Greetings from Paraguay!
Jesus lives! Hope this year your Easter was filled with love, joy and life!In one of the daily devotions by Max Lucado, he wrote that, as believers, we should keep ‘an ear listening for the trumpet and one eye on the clouds’. That is what we are doing as we continue to reach out to the Paraguayans. When that trumpet does sound, we are going to be in the center of a BIG group headed for the clouds! Meet you there!
**The Hola Club Children’s Hospital:
During the month of March, we visited the Children’s Hospital 4 times, sharing and praying with 398 parents and children, with 169 people choosing to pray the prayer of salvation!
A young mother shared with Pastor Bette that the ‘little stuffed bear’ given to her infant daughter has become an important item in their lives. Before, there was little that would comfort the fussy, sick baby. Now, when the little one begins to fuss, the momma places the little bear beside her daughter and immediately she is calm and happy!
This isn’t the first time we have heard this testimony. Over the years the little bears, hearts and kittens have comforted many children. One mother asked for an ‘extra bear’ in case something happened to the first. She said that her little one tearfully refused to go to sleep without her bear. Another child, suffering from an extremely painful earache, immediately quit screaming when a little stuffed heart was placed on his ear. (After that the momma was more than willing to listen as the volunteer shared the Good News!)
During our last weekly visit in March, one of the nurses approached Dolia and asked if she could have one of the little bears. She said she didn’t have children, but she had been admiring them and thought they were so cute. She especially liked the words written on each one… ‘Dios te Ama’ (God loves you). Of course, she received her choice of the bears…how could we refuse such a sweet request?
As each ‘new batch’ of stuffed animals are completed, the office staff gathers around, laying hands on and praying that Father God will anoint and bless each stuffed toy. We believe that the healing and presence of God goes with each one, continuing to minister even after we are long gone. You know, God can use anything to reach out in love to His creation…even little stuffed bears!
With the ever increasing demand for the stuffed toys, we ask that you will join us as we pray for an increase in offerings that will more than cover the growing supply costs.
**CFC Prison Ministry:
See that smile that goes from ear to ear?That is Pastor Victor when he talks about what is happening in the Prison Ministry! Why the joy? He is seeing spiritual growth in the lives of the men! All the credit goes to the fact that the Word is being taught and God is working in each heart.
It is our goal that the Name of Jesus be proclaimed and exalted in each service, whether it is within or without of the prison walls. The results are proving that the Word does not returning void and lives can be changed! Pastor Victor was very pleased as he shared in our Pastoral Staff Meeting of the great increase of interest in the Bible Institute Classes and the Resurrection Church services within the prison. There is an increase of family members attending the church services when they come to visit their loved ones, as well as other inmates that had never become involved in the ministry activities.
Continue to pray for Oscar, the Ministry Secretary within the prison, and Pastor Victor as they continue this all important ministry in the prison.
** Interior Outreach Ministry:
In March we werefinally able to complete the very important ‘Forgiveness Seminar’ that we had started in a daughter church located in Itá Azul (Blue Rock). Several times our trip had to be postponed due to rain… in this area all travel comes to a halt when it rains.
During these trips we normally travel Saturday morning; hold the seminar that afternoon and evening; preach the Sunday morning service; do a ladies meeting during the afternoon; present a family movie in the evening and return to Capiatá on Monday morning.
This month, during Holy Week, we were invited to hold services in several other locations also, so we packed up and headed out on Thursday. Would you believe it…it started raining! We decided not to turn around, but continued on because the first church was accessible from the highway. Even with pouring rain and the church property flooded, there were 25 souls that braved the weather to come on Thursday evening.
The second church was about 2-½ hours more interior and accessible only with 4-wheel drive. Friday we stopped to pick up Pastor Eduardo, then bumped, slipped and slid for two more hours on roads that you would not believe. There were a couple of places that there must have been angels pushing us from behind! Once again, 25 people came out in the wet weather to watch a video and listen as Jerry shared the Word afterwards. We ended up spending the night in the little settlement called Costa Alegre (Happy Shore) … believe us when we say there was no way that we were going to tackle those roads in the dark!
On Saturday morning, retuning to Itá Azul, we took roads that dwindled down to be little more than muddy tracks between the trees. About 10 minutes from our destination, we arrived at a stream that we normally ford… but this day the waters were deep and moving fast. As Jerry started to ease the Nissan into the stream, he felt a check in his spirit. He promptly turned around and we spent the next 40 minutes bumping our way around to where a bridge had been built. (I, Connie, have to say that I was really surprised we didn’t cross the stream… that is one of Jerry’s favorite adventures. Only the Holy Spirit could have intervened!)
Saturday afternoon we finished the Forgiveness Seminar in Itá Azul. What a wonderful teaching that can set people free from a painful past! The Easter Sunday morning service was very special as we heard the Word and took communion together using the olive wood communion cups that we had brought back from Israel. Sunday afternoon the ladies and girls of the church came together to do a craft, which is always a fun time! Our Easter Sunday celebration was topped off with an evening movie… including popcorn, suckers and juice!
During the whole long weekend, the rains would come and go, keeping the roads slick and everyone close to home. Monday morning, we awoke to clear skies and gentle breezes that made the roads passable…we could go home! It isn’t hard to see that God had the whole trip planned and then brought us safely home on schedule.
As always, the trip interior is an adventure and a blessing…you need to come and experience it for yourself!
**Power to Change:
During the month of April, the local church, Iglesia CEB, along with some 50+ other churches in the city, is involved in a city wide outreach. Entitled CAMPAÑA PODER PARA CAMBIAR (CPPC), the message of the changing power of Jesus is being presented thru massive media outreaches – television, radio, internet, large billboards, books, etc. - to our city of Capiatá, a community of some 280,000. With powerful testimonies of Paraguayans that have been changed by the power of knowing Jesus Christ as their personal savior being aired around the clock, we have established a 24-hour call center, manned by members of the different churches, to receive calls from those wanting to know more about how their life can be changed. A 132-page mini-book has been printed containing 15 powerful testimonies of the life changing power of the gospel message. Every person who contacts the call-center receives a free copy of the book. Once the name, address, telephone number is noted for the person calling, a distribution network is put into action to insure that the caller receives their ‘free’ personal copy of the book within hours, in some cases minutes, of their call. Once the book has been delivered, within no more than 4 (four) days, personal contact with this person will be made by one of the follow-up committee workers. From there starts the discipleship process with the caller.
Please pray for the harvest of souls to be realized in the city of Capiatá in the month of April.
Please pray for the discipleship process that will go on for several weeks.
Blessings – Jerry and Connie.