2016 began in a pressure cooker! Working long hours in the scorching South American summer heat, we were pressured to get the new church building ready in time for the April 1 deadline. God continued to provide the health, strength, labor and funds necessary to make that goal in just 13 months, with only volunteers laboring Saturdays, holidays and days off! To God be the glory! See pictures here.
The men in our church who work in the construction trade observed that our volunteer crew would accomplish more on a given Saturday than most eight-man crews on a job site get done in a five-day work week!
Before the building could be dedicated on April 1, we saw the dedication of many Argentine church folks and Stateside supporters with the donation of their time, labor and offerings. Thank you, once again, to all those who gave toward this project. See pictures here.
One of the men dedicated to the completion of the project also proved to be dedicated to the Lord for ministry. We were able to leave Benjamin in charge of the church plant, along with the other two deacons and a missionary intern, while we began a six-month furlough. We departed Argentina on August 4 and look forward to returning January 31 of next year. We have visited 17 churches so far, including five missions conferences. See our furlough video here.
With a renewed burden for biblical disciple making, we head back to the field eager for the next phase of ministry. During this next term, we will go through the process of handing over this church to national leadership while preparing a detailed plan for the next church plant, which should include a Christian preschool. Please pray for wisdom!
Would you like to take a virtual tour of the new church building to see how God has provided for this project? Here is a video so you can do just that! This video also explains the projects that are still left to accomplish before our furlough beginning August 4.
This past week, we presented the following list before our church to ask for folks to sponsor projects. Their commitments and/or donations are reflected in the “Amount Given” column below. At an exchange rate of $14 pesos to US $1, that is a substantial amount!
If the Lord is leading you or your church to sponsor one of these projects, you may send a check to Baptist World Mission marked “Greenwood Church Land Fund.”
In the short six-year history of the Pilar church, we have had the heartbreaking experience of having to discipline several members at different times for various reasons. Our desire is that those people would repent and seek restoration, but that rarely happens. This past year we asked you to pray for a former deacon who was one of those disciplined. With much tears and rejoicing, he has repented and returned to his family and the church. Praise God! Pray for him and his family as they seek to regain trust and establish new habits in the home.
Praise the Lord that He has provided housing near our sending church during furlough! We are also working with a ministry to purchase a mini-van. We will arrive in the States on August 5, yet there is so much to do before then— building projects, a teen missions team from Faith Baptist in Taylors, South Carolina, packing up our house to make room for Brazilian missionaries who will be staying here and all the other details you can imagine if you were to leave the country for six months. Please pray for the Lord to help us accomplish these things and for His continued provision while we are in the States.
It all started in 2012 in an awkward storefront, with a vision and a goal of saving for an ample piece of property in a central location. Two years later, the land was purchased and two years after that, the church has a new building with room for growth. God does indeed pay for what He orders! We thank God for His provision and protection, as well as His strength to sustain us during the past four years of this process.
Building Inauguration Sunday
See photos of the event here.
See a six-minute video here.
Many of you played an important part in this process, whether it was praying, giving and/or coming down with a work team. Thank you for being an instrument for His glory. Just a few weeks before the inauguration, one more work team came down to help install the dry wall. Six adults from Calvary Baptist Church (Winter Garden, Florida), as well as James’ brother from South Carolina, gave the project that final push toward completion so we could be ready for the big day.
One year ago this month, the church building plans were approved and we began construction. (See photos here.) In that time period, God has provided the funds and volunteer labor to get to this point. He has sent offerings from churches and individuals in the States, as well as from our church family here in Pilar. Three mission teams have joyfully donated their time and labor, with a fourth team arriving next week. Our church people have sacrificially given almost every Saturday and holiday over the past year in order to dig holes, pour concrete, lay block, cook lunch for the workers, clean up construction debris and whatever else needs to be done. For all these things, we give all the honor and praise to our great God!
Not meaning to sound trite, but so much has happened since our last prayer letter. That explains why we haven’t sent more updates – because of a demanding and exhausting schedule! (We will try to do better in the future!) Since January, the Lord has provided the funds, labor and health to install the sheet metal on the roof, move the auditorium upstairs, demolish the old building downstairs, install the sub-floor and begin laying the mosaic tile.
God continues to amaze us with how He is working and protecting us even in the smallest details. For example, the weekend that we moved upstairs, scaffolding fell on top of two of our men, someone tried to break into the cars in the parking lot and a tree branch broke, falling on our power lines and landing in the parking area. In all of those things, the Lord protected our people and property.
Please pray that God would continue to mightily work through the following:
- March 11-16 – Mission team from Calvary Baptist in Winter Garden, Florida here to install drywall
- April 1-3 – Special Inauguration services, with our home pastor, Travis Smith, preaching
A.ma.zing! An awesome work crew showed up and let out all their frustrations with sledge hammers on the old building’s concrete walls! In two days they got all the walls down and a large section of sub-floor leveled and poured. God is good!
Recycling at its best – We used the material from the walls we demolished as filler for the sub-floor
Getting started on the subfloor
Our goal was to move upstairs to the finished (or at least usable) part of the new building by the first Sunday in February. Praise the Lord He enabled us to do just that! This is the first Sunday in the history of the church in an auditorium without an awkward layout or obstructions. Praising God for His faithfulness, provision and protection.