Saturday, April 19, 2014

Two Videos of Sendero de Vida's Church Service

Below, several videos of services that we've had at the new property. The first video was made by co-worker Jim Cottrill, and records the very first service in the new building (March 16). Several different testimonies are translated.

The second video was produced by Hector Morales, who himself has only be part of the family for a couple of years. This video is in Spanish, although has a few English elements in it (a prayer by Denny at the beginning, for example). His video is of the 4th anniversary service, April 6, 2014.

Both videos are fairly long, and you may want to skip through them, but they will give you an idea of what a worship service looks like in Mexico.

But before the video, a picture of what Xochimilco was like this past Sunday. We took Jane Beneenga and co-worker Tina Barham for a visit to this very colorful tourist attraction, in what is left of what used to be an extensive canal system that wove all through marshy Mexico City. The canals are long gone...or most of them anyway. What's left has become an outrageously disorganized and wildly colorful ride through "Mexico's Venice."

Monday, April 14, 2014

If I were a Mission Agency President (part 1)

I remember a long time ago a number of people told me that I was going to be the president of a (certain) mission one day. I remember thinking they were crazy. When I think of being a mission agency president, I don't really think of leadership, I think of administration.  Most mission agencies have such a culture and structure already fossilized around the leader, whoever he (or her) may be, that his hands are tied before he gets into the ring. These are the parameters. Don't rock the boat. Appease the old dudes, they have the resources. Be dynamic and eclectic to attract the kids.  Now go raise money. I'm sure a president is no doubt told he has lots of liberty...until he actually tries to change something.

Administration and me...well, they just don't get along very well. But over this past week, when I was fighting a funky sort of low-grade fever, I began to think about what I would do if I were a mission agency president. What I would say. How I would say it. This is the first in a series of blog posts of some of what I came up with, sweaty pillow and all.

Before I start, I should recommend that you never do an Internet search on Fevers of Unknown Origin (FUOs). You will be convinced afterward that you will most surely die of a tumor or cancer. I am still kicking, however, so my body must have known why it was heating up, even though I didn't.

My mind wandered to the times I've heard George Verwer speak. Two words summarize George in my mind...passionate and funny. It is difficult to separate George from his globe-ball, which he invariably throws into the crowd during or after his talks, and his annoying globe-sweater.  George is not terribly eloquent, and not a great expository preacher. But he tells good stories. They are not second-hand stories that he's heard from someone. They are his stories. I believe him because he is believable, and because he believes. His self-effacing sense of humor makes him human.

If I were a mission agency president, I would be passionate, I would tell my own stories, and I would never get too far removed from the real life ministry and the grit of the real life mission field. I would never get too distant from first-generation believers and I would never want to get to the place where I would be inapproachable or out of touch with the fact that the gospel is messy, imperfect, imprecise and glorious work.  I would refuse to spend too much time in the office, because I would not want to be an administrator, I would want to lead by example, and what a mission agency needs to be able, above all else, is relate to real people who have real needs.

Why do "promotions" in Christian ministries including mission agencies take us farther and farther from real-world, grass roots Jesus-sharing? How has "leadership" come to mean the sterile organization and re-shuffling of people and resources, from the comfort of my swivel leather chair? Really? When Jesus promoted leadership, he put his disciples in more social situations, and seemingly delighted in telling them "Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals."

If I were a mission agency president, I would lead from some God-forsaken corner of the world, so that everyone who had the guts to follow could see that God had not forsaken that part of the world...He had sent me there. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Getting Missional

Word definitions are curious animals, especially when a new word or word phrase makes a debut. The American evangelical world has been inundated with fun new phraseology lately. Who are the New Calvinists, and do I want to be one? Are the emergents or the emerging the real heretics? Where is the Elephant room?

No one seems to notice the irony of preaching self-sacrificing discipleship in a multi-million dollar building, with the best possible lighting and sound system money can buy. But I digress...

Missional is one of those words. I think I understand what it means, but to all you Millenials out there, let me tell you what it means to me. Ok, sorry, a bit of Gen-X angst coming out there.

Missional means that everything you do and say can and should be tied into the gospel. The message of the good news specifically needs to be proclaimed verbally, because faith comes by hearing. Jesus died for me, taking my sin, paying the price, and rose again. But all of life is to be lived with the ultimate purpose of advancing God's subversive, glorious kingdom. The concept of some activities being "secular" disappears, because all of life is lived as a holy calling. We need to take off our shoes every day, because the ground on which we stand is holy.

God's best gifts, like sports, music and art, have been largely hijacked by people and institutions who have separated the magic from the Magician, have taken the art from the Artist. Why not take it back? Why not fill our church buildings all the evenings it lies empty and dark with music lessons, karate classes, math tutoring and ping pong tournaments. Why not energize our communities by being the church, taking back a role with has always been rightfully ours.

We should be leaders in these areas, not followers.  Christians are able to connect two worlds, and make all of God's gifts make sense to a society that generally has relegated the church to the personal, the private and the boring.

My son said to me a couple of months ago that sometimes he gets bored at Sunday church. I told him that sometimes I do too. Good thing that's not all the church is.

Let's get missional!

Below, my guitar class, doing some last minute panicked practice before their performance at the closing program last night.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Get David Back to Uruguay

The video below is about David Gomez's ministry in the country of Uruguay. David is a good friend of ours, and has assisted the the planting of two churches here in Ixtapaluca. He is currently back in Mexico, needing to raise an additional $600 a month in order to return to Uruguay.

David has already received commitments to the tune of $200 a month. Perhaps you can help. Mayra and I have supported David over the last two and a half years that he has been in Uruguay, and plan to continue to do so.

David receives support through FAMEX. Camino Global is able to transfer U.S. funds to FAMEX, which are then deposited in David's Mexican bank account. David receives about half of his missionary support from supporters and four Mexican churches, and some from the U.S. If you are interested in supporting David, please email me or put a comment on the comment section of this post. It will not be published.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Sendero de Vida JM 4th Anniversary Celebration

Check out some pictures from the church's 4th anniversary yesterday. What a great time we had, with both a spiritual meal in charge of Chalo Sandoval, preaching from 2 Timothy 4, and a huge feast after church complete with BBQ rib and much more.

Among the highlights...a mime done by the youth group that related (without words) our journey as a church to acquire land. The ladies sung two songs, and the kids also participated with several songs.

Check out co-worker Tina Barham's blogpost about the anniversary celebration HERE. I actually stole a couple of her pictures...thanks Tina!

Check out the flow of people migrating around the world...both source and destination areas.  Interesting!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Over the course of the next couple of weeks (and maybe sooner) we will be changing the way we communicate, transitioning from this blog to a more formal Wordpress site. Many thanks to Josiah Heigel (Innovate) and his fiancé-soon-to-be-wife Heather Nero. And I should mention that my daughter, the lovely Catherine Fry, did the graphic on this post. So if you come to this site and there is not current information on it...that's why!

The name of the new site,, reflects our desire to keep Mexico front and center when you and others think of missions. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is SO much yet to be done here, and the Mexican version of Roman Catholicism is a far cry from what you may think it is. Mary is Queen here. The established Catholic church is morally irrelevant and politically compromised. Mexico needs to receive more missiological attention. Anyone who has visited the Basilica of Guadalupe knows exactly what I'm talking about.

It is also our desire to use as well as several other sites that are being developed in both English and Spanish as portals through which you can possibly plan your next short-term trip or summer internship. Jessica Nixon is helping with another English site, that will focus on the church planting and community center ministry here. We desire to continue to work hand-in-hand with Camino Global and their Mexico internship that Tina now coordinates, as well as extend our reach to Spanish-speakers through FAMEX, and provide a more flexible format for families also. Our goal is to provide a "menu of experiences" by this October to choose from for 2015, complete with dates for short-term experiences.

Quote of the Day: Jesus certainly had hopes for people, and He was faithful to His personal mission, but He didn't have an agenda. He had the highest calling of any man in the world, with only three years to complete the task and barely enough people to start a volleyball team. If anyone should have had their loincloth in a square knot, trying to assemble people for the dream team , whip them into shape, get ’em out there and get ’er done, it would have been Jesus. He should have been the most controlling, most intense, most transactional leader of all time, but He was the exact opposite and showed us how to never let goals take precedence over people.

Halter, Hugh  Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth (Kindle Locations 897-902).

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Daniel will be a Charger!

A big thanks to Mt. Calvary Church and School. We spent a full, encouraging four days with Pastors Dick and Jonathan and their staff, and go to know Dr. Sheard a bit, MCCS's superintendent, who was encouraging and supportive, having been a missionary himself with kids going in and out of different cultures.

Big news! Daniel will be a Charger this coming school year! We are in the process of enrolling him for the 2014-15 school year, which means that mom will be saying goodbye to her boy a bit earlier than we anticipated! SO GRATEFUL for the Oglivie family and my parents for making that possible! The Oglivie family attends a local supporting church, Hope Community, that we also so enjoyed getting to know better during these last three quick week. It's wild to think that Daniel will be attending the same High School that I graduated from...uh...a while ago! We would ask your prayers for him and us as we anticipate this transition in August. I'll write more about this later.

Great to get to know Larry Buckman and his wife Faye at Mt. Calvary's missions conference. Seriously, they really could go on the road and do stand-up comedy. Larry was asking about helping us get In Touch Messengers into Mexico in Spanish. The Messenger is a portable device that plays audio Bible text, sermons, etc... We're excited about working and networking with the Buckmans in the future! I had already heard about this ministry through Dave Rose at Rio Grande Bible Institute, and have a sample messenger at our house in Mexico City. Our desire is to potentially partner with Dave Miller and Gaspal Chable to make these portable devices available in Indian dialects in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, as well as work with FAMEX and Fernando Amezcua to provide them to indigenous groups in Michoacan.

Finally...a couple of pictures from the kids' last day in PA for a while. The BIGGEST THANK YOU goes to my parents, for once again spoiling us to death during our time here. Thanks so much, mom and dad!