My Prayer

Was it so very long ago you came to live on earth?
When will I ever comprehend the value of the Savior’s birth?

A man with rough, but gentle hands, a carpenter by trade
I want so much to understand the sacrifice the Father gave

And in the silence I can hear a voice that calls to me
Sometimes it comes in loud and clear, sometimes I’m just not listening

The rains have come, the winds have blown, and stronger for the storm I stand
Amazing grace I’ve come to know while clinging tightly to your hand

Lord, help me hear that voice inside, the message coming through
Please take my heart and amplify the love I have for you

Please take my heart and amplify the love I have for you

 

Written by Chet and Danice Sweet of the a cappella singing group, Revival.

Parlez-vous le français?

I wish the more supernatural gifts were still around! If you know me, you know which one most interests me! That’s right – speaking in tongues! Every since I was little kid, I remember being fascinated by foreign languages!

I started studying Spanish in the 11th grade. My last year of Spanish I did not go to class. My teacher graciously taught me more accelerated classes after school four days a week. Once I arrived at Oklahoma Christian my freshman year I took Spanish. My sophomore year I began studying Brazilian Portuguese. It was my senior year that my love-hate relationship with the French language began.

Ever since I was a young child, I wanted to speak French! My goal, for many years, was to be fluent in French because I wanted to work for the U.S. State Department or the U.N. I thought I was good at imitating a French accent until I began studying French in college. It seemed as when I got in front of my professor, my accent suddenly went missing and I would begin to speak French with a Latin American accent. My French professor even told me one day, “Vous parlez le français comme un Vénézuélien.” I was a little insulted by the thought that I spoke French like a Venezuela, but I decided to take it as a compliment. Since then, I have bought a number of French CD’s and text books in order to keep learning. I even watch TV Monde, French television every now and then.

I really needed to speak French this last Saturday. Luis Gómez invited the young people from church to go to the Plaza Altamira, also known as the French Plaza to tell people about Jesus. I’ll have to admit I am a little timid and I prefer other types of evangelism, but they we were! I told my partner that we should buy some ice cream from a vendor and that we could talk to her for a while. I quickly realized that our new friend did not speak Spanish very well at all! She spoke French! Our friend Nicole was from Haiti.

She lived in a dangerous barrio in West Caracas and sells ice cream in one of Caracas’ favorite plazas. I used whatever French I could remember . . . I introduced myself, got her name, asked her about her family and where she lived . . . and that was about it! I could not remember any more French! I got so mad at myself!

Did you know that Caracas has a large Haitian community? There are more than 7,500 Haitians in Venezuela, principally in Caracas in the barrios La Vega and Antímano. A great majority of them come to Venezuela looking for better political and economic conditions. There is even a Christian bookstore that sells Bibles in French at a discount to the Haitian community.

What are we doing to help the Haitians in Caracas? How many members from the Lord’s church are praying for and helping these needy families? Who is telling them about God’s unfailing love? In missiology we talked about unreached people groups. For what I know, the Haitians in Caracas are an unreached group!

Who will go and preach to them?

My Jesus, as Thou Wilt

“My Jesus, as Thou Wilt” is one of my favorite hymns. It was written by Benjamin Schmolck around 1704 and was translated into English from German by Jane L. Borthwick in 1854.

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! Oh, may Thy will be mine!

Into Thy hand of love I would my all resign;

Through sorrow, or through joy, conduct me as Thine own,

And help me still to say, my Lord, Thy will be done!

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! If needy here and poor,

Give me Thy people’s bread, their portion rich and sure.

The manna of Thy Word Let my soul feed upon;

And if all else should fail, my Lord, thy will be done.

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! Though seen through many a tear,

Let not my star of hope grow dim or disappear;

Since Thou on earth hast wept, and sorrowed oft alone,

If I must weep with Thee, my Lord, Thy will be done!

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! All shall be well for me;

Each changing future scene I gladly trust with Thee:

Straight to my home above I travel calmly on,

And sing, in life or death, my Lord, Thy will be done!

¿Quién soy yo?

Yo soy un gringo que está viviendo en Venezuela. Y como puedes imaginar, muchas personas hacen la pregunta, ¿quién es él? o ¿qué hace ese loco aquí? Bueno, también me he hecho esa pregunta varias veces. ¿Por qué? Porque yo creo que es importante que sepamos quienes somos y que no se nos olvida nunca eso.

¿Por dónde comienzo? Bueno, mi nombre es Jonathan Hanegan. Nací en Denver, Colorado a padres norteamericanos. Mis antepasados venían de Irlanda, Escosia, Inglaterra y Alemania. Incluso, se dice por allí con una tatarabuela fue una princesa de la tribu Cherokee. La verdad es que no sé. Más importante para mí que la pregunta, de dónde vengo (o sea, lugar de origen), es de dónde vengo en el sentido de mi persona. Mis padres son cristianos fieles. Mi hermano y su esposa también. Mis abuelos maternos y paternos también fueron cristianos fieles. Mis bisabuelos también fueron cristianos. Por lo tanto, más que norteamericano, más de ser un catire (Venezuela), mono (Colombia) o rubio (México) yo soy cristiano.

Yo fui criado sobre suelo norteamericano. Yo salí de mi país por primera vez cuando tuve 14 años. Viajé al Medio Oriente y a Italia. Este viaje me abrió los ojos a muchas cosas. Si me preguntas si estoy orgulloso de ser americano, te diría que sí y no. Doy gracias a Dios que nací en los EE.UU. por las muchas oportunidades y bendiciones que recibí de Dios en mi patria. Si no fuera por Dios, mi país y sus riquezas, nunca hubiese tenido la bendición de venir a Sudamérica y comenzar una nueva vida aquí en Venezuela. No me puedo quejar.

No hace mucho estaba siendo entrevistado por un soldado del ejército colombiano en un aeropuerto. Me preguntó de dónde era. Le dije “de los Estados Unidos.” Me dijo, “de dónde viene” y le dije “Venezuela.” Me sorprendió la siguiente pregunta que fue: “¿si usted es de los Estados Unidos, entonces por qué habla como venezolano?” Me dio mucha risa la pregunta porque me tocó explicar lo que a veces me cuesta explicar a mí mismo. Quizás esta situación les puede ayudar a entender cómo yo me siento en Sudamérica.

Vamos a estar claro, ¡yo tengo cara de gringo! Yo no puedo escapar el hecho que tengo una pinta de gringo que se reconoce aún desde lejos. En Venezuela, no dejan de pedir al catire una mone’ita y en Colombia al mono unos pesitos. Pero allí no está el rollo. Lo que me complica la vida es que mientras uno trata de definir quién es y ubicarse en este mundo, ya todos tienen una idea preconcebida de uno. Los chavistas me ven una cara de imperialista y los choros me ven cara de rico. Como ya les dije, muchos no me conocen por quien yo soy.

De repente ese es uno de los retos más difíciles en la vida, ser transparente y dejar que la gente te conozca. Yo he tratado de hacer eso. Yo me considero una persona bastante abierta. Y les confieso una cosa, cuando yo me vine a Sudamérica por primera vez yo era bastante cerrado. Yo no sabía compartir mis cosas muy bien, no hablaba con tanta franqueza, no demostraba tanto cariño tampoco. Dios me ha cambiado mucho en estos últimos años. ¡Y le doy las gracias por eso! Pero todavía falta.

Volviendo a la pregunta que hice al principio, ¿Quién soy yo? Yo soy hijo de Dios. Con eso, no tengo problema. Pero si soy gringo, venezolano o colombiano, no sé decirte. Y creo que Dios en su infinita sabiduría siempre va a permitir que yo tenga esa inquietud. ¿Por qué? Porque no soy de aquí. Aunque fui Made in América mi ciudadanía no está aquí en la tierra. Mi ciudadanía está con Cristo en los cielos.

Tal vez si no tuviera esa inquietud, si estuviera seguro de mi lugar en este mundo, tal vez no anhelaría tanto mi morada con Dios en los cielos. Esa inquietud que tengo es un recuerdo amoroso del gran valor del sacrificio de Cristo Jesús en la cruz del Calvario. Si llego a sentirme demasiado cómodo en este mundo es probable que se me haya olvidado el porque Cristo murió por mí. Entonces, en vez de preocuparme y tratar de definir quién soy y para dónde voy, debería más bien dar las gracias a Dios por regalarme la ciudadanía celestial y buscar su presencia en todo momento, dondequiera que esté.

“Amados, yo os ruego como a extranjeros y peregrinos, que os abstengáis de los deseos carnales que batallan contra el alma, manteniendo buena vuestra manera de vivir entre los gentiles; para que en lo que murmuran de vosotros como de malhechores, glorifiquen a Dios en el día de la visitación, al considerar vuestras buenas obras.” 1 Pedro 2:11-12.

“Mas nuestra ciudadanía está en los cielos, de donde también esperamos al Salvador, al Señor Jesucristo” Filipenses 3:20.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874-1963), Mountain Interval, 1920.

El camino no tomado

Dos caminos divergían en un bosque amarillo,
y apenado de no poder viajarlos ambos
y ser un único viajero, permanecí largo rato
y contemplé por uno tan lejos como podía
para ver adónde se perdía en la vegetación;

entonces tomé el otro, tan recto como iluminado,
y teniéndolo tal vez como el más apropiado,
porque estaba cubierto de hierba y era incitante;
aunque para el que pasa por allí
tenían los dos realmente la misma utilidad.

Y ambos igualmente yacían en aquella mañana
en hojas que ningún paso había manchado de sombra.
Ah, ¡dejé el primero para otro día!
Aun sabiendo cómo el camino conduce al camino,
dudé si habría de volver alguna vez.

Estaré diciendo esto con un suspiro
en algún lugar a edades y edades de aquí:
dos caminos divergían en un bosque y yo…
yo tomé aquel que era el menos transitado,
y eso ha hecho toda la diferencia.

Robert Frost (1874-1963), Mountain Interval, 1920.

Share the Story

Many missiologists (academics who study Christian missionary work) make a distinction between “reached” and “unreached people.” For example, a missiologist would say that the American people are a “reached people” because there is a general knowledge of the person of Jesus and wide access to the Gospel. The people of Caracas would also be considered a “reached people” because of the general cultural awareness of Jesus Christ and the number of “believers” in the city.

Nevertheless, I have a hard time seeing this distinction as something Jesus Himself or even the Apostle Paul would approve of. I believe it is fair to make a distinction between cultures that have a large Christian influence and others that have none whatsoever. However, I believe to call a people group “reached” as opposed to “unreached” in a way minimizes the real need for mission work within that group.

One of the greatest joys in mission work is sharing the Story. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the greatest story ever told. Despite Venezuela’s rich religious history, there are many who do not truly know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Just this last week I had the opportunity to share the Story for the first time! It was not my first time telling the Story, but my friend here in Caracas had never heard the Story of Jesus! We began reading in the first chapter of Genesis about the creation, how God created the heavens and the earth and it was good. We talked about how we are created in God’s image. We also talked about the fall of man and the serious problem of sin. Then I shared with him about God’s great love, how He loves us so much that before the creation of the world, God made a plan to save us from our sins.

While we read these sacred texts together, my good friend kept saying, “wow! I didn’t know that!” I must admit, even I was a little bit surprised by his reaction to the Story! My friend grew up in a Catholic home and in a culture with many Christian values. But truthfully, his reaction is not very surprising! The truth is there are millions of caraqueños who do not know the Story!

Have you ever had the pleasure of sharing the Story for the first time? You do not need to go to a remote village in Africa or to the Ye’kuana people in the Venezuelan Amazon to share the Story for the first time! Look around you! Make a list of your friends who are not Christians! It is very likely that many of them do not know who Jesus truly is! Pray about it and make a serious effort to share with them the greatest Story ever told! Try it out! Remember, it’s one of the greatest joys of mission work!

I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the Story
Because I know ‘tis true;
It satisfied my longings
As nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story:
‘Tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it,
More wonderfully sweet;
I love to tell the story,
For some have never heard
The message of salvation
From God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story,
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest;
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
‘Twill be the old, old story
That I have loved so long.

I love to tell the Story!
‘Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.

Catherine Hankey, 1866.