Manuel preached for the first time two weeks ago. He took his topic from a picture tract that Joel Reed had given him when he worked in the woodshop last summer. The nice thing about the tract is the pictures help the words make sense. When you are not a great reader that helps a lot. Manuel drew pictures on his own to share with the sermon. Intuitively he knew that he needed some kind of visual aid. I was planing to show the D.O.O.R. Video about having a relationship with God ("God Connect"). I didn't know that Manuel had a sermon planned. So when he told me I said... "Hey, Go ahead!" I wish I had a better picture of him. This isn't very flattering but it shows him using expression and he's moving around taking on the role of the people in the story. It's amazing to me how the Holy Spirit is teaching him. As I sat in the pew watching him share a story about being connected to God I thought I might have a glimpse of the future... and it felt so comfortable.
Our numbers are up and down...sometimes we have about 9 and sometimes we have 19. Most of the time it is somewhere between those two.
I'm looking forward to the day that the others take more responsibility...offer to clean the church, close the windows without asking, bring a snack to share. I can hint and nudge but when they do it without asking, I will feel that there is some transformation taking place in terms of ownership and taking responsibility for "OUR" church (not Nancy's church).
The boys who were baptized in November continue to meet with me on Friday nights. I wish I could testify to the marvelous changes in their lives, but it's a tough slow struggle. There is a deaf woman who is a prostitute who lives right around the corner from Alejandro. She gives them condoms and invites them to her house. (I've talked to them repeatedly about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and other STD's. So have their mothers.) When they are with me or near me they swear up and down that they are walking the straight and narrow... and say the right things and read their Bibles and pray. BUT... there's other evidence that finds its way into my lap that bears otherwise. So I pray for them and hope they can get through this stage and develop enough maturity to resist the temptations around them and choose "life".
I'll close with a "happy" story: Last Sunday when we were cleaning up Kristel went up to the pulpit and started "preaching". Almost everyone was outside. I think I was the only one that saw. I asked her if she wanted a turn to preach, next week when Manuel was finished....shy, quiet, Kristel who doesn't like to stand in front of the class to talk, said "Yes". I told her that after she's baptized and makes a commitment to walk with the Lord,I would love to let her preach. She smiled and said, "Ok". I was chewing on that for a while. I had not pictured Kristel in that role. Hmmmm.... still chewing on it. The Lord gives power to whom he chooses! I have been praying for other leaders in the church to emerge. I hadn't thought of Kristel in that role. Hmmmm. I think the Lord is nudging me to open my mind up a little.