Waitress Saved

A few weeks ago Pastor Lenentine took us out to eat at Village Inn in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.  While there our waitress gave Lilianna a stuffed bunny rabbit.  (She had noticed that our children were trying their best to behave and use their manners, so she wanted to do something for them.)  During the meal I asked her when her shift ended, and that I wanted to ask her something before she went home.  She agreed.

After we were done eating she came over to our table and I asked her if she knew for sure that she would go to heaven when she died.  She gave me the usual answer, “I’m a pretty good person, and I believe in God.”  But when asked again, she said that she wasn’t 100% sure that she would go to heaven.  I explained what the Bible says about heaven to her, and then she prayed right there at our table!  It was so exciting for my daughter who was standing right next to her for the whole conversation.  We invited her to church, snapped a quick picture, and soon left.

As we left the restaurant, Lily told us that she was going to name her new stuffed animal after our new friend, Rachel.  God only knows how many more people there are out there who would accept His forgiveness for sin this very moment if there were someone who would simply tell them how.

Chilean Drivers’ License

As with most things here in Chile, obtaining a national driving license is quite complicated.  We have been trying to get ours for about a year, and are no closer now than when we began.  There are quite a few hoops that we are having to jump through before we can even sign up for the driving license process.  I’ll take you start to finish through the process (or what we understand of it as of now).

Step 1 – Permanent Residency

Thankfully we already completed all the paperwork for this several years ago.  Getting a driver’s license wasn’t on our mind at the time because we didn’t have a vehicle.  It’s a good thing that this was done because it took over a year to complete all the requirements for this step.

Step 2 – 8th Grade Education

This may sound simple to you just as it did to me when I first heard it.  After all, both Sandra and I have high-school diplomas and a 4-year Batchelor of Science (Golden State Baptist College).  Proving that we have at least an 8th grade education shouldn’t be that difficult.  Well, that is where we were wrong.  For an academic diploma to be recognized by the Chilean government, it must be 1.) Legalized by the country of origin, 2.) Stamped by the Chilean consult in that country, 3.) Stamped again by the department of Foreigners in Santiago (there is only one office in the country that does this), and 4.) Translated by the same department (but this must be done as a completely different step because you must pick up your document and then turn it in again to someone on the other side of the room, after having waited in line to pick it up, and than again to turn it in), and finally 5.) Stamped by the department of Education.  Your diploma (which by now will have a minimum of 4 stamps on it) must be taken to the Government office in your area.  Then, and only then, can you procede with signing up for the driving class.

We were about to send our diplomas back to the USA to have them legalized when we were told by the regional head of the department of education that EVEN IF WE COMPLETED THAT WHOLE PROCESS, OUR DIPLOMAS WOULD NOT BE RECOGNIZED because only Spain and Japan have an academic treaty with Chile.  Apparently the rest of the world’s education systems don’t hold a candle to that of Chile!

Because our elementary education is not valid here, we are going to have to take an elementary version of a Chilean GED.  The only problem with this is that it is only administered once a year in our region (and you can only take it in your region of residence).  You must sign up in March, and then by October you will have had your one chance to take it that year.  Don’t fail or you will need to sign up in March again!  I’m pretty confident that Sandra and I can pass most of the tests, but the one that worries me is National History.  We’d better start studying.

Thankfully we found a loophole in this insane system.  We can get an international driving permit (issued from the USA) that allows us to drive for up to a year in Chile.  That being done, we should be OK until we can finish jumping through the rest of the hoops.

Step 3 – Driving Theory Test

Step 4 – Driving Practice Test


You may now drive legally in Chile.

Edwin’s Story

A few weeks ago, as I was on my way out to go soulwinning, I passed a vehicle on the side of the road.  The sun had already set and it was very dark out in the countryside where I was.  As I passed, I noticed that there was a spare tire, jack, and star wrench already set out by the car, and the man who owned the car standing by it.  “Looks like he’s got it under control” I told myself as I passed.  However, a few meters down the road the Holy Spirit began impressing on me to go back and check to see if he really was alright.

When I pulled up next to him, I asked if he had everything under control.  He was kind of surprised, and replied that he didn’t.  He had all the tools, but the spare tire was bad.  Not only was it flat, but there was a slash in it.  Also, the rim was the wrong size.  To make matters worse, he had left his cell phone at home!  He had been there for about a half an hour already, and was several kilometers away from both the town in one direction and his home in the other.  He definitely didn’t have things under control.  I offered to take him and his flat tire into town to see if we could get it fixed.  He was very grateful and off we went.

During the drive we spoke of his family and his work.  He is in his mid 20’s and has a wife and 2 small children.  After a few minutes I asked him ‘The Question’.  He replied that he was not sure, but would like to be.  I presented the Gospel to him as we drove down the road.  At the point where we ‘draw the net’, he replied that he did want to receive his forgiveness.  We pulled over and prayed.  How exciting to see someone turn their back on a dead religion of works, and accept Biblical salvation by grace.  Ironically, we were just about in front of the new church building at this time.  When I invited him to church, he asked “Where is it?”  “Right there,” I replied as we drove past.

IMG_20160825_212217That next Thursday, I went by his house to visit his family.  They live together in a dormitory-like housing with about 50 other families who work in that particular tomato field.  The houses have no running water or indoor restrooms.  The restrooms, showers, and sinks are grouped together in the center of the complex.  After a few moments getting to know them, I presented the Gospel.  They were more than happy to receive it!

Edwin's Family in ChurchLast Sunday, who walks through the doors of the church other than Edwin’s entire family.  They made the 5th set of nearly consecutive visitors that we have had.  After the service they told me that the would be returning regularly.  Praise the Lord that the same Gospel still works in the same way.

This reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Had I not stopped to help a total stranger, I would have never even meet him.  Now he and his family are saved and in church, and I know of where I can find 50 other families in need of the Savior!  I don’t know how your lives are, but if they are anything like mine, you will have opportunity to let your light shine through your good works.  Those who would have never listened to you before, will hang on your every word because of that light.  Happy Hunting!

P.S. – Please share any story that you may have with me in the comment section below.  Thanks for reading.

Another Soul Saved

We met Mei at the American Corner a few months ago.  She is a university student who comes to the American Corner quite often.  2 Weeks ago I had the opportunity to witness to her, and she got saved.  It is amazing to see how God will increase someone’s faith by simply listening to the Gospel!  A question that I regularly ask people immediately after they get saved is, “Now that you are a child of God, what kind do you want to be – obedient or disobedient?”  Mei’s response was, “Obedient, obviously.”  She then agreed to come to church to learn more about God’s Word.

Last Sunday Mei came to the church service.  How exciting!  Lily went to sit by her and shared her Bible for the Sword Drills and also the sermon.  I preached that night on the ‘The Umbrella of Authority’.  It was kind of interesting because it doesn’t ever rain here, but the concept was understood.

After the service Mei stayed spoke with Sandra for a while, and then told us that she really enjoyed the church service and would be back the next week.  Yesterday we saw her again at the American Corner, and she told us that she told one of her friends about the church and that she would be joining her this Sunday.

Next month she will begin to study the ‘One Step’ discipleship series written by Pastor Mike Ray.  Please pray for her that she will continue to grow and learn about what God has planned for her.

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.