Greetings from Paraguay!
January is the month that we celebrate our arrival in Paraguay… January 13, 2017, we completed 24 years! Thinking back, we were so excited and nervous about setting out on a new adventure that would take us to a little country in the heart of South America. In looking at the globe, we would be heading to the other side of the world! We smile now as we remember, while fundraising, a man came up to us and asked if we thought it was ‘wise’ to become missionaries ‘at our ages’… we were in our mid-forties! Wise or not, we sold or gave everything away, packed our bags and flew to join J.D. and Merri Weber in Paraguay. Our years here have been adventurous, to say the least… both positively and negatively. The ‘hardest part’ is being so far from our family and friends and always having to say ‘good-bye’. The ‘best part’ is seeing the hearts and lives of people being changed as they experience the Word of God. It is with continued hope, hard work and confidence that, as we enter 2017, God has good things in store for Paraguay!
**A special thank-you to our 2016 Church and Ministry Teams: every January it is our custom to honor the men, women and children that gave of their time throughout the year, serving in whatever capacity. Names were announced, certificates handed out to each and every one during applause and shouts of congratulations… it was an exciting time! During 2016, there was an average of 180 to 200 people attending the church services. Out of this group, there were 117 individuals that volunteered their time in all areas of the ministry! We are so proud of this group and know that we will have more willing hands and hearts as the CEB Church body continues to grow!
**The Hola Club Children’s Hospital:
During the month of January, we visited the Children’s Hospital 4 times, sharing and praying with 367 parents and children, with 175 choosing to pray the prayer of salvation!
Testimony: *Aurora is a person who never meets a stranger! Her friendly smile and a ready ‘HOLA’ seem to light the way before her as she enters the hospital rooms. Rubbing their little hands, patting their heads, Aurora prays prayers of faith, speaking healing to each child. Then, with compassion, she focuses her love on the parents and before they know it, they are praying and receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior! In her excitement, Aurora was telling her sisters about our work in the children’s hospital. The sisters were so impressed that they decided that they wanted to visit the church that did this kind of work. It was a pleasure to meet Felicita and Gloria, and we expect to see them often!
Join us in thanking God for the joy and contenment that is experienced as we reach out in love to the parents and children. This year we have six volunteers: Dolia, Dominica, María, Celeste, Aurora and Bette. Please pray for the protection and blessing of these brave ladies!
* Sunday School Department: Last month we shared about ‘shaking’ the Sunday School Department with new programs designed to motivate the children and youth into action! Well, the new programs have started and the results are exciting!
ONE EXAMPLE IS THE WEDNESDAY KID’S NIGHT, where the children direct every aspect of the Ladies Wednesday Night service once a month. Two teenage girls (Claudia & Araceli) oversee the scheduling of children of all ages to greet, receive the offering, read Bible verses, pray, sing and preach. Their first service was outstanding! There were 12 children that ministered in one way or the other (even a three-year-old sang a song!) …with a line of others waiting to sign up for the future months!
Sebastian, 12 years old, asked to ‘preach’ … and that he did! He taught on: ‘Your Mouth and Your Words’. Later he told his grandmother that one of the mothers came to him to thank him for his sermon. God had touched her heart and she realized that she needed to change the way she spoke to her children. Praise God!
A SECOND CHILDREN’S PROGRAM THAT HAD ITS DEBUT IS THE ‘BIBLE VIDEO SUNDAY’. Three teens, Romina, Natalie and Abel are directing this program, under the watchful eye of Abel’s father, Martín. The last Sunday of January, 26-children gathered to watch the Bible video and join in the fun of answering the questions provided at the end of the movie. It is rewarding to see the teens ‘gather up their confidence’ and step out to minister!
We will keep you informed as the special events of the other new programs are presented!
Please join us in thanking God for stirring up the hearts of the children and youth. Also, pray that the excitement and joy of ministering before God continues and grows throughout the year.
2017 brings with it new challenges with construction projects. Immediate projects are: classroom space for the children and youth groups – 25-year old sound system replacement – concrete floor to be installed in the meeting area – 10-year-old security fence replacement with permanent enclosure – the list goes on. Please pray that 2017 will be the year to accomplish these much-needed projects.
On February 7, the Living Water Teaching – Paraguay Bible Institute (IBCEB) will commence its 2017 classes – 2017 will be the 25th year that IBCEB has been in continuous operation. Over the last few years the different levels of Bible Studies have been held in the local church and associate churches, as well as in the prison ministry. This coupled with the different seminars that are offered covering topics such as Ministry of Helps, Church Leaderships, etc., we find this ministry to still be a viable and integral part of our outreach.
Please pray that God-inspired teachers, with a call in their heart to reach out to their fellow Paraguayans, will answer this call in preparing future leaders in the church.
Blessings – Jerry and Connie.