June 2020

Tell me stories


I have one steady, weekly, ZOOM, bible study so far, (with potential for three more). We're all getting used to using the internet, but I'm thinking about the teaching methods I'm using. For one, the bible study or message shouldn't be more than half an hour. People are sitting in their homes and get distracted easily. I also try to ask questions, but you have to ask a specific person, and each person needs to know how to turn on and off their microphones. But over all, I'm trying to develop the time-proven method of telling stories. I use pictures, and I can project the pictures over ZOOM. First of all, it keeps their attention, but also, the method of telling a bible story seems to communicate better than a three-point topical sermon. Also, a person's lack of bible knowledge here is discouraging. I think it may be because a lot of sermons are based on doctrine, science, and/or psychology rather than on the bible. My strategy is to tell bible stories and reflect on the purpose of the story. And by using selected stories, I'm tying them together to form an outline of the whole bible story. After all, the bible really isn't a book about doctrine, but about the story of God's intervention in our world.

Pandemic and ministry

How has the pandemic changed our ministry? Well, we can't visit the communities, but we are still in touch. In fact, with the internet, we are even more in touch than before!

Capulispungo, we haven't been able to continue the FLET bible program, but I am tutoring, almost daily, one of their youth in Riobamba, in English, Math, and Statistics. In Shobol Llin Llin, we have met a couple of times with the church via ZOOM, and more to come! Right across the valley from them, in a community called Guabug where we visited only once years ago, we have begun to meet via ZOOM with a house group. In Cachisagua, only two homes have internet, one of them being our main contact. We are working on being able to meet with them. Over in Guamote, a long-time contact has been calling me regularly. He wants to keep up with the technology, and is trying to install ZOOM on his computer, but is having trouble. Way out in no-where land, in a community called Santa Julia, Segundo rings our phone and we call him back (so we pay for the call). They don't have internet yet. Even his cell phone signal tends to fade out, but we talk frecuently. Then in Latacunga, we have started meeting with a bible study group that we never got around to meeting before, but now with internet, we are meeting every week.

Times have changed, but the ministry continues.

New Neighbors


We now have new neighbors who have rented our front house. We have been praying for renters, since our house complex is too big for the two of us. Susana, her daughter and sister, came to us, recommended by Faby's niece. We didn't even advertise! Susana works with plants just like Faby, except that Faby does it for a hobby and Susana does it for a living. We have become friends and have enjoyed many an evening together playing cards. Great therapy during the quarantine.

The Coming of the Kingdom


The Coming of the Kingdom
Matthew 21 -25

I give an interpretation of these chapters using this framework: The Jews expected that Jesus, the Messiah, would remove the Roman government and re-establish David’s kingdom in Jerusalem. So everything Jesus actually did and taught in these chapters is completely contrary to what everyone expected.

Chapter 21
As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the Passover, the Jews expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government. With over 2 million Jews in the city, Pilate and the soldiers were out-numbered. But what did Jesus do? He didn’t go to palace, but to the temple. Instead of overthrowing the government, he overthrew the temple! “He wasn’t supposed to do that!”

Chapter 21-22-23
In the temple, Jesus begins to proclaim parables against the priests and elders: a disobedient son, tenants who reject the landowner, and guests who refuse to attend the banquet. If Jesus was to re-establish David’s kingdom, shouldn’t the priests and elders be the best candidates for his cabinet members. But instead of recruiting them, he criticizes them and everything they do. In chapter 23 he insults them with strong language that includes everything short of four letter words. “He wasn’t supposed to do that!”

Chapter 24
The Jews expected the rebuilding of Jerusalem as the capital city. Here Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem. “He wasn’t supposed to do that!”

Chapter 25
A political candidate is expected to set forth his campaign plan. The Jews expected a battle plan to conquer the Romans, and a political plan on how to govern the provinces of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Instead Jesus sets forth three parables to outline a new government of the people. The Ten Virgins: Be alert and watchful. The Talents: use what God has given you and put it to work. The Sheep and Goats: help those in need. In other words: “Wake up to a new reality and use all that God has given you to help your neighbor.” We are expected to do just that.

Then he died to save us. “He wasn’t supposed to do that!” (But he did.)



So these days we beat social distancing with ZOOM. Not quite the same as getting together, but it will have to do for now. So what can and can't you do with ZOOM? You can get together and talk, but not all at the same time. You can see each other, but only when the person has their video turned on and is in front of the camera. You can share screens! You don't need a projector and blank wall any more. You can even draw on other persons' screens, which is turning out to be very useful for tutoring students, and even helping others figure out procedures on their computers. But one thing you can't do is sing together. I've watched several groups try to do group singing, but with the delay factor on everyone's computer, you hear most people one or two seconds behind whoever is playing the piano or guitar. Doesn't work. Playing guessing games on ZOOM is possible, but the leader has to realize the limitations of the technology and call on people one by one and by name. Takes some skill and practice. You can send messages both to everyone or to a particular person, but the phones don't have a separate keyboard like computers do. When the majority are using phones, messaging is difficult. So we need to master the new technology: ZOOM, here we go!