Pastor Gustavo Viejo’s family—Walter, the brother of Gustavo, is hospitalized in Guayaquil with major infection and complications from a terminal illness. He has regained consciousness but expects to be hospitalized for at least a month. Gustavo was able to lead his brother to the Lord. Pray for this family as they move through this crisis.
SEMBEC—Several people from ICW Racar are considering studying in the SEMBEC Bible Institute in Cuenca. We will let you know who signs up.
ICW Racar—God continues to do wonderful things at ICW. Attendance was 65 on Sunday. Although many (especially the new converts) are struggling with recovery from addictions and consequences of their bad decisions of the past, God is moving, and they are growing. Forty-four people have come to Christ since May. Although a majority of these are incarcerated, they are continuing to attend the services in the prisons. Almost all of the ones who have been saved in the church or saved in their homes are coming to services regularly. Six of them have attended Monday night discipleship class for five weeks in a row.
All is not hunky-dory at ICW, but people are trying. We still need more commitment on the part of our local leaders. Many marriages are not healthy. Although many are very generous, regular stewardship through tithing and regular offerings is quite weak. But helping people find their answers in Christ, and grow spiritually is what we do, right?
Discipleship Class--Last night’s discipleship group in the home of a new convert drew eleven adults and their seven children. Five of the adults are planning to be baptized soon. One family walked a mile and half down a muddy, dark road with their two girls 10 and 6, along with dad and a pregnant mom. They came knowing they might have to walk back home.
Hugo—Hugo is the husband of one of our new converts. He actually prayed to be saved some six weeks ago, came to church once, then dropped back out of the scene. We have been praying much for Hugo. On Monday nights we hold the discipleship class in his home, but he stays away until he sees our car leave his house. He then comes home. Last night was a classic! Lydia drove some of our folks home from the home meeting and I stayed behind to talk with a couple who is starting an outreach in the juvenile detention center. Hugo thought everyone was gone. I was over in a corner talking with the other couple when Hugo came through the front door. His little two-year-old ran to him yelling “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”. Hugo picked up his son and hugged him. He then looked to his left and saw me sitting in his living room. The look on his face was absolutely priceless! He stopped dead in his tracks—totally motionless. A blank stare was on his face and he was speechless. But only for a second. He quickly moved toward me and I stood to greet him. He was very friendly and sat down across from me. He said, “Pastor, it is not a mistake that you are here. I was waiting to come home so as to avoid seeing you, but I got caught!” Laughter broke out all around the room. The tension was broken. He began to pour out his heart in a way that took me by surprise. He told me he wanted to do right, but every time he tried, something inside him says, “NO, NO,NO.” He told me how he has messed up his life and hates himself for doing the things he is doing. (cocaine, alcohol, womanizing). “I become so depressed,” he said, “that I sometimes want to”…..(he drew his finger across his throat as if to take his own life.) I explained that we can only serve one master—God our loving father, or Satan the hater of our soul. I explained that God will never force us to serve him against our will, but Satan will do everything he can to force us and manipulate our lives to turn against God. It is his attempted revenge against God—stealing our souls. Nothing hurts our Father any more. We have a saying here: “The devil gives really lousy pay to those who are his best workers.” I urged Hugo to take a stand like a man and make his own decision about whom he will serve. I encouraged him to confess his sin, admit he had failed God, but to accept the mercy and forgiveness that his Father wants so much to give him.
As Hugo reflected, he said, “I have always believed that there is a purpose for my life.” I affirmed that and asked to pray with him. He gave me the go ahead. It was beautiful to see how his wife almost ran from her chair to sit right next him for the prayer time. His four children gather around him, as well as his two sisters and brother-in-law. God moved on Hugo’s heart and when the “amen” was said, his face was lit up with a smile. The sad, drawn expression on his face was gone—replaced by hope and peace.
I don’t have too much experience with God speaking in dreams, but Hugo told me that even though we had never met until last night, that I had spoken to him in dreams. That is, he had seen me in his dreams and that I had been able to minister to him before I ever met him. Only God knows how to speak like that.
As we prayed for Hugo, we prayed that every chain that has him bound will be broken, and we prayed that every spirit that is against God’s Spirit to be cast out of that house and that His peace, protection and provision be over that home and family. Please pray along with us.
Praying for no work—what?—Lydia made some Saturday-night calls to some of the ICW folks who didn’t make it to church last Sunday. As she spoke to one husband, he informed her that he would not be there because he was expecting to have an extra job that day. When that husband doesn’t come, the mom and four kids don’t either. Lydia just encouraged him to bring his family the following Sunday. When she told me about the conversation, half joking, I said, “Well, we’ll just pray he loses that job!” Sunday morning we were singing when in walked this same family of six—including the husband. After service he said, “I went to talk to the boss at 8am and he told me we would not be working today after all.” Feeling a smidge of guilt (but not much) I just told him how glad I was he had come. (I never told him I had prayed for him to lose his work that day.) He commented on how much my sermon on God’s peace had meant to him. I’m so glad he came.