Winning more battles than we’re losing

One way we like to measure spiritual growth is to ask the question,

“Are you winning more battles than you were losing at this time last year?”

This question helps to put the sanctification process in perspective for the leader/mentor and his disciple.

For many years we struggled with getting our church people to do more than just say “hello” to our new people. We taught and showed them over and over that they need to engage in conversation and show interest in them as people. This was a frustration for us at worship services as well as at church events.

Finally, something clicked.

During the past several months the church has seen more and more visitors who found us on the internet. Literally, every week total strangers show up at our services. Normally, they would walk in the front door, receive a customary kiss on the cheek with a “Hello, how are you?” from a handful of church folks, and then sit down. Alone.

However, that is not happening anymore! Our people are stepping out of their comfort zone to engage with visitors and new people. Ladies are going with the moms to take their children to their classes. The youth are inviting the new youth to go play ping-pong after the service. They are exchanging phone numbers and then communicating during the week.

On Friday we had our second “annual” Good Friday church picnic. (I’m not sure how many consecutive years you need to do something for it to be called an “annual” event.)

Last year, most of the church youth made an effort to reach out to the visitors… until they didn’t. Many got tired or bored of the attempt and decided to play games, to the exclusion of everyone else.

This year was a totally different story. All day long the youth included the new kids, the shy ones, the introverts, the not-so-athletic ones… The adults, as well, stepped out of their comfort zones to get to know the new people. They were ministering to others with an eternal perspective. They demonstrated that they have a better grasp of how to shepherd someone’s soul much better than they did last year.

So, is this Disciple-Making church winning more battles than they were losing at this time last year? Are they engaging with new folks better than they were at this time last year?  Are they growing to become more like Christ? From the evidence, it would be safe to say, “Yes!”

4-winning-more-battles

Renovation Realities

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.

2014-08-03 ibip 015

 

See, here is water…

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Acts 8:35-37)

We had a wonderful baptismal service this Sunday! What a blessed sight to see five believers follow the Lord in believer’s baptism!  It was a terrific opportunity to share the Gospel with their unsaved family and friends as well.

MonicaMonica was invited to our church by her cousins, but none of her immediate family is saved. Most of them were there on Sunday morning and heard the Gospel.

Ruben

 Ruben was saved while listening to a Christian radio station, Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN) earlier this year.  We are excited about what the Lord is going to do with his life. He is taking a hermaneutics class with James and feels called into the ministry.

Sabrina

Sabrina trusted Christ about a month after her husband, Ruben, did through his testimony and influence.

Nicolas

 Nicolas is a godly young man and the son of one of our deacons. While taking the new members’ class, he realized that he had not been baptized after his conversion. So, that’s what he did!

Diego

Diego and his wife, Karina, actually took the new members’ class and joined back in June (the middle of our winter here). However, we needed to wait for warmer weather for him to be baptized!  We praise the Lord for the growth we’ve seen in this sweet family.

AV crewSince it was raining, everyone had to crowd in the back patio to watch. However, the AV crew (Jaden with the video camera and Amy with the digital camera), braved the weather with their umbrellas!

No one let the wet weather dampen the spirit, though!  God is working in and through the body of believers in a marvelous way.  Souls are being saved, people are joining the church, and believers are being edified.  To GOD be the glory!  “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:7) 

Motivated Learners

“For learning to take place with any kind of efficiency students must be motivated.

To be motivated, they must become interested.

And they become interested when they are actively working on projects which they can relate to their values and goals in life.”

– Gus Tuberville, President, William Penn College

For the first time in the history of our church, we offered a Bible college-level class for the benefit of every one age 12 and up. Dr. Fred Moritz (Baptist World Mission Executive Director Emeritus) taught four days (10 hours) on theology of prayer and one day (2.5 hours) on theology of worship.

We are thrilled to report that the average attendance of the class was 32, over two-thirds of whom were from our church and the remaining were visitors from the community or from other Baptist churches. The class was extremely well received and we believe it will have a lasting impact on the lives of the believers for years to come.

Dr. Moritz teaching through an interpreter

Judy Moritz ministered to the ladies at a ladies’ meeting on Saturday afternoon. She also helped prepare and serve food every night of the class as well as supervise the children during class time.

We are so thankful for the sacrifice of Dr. and Mrs. Moritz to come down to Argentina to minister in Pilar. Their ministry to us personally was priceless to this missionary family! The encouragement, godly counsel, and wisdom we gleaned from this remarkable couple was invaluable and particularly timely.

Happy 2nd Anniversary IBIP!

Happy 2nd anniversary to Iglesia Bautista Independiente del Pilar!

Our hearts are overwhelmed as we reflect on God’s goodness in the life of this church body.  Every face you see here represents a life that has been changed in some way by God’s amazing grace.  Watch a video summary here.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/39603017]

The Lord blessed our special anniversary services with about 25 visitors among the three days.  Our people invited friends, family, and co-workers.  They made phone calls, passed out invitations to strangers, and certainly did their part.  Though we saw no immediate fruit in the way of salvation decisions, we did see God work through the preaching of His Word.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the two new believers James baptized.  Delia was saved in our church just over a year ago, while Jaime was saved a few years ago while still living in Peru. They were both discipled and then married in our church as well.  They finished the new members’ class last week and then followed the Lord in believer’s baptism.

Missions Conference Answered Prayers!

We are praising God for working in a mighty way over the past several days!

Our special speakers, Pastor Brent and Shelli Armstrong, from Tucson Baptist Temple, were supposed to arrive Wednesday morning. We had planned for them to share their testimonies with our church people on Wednesday night during the mid-week service. However, they were delayed by 24 hours due to a mechanical failure with their plane. Everyone showed up on Wednesday evening expecting to get to meet our special speaker, but God had other plans! James explained what had happened and then asked that we all just pray, one by one, for the conference. As a church body we literally cried out to God, begging Him to work in our hearts through the preaching of His Word and for souls to be saved. After an hour and a half we had to quit because it was getting late, but those who didn’t have young children probably could have stayed for at least another hour.

On Thursday morning we picked up the Armstrong’s from the airport and allowed them to rest up after their extended trip. (You can read about their journey on Pastor Armstrong’s blog.)

Why are YOU Having a Missions Conference?

Several folks have asked why a church plant in a foreign field would have a missions conference. That’s a good question. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is given to EVERY believer, not just those in the USA. However, the focus of this conference was a bit different than the average missions conference in the States. The focus here was mostly on answering God’s call to serve Him full-time rather than supporting missionaries (but we’ll get to that soon!). God answered prayer and greatly worked through the preaching. One couple approached us after the first night saying, “We’re willing to do whatever God wants us to…where do we start?” Amen! There was a good turn-out among the members at the meetings Friday through Sunday.

Evangelistic Opportunities

On Friday afternoon we had an evangelistic ladies meeting. There were 10 visitors, one of whom trusted Christ! She is already scheduled to begin Basics for Believers with one our members.

On Saturday afternoon we had a men’s cook-out. There were at least 6 men visiting, one of whom was one of our neighbors!

On Monday evening we held a Business Ethics seminar. Because Pastor Armstrong was a successful businessman before going into the ministry, we wanted to use that as an outreach tool. It was advertised on the radio and open to the community, so honestly, we had no idea if there would be 5 or 50 people there. Actually, there were over 30 adults! The response was phenomenal. People were blown away by the concepts and Biblical principles presented.

This family brought a total of 11 first-time visitors during the week! Please pray for us as we follow up on those who need a visit.

Hearts Overflowing with Thanksgiving

We are so thankful for the ministry of Pastor and Shelli. They were a tremendous encouragement to us personally and in the ministry. They were a blessing to our church folks in their speaking and with their examples. We thank God for the work He did through their visit to Argentina. (You can read their summary of their trip here.) Thank you to the folks at TBT for lending us your pastor and pastor’s wife for a week! We look forward to reporting more of the fruit of this trip in the near future!

By His grace alone,

James and Amy Greenwood

Ministry of the MBBC Mission Team

On Friday night we were privileged to have a summer mission team from Maranatha Baptist Bible College minister in our church.  This is the fourth year in a row they have visited Argentina, and every year they get to see a new stage in the growth of the church plant in Pilar.  In May 2008, we rented a meeting hall and their sacred concert was the very first event we hosted in Pilar.  In other words, it was through their ministry that this church plant first took root in Pilar.  From that time, they’ve seen our building and ministry expand through God’s rich blessings.

Click here to see a video of part of their 2009 visit when they held a sacred concert at the music school our children were attending at the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL-eH_otFx4.  

In preparation for this evangelistic event, the church went out canvassing on Sunday afternoon.  FORTY folks showed up to pass out invitations and tracts!  Needless to say, we canvassed the city center in a short time!

As usual, no one showed up because of an invitation they were given on the street.  However, God blessed those efforts and the compassion for souls our church people demonstrated when 25 visitors came streaming through the door!  Some came because of a radio announcement, but most came as a guest of a church member.  The mission team had to sit on the back patio during the preaching because it was a full house inside!

Although we know of no salvation decisions made that night, many were dealt with about other issues, several promised they would be back on Sunday or Wednesday, and others requested a visit.  Please pray with us as we follow up on each of these.

2011 Argentina Mission Team

God’s Grace and Goodness at Work

Way back in our February prayer letter, we recounted the following story:

Several weeks ago, Pastor Schmidt (our furlough replacement missionary) began to invite the men of the church to come to the Sunday morning service early in order to pray for souls to be saved and the church to grow. (It’s one thing to ask a Latin to be on time, but arrive early?!?) Well, the first Sunday there were nine men, and then it grew to 16, and then 28 men!

This past Sunday they finished praying and began the service. Two first-time visitors, a couple, came in and sat down. At the time of the invitation, the lady trusted Christ!  They later said that they had been walking around town that very morning looking for a church. They found nothing, so were on their way back to the bus station when they passed our building and heard the congregation singing hymns. It’s times like this when you know it’s all God’s work, and we just need to remain faithful.

Jaime and Delia

Jaime grew up as an orphan on the streets of Peru, got saved at 18 years old through some folks witnessing on the street corner, and God continued to bring Christians in his life along the way. He and Delia moved to Argentina to look for work. They were unchurched, but God was working in Jaime’s heart. One night he was scrolling through radio stations and came across Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN). He began to listen every single night, and God placed a desire in his heart to look for a church with the same teaching. That’s when they “stumbled” upon our church. They didn’t even realize until they finally took the time to read through our welcome packet later in the week that we are a supporter of BBN and vice versa. That was the deal maker for them!

Since February, they have continued to attend church faithfully, bringing new visitors all the time! They have led several of their family members and neighbors to the Lord! Even today, they brought a neighbor, Daniel, who was just released from prison, and his wife, Luisa. Apparently Daniel got saved while in jail. However, today was the day the angels were to rejoice over Luisa’s decision to trust Christ as her Savior!

One important and essential component in Jaime and Delia’s phenomenal spiritual growth is discipleship. Church members Ramon and Liliana meet with them weekly to study Basics for Believers. They even invite people to their home to participate in the study!  This is the JOY in missions and ministry!

Ramon, Jaime, Delia, and Liliana

God’s Miracle of Grace

Right at three years ago we rented a little building in the city center of Pilar and invited all 20 people on our contact list to a “meet and greet” event. This landmark event would be the first step toward planting our first church and the first ever independent Baptist church in the area. At that event we met Fabio. He had been led to the Lord over the phone by a friend. He was hungry for the Word and faithful to attend the weekly Bible studies in those initial months.

James with Fabio at the Meet and Greet, August 6, 2008

As a new believer, Fabio naturally had struggles in his life. We met with him and his wife many times for counseling, but they both eventually gave up and stopped coming to church all together. The Lord didn’t give up on them, though! They came back with a desire to get right with God. This time, however, others in the church took Fabio and Carina under their wing. They patiently worked with them,encouraged them, discipled them, and even rebuked them when necessary. We rejoice in the fact that they are now growing like never before, applying God’s Word to their lives, home, and marriage. They also recently successfully completed our new members class. So today, we give God the glory for the miracle He’s worked in their lives and the miracle He’s brought into their lives, baby Matias Emanuel.

Fabio, Carina, and Matias Emanuel (“God with us”), July 16, 2011

January 2011 Prayer Letter

Rehearsing What God Has Done

December is typically slow for meetings, but nothing seems to slow down for this family!  We reported to five churches and had two other special meetings, besides all the typical Christmas activities! One of those churches, Calvary Baptist in Gray, Georgia, is a small rural church, but bursting at the seams in their love for God and missions. They gave us a generous Christmas love offering toward the land fund for building a church building in Pilar. Thank you!

Another church’s youth group collected an offering which is going toward summer camp scholarships.  Eight teens will receive help, so they will be able to go to camp.  Thank you for your generosity!

The majority of our other love offerings from meetings has gone to make up for the deficit of being under supported.  Please pray for God to provide the remaining eight percent of our support as we return to the field in February.  He has been faithful to provide so far, and we are confident He will continue to equip us to do the work to which He has called us!

Good News from a Far Country

God continues to bless the ministry in Pilar under the leadership of Pastor and Mrs. Schmidt. The Sunday morning attendance is maintaining an average of 65; there was a record of 40 at the annual Christmas Eve service; and 11 teens are signed up for summer camp so far.  Pastor Schmidt invited the men to come early to pray with him before the service last week, and nine showed up!

The Schmidts have been in the ministry for many more years than we have, so we are trying to observe them (from a distance) and learn from their godly examples.  They serve joyfully and make the ministry of the church their first priority.

One of the most encouraging reports we’ve heard is that one of the laymen, Benjamin, has begun a Bible study for married couples, with four couples attending.  James has worked one-on-one with Benjamin for two years, and this is the first time he has shown this kind of initiative.  Please pray that the Argentine men will respond to God’s call to be leaders in the church. As one pastor put it, “I do not believe the problem is God’s silence; I believe the problem is a deafness to the call or an unwillingness to respond.”  (Bud Calvert, God’s Passion).

Reversing Roles

It’s been an interesting balancing act to stay focused on stateside ministry while keeping up with the needs on the field. Our neighbors, friends, and church members–Alejandro and Andrea Quaglia –have been vital to us during this time.  Since they also speak English, they have helped with issues with our house, translated for the Schmidts, and jumped in to help any way they can at church.

With mixed emotions, we will have to say goodbye to this sweet family in March when Alejandro’s company transfers him to Miami, Florida.  We did get to take a few days to see them in Miami while they were taking a survey trip. We got to help them look for a house and learn about our American culture.  They immediately found an excellent church and Christian school, First Baptist Church of Westwood Lake.  We are so excited for the opportunities ahead for them, especially for the children’s education. Please pray for the Lord to fill the gap where they had been serving in the church, as well as their fellowship with us as dear friends.

 

December Outreach

We’ve been through a tough few weeks lately with Satan trying to oppose us on every side. However, GOD received the victory and glory today!

This morning a sweet family (Adrian, Sarah, and their two little girls) visited the church for the first time. They attend another church, but after the wife began listening to BBN radio (Bible Broadcasting Network), she realized that they needed to find a church with similar doctrine and teaching. After the service, James sat down with the couple and realized the husband had never trusted Christ. After thoroughly explaining the Gospel to him, Adrian placed his trust in Christ!
This evening was our monthly evangelistic outreach. We try to do something a little different each month. Since it fell close to Christmas we put together a program of music and Scriptures called “From the Manger to the Cross,” telling the story of Jesus’ birth, death, burial and resurrection. Several played instruments, sang, or read Scripture. There was a total of 51 present, including our children’s piano teacher, Marina. Please pray for her salvation.
We collected the Christmas love offering today, which will go toward fixing the floors in the church to make them uniform and installing the air conditioning. Praise the Lord our little church gave above and beyond our expectations! We look forward to completing these projects very soon!

First Home Bible Study

Tonight we held our first home Bible study. There were three other families who came – the Quaglia’s, Martinez-Ferro’s, and Palma’s. We had a great study together about the purpose of a local church (the introduction to our doctrines study).

The kids entertained themselves jumping on the trampoline, coloring, and eating snacks. We are thankful that the Lord gave us a house where we could host these studies (rain or shine).

We all invited various unsaved families, but none of them could make it for one reason or another. Please pray for our next study (March 21), that we would have at least one unsaved couple. If so, we will study “The Ultimate Questions” of life. (James is prepared with two lessons – one evangelistic and one for believers.)

RECORD ATTENDANCE!!

Almost 7 months ago, we held our first Wednesday night Bible study in Pilar with an average of 12-15. Tonight there were 31 believers!! (None were visiting from other churches.) God is good!


There is a great need to begin Sunday services with this group. Tonight we took a vote and the majority stated Sunday mornings would work better than Sunday night. Since we have not been able to move forward on a larger location, we will make the best with what we have. We will keep looking, and trust God to continue leading there.


Since we have no classroom space, the big kids usually sit in the study, some sit at this table in the back and “quietly” color, and the littlest ones just run around while their parents attempt to keep them quiet. One family lives only two blocks away, so we have asked them to pray about allowing us to use their garage for children’s church during the Sunday service. Please pray that will work out, so that it will benefit all involved.

James’ Grandpa’s Funeral – Answered Prayer!

God gave James and his family beautiful weather for the graveside service to bury his grandfather on Monday. Our all-powerful God, who controls all things, held off the snow! There were between 80 and 100 people at the service, many of whom were unsaved family and business contacts from the Sedona area.

God also gave James clarity as he shared of the eternal hope in Jesus Christ. He thoroughly presented the Gospel and one lady indicated that she trusted Christ that day!

Thank you for praying. To God be the glory!