Category Archives: Hope For Life

Adventures in New Mexico

So it finally happened. I showed up to preach on Sunday only to find out I was at the wrong church!

We took a call in our office requesting that someone from Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth ministry, go speak at a church in New Mexico. The request was passed on to me, with a note that the caller was from Mora, New Mexico. I spoke with the man, arranged a time, and put it on the calendar. In all of our notes, we referred to Mora, New Mexico.

There’s not really a church in Mora. There’s one in nearby Cleveland which calls itself the Mora Valley Church of Christ. So I had an info sheet on that church, with the address of the church. Google Maps showed me precisely where the building was.

I flew to Albuquerque, then drove up to Taos to spend the night. On Saturday night, I got a funny feeling about the church. I searched for “church of Christ” around Mora and found several, but no addresses. I finally decided that I had the right place.

Sunday morning, when I went to my rental, I discovered a big dent on the back of the car. I spent a few minutes on the phone with Hertz, reported the incident to the hotel, then headed out. Fortunately, I had left myself plenty of time. I arrived about 9, confirmed that class was at 9:30 (as I had thought), then headed to Mora to find a bathroom. Noticed that the speed limit was 25; saw a highway patrolman in the convenience store; upon leaving the store, noticed he had stopped someone who was going faster than 25. That was a good reminder to watch my speed.

Headed back to the church. About 9:20, the preacher showed up. When I got out of the car, he noticed my shirt and tie (note: I despise ties), and said, “Are you a preacher?” That didn’t seem to be a good omen. I said yes, and told him that I had been invited for that day. I followed him in, then asked, “Let me clarify… does brother ____ go here?”

“He used to,” was the reply. “Now he goes somewhere else. Are you familiar with the area?” Uh, no. The preacher gave me directions when involved driving through Mora, going a few miles past, then taking a left “at the sharp turn.” Fortunately another man had arrived who gave me the highway number and mile marker where to turn.

I headed out, trying to hurry while not exceeding the speed limit. My friend in Mora had stopped another car, which reminded me that “late for church” probably wasn’t a good excuse for speeding.

After I made the turn, I found myself in open country. Farmland. Scattered houses. I drove 13 miles, thinking all the time: “I may have just made a long trip for nothing.” Fortunately, I found the church (in Ojo Feliz, New Mexico; the brother who called lives in Mora but worships in Ojo Feliz), the members were waiting for me, and we had an excellent time together.

They even had a lunch in my honor! I have a personal rule about avoiding beans when flying, but they had wonderful brisket and other fixings. I had no cell service, so I couldn’t call up Google Maps. I headed back to the main road, then guessed which way to go to head back to Albuquerque.

I wanted to get to the airport early because of the dent in my rental car. I had seen several gas stations near the airport, but couldn’t remember exactly where. I got off near the airport, with no stations in sight. Google identified one about 20 minutes away, which didn’t seem practical. I rarely use Siri, but I asked for her help. She found me something a mere 5 minutes away, much to my relief. However, when I got there, it was a vacant lot. I’m sure it used to be a gas station.

I finally found an old convenience store, parked by the pumps, and ran inside to use the bathroom. (Note a recurring theme? I’m a middle-aged man; what do you expect?) I told the clerk my mission, and he told me where to find the bathroom. I guess the distress was obvious on my face, because it wasn’t a public bathroom; it was only for employees. I didn’t care.

Did my business, filled up the tank, and headed to the airport. The guy at Hertz said, “Everything all right with the car?” I said, “Sure, except for that dent on the back.” He said, “Good thing it already has an inspection sticker on it. That was already there.” That’s right… I’d spent the day worrying about nothing!

Smooth sailing from there, and I made it home Sunday evening. But it was an eventful trip. How was your weekend?

Travels

It’s been a busy last few weeks. Late July I was in Jinotepe, Nicaragua, for a campaign there that was sponsored by Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth ministry. Then last week I was in Cuba for the National Youth Conference; the Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene was the main sponsor of this event, while the University Church of Christ in Abilene and a church from Kimball, Tennessee, provided additional funds. I went with 3 university students from UCC.

Both trips were very profitable and encouraging. And tiring. It’s taken me a few days to catch my breath. I’m getting my bearings again and slowly getting caught up on things that went undone while I was traveling. I’ll get back to writing some things soon, as well as sharing more posts from the summer blog tour. For now, I’ll share a few pictures from my travels.


Time spent with other Christians

I was blessed to attend the Red River Family Encampment for the first time this year. My parents attended years ago, and I’ve had many friends go regularly; I had very much looked forward to being there. I got to go this year representing the Hope For Life (Herald of Truth) ministry.

And my expectations were met. It’s a wonderful gathering of Christians in a beautiful place.

On Saturday, I led three sessions in Spanish. Despite some technical issues at the beginning, we had a great time.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I taught classes in English. There were several glitches there, I’m afraid. I was invited to speak back in November, then my invitation apparently got lost in the shuffle. Early promotional material listed the usual 10 classes, but not mine. Later they added a class by “Tim Harris” to the website. When I got there, I found that they had squeezed me into an 11th slot. (Which I’m very grateful for; I’m sure that involved renting one more tent than usual)

Not having been there, I asked the organizers if I would have the ability to use PowerPoint. I was told yes, but apparently they were only thinking of Saturday. The tents for the classes don’t have electricity! I’ll admit my first class was sub-par because I was planning to use some videos and visuals that weren’t available.

Attendance at my class was very low. On Monday, I ran into one of my cousins. He said, “I’d love to go to your class, but I don’t speak Spanish.” It’s possible that he’s not the only one who thought I was only teaching in Spanish. More likely is the fact that I was a relative unknown in the midst of some very talented teachers.

That said, I had a great time. I heard some great teaching, saw several old friends, made numerous new friends, and got to share some about Church Inside Out. All in a beautiful setting in the mountains.

I had to leave a bit early because our ministry was participating in the Summer Celebration in Nashville. We had out ministry breakfast on Friday morning, then I taught one session on Church Inside Out. I wish we’d had more time there, but it’s hard during the summer to be everywhere.

I love getting to share this material that I think is important. And I especially enjoy the time spent with Christians from other places.

Guatemala trip and random travel thoughts

Just got back from a great weekend in Guatemala City. It was primarily a follow-up trip for Hope For Life (Herald of Truth) on campaign work done there last year and radio work that is ongoing. Bruno Valle and I spent most of our time with Roberto Alvarez, who has been our chief contact there the last few years. Roberto directs the Biblical Institute of Central America; his students were conducting a house-to-house campaign, and Bruno and I provided the preaching for the event. There were seven baptisms and two restorations.

A few random thoughts that have come up over the last few weeks:

  • Just finished reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I’d recommend the book, primarily for understanding a bit more about Islam and the differences between the worldview of a shame culture vs that of a guilt culture.
  • I now read ebooks almost exclusively when traveling. I have a small iPad with the Kindle app on it; I keep it loaded with plenty of books. I like hard copies when home, but love ebooks when traveling.
  • When traveling, try to limit yourself to one carryon. That’s been my practice for years, and I’m constantly reminded of why it’s a good idea. I have what I call a half-rollerboardthat I can combine with a full-sized carryon for especially long trips. Unless I’m carrying something bulky or taking a lot of supplies somewhere, I don’t check a bag. For suggestions on how to reduce your travel load, check out OneBag.com
  • I love the lightweight hiking shirts made by Columbia. They do well in warm weather, plus you can wash and hang-dry them from one day to the next. I think they look much nicer than the fishing shirts a lot of guys wear. The model I’ve been wearing is Royce Peak II; I’m sure there are others that look as nice.

That’s it for now. Have a great day!

Pepperdine Lectures 2017

Teaching on Church Inside Out

I was out in Malibu last week, speaking at the Pepperdine Lectures. Included in that “speaking” were two sessions where I served as translator for Tony Fernández from Cuba.

Tony arrives in Los Angeles

Tony flew direct from Havana to Los Angeles, a first for him. Much easier than having to stop in Miami to do customs and immigration. He was only in the States for a few days, but it was a needed break from him from the fast-paced life of ministry that he normally leads.

Church Inside Out had good placement in the Pepperdine Bookstore

The class I taught was based on my “Church Inside Out” book and the seminar I lead based on that material. Tony talked about church-planting in Cuba and the power of prayer in the Christian family. I was sorry that more people didn’t make it to Tony’s classes. I think I should have included “Cuba” in the titles of his classes, just to generate more interest. He has such good information to share.

Buena Park Church of Christ auditorium

On Sunday, I got to speak to the Buena Park Church of Christ. The congregation is made up of English speakers and Spanish speakers, so I did a bilingual class and sermon, talking about what the Hope For Life ministry is doing around the world. Lovely group of people.

I have 3 more lectureship-type events coming up later this year. I’ll be at the Red River Family Encampment in late June, followed by the Lipscomb Summer Celebration that same week. Then in September I’ll be speaking at the Harding lectures. If any readers expect to be at any of those events, I’d love to meet up!

Pepperdine has put recordings of the classes and keynotes on iTunes; you can find them here. You can listen to my class, Tony’s classes, and lots of other good presentations from this lectureship.

Teaching on Church Inside Out