Sunday, February 3, 2013

So long for now

To whom it may concern,
Racheal and i have new blogs.  We are no longer using the SMOi Blog as our primary blog site.
Racheal has a new website (including her blog) for our family.  (Note: If you ever want to go to that website by manually typing the URL, you must put www. infront of it.  Not doing so will not take you to our site.)
I (corey) have a new blog. (Note: The URL has a dash between "wild" and "oaks."  Omitting this will take you to someone else's blog.
'til the whole world hears,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Setting Captives Free

Being in prison yesterday was quite eye opening for me.  I've done prison ministry once or twice in North Carolina.  Inmates are fed three hot meals a day, they receive standard clothes, a bed, and an organized laundry service, and they have access to books, running water, TV, sporting equipment, board games, and limited (but at least some) communication with the outside world.
Here in Susu Land it is different.  We walked through a series of heavily guarded gates and checkpoint as expected.  An open sewer drained through the entire prison compound in the middle of the cement ground.  The stench clued me to what we were stepping across as we passed the "women's area" and the "men's area" proceeding to the back of the prison compound.  Razor-wire coiled around the top of the perimeter wall.  We went through a final door into the "youth area."  We passed by a guard in mismatched military fatigues.  In any other world, i might suspect that the inmates had overthrown the real guards and dressed themselves in their clothes.  However, any olive green outfit seems to be acceptable as official military uniform.  Soldiers in the same detachment where digital camo, hunting (Mossy Oak brand) camo, the old standard (Woodland) camo, and plain solid green.  Alas, this knowledge was ironically comforting to me, since it reassured me this was probably a real guard, not an imposter.  Whatever short-experienced "comfort" i just felt was melted by the fact that was the last guard we encountered as we rounded the corner of a few buildings into an area far from the sight (and perhaps hearing) of the wardens.  We were warmly greeted by about 130 young men.  They were socializing around in the yard, taking turns using the restroom behind a curtain in the awful smelling latrine.  Most were half naked, tattooed and scarred.  They didn't look terribly sick, but were definitely skinnier than most people in Susu Land. 
I was wearing some Old Navy blue jeans and a quick-dry collared golf shirt.  Bill, Josh, and i stood out like the cream in an Oreo.  These teens were given one meal a day, and i imagine the food pyramid was not consulted when the menu was set.  Most of them have the clothes on their backs, tattered and torn.  One showed me his shorts he was wearing, full of holes.  He had worn the same shorts for four months now.  He didn't own a shirt.
They noticed i had some books in my hand.  Their curiosity overcame their inhibition and asked me what i had brought.  I was swarmed by most of the guys trying to shoulder in and get a peek.  I showed them a handful of Scripture calendars, which quickly got passed around and disappeared in the crowd.  Then a showed them my New Testament in their language.  I announced i'd like to read to them from God's Word.  The quickly ushered the three of us to the only bench in the yard and ordered us to sit down and read.
Bill and Josh prayed to themselves.  I read Mark 5 -the story the man possessed by Legion, but set free by Jesus.  For a while, except for the sound of my voice, you could have heard a pin drop.  Eventually about 30 of them stayed locked in to the story.  Others lost interest and one-by-one trickled away.  At one time about 10 feet away an intense argument broke out, and i thought it was going to turn violent.  The listeners couldn't hear me, so they shushed the fighters.  I continued reading.  When i finished telling the story i asked questions about what they learned.  I asked them why the demons were afraid of Jesus.  The repeated back to me that Jesus was more powerful than the demons.
They had understood.
Then i read Acts 16 -the story of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail.  I asked them what the people in that jail had to do to be saved.  The young men repeated back that they had to believe in Jesus.
They had understood.
One of the young men begged me for my New Testament.  I gladly gave it to him in exchange for his promise to share it with others.
No, we didn't have an "altar call," but Truth was know that day.  You can't rush into these things here.  Last night, i imagine many of the young men lost sleep pondering about Jesus, the healed man, Paul, Silas, and the jailer.  Lord willing we will return next Wednesday.
Would you pray for us?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Things that make you go hmmm... part 2

A while back we shared several short stories from our musings about life West Africa to tickle your funny bone.  Here goes round two:
  • One day i was pulled over by a traffic custodian (there's another name for it, but our organization's policy requires me to remain apolitical) who told me i went the wrong way through the roundabout.  I knew i hadn't, but i played along.  He told me he could let me go if i gave him a little money.  I told him i wouldn't be able to do so for two reasons: (1) I work for our organization who has a policy against bribing such traffic custodians.  (2) The job of traffic custodian is a respectful and honorable job.  If i were to give him money, his honor and respect would decrease.  He replied, "Hey!  You're right.  Here's my partner.  Give it to him."
  • Speaking of roundabouts (aka. "traffic circles"), the rule here is that people entering the roundabout have the right of way over the people already in it.  How often do you think that causes a traffic jam?  Every.  Single.  Day.
  • A few days ago Racheal was running full steam on the treadmill at a local gym.  The city power cut off and she ran into the control panel and about flipped through the mirror in front of her.  Lucky for us, our gym offers muscle memory confusion training.
  • I asked some of my friends the other day why they like Obama so much.  They told me, "Because he's from Africa."  I told them that recently Obama produced a birth certificate to prove he was born in Hawaii and that most US Americans believe it.  They looked at me as if i was crazy and they started to giggle.  Even so, no one from the American Democratic National Convention seems to be slandering these guys as members of the most radical conservative "birthers" movement.  Why do you suppose not?
  • A couple weeks ago i was sitting in the waiting area at the local telecommunications office in order to get my internet turned on at home.  It took all day long.  To break up the boredom, about mid-morning, just after the city power cut off and the company's onsite generator cranked up, one of the company's employees in a suit and tie ran out of a back room yelling something about a fire and a propane leak.  You should have seen the chaos as 100+ people screamed and jumped to their feet and flooded the front door.  Then all of a sudden the employee who started the whole thing, just began laughing and told everyone that it was a joke.  Everyone in the room except me began to laugh with this guy as if he had done something funny.  I began to wonder what lawsuits might arise if this was to happen in the USA.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Place to Call Home

Finding a Home: (essentials for the skimmers)
    •    Enjoy our October 2012 video, "A Place to Call Home."

Episode 9 - A Place to Call Home from corey pendergrass on Vimeo.

    •    We have moved to the capital city in Susu Land.  We are at a better place in Gospel outreach and as a family.
    •    Our summer volunteer, Joe, did an outstanding job and was an invaluable help to our restart in the capital.
    •    We are sharing the Gospel with our new neighbors.  We are looking to partner with other like-minded missions here to reach the lost in this urban setting.

Truly Finding a Home: (details for the readers)

Dear brethren and sistren,

It has been three months since our last blog update and four months since we created a video update.  Too long!  That sort of period is rare for us as we typically try to blog once a month an produce a video every two months.  Alas, moving a family of four and renovating our new house, not to mention trying to get out and meet our new neighbors so we can shine in the darkness, we have neglected some of our other tasks such as keeping our prayer partners apprised of our recent developments.  Nevertheless, we experienced the results of your prayers still.  Please accept our apology for not sharing as much as we hope to.  We will do our best to stay on the ball with our updates in the future.

Moving is tough.  We are so thankful we did it, but anyone who has packed up their life knows it's not easy.  Praise the Lord for helping us in this time.  Compared to our efficiency in getting setup, we were pretty amazed at how fast and well things came together in our new house, compared to our former.  Example: If a sink faucet in the old house, it meant a four-hour round trip to the nearest decent hardware store.  If a sink faucet breaks in our new house, it means a four-minute walk down to the corner hardware store.

Other than that, most of our ventures and prayer needs are described in the video.  Enjoy and thanks for praying!

Let us know if you wish to come to Susu Land.  We could use the help!

'til the whole world hears,
the Pendergrass clan

Friday, June 15, 2012

In Transit

Being an Impromptu Electrician: (essentials for the skimmers)
  • Enjoy our May 2012 video, "In Transit."
  • As our Susu language gets better and better, we are turning our focus towards more opportunities to reach the people with the Gospel.
  • We believe we will have the most opportunities in the capital city of our country, so we're moving.
  • Joe, one of corey's wrestlers when he coached in NC, has come for 7 weeks as a volunteer.
Not Setting the House on Fire: (details for the readers)

Dear brethren and sistren,

Recently we were offered a change of scenery and we're excited to accept.  On June 1st, we moved to the capital city.  Our new residence promises some creature comfort perks like electricity and water. We praise God for this blessing as we will be able to afford to keep our refrigerator cool and we'll have enough water to take baths and wash clothes regularly.  But, this transfer is by no means about luxuries.  It's about doing what's best to minister to the needs of our family and the Susu.

As missionaries, we really stress the need for our target people groups to worship in their heart language.  Whether that be German, Mandarin, Quichua, Cherokee, or Susu it's vital for that people to worship the living God in a language that resonates with their heart.  However, what many US American missionaries forget (at least we did) is that our heart language is English.  We must worship Christ in our heart language too.  The capital city has a fellowship of expatriates that meet weekly to worship and study the Word together.  As we'll continue to seek avenues to sharpen iron with our national brothers and sisters in the Susu tongue, it's encouraging to know we too can praise Christ in our mother-tongue.

Furthermore, we are looking forward to a wide-open gamut of opportunities to share the life-saving message of Christ with any of our 1.5+ million new neighbors.  Practically, we aren't quite sure exactly what we'll be doing for the next year and a half before our three-year-term ends, but we anticipate that we will be able be more effective at building relationships and reaching the Susu for the Kingdom.  This move will hopefully decrease our time spent on day-to-day "survival" and increase our time spent reaching the lost.

Please pray for our transition to our new home.  Pray for our family to be strengthened in the Lord.  Pray for us to recognize new opportunities that the Father gives us to bring Him glory.

'til the whole world hears,
the Pendergrass clan