All Things Are Possible to Him that Believeth

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”-Mark 9:23

Believe.

It’s such a simple word, but how often do we Christians find ourselves unable to truly trust in God?  I’ve been reading lately in the Gospels, and it strikes me how often Jesus talked about faith.  It was a constant theme throughout His teachings and His ministry.  Often when He healed people, it was because of their faith or the faith of somebody near them.

How many times do we read the promises of Jesus and then add a “but” to them?  “All things are possible but…”  I believe Jesus wants us to truly trust Him when He says the word “all”, and yet how little we do.

Is there something you are praying for that you know is God’s will?  Then cry out with the father in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

And then watch Jesus fulfill His promises.

Learning Spanish in America: A Biblical Perspective and Some Helpful Thoughts

Below is the outline of some thoughts I shared with a Spanish class I taught.  It was taught in the United States, so some of this has to do with the situation in America.  Also, not all of these thoughts are completely original with me.  Tim Carte taught me some of these things and I then passed them on to the class.

Biblical View for Learning Languages

  1. As Christians, we must view everything through the lens of Scripture.  Before we are anything else (moms, dads, brothers, sisters, Americans, musicians, athletes, etc.), we are Christians.
  2. We know that God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11).
  3. We also know that God is behind the migrations of people (Amos 9:7).  Israel’s whole existence is basically the story of God’s moving them from one place to another.
  4. When we begin to look at things through a biblical perspective, we see that God is allowing the migration of Spanish-speaking people to America in large numbers.  What we know about God should guide us in how we view this situation.  We know that God has a heart for the whole world.  He died for each of them and wants them to be with Him forever.
  5. In a time where many Spanish speakers may feel unwanted, it really means something to them when an American goes out of his or her way to talk to them and to befriend them.

The Difficulties and Realities of Language Learning

  1. Language learning is difficult and can be frustrating and discouraging at times.
  2. You get out of language learning what you put into it.
  3. There will come times of disappointment and times that you feel you aren’t advancing at all.  You must press through these.
  4. Language learning requires hours of practice and dedication, as well as consistent study.
  5. Putting fifteen to thirty minutes a day into language learning is better than a lengthy amount of time once a week.
  6. Not everything can be literally translated and make sense.
  7. Language learning requires getting out of your bubble and deliberately putting yourself into uncomfortable situations.

The Rewards of Learning a New Language

  1. It enables you to reach somebody with the gospel you might not otherwise have reached.
  2. It completely opens up a new world to you.  Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”  He was right.
  3. It gives you new friends you might never have had.  Some of my best friends are those whose first language isn’t English.
  4. It can open up new job opportunities to you.

I hope to share more in the days to come about learning another language, my own experience with it, and some things that have helped me along the way.

Watch God Work

It’s always amazing to see God directly at work, moving in a situation before the need arises.

In the Spanish Ministry at our church, we’ve been working on getting a five-day Bible club together for some children in a few different neighborhoods.  I say “we”, but the main one has been Ms. Julia Garst.  This is a way to reach children and parents with the gospel and even to find new bus riders.

We were thinking about doing it in somebody’s apartment in one area, but we needed their permission.  So we headed out there Tuesday evening.  While I think they would’ve given us permission, and the husband basically did, we were unable to talk to the wife and so were still unsure if it would happen.

The church couple that’s going to help us in this neighborhood have a large trailer and a tent we could set up outside, and he pointed out a large grassy area to park the trailer and do it if we could get permission from the landlord.  That’s never a certain thing, but we decided to go ahead and try.  I asked a *man which apartment belonged to the landlord, and he pointed out an apartment and said something like, “I don’t know where he lives.  He’s Cuban and his sister lives over there.”

Now, here’s the kicker.  A Cuban lady had just visited our church this past Sunday with a friend and told us she lived in those apartments.  We knew, we just knew that it had to be her!

And it was!  What’s more, her brother was visiting her for a little bit and we were able to speak directly to him and ask his permission, which of course he gave.

So it looks like next week we’re going through with it there!  We’re praying God will do some amazing things in that particular club and believe He will.  We already know we have His blessing on the matter.  Praise the Lord for going before us!

*This man is actually the husband referenced earlier.  I had never met him and the Lord opened the door for me to witness to him and his brother.  They weren’t saved and knew it, and while they didn’t become Christians that evening, I believe God was truly working in their hearts and am hoping I can see them some more next week.  Please pray for Francisco and Wilber to be saved!

Making a Mission Video – Part 2: Filming and Editing

The script having been written, it was time to film.  I’m blessed that my church has a room that has been designated for filming videos and I actually enjoyed filming.  It also wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, though it did take a little work.

A few days later, my youth director and I got together and went over some things, and then he did most of the editing.  He sent the video to me and I sent it back about four times.  I kept making these nitpicky corrections and the poor guy probably thought I’d never stop.  But he was a good sport about the whole thing and so I greatly appreciate that.  I actually love how supportive my whole church family has always been of me.

The final video can be seen here and here.

Please go check it out and pray about what God would have you to do!

Thank you!

Waiting on God

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. -Psalm 27:14

I’m finally posting about Chile.  There are some things on my heart and I hope they will be an encouragement to you.

I had been praying for God to show me His will for my life (I know He wants me to be a missionary, but the “where” has always evaded me) and I was growing restless waiting on Him.  But there have been times where I’ve rushed God and lived to regret it, and I didn’t want that to happen again.  So I prayed, “Lord, put something in my lap, that whenever I see it, I know it came from you.”  And then I added, “Almost as if somebody else suggested it”, or something to that effect.

I knew this mission trip to Chile was coming up and I wanted some direction from Him, whether it involved Chile itself or not.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect and was somewhat afraid He wouldn’t speak to me, and then what?  I only know I kept reading things in the Bible about waiting on the Lord and that to disobey would be to miss the blessing He had for me.  So, in anguish of mind wondering where in the world my life was actually going, for once I waited, not knowing how long that wait would be.  And that was tough and probably one of the darkest seasons of my life.  I knew deep down based on God’s Word He would answer my prayer, but I didn’t know when, and that was the horror of the whole thing.  What if it’s another year, two, or more?  What if I miss it?  What if I’ve already missed it and I’m getting the second-best?  What if…?  The whispers of doubt tormented me day after day.

We left for Chile on May 29.  I didn’t want to go into the trip emotionally and I actually wasn’t enthralled with the country at first, although I did like it.  But the more I was there, the more I loved it. The people, the language, the culture, all of it.

Then one day, it happened.  I was sitting next to my pastor on the bus when he said he wanted me to pray about coming back to serve as an intern alongside one of the missionaries there, Jason Holt.  And I knew. That was it. That was the the answer to the prayer I’d been praying.

Almost as if somebody else suggested it.

When you pray and the answer comes like that, what more do you need?  And I can say now, “Wow! What an amazing God!”

I say all of this for three reasons:

  1. To praise my Jesus Who hears and answers prayer, and Whose Word is alive and speaking to us even today.
  2. So that people know this was a direct answer to prayer and a door I know the Lord wants me to step through. I didn’t get emotional and come back all ready to return. This is from God. And there’s a certain invincibility you feel when you know you are in the center of God’s will.
  3. To encourage others who may be in a season of waiting. Don’t rush God. He will show you the path. Obey what you know to be His will and He will continue to guide you. This is easy for me to say now, but a month and a half ago I was exactly where you are. And when He answers your prayers, it will blow your mind how He does it.

I don’t write this to say I’ve arrived, that I’ve perfected the art of waiting on God and I’ll never rush Him again.  But when God teaches us lessons, it’s good to share them, as well as to praise Him in them.  I hope this encourages you on your journey.

May God bless you as you wait on Him.

Making a Mission Video – Part 1: Writing the Script

This morning I’ve been working on the script for a mission video that will be produced next week if the Lord allows.  This is a video to showcase the opportunity God has given me to return to Chile and give others the option to partner with me financially as I go.

There are times I’m writing when I feel as if I’m treading water, saying things that make no sense or writing sentences that sound terrible when read aloud.  Then there are other times when I feel like God is so clearly speaking through me as I write.  This morning was one of those times when I could sense His power as I was putting pen to paper (well, finger to keyboard).  It was a great experience, one in which I was truly excited and passionate as I wrote.  While revisions will be necessary, I believe the main idea is there.

I pray others see through me the passion God has for the lost souls of Chile.  I want this video to be a call to action, and I want God to use it mightily for His honor and glory.

Will you please pray with me?

Starting Point

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” -Proverbs 16:24

A missionary recently advised me to start a blog, and so, upon his advice, here is my first post.  I know that in my own life I have found the writings of other Christians to be helpful and encouraging, and I hope that the things I write will be so to you.

This blog will mainly consist of a few things:

  1. Scripture and how God is speaking to me through it
  2. How God is working in my life and the lives of others
  3. Ideas and Miscellaneous
  4. Specific Topics and Themes

While those last two may seem somewhat vague, I think you’ll understand what I mean when you see topics pertaining to those issues.

Please let me know any ideas or suggestions you have!

Stephen

Ps. 63:1-2