Wednesday, 29 January 2020

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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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.

Rev. David Quisbert from La Paz, Bolivia.
Rev. David Horta of Santiago, Chile, and a young man from his church.
Thomas and Augustine, from Santiago. Their mom wanted a picture of their sons with me, they are very interested in missions. Pray for these young men!
One of the churches at the Congress, this one also from Santiago, Chile. For some perspective, that is about an 11 hour drive!

Monday, January 27, 2020

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!

The Lord’s day, January 26, 2020

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!

Baled hay all wrapped up
Well past knee-high and it’s well before the 4th of July!

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!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

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, January 24, 2020

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!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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 👍👍

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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.MVIMG_20200122_132707

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!

IMG_20200122_173528IMG_20200122_201057IMG_20200122_183906MVIMG_20200122_200956

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 🙂

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Technically this part of the post is from Monday night, but since my last post ended when I boarded, I’ll pick up on the flight leaving Atlanta.

IMG_20200120_215952I didn’t purchase an expensive plane ticket–coach, in fact–but the amenities on my Delta flight were nice. They provided a small pillow, blanket, earbuds, and an eye shade. A nice menu was provided though I didn’t take anything; it was night time and my diabetic body has to follow a schedule, and dinner before bed isn’t part of it! 🙂 Beverages were made available anytime they were desired. While it wasn’t cramped, my 6’2″ was missing its bed. IMG_20200121_073152

After a night of that, I was ready to get out. I felt like a squirmy toddler 😁 The view coming in to Santiago was beautiful.

After disembarking the next stop was immigration. Getting there however was quite a jog! Took a long time to walk there. Even with those walking escalator things! I waited a half hour in the immigration line for a 20 second interview. Then went over to customs had my bags checked thankfully no problem there.

The next challenge was then figuring out where to go to check my bags for my last flight; that took awhile, but thankfully the various officials I asked were patient with this Americano, IMG_20200121_120555haha. Got checked in, went through their “TSA” (very easy compared to the US), and then the waiting game for 4 hours until my flight boarded. Occupied the time by texting with family, checking email, getting tomorrow’s post for the ACCC website up, I even called Trish for a little bit! I’m thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to communicate with my loved ones back home.

The flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt was uneventful. The view was beautiful! Unfortunately I had a middle seat for this flight so was unable to get any pictures. There’s a couple of big, beautiful lakes, and a snow-capped mountain to boot. During the flight I read more of Lectures of the Nature and End of the Sacred Office, by John Smith (1810). Chapter VII was “A minister of the gospel should be heavenly-minded.” Again, like yesterday, a powerfully challenging chapter. Here’s a couple of selections:

  • “A strong love to the world, and to the things of the world,may be called the basest, and most sordid of passions.”
  • “Like the chariot-wheel in the mire, the soul will move heavily towards heaven when it’s affections are deeply set upon the world.”
  • “Let us acquaint ourselves more and more with God, and seek our felicity and joy in the contemplation, love, and adoration of his glorious perfections; in meditating on his word, trusting in his providence, relying on his promises, and imitating his moral attributes.”
  • “Our happiness will be always growing in proportion to the progress which we make in this heavenly study.”

After getting my bags I met a man with an “ICCC” sign ready to transport weary travelers. It was good to meet him, and a good dozen other ICCC folks as well. I should have taken pictures of the group and the young man who drove me to the hotel but I forgot. I will try to do better with that.IMG_20200121_211302

The hotel is very nice, with an astounding view. It almost makes me miss the snow back in Ohio! 🙂 I walked to a nearby grocery store and picked up a few things (most importantly, a big thing of water). Had a nice video chat with Trish and Lydia. This traveler is t.i.r.e.d. but thankful for the Lord’s grace and mercy on this trip.

A closing prayer request for the night: Pray for the salvation of a young lady I sat by on the flight from Atlanta to Santiago. Her name’s Rebecca, 18 years old, and is down here to go bike riding for six months! We had some good talks, but she needs the Lord.

 

Monday, January 20, 2020

IMG_20200120_160928I’m on my way to Puerto Montt, Chile for the International Council of Christian Churches Congress, January 22-29. I’m representing the American Council of Christian Churches, and will be preaching Friday evening and participating in a panel discussion on Wednesday, January 29.

I want to try to give folks–especially Orwell Bible Church–periodic (hopefully daily!) reports on my days. Not everyone has Facebook, so giving updates there would miss folks. Most of OBC’ers have email, so hopefully this will do 🙂

During the morning I cleared our driveway of last night’s 4-5 inches of snow, then finalized things for Sunday (bulletin, opening congregational reading of Psalm 79), published an ACCC Ketcham post, and finished packing.
Drove to Cleveland airport (CLE) with Trish and Lydia, flew through TSA (precheck!!!!). A long day and a half before me: depart CLE at 5pm with a 3 or so hour layover in Atlanta. Then leaving Atlanta at 10:30pm for Santiago, Chile, arriving there by 10am Tuesday. After a 7 hour layover and customs there the last leg of the trip will take me to Puerto Monty, Chile, arriving there by 7pm God willing.
Having some extra time before boarding, I worked up tomorrow’s post for the ACCC IMG8926035349230961333website, which will be part 1 of our Bible Doctrine of Separation. It’s scheduled to post at 7:30am. I’d encourage you to sign up for email notifications whenever new posts are published.
While on flight to Atlanta I read Lecture VI “a Minister of the Gospel should bet Self-denied and mortified to the World,” from Lectures of the Nature and End of the Sacred Office, by John Smith (1810). It was excellent, very challenging and encouraging. May the Lord help me to mortify my flesh even more.
After reading that chapter I reviewed the previous ones, noting the highlighted sections. This was a challenging exercise, one I should do again. (FYI I’m reading this book on Google Books for free, which is easy to highlight and thus review.)
IMG_20200120_203742Arrived in Atlanta, got dinner, went to my gate. Waited. Read. Did some work. Watched people (a favorite past-time). Finished this post. Did a video call with Trish. Good night! 🙂