Lesson #2 – God wants us to be faithful to the people and to the tasks that he sets before us
I’ve already touched on this in great length in my article Coming Full Circle (Mar 2004 - Gustavo’sMusings #7 of 10), but it bears repeating. Much of our early difficulties in Paraguay were the result of usrunning away from the ministry context which we had been given: I came seeking to teach in a top-notch graduate program, but instead found myself at a tiny school with students who had not graduatedfrom high school.God had given me certain ministry opportunities, but instead of honoring them and valuing them, I kepthoping that something better would eventually turn up. It was in response to all of those other doors being closed off that I realized that I needed to be faithful to the tasks and to the people that God had placed before me.Would I eventually teach at the graduate level? Perhaps. Was that a worthwhile goal? Probably. But inascertaining God's will in this particular situation, it was clear to see that given the circumstances, giventhe commitments we had made, given the guidance we had received to this point, this place and thisministry had to be it. All that was left was to embrace the opportunity I had been given, and to give it myall. As for teaching at those other places of higher academic learning, well, God would open the way for me if and when the time was ever right. After all, it was he who had steered me to this bible institute inthe first place. I was looking for ministry in all the wrong places, instead of ministering where I had been placed!
Lesson #3 – Doing great things for God can never be measured from our perspective:
As I alluded to earlier, I landed in Paraguay with visions of grandeur (or illusions anyway). Rochelleoften joked that I had a Billy Graham complex, always wanting to change the world. In some sense, shewas right. I did want to change Paraguay (and still do) and my formula for doing that was to work onlywith the most advance theology students.But as those dreams quickly gave way to a different context, I came to see that my work at the bibleinstitute was equally infused with meaning. I didn't accept this because I was somehow "trying to makethe best of a tough situation." Instead, it was truly seeing each ministry opportunity for the value that it possessed. Somewhere along the way, I had come to consciously (or unconsciously) measure success inministry based on numbers or based on some perceived value that I had placed on higher educationallevels or larger seminaries.But clearly, all of the work that I did for God was infused with real purpose, and yes, even withgreatness. Every effort made on God's behalf had an impact on people, or structures, or society, or even just on myself. Some of that impact was great by secular standards; some of it was imperceptible, but allof it had redemptive value, on a grand and eternal scale. Greatness could never be measured from my perspective alone, for if that were the case, only the Grahams, the Warrens or the Hybels would ever experience it.
Lesson #4 – God can work despite inefficient structures:
This was perhaps the hardest lesson to learn and the greatest difficulty to overcome. Upon our arrival inParaguay, we perceived that our ministry partner might have some organizational and strategicweaknesses. Some of that was perhaps due to cultural differences in management, but some of that was