Greetings from Paraguay!
April is the month in which all of Paraguay stopped to celebrate the ‘Holy Week’. Most businesses close their doors on Thursday thru Sunday, giving their employees opportunity to travel interior. The different neighborhood Catholic chapels decorate and have ‘candle parades’, being led by their priest carrying a statue of Mother Mary and/or Jesus on the cross. Thursday and Friday there is very little activity in the streets and NO loud noises.
It is the tradition for the Paraguayan families to gather together on Wednesday or even Thursday to make their ‘chipa’ (a dry type of ‘shaped biscuit’, made with cheese and cornmeal). This becomes the main food to be eaten during the Holy Week. Thursday the families gather to prepare a large meal, symbolizing the ‘The Last Supper’. Friday everyone stays close to home, honoring the death of Jesus on the cross. The quietness continues thru Saturday. Sad to say, come Sunday morning all is back to normal filled with activity, drinking and disco-dancing.
The Evangelical Churches follow many of the family traditions. There are special church services to remember and celebrate the different historic events…with one great difference, WE CELEBRATE THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS! We are so thankful for the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which gives us hope, joy and eternal life!
(A SIDE NOTE: a friend in the church sent us these pictures of their family’s ‘Last Supper’ preparations. When there is no beef, chicken or fish, you use what’s available to celebrate, accompanied by Paraguayan ’sopa’, a type of cornbread. We must admit, we were thankful that we were not invited to this celebration!)
**The Hola Club Children’s Hospital:
During the month of April, we visited the Children’s Hospital 2 times, sharing and praying with 233 parents and children, with 72 people choosing to pray the prayer of salvation!
*I, Connie, am always amazed at the different responses of the people to the Word of God. With some of the parents, the words just flow as they focus their eyes on you and absorb it all. With the next person it can be hard to tell if they are even listening. Sometimes we ‘mentally’ decide that ‘this person is going to reject what I am saying’, but to our amazement they choose to pray the prayer of salvation! Not often, but there are a few that just shake their heads, give us a piece of their minds and/or just walk away. At these times it is difficult not to take the rejection pesonally remembering that: we are just planting the seeds, God is the One who prepares the soil… each seed producing in it’s season!
*After praying for a child, a mother quickly ask: ‘What did you just pray?’ I, Connie, was a bit taken back and it must have shown, because she said: ‘I want to know so I can pray the same thing over my child!’ I told her that it was hard for me to explain completely in Spanish, but I would pray slowly once again so that she could hear. So… once again, I laid my hands on her precious son, thanking Father God for his life and plan that He has for the boy; asking God to touch and heal the boy and to give His angels charge over him. I asked that God give the doctors and nurses supernatural wisdom to treat each and every situation. I commanded the sickness to leave and his body to receive healing. I asked that Father God would give the parents hope and peace knowing that He was present with them… etc. By the time the prayer was finished, the momma was weeping. I explained that, as his mother, she had autority to lift up her son to God in prayer, thru Jesus Christ. When all was said and done, she prayed the prayer of salvation and joined the Family of God and I moved on to the next bed very content!
* After praying for a 12 year old boy and explaining the plan of salvation to his mother, when asked if they would like to pray the prayer of salvation, the son quickly responded ‘YES!’,… his mother hardly had time to open her mouth. Together, as a family, they prayed to receive Jesus!
Join us in thanking God for his love, peace and joy that the children and their parents experience. Pray for continued favor with the Hospital Staff and the guards.
A special prayer request: Pastor Bette is asking prayer for her 4 year old grandson, Max. Max will be receiving a total of 5 weekly shots, starting the last Friday of April. He must be in the hospital, under a doctors care while receiving these injections. It is the hope of the doctor that the injections will correct the child’s problem, if not, he will be scheduled for surgery. Please join us in lifting up little Max, that the results will be positive and he will continue to grow healthy and strong.
ALSO: Today, as I am writing this news update, we have a ‘thank you Father’ and a prayer request. Today the Hola Club ladies and I were on our way to the Children’s Hospital for our weekly visit. We were nearing the stop sign at the highway when a great cloud of black smoke and a clunking sound came from our vehicle. I quickly pulled over and got the ladies out, in case of a fire. Thankfully we were only about and block from the office. Please join us in praying that the repairs will be minimal and done quickly… without transportation it is very difficult to make our weekly visits.
**CEB Bible Institute:
I must admit, doesn’t Connie do a good job in preparing the information for our monthly praise and prayer report? It’s ok, you can applaud her – she deserves it! After she writes the rough draft and sends the information to me (Jerry), I then do the inclusion of pictures and the formatting of the news items. Many times, she has asked me, what do you want to say about this, or that, etc. This month of May 2017, was no exception, she asked: ‘What about the Bible School News?’ My response was: ‘Just leave the section open and I will see what God wants to add’, and, here we are, this is what I feel that God wants us to share:
First, let’s read together Hebrews 6:10, from the Amplified version of the Bible. The verse reads: For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name's sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do.
Please note that there are no ‘numbers’ mentioned in this verse. Just as I have meditated on this verse many times before (a verse widely referred to when talking about the ministry of helping in the church), I heard God say something new to me this time, in my spirit He said: ‘Share the numbers’. My response was: ‘What numbers?’ He responded: ‘The Bible School numbers’. My response: ‘But Lord, the numbers are not large, many others have done a lot more than we have.’ His response: ‘Just share the numbers’. ‘Okay, Lord, here are the numbers’: ‘In the 24 years that we have been in Paraguay we have seen:
An average of four (4) Bible School courses presented each year with an average of 91 students studying each year, requiring 306 hours of classroom teaching each year. In total, we have taught 2,166 in the Bible School by way of over 7,300 hours of classroom time, to which 1,646 have graduated from the different levels of study. Currently we have 26 Paraguayan Bible teachers available to conduct Bible School classes.’
Immediately I heard the Lord ask me in my spirit:
‘Have you labored hard and have you done the best you could do?’
‘Have you ministered my Word in Love?’
‘Have you ministered to the needs of the Paraguayan people?’
To which I quickly responded: ‘Yes Lord, we have.’ God responded by saying:
‘For I am not an unrighteous God to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for My name's sake in ministering to the needs of the Paraguayan saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do.’
* Join us in prayer for the Bible School, praying in agreement Isaiah 55:11 (AMP):
So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
**CFC Prison Ministry:
During April, there was a political demonstration in the City of Asunción, where many young people revolted against the idea of modifying the constitution allowing an elected president to serve more than one term. They set fire to cars, smashed windows and set fire to the Congress Building. During the ‘locura’ (craziness) a young man was shot and killed by a policeman. The policeman charged with the death was Gustavo (23 years old), who was arrested and placed in the Agrupación Especializada Prison. One day Pastor Victor felt the desire to talk personally with Gustavo. Oscar, our prison secretary, received permission and set up the appointment with the young man. Together they visited Gustavo in his cell, where they found a very frightened young man, with no hope for the future. Pastor Victor and Oscar talked with Gustavo about the Bible and Jesus. With tears, Gustavo received Jesus in his heart for the very first time. Now the Christian brothers, that make up the Resurrection Church in the Agrupación Especializada Prison, have taken Gustavo under their wing and are disciplining him in the Word of God. What Satan meant for evil, God is turning into good.
* Join us in thanking God for the salvations. Lift up the Gustavo that he will continue to grow in God’s love and that justice will be done in his case. Pray for Oscar as he works on a daily basis with his fellow inmates.
*April is the month when ‘Teacher’s Day’ is celebrated! This year we have ‘28’ Teachers and Helpers that work in our Sunday school department. We decided to honor them with: ‘special prayer; a certificate; a Bible bookmark and a chocolate bar’, as a small ‘thank you’ for their dedication. We are blessed to have so many actively serving in this area!
* Join us in praying for these and more faithful workers as the CEB Church continues to grow and expand in all areas.
Blessings – Jerry and Connie