Greetings from Paraguay!
June found us packing bags and heading to the interior once again! In the last few years we have not been able to dedicate the time to travel and visit the churches and in the homes where we have held the CEB Bible Institute classes in the past. Without the weekly pulpit duties, we were able to take the first three Sundays of June to travel to Isla Alta with Pastor Osvaldo and Maria, Itá Azul with Pastor Edwardo and Maria and Zayas with Pastor Rubén and Diana.
To give our Ministry Board Members a better understanding of our outreaches, we invited different Board Members and family to attend each church with us. The traveling to Isla Alta and Zayas could be done in a ‘one day outing’, but to travel to Itá Azul, we needed three days.
*The trip to Isla Alta went very well, everything flowed as planned.
*The trip to Zayas was more or less good… the Board Member invited was confined to bed with a cold and couldn’t travel with us. After the service, we joined the church family in the celebrating of the 14th Anniversary of being in their building – the church was founded over 19 years ago with services being held under a mango tree.
* The three day trip to Itá Azul was a d ifferent story! First, the morning of the scheduled trip, the Board Member invited called to say that there had been a death in their family and they would not be able to go with us. We quickly shifted gears in our plans and headed out. As we arrived in Itá Azul so did a rainy cold front… in the interior everything comes to a stop when it rains … needless to say, the planned seminar for Saturday afternoon had to be postponed. A handful of brave ladies walked through the rain and mud and we held a short service. Sunday morning it was still raining, only the pastor and his wife and the Head Deacon and his wife were present. This turned out to be the perfect time to talk and find out what their spiritual Isla Alta Zayas Itá Azul needs and desires were for the church. Finally, Sunday afternoon the rains stopped! We had planned to show a video for the youth that evening and on schedule they began arriving. As Jerry setup the equipment, Connie began to pop popcorn, and we had a great time. Even though all didn’t go as planned, we were pleased with the results of our trip and will be returning to the area in September. ( Oh yeah, it was nice to get back home to our own bed and the indoor plumbing !) Sometimes it’s all about the fellowship and being willing to flow in what the Holy Spirit want s to accomplish .. . just sitting back and letting go of the controls!
(Happy July birthday to Patrick & wedding anniversary to Paula and Brent! Love you, Dad & Mom)
**THE HOLA CLUB CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:
During the month of June we visited the Children’s Hospital 3 times, sharing and praying with 298 parents and children, with 103 people choosing to pray the prayer of salvation!
#1 Dolia couldn’t help but smile when she was sharing this: As Dolia was praying for the children and parents, one of the Head Nurses came up to her saying that she had always listened and prayed with Dolia as she (Dolia) ministered in the nurse’s assigned station. BUT THIS TIME, she wanted to ‘ personally ’ pray the prayer of salvation as the others had. Quietly, Dolia lead her in prayer and the nurse received Jesus! Afterwards, she asked if she could also have one of the ‘little bears’ for her baby… but of course, ho w could we say no?
#2 Once again we were asked to pray with a young girl that was suffering depression and fear. Her mother said that they were both believers and attended a church. When asked, the girl said that she had not participated in any ritualistic games… EVER! She said she was experiencing much fear, sensing a dark and evil presence and had difficulty breathing at times. We reminded them that as ‘children of God’, they did not have to put up with this kind of attack. We encouraged them to step out in faith and take authority when the oppression came. Together, we join our faith with theirs, asking God to break the power of fear over the girls life. As we prayed, the girl collapsed to the floor but recovered quickly and climbed upon her bed to rest. God is faithful, w e are expecting to hear a good report and see that this young lady is free from fear and harassment ! (Update: the young lady was getting ready to leave the hospital on our last visit… she was bright-eyed, happy and hugged my neck with much joy!)
Please Pray for the Hola Club Volunteers,one week this month four of the six volunteers called in sick with bad colds and flu like symptoms. Many people are very ill due to the cold rainy weather that we are experiencing, join us as we proclaim healing to all.
*Pastor Victor was pleased to share that four men at the prison were baptized in water in June. The first baptism years ago was held in a bathroom, using buckets of water. (They all but drowned the man, but he was happy!) Now the prison church, Resurrection Church, has its own wading pool to use for the ceremony… progress!
* A first, Pastor Victor had the privilege of presenting three small children to the Lord and praying a blessing over their lives in the presence of their fathers.
*Jorge (George), a federal policeman from Mexico, was placed in the same prison block with our beloved group of men. For a time, Jorge just laughed and made fun of the men that were attending the CEB Bible Institute and church. BUT NOW…we are so pleased to share that God touched Jorge’s heart and he has become a ‘new creature in Christ Jesus’. Jorge is now right in the middle of everything…studying his Bible, attending the CEB Bible Institute and the church services regularly. Oh yes, Jorge was one of the men baptized in water! As the men are studying and hearing the Word of God, they are developing a desire to be ‘doers and not hears only’. What a blessing to be allowed to minister to them!
Please join us as we lift up the men that are sitting back and watching. Pray that the Holy Spirit will cause a hunger to grow within them also and that they too will reach out and receive the love of God.
As always, when the cold rainy season arrives in Paraguay, it can be a challenge to hold church services on Sunday mornings in our open-air building. Sometimes we wonder why we have been lead to build the open building instead of a regular enclosed church … it seems we are doing things backwards! BUT, here is a thought that has brought comfort to our hearts and minds… Because the barrio (neighborhood) is very strong Catholic, the neighbors are able to see and hear everything that happens during the services with our open church building. The gossip, fears and concerns about the ‘evangelicals’ are all brought to nothing as they witness weekly what is normally done behind closed doors in most churches. Not only is there a lot of foot traffic, we also have a bus line that passes on our street, so there are many spectators. The congregation has learned how to focus and worship God… no matter who is watching. A number of people have said that they came because they saw the services as they were passing. Even some of our close neighbors sit on their balconies to listen and watch during the service times. True, it can be just ‘down right uncomfortable’ during the heat and the cold, but God is doing a work and touching the lives in the Barrio Santa Rita. Maybe someday we will have a regular church building, but for now we will enjoy the great outdoors!
Please join us in prayingfor the famlies that live in our neighborhood, pray that our church continues to be a light house that directs souls heavenward!
Jerry and Connie