Rwandan Work Prayer

While in Butare we visited the National Museum of Rwandan in order to get a pre 1994 historical background view of the culture in this beautiful country. Imagine my surprise when I found this prayer in the lobby there – very appropriate for all of us as we go into our workplace. – Carson

Work Prayer

My Heavenly God,

As I enter this workplace I bring Your presence with me.

I speak Your peace, grace, mercy and perfect order into this place.

I acknowledge Your power over all that will be spoken, thought, decided and done within this place God.

I thank You for the gifts you have blessed me with.

I commit to using them responsibly in Your honor.

Give me a fresh supply of strength and knowledge to my job today.

Anoint my works, ideas and energy so that all my accomplishments may bring You glory, and my works bring faith, joy and smiles to those I come in contact with.

God, I pray that when I leave this place give me traveling mercy.

Bless my family and home.

In Jesus name, Amen

Rwanda: One thousand hills, a thousand stories.

It is very hard not to like Rwanda.

Rwanda is a thriving, safe country with one of the lowest crime rates in Africa. It is also a small country – in area the size of Vancouver Island, or Belgium. So from Kigali, the capital, you can drive in any direction in a day to see other parts of this beautiful land.

When I held up my iPhone using FaceTime to talk with Brenda she commented on how green it was. So true, on our drive today I was impressed by the green undulating landscape of hills, gardens and plantations.

It is also a remarkable country from the standpoint of how the people are overcoming Rwanda’s genocide, three months of brutality in which an estimated 1,000,000 people were killed.

This country’s comeback has exceeded what even the most optimistic observers would have predicted. Jeff from the Wellspring Foundation has lived here since immediately following this tragic part of Rwandan history. He commented that the government has remained focused on the delivery of basic services like access to electricity and running water to all of it’s people equally. This has brought a stability and economic growth to the nation and mitigates genocide ideology.

We drove today to speak with a group of students at the national university. It was a special acknowledgement and prayer time for  ‘finishers’ – those students about to graduate the end of June.

As I looked into their eyes from the podium, they looked just like students you would see at any university. The lecture theatre looked different from what you might be used to – but it works.

Bob and I spoke to them about our trip around the world and what we are learning about the places and leaders through who God is at work. We encouraged them to finish well and then to plant themselves where God leads and serve him there.

As we were leaving, our host thanked us. He was a third year student himself and he shared how he has always wanted to visit Canada.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you see, I have no parents, and some Canadians – people I have never met or seen, are paying so that I can attend university. That is why I want to visit your country.”

This young leader probably lost both parents during the genocide, I did not want to ask. But his response made me feel sad for him, and thrilled to know that some Canadian family are making it possible for his life to be different – very different.

Now, as I finish with the Internet, and get my other net set up – I’ll be thinking about him for quite a while.

Tweeter and the Monkey Man

Elvis – The Hotel Monkey Man

Bob Dylan

All day long I have been hearing Bob Dylan’s voice from the Travelling Wilburys singing, “. .

“To an undercover cop who had a sister named jan
For reasons unexplained she loved the monkey man”

Now let me try to explain.

Breakfast with Elvis

Bob and I were having breakfast at the Protea Hotel right at the entrance gate to Kruger national park. The gate itself reminds me of Jurrasic Park – because once you pass through it, you are the minority. We are in animal territory and Bob and Carson seem more like “Kibbles and Bits” once you enter the park.

Back to breakfast. So from where I am sitting I am watching one of the staff at the hotel positioned on the outside deck standing very alert yet sublte. The entire breakfast time he did not move but was holding something in his hands.

Curiosity has taught me a lot and occasionally gotten me into trouble. So I approached him and found out his name was Elvis. I also saw that what was in his hand was a homemade sling shot with 18 inches bands of red surgical tubing coming back to the leather patch for holding the round stones he had in a pouch.

“What are you doing?” I asked politely.

Elvis replied, “Watching for monkeys.” He then showed me how he fits the stones into the sling shot.

“So you are the Monkey Man here at the hotel?”

“Yes, yes . . the Monkey Man” he laughed with his beautiful white teeth showing from ear to ear. “The Monkey Man”  he repeated with laughter.

“I haven’t seen any monkey’s this morning.”

“No,” Elvis said seriously, “it is because I am here. No monkeys today,”

Now Bob and I have seen these masked robbers on the property, but I still got the giggles as I thought about a hotel that has a monkey man on staff.

The leadership developer in me then started imagining the interview process for the job. I was now laughing out loud at just the prospect. Bob kept asking, “What are you laughing about?”

“The monkey man interview process.”

I was barely able to get that out without crying I was laughing so hard. My friend smiled with me, and my bizarre, warped sense of humour.

The Interview

Inside my head I picture the manager of the hotel coming out of his office with papers in his hand calling out, “Elvis?”

Elvis stands and walks towards the manager with his slingshot in his hand. Shakes hands with the manager and then enters his office.

Elvis has no papers with him and is dressed in a very casual manner as the manager asks him to sit down.

“So Mr. Elvis, you are here to apply for the Monkey Man position?”

“Yes sir,” he says shyly.

“Let me ask you a few questions, Do you like monkeys?”

“No sir.”

“Do you like eating Monkey glands?”

“Yes sir.”

“What do you think is the most effective way for our hotel to get rid of monkeys?”

“Sir I would go into the park and follow some lions and collect big bags of lion manure and spread it around the hotel.”

“Wouldn’t that smell and bother our guests?”

“Yes but it would get rid of the monkeys.”

“Would you be opposed to using a..” the manager gets up and closes the office door and looks into Elvis’ eyes, “. . a more lethal method?”

Elvis smiled, and holds up his slingshot.

“You any good with that?”

Elvis stares at him and with pride and repeats, “I never miss.”

“Even in a crowded dining room with dozens of guest in it?”

“I never miss” Elvis said more seriously.

The manager then stands up and walks towards Elvis, extends his hand saying, “You’re hired. You are hotel’s monkey man. Can you start tomorrow?”

Well I am going to sleep tonight still smiling about the Monkey Man. Hope to say goodbye to Elvis before we leave tomorrow.

What questions would you ask if you were interviewing someone for the monkey man position?

Buenos Aires: Driving, Arsenic and Electricians

Driving in Buenos Aires

The ninety-minute drive from where we were staying to Máximo Paz (Maximum Peace) was made on of a variety of roads. Modern freeways, toll roads, beautiful boulevards, cobblestones and finally dirt roads. Driving in Buenos Aires is very good for your prayer life and that is not in any way a comment on Catherine – our most excellent driver.

It has to do with how they drive here in BA. Here is what I have learned:

  • Lanes – merely suggestions.
  • Horns are to be used liberally (although not near to the extent of Lima).
  • Right of way? Not so much – Most smaller intersections here, do not have lights or stop signs.  So, when you have two cars approaching from opposite directions, the general rule is that the car to the right has the right-of-way.  However, what is actually the case is that whatever way traffic is flowing has the right of way, and the other person has to wait for their chance to dart across.
  • Stop signs are really just yield signs.
  • Red lights usually mean stop. Late at night, people tend to run red lights. Catherine explained that this is a security precaution as people do not want to be held-up while stopped alone at a dark intersection.
  • Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.
  • To drive downtown you are certain to encounter traffic and protests. They love to protest down here and a favorite tactic of the protestors is to block lanes of traffic to make their point.  The police will never disperse them either. They simply wait for them to leave on their own.

Máximo Paz

Máximo Paz has a population of 3500 and is located in a largely agricultural area. It is a city that has struggled with poverty as well as  high arsenic levels in the water supply. Cancer is one of the risks associated with chronic consumption of high arsenic contained drinking water.

Christian Church of the Family

We travelled here to see another community center initiative by Fortelecer. It has been started with a church and the pastor explained to us, “There are two doors. One to the church, the other to the community center and they are joined by a passage. They are joined so those in the church can go to the community center and those in the community center can go to the church.”

Pastor talking to Bob about the community center.

As you enter the town, the church greets you at the corner in a prominent location. Their pastor shared with Bob how their greatest job as a church is to show God’s love to those who are frustrated and not doing very well. They opened a community center to focus on the actually needs of those in the community utilizing professionals in different fields to do training and family work.

The night we visited there was a class training young adults to become electricians. The center offers dozens of classes and programs for children to adults on vocational training, health and physical education. Everyone knows it is associated with the church.

Getting out of the Office

One of my observations from Máximo Paz was caught in a short interchange with the pastor in his office.

His office was very sparse. A desk and chair, an old desktop computer still using 3 ¼ inch discs, and a few books on a shelf three of which were Bibles. As he saw me looking around the office he said, “I don’t spend much time in here. My office is out there,” motioning outside the window at the community.

As he looked out the window he was smiling with a smile that said, “These are my people and I love them.”

When we look out our office window, what do we see? Does it make us smile?

Maybe we need to get out more.

Electrical Class

Buenos Aires: Trusting the GPS

Have you ever been to an area where your GPS warns you that you are in a BAD part of town?

Catherine our host, driver, and translator, was driving us to meet the leaders at a community work that started as a church and now works directly with families in the community through centers that they have developed.

The pastor who started the work from the church was Gerardo Kopf who now serves as the General Director of Fortalecer: Recursos Para Familias Y Comunidades. Lucio Andrés from his board of directors also agreed to meet us at one of their centers. Gerardo explained that although they started as a church, they realized the people needed more. They needed more professional help – beyond what pastors are trained to do.

As Catherine drove us to the neighborhood in Buenos Aires she announced that her GPS issued a warning that we were entering into a dangerous neighborhood.

I have seen worse actually, but it did have all the traditional signs of a bad neighborhood. Graffiti, burned out cars left out on the streets, heavy bars on all the windows in sight. This is where the church has placed it’s self.

The issues for families in this community are very challenging and there is a great deal of abusive violence. The community center itself is heavily barred because the husbands of abused wives want to get back at those who help their wives.

Fortelecer’s principles are clear:

  1. All people are created in the image of God and are to be valued and respected.
  2. The gospel of Jesus offers hope.
  3. Hope that produces change is possible.

With these principles they provide resources to help families become healthy and create safety, love, equity, peace and solidarity. Wow.

I notice that whenever I ask South American leaders about ministry, they respond talking about people – fruit of their work. Most pastors here are engaged in active counter cultural activity within their community as part of their regular work week.

Volunteers power Fortalecer. I met Aldo, a psychologist, who gives one day a week to do counseling at the center. He sees eighteen people a day from 7:30am – 9:30pm. It is his volunteer service for the Lord and he is just one of forty “permanent’ volunteers. There are also over 100 additional volunteers for special programs The counselors here see 1500 people per year in this manner and in addition hold five workshops per week.

I was deeply touched by three things today. The commitment of lay people from the church to working in the community. The philosophy that if we bring people together with a common problem, they can become a community helping one another.

When we left the center, I was stuck for words. Not because of my lack of Spanish, but because of the love of their neighbors and their volunteer commitment to this calling.

Lima, Peru: A church in the city

Samuel has been a pastor for twenty-five years. He serves the Baptist church in Lince, a district in Lima we might refer to as a “middle class” neighborhood, but please put that in a Lima context. Lince is an area between the very rich, and the very poor. It is a community wrought with violence, and robberies. There are many street youth and a culture of begging.


My new friend is a ball of energy and very inspiring to be with. Impressive in that this is not an easy ministry setting. The church is in a walled compound that deters robbery and also offers protection for children and families when they attend community programs.

After hearing Jim Cymbala speak, Samuel told me that he came to the place where he said, “Lord, do your work.”

“A turning point in my life was prayer. I was a preacher, teacher – but I didn’t believe in prayer.”

View of Lince from our hotel room.

Since then his ministry has been renewed and the church has tripled in size. His counsel to those of us in ministry, “The first thing you must learn to do is pray.”

Realizing that Samuel cannot ‘do it all’ for his church or his community, he decided to start an independent seminary at his church. He is building into twenty-five future pastors who are attending two-hour classes every day.

The premise of the strategy is captured in the word ABLE. It stands for Administration, Bible and Theology, Leadership and Evangelism and mission today. Samuel wants workers and has a vision for planting churches in the poorer barrios.


“My mind is filled with evangelism and mission,” he said. “In the north pastors are mostly scholars. The Kingdom does not need more scholars – we need workers.”

Samuel invites in the form of a challenge to leaders in the north, “The fishing is very good in South America. You need to experience it.”

Samuel has an infectious presence, and I look forward to staying in touch with this local hero and his family.

What I take away from my time with Samuel is the supernatural way that two people can meet for the first time and yet be brothers for life. His focus on prayer is convicting. I want to introduce him to others and would love to see some teacher friends offer to come teach at this seminary for a week. Hmmmm.

Buenos Aires: A city of many cities

Buenos Aires: Now here is a complex city. It is an ocean port and the name until the 17th century was “Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds.” The sailor in me likes the connotation but as I hope to share in a few blogs – there are other, not so fair winds that blow here.

Soon after arriving I realize I have been pronouncing the name of this city of 13 million incorrectly – for years. My best shot at it now is “bwā-nəs-ˈa-rēz” and my tongue stumbles over the “r” while trying to emphasize the hard “e” in Aires.

We have had a wonderful host the entire week here in Catalina (Catherine) Ogden. Catherine is a Regent College alumni who we were connected with through Jim Houston – and what a delight that has been. She has served as our remis (taxi), translator, and cultural guide. When not guiding Canadian pilgrims around her city she works for the United Nations in the heart of downtown BA.

Buenos Aires is really is a city of many cities. The first Buenos Aires is a typically poor Latin American city of shabby streets fronted by strident advertisements offering cheap phone calls, ‘branded’ clothes and electronic goods. But look above and behind, and a second city appears.

Here, the electronic billboards do not quite conceal ornate European buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with their graceful Doric columns, art deco door frames and angels with vacant eyes. You know that these streets have seen much over the years and just a brief read on Argentine history and one starts to get the picture here.

The route into the city centre follows an elevated highway. As we passed along it, I looked down on the roofs of the city’s traditional neighbourhoods. From here, Buenos Aires appears both unpopulated and infinite; it looks like one place but it is many. On every street corner there are invisible borders of class and identity. As we got closer to the city, shanty towns pushed up against the freeway and even the elevated highway cannot hide them as they also have added stories and become multi level.

Our driver asked me to put my camera down and not take photos in case we get shot at. Hmmmm, okay, new safety tip. J

Cities with large gaps between rich and poor tend to have much higher crime rates. This epidemic exists horribly in Buenos Aires. Crime and poverty are identified as Buenos Aires’ largest obstacles.

It is hard to get straight facts about poverty here. The government figures are understated – this seems obvious to the naked eye. According to a paper jointly written by the Argentine Catholic University and Catholic Charities over a third of metropolitan Buenos Aires, 34.9%, live below the poverty line. That translates to 4.4 million people, more than double the official Argentine government estimate.


Now sitting in a Starbucks downtown one can hide from the poverty and would never know, but venturing into the communities where Christian leaders are working in and throughout this metropolis and it is a whole other story.

Bob and I stayed in a lovely and seemingly safe community but as we ventured out during our interviews we got to experience the many cities of Buenos Aires.

It is easy for us to keep things hidden away  – even from the poorer parts of our own cities. But people live there, real people with real needs.

I am particularly drawn to the needs of the children in these communities. Breaks my heart. One of the ministries we visited here, Fortalecer, is doing something about it – more on this next blog.

Santiago, Chile: The Palace, Power and Prayer

Alfred Cooper, Capellán Evangélico en La Moneda speaks with a very pleasant British accent, reflective of his schooling in England. He is an Anglican priest and serves as the evangelical chaplain for President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastian Pinera.

Pinera took over the presidency in March 2010. If you remember, this was when Chile was reeling from a major earthquake. He could be described as conservative politically from a North American perspective. Pinera is an economist, investor, businessman and former senator. Oh and did I mention he is also a billionaire, and is not in this position for the money.

An early decision he made was the appointment of Alfred as his evangelical chaplain and spiritual advisor.

As James, Justine and I approached the main gate into the palace we were told to wait outside. Within a significant presence of guards and security, as one might expect, suddenly a smiling cheerful man brushed his way through them without raising an eye – greeting the guards on his way through to us. It was Reverend Cooper.

With smiling eyes and gracious spirit he welcomed us and instructed us to follow him into the security office where our passports were checked, and kept, and where we passed through scanners as you experience at an airport screening.

Now we are inside the palace.

The palace consists of an outer frame of rooms and offices surrounding four inner courtyards.

Locals refer to the building as simply “La Moneda” which I think translates ‘money.’ That is because it used to be the mint. La Moneda is only open to the public once or twice a year, and even at that, the public is only allowed to walk through the inner courtyards so I felt privileged to enter into the building itself. It is the equivalent to visiting the White House, and speaking of that President Obama and our own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, have made visits here recently – Harper just a week or so ago.

Seal of Chile in the wrought iron main gate.
Patio de los naranjos (Orange trees)

I felt constrained taking pictures inside. Guards stood at every corner visible and it just didn’t seem right to stop and be touristy when there was a chance to visit with Alfred about his role.

Passing by the final guard in the hallway to Alfred’s office we were welcomed in and offered tea which he made himself from a personal stash in his cabinet. Everything about this man exudes authenticity. He is loyal to the president, and as a loyal friend and Christian has opportunities to speak into his life and leadership.

Alfred is perhaps best known for mobilizing the nation wide prayer movement for the Chilean miners trapped for sixty-nine days underground. It was one of the most watched television events in history and created what Alfred called “a spiritual fervor” in Chile.

Alfred was with the president at another event when the mine collapsed. Faith and prayer were central to how President Pinera handled the crisis he told me: “When they first vanished, we didn’t know whether they were alive or dead. The President called for an emergency prayer meeting. We prayed here in the presidential palace. That prayer meeting was attended by all the ministers.”

While miners were certainly praying underground, Alfred said that the nation of Chile was praying. “Up on the surface, we were called to pray,” he said. “We had a massive prayer meeting that spread to the whole nation.”

President Pinera hugs rescued miner.

The thirty-three miners all gave testimony to their being a 34th person down there with them – Jesus. Alfred also noted they were a highly organized democracy underground– but it was a spiritual democracy, something he has had the opportunity to pass along to other heads of state.

We shared about other things that day concerning leadership, faith, mentoring however these are not to be written about, rather treasured within. I asked if I might pray for him as we departed and it turned into a very precious time of Christian brothers supporting one another in our roles for the sake of the Kingdom.

This experience left me thinking about how important it is for all of us to have spiritual advisors in our lives. Friends, who are loyal and willing to speak truth into our lives. It makes me grateful for my friends like Bob and the adventure of this trip and the amount of time we get to spend together.

I think the greatest challenge is making time for friendships when we are back in the throes of life back home.

This experience in the palace also made me wonder about how much we really believe in prayer – and the power and influence of prayer. If we really believed, would we not pray more?

Carson Pue, Alfred Cooper, Justine Zwicker

In the palace I was also reminded of how Christians are to pray for those in positions of power like my friend Mayor Peter Fassbender, my MP Mark Warawa, and our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. It is not as though they are above other people and our prayers for their well-being. The Scriptures encourage prayer for those in authority over us because so much depends on their character and plans. The security of life and freedom depends so much on them and God has power to influence their hearts and to incline them towards what is just and equal. That is why we should pray for them.

Peter, Mark and Stephen; consider yourself prayed for this day.

Patio of the canons

Day 9 Santiago, Chile: Public Transit to the Palace

Flying into Santiago the city is completely surrounded by mountains, like it is in a meadow amidst snow-capped peaks. The ocean lies to the west and is accessible through a valley pass while the majestic Andes to the east.

It is already reminding me a lot of Vancouver and there is a common expression here in Santiago like we have at home saying that you can ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon.

An organized city of 6.25 million it seems quite manageable both in size and because of  the subway system – the Metro.

James Matheson, a gifted younger leader, served as our host while here. He conscripted dad to meet us at the airport and take us to our hotel the night we arrived. The next morning James met me at the hotel and we walked to the subway to begin a day of interviews.

James is a communication major at university and works with YFC here in Santiago. He is a very networked guy and seems to know everyone. On the way to the subway we stopped and picked up Justine, daughter of a Baptist pastor from Dartmouth, NS who is in Santiago for the term and off we went, two Canadians and a Chilean. Bob stayed and rested today at the hotel.

Encuentro Con Christo

We travelled by underground to “Encuentro Con Christo” (Meeting with God). This church in a great location in Santiago with a large shopping mall under construction across the street and very close to the Metro.

The first person to greet me when I entered was Marlene – a close friend of my colleague Luz back at FBC and I was welcomed like family. They had set up a meeting room for me and I conducted interviews there in the morning.

Pastor Jorge Eduro is the teaching pastor at the church and has been here thirty years and what brings him greatest joy is building the team among the pastors.

Miner’s Home Place

Luis Castro is a leader of a home for miners children. He left a secure job and salary to work full-time helping vulnerable youth. They have on home with forty-five boys and girls and a waiting list of thirty.

World Vision Chile

Elza Fagundes is the national director of World Vision Chile where she and her team oversee over 35,000 sponsored children and then the many more family members who also benefit through their sponsorship program.

We met in their offices with other senior staff including a pastor responsible for church relations. I have visited staff of World Vision in over a dozen countries around the world and I am consistently impressed with the caliber of people working to save and protect children.

Next to Group Biblica de Universitad, the IFES group working in over thirty-five campuses of university and colleges. Their commitment to students is impressive and to hear that they are only able to touch half the campuses in this city is a little daunting.

The surprise addition to the day was a late invitation to come to the presidential palace. Alfred Cooper, Capellán Evangélico en La Moneda is the chaplain and spiritual advisor to the president and was a significant leader during the Chilean mine disaster. He called James and wanted us to meet.

More on this tomorrow.

Day 8: Quite the stressful adventure

Day 8 was a long travel day first with a flight from Cusco to Lima then on to Santiago, so a rather boring blog day. We did think it was exciting that we knew where to go at the Lima airport to get free wi-fi from our previous flight through Lima, so there was time for a quick call to our wives en route.

Enough of this,  let’s go back to yesterday.

Watch Your Pockets

Two teenagers at Machu Picchu approached me when I had my iPhone out taking pictures. They asked politely if I would take a picture of the two of them with their camera. Being the kind Canadian I am I said of course, and took a great photo of them. The guys then came on each side of me to look at the photo, commented on how good it looked and asked if I would take another which I did. They thanked me and walked off.

Well twenty minutes later I reached for my iPhone and it was gone.

Bob and I were separated at this time for he was attempting to climb Machu Picchu mountain. I was without my wingman.

I hadn’t moved from where we separated and I quickly put together what had happened. I sought out a park officer and told him my story. His English was better than my Spanish but he did understand “iPhone” and “pick pocket.” He quickly radioed all the officers to be on the lookout.

There is only one exit out of the park so he sent me to the administration office at the park gate and to fill out a form there and then stay by the gate to see if the two young guys appeared.

The women at the administration office felt badly but did not offer me much hope. They gave me a book that I was to write the loss in – I didn’t like how thick the book was. As I am writing out all my information I was praying asking the Lord to resolve this as I knew we could not possibly afford this right now and it would hinder our communication ability. I was also pre-grieving the loss of some recorded interviews I had not backed up.

As I am halfway through the form one of the administrators called to me, “Are you Dr. Pue?”

“Yes,” I said with some surprise because I had not given her my name yet.

“Congratulations, your phone has been found. Cecelia, one of the tour guides has it and will bring it here for you but she is about an hour away.” (My new business card from the church was in the phone cover.)

“Praise God,” I said as we all celebrated together.

I asked her to show me where it was found and she pointed out on a map that it was in the grass about 1000 meters from where I was.

Why would they discard it?

Just two days before this incident I had figured out how to put a coded lock on my phone. I had noticed all my sons had this and I originally thought it awkward that they had to type in this code before doing anything on the phone. However without the code the holders of my phone were hooped so probably discarded it after trying several times to guess the code.

More importantly, I have a dear group of people praying for me at First every Wednesday evening along with many others that I know of.

Inca Golden Rulers

You cannot think about the Incan’s without thinking of gold – they were golden rulers with the precious metal.

The last sermon I heard Darrell Johnson preach at First Baptist Vancouver was on “Golden Rulers” and it was a great exposition on how Jesus taught very differently from other religious expressions of reciprocity.

My Golden Ruler: Cecelia

Well  I was thinking of this when Cecelia came into the office. She spoke no English but in translation through the administrator I thanked her.

She then replied with a big smile, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

We hugged and I went off to try to find Bob – his story is amazing but that is his to tell and you can read about here on Positively Parkinson’s.