Dear Friends and Saints of the Lord,
Greetings in the Holy Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayers! We need our Lord’s gracious protection and blessing. We know that without Him we can do nothing and that without His love and mercy we are not safe. No ministry will bear good fruit apart from His sovereign grace providing the work of His Holy Spirit. As the LORD said to Gideon: . . . Arise, get thee down unto the host [the enemy army]; for I have delivered it into thine hand. Judges 7:9
The battle is the Lord’s. He lifts up one and sets down another. He saves one and does not save another. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). The One True and Unchangeable Living God alone gives what is best to this world, and particularly to His Son and His children in Christ through His undeserved grace. We all depend on Him. Let us cast ourselves and all our care upon Him. He has said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. He gave His only begotten Son to the Cross so that we who trust in Him and repent and serve Him should not perish, but have everlasting life; and He has risen from the dead and is praying!
We are living in challenging times. We hope it will be possible to see you next year; some of us have not been back to the U.S. since 2014. Chile has been on a rocky path since October of 2019 when a popular uprising brought violence and vandalism to various metropolitan areas, which continued until the lockdowns began in March. Since then there have been heavy-handed controls inhibiting freedom of movement, such as an overnight curfew and regional border checkpoints, and a face-mask requirement for transit or being in any urban area. It was necessary to obtain permission online as well as a sanitary passport in order to travel to and from Santiago to pick up Geneva and Sarah when they returned from Missouri, and from Santiago to visit Cristina, the widow of brother Segundo, who recently went home to be with the Lord, and her family, in the adjoining region of Valparaiso. For a moment it seemed as though it might not be possible to make the trip to Valparaiso with Julio and his family. Many of our friends, such as those in Concepción and Santiago, were in lockdown for many weeks, during which they needed to obtain permission to be able to leave their homes for two hours in order to purchase groceries or some other specified approved necessity.
I remember the word “lockdown” from visiting the county jail in Greenville, to preach the Gospel. The prisoners could not come out to participate in a Bible study when the facility was in “lockdown” unless given a special exemption. Well, this year, here, no one could enter a city that was in lockdown simply for the purpose of preaching the Gospel or visiting a friend. It has been as though entire cities have become prisons.
We had to rebook return flights for Geneva and Sarah three times, but they finally arrived home, and after two weeks under quarantine restriction they may again leave home to roam about the region. We are so thankful to have them back with us after seven long months apart! (We had thought we would all be in the US for six months.) It was also good to visit again with Julio and his family and other friends in Santiago prior to their arrival. We had a blessed abbreviated worship service together in their home, early in the morning, prior to driving to the airport.
Life Since September
Since the first of September things have changed quite a bit! The Medina family (having three children) arrived in Santa Clara and has been with us in order to learn first-hand how to home educate (disciple–prepare for service). Well, there are a lot of different ways children can learn, but it is not as easy for parents to learn! But there does seem to be progress and they are thankful to be with us. We have a full house. They arrive every day for our morning devotions and spend the day with us. They are learning the Ten Commandments, the Children’s Catechism, the Shorter Catechism AND more Scripture passages with us, all in Spanish AND English. They have also been attending our worship and afternoon Bible classes on the Lord’s Day along with the Santander family, and we enjoy fellowship together afterwards.
For the Chilean “Independence” (!) holidays, we weren’t allowed to have so many inside on the Lord’s Day, so we held worship outdoors. May our Lord help us all, as losing our nations’ independence would be a disaster, as this year ought to have already taught us.
Taekwando and English Classes
The children may not all have their multiplication tables memorized yet, but we have been seeing multiplication around here almost every day during October! I’m referring to friends and “visitors”. First came the startup of outdoor Taekwando classes in the backyard, now every Friday evening with a (growing) slew of instructors, students and visitors. Then the start of a new English class–and this week the doubling of English classes to two per week, and with twice as many students. Please pray for the hearts of our neighbors’ children (five have been attending), who had been in our English classes back in 2015 or so. Cheryl begins the instruction with choruses in English and goes over a verse with them (as Paul used to do). After a break, Paul begins a more formal 20-minute session going over pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary; we take another break and end with another 20 minutes of class. Then we try to break them away from their “cancer-spy-phones” (or Surveillance-MAnipulation-Red-Tracking phones) with some recreational games and exercise. It’s a blessing to see human beings of all ages interacting with each other without the use of a screen! In class we have begun going over the words which occur in our great hymn, Amazing Grace.
Please pray also for Benjamin and his family. His parents, Ricardo and Alicia, have been warm and friendly, and come with other family members to watch during the Taekwondo lesson. Other parents watch as well, which provides a space for friendly conversation. May our Lord guide and bless the conversation and open hearts by His grace. The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. (Prov. 16:1)
Worship and Bible Study
In worship we have lately enjoyed the history of Gideon in Judges. Our Lord needs not a multitude to accomplish His purposes, He will use the few and the faithful according to His sovereign will and gift. Is the Church oppressed? Let us cry out to our Redeemer, hearken to His Word, believe and obey. Judge righteous judgment, do good, defend the poor and fatherless, deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked; deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain.
Just this week we were thankful to meet again for Bible study with Victor on Thursday evening for the first time since March. Pray that Francisco and Marjorie will continue to attend and grow in Christ also. Their sons, Joaquín and Isaac, have also been with us during the week more regularly since mid-September.
Paul has also been able to minister the Word on three occasions recently to believers in Peru online.
Pray that Rosita will be able to continue attending worship services soon. We have visited more with her, and have had several good opportunities recently to visit with her son Alfredo in Santiago by telephone. Please pray for the conversion of Alfredo and his wife Kathy. He has had a permanent health affliction since overcoming cancer several years ago. Recently he has been reading often in the Psalms from the NT with Psalms and Proverbs which we gave him last year. Pray also for Cristina’s grandchildren and her daughters Rosalia and Elizabeth, and for the Medina Family: Elijah and Jessica, Juliana, David and Pablo.
Thank you very much for your support and prayers! May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. May you have a blessed wonderful joyful Thanksgiving Day full of thanksgiving!
In the Joy, Grace and Love of Christ our Lord,
The Durand family
Paul and Cheryl
Geneva, Isaiah, Josiah, Anna, Sarah, Katie, Faith and John-Baptiste