The Lord Jesus Christ’s first post-resurrection exhortation to Peter that we have in the Scriptures is “Feed my lambs.” Priority and effort should be given to the little ones and new ones in the faith. In love to Christ we must love and feed his lambs first of all.
This month you could not help but think of shepherds and sheep as you entered our church building for our summer Vacation Bible School. The theme of our VBS was “Satisfied with the Good Shepherd.” We studied together Psalm 23 and the life of David. Also there were daily missionary stories on the life of George Mueller and how he trusted God to provide. There was a scene of a sheepfold on the front wall and bundles of hay on the platform. The children sang “Oveja Soy” (I am a lamb) and answered the daily attendance check by responding with a sheep’s “baa.”
But the greatest blessing of all is that several children and young people came on their own and asked how to be saved. What a joy to have the privilege to lead these ones to receive Christ as their Saviour!
The largest class was the young teen class, ages 12 to 15. Becky (her last two days in Chile) and then Melody had the blessing of teaching that class. There was an overall attendance of about 23 to 25 each day of the 5 days of VBS (with girls largely outnumbering the boys!). On Sunday during the closing exercises, several parents came and had the opportunity to hear the gospel and see what God had done in their children. The parents of a 14 year-old boy who received Christ remarked about how their son had been so “touched” during VBS and they want him to keep attending.
The summer heat was overbearing; many were away on vacations and numbers were down from previous VBS’s. But the presence and blessing of the Lord was so evident! Jim and Melody, both, enjoyed teaching classes this year. We saw God’s providence in those who came, including four girls who live in Iquique but were in Arica for summer vacation. Jim was reading F.B. Meyer’s book on the Shepherd’s Psalm during the week and grew to love the Psalm even more. We are thankful to the Lord for the week of blessing He gave us. Please pray for continued fruit from the VBS and lives changed from having heard and received the Gospel.
It was a joy to have Jeremy home from college for three weeks over Christmas and New Year’s. The time flew by fast but we were so thankful to be able to spend that time with him. He is now back at Bob Jones finishing his last semester. He will graduate this May with his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. Please pray for Jeremy as he determines the Lord’s will for the next step in his life.
While she was not able to come for Christmas, Becky was with us for almost a month while on her winter vacation from the International School in Shanghai where she is a teacher. Once she recuperated from her 40+ hour trip and 11 hour time difference, she was able to enjoy being home (and going to the beach) and we enjoyed having her. She is now back in Shanghai trying to get accustomed to the cold again and a new semester schedule. Please pray for Becky as she serves the Lord there and tries to have a testimony among the Chinese people she works with. Also, please pray for the Lord’s leading as she plans to go on a short mission trip to France this summer before coming back to Chile for a couple of weeks as well.
For many years, summer time here in our church in Arica has been rather discouraging. Many of our regular people go on vacation down South and are absent for a month or more. While many of our families did go on vacation this year, and while we did have some services with very low attendance, the Lord showed us that he is not limited. We have had about five new couples attending services this summer. One couple helped every day in our VBS as well! These ones have been an encouragement to us and we ask for your prayers for these new families.
There was great excitement as ten people from our church were able to go to the other end of Chile for a family camp held on the island of Puluqui. Jim went with a S.O.M.E. mission team to Puluqui over 30 years ago to help construct a church building. The campers stayed in tents but had their services in that very church building. One of the ones that went was a 14 year-old boy that received Christ just last September and has been coming faithfully ever since. We are so thankful that these ones were able to attend the camp. Now they want us to have a winter camp here in July! Please pray the Lord will allow that to happen!
The summer has gone by so fast and it is already almost March – which means the beginning of school here in Chile. Also, we will be starting back up with our Ladies’ Bible Study classes every Thursday. Plans are being made to offer some Bible doctrine classes, as well, and a “couples get-together” every other month. Please pray for these ministries and for the Lord’s guidance and strength as we serve.
We thank each of you who pray for us, our ministry and our family. The prayers of God’s people mean so very much to us. It’s so easy to get discouraged by problems in the church or in our family, but your prayer support strengthens us to keep our eyes on our Always Good God. Please continue to pray for our children as they start back to school. Joshua is trying to finish all his high school requirements this semester. Please pray for wisdom in the decisions we must make as parents and please pray that the Lord would do the needed work in the hearts of our children to turn them always to Himself.
Thank you for your support and prayers for us and the ministry here! We are so thankful for the privilege the Lord has given us in His grace to be able to serve Him here in Arica, Chile.
Love and prayers,
Jim, Melody and family