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!”

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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.

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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