In July, we had the privilege of hosting Adriano y Josi Silva, future missionaries to Argentina from Brazil. They accompanied James to the home Bible study in San Antonio de Areco (above), where there were several unsaved who heard the Gospel. When James went back the next week, two ladies trusted Christ as Savior! The Bible study hosts and church members, Raul and Lydia, are beginning new believer’s discipleship with them.
We are very excited that another missionary couple, Seth and Lauren Champlin (with Baptist World Mission and based out of South Carolina), has begun deputation and is planning to work with us their first term. Their goal is to finish deputation and go to language school in two years. We are praying to that end as well!
In our last update, we shared with you the huge answer to prayer regarding the property purchase. Thank you for all your replies via email and Facebook, showing your support and to let us know that you are praying. That is extremely encouraging!
Now that the waiting is over, it’s time to get to work! The church folks are putting in many hours renovating the existing structure, so we can begin holding services there on August 10. So far, we have been able to knock down all necessary interior walls, replace the roof and do most of the landscaping. Over this next week, we hope to paint, clean and get set up for Sunday.
Our hearts are full as we write this post, reflecting on God’s provision, protection, guidance and grace over the past few months. God provided the funds to buy the church property. In March that offer was accepted. By God’s grace, after more negotiations and waiting for documents beyond our control, we were able to sign and take possession today, July 29! To God be the glory!
We already started clearing away some of the overgrowth, and have a church workday scheduled for Saturday for the real demolition to begin! Our goal is to get the existing structure usable in order to have services starting August 10. From there, we will begin the process of drawing up plans and pouring the foundation with the hopes of work teams helping with the permanent church building!
Praise the Lord for a great turn out for all the special anniversary services, including two salvation decisions and six people baptized! We are humbled as we step back and watch God work in mighty ways in our midst.
We rejoice not only in salvation decisions, but in marked spiritual growth. We see major changes in quite a few members since our return from furlough (something we certainly can’t take credit for since we weren’t even here!). A few years ago, someone wisely advised us that we should not endeavor in a building project until we had adequate male leadership. In God’s perfect timing, He has provided not only the funds, but also the spiritual leadership to begin the next phase of ministry.
Theme for 2014: Rooted and Grounded in Love
God is giving the increase here in Pilar! On the past three Sundays, we have maxed out our building, with over 75 people. We squeeze more chairs into the auditorium, and the two children’s classes are overflowing. Anyone who knows about church growth will tell you that when a building is even at 80% capacity, people won’t come back because of the discomfort.
In our situation, most of these are not first-time visitors; they are the faithful core, new members, as well as folks who have gotten away the Lord, but now want to get right with God. The leadership (pastor and deacons) is doing their best to keep encouraging and discipling these individuals. Pray for us!
Five new members were voted in on Sunday, with another six to be voted in soon. It is amazing to see their spiritual growth and God’s hand of blessing in the lives of each one as they begin to obey Scripture.
Vision for the Future
Our hearts are burdened as we hear of friends who have no local, Bible-believing church to attend. We are going to make a survey trip to two of those cities; one is in another province about eight hours away, and the other is about an hour’s drive away. Our immediate goal is to encourage the brethren who live there and as the Lord leads, one day send a missionary to start a work. Maybe the Lord would have you to be that man!
After some bittersweet farewells, we hopped on the plane bound for Buenos Aires! God gave us grace through all the hurdles of customs and typical traveling trials. The Crowders greeted us at the airport, and James was excited to get behind the wheel of his manual transmission to maneuver through big city traffic again. We honestly felt like we had been gone 5 days instead of 5 months in the sense of feeling “at home” in our surroundings right away.
James and the deacons had a debriefing meeting to discuss what they had learned during our absence as well as to plan out the year. We met five new people on Sunday who have begun attending since we’ve left. We are excited to see how God will continue to work.
We praise the Lord for the ministry of Roger and Sharon Crowder during our furlough. They took excellent care of our house and the ministry. Many church folks gave testimonies of how their example has impacted them. One resounding message we heard was, “I want to finish my life well as they are doing. Instead of retiring and putting my feet up, I want to keep working for the Lord as long as I am physically able.” They allowed God to work through them to encourage the spiritual leaders to even greater service. We hope and pray that the fire they kindled will lead to God calling a man to be the permanent pastor of this work.
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from sunny Florida where temperatures and gas prices just keep rising! We are in our last month of a 5½ month furlough here in the States. The Lord has been so good to provide above and beyond all we could ask or think – rent-free housing, a mini-van for $1, good friends for our children, encouraging fellowship at furlough meetings and many other blessings along the journey. We have been able to catch up with most of our family and many old friends, but sadly our short time here does not permit us to see everyone!
Twenty thirteen has been an exciting year for our family (well, actually, I don’t think we’ve ever had a boring or uneventful year!). Our teenagers went to three different summer camps in three different countries—Argentina, Uruguay, and the WILDS of North Carolina. The kids completed all of their schoolwork in 6 months (February–July) in order to be free for other opportunities during furlough. They have had a great time seeing their friends, participating in Bible Quiz Team at Hillsdale, doing various odd jobs, and, of course, traveling all around the Southeast with their parents.
Yes, our furlough meetings kept us only in the Southeast this time. Our omniscient God knew well before we did that Amy’s back problems would not permit her to travel to points beyond. Please pray that the cervical disc decompression surgery planned for the end of January would give her relief from her pain and that we would find a good physical therapist in Pilar, Argentina to help with the other issues. Staying close to home has also permitted us to spend more time at our home church, and they have received us with open arms. James has enjoyed completing carpentry projects at the church and for others in the Tampa area…keeping those skills and tools sharpened for what’s to come…
Looking ahead to 2014, we are excited to see how God will continue to work. Our hope and prayer is to buy property for the church, do some remodeling on the existing structure, move in and then begin the task of building a more permanent church building with the help of church members and work teams. We would love to have volunteers come down to help for a week in trade for some succulent steak and delicious ice cream!
The true joy of Christmas is in the everlasting and sacrificial love of Christ who left His heavenly throne to die on the cross to save us from our sin. We wish you a joyous Christmas and His rich blessings in the coming New Year as you seek to serve Him.
By His grace alone,
Jaden, Lauren and Josiah Greenwood