I am an undeserving sinner saved by God's grace through Jesus Christ, a happy husband, proud father of 6 great kids, pastor of Orwell Bible Church, Executive Secretary of the American Council of Christian Churches, and member of the Ohio Bible Fellowship .
As many of you may know, Lydia had her first cochlear implant surgery last July (she has a form of congenital hearing loss in both ears). She has done extremely well learning how to hear with that.
Consequently, tomorrow morning she’ll be having her second cochlear implant surgery for her other ear. We would greatly appreciate your asking our kind and gracious God for help, mercy, wisdom, and a faithful testimony for Christ to those we meet.
We’ll arrive at the hospital tomorrow morning at 7:30, with surgery set for 9:30.
If you don’t know or remember about cochlear implants, watch this video. It is excellent.
Following the surgery she’ll have a month to recover, then they will turn her new cochlear implant on. It will take several months of fine-tuning to get it right.
Well it’s time to go home. I thought about using my new Uber skills, but as it’s 5,753 miles as the crow flies, that wasn’t realistic 😁
I went down for breakfast at my normal time, but the dining room was considerably different than the past week and a half.
Bags are packed and the safe is pretty much cleaned out 👍
Boarding at Puerto Montt for the first leg of the journey to Santiago.
Beautiful scenery of Puerto Montt. The big lake is what we toured around this past Sunday.
Upon arriving at Santiago I enjoyed a good four or so hours or so of fellowship with Mark Perry, a fellow seminarian and co-laborer in Ohio for the last 20 years. A few years ago he and his wife Bekah went to Antofagasta serving as missionaries. He got a cheap flight to come down. That was a gracious gift on his part. It was good to learn more of their work there and how things have progressed the last two years. Pray for this dear couple!
My flight out of Santiago left at 10:00 p.m. providing a spectacular view of the city.
Arriving in Atlanta. Getting there at 5:15 a.m. was actually a nice benefit as immigrations and customs had just opened. I flew through them and TSA in about 15 minutes!
Look who was waiting for me at the Cleveland airport! 😘😁
Driving home there was snow on the ground and the thermometer was in the thirties, welcome back to Northeast Ohio, hehheh!
I praise the Lord for his grace and mercy over the last two weeks! There are so many other things I could say but I probably should just sign off right now 🇨🇱🇨🇱🇨🇱
Well, today is the last day of the ICCC Congress! I am looking forward to being home and having breakfast at my own table, looking out at my backyard, but the breakfast view I have had while here is beautiful!
I had a second speaking opportunity today, participating in a panel discussion with brothers Brad Gsell and Ken Olson on the upcoming World Council of Church’s theme for it’s 11th world Assembly in 2021. That theme is, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” which is essentially advocates for the social gospel. If you’re interested, you can read my presentation here.
We had a break during the afternoon, which I used for taking a nap (my famous 18 minute nap of course!) and packing for the return trip home.
I enjoyed a last dinner at the arena where the Congress was held. I was an observer of an interesting and stimulating discussion among these brothers 😁
The final service of the Congress featured a number of encouraging hymns by a large choir. Though it was all in Spanish, I knew most of their selections; it was a joy to listen to. The floor was pretty well packed, I would guess attendance for the service around 1,000 people.
ICCC executive committee
In William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet said goodnight to Romeo with the words, “parting is such sweet sorrow,” thinking about the next time they would be together. The goodbyes mutually relayed with so many new friends I made truly were “sweet sorrows.” Contact information was exchanged, Facebook friends added, pictures taken, and tokens of love exchanged. I will truly miss my brothers and sisters here, but am thankful that because we are all in Christ we have a unity and future expectation that nothing in creation can sever.
Of course, the time here in Chile could not just end peacefully (heh heh). Some Chilean demonstrators decided to burn a bunch of tires and demonstrate just down the road from our hotel, so we got to spend a couple extra hours at the Congress. Getting on the bus to head there was a great joy, I was hoping to get some kind of decent nights rest before my flight home!
Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
When for a while we part, This thought will soothe our pain, That we shall still be joined in heart, And hope to meet again.
This glorious hope revives Our courage by the way, While each in expectation lives, And longs to see the day.
From sorrow, toil, and pain, And sin we shall be free; And perfect love and friendship reign Thro’ all eternity.
Well, today did not start out the best for me. I went to bed last night with an increasingly sore throat, and it pretty much plagued me all night. I woke up not feeling too great and very fatigued. Thankfully I was encouraged by God’s word by Rev. David DiCanio, a missionary in Liberia.
Later in the morning several resolutions were read and considered by the ICCC. The way they did it is the guy from the pulpit read it in Spanish, and ICCC president Brad Gsell came down and read it to us English speaking folks.
During lunch I sat down with a pastor named Daniel from Kenya, I forgot to get a picture with him! We had a stimulating discussion about ministry challenges that we face in our respective areas. The similarities are striking, as well as the differences! A good brother. I will try to remember to get a picture with him tomorrow and post that.
After lunch my body was ready to call it quits, so I went back to the hotel and got some rest for a good hour. Following the rest and a lot of water I felt considerably better, praise the Lord.
Tonight’s message was given by Rev. Dr. Nadir Carreño, ICCC first vice president. He has been in leadership in the ICCC for decades; his message was on point and edifying.
One of my main goals in attending the ICCC Congress was to try to be a help and encouragement to Christian brothers and sisters. It has been a great blessing to receive testimonies from a number of folks to that effect. I am really looking forward to being home, but with tears I’m so thankful for so many dear saints who have been a great encouragement to me showing tremendous love and hospitality.
I woke up quite tired after a short night’s sleep. I read Genesis 29 for prayer and devotion. God fulfills his promises (cf 28:3), whether through human affection (29:20), lack thereof (29:31), or deceit (29:23).
ICCC devotions were led by Rev. Dominique Épo from Yaounde, Cameroon.
Part of the morning was given to testimonies from some young people, followed by a group picture of them. May they seek the Lord and he send them out into his harvest field!
Rev. David Horta from Santiago, Chile spoke on God’s love manifested in the believer’s praise, worship, and obedience
This young man is Jhoss Mondragon, and we’ve developed a good friendship. He wants to study to be a pastor or missionary, and it’s been a great blessing to encourage him.
Technology helped me yesterday communicate with these friends! Google translate has an amazing app that has helped bridge the gap. It’s not 100% but it’s waaaaay better than my 1% Spanish (and that’s probably being generous)! We had a lot of laughs “talking” with each other 😁
Last but not least is Rev. James Mwangangi from Isovya, Kenya. We talked for a good hour about ministry blessings and challenges. I’m thankful for this brother’s perseverance, encouragement, and zeal for the Cause of Christ.
I have appreciated the friendliness and hospitality so many folks have shown. The love of Christ is truly manifested by such dear saints of God!
I woke up this morning to see this out my window! It was interesting watching a cruise ship come so close to the shore. There must really be a steep drop off as it was not far away from us.
The first thing we had today was an evangelistic service in the town square. This is organized by the local ICCC committee and involved choir and orchestra members from different churches. There were testimonies by several ICCC individuals, and I was asked to give a testimony of what the Lord Jesus did in my life. If you have Facebook you can watch my testimony here (at the 44:00 mark).
This is Rev. David Huamantinco from Ayacucho, Peru. We’ve had some good talks through a translator as well as our stumblings without one 😁
Rev. Brad Gsell is president of the ICCC and a member of the ACCC executive committee he has done a tremendous job over the last two years planning for this Congress. I cannot imagine the logistical details involved with something like this!
Following the meeting we had lunch with several American and South American pastors at a beautiful little park. No, that is not the Texas flag 😁
Following the lunch they directed us to a bus, so striving to be a humble and obedient servant (hehheh) I obliged.
They first took us to see the volcano Osorno. It last erupted in 1961. It was gorgeous!
We drove around the second largest lake in South America, Lake Llanquihue. I loved the rural, farming countryside, a lot like Ohio!
We got back to the hotel about 11:00 p.m., considerably later than I thought we would be back, but it was a nice tour. Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!
Today is a day off for everyone so I am obliging the schedule 😁
After breakfast and time for the Word and prayer, I took a nice half hour walk along the lakeshore. Today was foggy but very nice out, about 60° f.
There is much evidence throughout the city of the unrest that has been occurring throughout Chile. It is a sad scene. I am trying to imagine how beautiful things would have looked before all the wanton destruction.
Evidently the circus is in town too! This is just a 5-minute walk from my hotel.
Tomorrow there will be an evangelistic service in downtown Puerto Montt. It was originally scheduled for the afternoon, but the city officials moved our service to 10:00 a.m. due to lesbians and homosexuals who during the afternoon demonstrate in the same area by taking off all their clothes. I have been asked by one of the local pastors to give a five minute gospel testimony so I am preparing for that today. Please pray for the Lord to powerfully and graciously use his Word!
I did a bunch of odds and ends during the afternoon and evening, including laundry!
Overall an unexciting day, but it was good to catch up on adminstrative tasks, study, and pray to God for His manifold blessings.
I’ll close this day’s post with a picture of my new grandson and his family!
Friday! I woke up tired, not a good thing, so I slept for a little bit more. That made for a bit more hurried preparation to leave, which I’m not keen on. But I was very keen that I felt physically better after the extra sleep.
Devotions for English speakers was led by Rev. Paul Durand, a missionary in Santa Clara, Chile. He spoke from John 14:31, noting that Christ continually obeyed the Father and that his continual obedience demonstrated his continual love for the Father. “As the perfect man he alone could be our perfect sacrifice and thus the only Savior.” Amen.
Rev. Hal Ricker spoke next, an amazing man. He continues to serve the Lord as a missionary in Guatemala, fly to the US for presbytery meetings, and participate in ICCC. He’s amazing because he’s at least 95! He preached a tremendous message titled, “Our love for our brethren in light of disobedient evangelicalism.” He handled the subject Scripturally and with vigor. He preached in Spanish, so I’m going to try to get the English translation notes to republish.
I missed the next session as I had to head back to my hotel room. Remember what I said at the beginning about feeling a bit more hurried than normal before I left? I realized shortly after arriving at the venue that I didn’t lock the safe in my hotel room. I don’t keep any money in there, but my computer and non-refrigerated medical supplies were all in there (primarily syringes), and I didn’t want to “lose” them. I became the Uber king today, utilizing it several times in one day. Look out Orwell, I’m selling my car. Maybe some of our Amish taxi drivers could become Uber drivers (heh heh).
I enjoyed lunch with brothers from Singapore, Africa, and Bolivia (I think).
There was some free time in the afternoon so I headed back to the hotel (Uber!) to rest and devote some time in prayer for the evening’s ministry. I was asked by the ICCC executive committee four or so months ago to preach on the subject, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly , and love them that hate the Lord?–the Biblical response to false prophets,” 2 Chr 19:2; Jude 3-4; 2 John 10-11. There was a lot of territory to cover, but I think I did so, and in good time, about 35 minutes. Because I was preaching I didn’t take any pictures of the preacher. 🙂
After the service I talked with a lot of folks, which was a great encouragement. I turned around to a tap on my shoulder and this wonderful group of young people smiling away said they wanted to talk with me! We talked a good 15-20 minutes, and they closed by singing a hymn. It was a great blessing. May the Lord help them faithfully serve him, and may he raise up more for the Cause of Christ!
After a good night’s sleep I enjoyed breakfast with Yap Kim-Sin of Singapore and Thomas from Germany.
I then walked to the venue with brother Keith McCoy from the Bible Presbyterian Church in Collingswood, NJ.
After a devotional was a message on “eternal love and life eternal” by Rev. David Huamantinco. I appreciated his emphasis that as unbelievers in our the old life we sought desires in accord with the old life. As believers with new life we must mortify the old nature with its desires, and pursue the desires of the new nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Lest anyone think I suddenly became able to understand Spanish (I can hear Mark Perry now saying, “riiiiiiight, heh heh”), translation is provided via our phones. I’m sharing a phone here with Mrs. Dekker, who made the trip down here and she’s in her 90’s!
Rev. David Lewis brought a message on “Love your enemies.” We must remember that God loved us before we loved him, while we were yet His enemies. Sadly, hating comes naturally to us. We must love them and pray for them, but that does not mean approving their actions.
I had my first experience riding in an Uber afterwards, with David DiCanio and Keith McCoy. It was definitely easy so I got the app we’ll see how many Uber rides I can get in Orwell when I get home 😁 I was also trying to think up a joke, something along the lines of, “a Baptist and two Presbyterians were in an Uber car and….” Heh heh
The closing message of the day was given by Rev. Dr. Swee-Hwa Quek on “God’s delight: Loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness–God’s love in light of his holiness and justice. He had three points, 1. God finds delight in his people; 2. God’s people find delight in God; 3. Only God’s love can help us conquer our sinfulness.
I’ll close today’s report with a picture of one of the cutest grandchildren on this earth (mine, of course!), Carlisle Fisher 👍👍
I was thankful to get a good night’s rest last night, and to follow that up with a good breakfast, coffee, and fellowship with brothers at the hotel.
The morning was invested in private devotions, getting things settled in my room, planning the day, and catching up on some emails.
During the early afternoon I got some walk exercise in which also included touring the mall. The hotel I am staying in is connected to a huge mall, five stories tall, and busy with people! When I first noticed the number of children and young people I must admit my first thought was, “Wow, they have a lot of homeschooling families here!” Then I remembered that it is summertime here so most likely they are on break 🙂
I did some work returning back to my room, read another chapter, prepared my clothes for the next few days, and went over my sermon I will be preaching Friday night.
The ICCC had to make some significant changes to their program because of the unrest in Chile, affecting particularly transportation for attendees and delegates. With that said I had no trouble getting to the venue. The city of Puerto Montt provided their arena for use of the service, and a good thing too, as it was full!
Following the service we had dinner–Chilean style, evidently! That means starting dinner at 10pm and finishing with dessert at 11:15! We had a good time of fellowship, and I made some new friends. I’d like to say my Spanish is improving, but it’s still muy mal 🙂