Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
The other day as I was leafing through Richard Stearns' The Hole in Our Gospel, an African proverb he cited caught my eye: "Pray, but when you pray move your feet". Another phrase from Ernest Hemingway ran through my mind as well: "The world breaks everyone, and afterward some are strong at the broken places".
What is it that has the power to heal us when we are broken? And where do we find our strength if not in Jesus the Christ? The Savior came to heal and bind up the brokenhearted (Is. 61). Christianity is Christ, and the body of Christ on earth is meant to be a therapeutic community, moving to reach out to others with love and compassion, bringing good news and hope and healing to a hurting world.
I continue to be amazed at the influence of Alberto Pata’s recorded biblical messages that go out every morning at 7:30 a.m. on Radio Cultura. Since March we have been airing a series on the Gospel of Mark, and people from different walks of life continue to get in touch to express what the daily diet of Puente a la Vida means to them and how this teaching makes an impact on their lives.
Part of the radio ministry involves working up a new series of announcements every week, combined with some phrase with food for thought (which I consider vital to catching people’s interest) and an invitation to come to talks or to sign up for the Bible correspondence course. These announcements are recorded by professionals at the radio station and aired daily, giving the recorded messages a personal touch as we fish for men.
In May, after several months of classes in radio production and conduction with Sandra Carini (which continue), we started back with our live broadcast, “Ahora es la Hora” (“Now Is the Time”) on Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m. Together with Hector Braga we are conducting an interview format, inviting Christian professionals to talk about different areas of concern such as “Bioethics” with Dr. Gabriel Flores Ciani, “Education and Family Values” with Araceli Novo from the Eirene Institute, and “Integrity in the Leader” with Christian lawyer Sergio Macagno Garibaldi from the Haggai Institute who is also involved in the political arena in Argentina along with Dr. Flores Ciani.
At the end of every year, I ask myself if Alberto Pata’s half hour radio programs have completed their usefulness and if it is time to take them off the air. And God always seems to send clear confirmation through numerous calls and comments from our radio audience that the Puente a la Vida broadcasts are still a very effective tool for teaching the Word, reaching many who are searching for answers, yearning for God. And so we continue every morning on Radio Cultura at 7:30 a.m. At present an excellent series on the Gospel of Mark is being aired.
Just last night, we were surprised by the visit of Sebastian, a 21-year old Colombian Architecture student. He had come across Radio Cultura by accident and heard our announcement about the film "Fireproof". Since he didn’t even listen to the rest of the broadcast, he had no idea of who we were or that we were even a church, but he came, stayed for the movie and empanadas (meat pies) afterwards, and was visibly impacted by the film and his conversations with the different people he spoke with.
Sebastian came only expecting to see a movie, but before he left, he had opened up his heart and expressed certain needs and concerns. He seemed to bond with several of us “older folk”. These types of encounters are no accident. It wasn’t by chance that Sebastian “found” us on the radio. God uses the radio as an effective outreach tool, and when a person makes the decision to come, this is where the church as a body comes in, reaching out in love.
A couple of more profiles on persons we get from our audience …
Inés Chamudis, a precious lady who is an artist and actress by profession, suffers from Schizophrenia and was on the verge of the abyss last December with her mental health problems. She was subsequently hospitalized in a mental institution for three months, but after her release I visited her in her home, and the church as a body has been there for her. In the three years I´ve known Inés, I´ve never seen her so serene and of sound mind as now. A Messianic Jew and baptized believer, she recognizes her restoration as a miracle in her life, the answer to fervent prayer and the love she has received through her brothers and sisters at Puente a la Vida.
Marcelo T., like Inés, initially came through our radio broadcast, visiting once in early 2010. Frequently it is through our pain that we come understand our deep need for God. We kept in contact by e-mail and at one point he and his wife Sandra came to a special seminar offering support to parents grieving over their children’s choices. They are going through a severe crisis with their oldest child, a girl in her early twenties who has opted for a lifestyle and involvement in a political movement totally contrary to her parents' values and beliefs. A few months ago Marcelo started working through the Seeker Series Bible correspondence course, and recently he started coming to the classes we are holding on Conflict Resolution on Wednesday evenings. He admits that as a result of their family crisis, he has come to be totally open to the Word and God´s work in his life. And he is responsive to the warmth and the testimony of the believers he is getting to know.
Then there is José Reyes who has been popping in and out over the past five years. A very intelligent man, he used to be much more agnostic with leanings towards oriental philosophy (the same as Federico Quiroga and Hugo Moliné, two other men from our radio audience who are coming to faith). Their eyes are being opened to Jesus the Son of God. Please keep all these in your prayers, that God´s work be completed in each one.
Hector Braga has been actively involved with me on the live radio broadcast these past five years. Articulate, good natured and ever dependable, Hector also has an active teaching role with both the Eirene Institute and the Haggai Institute for Leadership Training, and is currently working on a PhD in Theology.
In early May the Eirene Institute held a one-day workshop with a group of us from Puente la Vida preparing and serving breakfast, lunch and coffee break. Immediately after it was over, a delegation of six of us from the Puente a la Vida congregation went to hear Hector Braga's conference on "Healing the Dark Side of our Leadership", offered through the Haggai Institute at the National Prayer Center across the street from the National Congress. At the corner there was a lot noise going on with a group of protestors carrying banners and playing drums, pushing to legalize marihuana. Something else the church in Buenos Aires is involved in, seeking to put on the brakes with our legislators.
Your prayers for the influence and direction of the Puente a la Vida ministry are greatly appreciated. Our deepest desire is for our Lord to be exalted and His kingdom extended in all areas. And my prayers of thanksgiving and intercession go up for you.
Love and blessings in Christ,