No one else seems to mind... why should we, right? Well, after five years of “learning to roll with it”, I still stress out every Sunday evening when no one is there “on time”. It makes me start doubting our calling, my abilities, etc... everything short of my salvation. It never ends and it never gets any easier for me having grown up in a very time oriented family. For those of you that know my dad, you know what I’m talking about.
The Sunday evening after Christmas was the most recent example. We had been inviting people for the past month to come celebrate Christmas with food, friends and a great message on hope. Our “official” start time is 5:30 pm but by 6:00 there were only about 4 people there (which included Amy and me) along with a large amount of food that was getting cold. Like every Sunday, I began to wonder if anyone was even going to show. Suddenly, by about 6:15 people started trickling in and by 6:30 we were up to a total of 21 people (a mob by Puerto Viejo standards).
We enjoyed eating and spending time together and then got into the message. I spoke about the reason that we, as Christians, celebrate Christmas... not because a baby was born but because of the hope that His birth brought to the human race. Hope for today and for eternity. Following that, we watched the second part of a video series by Louie Giglio entitled “Hope When Life Hurts Most” which led to some thought provoking discussion afterwards.
Our church is the only church in the entire community that is specifically reaching out to the third culture of foreigners that have have made Puerto Viejo home. Because we are non-denominational, people feel more comfortable. The fact that we don’t even have a name for the church is a plus in a town where people have fled institutions, structure and labels. We are Christians that love Jesus and want others to come to know him as revealed by the Bible. We have an opportunity here through the skatepark and church to share the good news of Jesus in a way that reaches out to a very non-traditional, un-churched crowd without compromising the message. We need your help in doing this. Pray with us as we make visits to people’s houses and places of business in an effort to build relationships with them. After 5 years of living here, inviting people, etc... we have come to learn that there is no substitute for time. The most effective way to share the message of Jesus is through personal relationships and that can only happen with time.