International Ministries

Signs of the Kingdom

December 7, 2011 Journal
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Just a Glimpse, Please

We keep our eyes and ears open for what we like to call “signs of the kingdom.”  We don’t always see immediate results from the endeavors that we write about in these journals.   Signs of the kingdom are the glimpses we get, now and then, of God working in people’s lives.   They are ways that God may be using to tell us that we are on the right track.  They are motions of God’s grace in our lives that come as we give up relying on our own understanding and simply pray.   

Just Pray

We don’t have a much better explanation for this than what William Temple said, in reply to critics of the practice of prayer, “when I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t, they don’t.”  More than mere coincidences, we see paths opening up, confirmations that people really are being transformed, and things falling into place in ways we could not have engineered.  Here we want to share with you two recent glimpses of “signs of the kingdom.”

Mentoring- One Girl Catches the Vision

Scarlet is a 12-year old girl in the Padre Las Casas church’s Girls’ Club, where Pilar has been her mentor for the last four years.  Pilar recently shared with us some amazing news about Scarlet.  Scarlet has some mild learning disabilities.  When she first came to the church she was timid to the point of not being able to engage in conversation or participate easily in group activities.  Doing the craft activities was so frustrating that at times she could only sit in Pilar’s lap and do them with her. 

In December Scarlet will graduate from the Girls’ Club.  She will stay around as a helper/mentor for younger girls.  She carries herself with a confidence that comes from the security of her relationship with Christ and her friendships and mentoring relationship.  On her own initiative, she started a mentoring program at her school, wherein 6th grade children will be matched with 5th grade children to serve as their mentors or guides.  This was such an innovation that it captured the attention of CONADI, the government agency for indigenous people’s affairs.  They gave her an award recognizing her initiative in a public ceremony.  Wouldn’t you agree that this is a “sign of the kingdom”?

A Site for the Rainwater Collection Project

Our other “sign” came unexpectedly during one of Barb’s meetings with the spinners’ group in Curihue.   The three indigenous communities own a site where the government once provided monthly medical services.  That service was discontinued and the site has sat vacant for six years.  We have been praying for a year about being able to use the building for the rainwater-collection demonstration project, as well as use the site for other development projects.  We couldn't see how it would be possible, but still felt the Spirit nudging us to dream about it as an entry point of God's Shalom.  Another project on the site had been abandoned because of community conflicts and access to the site appeared to be a legal tangle.  

one day about a month ago, out of the blue, the spinners’ group told Barb they had asked for permission to use the site to meet and sell products to tourists.  They asked us to help them prepare a proposal to present to the municipality, that would include our participation with the rainwater collection project, as well as future projects.  The building needs improvements and we offered to help with that in exchange for access for the water project.  The local municipality agreed to provide funds to renovate the building.  We will have a partnership with the women’s group and the three indigenous communities.

The Mapudungun language recovery classes that we have held in the churches for several years laid the groundwork for this surprising glimpse of the Kingdom at work, because they helped create trust and respect for the church in the community.  Finally, more are understanding the reason for language recovery that we have projected for so long:  recover of identity as people made in the image of God is one key to being equipped for God’s mission in their community.

Glimpses of the kingdom may come as we learn to “trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding.”  Thanks be to God.  May your Kingdom come.