What started out as a small Bible study in 2008, grew into a church in 2010, and seven years later we marvel at how God continues to work in and through this body of believers to reach Pilar for Christ. Members are growing spiritually and going out and witnessing to their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and there are unsaved visitors every week at church. In the past month, three folks have trusted Christ and are now being discipled. Sunday morning attendance has been at an all-time high. Those numbers are a mere reflection of what the LORD is doing in this church.
Our theme for this year is, “Each one Reach one. Each one Lead one. Each one Follow one. Each one Take one.” The idea is that every believer is actively involved evangelizing, mentoring, being mentored and taking at least one Bible institute class per year. The response has been amazing! Men, women and teens are doing just that! One of the beautiful things about this is how God is taking broken people and using them for His honor and glory in ways none of us ever imagined.
One way we are equipping our people to disciple others is by going through the Foundations book all together in our Sunday morning discipleship hour. In 12 weeks, the 60 people taking this class will be familiar with the material enough to be prepared to teach it to someone else. Please pray as we “prepare the nursery,” so to speak, to receive new converts.
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!
November has been another busy month of traveling, but an encouraging one! At our fifth and final missions conference in Huntsville, Alabama, we heard Pastor Tim Potter speak on becoming a disciple-making church. The two sessions that we heard him were so encouraging that we made plans to attend a full two-day ARCH Ministries conference on the subject. The Lord provided the time and finances for both of us to go, and it was a tremendous blessing. The emphasis on all the members of the church taking ownership of their biblical responsibility to make disciples is precisely the next step of the church planting process in Pilar. Praise the Lord for this biblical wisdom at just the perfect time! Pray for us as we begin to teach this and implement some changes in Pilar in 2017.
Our hearts are overflowing with joy at all the good reports from the folks back in Pilar! Men’s and ladies’ discipleship continues to go strong, five men just went on a construction missions trip to another province, the missionary intern is teach several music classes and there seems to be a good spirit among the people. To God be the glory!
Update from Lauren
“I had an amazing experience in the jungles of Peru, where I learned so much about clinical terms and procedures, medical missions, the power of prayer and, most importantly, about God and His redeeming love and power! On this trip I was given opportunities to work alongside different doctors and nurses who were so patient to teach me. This experience certainly confirmed my call to medical missions and has lit a fire in me to achieve that goal, in God’s strength. In May of next year I am praying to be able to return to Peru, this time to the Cuzco area, with Operation Renewed Hope and participate in another medical missions trip. I was definitely left with a great burden for Peru! I am now more excited than ever about going to Maranatha Baptist University in 2018 to begin my training in the field of nursing so that I may be fully equipped to reach people physically, in order to be able to then reach their more important spiritual need. Please pray that I would stay moldable to His perfect will.” — Lauren Greenwood
A time to break down, and a time to build up
Sixteen teens and six sponsors from Faith Baptist (Taylors, SC) left a remarkable and lasting impression during their ten days in Buenos Aires. They stayed busy tirelessly helping with our teen leadership retreat, passing out over 7,000 tracts and VBS flyers, working our winter VBS and demolishing most of what was left of the old building. While they did some tearing down, they also built up our community, church body and us personally. We thank the Lord for their very encouraging visit. Please come back anytime!
Despite the rain and cold at the beginning of the week, the Lord brought more and more kids each day of VBS. One of our ladies brought up to 30 kids all by herself on the city bus! (Praise the Lord, the bus driver only charged her for two fares each time!) Six children made professions of faith during the week. The ladies also had a craft table to encourage the mothers to stay. One of those ladies trusted Christ on Sunday morning!
Going out with a splash
On the last Sunday of this term, we had the incredible blessing of baptizing 11 new believers and adding 11 new members to the church body! It was a glimpse of what our heavenly reward will be like as we heard each one’s testimony, how they were saved and discipled through the faithfulness of our church folks.
But continue thou…
We thank the Lord for the capable leadership God has blessed us with three deacons, as well as missionary intern, Adriano dos Santos Silva, to preach and serve in our absence. Please pray for the spiritual protection of the leadership team and the flock in their charge during our time away.
“It’s Bible Time!” shouted all the kids in response to the Neighborhood Bible Time evangelist’s question.
For five days, between 33 and 46 children, along with many of their parents, heard a clear presentation of the Gospel at our Bible Time rallies. Seven of those children responded by making a salvation decision. While in the evening, between 15 and 25 teens heard solid preaching, and four of them trusted Christ as Savior.
Since the church is under construction, we held the rallies at an events center in a shopping complex nearby and saw many visitors. Please pray as we follow-up with these new contacts.
For several months now, James has been holding home Bible studies in Duggan (a rural town about an hour north of Pilar) on a weekday afternoon. Some have trusted Christ through these meetings, while others are still attending and listening. We sense God’s leading to move these meetings to every other Sunday evening, one step closer to a church plant. There are several men from the church in Pilar who will be going out and helping with the Sunday meetings. So, actually, the reason for the move to Sundays is two-fold: hold the meeting at a time more conducive for people’s work schedules and give our men opportunities to minister. Please pray the Lord would give much fruit in the town of Duggan and this would help our men to develop their preaching abilities.