Sunday, July 20, 2008

Home from Guatemala

I arrived home from Guatemala at about 11:00 p.m. on Friday night. I probably could have caught an earlier flight out of Houston on Continental Airlines as we arrived there in time to do so, but I didn't want to take my chances when I was scheduling the flights with a tight connecting flight time. I've had several late flights in the past from Guatemala City and didn't want to push my luck too far.

The pastors' and lay leaders' training conferences went very well. Rather than the Guatemala Convention handling the invitations and enrollment this time, they left those tasks up to the leaders of the newly established pastors' association in that region. One of the results of that was the presence of some new folks this time who hadn't participated in the three previous training sessions. At the same time, the majority were still those who have attended all 4 sessions. The Guatemala Baptist Convention tends to be pretty conservative theologically so I wasn't 100% certain how they would react to a woman pastor as the main conference speaker, but any doubts or concerns I might have had were quickly erased. Jeanie did an outstanding job of leading the conferences and planned in a good deal of small group interaction and dialogue time that allowed the group to arrive at their own conclusions and embrace the contents that she shared as their own. The comments afterwards were unanimously positive in terms of evaluating her participation.

I had been asked to preach at the First Baptist Church of Quetzaltenango for the worship service on Tuesday night that marked the formal inauguration of the new pastors' association for that region. It was a packed house, with folks even sitting in chairs outside on the patio area outside the main auditorium and listening through open windows. I would guess there were close to 300 present. I preached a message from Phil. 2:1-11, focusing on Paul's call to unity and humility with the supreme example of humility being that of Jesus Himself.

Another highlight of the trip for me was the chance to do some reading while traveling as well as in the evening times. I had purposed to re-read Yancey's "Where is God When it Hurts" before passing it along to a church member who has been struggling with some very frustrating medical issues lately. After finishing that, I also had time to read another Yancey book, "The Jesus I Never Knew." It was an outstanding book, one of my favorites by him, and gave me a lot of food for thought as he challenged some commonly-held assumptions about Jesus and forced me to re-think some of those issues. I would highly recommend the book if you have not yet read it.

Thanks to those who prayed for our trip. The Lord richly blessed our time there.

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