Maybe you saw on the news that a 8.2 earthquake just hit last night in the city Iquique to which we are headed. This is an enormous earthquake. We should be arriving there in the middle of the cleanup. We know that God will protect and lead us in this extremely dangerous and volatile region. They are expecting another huge one at any time. Maybe we can bring the gospel at a time when these people may be more vulnerable to Jesus. It surely does not seem like a coincidence that we are here at precisely this time. Quite mind blowing really. We could be far more in God’s will then we realize. Jesus IS coming soon.
In regards to the prisons. We are now having to bear backlash of Satan’s fury for what God accomplished through us. Paul warns of “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph.6:12). Demons whose sole purpose is to craft concepts of delusion to win men. We did several presentations in the prisons this last week. It seems we greatly offended the evangelicals in the prison who rely heavily on the officials to support, regulate and expound their TV ministry out of the prison. In turn officials get a kickback. They actually have a huge banner for it on a prison wall in the middle of all these catholic shrines.
I am obviously using the term “evangelicals” in a qualified context referring to any wicked religious system that uses Christian concepts and terminology to project an image of self-righteousness (wolves covering themselves as sheep). Jesus had no hesitancy in exposing such hypocrites who exploit the naive (Mt.23). They actually depend on the money they get from prisoners. NO KIDDING.
They are quite obvious by their nice clothes and grooming amongst the destitute majority. They pay off the guards to allow them to do their thing which is to manipulate other inmates for money, in the Name of Jesus, that they must get from their relatives or have nothing. Those who can not pay off guards do not have even some of the basic needs. It is outrageous. Maybe you could imagine this in mainstream America or even Latin social circles but you’d never imagine this kind of wicked hypocrisy being imposed on afflicted inmates in a prison.
It is a terribly corrupt system. How amazing for God to get us in there to declare the truth of Jesus. We had no idea. They wrongly assumed us to be evangelicals even though we specifically told them that we were not. Through preaching and literature we proclaimed boldly the Jesus of the Scriptures. We had just printed 40,000 copies of a tract that lays out the specifics of evangelical “deizmo” and other false teachings. So we were able to saturate the prisons. How dare men defile the gospel for the sake of personal gain.
One of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid was an army flick called “COMBAT”. The sense of mission binding together fellow comrades was really cool as a little boy. I’d run around the house dodging bullets and diving into “fox holes”. Of course I would often accidentally catch the curtains, as I dove over a couch. This invoked another kind of war zone, involving my mother’s ‘wrath’ (which hid her lovely laugh just below the surface).
Now, as a son on a journey, I realize the high price of true combat. We walk into a gymnasium where guards lead groups of prisoners in and out, who are casualties of a war for their souls of which they are not even aware. This family of eight is locked hand in hand to combat the unseen powers of darkness which rule their lives (Eph.6:12). We are on a mission to bring them freedom (Jn.8:32). We learn to “soldier” in the Spirit. In my early day my zeal drove me into many unnecessary battles. God has since taught me that if wisdom can prevent your enemy from drawing his sword you have won the battle. The goal is not to display how well you can fight (ego). The goal is to win your enemy (selfless love).
Our time in the prison has been amazing. It is so obvious that God has gone before us in many ways. The worst prison in Latin America just heard Jesus. It has the highest murder rate. We heard, of the 10,000 prisoners 7000 have not even received a sentence. Some have been in there for many years for minimal crimes. Man after man I talked with had no idea how long they were going to be there.
The main office called us and told us there was no way we could go in. Now we know why. In fact they guaranteed us it was “impossible”. But we went directly to the prison and talked directly to the General. The facility was built for 3000 and it is a living hell inside.(See Wikipedia Peruvian Prison Massacres).
We put together little packets with several items. Joshua printed up 10,000 pages of four 5×7 nature pictures with Scriptures on them for the guys to put up in their cells. They are high quality color and gloss paper of places where we have been in the mountains, streams and rivers. Also some candy, some got a deck of cards, a wrist band, a little booklet of how to get started seeking Jesus and a CD of our music.
We received an edifying compliment. After the first presentation I was sitting alone resting. A man came over and identified himself as the head prison psychologist. I thought “Oh boy, here it comes. He’s going to tell me that I’m giving these guys a false hope with this Jesus fairy tale.”
The first words out of his mouth were in a serious tone I have never before seen “How do you do it?”. He said that he has been working as a professional psychologist for the last 25 years in all the prisons throughout Peru and had seen the gamut of religious and secular events, but has never seen anyone connect with the prisoners so fast and as deep as we did. I was blown away. There was no pride trip here because we are not getting anything out of it, only trying to put something in; Jesus. I will never forget this moment and the amazing serious demeanor of this man.
We talked for a while about the things I shared in my last blog; “have THIS ATTITUDE…” (Phil.2). I explained the work of “emptying yourself” (an extraordinary word and concept-kenosis-in Greek). It is an enigma in theological circles of seminary life. It is something created and displayed by Jesus. It is the conscious process to eliminate self so that someone is touched, not by the hand of man, but by the hand of God reaching through you. Lest I sound sophisticated, the proof of this pudding is seen by the willingness to dress up as a monkey and be a fool to break through stuffed-shirt religiosity. To make a guy laugh so hard that he opens his heart to what you have to say. These guys are an ounce away from giving up.
All the problems of injustice, inhumane treatment, violent crime, destroyed marriages, abandoned children will never be resolved in this lifetime. Sin is sin is sin is sin. So the focus must be on equipping an individual with God’s resurrection provision of perspective and grace. Their problems are so enormous they cannot be eliminated by some psychological formula or intellectual conference (This is the focus of the evangelicals in prison). By using a spontaneous and transparent expression of creativity and intelligent humor (as to be differentiated with emotional hype) there is a connection with a guy on the most human need for laughter and personal love.
So long ago in college at Central Michigan I majored in Psychology and read all the B.F. Skinner (Behavior Modification) “professional” thinking of man’s answers to man’s problems. I realized back then, having met Jesus my sophomore year, that Psychology deals only with the realm of the soul (Greek “psych”). They have no other knowledge, and since they reject God, no other answers. God deals in the realm of generating a new spirit in man through faith Jn.4:24 1 Cor.15:45/Rom.4). This is why Paul says some 26 TIMES in just two chapters (Romans 5 -6) that a man (the soul- the 1st Adam- human nature) must die so as to gain the spirit-life of the resurrection (the 2nd Adam-1 Cor.15:45).
Anyways the guy was a humble man who said he understood what I said and would take it all to heart. I hope to talk with him again. There were many other in depth sharings with both workers and prisoners. Lest you think this is any kind of pride trip, my gut level feeling about it all is just that it so confirms the revelation of God’s Word. These people as speaking from the point of view of the world openly admit they have no answers, not realizing, because of their lack of worldly knowledge, that they are just honest. God has clearly laid out the problems and the answers in His Word. I’m just so happy that I’m on the Lion’s side.
Such seemingly simple times as these so confirm salvation in Christ. When a man is brought to the absolute end of self-strength he is forced to see his nothingness, desperation and pride. The question is then what he will do. Those who don’t “know any better” are simply honest. I can imagine so many Psychologists telling this guy “Shut up Dude! Don’t tell him that you don’t know the answers! That your weak. Don’t you know about our pact of rebellion?! What’s wrong with you?”. What’s “wrong” with this guy is that he is a simple catholic who sincerely cares about helping people and is not into any image. That’s what “wrong” with this Dude. He simply needs to be born again.
Some of the “evangelical” prisoners walk around like they are the President of Peru and need a good hard reality check; “Hey Mr. Spiritual have you noticed that your ‘deep spirituality’ has put you IN A PRISON?!” Some of them receive it. Some do not. Even such horrible circumstances as this does not break their proud delusion. All they got is their last gasp of pride and are not about to let go of it for some blind leap into the world of reality where the brokenness of the cross reckoned by the living Jesus is required. Regardless of the people compassion is always our default. “Those of you who say you are ‘saved’ I would not ask YOU if you are a Christian . I would ask your cell mate.” No greater love then to lay down his life for another.
We are heading out in a couple days. Aside from the earthquakes the roads are going to be very mountainous and dangerous once again. We will drive head long into the Andes Mountains. We had to have van work done and lighten our load. Abraham had to take off the trailer he put on the frame he built. Thank God he only put it on with U-bolts. They have now hand built every single part from the bottom up a custom trailer for our future journey. Can you imagine finding the supplies and tools in a third world country? Abraham and David and Ruth and Elizabeth and Sarah and Joshua did it all outside on the dirty little tiny parking place in front of our hotel that has many cracks in the walls from earth tremors (which by the way we just had another two nights ago).
We’ve had a great witness in Lima, Peru but it is a country like none other we’ve been to. It is extremely depressed and bound in a bureaucratic nightmare of corruption an insane technicality-mentality. Large crowds and so much sharing with individuals with so many religious influences. This one guy was just amazing. He had been through a ton of churches and religions. Had no answers. At his end. Talked to him about what it means to be born again into the Spirit. So good to see my words register and not go in one ear and out the other. Explained the difference Biblically between the natural realm and the spiritual realm. He was so grateful.
When you find someone with some fire and intelligence it is sweet. We have to constantly confront the whole “church” = salvation thing because it is a plague that covers the earth. When someone says “car” you think “car”. When someone says “cloud” you think “cloud”. Yet when the name Jesus is spoken why is it everyone thinks of a moral lifestyle or a system of people on Sunday?
A middle aged woman named Victoria just lifted our hearts so much the other day. In fact she just emailed us this morning. She said that all she wanted to do was thank us. She said she would never be the same. She said those few hours of being at our presentation caused her to, for the first time, understand Jesus. She had never understood the gospel. What a privilege!
As you may or may not know when we exhaust our savings we must return to the states to get jobs to once again build up some savings to come back into the harvest field. There is no system that supports us. Obviously standing in the truth does not warrant such a thing. If anyone has the desire and the means to help us with anything, to do what you are reading that we do, you can do so through Paypal with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org I feel very awkward in writing this, it’s just not my way. I’m actually sorry for even writing it, but the vast harvest all around us here influences me to give it a go. Thank you for any consideration and please try to understand.
Patience and faith breed new life.