Moving to a new country comes with opportunities for new experiences. Many of my favorite experiences involve food. If I say 4th of July cookout you think __________, if I say Thanksgiving you think __________ or if I say Superbowl party you think__________. We have been blessed to try many new foods here in the Dominican Republic and one of my favorites is called mofongo – it’s delicious! Now don’t confuse it with mondongo (intestines), a completely different food experience!
Mofongo is mashed plantains cooked in various spices (a lot of garlic – yum), you can add your choice of meat/seafood and queso. My fave is “mixta”. I like my mofongo with longaniza (Dominican sausage), pollo (chicken) and chicharron (crispy heavenly pork) formed into a gigantic ball & covered in shredded queso. Once this bad boy hits the table you must add caldo (broth) and pico de gallo to top off this must-have foodie experience. WOW, now I’m hungry!
Recently, I was asked to preach at Punto Central, the church our family attends, which Project Mañana planted in San Pablo, Villa Gonzalez. As a side note, Punto Central is named after Center Pointe Christian Church, our sending church in Ohio. The intended takeaway of the message was that we are constantly bombarded with words or ideas that present themselves as truth, but are often “mixed” with a lie.
Over the years I have often been presented with a truth/lie “mixta”, just enough truth to make the lie believable. There are many examples of this in the Bible, probably none more well known, than when Jesus was in the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Jesus was faced with a series of “mixta” scenarios, truth and lies mixed together. It’s the same for all true followers of Jesus today, we face new challenges on a seemingly daily basis, challenges that force us to take what we hear and read and run it through the filter of the Bible to discern truth from lies. You see, Satan is the king of plagiarism, the king of “mixta”. He masterfully intertwines Gods truth with his lies, all in an elaborate scheme to deceive as many as possible.
Look at these words with me- ore, or and oar are homonyms, words that sound the same but are spelled differently. How can small three letter words help us gain a fresh perspective on ministry in the Dominican Republic or anywhere in the world?
Oar or Ore? One describes an object that is used to apply direction or to steer something, the other describes something valuable that’s been refined over time. A challenge often faced on the mission field and in churches throughout the world is the tension that exists between human effort and Gods transformational work by the Holy Spirit. I know there are more times than I care to admit where I grip the “oar” and fight with all my might to steer or control the direction of events in my life, in our family, in our ministry and in other people. Maybe we dress it up and disguise it as wanting the best for people, which is a great thing to want, but when we begin to influence outcomes based in human effort we fall short of Gods desired outcome.
The Law, found in the Old Testament (human effort), didn’t provide righteousness for the Israelite’s, it revealed their inability to control the outcome within their own strength and works. However, “ore”, which is much more precious and valuable, requires a process of refining or transformation over time, a process that is happening below the surface beyond our control. I can see where exhibiting biblical patience, realizing that all true change takes place within the purview of Gods timing, can be difficult. God wants to do this incredible refining process inside each of us, to conform us into the image of His son Jesus Christ.
So we struggle daily to find the balance between the tension. The uniquely personal aspects of the work we are each called and gifted to do and the glorious redemptive supernatural work that can only be accomplished by God. I believe this “mixta” can be problematic in every church or missional setting around the world. We can certainly orchestrate temporary change for a while, but only God creates permanent change that stands the test of eternity.
The world’s religious system cooks up Gods truth, sprinkles in some lies and serves it as an alternative truth. Many around the world are deceived to believe their personal efforts will get them to heaven – “oar” mentality, but the only true lasting transformation is produced through “ore” mentality which comes by having a personal relationship with Jesus.
Pray with us for the families and communities we serve, along with the families and communities in your own sphere of influence. Pray for our family and the entire Project Mañana team, your prayers and partnership are continually providing encouragement and strength to us all.