Recently there have been making warnings about possible fraud, identity theft, and passwords etc. It is easy to be scammed if one is not careful. The process of protection if you are scammed is also complex and can take considerable time.
Back in the first century, Jesus found it necessary to watch out for false prophets, people who look like sheep but really are wolves. Lots of people phone others today pretending to be something they are not – wolves in sheep’s clothing making threats and trying to get information of your identity. Jesus also said, “Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” He advised people to stand firm and they would be saved. Peter in his second letter, chapter 2 also warned of false prophets teaching false doctrine, denying the Lord and fabricating stories and exploiting people.
Today there are many false doctrines and many people who have been deceived and believe there is no God or that they themselves are God. Interest in the occult and cults is high. There are television programs and video games that put forward violence and belief in gods and spirits.
Just as we need to be astute about identity theft etc., we need to be alert and to know Jesus as our Saviour. He offers eternal life. He is our protection. He promises to never leave us. Seek God’s word and know him as your all in all. If we know God well, it will be easier to recognize false teaching and avoid costly errors.
Last week, I wrote about packing suitcases with unusual items like puppets and balloons and 400 pencils, bobby pins and buttons and ribbons for crafts. Now we need to unpack the suitcase, take out the chocolate, and decide where and how to store what was in the suitcases. Fortunately someone going on a different mission trip needed school supplies and so some of the pencils found a new home.
We have many unanswered questions. How will we get the stuff to the Dominican Republic? You are wondering why we need to unpack. Our trip to the Dominican Republic has been cancelled. The day after I wrote the blog about packing, I received news about the findings of a cat scan done a couple of days earlier. A growth was found and doctors recommended not travelling. Tomorrow, I have another appointment with our family doctor. Yesterday more blood work and Tuesday a biopsy takes place. Once we know the results, a plan of treatment can be set up. So there are more questions we cannot answer. What follows for me? When will we see the Dominican Republic again? What’s next?
When I was a young teen (such a long time ago), we played memory games; one of those games was in my suitcase I put something that begins with a, then b etc. and we had to repeat and remember. Recently I have been packing suitcases but no on an alphabetical basis. I work from lists that say bring ….
In my suitcase are some unusual things. For one church, there are puppets and puppet costumes, balloons and a pump and Spanish language books. The Spanish was translated and covers the original story written in English. For several ladies craft classes, there are bobby pins, lace; beads and flowers for hair ornaments. There are about 400 pencils for children in schools or Sunday schools. There are needles and crochet hooks.
There is lace and ribbon, beads and plastic table cloths for a pastor’s wife in her special events business. There is cutlery for a woman who had only a couple of pieces in her home. There are framed photos to leave as gifts and also several hand stitched book marks for hospitality gifts. How do I remember all the things that are packed? I make lists so I can find things later.
Spanish language bibles and sermons are a must. We will spend 16 days involved in missions’ ministry in the Dominican Republic.
Esther teams up with us again on another mission trip to the Dominican Republic. For her it is a return ministry opportunity and Dominicans are eager to see her again. Her gentle nature, her enthusiasm and her willingness to help in any way have blessed many people. One family surprised her on her birthday with decorations and cake and prayer.
Another special memory is of watching Esther running up and down the street chasing a two year old and making sure he did not run out into traffic and so the mother could care for her baby. Yet another special memory is watching the eyes of children while she told a story of a shepherd using sound effects. Students in several schools were fascinated by her story telling and sound effects.
Even though Esther does not speak Spanish, she asks questions and seeks to understand the people she is with. She asks about the agriculture and the culture. She cares about people. Her testimony after her husband’s death touched and encouraged many widows. Esther worked with a young girl teaching her the keyboard and enabled the girl to play in a church service in her home church. Surely her presence in the Dominican pleases God. “And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16.
A friend of mine has this verse in letters upon the wall of her dining room, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2) ” Her home has always been a place where guests are welcome, where family reunions take place and a place for Bible Study.
Yet in some ways hospitality seems to be a lost art. Once it was general practice to invite a family or couple home after church on Sunday to share the roast waiting in the oven. Now people move on to a fast food place and the sharing of time together happens less often. Today in our home we hosted a family from Mexico for a Sunday afternoon meal rich with Mexican dishes and flavors. (Many thanks to a store across the border in the US where I got Mexican cheese, refried beans and corn tortillas etc.) Everyone enjoyed the meal immensely.
Some of the most welcoming hospitality I have had the pleasure of benefitting from has been in homes in the Dominican Republic. It doesn’t matter whether what’s offered is a cup of the strong sweet coffee or a wonderful thick soup like asopao. It doesn’t matter whether there is a tablecloth or fancy serving dishes. It’s the fellowship, laughter and the comfortable feeling of being at home with the hosts. Maybe it is also the fried cheese, which is a special favourite of mine. It is the caring which led me to make quesadillas with the Mexican cheese – the same kind of caring that results in fried cheese.
Pastor Yoni is a gracious humble man who always has a smile. He pastors a small congregation in Damajagua and the congregation has been working for years to raise the funds to put on a sanctuary roof. He is a bi-vocational pastor and travels several days of the week in his van to the border of Haiti to sell candies and other items. His son underwent major surgery on his feet and legs two years ago and now needs another surgery to remove the screws. (The debt for surgery almost cost him his house and van which is essential for his work.) Yoni’s resources are limited but he still seems to find fruit to offer whenever we visit. Yoni is proud of his two sons and gentle with his wife.
Psalm 30:5 has often encouraged people describing trials and subsequent joy and stating that “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Yoni and his family and his church family have experienced many difficulties but Yoni has a smile that lights up his eyes and encourages others.
The congregation has land and a structure of four walls but no roof windows or doors. Join them in praying for a sponsoring church or group of churches or individuals to raise funds for the roof.
Three “f”s make for a great evening – especially if the “f”s are fellowship, food and fun. The Spanish Club came together to say goodbye to Abraham and to enjoy food from different cultures. For the first time, Abraham tried poutine (French Canadian) and ate some of the roast beef and potatoes (yet another culture). Then he joined the rest of us who were eating enchiladas, tacos dorados, refried beans, nachos and guacamole and finally arroz con leche (rice pudding). We laughed a lot about food and shuttered when we heard about corn on the cob with mayo, grated cheese and chili powder or about tacos stuffed with crickets or tacos with nothing but salt.
Four of us came from Mexico, one had been a missionary in Peru, two were missionaries in the Dominican Republic and our host’s father counted to twenty in English and then switched to Dutch. We teased Abraham, a Mexican, because he chose the roast beef and all the rest of us focused in on latino foods. We spoke in English and Spanish – sometimes both at the same time. Some of learned a few new words like picante for spicy and buen provecho for good appetite.
Like the early believers we ate together with glad and sincere hearts.