Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Last week over 40 disciples from nine cities and five different countries came together with the brothers and sisters in Santiago to participate in the 2008 Southern Cone Discipleship Conference. We spent an incredible 5 days together studying God's word, praying, fellowshipping and eating all with the focus of fixing our eyes on Jesus. I'm not sure, but it seemed like a glimpse of the multi-national fellowship of Acts 2.
On Wednesday, we began with a typical Chilean lunch of Pastel de Choclo and empanadas while we got to know each other and shared about the various situations in our churches.
On Thursday and Friday morning we met together for a devotional time and then discipling groups. Norberto Dorantes, the leader of the church in Buenos Aires, Argentina led our thoughts on Thursday morning to the power of Jesus through the scriptures. My heart swelled with admiration as I listened to my brother who has to work part-time to support his family while still leading the church closer to God. Thursday evening Martin Bentley preached an encouraging and challenging message calling us to fix our eyes on Jesus and repent of our sins. On Friday, Leo Santana from Santa Cruz, Bolivia gave an inspirational devo about the intensity of Jesus' prayer life and challenged us to follow Jesus' example. Each day we spent the late morning in discipling groups discussing the devo, sharing scriptures, confessing sins and encouraging one another. Having attended a similar time for leaders a year and a half ago, I could see how much God has done to work in the hearts of each church leader and to bond the churches closer in unity.
Friday afternoon we ate lunch together at the Mercado Central and then went up to the top of the hill in the middle of Santiago, Cerro San Cristobal. It was a special moment for me as I was able to see how God had answered my prayer of four years ago to be able to live in South America and help the churches here. At the top of the hill I was able to share my heart with dear friends, participate in unity-building talks and dream about the future of the church.
Saturday was a special treat for the Santiago Church as we were able to participate in a day-full of classes given by the brothers and sisters who had come from other churches, especially the US. Classes were given about marriage, finances, excellence in the workplace, dating relationships, parenting and more. During the lunch break, the fellowship was buzzing with reactions from the classes and hearts eager to change. In one day, it seemed as if the church had received an injection of maturity, wisdom, zeal and faith. Many thanks to all who shared and taught.
We finished the conference with a powerful and uplifting time of worship. Christian Amestoy reminded us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that we are all searching for. Truly it was a time of renewed faith, renewed dreams and renewed unity. Although the churches in South America have suffered a lot in the recent years, it is obvious that God is not finished with us, but instead wants to call us higher each and every day as we fix our eyes on Jesus.