Sent to Serve, in Love

               November / December 2010 Prayer Letter

     "Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people . Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."                  1 Chronicles 16:8, 29

     Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving Day but here in Trinidad we celebrated another Thanksgiving Day on November 13th. At Tamana Baptist Church we hold an annual Thanksgiving / Anniversary Service each November. That is the month, in 1988, when God had a few men go to Tamana and start a church work. From that small group of believers who started with a single Sunday School class we now have two children SS classes, one youth SS class and an adult SS class; then at 10:15 am each Sunday we hold our weekly worship service and prayer meeting which follows the worship service each week and Wednesday nights we hold our bible study. Then on the first and third Saturday each month we hold our youth group meetings, the second Saturday of the month we have our ladies ministry and the fourth Saturday of each month is our witnessing program. On Sunday, late afternoons, we do a variety of training sessions for the church plus Dennis does quite a bit of one-on-one training and or counseling.

     We had just completed, a few weeks ago, a training series on parenting. It was well attended by the church membership and even some outside the church; and it was a great blessing to all who attended as now they have a better understanding as to what God wants from them as fathers and mothers. We have many less-than-ideal families at Tamana and throughout the village of Tamana as a whole. The main problem, as we see it, is that these dear folk are so remote, in many ways, and because of this they have never been exposed to what a Godly perspective is on many matters of life. Also the schools in this part of Trinidad are less than average because of, once again, how remote this village is.

     During this past term of service we have strived to educate the church and by extension the village in the following focused areas: Who God is; What it means to be a Believer and not just a 'Christian'; How to know if your are saved; Taking care of the house where the Holy Spirit lives; Being a witness to others through life and word; What a biblical marriage looks like; What a biblical family looks like; Missions (at home and around the world); and living a Godly life in an un-Godly world. Then in January of 2011, we will continue our focused teachings at Tamana by doing a series on Sunday evenings which will deal with Satan, demons and spiritual warfare.

     If we were to compare Trinidad and Tobago with the States in the area of "religious" things and their visibility in one's life, we would have to say that this topic is much more out front and center in the lives of the people here. You see slogans on car windows all the time about this religion or that religion. You hear it spoken of on the streets, on the job, in the market place and yes, in the schools all the time. But the heartbreaking fact is that most times what is taught or understood by the Trinis is false, misleading or a misunderstandings from what God has so clearly given us in his Word. The Trini mindset is such that we "religious" people should all get along, spiritually, no matter what our individual beliefs are. And thus, when you teach that Jesus is the only way, some individuals here get upset.

     This past September, when the school year started at Arima Central Secondary School, Dennis was confronted by the gentleman who was in charge of the Religious Instruction (RI) Classes. He was new to this position and therefore he knew nothing about Dennis and his religious position. He was trying to place all the students in their proper religious classes for RI time. During his conversation with Dennis he commented how much he disliked those who felt that they had the only way to salvation in their teaching. After he realized Dennis was one of those people he quickly left and has not talked to Dennis since. We have been asked many times what religion we teach to which we respond that we teach God's Word and not a religion. Because of the strong influence of ecumenicalism here in Trinidad, we are very careful in being grouped with a known religion here. In the states to say you are from a Baptist church or a Baptist focused church is a fairly safe statement to make, but here that is not the case. We are proud to tell people we are a part of the ABWE family so please do not misunderstand us, it is just that here people group you quickly into what they understand that group to believe and most times that is not a God honoring belief system.

     Cross cultural ministries can be challenging at times even when you think you've got it all figured out; one such example happened just two weeks ago. Dennis had been told, several times, not to use the statement, 'It does not matter to me.', when answering someone. This is something we tend to say when we have no real preference in a matter and since we strive to be flexible with others we would be fine with either choice they would make. However, the Trini's take that to mean that you don't care about them or what they are talking about. So after Dennis stuck his foot in his mouth a few times he has been fairly good at keeping that statement locked away in his memory banks. Two weeks ago he got a call from one of the men at church with some disappointing news. We were in high gear, getting ready for our annual Thanksgiving / Anniversary service in which we had five churches that were coming to honor God with us and the service was only three days away. The gentleman that called said that he would not be able to fulfill some of the commitments he had made to the church in relation to this service. Immediately Dennis' mind shifted gears trying to figure out a plan 'B' while still talking to this man on the phone. Finally he made the comment, 'Whatever' saying that we will have to come up with another plan but it would take some time to set it all up. The gentleman got offended by Dennis' comment and thankfully brought it to Dennis' attention this past Sunday. After asking for forgiveness all was well once again but these things can happen so quickly.

     We have said all of that to say this: Thank You; Thank You; Thank You! First, for your bathing us with your prayers, these little situations come up quickly here in Trinidad and it is through your prayer sessions on our behalf that God allows us to mend damaged fences and sometimes to avoid breaking that fence in the first place. Second, we thank you for your support of us as we try to keep focused on the needs of the people here and not on our own needs. Your faithful support of us over these past years has given us the ability to keep our eyes focused on what God has called us to do in Trinidad, building up His work here and being a witness to the many lost souls we come into contact with. And third, we thank you for your love for the work of the ministry here in T&T. Most, if not all, of the people here in T&T that you touch with your acts of love are unseen by you this side of glory. However, we can't wait until you meet your dear brothers and sisters in the Lord someday in Heaven; Oh what a glorious day that will be!

Your Fellow Saints in Trinidad,
Dennis and Bonnie