This is the LORD’S doing…

“This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).

2014-12-07 bautismo 115 With more joy than words can describe, James had the privilege of baptizing ten believers this Sunday! I believe all of the adults were saved just this year, while most of the children were practically raised at this church, trusting Christ at home with their parents or in a children’s class.

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While many more have made salvation decisions in 2014, a total of 15 have followed Christ in believer’s baptism.

New Church Plant

In another post, we told you about a future church plant in a little town about a hour north of us.

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Here is how the first meeting went…

2014-11-30 duggan 005On the eve of the new church plant the weather forecast predicted heavy storms throughout the night, but sunshine the following morning. Since the small town where the Lord has led us to begin this work mainly consists of dirt roads that are impassable after inclement weather, we decided we would wait and see what happened before cancelling the first church meeting. By midday it was still raining, and the family who hosts the meetings told us that no one would want to come out of their houses. However, we determined that since we had canvassed the whole town saying we would be there on November 30, then we ought to be true to our word, in spite of the adverse circumstances!

At 4:30 p.m., with five adults from the Pilar church and one of our children as our pianist, we headed north to Duggan. A little over an hour later, we parked five blocks away from the house, transferred the keyboard and our small pulpit to our host’s cargo van, and the six of us piled in for the bumpy ride through the muddy ruts. God blessed the first Sunday service of Duggan Independent Baptist Church with wonderful music, preaching from His Word, and a total of 19 in attendance!

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Honestly, starting a work in a rural town of 1,000 was never part of our plan, but God opened the doors!  Part of our ministry philosophy is to “look where God is working and join Him there” (Blackaby), just as the early church did in Acts 11:22-23, “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”

In contrast to starting a church in Pilar (with a population of 300,000), it is poles apart. The most exciting aspect to us is seeing our people do so much of the work! The host family is a member of the church in Pilar with a burden for their little town. When we held the first Sunday services in Pilar just five years ago, we had no one to play the piano, no one trained to counsel or even to teach children. It is amazing what God has done in such a short time!

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Project: Building Together

Details are coming together to host work teams in 2015! The architect is drawing up the plans and submitting them to the municipality next week; the complex where our teams will stay is giving us an excellent rate; and we are gathering quotes for the building particulars. One challenge we are facing is what to do about parking. We can easily rent space nearby in order to get our plans approved, but we are also considering other long-term solutions. Please pray for wisdom in these decisions.

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Future Church Plant

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. areco study copy 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.

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Evangelistic Outreach

Praise the Lord for 90 ladies, 31 of them visitors, at our ladies’ tea! These visitors, many of whom we have prayed for their salvation for years, heard the Gospel three different times during the tea. Please pray for God to work in their hearts and that they would put their trust in Christ.

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Building Project

2014-09-21 ibip 015 2014-09-21 ibip 016With an average attendance of 95, the new building continues to be full. The next steps are to get plans drawn and approved, plus the foundation poured. Please pray that the Lord would lead and provide for this next phase. Last month, we told you about the possibility of purchasing a steel building, but it fell through because it had already been sold. It did, however, open our eyes to the idea of looking for something similar.

We are excited about hosting various mission teams to work on the new building in early 2015. Of course, you don’t have to be on a team–we welcome help at any time and at any stage of the project!  If you or your church is interested in being involved, please let us know.

Growing Together

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Opportunities to learn and grow abound! Thursday night Bible Institute classes are going strong, with 10 students in the Bible Doctrines class.  After a Sunday service, a young man approached James, indicating he would like to learn how to witness more effectively. So, a few of the teen boys are going to start evangelism training every Thursday morning!

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One of the most exciting times of the week is early Sunday morning discipleship classes. James is taking the men through a discipleship workbook, and Amy is teaching the ladies an inductive Bible study on the book of Philippians.

Our goal is not only to equip the believers for their own spiritual growth, but also for them “to teach others also.”  As we ultimately “work our way out of a job” at this church plant, we want to see the church continue to thrive by reproducing themselves.

 

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What a joy to see folks saved and follow the Lord in steps of obedience! Victor and Rosa each trusted the Lord and then shortly later were convicted about their need to get married. They wanted to marry in the church so that all their friends and family would come and hear the Gospel, which they did! A few weeks later, three of those wedding guests each trusted Christ!

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Renovation Realities II

August 10 we had our first service in the new building. The Lord blessed with a full house those first two weeks! So, out came the sledgehammers again! We took out a bathroom and the office to fit 30 more chairs. We now have a little more elbow room.  (Click here for current pictures.)

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The next steps are to get plans drawn and approved, plus the foundation poured. However, we have a unique opportunity to purchase a dismantled steel building. This structure would allow us to erect a two-story-high roof over the construction site. We are currently negotiating the purchase price and are estimating a cost between $8,000 and $12,000 for the purchase and transport to our property. We currently have $5,000 to use toward this project! Please pray that the Lord would lead and provide for this next phase.

After that, we would like to host mission teams to work on the new building in early 2015. Of course, you don’t have to be on a team–we welcome help at any time and at any stage of the project!

mission trip

Yet another challenge (No ice buckets required!)

ice-bucket-challengeNo doubt you are aware of the Ice Bucket Challenge videos spreading through the internet like wildfire. The purpose of these videos is to raise awareness and funds for a disease called ALS.  Before this social media phenomenon began, many of the participants and viewers of the videos probably never even knew what this cruel disease is all about. I did, because my own sister passed away four years ago from ALS. That’s why I am glad my husband and children responded to their challenges, though they realize the momentary discomfort of being deluged with ice water is nothing compared to suffering from the disease.

As Christians, however, we need to raise awareness for another disease that is even worse than ALS. It’s an infirmity that attacks your heart, then your mind, and finally your body. It causes you to do things that hurt yourself and others. Lastly, it causes an awful, drawn-out death where you feel like you are burning with a fever you’ve never felt before. This horrific disease is called sin.  Sadly, I must tell you that I have this disease. Thankfully, when I was a teenager someone told me about the cure found in Jesus Christ and I no longer have to fear dying from this malady!  My husband and I are so grateful for what Jesus did to save us from this eternal death, that we can’t help but share His cure with others.  That is precisely why we are in Argentina.

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Those who support us on the mission field don’t need to make a video of themselves throwing ice water on their head, nor do they need to be publicly challenged on social media. They respond to the Lord’s leading in their life, praying for us and quietly write out their check and place it in the offering plate or the mail box. For you, we are grateful.

Faith Promise (1)

There may be others out there who do not give to missions and do not share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. I challenge you, Christian, to start doing both!

go ye

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

I could tell you that you have 24 hours to complete this challenge, but instead I will say that this ought to be a part of your 24/7 daily life.  Every day, ask God for a divine appointment [God bringing someone into your life who needs to hear this news] to share His cure for this disease called sin. As you begin to share Christ either through giving out a tract, sharing your personal testimony or giving the Gospel with those who are dying and going to Hell, you will begin to have a burden to do more.  You will want to give to missions and even go on mission trips because you love your Savior, Jesus Christ.

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By His grace alone,

~Amy 

Future Ministries

areco study

2014-07-17 Silva 029In 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.

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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!

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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Keys in hand!

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!

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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!

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Building on a solid foundation

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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.

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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

Theme for 2014: Rooted and Grounded in Love

God Gives the Increase

God_gives_growth_t_sm 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

san antonio mapOur 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!

Good to be “Home”

mapAfter 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.

Furlough Replacements

furlough replacementsWe 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.

2013 Christmas Letter

December 2013

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,

James, Amy,

Jaden, Lauren and Josiah Greenwood

JLJ love

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Good to be “Home”

2013-10-29 HBC Last week, in the midst of our home church’s missions conference, our daughter said, “If home is where the heart is, then I must have a lot of hearts!”  That pretty much sums up our sentiments!  It was so encouraging to be among family at Hillsdale Baptist in Tampa, Florida where the folks are excited about missions and missionaries.

The children and adults gave a very generous combined offering toward the Pilar land fund, bringing the total to $85,200.  Praise the Lord! Only $34,800 more to buy the property! Wouldn’t it be exciting to have the funds in hand to make that purchase as soon as we get back to Argentina in January?

If you would like to be a part of giving to this project, please send your donation to Baptist World Mission, with “Greenwood Land Fund” in the memo line.

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Sunday morning James preached on Proverbs 16:1-9 (click here for sermon).

1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.

2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.

3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

When we have the proper perspective of God, the proper position will be prostrate before Him.
“…there is a proper posture involved in fearing the Lord. Those who in scripture are described as fearing the Lord are always found prostrate before a Holy God. When we see ourselves for who we really are we discover the greatness of God and worship Him accordingly. You will never hate your sin until you learn to reverence the Savior.”

The previous (8/25) message on the first two verses is here.

For the Sake of His Name

gbcWhat is the purpose of leaving the ministry in Argentina, traveling thousands of miles to dozens of churches?  Well, the number one reason would be to express our gratitude to our supporting churches and tell of the fruit that abounds to their account (Phil. 4:17b) because of their giving to missions.

The second reason is to educate and encourage believers regarding missions.  Lord willing, the Lord will use our first-hand testimony from the mission field to speak to someone’s heart about going to the field himself.

 

The words of this hymn, For the Sake of His Name, embody the message we want to share with the churches we visit:

FOR THE SAKE OF HIS NAME (Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger)

Go to the world for the sake of His name;
To every nation His glory proclaim.
Pray that the Spirit wise
Will open darkened eyes,
Granting new life to display Jesus’ fame.

Refrain:
In Jesus’ power, preach Christ to the lost;
For Jesus’ glory, count all else but loss.
Gather from every place
Trophies of sov’reign grace.
Lest life be wasted, exalt Jesus’ cross.

Love the unloved for the sake of His name;
Like Christ, befriend those whose heads hang in shame.
Jesus did not condemn,
But was condemned for them.
Trust gospel pow’r, for we once were the same.

Rescue the lost for the sake of His name;
As Christ commands, snatch them out of the flame.
Tell that when Jesus died
God’s wrath was satisfied.
Urge them to flee to the Lamb who was slain.

Look to the Throne for the sake of His name;
Think of the throng who will share in His reign.
Some for whose souls we pray
Will share our joy that day,
Joining our song for the sake of His name!

Copyright 2013 ChurchWorksMedia.com.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/75827106]

Furlough Travels – September

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God has been blessing exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think. Through the generosity of His people, He provided a reliable minivan and a comfortable house in the Tampa area for us to use. He has given us especially sweet fellowship with our home church, extended family and friends. It is a joy to report to our supporting churches and observe them remaining true to God’s Word.

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I once heard the story of a man whose neighbor was trying to install a television antenna on his roof and was really struggling to get it done by himself. The man walked over and offered to help. He had a collection of nice tools and everything needed for the task. When they finished the job, his neighbor looked at his rather impressive toolkit and asked what he made with such tools. “Friends mostly,” the man answered.

Since we have been home, God has given James many opportunities to use his carpentry skills, not just to make friends, but to express our gratitude to those who have been a blessing to us over the years, whether our home church, pastors, friends or other ministries.

We continue to receive positive reports from the work in Pilar. Pastor Crowder is encouraging the men to take on more leadership. One man, Hector, is now translating (from Portuguese to Spanish) on Wednesday nights, while Carlos is still interpreting on Sunday mornings. Our prayer is that God would work during this time to reveal the next pastor for this work.

August Update

Good News from a Far Country

crowderRoger and Sharon Crowder, our furlough replacement missionaries, are truly being used of God in Argentina! Brother Crowder is encouraging the men to a greater level of service, and they are joyfully responding! Attendance is high in all services, visitors are coming and God is doing a great work!

This past Sunday was “Children’s Day” in Argentina. Since there are always several visitors for this holiday, the teens prepared a skit, and the teachers presented the Gospel. Two children made salvation decisions. To God be the glory!

Furlough Travels

quaglia.greenwoodOur very first furlough meeting this past Sunday was a particularly special one.  We were at First Baptist Church of Westwood Lake in Miami, Florida, where former members of the church in Pilar (and special friends) are now actively involved.  There is no greater joy than to see your “spiritual” children walk in truth!

James was privileged to preach four times–once in the Spanish service, once in the English service and in two chapel services.  We look forward to reporting in many other churches on what the Lord has done in Pilar, as well as how He is leading the ministry toward the future.

Our goal is always to visit about half of our supporting churches on one furlough and the other half the next time. We would love to be able to visit all of you, but time (and energy!) just won’t allow us!  Thank you for understanding if we have to take a rain check for another time.

July Update

Faith in Action

Another “first” for our church plant – missions. As a church, we have been putting 10% of the general fund aside for missions. We have actually had the opportunity to help with two projects–a building project for a sister work and a national pastor who needed car repairs. This month, a young Argentine man from a sister work presented his desire to go to China as a missionary. Our church people voted to help him by paying for almost 75% of his airfare to take a survey trip!

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Even more amazing is the spirit of the people. In the business meeting to decide on how to help this future missionary, the church folks publicly expressed their thankfulness that God sent them a missionary, and that they wanted to give because of all God has given them for the building through local churches in the States.  That is only a work God can do in their hearts!  Isn’t it neat to realize that the impact of your giving goes beyond dollars and cents?

Good News from a Far Country

smithWe were privileged to host our home pastor Travis Smith for a visit in June. Of course, he’s read and heard our reports and seen pictures of the ministry in Pilar, but this was his first opportunity to meet the very special people who make up our church. It was an extremely encouraging visit for our family to have quality time with him, and for our church people to get to meet the pastor of our sending church.

Furlough Plans

kidsJaden, Lauren and Josiah are furiously finishing up home schooling, so they can be free of their studies while on furlough. Please pray for them as they transition to life in the States. Plans are coming together for housing, renting a vehicle and reporting to churches. Pray for us as we wrap up details here and fly to the States on July 30. As our roots grow deeper in Argentina, it becomes increasingly more difficult to pull away for months at a time for furlough. At the same time, we anticipate the much-needed rest and fellowship in supporting churches.

June update

unity_hands“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

After a tumultuous year of ministry, it certainly was pleasant to have an important business meeting last week with all the members in one accord! God is good!

One of the major issues discussed was how to proceed with the purchase of the property. After weighing the pros and cons of all our options, we unanimously agreed it would be wise to wait until we have all the money in hand. We only need $50,000 more in order to make the purchase! Thank you to all the churches and individuals who have already given to this need.

James finished up his Hermeneutics class at our Bible institute with three men, and has now begun Bible Doctrines.

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Our church co-sponsored a youth rally (a mini version of Farm Fest) for eight other Baptist churches in Buenos Aires. We were thrilled with the eagerness of the adult volunteers who worked all the games. Even better, our teens placed second in Bible quizzing!

We continue our monthly evangelistic outreach of taking religious surveys in the city center. This exercise is not just to plant the seeds of the Gospel, but also to help us all to be bold witnesses to the unsaved contacts in our personal lives. The Lord has blessed with fruit for our labor, and we pray He will continue to do so.

Just yesterday, two members have made great sacrifice to witness to contacts in need. One couple went to visit a former co-worker who had been in an accident and led him to Christ!  Another church member learned of a friend in Paraguay who had a medical emergency and might not make it. He immediately got on a long distance bus so he can go visit the man and tell him about Christ.  God is working!

As we have the opportunity, we also organize other outreaches. Last month, we had a baby shower for a church member. It was held in her home, so she could invite her unsaved family and neighbors. Amy gave a devotional with a gospel message and later had a good conversation with a Jewish lady about her need for a Savior.

By His Grace alone,

James & Amy

Borrowed Gifts

giftFourteen years ago, God graciously chose to give me a gift—the gift of motherhood. When I found out about that gift, I diligently prepared to receive it. I sought counsel from other mothers, read recommended books on the subject, and did what I knew to prepare myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Of course, every mother will tell you that you can never be fully prepared for that moment you lay your eyes on that miracle that had been growing inside you the past nine months.

I was not raised in a Christian home, so I was even more compelled to study what Scripture has to say on motherhood.  As I read, studied, meditated, and prayed, I was more and more convinced that our children are gifts from our loving Heavenly Father, lent to us for only a short time to teach and train for His honor and glory.  Children are our little disciples and Jesus is our ultimate example of a disciple maker. He spent virtually all of his time with his disciples, patiently teaching them on their maturity level, explaining more thoroughly when they asked questions, and leading by example.  Toward the end of their time together, he let them go out on their own, allowing them to make mistakes, but being there to comfort and to help them get up again when they fell.

The Lord blessed my husband and me with one gift after another, three in four years to be exact! As our little stair steps grew, I had the joy of staying home with them, reading to them, playing with them, and often letting them “help” me shop, garden, cook, and clean. Of course, we had our good days and not-so-good days. I often felt like a broken record, repeating instructions over and over.  However, as we stayed consistent in our discipline, our days were filled with more joy than distress, more order than chaos.

j libros 4.2000

As the time came for our oldest to begin school, choosing to homeschool was only a natural extension of what we had already been doing–memorizing Scripture, finger painting, reading Bible stories, playing with blocks, listening to music, observing nature, and just constantly conversing.  (Socially, our children had each other and their church friends to play with, and honestly, I would much rather that my young disciple learn his manners and vocabulary from his mother than from another fellow heathen!)

mariposa 2006

The early school years are filled with so many exciting discoveries, “What sound does the snake make? What does cornmeal feel like in my hands? How many things can I find around the house that begin with the ‘letter of the day’? If I have three cookies and I give one away, how many do I have left?”

Later, we move on to more formal schooling, putting letters together to make words, learning our math facts, books of the Bible, and how civilization began. In all of these subjects, God is the central focus, because I remember that my purpose is to teach and train our three borrowed gifts for His honor and glory.

k-5 2005

Only by God’s grace have we come this far!  When I accepted the gift of motherhood, and later the challenge of homeschooling, little did I know that my oldest would have severe dyslexia and need intense personal tutoring. But, oh the joy when he finally learned his alphabet, then to sound out words, and now to read entire books on his own!  Little did I know how we would discover how special God made him — how even though he had such difficulty reading letters from left to right, he could perfectly read the little black dots called musical notes and become a talented pianist!  There is an indescribable joy in achieving these victories together with your children!

piano

Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, says in 3 John verse 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Even more important than reading, writing, and arithmetic, is the mission of disciple making. Spiritual character training supersedes academics because “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).  As a disciple maker, my goal is to raise children who will be useful servants for the Kingdom of God. To me, that means they must not only be educated in the basic school subjects, but also know how to manage a home, work with tools, minister in their local church, love their neighbor, and love God most of all.

It is this aspect of mothering that really keeps me on my toes! Every day the Holy Spirit reminds me that I cannot expect my disciples to learn to love God if they do not see that love manifested in my own life. My own devotional life is not an option. I must be continually studying, learning, and growing in my own Christian walk if I expect the same of my pupils.

“They need an unwavering, internal moral and spiritual compass that will help them weather today’s storms and tomorrow’s and will guide them for the rest of their lives. They also need to see what real faith looks like when lived day in, day out; so they will have a pattern to follow.

The process of providing such gifts to my children is what I’ve come to think of as the ministry of motherhood. I believe it’s central to the calling of anyone God has privileged to bring children into this world.

If you are a mother, it’s your ministry too.”

~Sally Clarkson, The Ministry of Motherhood

Only a few more years, and my full-time job as homeschooling mother will be over. In this career, my future holds no “Teacher of the Year” awards, promotions, nor salary raises.  The greatest reward for me would be to accomplish my stated objective: that my children would leave home, entering the world willing and fully prepared to serve God.  That is how I say “thank you” to my Heavenly Father for the three precious gifts He has loaned me.

Amy

Spiritual Growth

church planting handsIf you have ever planted a garden, you know the wonder and excitement of a sprout that comes up overnight or watching a flower blossom. Usually, though, day-to-day growth takes place that cannot be seen right away. Just the same, the plant is nourished and is becoming healthy and strong. With preaching, discipleship classes and the Bible institute, we know that steady growth is happening because of the fruit that is evident.

One example of that fruit is the “one-another” love demonstrated in our church body.  Members are helping and reaching out to each other as we have never seen before. One lady goes to visit a “senior saint” each week on her way to disciple a new believer. Some of the men helped re-roof one family’s house. Many donated food, clothing and blankets for flood victims at a sister church. Folks are praying for each other just as much as they are praying for lost souls. It’s amazing…and it’s God’s work!