Wednesday, July 6, 2011
How's it going?
We have been asked frequently, “How is it going at the BRIDGE?” We are excited about how God is allowing us to minister in the hot, dry city of Laredo. Here is how a “typical” day unfolds…
The whole family comes to work (except Josh who is in Michigan right now). Pastor Nava came in to buy materials for his congregation at Loma Alta. He and Steve are starting a Saturday morning Bible study on the basics of the Christian faith. His wife runs the Laredo Life Center (crisis pregnancy center) and has bought videos, books, and materials for the ladies that come into the center.
Bill, a (semi-homeless) friend that we met last week, came in with his friend Robert. Bill is in the rebuilding stage of his life. He is currently traveling with a bucket and supplies to find work washing cars. He enjoys Steve’s coffee and is thankful for the nice shirts Steve Walters donated. We are thankful that the shirts are long sleeved to cover Bill’s unclad woman tattoo. Anna had baked muffins the day before, so the guys enjoyed coffee (a lot of coffee), muffins, and conversation. Bill went to find some cars to wash and asked us to keep on eye on Robert. Robert is suffering from some health problems and unclear thinking. He was content to read his Bible and draw on paper but then wanted to lie down. He had seen a large piece of cardboard earlier in the day that he wanted to use as a bed. We have many folded down boxes in the back room so he made a pallet of those and took a nap until Bill got back. Bill is supposed to meet us at church this Sunday. During this time other people came into the bookshop. I was glad that people didn’t stare or treat them differently.
An Hispanic woman with her children and mother came to buy supplies for their church and family. We found out her husband is a pastor in Honduras. He is working on legally coming to the U.S. We were able to give her a case of the Dios me Ama Bibles to ship to her husband.
Pastor Roberto and his wife Keena came in to buy resources for themselves and their congregation. Pastor Roberto and Keena have a heart for the destitute in the poor Hispanic communities of Laredo. The last time Roberto was in we gave him a case of Spanish New Testaments. While they were at BRIDGE Ministries on this visit, Roberto related (with tears in his eyes) how he had given some of the Spanish New Testaments to a family of 7 children who are being taken care of by their grandmother (both parents are in prison). He told the children that they needed to take care of the Bibles. Later in the week Roberto said he saw one of the boys reading his Bible, and the boy told him he was ‘taking care’ of his gift. The children are so hungry for love. What better gift to give them than to tell them that they have a Father in Heaven--the Creator of the universe--who loves them unconditionally.
When we aren’t working with people in the bookshop we are sorting, stamping, and pricing books that come in. The Hispanic and Mexican pastors have been so thankful for the wide supply of Christian materials that we have in Spanish. We recently had some people visit from Monterrey, Mexico who were very excited about having a Christian bookstore on the border.
Periodically we’d like to share some thoughts on books that have been especially meaningful to us. This month we’ll review the book RADICAL: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt.
In this book David discusses the difference between Jesus’ call to discipleship, and what American culture has changed it into. David asks, “[The] crucial question for every professing or potential follower of Jesus [is]: Do we really believe he is worth abandoning everything for? Do you and I really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying, and so rewarding that we will leave all we have and all we own and all we are in order to find our fullness in him? Do you and I believe him enough to obey him and to follow him wherever he leads, even when the crowds in our culture—and maybe in our churches—turn the other way?” The author goes on to convey how we have “embraced values and ideas that are common in our culture but are antithetical to the gospel he [Jesus] taught.”
David Platt’s purpose in writing the book is not simply to criticize American Christian culture, but with a pastor’s heart—for that is what he is—David challenges us to listen to the words of Jesus, believe them, and obey them. He summons us to return to a “biblical gospel, because the cost of not doing so is great for our lives, our families, our churches, and the world around us.”
I found this book immensely penetrating. It challenges us (with the Spirit’s incitement) to question whether we are following the Jesus of the Bible, or a comfortable Jesus of our own making. Buy, beg, or borrow a copy and read it—you won’t be able to put it down once you’ve started.
Praise and Prayer:
-We are thankful for Hope House (www.hopehousemx.org) and the Christian influence they continue to have in the lives of abandoned and orphaned boys in Mexico.
-We praise God for the opportunities we’ve had to provide Bibles and evangelical Christian materials to the communities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
-We are thankful that we were able to see our dear missionary friends the Dutros and St. Clairs.
-We continue to pray for the people and country of Mexico with the violence and darkness that is crippling that nation. May the darkness be exposed and may the people of the Light stand firm in their fight against the enemy.
Dios les bendiga,
Steve, Leigh Ann, Josh, Anna, and Sophie