Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A very special visit

On Monday, August 6, Chase Mackintosh arrived in Santiago for a very interesting two weeks with us. Chase came with the group of disciples that came to Chile from Gainesville, FL in June, 2006. He made a huge impact last year and had a great desire to come back. So when we decided to come move to Santiago, he told us he was coming.

The entire time he was here, he was a great encouragement to us. A few days after Chase arrived, Raúl Moreno called the church to follow him in joining the Portland Movement. Chase joined us and the disciples in many hours of Bible study, prayer and discussion. We wrestled together over many scriptures as we tried to understand God's will in this very difficult decision. As we prayed and read, it became very clear that God is completely opposed to division within His body. A few of the scriptures that really helped us were:

Ephesians 4:3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

1 Corinthians 1:10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Colossians 1:17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Later on, Martin & Carmen Bentley, John & Silvia Reus and Terry Folker came to Santiago to help advise us and direct the church toward Jesus in this difficult time. On Saturday, Aug. 10 we met with the church for almost 5 hours in an attempt to help clear up confusion, answer people's questions and mostly examine the Scriptures. On Sunday, Aug. 11 we had an incredible worship service in which Chase sung "Solo Puedo Imaginarme". The song, a Spanish translation of "I Can Only Imagine", helped the church focus on overcoming our current trials and being with Jesus forever. Personally, I don't know if I've ever been so encouraged by a song as I was that Sunday.

Sunday afternoon we met together and again on Monday morning. It was a weekend filled with every emotion possible. Chase was there through it all, doing his very best to share his heart and encourage the disciples to remain faithful to the Scriptures.

During the following week Chase made special times to spend with some of the teens as well as other disciples that he wanted to encourage. Each night he'd come back to our apartment and share with us about his times and his victories in Spanish.

As the two weeks came to an end, a few things became clear to me. First, that the church here is filled with incredible disciples who love God, love His Scriptures, love one another and love the lost.There are now about 260 brothers and sisters worshiping together in the Iglesia Internacional de Cristo de Santiago. (For a more detailed description of the recent events, see Martin Bentley's letter here.) Second, our efforts for unity must be greater than ever. Chase's presence here alone was a great statement about the unity of the churches. It takes money, time, sacrifice and great amounts of patience to achieve unity, but it is totally worth it. Third, we need each other so much. God knew all that would happen in the two weeks that Chase was here and he knew that we needed a great friend to help us out.

Chase, we thank you and each and every disciple in Florida and all over the world who loves us and the churches in South America. Thank you for your sacrifice and friendship. Please keep praying for us and never stop fighting for unity.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Weather in Santiago

There's been a whole lot going on here in Santiago in the past month or so, and I don't have time to write about it right now, but there is something I wanted to share quickly, especially for all of our friends in the northern hemisphere.

This picture was taken on July 28 at around 5 pm. We were spending time at the Cardona's house and as we looked outside we realized that it was snowing. It's not like we've never seen snow before, but snow in the middle of July is not what we're used to. This year has seen the coldest temperatures here in Santiago since 1942. So we decided we had to take a picture so that all of our friends who are sweating through the summer in the US could see what we're experiencing.

Not only that, but just one week ago it actually snowed in downtown Santiago. That's something that has not happened in over 30 years. After church on Wednesday night we were walking home and it was snowing!! Of course it didn't stay too long, but it was pretty amazing while it lasted.

These are historic times here in Santiago, Chile and we're grateful that God has seen fit for us to be here to experience them.