April -May 2019 Moffitt Update Volume 43, Issue 2
I had two international teaching engagements during this reporting period. The first was the week of April 21st at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base south of Tijuana, Mexico. It was a very good week with students from Europe, Africa and Latin America. One of the sons of my students became my latest teenage “adopted grandson” and we have been communicating since. I just got an email from him today with a scan of his report card which showed that he took the top place in his high school class.
The second assignment was in Colombia, May 3-12. I was invited by Institute Transforma for a week plus of sharing/teaching which included eight venues and eleven teaching sessions. Below is a picture of a session with pastors and other leaders who are candidates for sub-district “mayors” of different parts of Bogotá.
My time in Colombia was a great time for me, not only because of the opportunities to share the concept of wholistic discipleship, but especially because of one event in which the Lord reminded me of the importance of not just knowing what to do, but doing it. Here is the story:
It was Saturday. We were Cali, Colombia. I had been teaching a group of local leaders that discipleship was more a matter of life-style rather than simply knowing how to live. The Scriptural basis I used was from Luke 10 where, through the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus told a theologian (expert in the Law) that obedience to God’s will was more important than correct theology. It was time for lunch. We broke the session to go to a local restaurant. I went with my host and four or five conference leaders – some of whom were women.
We were approached by a street person of about 30 years of age. He was bare chested, probably shoeless – I don’t remember, was clearly not wearing underwear and had loose pants that were obscenely low on his waist. He came straight to me and offered a fist bump which I returned. Then he asked for “help.” Partially because of his embarrassing state of undress – at least for me, and I assumed the women – we simply walked on. He followed us continuing to plead, but we continued to ignore him. As we approached our destination, a gourmet food training center, he began to scream at us. We entered, left him outside, and ordered. After we ordered, I asked our party what it was that the street person had been shouting. My Spanish is limited and I didn’t understand.
One of my table partners said, “He must have been listening to your teaching. He was shouting, ‘You have eyes but you don’t see! You have ears but you don’t hear! You have hearts but you have no compassion!’”
I felt like God had delivered a punch to my solar plexus. When we left the restaurant, I looked for this street person but couldn’t see him. On the walk back to the teaching venue, all I could think of was Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 – “When I was hungry …..”
The next morning, I was scheduled to preach at a church in Bogotá. I began my message with a confession. I told the folks that the person who was to preach was a hypocrite. A repentant hypocrite, but a hypocrite. Then I told them the story of the street person I had encountered the day before. From the expressions I could see the Holy Spirit had touched a common nerve.
When I finished, the pastor and a good friend, came to the platform and shared a another story. Earlier that week, he had visited a member and former elder of the church who had been ill but hadn’t been to church in a long time because of illness. This member told the pastor that he had just been through the most difficult time in his life. The pastor assumed he was speaking of his illness. The member said, “No, pastor, it has been because no one from the church has been to visit me during this long illness, including you, pastor. This is the cause of the most difficult time in my life.”
My pastor friend then said to the audience, “I, too, am a hypocrite. I would like to ask all here who are hypocrites to stand to their feet.” As far as I could see, the entire congregation of hundreds stood. Then he explained our corporate need for confession and he invited all who were standing to get on their knees and join in asking for forgiveness. The pastor’s son told me later that in all of his growing up and adult life in that church he had never seen the congregation on its knees seeking the Lord’s forgiveness.
Why am I sharing this? There are two reasons. First, I need to confess that without God’s help I am helpless to do what I want. Like Paul, in Romans 7, I do what I don’t want to do. But also with Paul in Romans 8, I recognize that there is victory in Christ. Second, I need to remind myself, and those who read this, how easy it is to go along – and even teach others – what Jesus taught us to do, and to not do it. If we are honest, there are hypocritical dimensions to all of our lives.
Father, thank you for helping us recognize these gaps, and help us to appropriate your strength to do your will – not just talk about and/or teach it.
Judy and I thank you so much for your faithful encouragement.
Under the same Wings,
Bob and Judy Moffitt