Thursday, November 1, 2012

His Grace Abounds

As I mentioned in my previous post, our home gathering, consisting of both foreigners and nationals, hosted an event for those of like-mind. The goal of the event was to share Paul’s idea of “entrusting to faithful men, the things which we have heard in the presence of many witnesses, so that those men may be able to teach others also.” It was a two-day process where we first began by offering an explanation of the Word and how to present it to others. Day two was an opportunity to put into practice the concepts learned from day one. I rejoice in sharing with you that during this time, not only did nationals rise to the task but also one actually came to believe during this time! Immediately following her belief, we had a ceremony where she was immersed. It was filled with singing and fellowship. A national friend is now going to start the process of continually meeting with this new sister to continue in His teachings. He is good as “The things that are impossible with people are possible with Him.” To Him be the glory forever and ever!

Rebekah and I have been continuing in our efforts at the English Club. We are excited to announce that the club is currently in the process of hiring a national to take over the leadership position. We will introduce our newly hired worker next week at our regular session. I am thankful for the continued relations that our Father has blessed us with through this club. We will soon be hosting in our home a craft day for all the ladies that attend. I ask that you remember this time that it may bring honor and glory to the Deserving One.

Rebekah and I drive a shared motorcycle as our means of transportation. I love it! Most times this serves as a great stress reliever for me as well as excitement as I enjoy riding. However it also provides challenges, as we have had to learn to be creative in transporting groceries back home and learning how to not get wet, as we have now entered the rainy season, which brings rain on a daily basis. Often times torrential downpours will come at random points throughout the day so we have had to learn how to be prepared for such occasions. Some times we get caught in them while other times it simply delays our plans. However, the other day we were leaving our team leader’s house to head home. On the way our tire became flat and fell off the rim. We called our team leader and he told us about a repair shop just down the road. Thankfully he knew the workers and so he called ahead of time to tell them of our situation. It was a blessing that our team leader has friends throughout the village that were willing to help on a moment’s notice. I am grateful for his good reputation among our people. So, we rolled the bike down the hill, around the curve and to the shop where the gentlemen immediately began to work on the motorcycle. As soon as we made it under the bamboo roof, the greatest rainstorm we have experienced up to this point came. We sat under the roof as our motorcycle was being fixed, got our Books out of our bags and enjoyed a nice read as we watched the rain come down. Thankful to the Father that we made it to the shop just before it hit, we enjoyed the beauty of His presence in such a way. However, above is our attempt to combat the rainy season of Southeast Asia.

Idul Adha

“The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the messenger of the Most High; for you will go on before Him to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of grace by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of Him, with which the sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”      
This past week completed the celebration of a national holiday, Idul Adha. Remembered by thousands all over the world, Idul Adha goes well beyond the country in which Rebekah and I live, making it an event on a much larger scale than the glimpse we were able to see here. Idul Adha is the day where majority religion followers commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham. For those who are financially able, typically a cow, water buffalo or goat is purchased. The animal is slain and the meat is given to the poor. Some say that the act of the sacrifice actually offers forgiveness of sins whereas others say that it is simply a time of remembrance. However, it is not Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac that is being remembered but his willingness to sacrifice Ishmael. This creates a huge difference between the majority religion and the faith in which I belong.
Many invitations were extended to us to watch the killing of the animal. However, in the opportunity given to us to watch the sacrifice, it was important to me that those who saw us watching would not confuse us as ones participating. This distinction was made as a community leader approached us, welcoming us to the event. He welcomed us with a majority religion greeting that is the same worldwide for it’s followers. Instead of replying with the typical response, I smiled but shook my head. He commented that he understood but that we were still welcome to watch the sacrifice. My roommate also had an opportunity to explain that we were not of the majority religion but simply ones who wished to observe. I was thankful for this correspondence as it separated us from the rest of those in the crowd but still allowed us an opportunity to be present.    
            Aside from watching deer being gutted during hunting season in the States, this was my first experience of such a bloody event. The sacrifice begins by tying the animal’s hooves together and attaching them to a board. Then a 3-4 foot hole is dug in the ground to catch the pool of blood that is to spill once the throat is slit. After such preparations are made, the animal is then sprinkled with holy water and the men of the majority religion chant Arabic words from their holy book. The parts of the animal that spilled into the pool of blood was collected in banana leaves and taken elsewhere. The meat was gathered and given to many throughout the neighborhood, including my roommates and I. This gift became an opportunity for us to consider Paul’s advice regarding whether or not to eat meat that has been offered to other gods. Once the killing was complete, a woman took off her sandals and came to dip her bare feet in the hole filled with blood. She did this, as she believed it would offer her healing through cleansing properties. This was very sobering to observe as it was the wrong powers she was seeking. (Below I have posted a picture of the sacrifice. If you do not wish to see such a gruesome image then please do not scroll past the last words posted on this page. Two more paragraphs are below.) 
            “And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will His blood, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to the Father, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living One? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by the messenger to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which He commanded you. And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For He did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of the Father for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so He also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for redemption without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
     “But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of the Son once for all.” Therefore, because of His sacrifice on our behalf he has said, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of Him rather than burnt offerings.”
      I do not believe that I have the proper words to say regarding such an event as Idul Adha. It has created such a visual for the numerous in the world who have yet to experience true grace offered through already spilled blood. It is for this reason that as written above I choose not to use my own words but rather the words already spoken.



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