Learning to Lose Gracefully
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Our older children have never yet beat me at chess, though Isaiah came .dangerously close once recently. But Katie (6) and Faith (4) have beaten me every single time. What is their secret? Well, I have finally figured out that they have a much better time when they win! It has not come easy to me. I have to figure out how to lose every time, and it can be a challenge sometimes!
Our older children seem to prefer games with an element of “chance” involved, in which one of them usually comes out on top. Katie and Faith, however, seem to be much more interested in playing a game with Dad. Funny how that works. Trying to lose a game of “chance” can be even harder.
What about losing your life? This is what Jesus calls us to do, to lay our lives down for His sake. It means losing what many esteem most highly: earthly advantages, comforts, prestige, power, even possibly one’s life in the here and now. We are called to give our lives for the sake of Christ’s honor, glory and kingdom and the eternal good of others—as many as will receive His Word, and thus, receive Him. We are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross each day and follow our Lord—to die daily, as the Apostle put it. It is not something that comes “naturally.” It is indispensable to have the Lord’s perspective which He gives us in His Word, and that is surely what we need more. He knows the end from the beginning.
He knows what it means to save life, and He shows us the way when He says, “lose your life for my sake and the Gospel’s.” Please pray that our Lord will graciously bless our stand for His truth and the Gospel, that He will convict the disobedient, the lawless, and the wanderers. Pray for the confused, the deceived, the miserable, the faltering and the little ones. Pray for love to flow through us to others, that they may be attracted to the Gospel and Saviour we proclaim. Pray the Lord’s providing many opportunities to reach humble hearts, and the Holy Spirit to make His Gospel sound loud and clear in the minds of our hearers.
Paul and Anna Attend CIEF
Paul and Anna had a very busy trip to Santiago at the end of January for the annual CIEF conference. On Wednesday, January 27th, Paul met Dr. Carlos, the brother of a Christian in the U.S. who contacted Paul through SermonAudio.com. Afterwards, through the hospitality of Julio’s family, we all enjoyed a good visit together over supper. On Monday after the conference we had another good fellowship together around lunch and were able to present the Gospel clearly to him. Please pray for Dr. Carlos as we hope to host him in our home for a few days respite from his daily routine when he can come, and Julio and Soledad (Julio’s parents) plan to follow-up with him in Santiago.
The CIEF congress itself was a blessing in being able to greet many brethren again, especially brother Alexander from the mission in Bogotá, Colombia, who was present to deliver an excellent seminar on the use of music in worship. It was also exciting to find Deborah Alcock’s book on Bohemia (John Hus) in Spanish there.
Monday evening Paul and Anna met with several Christian parents interested in Home Education for a time of Q. and A. (approx. 30 in attendance), and then returned to Santa Clara on Tuesday afternoon.
Resource Center and VBS
We have reached a new stage in our ministry. Praise the Lord for closing one door and graciously opening another right away so that we could rent a little home in Santa Clara for our new Christian Resource Center. We signed the contract just the previous Thursday and began holding Vacation Bible School in the house on Monday, February 8th with the theme of Creation. Julio’s family helped us hand out invitations on Saturday and we had good hopes, but no one besides us showed up on time on Monday. However, Cheryl was able to find three little students willing to come on Monday morning and join Katie and Faith, while we readied the place. There were six students the second day, eight the third and fourth days, and then two new ones showed up for our closing program on Friday evening! In all, total attendance was 22, including our nine helpers. Johanna, Cheryl, Paul and Julio were teachers and Geneva (games), Isaiah (piano), Josiah (games), Anna (crafts/refreshments) and Sarah (misc.), helpers. Several of these played a beautiful instrumental selection (violins with flute and piano) during the closing program. Please pray as we follow-up with our new acquaintances and continue our outreach in this new neighborhood.
Since VBS, the house has had a new large opening made in one wall to provide a large open space and we have been painting several ceilings, interior walls and trim.
We then began meeting for Bible classes every Lord’s Day evening to continue working with those who participated in VBS. Attendance has been sporadic at best so far, but each time at least one of our new friends has shown up. We have not had time to advertise it further yet. Cheryl and Geneva teach the little children’s class and Paul teaches the older children and adult class. In the younger class there are two students, Javier and Rocio, who pay good attention along with Katie. It is a little difficult for Faith because her Spanish is not fluent yet and it is difficult for Ricardo, who has trouble sitting still. Please pray for these students as we teach them the Word of God. Paul has continued translating his Old Testament Survey curriculum for our Lord’s Day Bible studies.
We also began traveling to the Resource Center neighborhood every Thursday evening for a “game night” in order to keep in contact with the children and enjoy a special time together outside of the classes.
Trips have been difficult since we only have our small car available yet (only half of us can travel in it). The mechanic says our pickup is ready to go, but we must wait on documentation for the new (used) engine before we can now drive it, since the end of February. So please pray that all the documents necessary will be ready very soon so that we may use it again, for which there are many needs.
The Lord’s Day
During February we had the joy of having Rosita’s cousin Ida join us for worship and Bible class in the evening every Lord’s Day. She also faithfully attended VBS, but is sadly now back in Santiago where she lives. Rosita learned how to read a few years ago and since then has been reading the Bible and growing in the Lord. She so appreciates the Bible studies we have with her and she attends as much as her schedule allows. Pray for our Lord’s continued work in her and in her cousin Ida’s heart. She plans to return in November for a time. Rosita also wanted us to meet her son Alfredo and his wife Kathy while they were visiting from Santiago. He has had a very difficult time with his legs as the result of a problematic medical procedure. Along with Julio and Johanna we were able to visit with them and present the Gospel to him; Julio’s family plan to follow-up with them and with Ida in Santiago.
We had been debt-free from the date of our wedding almost twenty-two years ago and when we came to Chile, until just before our furlough in 2014. With the help of brother Bert Behlow in Greenville, we were able to sell our RV trailer in the U.S. recently and pay off the loan and a couple remaining smaller debts. So we are now blessed and thankful to be debt-free again! We owe the great debt of gratitude and love to our Saviour and Lord, as the Apostle wrote, “I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise [i.e. to all men]. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” (Romans 1:14-15) We serve our holy King out of abundant gratitude because He first loved us, and it is His will that we serve our fellow-men.
Learning at Home
The Durand children have begun another official semester of home education, although we endeavor to learn something every day all year long. Now that summer (in Chile) is over, Paul is back to going through Systematic Theology 3 with Julio and Isaiah, as Julio is back to his university studies in translation. Geneva, now having graduated “Summa Cum Laude” with her Associate of Arts degree, also continues studying on her own, and is beginning to work producing illustrations for a book project. Isaiah continues taking long-distance courses with Whitefield College and has received excellent marks so far. Josiah (10th) and Anna (9th) are progressing in their high school work as well as taking care of their farm animals and other interests. Sarah (7th) enjoys practicing violin and most of her schoolwork, and she also is very good at asking questions. Katie and Faith are learning to read and write and do simple math and they are doing well for their age. And John-Baptiste? He is doing well and learning to talk!
Please keep our labors and family in your prayers. Thank you very much for your interest, prayers and support.
Serving King Jesus,
Paul and Cheryl and family