Friday, October 27, 2006

Ramblings - Alex

It has been an exciting few weeks here in Costa Rica. I've asked Molly to start writing the family updates, as I'm going to focus on the ministry. Rather than just give you a report I've decided to share how God has challenging me to grow in my faith. It's my prayer that you will be encouraged, inspired, and possibly challenged as I have.

I'm awed by the calling and ministry God has given me here in Alajuelita. It's an awesome privilege and responsibility to carry forth the gospel of Jesus Christ to such a dark and dying world, and we realize that without your faithful prayers and support it would be difficult if not impossible! While here, many of the scriptures have a new and exciting application as I'm learning to live them out in new ways. God continues to place me in situations where my spoken faith has been challenged to become faith in action.

This week I would like to share one area in my faith that has been challenged. I've come to realize that I often I take the awesome blessing of God the presence in my life for granted, which causes me to be judgmental or simply uncompassionate. I would like to tell you a person that God brought into my life.

He is a middle aged man named Alex, who lives in a small box on the outskirts of Juan Pablo. (Juan Pablo is a small very poor barrio of Alajuelita.) He is the father of eight children from a couple different women. He is homeless largely due to the fact he addicted to crack cocaine. He has been in and out of Drug Rehabilitation Centers for years, and his addiction prevents him from holding down a job, or providing support to any of his children. He spends most of his day laboring to scrape together enough money for his next fix.

At this point you may be wondering how God could use a person like Alex teach me anything! Well, the first thing God convicted me of is that without the presence, and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, I'm a lot like Alex. Listen to the words of Romans 3:9-12 "What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jew and Gentiles are alike under sin. As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there in no one who does good, not even one."

It goes on but I think that is enough to get the point. I like to think that I'm somehow a better person than Alex, but the truth is that apart from the presence of Christ in my life I'm just as lost, weak, broken, and deceived.
I've also realized that I've been more like a Pharisee than Christ in my attitude toward the lost and dying. I, like the Pharisees, have found it's much easier to sit in judgement than it is to love the unlovable, plus judging others make me feel better about myself. Part of me would rather stone the adulterous woman, it's a lot easier than loving her, and if I act like I don't see wounded sinner, and cross on the other side of the road I won't have to deal with them. Plus, if I do stop and get involved I might get dirty or worse be associated with sinners.
The good news is that by the grace of God, and the power of Holy Spirit dwelling in me I'm and recovering Pharisee and starting to look a little more like Christ each day. I don't say that to boast or sound super spiritual, I'm simply excited that I think I one the right track. As I come to realize that apart from the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ I'm just like Alex, or worse a self-righteous Pharisee.

So now I try to spend a little time with Alex each week. We sip coffee and talk about family, football, and local politics, we had a conversation about what causes a gringo to decide to hang out with a crackhead in Jaun Pablo. Alex has shared through teary eyes that he is scared, scared of the future and because has started to doubt the existence of God. I've reminded Him that God does exist. Pray that God will open Alex's eyes to the truth and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that God will continue to use Alex to open my eyes as well!

Thanks for taking time to read this email and listening to my ramblings. I hope that I've painted a small picture of a lesson God is teaching me as I try to live for Him here in Costa Rica. I would love to hear your feedback and I'll try to keep you updated on how God is using your support to make a difference for His kingdom here in Alajuelita. Please continue to pray for us! We need your prayer and support like you can't imagine. I feel as though I'm on the front lines a lot of the time and the only thing holding me up is your prayers. Also, if you know someone that may be interested in supporting the ministry please let me know.
Now to Him who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine!