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Here are two articles written by Emily Guevara ( Twitter: @TMTEmily)  on our background and on  Grace Español .   Tyler Morning Telegraph...

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hispanic Culture: Roles

Hispanic culture follows traditional roles ("roles" is spelled the same in Spanish but the "e"  [and s] is pronounced with the equivalent of the short sound in English). Normally, the father is the bread winner outside of the home. He works really hard to provide for his family. Usually, this involves long days and coming home tired.  Arriving at home he expects his wife, who is a homemaker, to greet him with a good "cena" (dinner). Evening will involve watching TV (e.g. "deportes" - sports or "noticias" - news) and relaxing. In his home he usually is the one who "lleva los pantalones," the one who is in charge. This means that he is mostly involved in major decisions but delegates the running of the home to his wife. He is also involved in major discipline issues. The roles are clear cut and no inter mixing (e.g. men don't do dishes, don't cook, don't do laundry).

The wife is involved in caring for the children, educating, and disciplining them. She runs the day to day operations of the home. She wears many hats including being the official cook. It is also the wife that also will make sure the children are following the traditional religion (Catholicism for the most part). She is often involved in church activities.

Traditionally, roles are tied with idea of respect both to parents, grandparents and any adult. Children are expected to respect parents and not question any decision. The same is the case with grand parents. Contradicting, raising your voice or yelling to parents or grand parents is strictly forbidden. This reminds me of the constant lectures to our children concerning how they (i.e., children their age) speak to parents today and what we got if we spoke back to our parents in the same manner when were were growing up. It usually starts with "Si you le hubiera hablado a mi mamá o papá como tu me hablas..." ("If I had spoken to my mom or dad the way you speak to me..")

Changes are taking place the Hispanic culture, especially relating to family. With this follows the neglect in the basic values taught to children. Respect to parents and grand parents has eroded. Behavioral issues in children have become more prevalent (as a teacher in public schools this has been my observation as well) and in my opinion, much because of the lack of instruction and discipline in the home.

There are several implications for the Gospel relating to roles. First, we need to make sure that we engage males when sharing the Gospel. It is important to get them involved in spiritual things and help them become servant leaders, not just providers in their homes. This has been a struggle in many Hispanic churches. Male leadership is lacking and more needs to be done to engage the males in our Hispanic culture. Second, we need offer family training. We need to have clear and explicit Bible instruction concerning the roles of husbands, wives and children. Thirdly, we need to provide a structure in the church that helps affirm the traditional values which includes respect for everyone and especially for the things of God (Hispanics who attend a Catholic church show great respect for everything they encounter). Fourth, we need to show leadership ourselves. They understand the concept of leadership (most Latin American countries have been influenced by the idea of "caudillo," one man who leads the way). American culture asks permission for everything to make sure they are not offending. Hispanics are not offended when a leader is forthright. Many times they won't do anything unless they are "forced" to do it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hispanic Culture: Aquí Se Habla Español

In Hispanic culture, the Spanish language is considered just as important as all other values. Not speaking Spanish, which usually happens with grand kids, is anathema and will incur the title of "Gringo" (a slang term for White American). The idea is that you are forgetting your language (your roots) and do not want to be associated with the Hispanic culture. This is not acceptable in Hispanic culture.

Why is Spanish so important to Hispanics? Spanish is an extension of the Hispanic culture. It is considered the "mother" tongue by which everyone is united and values are communicated. Many parents (like mine and my wife's) and grandparents are monolingual and only speak Spanish and everyone is expected to speak Spanish to them. It is the language of family. It is interesting that, in our case, where both English and Spanish are part of our daily lives, each has a different role. English is used for most day to day conversations and for work. Spanish is usually reserved for more personal communication. It is never used for disagreements or arguments. English is for that!

Spanish is not only spoken to interact with family members, but it is watched on TV. Spanish is the language of novelas (soap operas), news and sports (i.e. fútbol).  It is no wonder that Univisión has one of the best ratings in the United States.  Spanish is also used to listen to music such as your typical folk music mariachi and a variety of genres.

As much as we think that the fact they are in America will make them learn English, the fact is that this isn't the case. In fact, Spanish speaking in the United States has increased and remains the most spoken next to English (Use of other languages have tripled. Chinese is the second most spoken) and almost 39 million people speak it. Most of the people that speak Spanish are from or have their roots in Latin America. Will Spanish decrease as the first generation passes away and subsequent generations become monolingual? It is possible but trends (i.e., immigration) seem to point otherwise. There is also a significant percentage of non-Hispanic Spanish speakers which also has an effect. If Spanish will become less prominent, it won't happen soon.

The implication for the Gospel is that we need to reach Hispanics in both languages. Our churches need to offer services both in Spanish and English. Many churches today have either an English service but nothing in Spanish. The fact is that while this seems adequate to reach English speakers, most English speaking Hispanics do not feel welcome in a church that is culturally distinct. In fact, about 62% are not Christians (They consider themselves Catholics. The biggest group not religiously affiliated are US born ages 19-29 [55%]).They are the biggest non-reached group in the United States.

Then you have Spanish churches that have no English service. They are able to reach the Spanish language speakers but are losing those whose English is their dominant language. I have observed that even those who speak Spanish are not literate in Spanish and often are not fluent readers or writers. Having one church with services in both languages seems to me the most effective way and a better way to use resources. Furthermore, having services in both languages reinforces the cultural distinctive of keeping family together. There is a great harvest to be reaped but it requires intentional and strategic steps to reach all generations of Spanish speakers.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hispanic Culture: Familia Es Familia - Staying Close

I have another blog over at Word Press which I started a while ago related to the Hispanic culture (the term "Hispanic" is also used in general way and though many nationalities-including non-Hispanics- share most of the distinctives, there are exceptions) titled Stuff Hispanics Like and Do. In it, I shared some generalizations, some humorous, that for the most part are true in our Hispanic culture. As Hispanics become part of the American culture, change happens especially in subsequent generations and they become bi-cultural, thus exceptions become apparent. However, many of the generalizations remain true and some will always be part of the Hispanic culture.

These series of posts will continue the topic of Hispanic culture disntinctives in a more serious tone and also include some implications in sharing the Gospel.

In Hispanic culture family is the most basic and important unit. Nothing is more important than family. Individualism is discouraged over the benefit of the whole family. It may not be a perfect family, but Hispanics have a saying, "Familia es familia." This means that though the family experiences difficulties and problems, family is always there for you. Members in the family are expected to support each other and help each other. Children once grown up are encouraged to stay at home or close to home. Going far away for school is discouraged (I
tried). Even when married, parents expect their children to stay close. Some even encourage them to stay in the same home. Grandparents or "abuelitos" play a very important part after their children are married. Usually grandparents raise their grand kids while the parents are working (it happened in our case).

During special events, all of the family gathers together usually at the grandparents home or whoever are the patriarchs of the family. Food is plentiful (a matter for another post) and everyone enjoys the time together.

The implication when sharing the Gospel with Hispanics is that we have to address them as a unit and not as individuals. The family should be seen as a unit when presenting the Gospel. This means using their primary language to share, attending social functions to get to know them, and providing church events (including the church service in Spanish) that focus on the family as a unit is indispensable. This is key in church growth among Hispanics churches. Hispanics churches usually are made up of extended family units, this all a result of the unity that binds them together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Keep Speaking, Don't Be Silent - A New Church In Corinth - Acts 18:1-17

Here is the audio recording for Acts 18:1-17 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church.

It is easy for us believers to be quiet about our faith. We don't want to offend people. We want to live quiet lives. But our calling is to proclaim the Gospel in good and bad times. God is with us. He always will. We should not be silent, we should keep speaking.  This was the case with Paul in Corinth.

From this passage we learn four things:

1. Ministry happens with others not in isolation. We learn from Paul that we need others to serve the Lord, especially in sharing the Gospel. Paul always had partners in ministry and were helpful in every aspect he was involved.

2. The church belongs to the Lord. We see how Paul never stayed in any church too long. The longest was between a year and a half to two years. He trained leaders and left them as shepherds of the church.

3.  The Lord is sovereign and he will use us until he accomplishes His will.

It is not about us, it is about doing the will of God. We may experience persecution but the Lord will be with us no matter what.

4. We are called to be steadfast in our service to the Lord.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Greatest Marriage Ever!

Saturday my son married a wonderful young lady. It was an amazing experience. I had the privilege of officiating the ceremony and it was such a privilege and joy at the same time. As a father, I am amazed what the Lord has done in his life in spite of my weaknesses. Of course, God has also used many other people to help him become who he is now. For this, I am grateful as well.

I used the passage in Ephesians 5:22-32 to speak of their roles in marriage. In this passage Paul speaks of the wife's and husband's role in marriage as a microcosm of the relationship between Christ and The Church. There was so much joy in my son's wedding, this was so evident. It was a memorable event. All sorts of emotions were expressed, but all related to the joy of seeing two dear people getting married. Yet, this in no way will compare of the celebration Christ will have with his Church. Revelation 19:6-9 says:

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (ESV)
My finite mind cannot grasp what this event will be like but I know it will be the most splendorous. Who will be part of this? the Bride. This is The Church. Those who are believers, followers of Jesus. They have been made righteous by the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. How does one become a follower of Jesus? Let me share the words given to those present at the wedding:
"Dear Family and Friends, we are thankful for your presence this afternoon and for sharing this special moment with us. As you seat here I'd like to tell you about God's plan for  you. His plan is not just for you to be here and witness the joining in marriage of Misael and Alex. God created you. He created you to have fellowship with Him. He created you so that you live for him and not for  your self nor for any other thing. Yet many of you here, know that you don't have this relationship with him. You are very religious or not religious at all. The Bible says that we all have sinned and because of our sin we are separated from God. As sinners we deserve God's judgment. Nothing that you do or do not do can change that. But God hasn't left us hopeless. The Bible says that God loved us so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to save us from our sins and  restore our relationship with Him. Most of you know that Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead. Most of you believe this in your mind. What you must know is that this was done for you. For your sins. He died, was buried and rose from the dead so that you would not have to live separated from God ever again. He took your sins on the cross to free you from them and from the judgment of God. He did this so that you can now allow him to be the ruler of your life. How do you do this? you must repent of your sins. This means to turn away from your sins, from your way of living, from being the ruler of your life. You must turn to Christ in belief. When you turn to him in faith he grants you forgiveness and eternal life. He becomes the ruler of your life. He becomes your boss. You become his follower. This is what Misael and Alex and many of us here have done. We follow Jesus. We live for Him and in Him. It is our prayer that you would open your heart to the Good News of God today. Open your heart. Let Him in. He is calling you to come to Him today."
If you are not certain you have been made righteous by the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, read the words over. Let God speak to your heart. Believe in the Good News today. Why would you not want to be part of the greatest wedding of all time?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Wise Son

" A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother." - Proverbs 15:20

My 21 year old son is getting married this Saturday. This is the boy that we saw for the first time 21 years ago, prayed for, cared for and will soon release to become a husband and eventually a father. He has been a joy to raise, and we didn't experience any heartache during teen years either. There were times, and still are, when we don't see eye to eye but I know this is part of him becoming a man. I enjoy conversing with him on a range of topics, much of it about Scripture, Theology or our Christian walk. On a weekly basis we also Skype and talk about a book we are both reading. It brings me great joy to see him growing up to be a wise son. Today, his mom (my wife) and I spent some time sharing some of our experiences in our marriage (as well as offering advice), some that involved suffering and pain. We cried as we talked and yet we know that it is through our pain that we have learned about the wisdom and sovereignty of God. Our desire as we open our hearts is for him to become a wise son, husband and father. We are so grateful for him. He has brought joy and gladness to our lives (and to many others as well) and we couldn't be more proud.

This week will pass quickly, Saturday will come (Lord willing) when I will have the privilege of performing their ceremony. It can't get any better than that! He will stand before me, others and our God to become one with his bride. We will see him go with his dear bride as they begin their own marriage journey. We praise our God for his unmerited grace he has shed on us as we have raised a wise son.





Sunday, October 05, 2014

Tanto Amor - Juan 3:16

Sermón hoy en Village Bible Ministerio Hispano.  Cinco características del Amor de Dios. Puede encontrar las notas en PDF aquí

Village Bible Ministerio Hispano

Nuestros servicios se llevan a cabo los domingos a las 9:30 AM en el gimnacio. El servicio envuelve tiempo de adoración a Dios a través de cantos y alabanzas, estudio de la Biblia (el mismo tema que el servicio en Inglés) y tiempo de compañerismo. Los niños y jóvenes tienen sus clases en Inglés. A las 11:15 AM tenemos clases dominicales para todas las edades. 
El ministerio Village Bible Ministerio Hispano es parte de Village Bible Church en Garden Grove, CA.