Paraguay (Part 2)

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Of all the places in the world, why would Don Hess and I choose to go on a prayer trip to Paraguay?

Paraguay a country of 6 million people, about the size of California, land-locked by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia has welcomed immigrants from all over the world.

From our standpoint as persons of Mennonite descent, we were interested to learn that Paraguay now has about 50,000 people who are Mennonite or of Mennonite ancestry. Many of these Mennonites are German speaking. They are from German ancestors who had been invited by Catherine the Great to Russia in the late 1700’s to develop the Ukraine. They prospered greatly there for 100 years. Then following World Wars I and II, unwanted by Russia or Germany or anyone else, they found a safe haven, some in Canada, but more in Paraguay, in the undeveloped western Chaco region of Paraguay, known as the Green Hell.

This was a time of great suffering for these Russian Mennonite settlers as they struggled to eke out an existence from this inhospitable land.

Mennonites in the United States reached out to help their “Mennonite brethren.”

Don Hess in doing some family research discovered that his Grandfather Hess had been touched by God to respond to these Russian Mennonites in the process of settling in Paraguay and had contributed a sizable amount of money to their needs.

Today 70 years later these Russian Mennonites are now prospering greatly. This “green hell” is now producing food for the nations. They ship the very best quality beef to Israel and other countries. And they have schools and hospitals and industries and businesses of all types and some have risen to positions of power and influence in the land of Paraguay.

Their churches are large. On Sunday morning we attended a service in a beautiful church building in Filadelfia with 1000 German Mennonites in attendance. We met on Monday with leaders in the Mennonite Brethren Church. We learned of their hearts for mission and their active and effective mission programs throughout the country as well as their interest in doing missions in other countries.

The question still remains: Why would Don Hess and I go on a prayer trip to Paraguay?

The answer will need to wait for another post.

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Coptic Connections

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It feels as though God is doing a new thing when the leaders of the local Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church invited a team of us from LifeGate to address their youth on ‘living a holy life in an unholy culture.’

Through presentations, testimonies and panel discussions, seven of us from LifeGate shared with the full house what it means to follow the Holy Spirit in a culture where many choose to follow the desires of the flesh rather than the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is apparent that whatever one’s cultural background, choosing to follow Jesus places you into a countercultural position.

We met tonight at the Coptic Church. We will be meeting again tomorrow, November 28th, from 5-8 pm. Tonight we dealt with issues of sexuality and tomorrow we deal with addictions, including drugs, alcohol and pornographhy.

May these new relationships yield much fruit for the Kingdom.C

Ineffably Sublime Worship

It was not a concert so much as a worship experience. It was not a performance so much as the joyful participation of thousands of worshipers with hundreds of choir members and thousands of angels in joyful celebration of the goodness of the Lord. It was not passive observation so much as fervent declaration: “Jesus I need you…I am not a conqueror I am more than a conqueror. My walk is strong my faith is long. ”

 This was the first time Carol Cymbala’s Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and Bishop Hezekiah Walker’s Love Fellowship Tabernacle Choir, both Grammy winners, had ever given a combined concert. The choirs sang together as one, led first by Bishop Hezekiah and then by Carol Cymbala.

 Ruth and I were refreshed, renewed, and inspired by the concert. May God give us all a spirit of prayer and put us back on our knees as we face this difficult time in history.

 In summary we value the love of our friends who made this trip possible. As one of the speakers said tonight, “We are not wrestlers; we are soldiers with shields locked together.” We cannot live life alone; we need the support of brothers and sisters of faith. So thanks, LifeGate.

 As we traveled we sang the hymn, “Crown Him With Many Crowns” . This hymn has the line ” Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time; Creator of the rolling spheres ineffably sublime.” I would say in closing, “This trip was ineffably sublime. ”

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Elizabethtown Passion Play

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More than 1500 people flocked the streets of Elizabethtown for the passion play last evening. Many of them knew the shepherd whom they followed through the streets to the place of his crucifixion. A high point for me was meeting a number of persons whom I have learned to know through the Naaman Center. These friends on their journey out of addictions found themselves swept tonight toward the Man on the middle cross.

 

Trick or Treat Blessing

“If little children can go to the houses of complete strangers and expect good things, imagine what we can expect when we go to our Heavenly Father’s house.” This statement was made during worship last evening at a prayer meeting in our home by a young mother who had just seen many children come to her house in Elizabethtown expecting a ‘trick or treat’ blessing. Jesus said, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

 

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