Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gringo Churches. . . and Gringos and Churches

Heads up to our faithful readers: no new  developments regarding our FBI Criminal Background Check reports already submitted to our FBI approved Channeler.  I'll be checking on that situation hopefully later today.

So much I've learned, so little time to write about it all. . .   (sigh)

Today's focus will be on Gringos and churches.  Or, if you will, extranjeros y Iglesias, especialmente las Iglesias de los extranjeros.  That is to say, foreigners and churches, especially expat churches. 

The church - the Bride of Christ - is called out of the world, but still presently in the world.  In, but not of, as the Apostle John so wisely put it.  The expat church in a foreign country (like Ecuador is to us in our case) is a double dose of that spiritual and relational reality: in a new country, with a different language, culture, set of customs, and geography, but not of the things that make up that country.  We are, instead, as the Apostle Peter so aptly illustrates, aliens and strangers - extranjeros - to this present world.  We long for our True Home and country, Heaven, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us. 

Now, presently speaking here in Ecuador, or in any country around the world, there is no perfect church, experientially speaking.  That's because we practically speaking are all sinners and still sin, and have imperfectness in our thoughts, perceptions, and actions.  We all miss the mark presently.  By God's marvelous Grace, however, He sees is positionally as fully sanctified, pure and holy, and thus perfect.  We don't deserve such a gift, but we may humbly receive it and claim it as ours according to what God has promised in His word, the Bible. 

We likewise are not presently perfect.  We still sin, fall short of the high and perfect standard that God alone in Jesus Christ is able to perform.  May God be merciful to us, sinners. . . saved by His evergreen and rich Grace afforded us by the price paid at the Cross.

All that said, I have been looking for a church - indigenous and Ecuadorian or expat and North American to begin teaching English, whether paid or volunteer.  Never mind that among the secular community(ies) present here in Cuenca there are abundant opportunities to teach English - ESL, or English as a Second Language as a volunteer.  Iglesia Verbo Cristiana, our current church home, is in its Arco Language Institute service arm not yet set to hire any new ESL teachers until July at the earliest, I have been informed this past Friday.  So it may be appropriate to begin by volunteering elsewhere in the meantime.

I have enjoyed these past several weeks a Men's Breakfast sponsored by and for Cuenca Christian Church, an expat English speaking church, and have gotten to know some of the men that attend.  I seem to be the only one that attends that is not a Sunday morning worshipper of that congregation, yet I am still welcome.  Thanks, my brothers in Christ for that.  Anyways, it became known to me through one of the attendees of that Men's Breakfast that a new ministry in the El Centro of Cuenca is in need of volunteer ESL teachers to converse and spend time with the local population that comes in on written schedule (trying to pair up willing volunteers with those who wish assistance in a coordinated way).  I had some time this past Saturday morning to give, and so off I went with one of the men to find this hole-in-the-wall place on a very busy main street in the thick of El Centro.

I enjoyed my time with my friend and a 79 year old grandmother who just wanted to learn English in order to converse and understand her Gringo neighbors. . . God Bless her in her efforts at such an advanced age!  Afterwards, I had some unstructured time with the founder of the ministry who is from the United States, who did quite a bit of talking. . . and talking. . . and talking. 

I don't get the sense I was truly listened to, which reminded me of other places and other times in the US when this same thing happened.  The common thread here is the Signs and Wonders movement, which places emphasis on experience, imho, versus really truly understanding what the Bible is all about in its true context, and naturally, what God is all about. . . His Divine purposes and plans for humankind, and for us each individually.

I believe God is grieved when fellow Believers don't agree when they should, and be guided together in the Scriptures with the Holy Spirit guiding them into all Truth.  My host was right, however, in saying that "if you get Doctrine (teaching) right, you get everything else right."  Problem is, his Doctrine does not line up or agree with my Doctrine. . . what I would term the Essentials of the Christian faith.  What I would die for rather than recant in order to live longer on this transitory sphere called Earth (witness the beheadings of Christian believers from Egypt by ISIS in Libya lately).  

Insisting that his ministry is going to raise the dead?  Recounting several unsubstantiated instances of alleged miracles/healings?  No proof.  Please be reasonable and produce the people and the testimonies - verifiable, please - to back up the claims.  It's one thing to say it, but it's another thing to produce it, imho.  "I am now balanced in my ministry," says my host.  Yeah.  Having the icing of the cake before the Essentials of the Faith - the main meal - is hardly balanced.  

Yes, he's got relationships forming and people dropping into his storefront ministry.  I understand the concept and the practice.  And it's neat to have local Cuencanos and Cuencanas come by for the Engish conversations and readings - and sometimes in the Bible, too!  I wanna support this kind of English learning friendship ministry.  But I noticed I wasn't listened to - respected - by the main guy who started the place.  

I am torn.  I am saddened.  

I dunno what decision I will make about where to teach English for the interim at the moment.  I am presently leaning against returning to this particular place to volunteer my English teaching skills.  

I wish the True Church - all those who truly are in Jesus by Faith alone - would be more united.  Ecuador, like a lot of Latin America, has a "Wild West" mentality where anything and everything goes.

Please pray for God's Wisdom in how to proceed given my teaching gifts and skills.           

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