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Archive for the ‘Reformed Parish Mission (RPM) Posts’ Category

¿Eres bilingue? ¿Reformado? ¿Está buscando el ministerio o está interesado en la formación teológica? ¿Le gustaría participar en un ministerio urbano?

¡Me vendría bien tu ayuda! Conozca más sobre nuestro trabajo aquí. Si las circunstancias son las correctas, hay fondos disponibles para pagarle por venir y explorar estas oportunidades. “La cosecha es mucha, pero los trabajadores son pocos”. Envíeme una nota a mjives punto refparish en gmail punto com. O llámame/envíame un mensaje de texto al 515-783-5637.

Además, si puede mejorar esta traducción con GoogleTranslate, comparta sus sugerencias. ¡Todavía estoy trabajando en mi propio español!

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Are you bilingual? Reformed? Are you pursuing the ministry, or are you interested in theological training? Would you like to be involved in an urban ministry?

I could use your help! Learn more about our work here. If the circumstances are right, funds are available to pay for you to come and explore these opporunities. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Drop me a note at mjives dot refparish at gmail dot com. Or call/text me at 515-783-5637.

Also, if you can improve this translation by GoogleTranslate, please share your suggestions. I am still working on my own Spanish!

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Here is the video of our last monthly Spanish outreach effort. Puritan Reformed Th. Sem. student Daniel Navarro preached, with our selfless helper, Richard Santos, translating. The advert below is for our next effort this Lord’s day evening. If you would like to join in, go here this Lord’s day evening, September 25, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Would you pray for us? We hope to invite two families in my two respective parishes. Both have turned up for previous meetings, but neither show clear evidence of saving grace.

Learn more about Reformed Parish Mission.

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Since our last post sharing Fatima’s housing problems, we had quite the roller-coaster trying to help her find a place to land. We found one seemingly ideal opportunity, but it fell through. My son, Gabriel, and a friend of his helped her move out of her old place on the day of her eviction, with nowhere definite for her to go. Her things went into one of our elder’s garages for the time being. The clock ticked.

A few generous options were offered from folks after I sent this appeal to pastor friends in Rhode Island, but both of those had serious downsides. Eventually, some veterans in our congregation opened their home for her to stay and have been helping her also with getting a better job. She is qualified to practice phlebotomy, but for several reasons has been stuck in a dead-end, low-paying security job. We’ve seen her in church and hope to see her even more. Please continue to pray for her, as this family blesses her with hands-on love in Jesus’ name.

Then, I had another seminary intern for a short, intensive mission weekend. Mr. Daniel Navarro, a Presbyterian student from Mexico City, Mexico, and a student at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary came along side me in my ‘territorial vineyard.’

We had a number of good visits with folks in the S. Providence parish. One of them was “Mahim,” a Muslim from Somalia. A rather polite, friendly fellow, though he tells me he’s a rather devout attender of the mosque. I’ve actually visited with him a couple of times before in recent years, while on my rounds. He’s a Computer Science student at URI, which immediately gave me a point of connection, given my son Gabriel’s studies. From my notes, I see that my last two little ‘Gospel homilies’ with Mahim involved Joseph as a type of Christ, saving his brothers through their cruel betrayal, followed the next year by our Lord’s words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. This time around, after a little friendly exchange, I shared about Daniel’s upcoming message that weekend from Genesis 2 on the Bible’s teaching on marriage. I told him how much our culture has degraded this holy institution, from God’s original “one flesh” design.

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“The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous: the LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down” (Psalm 146:8-10).

Fatima” once again reached out today. Apparently, her nephew and only immediate family in the U.S. changed his mind about having her come out to live with him in Ohio. While it would have been sad to see her go, I cannot help but see this somewhat as a blessing in disguise for her. While we are but “unprofitable servants,” we are the only devout Christians in her life and have shown her an abundance of care for her outward affairs and especially for her soul.

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Years back, my heart got large for missions — especially urban missions to those on the ‘other side of the tracks.’ At about the same time, I became Reformed (a high octane, old school Presbyterian no less!), putting me in a a sub-subset of a subset. My life and ministry has ever since lived somewhat in the frontiers the unlikely and the implausible. A straightlaced, tall gringo Presbyterian goes out among immigrants, trying to evangelize in broken Spanish and recruit sinners to the “outward and ordinary means” in a humble, little Reformed church 15 minutes to the south. And to sing Psalms. Without musical accompaniment. In English.

I admit that there are all kinds of problems with this model, from a human perspective. But it is actually more plausible than one might think. Yet before I deal with the plausibles, let me first set forth some principles.

The first principle is principle! Principle precedes the practical. We must first determine whether something should be done before we decide whether or not we think it is practical. We ought to go out and bring the Gospel to all. None excluded. Politics quite aside, we may and must not discriminate based on sex, ethnicity, gender, or for that matter even sexual ‘preference.’ By the mandate of our King, we must go and tell them. Yes, as Calvinists, we know that not every “all” means “all.” But “every creature” does in fact mean “every creature.” Even if they don’t look like us, eat like us, or even use our language. It doesn’t matter whether they ‘have papers’ or not, vote Democrat or not. How they got here and whether they should by law be here, is a separate issue for a different discussion (and full disclosure: I lean quite “red” when it comes to immigration policy!). But that they are here means they are here for us to evangelize. And not just gripe about and avoid them as much as possible.

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So, I’ve begun another season in my two parish districts. It’s been pretty interesting so far — definitely a Spring forward!

The very first day back in the S. Providence parish, the very first multi-family house, I was welcomed into the apartment of a retirement-age woman, “Ximena” (not real name). She was morbidly obese and quite home-bound; I normally don’t accept offers to come inside to visit a single woman without my wife, but this I figured was safe enough. The poor woman had quite a tale of woe; and she was rather anxious about various individuals in her life plotting her harm. Then, she confided her fears about paranormal activity. Clearly, this poor woman needs Jesus, the Liberator from all our sins and miseries, real or contrived. I read to her from the Gospels about this blessed Deliverer. She claims to be a Christian and even demonstrated a certain Bible knowledge that would point to a greater exposure to evangelical Christianity. But whatever her case, she was clearly very lonely and would easily welcome anyone to care for her soul. If you would like to be a part of that, reader, let me know. A Christian couple or mature Christian woman would be ideal.

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I need your help. Are you Reformed, fluent in English and Spanish, and willing to help us from the comfort of your home, wherever you live? Our urban mission in Providence, R.I. could really use you. We are exploring alternate and backup Spanish translators for our monthly Spanish outreach broadcast—hopefully the embryo of a future mission work in Providence. We are working on a system that enables us to use someone like you from a distance, to translate my preaching into Spanish live.

I also have other English to Spanish translation projects. I’m working with a confessional Presbyterian seminary in Bolivia, El Seminario Teológico Reformado – William Ames, developing a course in English and translated into idiomatic Spanish. I could very much use an extra translator or two to convert English transcripts into Spanish translations for use in video subtitles.

If you have a large heart and a passion for advancing the classic Reformed testimony, please get in touch. You can contact me at mjives dot refparish at gmail dot com, call 515-783-5637, or DM me on Facebook.

Please pray for us. Learn more about Reformed Parish Mission (RPM); and sign up for the West Port Experiment blog at the right to receive periodic updates.

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In recent months, we have begun a monthly livestream broadcast on the 2nd Lord’s day evening of each month at 7:00 p.m., especially to reach Spanish speakers in my parish and beyond. The Morales family has joined us, and Pr. Luis Morales has been translating for me. So grateful for his labors and his fellowship in the Kingdom-building.

God willing, I hope to take him out in the parish to visit my more receptive Spanish-speaking contacts, in the hopes of getting them to come to our regular services where we now have translation facilities. My hope and prayer ultimately is to see the Spanish side of my parish mission blossom, folks attending the our regular services, and our monthly bilingual meeting expanding and moving to the next level of usefulness. Again, the Reformed faith is a heritage too rich and full to be confined to white middle-class churches. So, all you Westminsterians and Three-Formers, let us take this to the city. ¡Vámanos!

To watch more of these broadcast messages, visit here. And learn more about RPM here.

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A few updates from the parish mission since last time. I’ve had a couple of tag-alongs, even since Anderson’s internship over the summer. First, I was able to take Mason Chase and his wife, Christina, to take a short visit of the S. Providence parish. Mason is a theological student in our Des Moines congregation. Then just this weekend, James Hoffman from our New Jersey church plant, who is also interested in the ministry, stayed with our family.

Yesterday, we headed into Providence, hoping to get an invite inside from a more receptive contact due to the rain. We finally connected with “Henry,” a Liberian contact whom I hadn’t seen for quite some time–though I had stayed in touch with him occasionally by text. James and I learned about some harrowing medical emergences that both he and his wife experienced. Several months back, he took his wife, “Caroline” to the hospital with serious intestinal issues. After more than a day of waiting in the ER without any word, he brought her home, fully expecting that she was on the verge of death. Thankfully, he got her to another hospital, where she was cared for and in time revived.

After catching up, we read God’s Word. I took up the parable in Matthew 20 of the workers hired for the same wage at different hours of the day. From there, I challenged Henry and his wife with the sovereign reality of grace that ‘makes no sense’ to fallen men. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” He seemed to be tracking quite well with it. Sadly, we learned that he has been mixed up with Mormons. I warned him of the pernicious falsehoods of that system and appealed to him to return to church. Please pray that God would work in his heart.

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Last week, I had a Puritan Seminary student join me (Puritan alum, Class of 2005), for some intensive urban outreach in central Rhode Island. Anderson Oliveira, a Brazilian Presbyterian student, had sat in on my Reformed Parish Mission presentation in Grand Rapids last February and expressed interest in interning. So he flew out last Wednesday, and we logged many hours together over several days bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom to my Warwick and especially South Providence parishes. It was a joy to have him tag along and participate.

He started out helping me in the mundane task of printing and folding Gospel leaflets. Not glamorous, but ever-so-necessary. The particular one we used for most of the visits included the prophecy of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. We often used this text as a launchpad – as Phillip of old – to announce to sinners the vicarious Remedy. Each doorstep talk was a doorway to heaven, opened on earth. But alas! Though heaven’s door is set open to sinners, the Spirit of God must move them to take that vital step. And so Anderson and I frequently stopped to plead with the Lord, that He might send forth His irresistible Wind, who blows where He wills.

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