Monday, November 19, 2007

Special Missions Offering

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. - Ephesians 4:16

This past Wednesday, November 14th, the church here in Santiago took up a Special Offering. The leadership had recognized the need for extra financial support in September and decided to have this special offering to help meet the needs in Santiago and in the mission churches of Concepción and Viña del Mar. With only a short time to prepare, the disciples here gave with all of their hearts and raised almost 2,400,000 Pesos which is about $4700. That might not seem like much to disciples in first-world churches, but it's a big sacrifice for the Chilean disciples.

We were especially proud of the Teen and Campus ministries who put together an event called "La Velada Primavera". It was an evening of entertainment, food and fun with all the proceeds going to the special offering. Some of the teens worked in the kitchen preparing home-made juices, sandwiches, pizzas and snacks while others served the food and collected money. The campus students and a few other disciples worked to put together various types of entertainment. I played the part of Don Jeronimo in a short comedic sketch called "Médico a puros palos". Altogether it was an enjoyable night for many disciples that resulted in an offering to help advance God's kingdom.

Other than the offering, another source of encouragement has been our newly added sister, Diana Arrue. Diana is the daughter of Italo, a brother who has been a disciple for a number of years in Santiago. Diana had studied the Bible a number of times before this summer, but in the midst of the recent difficulties in the church, God was really working on her heart. She studied almost every week with Kay and some of the other campus girls and was baptized on October 14. Since then she has been a dedicated member of the campus ministry.

God continues to work in amazing ways even while we are surrounded by trials and temptations. I personally have been very encouraged by my recent studies of Mark and Isaiah. So much so, that I've started another blog, La Palabra Poderosa to share some of the things I'm learning. My Spanish is a work in progress, so please be gracious.

Please keep us in your prayers as we close out 2007 and continue to seek God's will in 2008.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A little strengthening action

After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Acts 18:23

We have had the chance this past month to travel to both Montevideo, Uruguay and Concepción, Chile to strengthen the brothers and sisters there. It is an answer to many prayers that we are able to be down here in South America and live a small portion of what Paul was able to live. Honestly it was a time of strengthening for us also. It is sobering to visit small churches that are struggling to stay together and keep their faith burning strong. It is hard to see the needs so great and feel like there is no way to meet them all.

We traveled to Montevideo in the beginning of October and spent a great week with the six disciples that are there. It was incredible to spend time with Pablo and Rosa, who are leading the group, and strengthen our friendship. We have made a commitment to each other to talk every week and it has been great so far. We are really praying that God will inject faith into the group even though it is so small. While we were there, Kay was able to meet a girl who wanted to study the bible. It was a small reminder that there are people everywhere searching for God, we just need to find them and bring them to him.

This last week we spent time in Concepción, which is a city about six hours by bus from Santiago . There is a group there of 12 disciples, two of which were baptized in the last couple of months. It is a young church that was planted this year from Santiago. We have recently begun a "Member Missionary" training program here in Santiago that will be sending groups to Concepción and Viña del Mar starting in December. We will be doing a 4-week training course and then begin sending out small groups every month to encourage our smaller sister congregations. Right now, we have about 25 disciples training with us for these projects and they are fired up about giving and serving and traveling, by their own means, to help these brothers and sisters.

We were able to spend time with the disciples in both Montevideo and Concepción talking about faith and praying for God's hand to protect them from the attacks of Satan. There is so much work to be done and so many prayers to be prayed. But we know that God is working, and we are confident in his promise that they will be "more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)