Deuteronomy 30:15-16 – For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
This passage is very true to our ministry journey over these last few months in many ways. We have seen great increase in our ministry. We are also proclaiming God’s blessing over our new land as we continue to minister in the community of San Fernando.
While we have experienced great breakthroughs in our first year of ministry at the Agua Viva campus, there have also been challenges. This community is very rural and very closed to the Christian message. We have recently experienced several incidents of resistance and threats from of a small group who wish to hinder this ministry. Thankfully, God is restoring this situation, but please pray for protection and for the people to see God’s love through us.
One beautiful testimony that came through this time of testing was from a father whose boys attend our ministry activities. In front of the community, he shared how when his boys first began attending Agua Viva’s tutoring program, he was NOT happy. He did not want his Catholic family influenced by these “Christians”. But, he let them attend because they were so eager. He said that now, he can see a difference in his boys’ behavior and in how they have advanced as a result of our program. He challenged the community to see the good of our programs.
The summer months held an abundance of activities – in fact it feels that summer just ended yesterday. Here are some highlights:
We held day camps for the children of San Fernando and were able to reach many new families through this program. We studied how we are all part of the family of God while also participating in sports, games, music and crafts. We were able to provide many first-time opportunities for the children such as eating pizza and visiting the local mall to play arcade games. We celebrated the return of the school year with a huge bash where we hosted almost 200 children from our neighborhood. We had a fun time with inflatables and games, lunch and gave everyone backpacks stocked with school supplies.
We were excited to host the third annual Festiniños camps for all of the churches in our area. Youth camps are proven to be life-shaping events for children. We have seen evidence of this as each year children return with great excitement to encounter God and bringing new children along to experience the move of God. One sweet girl who has attended every year, ran up to hug me when she arrived and shared how she and her friends look forward to this event all year and how they are so thankful to be able to attend.
This was the first big overnight event for our new campground so we had many new bunk beds made to accommodate all the children. Even with this, we still had to borrow beds and put children in tents and on the floor in order to house them all. But no one minded because it was a time of great fun and amazing touches of God which included several healings. Please take a moment to watch this video which shows the testimonies of how God moved in the lives of several children.
The inner city nutrition center was able to rent a new facility which is much safer and with more space for the children to enter all at once, rather than having to wait in line. With this new faculty, we are offering lunch to 200 children each day. Many are also able to stay for homework help rather than rushing back to work.
Working with these children who experience such difficult lifestyles is always surprising. Recently, a child was stopped for violently hitting other children. The child said that he was hitting because “Daddy hits Mommy that way”. We praise God that we get to love these children and give them a warm meal, yet we pray that God will help us reach their families for Christ and allow the Spirit to transform their homes.
At our Agua Viva (San Fernando) campus, we are continuing our after school program on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. We have been able to add more qualified teachers, providing much needed educational assistance to these children. The children study English, Math, Science and the Arts. We hope to soon be able to expand this program to additional days and to offer a nutritious lunch to the children.
Christmas is now approaching and we are planning the third year of the Agape Christmas program where we will provide a Christmas party for 500 children. These are at-risk children from our ministry centers and from other social ministries nearby. For many of them, this will be the only Christmas gifts they receive this season.
Each child will receive a jacket, toys, candy, a nutritious meal and a day if fun. The cost to provide all of this is only $20 per child. Please consider sponsoring a child or several. Click here for information on how to donate.
Thank you everyone for supporting us with your funds and prayers. We could not so any of this without you.
Bobby, Tamitha, Jordan, Jonathan & James
We continue to serve as Pastors of the Genesis 7 church in the inner city of Quito. If you recall, we have worked with this ministry, that serves lunch to over 150 children daily, for several years. We deepened this relationship to serve as Pastors when the Pastor became gravely ill with cirrhosis of the liver. After having watched the doctors tell his family to say goodbye, that he would die within days on SEVERAL different occasions, we praise God to report that Pastor Fausto is doing well with more strength than we have seen in over a year. Thank you for praying for his healing.
The ministry has been blessed with several donations to help improve the facilities and the level of nutrition for the children. We have been able to provide new tables, new flooring and paint. The children were so excited by their “new” dining hall that now looks much more inviting. But, they have been even more excited to see more MEAT on there plates and even the occasional treat of jello. This is often the only meal these children eat all day, so we are grateful to you all for allowing this meal to become more nutritious.
With the adults of the ministry, we have initiated various programs to help strengthen the families and help them in their walk with God. We have been hosting marriage classes using the Fireproof curriculum as well as parenting classes. Recently, we had a church-wide course on social ministry where we challenged everyone to live out the benevolent principles of the Bible and highlighted how everyone has something to give to others no matter what your economic circumstance may be.
The church is growing and is at a pivotal point. Please remember us in prayer as we are attempting to move to a new building in the next few months. This will be in increase in rent, but it will be a MUCH better and SAFER facility. We believe this is the right step in the growth for this ministry.
In the Midst of Idolatry & Shamanism
The church at Agua Viva is in its infancy, but it is growing and developing nicely. We have one couple from the neighborhood, who have been Christians for years, who are committed to working with the church and have a passion for seeing their neighbors come to have a relationship with Christ. Pastor Lawrence, who is one of our former seminary students, lives at the ministry center and works hard at building relationships with the people in the community. Recently, a veteran missionary couple and great friends/ mentors of ours, Rick and Janice Waldrop, moved into one of the houses at the ministry center and are working to help build the church as well.
We have various children who attend our Sunday School, because they love to be at Agua Viva. And we now have a few families who are attending the church because their children attend Kids Club. It is beautiful to see how the children are ministering to their parents. One couple who are attending, are struggling due to the husband’s alcoholism, but they have found HOPE in Christ that things CAN be different.
The ministry in this neighborhood is primitive and raw. We face the difficulty of confronting people who are steeped in roots of idolatry and Shaman religions. But we are so inspired by the rays of hope that are breaking through as the people seek what we have and receive the love of God that can transform their lives.
Breaking Down the Enemy’s Walls
In May, a group of students from Lee University came to visit us and minister to the children of Agua Viva. Made up of music and education majors, this group was full of creativity and energetic ideas. This spark of enthusiasm was a great boost to our Kids Club ministry.
Kids Club began in October of 2012 and was received with great curiosity by the community. By December, we had 90 children enrolled and had regular attendance of 65 children. However, early this year, we began to experience some resistance in the community as some parents began to prohibit their kids from attending for fear that we would “contaminate” them. This is typical of the struggle in the great divide between Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity in Latin America, but it was devastating for us to experience.
Since we had many education majors visiting us, we thought it would be a great experience to visit the local school. We visited the primitive, 2-room school house that serves grades 1 through 6 with only two staff members. The Lee students held a music program, teaching the children to play with wooden flutes and drums and also teaching them to sing a song that the group had written especially for this trip. We had no idea that this simple act of sharing with the community would be the spark to begin breaking down the barriers that the enemy constructed.
When the next day for Kids Club arrived, we were surprised to see 5 children who hadn’t attended in months. The next week, another 7 children returned. We are now near the attendance levels that we saw in December and it is all because the love that these students shared with our community was just what was needed to break through.
No Matter the Cost or Sacrifice, We WILL Share the Good News!
In April, we attended the Latin American Summit in Guatemala. Here over 1500 ministers from all over Latin America gathered for intensive conferences to help them grow in various areas of ministry. We learned from the leading international trainers in areas such as social ministry, care for at-risk children, 4/14 window ministry, music and worship, church planting, pastoral care, youth ministry, women’s ministry, etc.
Bobby directed the training on church planting and had the largest attendance of any division, with over 300 ministers attending. It was surprising to experience the overwhelming gratitude of these ministers for the ability to be there and receive this training. During our time together, God confirmed their calling to plant new churches.
After the international conference, we traveled to a more remote area, Huehuetengo, Guatemala where Bobby began training more than 80 church planters. Huehue has one of the highest rates of poverty and malnutrition in the world. Here, he was challenged and convicted by the passion and sacrifice of our pastors. We have more than 500 churches in this area, yet more than 250 churches collect less than $10 each month in tithes and offerings. Even in the midst of this daily suffering and struggle, God has birthed a passion to plant NEW churches. One couple plans to plant a church in a local prison. Another man, a former drug runner, is now evangelizing gang members. These men and women are our heroes, and we think they are God’s heroes also.
There are still so many places and people in Latin America and around the world that have not heard the Good News. God is challenging us to plant new churches to share this Good News. No matter the cost or sacrifice, along with these ministers, we will share this Good News! Thank you for praying for Bobby and supporting him in training these church planters during the next year as they step out in faith and begin these new churches!