Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
Grace and peace, and greetings from your brothers and sisters in Argentina! Way down here on the underside of the world where our summer temperatures have been reaching into the 100s (one afternoon last week the heat index got up to 113 degrees!), we’ve been hearing about the harsh winter you are having up north. I think we are all ready for a little more clement weather! But as Paul wrote, in spite of weather and the ups and downs of life, we press on, seeking to share the Word in season and out of season. What matters is that we keep focused on our calling and purpose, serving the Lord joyfully in all circumstances.
Ministry was not man’s idea – “It was he [Christ] who gave some to be… pastors and teachers” - Eph. 4:11. It was God’s plan from the beginning of time, and he has called all Christians to be his ministers, entrusting us with a sacred privilege.
At the close of 2010, a number of us in the Puente a la Vida congregation put our heads together to think and plan and pray about our direction in 2011. We want to see the this congregation mature and experience solid growth, and as we pray and seek the Lord’s direction we are implementing a plan to work with twenty five persons in the congregation, grounding them in the basics of Scripture and training them for starting and working with cell groups.
Quotes from Jim Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, express the need we feel:
So it is that we are spending time in prayer, seeking God´s will and asking his direction in all things as we work to put together small groups and involve the congregation in personal participation and outreach. For this we are using some excellent discipleship material from Oswald Chambers that Aldo Fontao translated into Spanish, along with evangelistic material that Alberto Pata put together some years ago. Julio Galeppi has been behind this vision, and Osvaldo Casati and Ramón Acosta are helping as shepherds. I am working with the women of the congregation on this.
January has also kept me busy with marriage counseling, visiting the sick, and reworking Alberto´s material for use in groups (which I’m hoping to publish as a manual). On Sundays Dr. Gabriel Flores Ciani has been coming with his family and preaching a series of sermons on Faith, and on Wednesdays we are showing the Rob Bell Nooma videos followed by a stimulating discussion group. This is bringing in new visitors, including some from the neighborhood.
Although I have taken our live program off the air during our summer months of January and February, we continue to air the taped Puente a la Vida radio broadcast each morning at 7:30 a.m., and calls from new listeners are frequent. The class I am taking in radio production with Sandra Carini is proving to be very helpful, and confirms the direction I’ve been taking with the live broadcast over the past five years. Based on affirmative audience response over the past months, I have already selected Alberto´s taped broadcasts (topics and series) for the entire year of 2011. I am also seeking direction in prayer as to how I should continue with the live program.
Something else we did this past month were some major plumbing repairs on the building as well as repairs on the high back wall in the patio of the church building. There was a very real danger of chunks of loose concrete falling on somebody’s head, but that’s been taken care of now. The restrooms on the roof are now in working order as well, and in February we hope to fix the floor of the roof and side wall so that the children can have a place to play. It’s worth mentioning that the Puente a la Vida congregation is financially autonomous, taking care of all its own expenses and doing works of benevolence.
This date marks 35 years to the day that I first stepped foot in Argentina with a three-year commitment to serve God on the mission field. Those three years have since turned into three and a half decades, the major portion of my life. I am grateful for the places the Lord has taken me. I love the U.S. where I was born and raised, and I love Argentina which has been home to me for most of my adult life. And most of all I love being a citizen of heaven, which is where our permanent home is thanks to what the Lord has done for us in Jesus Christ who came to us to save us and take us home with him.
On this January 29 we celebrated Veronica, born the very day I arrived in Argentina. We were also saddened by the death of Luis, a childhood friend of Julio’s from the time they were six, battling with throat cancer. For many months we had been praying for Luis, visiting him and his family and sharing Christ with them. Before passing away, Luis was able to see his little grandson who was born just before Christmas. Right now there is a wide open door to continue ministering to this precious family.
May our Lord bless our lives and our service in Him, leading us daily as He works out His purposes in and through each and every one of us in the year that lies ahead. I deeply appreciate your prayers for the direction of the Argentina ministry as well as for His leading in my own life. May God be glorified in all things.
Love in Christ,