- We sang, “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace” together in different languages in both classes, and our hearts were filled with joy both in how amazing God is, and in the unity and reconciliation that Jesus brings across ethnic backgrounds. Pray that the pastors will continue to remind themselves of how Jesus reconciled us to God in one body (Eph 2:11-18).
- The students interpreted Scripture and engaged in discussion with each other about their interpretations. They asked questions like, “Where do you see that in the text?” and “Why do you think that the author is saying that?” They also gave positives and suggestions for improvement to encourage each other. And they grew in that knowledge throughout the week. Pray that they will continue to grow in their ability to interpret well throughout their lifetime. And pray that they will equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12).
- As I (Andrew) talked about the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20), one person said, “What do I do if I share the gospel with a voodoo priest and he or she threatens with violence?” She thought in terms of her need to spread the gospel, even to people who are threatening because Jesus is King and is with her! Pray that our students will remember that Jesus has all authority, that He is with them wherever they go, and pray that they will have wisdom to know how to make disciples, even in difficult places.
- Many pastors here and many of their people cannot find work right now that will support their families. Pray that God will provide for all of their needs (Phil 4:19) and that they will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33).
- Life is hard here in Haiti. While talking about Ephesians, I asked them, “Can you measure the height of that mountain? You cannot measure the riches of God’s grace and love to you in Christ. We have 85 years here on earth, maybe. It will take age upon age upon age upon age to see the wonders of God’s love.” There were many hearty “Amens” to that. Thank God that many of these pastors are confident in the love of God, delight in the mercy of God, and set their hope on the grace that will be revealed at the second coming. Pray that they will be increasingly aware that they are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3), and pray that they would set their hope fully on the grace that will be brought to them at the second coming of Jesus (1 Pet 1:13).
Yesterday was a bittersweet day for us in at least two ways. We finished our first week of classes, which for me (Andrew) means that I may never see these pastors again in this life. For Dick, it means the end of teaching one group of students, and a new group of students next week. But we know that the Holy Spirit worked here, and we pray that the seed that is planted will grow to produce even more fruit. He gave the growth and gives the growth (1 Cor 3:6). Our time here yesterday was also bittersweet because yesterday was Good Friday. We remembered Jesus’ death on the cross as both Dick and I visited different churches. Jesus’ death was a horrible, sinful act, but His death was good because His blood was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:28). He died, but He is risen! (1 Cor 15)
Even though yesterday was our last day in class, it is not the end of the study for the students or the teachers. It is our prayer that 20 years from now, our students will look back over the years and be overwhelmed with joy in Jesus. Jesus said to his disciples, “by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:8-11).
So Jesus wants these pastors to know the love of Jesus, all that Jesus is, and all that He has done and promised so that they will be filled with joy. This is one reason we teach them to remain in His Word. We want them to know what Jesus says, and we want them to apply what Jesus says. Therefore, we taught them how to read His Word, not just for a week, but for a lifetime. We taught them not just what Jesus said, but how to find out what Jesus said for themselves. We wanted to whet their appetite for further study by the power of the Spirit as we enjoyed Jesus ourselves in our teaching. Pray that this will have great effect.
The good news of Good Friday is that He came down to the lowest place and suffered, and He suffered horrifically. Through that, He is highly exalted to God’s glory. This is what we celebrated with the pastors. “He was in the form of God, [and] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:1).
We enjoyed Jesus and His great love this week, and we want to grow in our love for Him. And we take joy in the fact that in the coming ages He will show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).