A Word From Steve Jones
January 15th, 2018
We had a tourist day - took the bus to Comayauga, about 45 minutes from Siguatepeque. It is on the main road between San Pedro and Tegucipalpo. It went over a large mountain range - very beautiful. Ally took a girl from the home - Elaina who is 14 and bi-lingual.
Comayauga is the geographic center of Central America, first settled in 1535. Lots of history and a quaint Spanish-type city. We shopped, took a tour of a clock tower that houses a working Arabian clock made in the 12th century, given to Barcelona and ending up at Comayauga in the 17th century. It was hot there and the strong sun wears on us. The uv today was 11, or extreme. We ate lunch in a great restaurant that was like an art museum.
On the bus ride back we met a Honduran pastor from La Paz that John taught in a ‘Leaders For’ course 4 years ago. He has about 50 people in his church but they are very poor. He asked John if we looking for a sister church to help here! So many needs!
We toured around Siguatepeque when we got back. Ally says she’ll be glad to get back to the Home - tired of being stared at by creepy guys. I called Pastor Hector and he said she can come to work at the clinic this Friday at 7am, so she will come in Thursday to say goodbye to us and then stay overnight with John and Lise. Lise will make sure she never travels alone.
Tomorrow we go to the home to say farewell.
Bye for now
Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve here…I thought I’d talk about something completely different today. Some of you know I’m a watercolour artist. I’m preparing for an art show these days and so I thought I’d throw out a few ideas about the importance of the Arts. My hope is the church will recapture the arts and celebrate them in all their various forms. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Here are a few thoughts from myself.
I heard from an artist that the Bible is 80% picture language. We all know Jesus used vivid narrative pictures in His stories. The arts speak an aesthetic language that often say things words struggle to say.
God has given a calling to all of us. I believe my artistic gift is a calling in my life. I am responsible to glorify God with it. God has commissioned me to create and so just like Adam naming each created animal, I reflect carefully on the titles I give each of my paintings. My art is seeking to recreate, in some form, the beauty of God. That is why I am largely a landscape artist. Through my paintings I hope to point to what God says is “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).
Art elicits hope. When I see something “good” or beautiful…I get hopeful. In a sense the ontological argument for God’s existence is an argument for perfection and beauty that points to a perfect Originator. God is that perfection and everything else is contrasted in degrees of beauty to the ultimate perfection. And so, all beauty should point to God. God’s canvas is nature and I seek to capture it in my watercolours. Through colour, form and composition I am seeking to weakly emulate this perfection. I fail miserably often, but, occasionally I see a glimpse of what I’m looking for in my paintings. It is exciting when that happens. All Christian artists whether through music, dance, sculpture or poetry are trying to do the same thing.
I believe art can challenge ideas that our society says is the norm, the truth or politically correct. Art can subtly poke holes in these ideas. Art can serve like a constant drip of water eroding these false presumptions. Slowly wearing away the edges of an idea and exposing the falsehoods beneath. Art can say things not always easily said out loud.
I believe art conveys personal experiences in a powerful language. Art can elicit strong reactions or forgotten memories. Where language is often quickly forgotten and we try to remember what the preacher or teacher or boss or parent said, but it’s gone. Art can memorialize the language being said in some static state so that each time you go back to the art it speaks to you again in a familiar way. My current experience does affect my experience with a piece of art. I can see Rembrandt’s “Prodigal Son” over and over again, over a number of decades and experience it differently each time due to current life experiences.
A few months back I was the guest speaker at Heritage College and Seminary’s “Arts Week”. I painted a piece entitled, “Facing Christ”, while speaking from John 8 and 9 talking about facing shame. The spirit of God was present as I spoke to the students. Some heads hung low, others were shifting uneasily in their seat, a couple young women were weeping. Art touches the heart. It can be used to help heal. Art is used by therapists. Could we not somehow use it in church ministry to bring healing? Music that heals. Dramatic scripture reading that heals. Paintings and banners in the foyer, auditorium or prayer room that heal.
I realize that many of my friends receiving this email believe Jones is stretching it here. That’s fine.
However, when I do “my art” it causes me to pause. To wonder, meditate and gain perspective. It feels like a “sabbatical”. A place of rest to be replenished. When doing art I use another part of my brain and my emotional reservoir gets filled. The act of using a specific medium to try and see the world the way God sees the world helps me to speak into issues like pain, loss, injustice, peace, compassion, etc. Art helps people make sense of life. Art, whether it’s painting, or composing music, or dance, or poetry, or crafting, or drama is a subtle means to make sense of God’s providence in our lives. It helps to make sense of life. And so, “Viva la arts!” What do you think? What artistic ventures have you experienced in your church-life in recent days?
Have a blessed week
Monday, July 30th
The roof is finished. That is the main news for today -we capped the roof by 4pm today! Then Gene and I took our first bus ride home without John and got a taxi - no problemo. Now we are having a BIG Thunderstorm so it will be a good test.
We are both tired today - so many trips up and down the ladder and roof work tends to make the legs tired. But we are glad to have the job done and tomorrow we can be tourists with a bus ride to a nearby city - right now the spelling (of the name of the city) escapes me. Ally will come in and meet us and we will leave around 9am. As she said, she needs a day off from someone calling ALLYYYYY every 15 seconds. She is the newest celebrity at Vida y Libertad.
We are able to email by using the Francis’s computer. They have been so hospitable, gracious and helpful. I can’t imagine coming as we did with no language skills and fare as well without their help.
Anyway, that’s about all the news. Bought some local ground coffee and find it very good.We appreciate the prayers and look forward to being home in a few days.
We had a nice refreshing day after finally a great nights sleep for myself, although Gene didn`t sleep as well.
We went with John and Lise Francis to Mt. Hermon Baptist Church for 9am. Ally came in with 4 teen girls. She paid for their bus as that is the only way they can get in and some wanted to go but had no money. Maybe we could help with that - only about $1.25 to send a teen to church and back every Sunday!
The church is near the town center, it has a sort of an enclosed outside-inside compound right on a main street. A good youth band led the singing, and the place filled up by 9:30. Over 200 were there, although that may be due to the special meetings. They normally have about 150.
The singing was good and familiar, they sang `Santos, Santos, Santos`(holy,holy,holy), and `Mighty to Save`, plus several Spanish songs and choruses, plus several solos and testimonies. The children went to Sunday School (not held for the adults today), and then the evangelist preached for over an hour on John 21:15 (do you love Me more than these), and 1Peter 1:15 (be holy in all you do). Other than that I didn`t catch much of what he said. Spanish preaching is rapido! He was around 35 or so, preached well and gave an invitation after a long prayer. Several stood first for what I think was a call to slavation and then most stood to a call to holy living. Then they sang some more, we went forward to put our offering in a basket (tithes are separate) and then closed with more singing. It went to 11:45 - We chuckled about the length on the way out but it was great.
Then everyone gathered in the huge fellowship area for a meal of bbq meat, rice, beans, vegies, avacado and tortillias - excellant and quite a meal for such a large crowd. They had piniatas for the children, teens and adults which was great fun. Overall a great local church, full of life and young people!
The pastor is Hector, his wife is Wendy and he speaks pretty good English. He grew up there, went away for training and came back as pastor when the former pastor left and has been there for 26 years - sounds like you Steve. I asked him about the church - it was a Southern Baptist plant 50 + years ago. Since growing they have started 9 daughter churches, 8 of which are now sister churches.
He told me about their medical clinic, which they offer on weekdays to the public. I got Ally over to talk with him and he gave us a tour of the clinic and told Ally she can come in to help them. The doctor speaks English and so does Hector`s daughter so that will be a big help. They will also take a trip up to the mountain villages in August and she is invited to go too. What a blessing - this is what she wanted to do the most and although one door closed before we came, the Lord wonderfully opened up another. It is a real answer of prayer for Ally - it renewed her excitement and vision for the whole trip.
They have other opportunities for us to be involved and so I will be in contact with Hector and John Francis will help us as a liason. They are a church very much like ours and by helping them we can have an eternal impact on this city. As John explained to me, the people here have the heart and expertise for evangelism, but they need help with resources and projects and skills that our church can bring. I think this is the opportunity we have prayed for, in concert with our support for CASA HOGAR. They run an Awana program for about 170 kids on Saturdays and most of the children from the Home attend. The teens from the Home come into youth group on Thursday nights. The church used to pick up many of them for Sunday School, but lack the personnel to care for all the extra children. John and Lise would like to see the Home increase the connection with this Baptist church.
Their sound system is modern but could use some expertise, so I told Hector about Art and he was quite enthused to hear Art wants to come down next year. There are opportunities at the clinic for our nurses, and we talked about the possibility of a class teaching English to community people. The ideas and needs are endless, but I want to convey how we can practically help them.
We hope to share this and more when we get home, expecially during the August 12 service. Isn`t it great to see the Lord`s hand in all this! He opens doors we knew nothing about, because He knows the desires of our hearts, to serve and glorify Him.
I feel so very blessed and can hardly wait to see what the future holds for our involvement here.
Tomorrow, Lord willing we finish the roof!
Bye for now, Pastor Doug
Here is the latest from Pastor Doug
Please take note of the prayer request at the end, they need to get some rest!
We had a long day today after an awful night of dogs barking all night. We both got about 3 hours of sleep but managed to put in a full days work. We got a lot of the dirty work out of the way and we hope we can be done by Tuesday.
Gabriel is 27 and is the maintenance man and does good work but has such limited tools and knowledge of tools that we take for granted. I think we are helping him learn as well as helping with the work. It was hot today - the sun is straight overhead and very strong, but there was a good breeze too. We took the bus there and back - the bus varies between an old North American bus from the 70`s to some wierd desiel thing that can hardly get up the hills. We see lots of old cars and trucks, many smoking and falling apart, kids filling the back of half-tons, loads of fruit and junk going every which way. It is an interesting place for sure.
We ate today with the children - we really enjoy them and I suppose we are a novelty to them. Ally is sleeping a little better than us but sleep in a strange place is elusive. So many things we take granted, also cold water, hot showers, plenty of water, good plumbing etc.
We got back to town about 4:30 pm and then watched a large parade of teens from various Catholic and Christian schools on a peace march, with placards, bands and all dressed in white. There are young people everywhere, selling fruit, riding biokes and motorcycles, most with cell phones, and many you wouldn`t want to meet after dark. Most will say ola and smile when we speak.
Took lots of pictures today, after forgetting the camera the first two days here! Lise translated your letter to Roberta. She wrote the Spanish between your lines, so it was good that you wrote double spaced. He is frielndly, well mannered and sharp young man.
We are getting some more ideas for projects. The last part of the roof could be done this winter. It would also be nice to take down some security solar lighting and some pharmacy medications. I watched the cook open a large can with a big knife - so many things they do not have! They have only finished about an eighth of the security wall and that project certainly could use some supervision. It shows the need for us to not just send money, but help them work. Eugene is good for that.
Well, so far so good. We are looking forward to a good day tomorrow, then take Sunday off for church and rest. I think Ally will come up on the bus with one of the girls on Sunday am to join us. A Spanish service will be interesting.
Time for bed. Pray for the Lord to shut the dogs mouths! After all, He did stop the lions.
from Pastor Doug,
We had a good first day of work today. The roof has 3 sections and we are re-doing the middle section, which is about 46 feet long and and 16 feet wide, in two sections. We remove the old clay tiles, pull up the thin sheets of tin, sweep out all the dirt and then lay the new metal roof in 4x8 sections. We did about one-third of one side today and figure we will finish the side tomorrow. It rains daily, mostly in the evening and rains hard for an hour. Today was sun and cloud, about 26c, with a nice breeze, very much like home!
Ally is doing well, she had a good rest and seems well liked. One girl, Jenny who is 16 told Lise that Ally is very calm and gentle and sweet, while some of the Spanish ladies are quite excitable. I think she will be fine. Starting Monday she will be doing some instructing the girls about hygiene etc and supervising the children.
Not so tired tonight and hopefully will sleep well. Last night the dogs barked constantly and when they stopped the roosters crowed the second half of the night. I made some ear plugs our of kleenex, which almost drowned out the snoring by you-know-who Kathy!
We go to bed at 9 and get up before 6.
We will have to travel to San Pedro next Thursday and spend the night there as we will fly out early on the 3rd.
We are getting a sense of other projects we can do here in the future. For instance Gabriel the maintenance man looks after the garden and say he could use some help to put in a garden next spring. Planting season begins May 1!
On Sunday we will fellowship with the Baptist church and go to the final night of evangelistic meetings on Sunday eve. John tells me there are many churches here, but a lot of the preaching is prosperity gospel. We took the bus home today and he said at times preachers will get on the bus and start preaching and then take up an offering! But that is better than the gangs in San Pedro who board buses with guns and take their own offering.
That`s it for today. We are well looked after and the hospitality is great. Also much poverty here and people are hard working.
Latest from Pastor Doug,
We are safe in Honduras and at the home of John and Lise Francis in Siguatepeque!
Got in to Houston Tues night around midnight, to the hotel at 1:30am, then had a very short sleep and up at dawn to catch the flight to San Pedro.
We met Lise and Tina Garcia at the airport and they took us for a beautiful and `eventful` drive (Gene called her Tina Andretti) It is a very beautiful country and Sigautipeque is up in the mountains.
We got to the Children`s Home for an intro visit. What a group of adorable kids. One immediately adopted Ally and the rest became Gene`s friends as he gave out candy. Tina showed us all around, and we got a look at the roof work.
Tina is one amazing lady; as she put it, "when God calls you, what else can you do" She is mom and administrator and planner etc to so many, and she sleeps in a room with with 5 babies and toddlers.
There are some other young people from Denmark painting and caring for children etc but most are leaving tomorrow. We will have some help with the roof work which has already begun and we will join in tomorrow.
We left Ally at the home, in a room with several 12-15 age girls. She is very tired and likely a bit overwhelmed, but some of the girls go to a bi-lingual school so that will help her. The children will love her..
We had supper at the Francis home - they went to a prayer meeting - I unpacked and cleaned the slightly damaged bag of hygiene products and after this email and a shower I`ll hit the sack. Gene is already there.
We are beat and will probably be asleep by 8pm (11pm your time).
Thanks for praying for us and we are looking forward to an amazing time here.
We really sense a Book of Acts kind of journey and so prayer is absolutely key.
Pray for safety on the roof tomorrow (actually today! here) - the local workers don`t seem to be very safety conscious. I`ll try to get a picture of the ladder!
Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve here…I imagine many of you have been visiting family, friends and faraway places through the summer months. I trust you have been refreshed and enriched by your time away.
Marilyn and I are getting ready to attend our Fellowship International European Conference. We will be ministering among our missionaries that serve in that part of the world. We are looking forward to fellowshipping with Mario and Rose Bruno who have been church planting in Rome. They have been faithful, godly witnesses for the Gospel and our churches among religious Italians for decades. I have been aware of their ministry since my days as a young seminarian at CBS (Central Baptist Seminary now Heritage College and Seminary).
I thought in this email I would share a story from Mario to give you a feel for his ministry in Rome. This update is from several months ago:
The pupils of the two grade 5 classes of an elementary school in Rome walked excitedly into the auditorium and behind them came their teachers and a Roman Catholic nun. I was at their school to explain to them the meaning of my faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, the importance of reading the Bible and creation (intelligent design) versus evolution. I was given an hour and a half in which to do it. We were then to repeat the whole presentation with another two grade 5 classes and their teachers. In all there were just over one hundred who were present. The school’s teacher of religion had invited me to speak to the children. “Mario, you can talk about anything you want” is what he told me.
I had assumed, wrongly, that the nun was one of their teachers. One of the parents later told me the school, being a state school, does not have nuns or priests as teachers. The nun had been sent by the local parish priest for reasons that I can only guess.
As we set up a table and the material the teacher of religion asked: “Mario, would you mind if I videoed part of this session. I want to put it on the school’s blog so that anyone who wishes may see it?” I was more than glad for that.
I had a university student from our church come with me so that she could help me but, more importantly, could learn from the meeting. Because she studied Latin and Greek for five years in High School she read from the Greek New Testament for the children.
I began by explaining how I, being born in Italy into a Roman Catholic family, was now serving the Lord as a member of an evangelical church. Using Matthew 7:13-14 as my basis I explained that there were only two doors, two ways, two crowds and two destinies. No third choice. My parents gave a religion but not knowledge of God. That I learned through reading the Word of God. I explained how I found true spiritual life in Jesus Christ
One of the teachers interjected that if a person lived a good life as a Buddhist there was no reason why they could not be acceptable to God. The teacher of religion agreed with her that as long as someone faithfully followed their faith, God would accept them. That put me in the delicate position of having to explain, without offending, that Jesus was the only way to God according to Acts 4:12, John 14:6 and 1 Timothy 2:5 and all others lead to destruction. Copying the example of Jesus I used a modern-day parable. “If a man were sick and went to three different doctors,” I said, “and after the exact same tests and diagnosis each doctor gave the man a completely different treatment: ‘radical surgery’, said the first; ‘some medicine taken for two weeks’, said the second; ‘a change in diet and a bit of exercise’, said the third. All three couldn’t be the right path to health. Only one would lead to full restoration. So God is not schizophrenic to tell different people different ways to heal our sickness called sin.” Both teachers didn’t respond so I assume they accepted my answer.
Before leaving I gave each of the teachers a calendar that has a Bible verse on the front of the tear-off page and a meditation on that verse on the back. One of the teachers said she would hang it in the class so she could read it with her students each morning.
Thank you for your partnership with us in the cause of Christ.
May His grace be upon you.
Mario and Rose
Thank you Mario and Rose for being our Fellowship’s faithful ambassadors to Rome for so many years. Only heaven knows the wonderful fruit of your labour.
Have a blessed week,
Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve Jones here… Since the 2008 recession the plight of the poor in Canada and around our world has increased exponentially. Our Fellowship personnel and churches in Canada and internationally are seeking to meet the need. Here are a few stories:
Out West I recently visited Pastor Joe Russell at the New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church which backs onto Hastings Street, the poorest section of east Vancouver. Joe told me the miracle story of how believers helped his small church to purchase their building. They reach out to drug addicts, displaced people and broken people. Most of his church is made up of single mothers.
Out East I was visiting with Pastor Brad Somers from our PAXnorth Church in downtown Halifax. Four shootings in one month in his church neighbourhood left two people murdered. This is a very poor neighbourhood. However, the church has grown to 90 people (21 are new to Christ in the past three years) and recently a young Buddhist man bowed on his living room floor before his wife and Pastor Brad and committed his life to Christ. God is good.
Our Fellowship International missionaries, Mark and Catherine Buhler, returned home one year ago to Vancouver from Kenya after many years of missionary service. However, their mission work has not been completed. In a partnership between Fellowship International, the Pacific Region and Faith Baptist Church, the Buhlers are supporting Vancouver-area churches in reaching out to the large ethnic population in Vancouver. I visited Mark and Pastor Jack and was so encouraged by their ministry to the poor and wide diversity of their church and community.
Mark Buhler tells of one of their initiatives to the poor in Vancouver in the following email. Be encouraged as you read it:
DIFFERENT TYPES OF COMMUNITY
We arrived before 8 am at the location on Hastings street. Many men and a few women were busy bringing their shopping carts and garbage bags full of bottles and cans to the recycle center after obviously working hard through the night and previous day to collect so many recyclables.
Soon the full team arrived and we got underway serving three kinds of delicious homemade soup, buns, bagels, mini-mandazis and juice. There were rave reviews from many of the 350 individuals who enjoyed the nutritious meal. Almost all were polite and grateful. It was a cross section of humanity from a number of ethnicities, ages and backgrounds. I was struck by the sense of community shared by these street folks. I was also struck by the profound brokenness that I observed in many individuals. The situation of one particular man especially tugged at my heart strings. He had escaped devastation in Southern Sudan, lived in a refugee camp, moved to Nairobi and finally was granted access to Canada – the “promised land” to so many asylum seekers. Apparently he is married with two little children but he is living in an apartment in the middle of brokenness and was drunk or stoned himself. He asked for directions to come to church on Sunday but I am afraid he probably couldn’t remember the address later. Hopefully I will be able to connect with him the next time we share a meal on the street.
Compare that to another family of six that arrived several weeks ago from Europe where they face significant documented discrimination. They arrived in one of our New Hope Community Services homes. There they have received food, clothes, baby items, reading material and friendship from many in the New Hope / Faith Baptist family. I spent a day with them visiting immigration offices as they seek to prepare for their hearing. Prior to this week I had only heard of Google Translate and never used it. Through this electronic application I have been able to communicate and get to know this wonderful family. The father is a proud grandfather like I am. We both have a picture of our first grandchild on our phone. The daughter and son in law have a beautiful six month old baby girl. On recent Sundays they joined us for church and special events. We are seeking to provide a sense of community for these folks as they maneuver the complicated asylum system. We are praying that the Lord will provide a miracle for them and allow them to stay among us. If you would like more information about our ministry to asylum seekers visit http://www.newhopecs.org/ .
Later in the year we will be hosting a Ride for Refuge http://rideforrefuge.org/canada for New Hope. If you would like to sponsor a rider / walker or host an event in your community for New Hope please contact me.
Have a blessed week, Steven
Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve Jones here…Our Fellowship’s “Statement of Faith” states that the local church is, “a sovereign, independent body…” No argument there. Our autonomy is part of our identity as a Fellowship of Churches.
However, how is this autonomy supposed to work? I ate lunch in Calgary several months ago and sat with an elder from one of our Fellowship Churches. Mike asked me if I knew what, “autindiginy” meant. I had to admit I had never heard the term. He sent me the following in an email:
AUTINDIGINY . AUTINDIGINOUS:
A characteristic of the first century church: (and should characterize the present day church). Autonomous assemblies of believers where leadership was developed from within the body.
Although local bodies retained their independence, in practice there was a unity throughout the fellowship of churches in adherence to the gospel. This was fostered by an INTERDEPENDENCE.
Leadership “gifting” were developed indigenously—fulfilling the mandate of Ephesians 4 (every believer motivated to maturity). These gifts were recognized when they began to function and were appointed to public service by the apostles.
Hmmmm…does this characterize our Fellowship of Churches? Before you point fingers, ask yourself, “When was the last time you or your church did something for another local church or church leaders that brought no visible benefit to you or your church?” Interdependence…something to think about. Autonomous bodies functioning like they’re completely dependent on the Lord, but also on one another to get the mission accomplished. Yes, something to ponder while we eat our “Wheaties” tomorrow morning.
Have a blessed week!
Update on Andrew Rozalowsky:
I wanted to provide you an update on Andrew Rozalowsky, husband of our Administrative Assistant, Suzanne, who was diagnosed with acute leukemia a few days before Christmas 2011. Andrew meets with doctors in Toronto next week to discuss his case. The last results showed he was still in remission following several rounds of chemo. They will discuss the “next steps” in Toronto. We thank God that a suitable stem cell donor has been found and this will be part of the discussion next week. Please pray for wisdom for doctors and specialists as they discuss Andrew’s case. Pray also for peace for Andrew and Suzanne as they await news. Thank you for praying for this family.