Archive | December, 2012

A New Friend

27 Dec

Our dog Max has a new friend! Her name is Molly, a year-and-a-half old dog, whom Pam and I adopted from a friend who lived alone and passed away several days ago. We don’t know where Molly’s papers are, but we do know that she’s part ShihTzu. 

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The friend who passed away also had another young dog, a beautiful white Papillon. If you’re interested in adopting her, let me know.

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The First Prez Staff, Elders, Deacons, and spouses wishing you a Merry Christmas!

14 Dec

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Francisco, Romero, and You

6 Dec

Last month I went on a five-day trip to El Salvador in Central America with 19 other people, 17 of them pastors from California and Hawaii. Primarily, they were pastors from San Diego Presbytery, which our church became a part of this year. The primary purpose of the trip was to see Compassion International projects, which help thousands of children in need.

My hope was that the pastors would catch the vision of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. My prayer was that the churches of these pastors would have Compassion Sundays like we do at First Prez to sponsor children. The first time I did a trip like this, 1600 children were sponsored, plus 12 college students. And on top of that, an entire infant survival project was funded.

There were four highlights for me of the trip.

First I got to meet my new Compassion child: 13-year-old Francisco. His mother died four years ago from brain cancer. His father abandoned the family. Francisco lives with his older brother, an aunt, and grandmother. So violent is his neighborhood that I could not go to his house. My heart went out to him. Already a Christian he continually thanked me for coming to see him and for giving him gifts.

My Compassion child Francisco

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Second, I went to a Compassion project (which always works out of a church) that ministers to gang members of the infamous MS5. They have tattoos over much of their body. I met gang members who have each killed more than 10 people.

The youth pastor of this church was himself a gang leader. After being shot five times in the chest, he decided he had to change his life. He gave his life to Christ. It was touching to hear his testimony on how he is now married and his children go to church and how his nine-year old plays keyboard in the worship band.

Third, I got to do house visits. Seeing the Compassion children’s homes broke my heart. These were one-room houses with dirt floors, large mosquito nets (to protect them from the Dengue mosquito), and very little food. During home visits, Compassion provides meals for the families being visited and the visitors (like us) so we can all eat together. The food was a Salvadoran version of KFC, which was a real treat for them.

I ate my chicken and took a bite from one of two biscuits. After I was done, I was about to throw away the leftover biscuits and chicken bones from lunch, when I was told that the family would take all of my leftovers for a meal later that day. My biscuits that had bites marks would be eaten and the chicken bones would be used for a soup. I felt horrible. They were so poor that they hardly had any food.

The next time I went on a house visit, I didn’t eat my food at all knowing that the family could use my food for their meal that night.

At one of the house visits

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Fourth, Oscar Romero.One of the heroes of El Salvador is the late Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero who was appointed to his position in 1977. His pictures were everywhere in El Salvador, even in airport murals. I had read about him while I was in seminary. He fought against the injustice of the government and paramilitary groups against the poor.

On March 23, 1980, he preached a sermon calling on soldiers to be true Christians, to obey God’s higher order, and to stop carrying out the government’s violations of people’s basic human rights. The next day, while he was celebrating mass in a chapel near a hospital, a gunman came to the door of the chapel and shot and killed Romero as he was elevating the chalice at the end of Communion.

A mural of Archbishop Oscar Romero

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We visited the chapel where he was assassinated and the outside of his home a few hundred feet away.

It occurred to me, that if we are a sponsor of a Compassion child, we continue Romero’s dream that Christians would fight against injustice and actively release children and their families from poverty in Jesus’ name.