As abnormal as these days in which we live are, our primary task and objective remains the same: “Preach the Word.” Our times are in God’s control. Oftentimes the most difficult times of sowing produce the best results (Ecc. 11:1). The preaching of the cross is still the remedy for the world’s plight. In season, out of season; it’s always the season to preach God’s Word.
The year 2022 has already begun with its challenges. On December 26, 2021, Jim’s oldest brother, Steve, went to be with the Lord after one week of being sick with Covid-19. We didn’t know that he was sick until the day before his home-going. Steve was born on Sunday, November 13, 1949 and went to be with the Lord on Sunday, December 26, 2021. We are thankful to the Lord that we were able to talk to Steve on that very day and express our love for him. We are thankful, too, for Pastor Mark Barr, who went to check him on that day and talked to him and was actually there when Steve entered Christ’s presence. The Lord allowed us (Jim and Melody) in His grace, to make the trip to Bristol, Tennessee to make funeral plans along with Jim’s two other brothers and sister. The funeral was held in Elizabethton, TN, and was conducted by Steve’s pastor, Tim Mindemann. The message was exactly what Steve would have wanted to be preached, reminding us of Christ’s victory over the last enemy death, and how that, although Steve is remembered for his faithfulness, it wasn’t his faithfulness that saved him. He was saved by Christ’s grace and death on Calvary in his stead.
It was a blessing to see a number of Steve’s former students and co-workers at the funeral, people who loved and appreciated Steve. Steve had talked of being buried someday back in Minnesota; that didn’t happen. Yet God was gracious to send Minnesota to Tennessee that day with an unexpected snow the night before and day of his funeral and burial. Though we miss him, we are so thankful to know Steve is “with Christ which is far better”. Philippians 1:23
There has been a recent wave of Covid-19 cases in Arica. Our Christmas program had to be “trimmed down”. It was unusual to see angels and shepherds with masks on! But it was still a blessing. Recently several families in our church contracted Covid-19, and now our city is back to Phase 2 which means a lot more restrictions. So for the last three weeks we have returned to doing services online only. We are waiting on the Lord, and appreciate your prayers that we could soon return to in-person worship.
In these summer months we still hope to have some kind of a VBS. It may have to be reduced or limited in the number of days. But kindly still pray that we may be able to have VBS (depending on how restrictions are because of the virus).
We thank the Lord for the blessing of having our daughter Becky with us for two months. Pray that the Lord would guide her in finding a new job when she returns to the US in February. Having Becky here made Christmas special and was also a great blessing and help here during our unexpected trip to the US.
Also brethren, please continue to pray for the ministry of reaching Venezuelan refugees with the gospel. Even last week Jim met a family that had just arrived in Chile the day before. Also, Melody was invited to the graduation of two Venezuelan girls in December. Michel and Dessiret (pictured here) invited Melody to attend their high school graduation ceremony. It was a special blessing, considering they were only allowed two guests. After inviting their own mothers, they invited Melody. What a blessing it is to have a part in their lives, pointing them to Christ. Please pray for their futures; Michel has not yet received Christ, while Dessiret has done so.
For those who have visited Arica before, you would be surprised to see, as you look at the city, a whole new neighborhood built on the hills around the city, mainly of Venezuelans. It seems to be a dangerous place. The son of one of our Venezuelan converts was stabbed there on Christmas Eve and died. Kindly pray that many Venezuelans would find Christ here in Chile. Many struggle just to live day by day and many send much of what they earn back to their families, who are worse off in Venezuela. The Lord is still enabling us to help where and when we can.
We appreciate your continued prayers for Jim and his needed surgery to re-connect his intestines. It has been over a year of waiting. After prayer and consideration we have decided to pursue getting the surgery done at a private clinic. We were told that the wait for surgery at the public hospital could be a year or two! Yesterday we saw a surgeon at a private clinic and surgery has been scheduled for March 7, barring any more Covid-19 delays. Pray with us that the surgery would go well and that there would not be any complications requiring a longer hospital stay.
Yes, the need to preach the Word in season: when it is convenient to do so, when conditions are favorable, in normal times. But, there is also need to preach the same Word when it is inconvenient to do so, when conditions are adverse and in abnormal times. Please pray that the Lord would help us to be faithful at all times.
Finally, there is a request for prayer for our church during these summer months in Chile. Pray for our young people to listen to the Lord’s leading in their lives. Pray also for two of our men, Carlos and Jaime, who have serious medical conditions. Pray for opportunities of witness and for the Word of God to have free course in hearts, and be glorified (II Thess.3:1).
Thank you for upholding us in your prayers.
Your Servants for Christ’s sake in Chile,
Jim, Melody and Debbie (and Becky)