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Land of Contrasts

Posted by David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz have moved from San Antonio, Texas to Paraguay to join the Lord in what He is already ...
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on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 in New and Updates

Land of Contrasts.  That’s amongst the many descriptions of Paraguay.  During my week-and-a-half there, while I taught at two Family Medicine residency programs, visited with family and friends, worked on getting my medical degree revalidated, met about future job opportunities with members of the local medical community and worked with a local church missionary team, I also saw and experienced some stark reminders as to how Paraguay earned that title.  Some of the contrasts that stood out in my mind:

-Driving in an air-conditioned sports utility vehicle on a smooth, six-lane, paved highway with stoplights that have a digital timer display to countdown how many seconds are left before the light turns green or red...and riding in the back of a pickup truck to a house Life Group meeting in an impoverished rural community, where the directions not only included the phrase “turn off the paved road”, but also “turn off the dirt road and follow the tire tracks in the grass clearing...”

-Seeing a brand-new Pediatric ward at a local hospital with staffing and equipment that would seem right in place at the most modern hospital in San Antonio...and visiting a public hospital a few miles away where patients lie on left-over army litter stretchers on the floor literally outside the regular wards because of lack of regular hospital beds, and only have the outer building awning to protect them from the elements.

-Seeing young people text and surf the internet on their iPhones in an air-conditioned mall while wearing designer clothes...and seeing a young homeless boy probably about eight years old in tattered clothing standing in a ditch by the road, staring off into space...because there was absolutely nothing else for him to do or hope for.

I also saw and felt the spiritual oppression in Paraguay like I hadn’t before and saw the huge need for the freedom that only Christ can give to people, people like:

...the couple with an “alternative” lifestyle sitting behind me on the plane ride there...

...the retired professional couple who have been married for decades and live in the same house but live life and sleep separately, because they’re powerless to heal the hurts in their marriage on their own and have quit trying...

...the single mother who feels angry and hopeless because she sees her adult son making the same mistakes she did in living a life of sin and who won’t listen to her warning pleas to change...

...the mother who has seen three different physicians who don’t seem to be able to give her an answer or relieve her daughter’s headaches despite undergoing multiple expensive medical tests and who is willing to do anything out of desperation to help her daughter, including turning to “home” remedies prescribed by the local witch doctor...

But as I was feeling discouraged and helpless in the face of the spiritual darkness I saw, the Lord graciously opened my eyes to see how He is at work to bring freedom and light to the Paraguayan people and nation...

...through the Christian business manager who after working his full time day job spends several evening hours during the week volunteering and traveling with a local missionary in both urban and rural areas to disciple and run several Life Groups in people’s homes...

...in the neighborhood Family Physician who this year decided to start an after-hours Bible study at her clinic for her patients, and saw two people who attended give their lives to Jesus last month...

...in the six teenagers from a poor, rural community, who, defying peer, cultural and family pressures, meet every week at a house Life Group to learn about the Bible...

...in the eight people, some of them teenage girls who have escaped abusive situations and now live in a foster home, who gave their lives to Jesus at a church service I attended Sunday night...

Out of our own strength, fulfilling Jesus’ commands given in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 is hopeless..which is exactly why in both passages Jesus also tells us that He has all authority in Heaven and on Earth, He will always be with us until the end and He will give us power through the Holy Spirit.  Our hope is not that we will break the chains of spiritual oppression in those around us, but that Jesus will.  All we have to do is obey Him in faith and allow Him to do his work through us.  

Isn’t God great?

Prayer Requests:

-That the Holy Spirit would start a true revival in Paraguay.

-David’s medical degree now goes to the National University for revalidation.  This is very likely the key step in this process.  Please pray for grace in the eyes of the reviewers and that they would revalidate the whole medical degree and not just portions of it (which would require David to repeat those parts of medical school).

-For wisdom in the timing of our move next year.

-For protection against spiritual attacks as we get closer to the move.

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