Thursday, March 15, 2012

Climbing the Language Barrier

Without a doubt one of the most difficult challenges we faced while living in Honduras was the language barrier. Not being able to communicate can be really frustrating. And let's face it. Sitting through a two-hour church service in a completely foreign language and pretending to be totally engrossed in it the entire time can give even the most devout follower a severe case of the yawns.

So not speaking Spanish was a huge disadvantage for our ministry. That's what we thought at first. But then we started to see some unexpected benefits to our language deficiency.

  • We had to find other ways to express ourselves. Often that involved hilarious hand gestures that confused more than they helped. But when students greeting us with friendly waves and giving us hugs after church, we knew that we'd somehow been able to demonstrate our love for them.
  • We learned to laugh at ourselves. You can't really take yourself too seriously when you're likely to tell someone they're a good horse when you meant to compliment their friendliness.
  • We let others laugh at us. Nothing ingratiates a person into the world of teenagers like letting them double over in laughter at your expense and chuckling right along with them.
  • We let ourselves be taught. Our kids loved having something that they could teach us. They were the experts and we were their favorite students.
  • We were at our students' mercy. And they knew it. Sure we were taken advantage of sometimes. But putting ourselves in such a vulnerable position helped foster a true connectedness we might not have been able to develop otherwise. We weren't perfect--we had weaknesses just like them.
  • We had to study. Honduran students aren't really taught good study habits and skills (at least not until they come to El Sembrador). Seeing us with our notebooks and study notes and giving them the opportunity to critique our work was a great way to demonstrate our commitment to learning and teach some valuable skills at the same time.
Yes, there were long staff meetings where we didn't understand a word. And yes there were times of miscommunication and confusion. And there were probably serious discipleship opportunities we missed. But I think if we had to do all over again, we'd still risk climbing the language barrier with the help of our new friends at El Sembrador.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Do Missionaries Raise Support?

This is one of the most common question people have asked us. And the answer is actually pretty simple.

Raising support is Biblical.
Look at the examples we're given. Jesus traveled and got by mostly due to the generous provisions given by His followers. Even more evidence regarding Jesus' philosophy of support raising is given when He sends out the 12 (Matt. 10:9-15) and again when He sends the 72 (Luke 10:1-7). Paul shows us the original use of a support letter in 1 and 2 Corinthians. He even tells the church how to collect it (1 Cor. 16:1-2)! 

But wait there's more...
Raising support is not begging. It's taken me a long time to wrap my brain around this idea. But it finally stuck one day when I complained to an elderly missionary with decades of experience that I was too timid and embarrassed to ask some people to support our ministry. He stood up and looked me straight in the eye. And with his wrinkled finger wagging directly in front of my nose he yelled, "How dare you steal that opportunity for God to work in someone's life! It isn't about you!" 

He's right, of course. It's all about Him. And if He's brought someone into my life, I owe it to God to let myself be used. He'll use his people and His money according to His will and I'd better get out of the way if I think otherwise.

Now that you know...
Here's your chance to let God use you to bless our ministry in Honduras. Click here.