THE (Bp)FRANK LYONS INTERVIEW
The Bolivian Beat recently interviewed Frank Lyons, Anglican Bishop of Bolivia. Bishop Frank and his wife Shawnee served in Ecuador and Honduras before the Lord called them to serve in Bolivia. They have 5 grown up children. One of them is in Baghdad Iraq and the others are studying and working.
BB: How did you come to a personal knowledge of Christ as your Saviour and Lord?
Bp Lyons: I came to the Lord as a young lad of six when I was confronted with long periods of debilitating earaches (they would operate to allow for drainage). I turned to the Lord for healing. A few years later, watching the movie “King of Kings” one Holy Week, I realized that Jesus bore his cross personally for me. I was also nourished by a good Sunday school at Loch Raven Presbyterian in Towson, MD. Other experiences as a youth deepened that faith.
BB: You knew Abp Michael Ramsay the former Archbishop of Canterbury when you were a student at Nashotah House. What were your impressions of him?
Bp Lyons: Abp Michael Ramsey is an imposing figure for Anglicanism with his combination of Bible and liturgy. He was foremost a Biblical theologian. He is criticized for this because the tendency is to place systematics above biblical theology. That affected him as well, especially in the (old) Robinson “God is Dead” affair. I believe that by his actions he saved John Robinson’s soul, whereas, James Pike was allowed to wander and perish in the desert. However, as I now read the various biographies, Ramsey regretted his actions until his death as somehow a denial of the unwritten Anglican charity of “openness to whatever doctrine” that in effect pits ego-intellectualism against true faith. Personally, we had some brief chats, but I was not one of the students who maintained a deep, ongoing relationship. He did follow our missionary career with interest.
BB: Who were some of the people that influenced you in your growth as a person and as a pastor/Bishop?
Bp Lyons: My participation at the two local churches of my youth was rewarding, especially with David Lord’s biblical teaching. Mentoring has not always been an Anglican focus, so my studies and reflection on the ministry have aided me. The Bible faculty at Wheaton, especially Al Hoerth, Hassel Bullock and Gerry Hawthorne, and later Peter Wagner at Fuller, have been of greatest value to me. The time in ministry spent with Steven Giovangelo and the congregation of St. Luke’s of the Mountains in La Crescenta, CA, was invaluable to my and Shawnee’s ministries.
BB: Can you share with readers your experiences In Renewal?
Bp Lyons: My teenage years were spent at St James Church in Potomac, MD, which was dynamically charismatic. Our rector, David Lord, was a solid Bible teacher and our youth group was very active spiritually. Many people matured in a balanced faith and five others were also called into the ministry during that era. Renewal presented a problem for our Diocese which opposed our version of the “faith once delivered” at every step. Openness to the Spirit does not necessarily mean excess when tempered by clear biblical training, but rather compliments it.
BB: The biggest challenge you face or faced and the most satisfying moment in life ?
Bp Lyons: My biggest challenge came when the Lord called us overseas to minister cross culturally. I think I was planning to go to some nice quiet, maintenance oriented suburban church. I do not have the adventuring/discovery gifts that I consider necessary to be a missionary. Flexibility and an orientation to lifelong learning help me make up for those deficiencies. The great need for development is what keeps me on track here; developing people mentally, materially, and spiritually as disciples of Jesus.
BB: You participated in a dig in the Holy Land as an archeologist. How has archeology deepened your faith?
Bp Lyons: I dug at Beersheva in the sixth season under Y. Aharoni and A. Rainey, where a horned altar had been discovered previously. Kathleen Kenyon visited that summer. A lot of brute strength was involved in trying to dismantle the Herodian foundations superimposed there. Archaeology is critical in illuminating the text of Scripture and bringing home Jewish culture. As the gentile Church grew out and away from the Land we lost sight of the role of geography and Jewish culture in this context. When Jesus says something, “where he is” and “his culture” are as important as the way in which he says it.
BB: What’s your favorite Bolivian food and why?
Bp Lyons My favorite is Pique Macho. Mouth watering pieces of filet mignon are cooked in a meat sauce with franks or sausage and are placed with fresh tomato, onion and locoto over a bed of piping hot French fries. Locoto is the local pepper which varies in strength within each piece. Delicious, but much like Russian roulette.