Monday, October 24, 2005

Upcoming Trip

I will be making a trip to a "closed" country next month to do a one-week Bible school/training. I cannot name this country, suffice it to say that it is very closed and very hostile to the Gospel or any form of religion especially Christianity. While I am there I am to maintain the guise of a tourist, and if the authorities catch wind of my real purpose there, it could be somewhat uncomfortable for me. I am told the worst that could happen is that I will be placed under house arrest until my flight out, then my passport will be stamped denying me any future entry into that country. Don't worry, no going to jail, etc.

I cannot bring anything with me that would somehow identify me as a missionary or as a Christian. I can bring one Bible, but no Christian literature. The teaching materials I will be bringing must be gift wrapped, rather then in a binder or such, or else the authorities would wonder why I was bringing this into their country. When they are wrapped you can claim that it is a gift for someone and they will not open it. Truly, it is a "gift" for many someones. I also cannot wear Christian t-shirts or other such clothes, and when I am in-country, I also cannot use the words "missionary" or "pastor," or refer to someone as "brother." I am to assume that my hotel room will be bugged, and that my phone line will be tapped. I am to beware of most taxi drivers for they are also informants working for the government. They will try and strike up a conversation with you to determine of you are a missionary or not, and even pose as a Christian. Of course, the church in this country is very much underground. The places I will be doing the teachings are secret, and my change from day to day.

In spite of all this oppression, or perhaps because of it, the church is growing in this country. Remember the lessons of history, that even when Christianity was in it's very infancy it was severely oppressed by the then ruling power, the Roman Empire. While some Christians today are beaten or imprisoned, at least these days they are not going into stadiums full of lions and tigers. Even during that incredible Roman oppression, Christianity grew and strengthened. This is the power of the Gospel.

For most of us, having such restrictions on expressing our faith is a completely foreign idea. In the States we are blessed with the protection of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Going to such a country where the police surround churches and shut them down, where even email and Internet traffic is monitored and filtered, will be such a departure from the norm. In this country, Christianity is not just a simple Sunday morning social gathering, following Christ takes courage and has a potentially high cost.

Pray.
Populate Heaven and plunder hell.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Black Market

In one of the smaller malls in Iloilo City there is a section I affectionally call the "black market." Pirated DVDs can be found there a plenty. Often they are selling DVDs to movies that are still in the theaters. It is no secret that pirated DVDs are a big business here in Asia. I was a bit surprised to see them being so blatantly sold, not in some back alley or on the street by some guy in a trenchcoat, but inside a mall!

Just for kicks I asked one of the vendors for a copy of the latest Star Wars, Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. She found a copy, cost just 100 Pisos (under $2) and offered to test it on her DVD player in her booth. Honestly, it looked great, quality packaging with all the proper logos, the DVD itself even had interactive menus. I pressed play and was amazed to see a very good quality movie, good sound, good picture, etc. Then the Star Wars trademark scrolling prologue came up and I saw:
        Эпизод III Реванш Sith

The movie was in Russian.

I didn't buy it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Wait

Today I learned, through the wisdom and counsel of a fellow missionary here in Iloilo, to let the Lord open the doors, and not try and push some doors open. In my zeal and excitement for something new and different, I was reminded to give pause and carefully consider before I fully commit, or before I commit to an extend degree.

Waiting is not always easy, but there is purpose. As I have been reading in some John Maxwell books, success is not a destination, but rather a journey. There is purpose is waiting. Pause is part of the journey. I have a sense of anticipation because I feel the Lord is about to open new doors of ministry opportunities for our family. At the same time I must remember that I need to let Him open the doors, rather than push the wrong door open myself.

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27: 13, 14