It’s 4:00 AM on a Sunday morning and Pastor Rojerio is waiting for a bus in the darkness beside a dirt road. He is on his way to the congregation where he has been assigned. Because he is committed he’ll get on the bus sometime before 5:00 and arrive at the small congregation a couple hours later. There, he’ll lead a simple service, following which he’ll wait for another bus to return to Lospalos, getting home by late afternoon.Read more
World Health Day is April 7. What does it look like to be working in a church partner-supported clinic in Lospalos, East Timor, in 2018?
Including myself, Clinic Imanuel Lospalos is staffed with six women. Amena Cristovao was trained at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota, as a medical laboratory technician. She is now responsible for managing the clinic TB program, from making the sputum smears, identifying positive cases through microscopy, ensuring patients get medicines daily for 6 months, ensuring our clinic’s medicine and lab supplies don’t run out, leading monthly peer group meetings for TB patients, and providing one-on-one and large group education on the disease. Amena is the only Timorese staff with formal training in health care.Read more
Lectionary Selection: John 12:20-33
Prayers for East Timor:
For the women and girls in East Timor, who are subject to the desires of husbands, fathers, uncles, and brothers, dear God, we pray. When unwanted pregnancies occur, leaving a mother to bear the physical and emotional work of caring for babies and children, or sometimes leaving her in danger for her own life or safety, dear God, we pray. When violence against women and girls happens, particularly in the home, whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, dear God, bring righteousness to the women and open the eyes of men.
Jesus came to teach a way of justice for all people. In East Timor, we pray today for this indigenous, young, Asian nation as it faces challenges of modernization and as it comes to terms with deeply entrenched cultural norms that too often disempower women. May women and men recognize that to glorify God is to walk humbly as servants of Jesus, following a path which honors the dignity of all people, women and men alike. Amen.Read more
I saw a woman on the main street of Lospalos selling vegetables the other day. She was crouched on the sidewalk beside a bucket of jackfruit, selling big pieces of the sticky, succulent fruit for a quarter. Her smile was as bright as ever despite the hard life she leads as a subsistence farmer. She greeted me warmly and insisted on giving me some jackfruit for Simon. I accepted gratefully.Read more
I recently had the opportunity to visit Myanmar. I was there as part of the Protestant Church of East Timor’s (IPTL) delegation to the Asia Mission Conference. The Asia Mission Conference was initiated by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) which is a diverse group of churches across Asia.Read more
Hannah is back with us in Lospalos after 8 weeks in America visiting family and friends. She tells us that she really loved her time in the States, and she sees that there is so much more opportunity in America than there is here in Timor. And still, she loves her lifestyle here: laid back, not worried about the petty school-yard mishaps that she imagines would rule her teenage world back in the States. For Tom and me, to hear our 13 year old daughter share these insights brings smiles to our hearts: she sees the difference, and can embrace the value of both of these places.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Matthew 21:23-32
Prayers for East Timor:
Merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. By the power of your Spirit you send us into the world to witness to the grace and love revealed in your Son. But quite often we do not go. You work vindication and justice for the oppressed and call us to do the same. But quite often we serve you with our lips but not with our bodies. You invite all to your table, giving us yourself in gifts of bread and wine, but still we exclude and divide. And so we call on you: forgive our waywardness, heal our selfishness and redeem us from the pit of despair according your your promise. Bless this day especially the people of East Timor. Bring us together with them at your table and open our hearts to journey with them despite the ambiguities and challenges. Though our fellowship with them and in partnership with you, may we be changed for the furtherance of your will. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
What does an air-conditioned room with power-point presentations in an urban center have in common with a rural, dirt-floor church and a circle of plastic chairs? The two are both venues for grassroots theological education in Timor-Leste.Read more
“No os olvidéis de la hospitalidad, porque por ella algunos, sin saberlo, hospedaron ángeles.” Hebreos 13:2
Una tarde lluviosa, Alberto, el pastor interino local, y yo compartimos la Biblia con los pocos jóvenes que vinieron. De repente, dos desconocidos se acercaron a la puerta de la iglesia. Greg, brasileño, y Joyce, de Malasia, viajaban por todo el sudeste asiático. Los dos viajaban con poco equipaje; cada uno con sólo una pequeña mochila.Read more
…we walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7
On Tuesday I was at one of the weekly home worship gatherings that form a core part of the pastoral ministry for the Protestant Church in Timor Leste(IPTL). The house where we were was typical of many in Timor Leste: a simple corrugated iron shack with a rock foundation and a dirt floor. Such houses don’t have windows so the host had left both the back and front doors open to allow light to shine on our gathering. Out the back door I could see the neighbor processing food gathered from the surrounding forest. Through the front door I could see inside our host’s kitchen. A mound of earth with a fire on top was cooking something in a smoke-stained kettle. Our gathering included two moms and ten children, ages 5 to 17. Alberto, the pastoral intern, was sharing a reflection on Matthew 5:13-14. He proclaimed to the gathered community: “…You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.” As I heard that, I was reminded how often the Bible draws our attention away from the rich and powerful and toward the poor, the meek and those who mourn (Matt. 5:3-5). And that is where our attention has been as we settle back into our ministry in Lospalos.Read more