Some Links

This is Anna’s ballet part in the Christmas program at Iglesia Getsemani.  It is a little hard to see, but she is blond one. :)   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-j5PQzv_1M

Listen to a missions sermon preached by Scott at Cedar Heights Baptist Church.  http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakerOnly=true&currSection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Scott^DeWitt

Watch Scott (among others) discuss the PhD program at Eastern University.  I am the one in the red shirt (in case you don’t know me).  http://www.eastern.edu/academic/ccgps/oip/index.html

Man vs. Wild

It was bound to happen to us eventually.  We have joined the millions who have gone before us.  They have blazed a trail for us to follow.  They scratched and clawed their way to survival and have lived to tell their story.  They are our great cloud of witnesses.  What has happened?  We have a teenager.  Zac turned 13!  Despite the fact that we are way too young to have a teenager and despite all my years as a youth pastor, it is different when the beast inhabits your own cave.  As a youth pastor I often said, “Everyday with a teenager is a new adventure.”  Now I am in my own “B” movie living the adventure.  Please pray for our new life change.  And for patience.  And for wisdom.  And for our Man vs. Wild next 7 years.

The work at Iglesia Bautista Getsemani is going well though the host of challenges is enough to make any courageous person shake at the knees.  We are trying to redefine our identity and break years of tradition in preaching style, teaching methods, and evangelistic techniques.  Sometimes I think they just look at me like a crazy gringo with crazy ideas.  Yesterday we began working on our first friend day Sunday morning.  It is a Sunday morning dedicated to bringing unsaved friends.  We focus on the visitor and taylor-make the entire morning for them with the purpose of sharing the gospel without losing the friendship.  It is intended to be a help, a good step towards additional significant conversations.  On March 28 we will have our first go-round.  I wish I would have recorded the conversation yesterday as I theorized on what to include and what not to include that morning.  No offertory? No pastoral prayer? No happy b-day (cultural norm here)? No Sunday School so members can arrive with their friends?  Give preference for parking to visitors? No pressure invitation?  Change the seating arrangement?  I felt like I was denying the virgin birth.  We have just over a month to plan and execute our first ever Friend Sunday.  Please pray for this program.  It should be a great morning of sharing the gospel and opening the eyes of the members to evangelism techniques beyond that of simply giving out tracts.

Also pray for the following people: my co-pastor Blas Baez and the leadership team at the church; the ABWE missionaries here in Paraguay—the Fields, Donaldsons, Griffins, and Lennons; for my family—Danielle, Zac, Abby, Anna; and Pastor Cesar Rodriquez who is pastoring my former church Iglesia Bautista Maranata.

Christmas Photo

Christmas Photo

No Room in the Inn-side

Last night we had a record attendance at our church as our small auditorium was filled way past capacity. The Christmas Cantata drew about 150 plus the 50 member cast. “Standing room only” does not do justice to the sardine-like feel in the place. There is an energy, restless energy mind you, but a powerful oomph that reverberates in sharing the story of Christmas in such a venue. Some frustrated late arrivals left when entry was impossible. I guess you could say there was no room in the inn-side.

Getsamani Baptist has some exciting plans for this next year including its first attempt at strategic planning. Just to get to the point of considering such “nonsense” has been laborious and fraught with cultural mistakes—mine that is. Cascading is a technical term that refers to trickling down strategy through all levels of the organization. Waterfalls also cascade and we feel like we have been swimming upstream with the effort, like the salmons with not quite enough vigor to make it over the top.

Your prayers will help. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year and hope that you have enough oomph and vigor to overcome the challenges of 2010.

Tumultuous

October is a heavy month for us.  Tumultuous.  Besides responsibilities with the church and the mission, Scott is teaching a seminary class every evening from 7-10pm.  This particular Bible Institute actually goes to churches where the members want to study and holds classes for a week in a three year cycle.  Scott was given the topic of “The Spiritual Life” which of course is so broad that it is nearly impossible to do it justice in just one week of class.

The fascinating clash between cultures always makes for lively discussion.  Scott presented radical ideas like actually doing evangelism outside the church building and that the church building itself is not sacred—two basic ideas that are a stretch for many traditionalists.  Perhaps the longest and attentive discussion centered on building genuine fellowship in the church.  You would think that in a friendly culture like that of Paraguay, real relationships within the church would be automatic.  Yet, as the conversation unfolded, few have found the church to be a breeding ground for genuine friendships.  That phenomenon may not just be a Paraguayan trait.

Please continue to pray for us.  The first 9 weeks of the new school year have passed and Danielle (and the kids) is counting the days until summer break (our summer break is December-January).  Between studies, preaching, and speaking at retreats, Scott is more than busy enough.  Yet ministry is about relationships.  Please pray for Pastor Blas Baez and Pastor Cesar Rodriquez.  These two faithful pastors are leading two separate churches and are in need of large doses of wisdom.  Danielle spent time with Nancy on Sunday, who is caught in a riptide of hopelessness on many levels including debilitating poverty.  Ethel and Alfredo are an engaged couple leading the youth ministry at our church and we are gearing up with them for a complete philosophical overhaul next year.  The mission has an important meeting on October 24 to redefine the direction of the camp program.  We have invited a number of Christian leaders and pastors to a think-tank mini-retreat to hammer out ideas and dreams for the camp’s future.  Please continue to pray with us.  We appreciate your prayers and interest on behalf of the ministry in Paraguay.

Family Picture

Family at Itaipu in Paraguay

Our Testimonies

Scott:

Growing up in a home where Christ was honored, it was natural for me to accept him at a young age. On a Saturday morning waiting for cartoons to come on, I gave my life to Christ and accepted his forgiveness for my sins. My home environment lent itself to growing spiritually. I was given great doses of love and discipline with the honor of Christ as the constant bottom line. Though a curious child, God forged within me a love for him and desire to use my life for his kingdom. At Clear Lake Camp in Iowa, I gave myself to ministry anywhere he wanted me. The following year at Grand Rapids Baptist College, I began to see God using my unique talents and abilities for his glory and became enchanted with ideas of glorifying him with my life. This pursuit continues. With sixteen years of ministry behind me, my heart throbs to display the glory of Christ to all the nations of the world. The scene of the throne room of heaven in Revelation 20 drives me as all nations, tribes, and people stand before the living God. At my side on that day will be men and women from all times and people in history. It is my thrill to expend my life preparing for that day when God draws together worshippers and we proclaim, “Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” I am so happy to use the few days I have here on this earth spread the word–Jesus is alive!

Danielle:

My father is a pastor so the home I grew up in gave me every chance to hear about Christ. My parents told me that at a young age I accepted him as my Savior, though I have no recollection of it. I spent the first years of my life doing all the right things and answering all the questions in Sunday School. During some turbulent times in my teen years I began to realize that I had all the answers but did not have a relationship with Christ. At my friend’s church when I was sixteen I went forward and truly accepted Christ as my Savior. The years that followed were times of great discovery and joy. I attended Grand Rapids Baptist College and met many wonderful people who loved the Lord. Scott and I began dating during college and were married after graduation. We worked together in youth ministry and I found great joy in working with the girls, leading Bible studies, and sharing my life with others. During the last few years I found myself restless in ministry. Several years ago when Scott and I decided that we would leave ministry in America for overseas missions, I knew that the years of ministry in the past were preparing me for the future. In October 2001 we spent fifteen days in South America and I found in Paraguay a place that I could have a ministry among the women and young girls. As we boarded the plane for America, I sat in my seat and wept. God had answered my prayer and clearly revealed to me a place for me to spend my days in ministry. Today, I am able to share my life with women in Paraguay who are searching to know who is Jesus Christ and would not rather be doing anything else!

Contact Information for the DeWitts

Email: scott@dewittfamily.com

Home phone in Paraguay: 011.595.021.298.699

Sending Church: Southgate Baptist, Springfield, OH 937.325.0619

Mission Agency: Association of Baptists of World Evangelism: 717.774.7000

Relationships the key to church planting

How do you plant a church? has been a new question for me these days. I have agreed to lead a church planting team from my church, Iglesia Bautista Getsamani. First I need to write a strategic plan, then form a team (and hopefully a multi-church agreement), and then get to work on actually starting up the work.

If you were me, what would you do first? It obviously depends up philosophy and context and a million variables. Would you survey first? Talk to other denominations/missions? Look for a store front to rent? Or perhaps the “who” is more important than the “where.” Would you concentrate on finding a good team and forming a good strategy for working together? Who will do what? When? How?

In the end though, if the goal is a church building, we have missed the point. Consider our forerunners in Acts or Paul himself. Was his intent to start a church or to share the message? Perhaps both. Which came first though? When I read Acts and the Epistles I find a much greater emphasis on relationships than I do on buildings and programs, a simple point to miss amidst the fog and pressures of church programming.

So we covet your prayers for wisdom in this church planting endeavor. We also ask for prayer for the 20 girls at the Vientos de Esperanza home for abused girls that is quickly becoming our family’s personal ministry. The commentary on their life is so sad, but the hope many of them have found in Christ and the joy they now have for life so quickly grabs your heart. Pray for Melita the director who ministers daily to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of these girls.

When they take your “stuff”

Being robbed feels like a violation. We returned home to our house a few weeks ago to discover a back door open. A quick glance into the office confirmed our suspicion. Someone robbed us.

That Friday was a holiday and we thought we would go see a movie. We were only gone for 2 hours. In that short amount of time, someone stole around $12,000 worth of electronics, money, and jewelry. I openly confess that I was angry. Snorting like Ferdinand the Bull (remember that kids story? He was stung by a bee…), I wanted revenge. A missionary friend came over and recommended that we pray. I didn’t want to pray. I confess I didn’t close my eyes. Is that a sin? Someone was watching my house after all. Someone was staking out my family. I was ready for some revenge.

As the emotion twisted toward fear, a gnawing sense of letting down my family by not exercising my husband-ly and fatherly duty of keeping us and our stuff safe steadily grew inside of me. I am the man of the house. Security is my duty. A carnal thought rumbled like an incoming storm—why did God let this happen? I left my home, family, and friends to serve him in a foreign country. I at least deserve his protection. It was then than my conscience, ie. my wife, pulled the rug out from under my lament. He did protect us. We were not in the house when the robber came in. We can recoup $12 grand. We should be most thankful for being safe.

After all, stuff is just stuff. Oh, it is easy to lose sight of the value of stuff. Compared to health and safety, it’s not much. Just stuff. Only then, days later, did I first realize (and accept) that he did protect us. Yes, he protected us from potential violence. He protected us even more from allowing stuff to become more than simply inert compounds with no eternal future. We were safe. He was good to us.

I have suggested to others that it is good to get robbed every few years (this is our fourth time) so that the stuff of this world retains its proper place and value. Slightly above worthless and way below everlasting. Just stuff.