April 13, 2010
ICW: a difficult Sunday—Bad news first…right? Last Sunday was a hard one. It had rained all week and the property was a mud bog, including inside the tent. Ned and Marlene were in Mexico, so we missed them. Attendance was down to (GULP!) 19! It was a holiday and that hurt us. Some were sick. We set up on the concrete slab and service went pretty well. Because of the low attendance, both children’s church and adult worship was modified at last minute. God still worked through Sheree as she preached on redemption. We divided into groups and afterward three people shared a summary of what we had learned on the subject. Participation by those who were there was good.
Leadership development—Three leaders from Guayaquil, Pilar Rodriguez and Juan Carlos and Diana Cruz plan to enter a three-year ministerial training program in a local Bible institute in Guayaquil. They seem very fired up and ready to go. Classes begin May 3.
Moran family’s new home—Pastor Juan and Sonia Moran (FERTISA) have moved into their new third-floor home above the sanctuary. They are thrilled. For many years they have been living in a one-room apartment in a flood-prone area. All the while they have battled the seasonal flooding of their home, along with horrible mold, mud and rust. As the name of the church says, “Dios Es Primero” (God is First). They have lived out that motto over the past 11 years working hard to get the church finished first, before their home. Pray God’s blessing on them for their sacrifice.
Teacher training—Last Tuesday night Laura and Nube came to Tom and Lydia’s apartment where they received teacher training and made preparations for classes at ICW. We now have three committed teachers for children’s Sunday classes.
Baptism next Sunday—On April 18, ICW will hold its first baptism. One candidate, Katy Acuña, will be baptized. It will be a church-wide celebration with a bus trip to Gualaceo, worship on the banks of the river, picnicking, and sports. Three ladies received classes on baptism from Tom. Pray that all will soon take this important step.
Elena—One of the ladies who attended the baptism class was Elena. She has been Catholic all her life. In January, through VBS, she started coming to ICW along with her daughter, Nube. At the close of the session, I asked the baptism class students what their decision regarding baptism was, Elena spoke up and said, “Pastor, I wanted to come to this class to learn about baptism. I 66 years old, and it is only now that I am beginning to understand what it means to follow Jesus.” Her voice quivered. “Can you imagine?” she continued, “until now, I just went to Mass, and that was it. I just didn’t know about all this that I’m learning now.” Tears welled up. “I need to take care of some things in my life before I am baptized, but I want to be.” By this time she was weeping. “I will be baptized a little later when I learn more about knowing Jesus.” Even though Elena felt she should not to be baptized yet, it was a precious moment when she was expressing the “all things become new” realities of her recent conversion. Her sincerity and strong desire to be all that God wants her to be was very special.
Katy—At the close of the baptism class, Katy said, “I want to be baptized, but I want to talk to you first, Pastor.” Without violating confidentiality with details, I can tell you that Katy met privately with me and Lydia immediately following the class. She said, “I want to be baptized, but I don’t feel worthy. There are some things in my life that are not pleasing to God and I have to clear them up before my baptism. I want to be honest with God and only be baptized when my conscience is totally clear.” At this point, Katy began to weep and tremble. She poured her heart out to me and Lydia as God dealt with her, and as she confronted the need for restitution and making things right in her life. Tears flowed freely, falling from her cheeks as she asked us about what she should do. Lydia and I told her to do the right thing and obey what she knew to be right. (This was not at all a simple matter. It involved a tangle of family relationships, the father of her child and legal issues.) Suddenly, Katy sat upright, lifted her head from a bowed position and said, “OK, the decision is made. I will talk to my family tonight (it was already 8:30pm!) and I will be baptized!” It was a moment of wonderful victory. Later that evening, she called us and reported that all went pretty well. Pray for Katy as she continues to make restitution and rectify bad decisions of the past. She still has tough issues to resolve, but with God’s help she will make it.
Walter—This young man about 17, came to youth meeting Saturday. He also came Sunday morning for worship. This was unusual as Walter always goes to Catechism instead of coming to worship at ICW. Pray for his salvation.
Javier and Laura—Tom and Lydia invited Javier and Laura to lunch Sunday after worship. We spent two hours over our meal, talking about what it means to be a committed Christian. Javier accepted Christ three years ago, but his relationship had grown cold with the Lord. He started attending ICW with his newlywed wife, Laura in October of 2009. She met the Lord in July of last year. We felt God was really in our conversation and they seemed very sincere in their desire to grow spiritually. Here are some excerpts from emails Laura sent to Lydia today.
“God is hearing my prayers. I am so happy. Last night while talking with Javier, he said he is now going to become fully involved in the church, and is going to give his full support. He is the one who started the conversation.
It is important that we have a meeting of the people soon so each one can solidify their commitment and understand their individual responsibility. Let us know when the meeting is so we can motivate the people to attend.”
“The reality is that we must be obedient to the Lord. He will work in our lives and through our lives for the benefit of others.”
Lydia had loaned Laura a about Christian marriage a month or so ago. It was due to be checked back in to the library. Laura asked Lydia if she could borrow it one more week so Javier can read it.
“I want to learn more”—Juana, who recently began regularly attending services, testified Sunday in our small group that she was so happy to learn about living with God in her life. In January Juana sat in the back row in the tent, seemed very intimidated, feeling inferior and looking very expressionless. What a change God has made in her. Sunday she said “I have learned so much living the Christian life…and I like it! How can I learn more?” She told about how happy she is now that Christ is in her life and wants other to know about it. Her huge smile and now-confident manner confirmed everything she said in words.
Discipleship—George Wuertz continues to mentor the construction workers in their walk with Christ.
Fabian and Ana Lucia—Tom and Lydia invited this couple to their apartment for dinner and fellowship. It was a great time of interacting and getting to know them better. Today, Ana Lucia celebrated thirteen days of freedom from her smoking habit. We thank God, and ask for your prayers as she battles the nicotine cravings. Tonight she said, “I’ve quit before about five times, but this time it has not been so hard.” I reminded her that many people are praying for her.
We sense that we are on the verge of some real good revival fire taking our young church deeper in Him. Please pray it will be so.