Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
Grace, peace and greetings from your Argentine brothers and sisters! This month you will find I have combined the February and March reports. There is always much to share even though the news may not always be particularly earthshaking. The day-in and day-out aspects of planning, organizing, teaching, counseling, visiting, study and prayer – the backbone of ministry – are going on continually. Faithfulness in the small things matter; it is the Lord who produces the resulting fruit as we work patiently with our sights set on serving and pleasing Him.
This morning during my time of devotional reading, an extract from Steve McVey’s book, Grace Walk, caught my eye:
Any person whose Christian life is centered on service is doomed to a life of frustration… It was a painful realization when God showed me that I was more in love with ministry than with the One who called me to the ministry. Sooner or later, a person whose life revolves around service will experience burn out. And what a wonderful realization when that day comes – the realization that human energy and efforts can burn out, but that the life of Christ will never burn out! Christian service which doesn’t overflow from our walk with Christ is nothing but flesh. God cannot receive glory from flesh, regardless of how dedicated it might be... God´s purpose is that the focus of our whole life be on Him.
These words resonated within me. You can’t give what you don’t have, and what you have comes only through Christ in you and your walk in Him. We absolutely have to remain centered on Him if our lives are to bear fruit.
During our summer months of January and February activities usually slow down a bit. We did have many of our people away on vacation at some point during this time, especially in February, but for the first time I can remember I have been busier than ever, working with several discipleship groups and revision of the material we are using to that end, plus a lot of visiting and counseling both with people from our congregation as well as from our radio audience.
Among the listeners from our radio audience, personal visits were made to Roberto Cabrera, a sprightly elderly gentleman who requested a copy of one of the programs that made an impact on him; to Rita Nora Toledo Fuentes, a woman of Arab extract who visits occasionally and whose son Walter we have been praying for since a boating accident on Christmas Day left him in a coma for six weeks (Walter is now out of danger, but still facing a series of surgeries to reconstruct his face); and Inés Chamudis, a Jewish believer in Jesus who suffers with bouts of mental illness and is now at home after a lengthy period of hospitalization.
With the live radio broadcast off the air during our austral summer, classes with Sandra Carini in Radio Production II continued. In the meantime, Alberto Pata’s half-hour recorded programs continued to be aired Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m. Many listen to this program as they drive to work. During the summer Buenos Aires usually empties out with half the city on vacation, but for the first time in memory the city was full of traffic and crowds during our vacation months, which also meant more people listening to the Puente a la Vida broadcast.
Calls decrease at certain times of the year, but you know people are listening when there is a glitch in the transmission. One day there was a technical problem with the radio tower, and people immediately called in to see what had happened. One first time caller was so distressed, and told me she has been following our program for years, always ready with pen and paper in hand. Not only that, she gives Bibles away to others with information about the radio broadcast inside.
The Eirene Institute, whose headquarters are on our premises, offers Christian counseling with professional psychologists as well as training for Christians from area churches in the area of counseling. In line with their educational activities, they hold three seminars a year, one of which takes place in February, and volunteers from our congregation serve breakfast, lunch and coffee break to the participants.
In February, Dr. Tomás Mackey, dean of the local Baptist Theological Seminary, was the special guest for the seminar on pastoral care for men and women who have gone through divorce. Between breaks I got to sit in on his class, an excellent and balanced orientation.
Several cell groups are taking off. On Wednesday afternoons there is a Bible study group with new contacts – Margarita, Mery and Rosa, and now with the participation of Elba, a believer who recently had cancer surgery. On Thursdays a women’s group comprised of Nilda, Araceli, Rossana, Monica, Laura, Susana, and Claudia is seriously working with the discipleship material, training and preparing themselves to share Christ with others.
On Saturdays Julio is working diligently with the Sahonero family in Palermo. Esteban, a Christian and the “jefe” of the family, has been bringing his 14-year old son Nahuel, and wife and daughter, Karina and Lorena, are finally getting involved as well. Others are being invited and this group is sure to grow.
Ramón is working with Vero, Vilma and Raul, and Fabian on Saturday evenings. After study and prayer time together they go out to nearby Plaza Constitución to pass out flyers, sharing Christ and inviting people to listen to the radio broadcast and to visit.
The Puente a la Vida ministry is very near and dear to my heart and has been the main focus of all my time and energy, especially these past five years. I have always been aware of the need to balance activity and busyness with prayer and quiet time in the presence of God, seeking His counsel and direction. My biggest challenge is taking time off. Several of you, my friends, have kindly been advising me to slow down a bit. I welcome your advice and take this as a word from the Lord, and am trying to find moments just to rest and relax a bit as well as take inventory of my life in general, for as foundations are laid and this ministry grows, God is also leading me in new directions and times of decision are ahead. More on that a little further down the line…
In the meantime, I greatly appreciate your prayers and never cease to thank God for you and for your faithful support which allows this ministry to expand and increase, to God´s glory. May His richest blessings be upon you.
Love in Christ,