Archive for September, 2009

The Debriefing and Return to San Diego (AR09)

by Pastor John Kim

This year’s trip was truly a blessing from God. As our family and the rest of the team were able to continue the work that was started in Tucumán back in 2005, the fellowship and the ministry that we were able to participate in was truly wonderful in every way. Partnering with Pastor Jorge, Norma, and their son Josué was a mutual encouragement as we were able to enjoy the building up of our relationship after a particularly challenging time earlier this year as we contemplated having to possibly end our relationship due to some doctrinal confusion. But God was gracious in not only allowing us to clarify all the issues, we were able to move forward and really enjoy a time of both evangelizing the lost as well as equipping the body at IBM. Our debriefing time in Buenos Aires was quite cold and rainy. We spent a couple of days in discussion over what we had learned during the trip as well as to prepare for our return back to San Diego. Our talks were encouraging as we were able to bless each other on Friend Day, where you give a small gift to those that you would call your friends. We were able to share with one another all the various ways in which we saw God at work but in the team and through the team. Some might wonder if these kinds of discussions are necessary, but they are indeed because during the trip itself it is hard to have time to really think through what you are learning as you are busy with ministry.

Debriefing is also important because it helps prepare the team members for re-entry back home. Expectations can be raised dramatically as to how church ministry should be because for several weeks the team has been able to do ministry 24/7 with no distractions from school, work, or even mundane things like cooking and cleaning. It is a unique opportunity, but it can also be somewhat discouraging to come back because it seems like the ministry back home can be so slow and not as exciting. It relates to the heart being prepared more than anything, that there would be a killing of pride and nurturing of humility that all the lessons learned would not simply be used as a means of comparison to others but rather to grow in Christlikeness and to be more willing to serve the body.

We also had a wonderful time with Eduardo and Gloria Buldain, who brought their son Matthias along so that we could hear about their churchplanting ministry as well as their pastoral equipping ministry which they just started recently. The energy and vision for the future was exciting to see and hear and I personally was challenged to expand my vision for the future beyond even just what Lighthouse does but how we might also partner with others who have similar vision.

As we traveled back to San Diego, it was a similar feeling that I would experience coming back from a summer mission trip. There is a certain sadness in leaving the people that we have ministered with but there is also a certain excitement in looking forward to the future. One of the biggest encouragements was to see how our team was able to grow together and encourage each other throughout the pre-trip preparation as well as during the trip itself. My hope is that the team would take this experience and build toward the future by investing the lessons learned abroad into the church here at San Diego. And Godwilling, we will see our commitment to the MVP continue to grow.

Thank you all for your prayers, financial support, and encouragement!

Book Review: Missions Reading (AR09)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Reading John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad has been such a blessing and a great challenge to my own life. Though it’s not my first missions-themed book (Doran’s book was), it made me aware of a world in real need of Jesus Christ. The view of missions that was typically thought of in my mind made me separate those who were gung-ho about going out to another culture and those who were slackers. However, upon reading and reflecting upon this book, it was a very illinformed impression. It opened my eyes and, by God’s grace, my heart to have a new and great view of God who is working today in this world. Simply by looking at the table of contents, the focus of the entire book is making God seen as supreme in the work of missions. There’s structure and focus that brings us to being captured by this vision of wanting to follow all of Scripture in key issues on missions. It was a very helpful book that brought all of us to wrestle hard with how to describe to one who hasn’t read the book or who disagrees with the importance of saving faith in Jesus Christ exclusively; or what the end goal of missions is; or even what the meaning of worship is. The impact this makes, at least on my part, is that studying a vast body of deep truths forms the foundation of our going out and telling others this great news of the Gospel. Also it shows that we are to call all people to this same vision -to those who don’t believe, to our own teammates, and continually to our brothers and sisters in our church. I would caution you to read through this book, and read it slowly, because it might cause you to want you to be, as Piper one said, “All Christians fit into three categories with regard to missions: the goers, the senders, and the disobedient.”

For the supplemental readings, we read books that helped us come to grips with what great work we were all choosing to participate in. Tell the Truth (Will Metzger), The Gospel According to Jesus (John MacArthur), Finally Alive (John Piper) and The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Mark Dever) were commended to us all to have a biblical view of conversion, evangelism, and a biblical view of the Gospel. All authors firmly believe in the sovereignty of God and the responsibility and culpability of man to respond to the Gospel, and place a firm emphasis on searching the Scriptures to establish the reality of what we are to do, what we are to say, and in whom we are to trust. Dever explains the uneasiness in evangelizing to non-believers, but he engages with the most common objections to why people shouldn’t evangelize. Metzger drives home the idea that evangelism has too often been man-centered, affecting its methodology in many evangelism programs, and guides us back to having a Godcentered way of doing evangelism, one that gives God honor in the biblical message we are to proclaim and live out daily. Piper treads familiar ground, and yet among many, an almost untouched study into the new birth that is a divine miracle by God Himself, which reawakened me to have a stronger motivation to share the Gospel with someone than not. MacArthur tackles the glorious subject of salvation, defining it in terms of the lordship of Christ to be an essential component to the Gospel for people to believe, embrace, and also deny its opposition to what many have uncritically accepted: non- Lordship salvation. All these issues helped many of us to ask deep questions to one another, solidifying our unity in Christ, and making us bolder witnesses of the grace God has shown each of us individually as ambassadors of the living God.

The Goal of God’s Glory (AR09)

by Kim Phan

One of the prevailing themes of A Gospel Primer and For the Sake of His Name is the glory of God. As we prepared for missions, it was a vital reminder that the goal of all things is to bring God glory. The goal of the gospel is not so much about man’s salvation, but it is about the glory of God. The Great Commission is not so much about making converts but it is about bringing people to worship the one true God.

A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent focuses on preaching the gospel to yourself daily. In this book, Vincent shows us that the gospel is not just for nonbelievers, but for believers as well. Giving us thirtyone reasons why we should do meditate on the gospel daily, he shows us how essential the gospel is to our daily life and how we can never exhaust the depths of it. We tend to struggle and strive on our own strength, falling into legalism and forgetting that our justification lies in Christ, not ourselves. This is why we need the gospel. As Vincent writes, “On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God’s unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness and not mine,” (20).

In the second and third parts of the book, he writes out the gospel message in both prose and poetic form. In it, we see how God’s glory truly is the main goal of why Christ came to die for our sins. It was God’s glory that was magnified on the Cross as Christ bore our sins demonstrating His righteousness and it was for His glory that we have been saved so that we would live “to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12).

There are many, however, who do not live for His glory yet they profess to believe. They pursue their own idols rather than following Christ. This is one of the main issues Doran addresses in For the Sake of His Name. Doran says, “The Great Commission produces disciples, not decisions,” (77). It is not merely enough for people to confess that they believe in Christ, but forsake all to follow Christ. If God’s glory is truly supreme in missions, then we should want to see people give Him the glory that He so rightfully deserves. Yet today we see that the goal of missions is getting the most number of people possible to accept Christ, often at the expense of the truth of God’s Word. Doran reminds us that our first priority must be faithfulness to God over fruitfulness in our ministry.

Doran also shows us through the Word that the biblical pattern of missions is done through the planting of local churches. All through Acts, we see that Paul planted churches on his mission journeys and that he was even sent out by the church at Antioch to do the work of missions. It is through the local church where disciples are made and equipped. In this way, the Great Commission is fulfilled and God is glorified.

Missions is meant to be centered around God, not man. While we may want to see people be saved and may have a heart for a certain group of people, in the end, our goal is to see His Name be made known to the ends of the earth – for Christ died for us so that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:15). Soli Deo Gloria.

An Interview with Naomi Yu (AR09)

by Grace Wu

Which barrios (neighborhoods) did you go to do door-to-door evangelism?

This year, God gave me opportunity to return to Juan Pablo and Smata. This was my second time in both of these neighborhoods.

What was your time in Smata like?

I really enjoyed my time in Smata because I got to see three of my contacts from the previous year! There was this one lady that my translator and I spent a lot of time with last year. She struggles a lot with depression and being paranoid. For example, her reason for not trying out the weekly Bible Studies is because she is afraid to leave the house, even though the meeting place is just across the street for her. She worries every morning when her husband goes to work, filled with anxiety that something bad will happen. She tries to keep her kids home as much as possible to keep close watch over them.

Wow, so how did you minister to her?

Well, last year my translator and I listened as she shared with us fear after fear that consumes her thoughts. Our only response and remedy for her was the gospel. We told her that she needed Christ and the hope that He alone can provide. Her sins have already driven her to spiritual death, but Christ came to give life to those who would believe and live for Him. After going back to visit her this year, I found that she still struggles a lot with anxiety and paranoia. She still is afraid to leave her house but one neat thing is that the church has been following up with her! One of the older ladies of the church has been going to her house to meet with her on a weekly basis. Together, they read the Bible and pray for this woman’s heart to trust in Christ.

That’s awesome to hear! Were you able to see any of your other contacts grow in their understanding of the gospel?

Yes I was! There was another lady who I also met the previous year. Although she claimed to be a Christian, she wasn’t active in going out to church. She seemed kind of stagnant in her faith when I talked with her. However, this year, when I went to visit her, I noticed that her demeanor had changed. She shared with me about how her family has been consistently attending a local church around the neighborhood (not IBM, but a solid church I hear). She’s been growing and even trying to share the gospel with those at her workplace. She shared how difficult it was because the message of the cross isn’t appealing to her coworkers, and she feels like they see her as a fool. We were able to spend some time looking into 1 Corinthians 1 together, where Paul talks about the cross being foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. It was neat seeing and hearing of how God’s grown this woman’s heart this past year. The gospel was no longer just a distant message and Christianity was no longer just a label, but to see her actively living out her faith despite the trials that come was such a blessing!

How about your time in Juan Pablo? Was it similar to what you experienced the previous year?

My experience in Juan Pablo this year was very different from the previous year. I felt like God gave me opportunities to be involved in a very different type of ministry than before. Last year, my translator and I were assigned a block of the neighborhood, and we went to each house with one goal in mind – to preach the gospel! However, this year, I was paired with Monica Lizzaraga, one of the elder’s wives, as my national. Monica and her husband Julio are very involved in the neighborhood of Juan Pablo and have built many close relationships with families there. Because of that, our time was spent very deliberately to visit those families. Many of them, I learned, had gone out to the church at some point in their lives, but due to the circumstances of life or their hardness of heart, were unwilling to go anymore.

Can you share with us in more detail about one of these cases?

There was one particular woman we met with who had a very difficult time respecting her husband. According to her, he says one thing and does another. And the reason she has been hesitant to go out to church was because the last time she went to a women’s meeting, she heard a message about wives needing to submit to the leadership of their husbands. It drove her away from the church because she felt like she couldn’t submit and that she would be looked down upon for not wanting to abide.

How did you handle situations like this?

What was different for me this time around was that I found myself doing a lot of listening. People’s circumstances like submission issues, broken marriages, or dealing with disobedient children were some of the hardships they had to endure. The hard part was that these people that we went to visit had already been exposed to the gospel. It wasn’t like they were hearing it for the first time. However, at the same time, their hearts were so hardened. Instead of finding hope in Christ, their difficulties drove them further away from Him. This was hard for me to see, but God used this experience to teach me so much. I learned that in his Great Commission, Christ commands us to go and preach the gospel. However, he also commands us to make disciples, and this entails so much. It isn’t a one-time thing of helping people to understand the gospel so that they can be justified before God through Christ. Discipleship is a lifelong process of helping people to be sanctified in living for Christ. Through Monica’s example, I saw the need to keep persevering in coming alongside people who are struggling. She taught me how to listen, to comfort, to gently rebuke, and to help carry other people’s burdens.

It sounds like God taught you a lot during your time ministering in the barrios. Thank you for taking the time to share with us what you learned!

24 De Septiembre (AR09)

by Stephanie Lim

God gave me the great joy of ministering to the people of barrio 24 de Septiembre with half of our LBC team for two days. He was so gracious to provide opportunities to share His love and mercy with many, some who were hardened to the message and others who had heard it for the very first time.

The dirt-road streets and humble homes were familiar to me, because I had walked the same paths last summer as well. One of the first ladies I shared the Gospel with mentioned that she remembered seeing me walk in front of her home last year, but we didn’t meet or talk at all. (I thought, “How did she remember my face?” But I guess it’s not every day that an Asian girl walks around a Tucumán neighborhood…) By God’s sovereignty, He led me to her home this year. At first I felt like she wanted me to leave because she said she had heard the Gospel before and was opposed to it, but after conversing with her for an hour, I praised God in my heart as she slowly began to acknowledge her sinfulness and need for a Savior.

What brought me so much joy though was seeing the vital role the local church (IBM) has in that neighborhood. They faithfully follow up with these people and provide ways for them to hear from God’s Word through activities and Bible studies. I went to another lady’s home because her daughter attends the weekly children’s program in the neighborhood hosted by IBM, and one of the church members had her contact information. God was so gracious to us, because as my translator and I were sharing with her, she wanted to learn more and more about the Gospel since this was the first time she had heard it in its entirety. In the afternoon, I introduced her to one of the older ladies from the church, who encouraged her to attend the weekly women’s meetings in the neighborhood to get to know and learn from more Christians.

This neighborhood is so precious to me because I witnessed God’s grace and kindness before my very eyes. Praise Him alone!

San Pablo (AR09)

by Keziah Kim

A bumpy, dirt road invited us into San Pablo. To our right side was what seemed like endless lush fields of sugar cane and to our left was a line of small homes that filled the barrios, or neighborhood. We stopped in front of Virginia’s humble home as she and several members of Iglesia Biblica Misionera affectionately welcomed us with the typical Argentine kiss on one cheek and a hearty embrace. After asking the Lord for His blessing and for His will to be done, we split off into groups which consisted of a Lighthouse member, a translator, and a member of IBM. We walked along narrow, dirt paths to share the gospel door-to-door in our designated area. Many children, in tattered clothing and covered in dirt from head to toe, wandered around the streets. Some of them were frightened to see a gringo while others were fascinated at the sight of an American in their obscure hometown. Taking my hand, some would ask, “How do you say this in English? How do you say that?” I recall one excited boy, thrilled to practice the one English phrase he knew, asking me repeatedly, “Hi! How are you?” We asked some of the children where their parents were. Most of them shrugged, responding, “They are at work.”

There is at least one church member of IBM residing in each of the barrios that our Lighthouse Team visits for the gospel campaigns. Virginia, a resident of San Pablo, has been a faithful member of IBM for years. Upon meeting her, I immediately noticed her abounding love for others and her gentle and quiet spirit. She is always beaming with a warm smile on her face, reflecting her steadfast, joyful heart. All of her belongings (mainly a bed, a refrigerator, a little plastic table, and a mini stove) filled her home, a single cramped room. Despite the little that she has, she constantly demonstrated her generous, giving heart. After our last morning campaign, she prepared and provided lunch for several of us. She then diligently spent that afternoon preparing and baking fresh bread in her outdoor brick oven. Her actions plainly revealed her desire to serve the Lord joyfully and diligently with all that He had given her. Not only did we notice, but so did the community of San Pablo. She is loved by the people there, many of them who are unbelievers. Weekly, children throughout San Pablo will gather at Virginia’s place for Sunday School where they learn about who God is and of His great love. It is no wonder that the people of San Pablo love her and perceive that she is different from other people. She constantly thinks of others before herself. When she was not serving her community in San Pablo, she took a long taxi ride out to the church to labor in the kitchen in order to serve us meals. One time, she tasted a little bit of the trail mix that our beloved home team had packed for us and she loved it. I had not yet eaten my little Ziploc-filled portion and wanted her to have it. Surprised she asked, “For me?” “Yes!” I replied. I was floored by her excitement as she remarked how much the kids of San Pablo will love it!

Virginia’s life is a testimony of God’s grace and of His great work in Tucumán, Argentina. The Lord is mightily using Virginia and other faithful members of IBM to make Him known. It was such a delight and privilege to have been a part of God’s grand plan by sharing the gospel with the people in San Pablo. Many of them are willing to listen and have softened hearts that desire a hope beyond this world. For the most part, the families with whom I was able to share were willing to listen and desired to hear the Good News. However, there seemed to be a lack of urgency and a shallow understanding of sin. Many of them do not see the need to repent, claiming to be a “good person.” One woman responded, “I believe this message but I am just too busy to really act upon it.” Jesus Christ is LORD and this is the message of hope that I am praying will penetrate their hearts.

I wrote in my journal on July 17, 2009 of how the Lord burdened my heart for the people in San Pablo. “I love San Pablo! I love Virginia!” God opened my heart to see the great need through a small glimpse of Virginia’s heart. In tears (while gently holding my arms) she urged me to pray for the people of San Pablo, that they would come to know Christ. She loves the people there so much; as I embraced her, I could not help but shed tears with her. The Lord grew my love for San Pablo and a desire to see Christ known among the people there. He also challenged me to ask myself whether or not I love my own community to the point of tears out of a deep desire for them to know Christ. Whether we are in San Diego or in San Pablo, my hope is that we would fervently desire Christ to be magnified and made known. I hope that we can join together in prayer to “Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20), asking Him to glorify Himself and to make Himself known among the people in San Pablo as well as the people in our own communities.

IBM’s Service of Love to LBC (AR09)

by Teddy Yu

Hola a todos! Como están? *hug!* *kiss!*

That was how the team and I were greeted multiple times a day while with the church in Tucumán (known as IBM). Sure, such intimate and expressive greetings resulted in more than a couple awkward moments. But not only did it not take very long to get used to, it also quickly became a time that I looked forward to throughout the day. This was because their affectionate greetings were only a part of their expressions of love and joy toward us.

It was apparent from the first night we arrived that the church was extremely excited to have us there. As we entered the meeting place (salón), some church members greeted us with hugs and kisses while others lined the walls and back of the room cheering and singing their greetings. And this wasn’t a calm and collected, “Hello, welcome to Tucumán.” No, the members of IBM definitely made sure we knew how much they appreciated us. I saw team members who had gone previous years being greeted like children having returned home after being away for too long. The tears of joy and laughter they shared spoke of the depth of their shared affection. For a newcomer such as myself, it served as an appropriate introduction to the reputation of love that IBM so richly deserves.

One tangible expression of IBM’s love toward our team was clearly seen in the food that they provided for us. Each day, from morning to night, there was a team of IBM ladies (and Julio Lizarraga, a leader at the church) preparing, cooking, and cleaning for our meals. These meals included: breakfast (in addition to the breakfast from our hotel), lunch, tea and pastries, and dinner. And each meal was exquisitely delicious; from the hand-made empanadas (pastrylike dumplings) to the mounds of meat lovingly grilled by their grill master Marcelo Espeche. Also, the youth girls of the church served each of the meals, making sure that the members of LBC were served first and to full satisfaction before they would serve the members of IBM. They wanted to make sure that we had enough to eat so that we could better continue the work of missions. Such selflessness! Furthermore, the cooking and preparation of our food came at no small cost for some of the church members. Marcelo had worked extra hours beforehand so he could take time off from work to grill meat while we visited the Ahualles. In a country where work is hard to come by and money is not easy to earn, that’s a big deal. One of the church ladies, Virginia, walked and took a bus for two hours to get to church so she could help prepare our meals. Such examples of self-sacrifice just to have the opportunity to spend time with us were a common sentiment held by the church members of IBM.

Yet the provision of food, as delicious and abundant as it was, paled in comparison to how IBM loved us and welcomed us into their lives. We served as partners in ministry as our team came alongside their existing ministries in the barrios (neighborhoods) to go door-to-door and hold neighborhood outreach events. There were also plenty of occasions for playful fun from the park days to the traditional orange peel fight to the spontaneous cheering and singing and other “talent.” Additionally, we were privileged to join IBM in worship each Sunday and thereby have a glimpse of the transcendent glory of God as it overcame both culture and language differences. Yet we not only ministered alongside IBM, but we also had many opportunities to minister to the church members as well. Each member of the LBC team was enveloped by the various members from IBM as they opened their hearts and shared of their struggles and triumphs. Together, we mourned at the destructive power of sin and we rejoiced at the sweet grace of God that leads to life. And all of these aspects of serving together, serving each other, and worshipping God together flow out of our fellowship together as fellow believers in Jesus Christ. And indeed, it was this fellowship that we enjoyed and celebrated as brothers and sisters in Christ that was the sweetest blessing of all.


About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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