So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.1 Thessalonians 2:8 NKJV
What a busy weekend! I drove to Hermosillo on Saturday with the purpose of visiting a couple of churches where I didn’t have to preach. I wanted to fellowship with our students in their natural habitat, get to hear the preaching and see the flow in the churches when I am not the central focus. At the end of the week we will be teaching the Ordinances part of “Money, Ordinances and Music.” I love this class! I had a bit of a turbulent trip due to some bureaucratic kerfuffles, but I made it.
Yesterday I had the joy of attending Iglesia Crisitana Orabes for service. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Pastor Jose Santos Ramos preached a great message calling on younger believers to stay free from the mentality of the world around them. Using the example of Lot from 2 Peter chapter 2, he pointed out how easy it is to become so engaged in the transactions of the world around us that we find it normal to think like the world and value the things of the world. It was heartening to see some of those younger believers with their bibles and notebooks absorbing every word.
In addition to the great preaching I was able to observe many of our students serving in their local church. One of the youth was the “platform man,” making announcements and praying over the service. (He has recently accepted the call to preach.) The worship team was almost entirely composed of students. The same was true for ushers and kids workers and so forth. Very gratifying! I plan to “sneak up” on another church Wednesday evening.
I spent today with Eduardo and Rosa Andrade sharing vision and methods concerning Instituto de Entrenamiento Ministerial de Fe. Sharing the “instruction book” is OK, but in order to impart the passion and heart only time together and lots of story-telling can get the job done. I believe we are making good progress.
Lunch gave me a greater insight into how we do “missions.” I saw a sign that said “Pizza Menonita.” It literally means “Mennonite Pizza.” Here, Menonita is a kind of cheese originally made by Mennonite settlers in Chihuahau. In fact, it is often called queso Chihuahua. We decided to try it.
The restaurant had lots of brick in the walls and some wood highlights. The lighting, the decor, would have been fairly normal anywhere in any casual dining place in the United States. The pizza choices included the usual suspects along with some distinctively Mexican throw-ins: jalapeno, chorizo, carne asada, etc. We opted for Carne Asada.
It took a long time, but I believe they actually cooked from scratch. The result was quite good. The ingredients blended nicely. The crust was OK, though New York needn’t be worried about the competition. The cheese was delicious, almost buttery in taste and creamy in texture. The topper for me came in a bottle. In addition to the traditional Parmesan and red pepper shakers, they provided a bottled hot sauce entitled Salsa Picante Para Pizza. It took the usual picante recipe and used cayenne pepper to make a very tasty topping. Mmmmm!
Here was my thought: Pizza is basically melted cheese on a flatbread of some kind, with sauce and toppings. that never changes. That formula can be imparted to any culture, absorbing the best of that culture without changing the essence. (Hawaiian Pizza, anyone?) Oh, some pizza pharisees will get upset, but I found it more enjoyable to just eat and enjoy. Just as surely, the Message we preach never changes. It takes on the flavor of the culture we are in, and that just makes it more interesting and delightful. The challenge is to determine what is the unchangeable essence and what is simply cultural preference. The Word of God is not bound, but sometimes we are.