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May 17 / Bill

Reflections from an Antigua B&B

May 18, 2010

This stream came on line earlier this month.

From this quiet Antigua B&B I see, hear, smell some of those unique elements of this ancient city, this marvelous country.

Antigua street feast--ya gotta trust the cook

Church bells and fireworks combined with the fragrance of fried “platanos” (plantains); the lichens on the old roof tiles have seen so much history; in the distance over the roof of the ruins of the Capuchinas church and convent (established in 1728) I catch a glimpse of the twin volcanic peaks of Acatenango and Fuego—the latter living up to its name, “fire”.  The truly discerning ones know the role that volcanic ash plays to produce Guatemala’s primo coffee (the best goes to Japan!).

I wrote just after an intense and enriching week of relationships, prayer, and speaking at the 5th World Mission Conference of the Seminario Teológico Centroamericano in Guatemala City—where Yvonne and I were based for the first 17 years of our global mission ministry.

A slight body twist to make a key Spanish point.........

It is always a gift to return to our beloved Guatemala, rich in memory and people, believers and churches, foods and smells, holidays and hard work, the nation and culture where our kids were born, the site of first ministry—growing family, teaching, mentoring, making art (Yvonne as a classical pianist and her pre-evangelistic concerts) and church planting—where together she and I served; the educational gift for our kids at the Austrian Institute of Guatemala.


I am overwhelmed with memories. Tears flow, primarily of gratitude, but we cannot reverse history. They come because I really no longer fit here any more.

I have been privileged to be part of all five of SETECA’s mission conferences—the first two as director, the last three as plenary speaker. On this occasion I spoke on: “The Mission of God in the Pentateuch”, and “Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom”. My workshops were on missionary training.  Over 600 people were registered, including the entire seminary student body, administration and faculty, as well as many from Guatemala and other countries.

Classic Valdir at work: But do you really see????

It was a high honor to deepen my personal friendship with my beloved friend, Dr. Valdir Steuernagel of Brazil, now serving with World Vision. He is one of the people who’s impact has been profound on my life, by his life, his perspective, his gifts, his passions, his unique speaking method (crazy and marvelous and too much like my own—people say) and the unprecedented richness of his Bible and missiological teaching.  We both grieve that we live so far from each other.

Carlos Madrigal and I roomed in the same house for a week. He and his wife and kids have served for 25 years in Turkey. Nobody has more insight into Turkey than he. Nobody has done a more thorough job of church planting, apologetics and even public TV debate than Carlos. Our relationship is on solid growing ground and I look forward to his seminal contribution to the book we are working on (see further on).

MC Colleague David Ruíz, my Guatemalan friend over some 35 years

And my beloved friend of many decades, Guatemalan MC colleague, pastor and writer, servant and missiologist, David Ruíz. We have spent long times together this week talking, laughing, praying, strategizing. He is also my Prime Mac Computer Global Wizard!  Yesterday en route to Antigua we dropped by his house to visit his beloved wife, Dora Amalia, and their three adult kids. Our love for each other is rich and mutual.

This mission conference is one of many components that underscore the growing maturity of the Latin American movement: by the major themes and speakers invited to address them; by the Latin Mission Fair with such a diverse representation of groups and people;  by the discussion on how to grow the necessary Latin American mission structures for effective global mission (mission-minded churches, training programs, sending agencies, support teams and member care….amongst others); by the reports from Latin field missionaries—from Morocco, Senegal, Spain, Iraq, India, Turkey and other locations.

Married and very much truly in love--Yvonne and Bill

I am ensconced in this old house to write, alone, quietly, without commitments, alone and in quietness. Yvonne allowed me to stay extra days but only if I returned with two completed writing projects. I do need help as I write: to conquer initial inertia and writers block, to grow in my conviction that I have substantive topics to write on, simply to WRITE, and to meet the deadlines.

A final story from the mission conference: Friday morning as I finished a seminar, a middle-aged woman of humble background and speech asked me to bless her. Literally she asked me to “pass on an unction from the Spirit”. When I queried who she was, she said she was a returning missionary. When I asked from where, she simply said, “Senegal…after three years of work”. I was deeply moved, laid hands on her head, waited, and prayed into her life that request. She wept, and so did I.

Such is the Latin American mission movement. No longer emerging, it has emerged; not dependent on ideas or funds from the USA, it is self-funded and self-motivated. Yes, of course, by our Triune God on mission: the Father sends the Son, the Son the Spirit, the Spirit prepares the way for both Father and Son, the Father and Son reveal themselves through the empowering person and presence of the Spirit. This is our Great Mission Community and Team.

Now back home, some thoughts and calls to the Father:

  • That God would give both Yvonne and me wisdom and strength to discern which invitations—locally or those that require travel—to accept. This is not easy.  I never accept an invitation before asking Yvonne’s wisdom, and waiting at least two days before responding.
  • That God would manifest His glory and power through our home church in Austin, Christ Church Anglican. It is a delight to worship, learn, create community, see the Spirit alive and at work. We long to see people come to radical relationship with Jesus.
  • That I, Bill, would know how to walk into my new future of identity (I sense that the Lord is “re-naming” me) and ministry as mentor and writer. While I continue to travel and speak, these engagements must be made with great guidance from the Lord.
  • That with the heavy, early 2010 travel season over, that I would be able to focus on my writing assignments. My friend, Jon Bonk, editor of The International Bulletin of Missionary Research has asked me for an essay “My Pilgrimage in Mission”, my first of an autobiographical focus. The next MC book project is huge: Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Violence, Persecution and Martyrdom, co-edited with Tonica van der Meer of Brazil and Reg Reimer of Canada.
  • That at this stage of the Great Marathon I would walk-run in holiness and growing dependence on the Spirit of God; that I would receive fresh eyes to read and discern Scripture; that I would know how to mentor younger men from my church, and globally.

Bill—gazing across those old tile roofs over to the volcanoes now shrouded in rain clouds.


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  1. Rudy / Jun 2 2010

    FELICITACIONES!!! Fabuloso. Estamos en el Siglo XXI. Te estás inaugurando como el bloger misionero del siglo xxi. Muy bien Bill. Bendiciones.

  2. JoAnn Smith / Jun 10 2010

    Keep up the writing, Bill. I enjoyed all of this article except I was sorry to read about the sad situations and remember the needs especially in the hospitals. I think I left part of me in Guatemala.

  3. Bill / Sep 29 2010

    Ah, dear heart. Thank you SO much for even reading the blog!! Bill

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