Christmas Cookies

One of the neat things about our ministry here in Chile is that we bring some new/foreign ideas to the people here.  One of our family Christmas traditions is making decorated gingerbread cookies.  In the States this is pretty normal, but here it is almost unheard of.  I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started, but some of the ladies that were at the Christmas service found out that Sandra knows how to make gingerbread cookies, and were asking if they could come back to our house sometime so Sandra could teach them.

A few days later 2 of the ladies came to the house and the gingerbread making began.  From 3PM to 10PM we were making cookie dough, cutting them out, baking them, decorating them, and of course sampling them.  The kids had such a good time, and Sandra was able to share some influence.  I am always happy for the times that she is able to play an active part in the ministry here.  She may not be able to go out door-2-door soulwinning, but she does have an influence on the people that we are working with.

At the end of the day everyone was able to take several decorated gingerbread cookies home, and our hearts are now a little closer-knit.  Please pray for us that our efforts will be multiplied in the hearts of those whom we minister to here in northern Chile.

Christmas Church Service

Last Sunday (20th of December) we hosted the very first service for the new church plant here in Arica.  We had been working with several families over the past few months, and had decided that it would be a good idea to try to get everyone together for a Christmas service.  The people seemed to think that it was a good idea also, because each one that we talked to about it pitched in their ideas about what to eat, or what to do.  Everyone was genuinely excited!

In this Christmas service there would be preaching, singing, eating, and games.  For the food we decided to ask people to bring some sort of Chilean salad, and we would provide the main course – anticuchos (shish kabobs).  The day before the service, we drove all over town picking up the necessary things, and doing some last minute practicing for the Christmas hymns and special music Sandra and I would sing, and preparing the area that we would be using for the service.  We were all very excited about the service.

Noon on Sunday finally came, and with it people started to show up, however very slowly.  It has to be a latin-american thing to be late, but I think we are finally getting used to it.  At about 1:30 everyone had arrived.  It all there were 21 people (including our family) that came to the meeting!  When the last ones arrived, we got everyone together and began.  I opened with a greeting and then prayer.  I played the guitar while we all sang a Christmas hymn, or tried to at least.  Not only was it a new song to almost everyone there, but I couldn’t get my voice on the same key as the guitar.  But after a few train wrecks, we finally it got going.  I don’t know exactly why, but I was so nervous.  Sandra noticed that and tossed me an encouraging word, “Don’t be nervous.”  But when it was her turn to come up and sing a special with me, we were both just as nervous.  Again, I’m not sure why, but it turned out alright.  Something that was quite funny was that I had picked out 5 Christmas hymns, and by the time that we finished with the fourth one I was ready to shift gears into the message because almost no one knew the songs.  But just as I told everyone that we were going to put away our song sheets, one of the ladies raised her hand and asked if we could sing the last song because it was the only one that they all knew, and I almost skipped it!  We all sang and everyone enjoyed the song – Silent Night.

After the singing, I opened my Bible to John 3:16 and spoke about the greatest gift ever given, Jesus.  The general idea of the message is that for thousands of years people would die.  Good, bad, old, and young alike, death was our common end, but when Jesus came he offered eternal life through the forgiveness of sin.  He told Martha after Lazarus’ death that “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”  God’s gift to the human race, eternal life!  We had already been working with most of the people who were there, and had already led all but 2 of them to Christ.  Because of that we talked about the 2-fold gift – eternal life and abundant life.  There was no one saved at the service, but there was a good response to the message.  After the service was over, I approached one of the ladies whose salvation I wasn’t sure of and asked her if she knew that she would be going to heaven when she died like we talked about in the message.  “O, yes, pastor!” she said, and then told us how she had been saved 6 years earlier in Bolivia.  It is good to know that there are others around the world who are leading people to Jesus also!

After the service was over, we changed the setup of the chairs to include tables, and then began the cooking and arranging of salads, cake, and refreshments.  Everyone pitched in to do their part.  It is always so exciting to see everyone working together in a church setting!  The kids played while the meat was cooking, and then when it was all ready we gave thanks and ate.  It was a wonderful time.

To finish off the day, we played a few games, one ‘get to know you’ game and then some Christmas Bible trivia.  As a whole the service went very well.  People were asking when we were going to start the church services regularly.  We are now starting to look for a more central place that we can rent so we can begin our services.  Please pray for us that we will be able to find something suitable and affordable.

All in all everyone really enjoyed the day.  I can hardly wait to get everyone back together again, but this time with the ones who we’ve been working with but that couldn’t come to this event.  Please continue to pray for our family and work here.

Eduardo and Maria

About 2 months ago I began working with a young man named Eduardo.  He and his wife, Maria, bad been having some difficulties, and were therefore open to talk.  It’s amazing to me how often God uses times of difficulty to draw us closer to Him.

The first night that I met Eduardo, we talked about the problem that was going on in his family, and also presented a solution – the marriage triangle.  I explained to him that if he wanted to get closer to his wife, he would first have to get closer to God.  “How do I do that?” he said.  From there it was fairly simple to lead him to Christ.

He immediately began discipleship, and consistently met with me each week.  After learning about Biblical baptism, he wanted to do it right away.  So one Saturday he met us at the beach and his wife and son came to watch his baptism.  I had not yet met Maria and had not had an opportunity to witness to her.  On the beach we explained again to everyone exactly what Biblical baptism was, and then Eduardo and I went into the ocean far enough to get him all the way under.  Timing it with the waves was interesting, but it worked.  When we came back to the group an the beach we presented Eduardo with a BEAMS Bible, and then began witnessing to Maria.  She also accepted Christ as her Savior!

We continued the discipleship course as before, but now Maria was joining in.  It was wonderful to watch her grow as her husband explained Biblical truths to her that I had only recently taught him.  Then last week, after studying about what a Biblical church was, she told we that she been thought through the idea of baptism and was convinced that she needed to do it.

Last Saturday afternoon we all met again at the beach in the same place that Eduardo got baptized and helped Maria to follow her husband in believer’s baptism.  Afterwards we presented her BEAMS Bible.  For the next few hours we talked while the kids played in the waves.  What a blessing to have a free, warm-water baptistery!

God is blessing our efforts here in Arica.  Thank you for continuing to pray for us.  Like with anything, there are good days and bad days, but in 100 years, only what we have done for Christ will matter.  I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to serve.