Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October Newsletter

Dear Churches and Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The month of September has flown by. One of the highlights was when Maria Jose, a lady who was saved a few months ago after receiving one of our gospel tracts, and has been coming to church regularly, followed the Lord in believer's baptism. It was quite a night--I had to make two trips in my van to help some of the other church members arrive at the ocean where we were going to hold the baptism, and as it usually goes when I went to pick everyone up, not all were ready, setting me behind by an hour. When we got to the beach where there is easy access to the ocean pools where we usually baptize, the city had roped off the shoreline due to renovations, so we had to walk several blocks down to a new spot where we could get to the water. It was starting to get near dusk, and I knew our time was running short if we wanted to baptize in what was left of the daylight. Pedro had prepared a short message, we sang a hymn, and we proceeded toward the Atlantic ocean. This part of the shore was filled with rocks, not sand, so walking was treacherous. As we neared the water, the rocks were covered with a slimy algae, making walking without slipping nearly impossible. It was one of the most difficult baptisms I have ever had--but praise the Lord we made it out alive! We celebrated afterwards with some tortilla wraps Carolee had made for the event, and it was an evening we will always remember!

We are continuing our Friday night Bible study on the south side of the island with Caesar, Marisa, and their two daughters. They both would like to be baptized as well, so we are planning another baptism this month near their home. I am also planning on doing some door to door visitation in the area where they live to see if there is any interest in possibly starting a new church plant in their town. According to Caesar, there are no good Bible preaching churches near their home. Please pray that the Lord will open doors if it is His will.

I have been doing some door to door evangelizing in an area called Anaza, and have had some very fruitful visits. It seems that the people there are fairly receptive, or at least a little friendlier to the gospel. I consider it a success here when people will give me a chance to explain the gospel--so many times people won't even let you get a few words in, so in this aspect I have had some good witnesses. Please pray for the people in this city and that our efforts would bear fruit.

This reminds me to be patient--over a year and a half ago a hotel gardener gave me a small bird of paradise plant--I had expressed to him how much I love these colorful, exquisite flowers. He told me to be patient because it would take a long time until it bloomed. Every month I would check to see if any blooms had sprouted, and every month there was nothing, but lo and behold, this month it finally bloomed. It is a gorgeous gift from our Great God, Designer and Creator of the Universe! Sometimes we have to be patient in the ministry as well, as we don't always see fruit as quickly or as often as we would like, but each soul is worth it.

Our son Nathan and his family have recently returned to Mozambique for their second term. Please pray that all would go smoothly with his visa/residence papers and that they would find a suitable house to rent at an affordable price. In His Service,Doug and Carolee Schwaderer, and family

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why We Better "Wash" Their Brains

Christians are often accused of "brainwashing" their children. It strikes me as odd, because the media, the government, the public school system does the same thing--they decide what they think the public needs to know, what constitutes a "good citizen" and proceed to teach young children those ideas and philosophies. I just saw an article about school children singing the praises of our president, chanting his name to the Battle Hymn of Republic. Isn't that "brainwashing?" They also sang another song about Obama to the tune of "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

I was listening to an interview on the internet of a 50 year old woman describing her upbringing in the 1970's, during a time when the "anything goes" attitude was rampant. Her father was a famous rock and roll star, and she a child actress. It was her father that gave her the first shot of drugs in her arm, and then proceeded to molest her, and the downfall into a perverse lifestyle goes on and on. But it struck me to hear her describe her upbringing in a world where no one taught her what was right, and what was wrong. The interviewer asked her, was there anyone around you that told you that this incestuous relationship was wrong, evil? And she basically said no.

As Christians we are faulted for teaching our children the difference between right, and wrong, good and evil. We are "brainwashing" our children and not allowing them to make decisions for themselves. The lady I just described in the above paragraph is a good example of what happens when children are left to themselves. I hope she is able to recover from her past.

What values are we trying to indoctrinate in our children? The ten commandments is a good place to start--things like "thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, honour your mother and father, don't lie, work six days, rest one, don't covet (basically, be thankful for what you have and don't go into debt to get what you don't.") Given the headlines in the news, couldn't our society use a little bit more of that?

We teach our kids to love one another, share, think of others first, be polite and respectful to others (including authorities), forgive, work hard and don't be lazy, tell the truth, don't gossip, and be thankful. Aren't those all commendable character qualities? Which type of person would you rather have working for you, if you owned a business? What type of neighbor would you rather have?

We also educate them against the dangers of this world--and do our best to protect them from the things that will harm them. Stay away from drugs and alcohol which alter your mind, cause you to do things you wouldn't normally do, lower your inhibitions, and in many cases lead to addictions and ruin many lives, not only yours but often innocent lives as well.

We believe that marriage is sacred, between a man and a woman, and that they should save themselves for the person that God has for them. This includes learning to discern character--what type of person would be the best for them to marry, and the consequences for failing to do this--sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, the heartache of divorce, etc.

Most people don't have a problem with the character qualities that Christianity tries to instill in young people. It is the God of the Bible that they have issue with, and the idea that we are created by God and are accountable to Him. But it is impossible to live righteously without it, or His power. The public schools have tried it and failed--we have all seen the tragedies taking place in our education institutions where God and the Bible is not welcome. The principles that do "work" to make successful citizens are all borrowed from the Bible.

Next time you are tempted to criticize Christian parents for "indoctrinating" their children, perhaps you better try to be a little more open-minded and realize that we are trying to train our children to love and fear the Lord, and to do good works, and to stay away from the sin that will destroy them. Consider the alternatives.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Joy in Heaven

Saturday we had the privilege to baptize Maria Jose, who has been attending our church for a few months and recently asked Jesus Christ to be her Lord and Saviour. Doug and some of the men from church had given a gospel tract to a friend of hers, and for some reason the friend said to her "here is something for you, I think you would like it more than me." Maria Jose got our church address off the back and visited. We also studied the Bible a few times with her in her home, and she has been coming ever since.

The baptism was a real adventure. The natural pools in the ocean where we usually baptize were closed to the public for renovation, so we had to walk several blocks down the shore to find another spot to access the ocean. Unfortunately, it was all rocks rather than sand--and they were very slippery from the algae growing on the surface of them--making it very precarious. Maria was a very brave soul--and was a good sport about it. We enjoyed a small time of refreshment afterwards--tortilla wraps I had made ahead of time. Praise the Lord for Maria and her decision for Christ!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Impressions of the United States

It saddens me when I am speaking with my neighbors and friends and they ask me questions about the United States, like "Aren't you afraid to walk the streets there?" and "Is it really as violent as the shows on TV?" Most of their impressions of the United States are negative. And why not? Everyday I read the headlines on the internet--school shootings, mall shootings, babies abandoned, kidnapped children, college students being raped and attacked, elderly being abused, and on and on it goes.

The most popular shows on television here are movies and serial dramas from the United States dubbed over in Spanish--murder mysteries, police detective dramas, emergency room scenes, and CNN with all the latest headlines--it is no wonder their only impression of the US is so negative.

It is difficult for me to convince them otherwise, that there are many upstanding citizens in the US who would never dream of doing the things that they see depicted on TV. But it does make me realize the evil days we are living in. The Bible says that in the last days we would see perilous times like never before, and the violence and lawlessness will increase yet more and more as we leave behind the truths of God's Word. At least it has given me an open door to explain to them how America has taken God out of the schools, out of our government, and the repercussions of doing so.

I do believe that the United States is a great country in the aspect of it's Bible preaching churches and God fearing people that want to do what is right, and for the gospel preaching missionaries that they send out to all parts of the world. May we who claim the name of Christ work diligently to preserve our heritage and pass it on to the next generation, and to all nations.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

El Beso and the Gripe A

Here in the Canary Islands, it is tradition to greet one another with a kiss on each cheek. When you see a friend or acquaintance, they offer you their cheek and you put your cheek next to theirs, then turn to the other side and do the same, making a slight kissing motion, but it really isn't a true kiss. The Spaniards do this as a way of saying hello, and it is probably just as much a sign of courtesy and respect just like the American handshake. Failure to do so would be an insult to some.

In our church, only the women greet one another with the traditional kissing ritual (although in many circles it is common for men to greet ladies with the kiss as well). Honestly, I would feel very uncomfortable greeting a man that wasn't my husband in this way. It doesn't come natural for me to even remember that the women are expecting me to greet them this way, but fortunately they take the initiative so it serves as a reminder for me. However, sometimes during the rush of greeting one another and making sure everything is set up and taken down properly for our Sunday services, I often forget to make it around to everyone to "kiss" them goodbye.

This past Sunday, I must have had my mind on something else, and when Doug shook a woman's hand goodbye, without thinking I pulled my hand out to shake her hand as well. She took a step back, and obviously offended, she asked me if I was afraid of catching the H1N1 Virus (called Gripe A here). I had to stop and think for a minute, asking myself, "What is she talking about?"

Then I realized, there have been a lot of public health commercials on TV and in the newspapers urging people to cut down on close contact, including the custom of greeting one another with a kiss. I had to explain how in our culture it wasn't customary to kiss one another, and how I sometimes forget. Just another example how sometimes you can offend someone by not respecting their culture, no matter how innocent you think the matter. Not only do we have the extra challenge of speaking their language, but also the body language and signals we give without even saying a word!