“A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.”Proverbs 16:9
Dear Friends and Brethren in Christ,
As has happened with all the world, 2020 took a strong unexpected turn for us in March with the Pandemic. But in all these things, we have seen God’s hand, providence and control. Our plans changed but God has faithfully directed our steps. “Thus man proposes; God disposes. Man devises; the Lord directeth” (Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs).
We are so thankful to the Lord for allowing us to go to the U.S. for a week in March to attend the wedding of our son Jeremy to Daniella Moore. They are serving the Lord together now at the Wild’s Christian Camp in Brevard, N.C. The Lord chooses best. It was a joyous occasion and, as we were to find out later, just “under the wire!” On our return to Chile we crossed the border into Chile from Peru just hours before the border closed (and is still closed to this day!)
Our church met for services that Sunday that we were on our way back to Chile, but have not met again in our church building since then. As has been done everywhere else, we began to have our Sunday services on Facebook, Melody’s ladies’ Bible Studies on audio sent by WhatsApp and our prayer meetings and youth meetings on Zoom. It has been amazing to see how the Lord has broadened our ministry as many people have been watching and listening to these messages, not only in Arica, but all over the world! Melody started a children’s “class” with her puppet Jackson and children from all over Latin America watch every Sunday. Melody asked her mother if she would play some of her piano hymn arrangements on Facebook especially for our Ladies to listen to, and several days after posting, several thousand, from the U.S., Chile, and other countries had listened and been blessed by those beautiful hymns.
We are also thankful for the opportunities the Lord has given during this time to minister. The Lord providentially provided funds several times in these last months from several churches and individuals to help the Venezuelan Refugees that we have been led of God to minister to. There are two families that had been attending church since we met them last July as well as a 16 year old girl that lives with them as well. The funds given could not have come at a more needed time. Our city of Arica was under strict quarantine for one month. We could only go out to buy or pay bills and only with limited permissions procured online from the police. The Venezuelans who depend on selling candies on the streets to live were in a very difficult position. We have been enabled by the Lord through his people to take them weekly groceries and help with their rent during this crisis. Then the Lord led another family to us at that time. Danilo and Deisy and their 1 year old son had been put out of their rented room and were on the streets. Karen (one of “our” Venezuelans) showed them kindness and then introduced us to them and the Lord allowed us to be a help to them. They have been reading the Bible we gave them and faithfully listening to the online services.
Some have asked about the effect of the Corona virus pandemic on us in Chile. We just learned of a lady here in Arica who has been attending our church during the last year who tested positive. There were several cases of persons affected in the New Jerusalem church in Chillán. Roberto Cabrera had a very severe case, but we are thankful that after 19 days on a ventilator and nearly a month in the hospital, he was kept and healed of the Lord. However the son of an elder in the church in Huepil (down South) passed away from the virus. The situation has been very dire in Iquitos, Peru where our friends of the Peruvian Union church are, because of other outbreaks of sickness as well, such as Dengue and Malaria. Quite a few were infected by Covid and they have lost some members. Pastor Juan Hoyos and Pastor Victor Montejo were very sick but are better now. Please pray for the Lord to help them through this difficult time and comfort families that have lost loved ones.
We have been very encouraged to see Christ’s church pulling together. Pastor Carreño has been sending out by WhatsApp daily meditations from the Psalms to encourage family devotions. Many Chilean brethren gave to a special offering that was sent to the brethren in Iquitos to help the many needy there. Pastor Jack Sin from Singapore is putting together a book for the Spanish speaking brethren dealing with the Pandemic and other related Bible Studies. We, though not so good in Spanish translation, are trying to help by translating several chapters for him. Also, our weekly seminary classes are continuing online with several additional students and listeners this year.
Although we have seen the blessing of messages online, we are anxious to return to normality. It is just unnatural for Chileans to greet one another from a distance. It is painful! Thankfully, in Heaven we will not be meeting by Zoom!
We would appreciate your prayers for several matters:
- A soon return to meeting in person in our church building,
- For travel and mail in and out of Chile to be restored,
- Wisdom to know what to do about future canceled activities, such as our July camp,
- Several in our church passing through trials of need and health, some without work,
- Our young people whose lives have been disrupted,
- Our missionary friends, Steve and Sandra Reyes from Arica, now in the US because of Sandra’s health problems.
We are so thankful for the Lord’s provision for us in this time and provision to minister to others as well. Also we are thankful for his providence in letting us attend our son’s wedding, spend time with special friends and family, and getting back across the border (and not being stuck in Peru!). We are thankful too that Becky was able to go to the wedding before returning to China and for the Lord’s protection and care over her as well.
The ability of this Corona virus to speedily cross borders and reach all corners of the earth reminds us that by prayer we can do so as well and to a much greater degree and for a positive and eternal benefit. How wonderful to know in such uncertain times, the Lord directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9; 3:6; 20:24; Psalms 37:23; Jeremiah 10:23).
Thank you so much for your faithful prayer and support for us and the Lord’s work here.
With love in Christ, your servants for Christ’s sake,
Jim, Melody ,and Debbie Bjur