Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conversations with Spaniards

Not so long ago I stopped in at the local music shop to check out some guitar gear, and after a bit of chit-chat about the gear I was looking at, and finding out that I'm an American (darned accent!), the owner started a conversation that turned, well, almost typical.  

O:  "So what is an American like you doing in Alcora?!  Do you work in a factory here?"
BJ:  "No, actually, I'm an evangelical pastor..."
O:  "Huh...well, don't try to convert me--I can't be converted to anything by anyone."
BJ:  "No, don't worry about's not my job to convert you anyhow."
O:  "Well, I don't believe in anything, just in humans."
BJ:  "Really...that's interesting."
O:  "And in this world, there's just so much evil, people take advantage of you and cause so much destruction.  It's terrible!"
BJ:  "Yeah, I know.  But didn't you say you only believed in people and their goodness?  With all the evil we cause, it doesn't seem like a hopeful belief."
O:  "I mean that there are good people who do good things, and bad people who do bad things.  And we need to try to do the good...and the bad people need to be judged and dealt with."
BJ:  "I see what you're saying.  That's actually one of the reassuring things for me about what the Bible teaches.  God is just, and He'll deal with the people who do evil, so I don't have to worry to much about them...God will take care of that."
O:  "Huh..." (Silence...)
BJ:  "And the beauty I see in the Christian faith is that none of us is perfect, we all make mistakes, we sin, and we all deserve to be judged.  But Jesus loved me enough that He took the punishment in my place so that I wouldn't have to face God's judgment."
O:  "Huh...I certainly don't believe in the Church.  I mean, they do some good things, but the Church is all corrupt, throughout the whole hierarchy, and the people who go out to participate in the processions, well, they do it just for show.  I know those people and what they're really like!"
BJ:  "Yeah, I can imagine.  I've found that it's hard for people to separate their ideas of who God is from what the Church has done."
O:  "I haven't gone out to the processions since I was 14 because I didn't want to be a hypocrite, but I did get married in the Church and I certainly never go to mass.  But once in a while I climb up the hill to the hermitage chapel and go off by myself, and I talk alone by myself.  So I might end up being more of a believer than the people who go out for the processions and are hypocrites afterwards."
BJ:  "That's interesting.  So maybe you believe in something after all?"
O:  "Well, maybe..."
BJ:  "I need to get going, but it's been good chatting and I appreciate you sharing your perspective on life with me.  We'll have to talk again."

I'm certainly not a great evangelist, but it's been interesting to listen to people, to hear their perspectives, complaints, and beliefs, and to sow a few seeds of the Gospel into the conversation.  Pray that these seeds would be watered, cared for, and would grow to fruition, whether through me or someone else God has in mind.  Most of all pray for fertile soil here in Alcora and throughout Spain.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Prayer for Alcora: ¡No a la incineradora!

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)

In July (or perhaps before) the town of Alcora was informed that the Community of Valencia (basically the state we form a part of) had plans to construct or, at least, is approving the construction of a large trash incinerator 2 or 3 kilometers from Alcora.  Since then the town has united against this proposal, which apparently has been years in the making (who knows why the townspeople weren’t informed of this before July…).  In any case, one could say that the trash (industrial strength stuff—not just left over chicken bones) has to go somewhere, so why not here in Alcora?  We’ve also heard the humorous logic that, given the pollution caused by the dozens of factories here, what’s a little more?  All joking aside, the only positive aspect of this incinerator would be the work it brings with it, but even that would be less than would bring a recycling center.

We still don’t know all the details of this plan, but what we do know is the following:
  •  If the incinerator is built here, some 135,000 tons of industrial waste will be burned here each year.
  •  The resulting pollution from such an incinerator can cause various diseases and health problems, from cancer to congenital defects in babies.
  •  The pollution would not just effect the community of Alcora (its people, its land and its water) but also the surrounding towns and even the nearby city of Castell√≥n, which happens to be downstream.
So please pray for our town:
  •  That the Lord somehow blocks the plan to construct this incinerator.
  •  That the Lord gives the local and provincial leadership another solution for waste disposal.
  •  That the Lord will give us wisdom in our meeting the new Mayoress next week, Tuesday the 11th, so that we might be able to encourage her in her fight against this plan, as well as discuss various other issues with her.
If you'd like to see a little tour of how an incinerator works, CLICK HERE.

Not an advertisement for Chick-fil-a, just an honest opinion.