– Guest Post by P.B.
“Feliciano Rios lives with his wife and five children in Chillavi, a small Andean town located in the high mountains to the north of Cochabamba. Like almost all of the residents of Chillavi and the surrounding villages, Feliciano and his family live off subsistence agriculture, farming small parcels of land. They also have small herds of sheep and llamas.
Feliciano has been a believer for 24 years, since before he was married. Feliciano didn’t grow up in church, nor in a Christian family. He has never been to a Bible school or seminary of any type. However, for the past four years Feliciano has been the itinerant leader of 19 little churches spread out through the mountains around Chillave. How does he do it? Where did he learn the Word of God?
As Feliciano will tell you, “M.C.M. short-wave radio has taught me the Bible. The programs encourage me, teach me how to educate my children, how to be a good husband and father, how to resolve the challenges that come up in a family. The Radio has shown me how to grow and mature. While I listen to the programs, I take notes in order to share with others in the 19 churches I help. M.C.M. has been my teacher.”
Feliciano has listened to M.C.M. radio since we started broadcasting almost 15 years ago. It is great to hear of the Radio’s impact on his life, and the manner in which that has gone on to impact the lives of so many others.”
Good morning. Thank you for your presence with me and in me, through your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you promise your children your mercies fresh and new for each of them every morning. Thanks for your faithfulness to us, the children of men, and for the fact that you are good, and for the fact that you never change. Thank you also that you are love. Lord, there are so many needs around us all, millions of needs. Some of the needs and hurts are more visible and others are of the heart, hidden, but not hidden to you. People need you, Lord. You’ve chosen us to be your hands and feet, to be your light in darkness, your salt to lend savor and healing to your planet, earth, and to the hurting children of men. Help us, your children, your chosen ones who know you, to walk closely with you this day being good salt, being good light. Amen.
In Australia, or, “The Empty Nest”
-a poem by NinadesusOjos
In Australia I watched kangaroos and wallabies.
In a small zoo, saw
surreal koalas eating gum,
Boxy chocolate kookaburras,
Pea green tree frogs with Yoda faces,
a family of them, eleven,
all different sizes,
piled on top of each other
like a heap of sticky emeralds.
Small gray wallabies like babies,
Tall rangey kangaroos like gawky
All the females
with their offspring in their pouch,
safely, cozy, in their pouch.
But my children, oh, they’re FAR away!
What makes a home?
I never thought I could envy a wallaby.
Zookeepers told, “Joeys keep their offspring
near the pouch two years or longer.”
How many, translated to humans?
I never believed I could envy a kangaroo…
I watched those females,
their young safe within their pouch
or hopping nearby, blythe,
ready to dive back in at sign
Those moms grazed alert, brooding,
My children, so far away,
now with only God vigilant over them
each night and day. (NOT ME!)
No longer me…
I place them, yet again,
in HIS care each day.
No longer me…
Spending time with the kids is…something else. The large group of 3 – 6 year-olds can tend to be unruly; I don’t think there is any space in their lives in which they are made to obey anybody on little, medium-sized or huge issues, aside from threats of violence. So they are not used to being orderly. Also, they are not used to there being ENOUGH of any good thing. Colored pencils to do their drawing paper with. Food. Treats. Play-doh to model with. They exhibit a HUGE worldview of scarcity and have trouble believing their turn will come in 3 seconds, so they scramble and compete.
There’s not another separate space, indoors, for me to use as a classroom. Last time I went, I brought a large, clean old sheet and as soon as I’d arrived, spread my sheet on the dirt outside (we don’t have a blade of grass in the whole Center), plopped my teaching bag down on it with myself beside it, and waited for the kids to be sent to me, one by one, as they finished their other homework, from their schools, for the day. An hour later, with everything working smoothly if a bit exhaustingly, I’m still sitting there on the sheet with 14 little kids clustered all around me, their sheer numbers having caused them to overflow our sheet and be sitting in the dirt also. I hear some muffled choking noises from behind my back! I crane my neck around, then reach out in horror and grab this little guy’s jaw! “Jhonny, OPEN YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW!”
Jhonny is scarfing down the home-made play-doh by cupfuls! His filthy little hands are wet with saliva and spit-diluted play-doh, he has a deadpan, funny expression on his face. The other teacher has come out and we get Jhonny to open up and we extract the rest of the soggy play doh from his mouth, having no idea how much he has already ingested. Johnny gets a scolding, threats of visits to the hospital and stomach pumpings. I murmer to my colleague, “Don’t worry, it’s not toxic, though he might get a whale of a tummy ache and be very thirsty for awhile.”
“NO,” she said. “Let Jhonny THINK it’s poisonous and then maybe he won’t eat it again, and also eat DIRT.”
“Yes, he often eats the dirt. He has to be watched, for that. He’s hungry. They don’t feed him at home. So he eats dirt.”
I looked at our little Jhonny boy, with new eyes, closely. Yes, I can certainly see it now. He’s tiny, absolutely TINY, for four years old, and his little arms and legs are like toothpicks, his face like a little old man’s. He is malnourished and underweight.
I’m a steel-firm believer in the adage that “all truth is God’s truth”. How could it not be, since God is the Good Creator of ALL, as WELL as so much more! This does not mean that I believe anything and everything is truth, or even that everything has a grain of truth in it! Where the challenge comes in is discerning whether or not any particular piece of input IS truth. I’m GLAD God gives us the responsibility to discern that for ourselves. Highlights the importance of education for ourselves and for our children, that teaches the person to THINK for herself, and of an autodidactic attitude throughout one’s life. I’m a Christian who believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God, the special Revelation of his mind and heart and will for us. His “special”, less general truth and personal guidance for us. I like the fact that Holy Father God, who is, or wants to be if we let him be, our loving Abba through personal relationship (a difference, from all the other religions of the world) in his over-arching plan ordained that we, his children, through God’s Spirit dwelling within us from the moment we believe, have the responsibility to think hard, to sift for what is genuine truth, and for what is not. God didn’t make us washing machines, or cars, or little robots. He gave us tremendous responsibility to choose, to respond to Him. Or not to. It adds so much spice to my life to think about, to read about, to study about, the vast span of God’s creation, in its variety and beauty. And to be able to know that what I learn from doing that, after looking at all the facts, studies, objective data and sifting that from other people’s interpretations of facts and data, is truth from my God, for me! As much as, is ALSO and much more specifically to ME, all the words of the Bible! The Bible is my authoritative truth, by which I evaluate the bodies of opinion, from others, that postulate in society, as truth. We have all of God’s creation to enjoy also! He’s given it to us and it’s a priceless gift of love! The iridescent graceful magnificence of a tropical fish darting among the blue-green and malachite nuances of a coral reef off Aquaba, in the Red Sea. All shot through with sunlight from the surface. The sight of it, the memory of it, is a gift to me from God! The inner workings of the human mind, its self-healing properties, its intuitions. Its emotions. Family relationships. The intricacies of the human body, and how God makes babies to develop in utero, then be born, then grow. The properties of human language! The taste of a mango. The healthy pull you feel in your leg muscle as you climb an Andes rock face. And the interesting thing is, if one looks really closely at the Bible, studying it, the Bible has things to say about our noticing and our enjoyment and our use and our personal decision making about all these things too! Satisfying. All gifts from God to me. And other, similar ones, to you. A countless variety of different gifts. God, please help us, your children, to do a little more naming of and being grateful for, and searching out more of, your gifts to us this day, in all their abundance and variety. Amen.