“Behold God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” Psalm 54:4
It is a blessing to know that many participate in our ministry and uphold us through prayer. In heaven we will understand more completely the role that prayer played in our challenges and trials here. God promises blessing to those who are intercessors and uphold the hands of God’s servants in prayer. He promises to be with them. What a special blessing and privilege it is to participate in the upholding of God’s servants!
We were certainly upheld by God’s mercy and the participation of his servants in our annual VBS back in February. David and Priscilla Quisbert, college age children of Pastor David Quisbert in La Paz, Bolivia, came to help us. Also we had the blessing of having our niece, Jocelyn Smith, with us for two months to assist and encourage us. New children came to VBS, some of whom are still attending Sunday School. One young lady has been coming to our youth meetings as well, and was so happy when we gave her a Bible. The theme of our VBS was, “Christ, the Light of the World.” It was a blessing to have a Venezuelan boy named Eduardo come to VBS. He had only been in Chile a few weeks. Many Venezuelans have been arriving in Chile. We often see them in town on the streets or on busses giving out small candy in exchange for a donation to help them out. Sometimes they are showing their flag, and once we saw them giving out Venezuela’s almost worthless money in exchange for a donation. Our hearts are greatly burdened for these people. We’ve been praying for the Lord to give us more opportunities to be a blessing and witness to them. So we are thankful that Eduardo came to VBS and has attended our Sunday School. Please pray that he would be able to come more faithfully.
Our niece, Jocelyn (below), was joyfully willing to help out with anything (VBS, Debbie’s homeschooling, crafts for Easter) or just being a blessing and encouragement to our young people. We marvel at how the Lord sends people to us. We are expecting a young man in June that God has providentially led. Pray for Daniel Harlen as he comes to learn Spanish and serve in our church for two months, that he would be a blessing here and we to him.
Please uphold in prayer Melody’s Aunt Flossie Abbott and her cousins in Mexico. In a recent auto accident, Melody’s cousin David Abbott, an Evangelist who traveled all over Mexico, was taken suddenly home to be with the Lord. Also taken to heaven in the accident was Pastor Samuel Franco, son of Melody’s cousin Ginger, along with his wife and 5-year-old daughter. David’s 19-year-old daughter, Perla, and Samuel’s 2-year-old daughter, Estrella, survived, but were taken to the hospital with many injuries. Please pray for these two girls to fully recuperate and please pray for David’s wife, Lola, and her four children, as they must now live without their husband and daddy. It was, of course, a devastating and difficult time for all the family, but God is always good and upholds his children with grace. David’s preaching ministry actually extended to much more than Mexico, as about a year and a half ago he started sending out daily sermons on WhatsApp which have been a blessing to more than 700 people in South America, including several of the ladies in Melody’s Bible study group. We are thankful for the impact he had in their lives.
Please uphold us in prayer as we make decisions about going on furlough. We believe we need to travel this year to the States and we see a window of opportunity to do so. However the work is not as strong as we would like it to be. Many have gone through recent trials of health issues and are less able to be counted on as in the past. Our desire would be that a pastor could fill in for us, or perhaps several that could come for a month or so. Yet, we see nothing on the horizon thus far. If no one can be found and if circumstances prevent the men of the church from doing all that is needed, it is possible that Jim will have to come back earlier.
Melody will be traveling to Iquitos, Peru (on the Amazon River) to give messages for a ladies’ retreat the first weekend of August. After that we could probably go to the States. We would love to be with Melody’s family in Arizona for Christmas and then come back in early January in time to attend the ICCC Congress (Jan. 22-29, 2020 in Puerto Montt, Chile) for which many are already making plans to attend and Melody is needed to help with translation. There are many churches in the US that we have not visited in a long time that we hope to be able to call on. On our last furlough we were greatly blessed by staying in mission homes in NC from which we were able to make short trips to churches. The experience of being with and praying with other missionaries bolstered our faith and helped to renew our strength. Lord willing, if we can get everything worked out here and leave the work in good hands, we’ll go. Please pray for us with that goal in mind. Our hope is to go to Philadelphia first to renew our driver’s licenses before anything else. We are also considering buying an inexpensive used car that we can use during furlough and then perhaps leave with our son Jeremy, if he does not have one by then. We’d appreciate your prayers for wisdom in all these areas.
In the upcoming months there are many repairs that need to be done. In February there was an unusual drizzle that caused a lot of damage to homes here – these homes were not made with the consideration of the possibility of rain. We still have a hole in the ceiling of our rented home that needs to be fixed; the ceiling over Debbie’s bedroom also seriously leaked so that part of the roof must also be changed. In the church, as well, there was water damage in one of the bathrooms. Another project that needs attention is the wall around the church. The wall was more of a temporary wall, but has lasted 15 years. But now, as the rest of us, it is showing its age and is developing holes in it. It needs to be well made, especially in light of the possibility of earthquakes and tremors. Pray that the Lord will guide and help us with these needs and especially that they would be completed before any travels or furlough.
In July we are planning for our winter youth camp once again. Please uphold us in prayer concerning all the plans and preparations for this camp. Young people from Bolivia, Peru, as well as here in the north of Chile, are already excited to come. But there is much to do before that time. The theme we have chosen for this year is on “Being a True Disciple of Jesus Christ.”
This month we are having a Ladies retreat on the 24th and 25th, so if you read this before that time, we’d appreciate your prayers! Likewise we are thankful for the online seminary classes that are back in session now. Jim is finishing up Doctrines I and Melody is finishing Methods I with their students.
Here is a quick “recap” of prayer requests:
- The Abbott family in Mexico
- Children from VBS to continue attending
- Possible ministry with the Venezuelans coming into Chile
- Daniel Harlen’s visit, June 1 to August 1
- Furlough decisions for August
- Youth Camp, July 16-19
- Melody’s trip to Iquitos, August 1-5
Again, we are so thankful for all of you that take seriously your participation in missions by upholding us and others in prayer. Thank you!
With much love in Christ,
Jim, Melody, and family