Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good job, Jesus!

Meet Jose Barrionuevo. (Photo) I found him worshiping last night at the Merlo church. He is a builder and leading a team of his local church members in building a well designed extension of the sanctuary that will more than double its capacity. Volunteer workers have been building with him for a year, mostly on Saturdays. Now it is almost finished. When I greeted him he told me this remarkable story: 24 years ago he was practically an invalid with a bad knee and could only walk with a special support cane. He claims that I went to his house and prayed for him and that he was instantly healed and gave his heart to Christ. He was younger then and joined others playing soccer for years. (You need to know that grown men here love to play soccer.) He has never used a cane since. Good job, Jesus! You did it again!

And check out this youth group! (Photo)

We started this Merlo church in 1977-78 with 15 hopelessly addicted drug addicts, pushers and young prostitutes in the middle of “sin city”… with a 20-month nightly tent crusade. Now the neighborhood has changed entirely and is filled with nice homes. Good job, Jesus! There you go… doing it again and again!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Riding in on Felipe's shirt-tail

Wow! Our minister son, Tim, just sent me the site to watch the three short Easter videos he produced for his local church! He often makes videos for his church and offers them for sale on Sermon Spice. If you wish to check them out, just click on:

Today I watched again Frances’ Memorial video that Tim prepared for his mother’s funeral. It is fantastic to have this as a keep-sake. I cried and laughed and sang all by myself sitting here in this prophet’s chamber. I miss Frances so much! But the Comforter is always present with me. I feel like I am living on the edge of something wonderful. Invitations and possibilities abound. I should be curled up somewhere feeling sorry for myself, but God has pushed me out into a new and quite different life with almost zero stress and maximum blessing. These Argentine churches often give me a “love offering”. And when I am with them they don’t let me spend anything… except by anonymously giving in church offerings. So I mostly spend those pesos on long distance travel and on food and lodging when I am alone, and since I am preaching almost every day at least once… that “alone thing” only happens when I make it happen. Yesterday afternoon and this morning I was alone… and I think I really needed it.

This afternoon I met with Missionaries Kim and Shari Babcock. Kim and Shari are wanting to schedule me in their King’s Castle youth leaders events in a couple of provinces in July and September. I turned July down in order to get my feet on the ground in the USA during the summer, but am considering the possibility of September. I think this event may be in Cordoba, in which case I could probably schedule those three Christian schools, too, plus many churches in the area. The Lord still helps me to connect somehow with kids, teenagers, young adults and even the aged. Actually, to give credit where credit is due, my sidekick, Felipe, is the one in heavy demand. I just ride in on his shirt-tail and behold… he lets me do the preaching.

At Merlo tonight two little boys remained quietly in prayer for at least 40 minutes, long after the adults and youth had left the altar area. One looks like he is 8 and the other maybe 11. Who knows what God is doing inside those tender hearts? (Photos)


Monday, April 25, 2011

Prophet's chamber

What a well behaved group of 400 school kids sitting on the floor! They had no idea about what was coming. I look at these faces and know that every one of them is a treasured jewel worth dying for. Each one a “life to be lived.” Potential unlimited! The next time I go to Cordoba, they want to set me up with three Christian schools. One of them much larger than this one.

I have arrived safely at Martinez, suburb of Buenos Aires. “I’m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet” (Amos 7:14), but am now comfortably moved into the church’s “prophet’s chamber,” fourth story, light in the window, just under the water tank. This is Missionary Don Exley’s church plant (a great church and a great school) and they are building a massive structure for over 1500.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meet me at the flag pole

Sorry for the confusing title yesterday. No…“Midway” is not a place. Actually I was just trying to find a short way to say “Altar Call in the middle of my sermon”… so I came up with “Midway Altar Call”. This altar call happened in one of our newer AG churches in the city of Cordoba.

I preached this morning, at a beautiful Easter Service in “Cordoba Christian Center”… a church planted in the 1980s by Missionaries Don and Melba Exley. It has become a national leader in missions giving. They are making a difference in the world. Tonight I ministered in our oldest church here in Cordoba “Bethel Church” (Iglesia Betel). It was there when we moved to this city in 1966, but now is in a new location. This happened to be Santiago and Lidia Zapata’s 30th anniversary as pastors of this church. It was a free-for-all as people ran forward to smother them with confetti and love. They have been our dear friends since 1966 when he was CA president (youth president) at this same church. At the close of the message several visitors came for salvation, among them “Somebody’s son” came home to Jesus.

Tomorrow morning I take a plane to Buenos Aires, but first I’ll be driven to a Christian grade school at 8 AM to minister to about 400 kids at the raising of the Argentine flag just before catching that plane. I don’t want to miss anybody… ha!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Midway altar call

You should have seen the packed church tonight! (Photo) The time was right so I gave an altar call in the middle of the sermon. Six responded to give their hearts to Jesus, five young men and one lady. (Photo) After praying for salvation with these “first timers” I sent them back to their seats for the second half… ha. Resurrection is all about new life… abundant life! All six of these were back praying again at the end of the service… the tall fellow was seeking deliverance from cigarettes. The resurrected Christ is in the liberty business. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36


Friday, April 22, 2011

Night of Forgiveness

The night of His betrayal Jesus took a basin of water and a towel and started washing his disciple’s feet… and he didn’t stop until he had washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, His betrayer. He knew that only moments later those feet would run to sell their Master for 30 pieces of silver. Picture the King of kings on His knees in front of His betrayer. That’s a forgiving, loving heart stooping low! Many years have passed since I had witnessed a “foot washing service”. But Pastor Pancho Buono, (who was saved as a teenager one night in 1967 when I was preaching in this city) has this special “Foot Washing Service” every year during Holy Week. He calls it “Night of Forgiveness.” Pancho has raised up an awesome church that is actively starting other churches even in distant provinces, more than twenty, plus another twenty in process. Tonight after I preached, he told the people that he had requested the privilege of washing the feet of his “spiritual father.” (photo) It was a powerful experience, a time of expressed love and appreciation. Each Husband was kneeling in front of his wife tenderly washing her feet… then visa versa. (photo) Love and forgiveness flowed like a river. Everybody was laying their hands on their loved ones and praying for them. Elderly widows washed each other’s feet. Pancho washed the feet of his board members. And I requested the privileged of washing Pastor Pancho’s feet. (photo)

After the service I was shuttled to the home of the couple that are in charge of the “Castilleros” (King’s Castle Kids). They had been out preaching on the streets. They sat me in a chair in front of them and said “Preach!” It was totally unexpected, but when you give me a bunch of charged up teenagers, you don’t have to beg me too much. I shared with them how God had thrust me into ministry even though I was shy and incapable of speaking in public… and how a group of 30 service men surrendered their lives to Christ the very first time I tried. I had made a total mess of it, but I discovered that the power is not in the delivery, but in the message. It was now almost midnight and Pastor Pancho’s car was waiting outside to take me “home” to the IBM.

Before church I shared my testimony with Sergio, my taxi driver, a father of three kids… for 30 minutes… all the way from the Bible Institute to church. Then there in front of the church, seated in the car, he prayed with me to receive the Savior that died for him and rose again. Who Knows? Sergio may become another Pancho! This is going to be a good weekend. I’ve still got three more churches to go!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Church Planters in Action

Tonight, the Thursday before Good Friday, I ministered in the city of Jesus Maria about 50 kilometers north of Cordoba with a pastor that served as my right hand when he was a teen-age kid. Samuel Daniele was a PK who played the accordion well at 15 years old. Together we did street meetings in the city of Cordoba. Later he found his wife, Lidia, at IBRP our Bible Institute in Buenos Aires. They graduated and immediately entered full-time ministry. Samuel and Lidia have started several churches and tonight I ministered at their most recent church plant. They are still worshiping in a rented hall. (Photo)

Recently they purchased a lot and will soon begin building a church. Tonight they are doing an all-night vigil. I was asked to launch it with my message. It was also Lidia’s birthday. I shot this photo of them as the people were singing Happy Birthday to her. This congregation obviously loves their pastors. For weeks I have been ministering late into the night and getting very little sleep so I did not stay for the all night vigil. The church will continue in prayer and worship until 3 or 4 AM.

My ministry part is finished at the IBM (Mediterranean Bible Institute) at least for now. I will continue to live here while ministering four more times in this area. Monday I fly to Buenos Aires to continue ministry there. Tomorrow night I will minister in an unusual “foot washing service” at a church planted by Pancho Buono. Pancho was saved as a teenager here one night in 1966 when I was preaching. A teenage girl invited this lost kid, who had a wild reputation in his neighborhood, to come hear the Hawaiian guitar. He came. He reminded me recently that I preached on John 12:24 that night. He responded to the altar call and gave his life to Christ. After graduating from IBRP he traveled as an evangelist to Chile and to other countries including the United States. He learned English in his travels and made numerous trips ministering in the USA. He remains single. About 20 years ago he went back to his old neighborhood, where he had a previous bad reputation, and started a church. And it is a great church! Pancho calls me his spiritual father and says he wants the privilege of washing my feet. I agreed on one condition, that I may wash his. We never know who will come to Christ when we preach the Word! I probably won’t be around to see all that the Lord will do with the dedicated youth here at the IBM… but you can count on it. They will, like the apostles of old, invade Satan’s territory, plant new churches and steal the captives from the devil’s grip, freeing them into a life of victory.

This is destined to be an exciting weekend, Friday night with Pancho, Saturday night with a pastor I recently met, Samuel Medina, and Easter Sunday both morning and evening ministering with dear friends from long ago. I will need physical strength, a voice that keeps going and a special anointing from heaven. Did you see that picture (yesterday) of the IBM students praying for me? If I mess up this weekend it won’t be their fault. They prayed the power of God out of heaven down upon me!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another grain of wheat falls and dies

This afternoon I translated into Spanish Pastor Mehdi Dibaj’s beautiful defense which he presented in an Iranian court. His sentence was death. (**See Ken Horn’s note below.) He served 9 long years in prison for apostasy and for preaching Christ. In his defense he does not plead for his life. He presents Christ Jesus, the loving Savior, to all present. In a separate statement he says, "I have always envied those Christians who were martyred for Christ Jesus our Lord. What a privilege to live for our Lord and to die for Him as well. I am filled to overflowing with joy; I am not only satisfied to be in prison. . .but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus Christ." Five months after his release he paid the supreme sacrifice.
IBM Directors Stephen and Sonia Wallace

My text for the students at IBM tonight was the verse that has most impacted my personal life, John 12:24. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will be forever fruitless, but if it dies it will bring forth MUCH fruit.” I already have this verse inscribed on my tombstone which I share with Frances. Her favorite passage Prov. 3:5-6 is beside her name.

I believe there was a deep work of God taking place in many of these 50 young students of God’s Word tonight. They knelt and some lay face down around the altar burying the seed and letting it die. As at other times, there were some significant puddles of tears left behind. The abandoned shoes made me think of Cinderella. (Photo) Physical death never comes easy and this dying to one’s self can also be painful. Later there was a great time of singing and rejoicing. Little joyful “prayer-huddles” formed here and there around the room. Praise God, this kind of death is never the end! It is rather the beginning of a new kind of life. The seed lies dormant and cold beneath the soil, then a tiny root seeks water and sustenance and a weak little sprout pushes its way through stubborn soil toward sunlight. Resurrection joy can never be experienced without first suffering the pain of death. What a celebration of resurrection joy among the students! (Photo) God’s promises will not fail them. Jesus says there will be MUCH fruit!


**Special thanks to Ken Horn, editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, who responded to my urgent request today, sending me the information below along with pastor Dibaj’s defense.
Rev. Mehdi Dibaj who was born into a Muslim family became a Christian 45 Years ago. On December 21, 1993 an Islamic court in the city of Sari condemned him to die. The conviction was based on the charge of apostasy, i.e. that Rev. Dibaj had abandoned Islam and embraced Christianity. Once the news of Rev. Dibaj's death sentence reached the rest of the world, the reaction was one of disbelief followed by prayer and action. One of the persons who worked very hard to overturn Rev. Dibaj's sentence was Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr. Bishop Haik, an Armenian pastor, shared the news of Rev. Dibaj's death sentence as well as other violations of religious freedom of Christians in Iran with the world. Due to the world's reaction, Rev. Dibaj was released on January 16, 1994. Five months after the release from prison, Rev. Mehdi Dibadj was abducted mysteriously and suffered martyrdom in June, 1994.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Things kind of got out of hand

Happy Easter Week!

I flew into Cordoba yesterday… the city where we lived with our three little boys in 1966-67. Wow! It has grown! Check out the shot I took of just a little part of downtown from the plane as it was landing. I am now settled in at the Instituto Biblico Mediterraneo (IBM). The campus is located just outside the city. What fabulous ministry opportunities Jesus is giving me!

Easter week here is “Spiritual Emphasis Week” and I have been invited to minister three nights starting last night, Monday. Tonight, Tuesday, things kind of got out of hand… well, out of my hands at least. We preachers kind of like to think we have things under control. Well, I confess that idea flew out the window tonight. The bass player set his instrument aside and dropped to his knees, the singers quit singing, the drummer quit drumming. One young man left the prayer area and started walking back down the aisle. I watched, wondering why he was leaving. Suddenly he collapsed in a heap and remained lying there in prayer in the aisle for a long time. We all know that the Day of Pentecost comes 50 days after Easter. But here at the IBM I think it’s started early. Tonight the staff was having a hard time shutting the altar service down. Since dinner is served at about 11 PM after chapel, and since they are using the dining room for a chapel, things were being shuffled around to make it work. The service was officially ended, but the altars left open for those who were still praying (and there were many). Meanwhile they set up the tables and served dinner to the others. After dinner I finally left to retire to my room. Some students were still on the floor praying earnestly.

Maybe God is up to something. Don’t blame me! It was out of my hands!


IBM 11:37 PM. Some eating, many still praying.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Invisible Miracle

Almost everybody would like to see a miracle like a blind person made to see… or a paralytic made to rise and walk. But what about the invisible miracles? Often they are the best kind. Here’s a picture of that best kind of miracle, taken last week by someone’s camera without a flash. The picture may be weak, but the miracle is strong. Martin Jacobson just sent it to me with these words:

This is Felix Olazabal — he is the young man from Horacio Balbi’s church who God RADICALLY saved out of alcoholism and now with a heart aflame for evangelism, he and his wife, Jessica, and young son, Mateo, are SO EXCITED to be preparing for ministry at IBP! Before coming to Christ, he attempted suicide on more than one occasion and was found frequently passed out from alcohol. He is always one of the first to the altar, crying out to God for a deeper relationship and interceding for the lost.

Listen up you agnostics and atheists! There are no hospitals, no expert surgeons; no psychologists or psychiatrists than can imitate this miracle. Our powerful resurrected Jesus Christ is the only One that can take such a broken, hopeless wreck and lift it from the jaws of death to vibrant life!

Hey! It’s “Resurrection Week!” Let’s celebrate Jesus!

Early this morning I left the Patagonian Bible Institute behind. Martin took me to the Trelew airport with my new destination our AG Bible Institute in Cordoba where the director, Missionary Stephen Wallace, and about 50 students are waiting for me to minister to them beginning tonight. Oh, God! Who am I to stand among such resurrected miracles?! Ah! But then I remember that I, too, am one of them… a recipient of the life-giving grace and power of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

I always need your prayers, but especially during this Spiritual Emphasis week.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Preaching in The Feathers

Special thanks to Heidi for the tempting apple pie recipe. Martin told me that Charlotte will try it as soon as she gets a chance. Unfortunately I leave here to minister in Cordoba early Monday morning and probably won’t get the opportunity to taste it.

I had a delightful surprise when I arrived at the Patagonian Bible Institute earlier this week. My long time friends, Jerry and Vickie Brown are teaching here for two months. (Photo) They were missionaries sent from our Northern California Nevada home district to Ecuador and now are teaching courses in Bible Institutes throughout Latin America. Last night at dinner we enjoyed a great time sharing church-planting stories until long after bedtime.

Tonight, Saturday, I arrived back at the Patagonian Bible Institute at 11:30 PM after preaching in “The Feathers” (Las Plumas, Argentina). Historians say the town’s name comes from the practice of the indigenous population trading feathers and wild guanaco meat with the early Welsh settlers for bread and butter. I assume that the feathers were those of the abundant rheas that roam this high desert. The rhea looks just like an ostrich, but is smaller, standing only about 5 feet tall. I often see them alongside the road and always dodge widely in case one should step out in front of me. The last thing I need is a car decorated with feathers!

12 years ago Pastor Jim Heden’s church in Richmond, California provided the funds to build this little church in Las Plumas. I drew up the simple plans. Argentine Christian brothers from Trelew drove the 200 kilometers many times pulling a trailer full of bricks and other materials to build it. Most of the money was from a Memorial Fund of Richmond’s former pastor Harold Steward. The black marble corner stone displays in Spanish the following text: “This Temple is dedicated to the Memory of Rev. Harold F. Steward of Richmond, California USA and to the God of love that he served, April 11, 1999.” Check out the home-made wood stove. (Photo) It’s amazing what you can do with a retired washing machine! It sets right up front near the pulpit. And believe me we needed that heat! 30 minutes before church time, while the sun was just setting, we shot a picture of the group that had arrived early. (Photo) As always the kids enjoyed petting my little skunk puppet, Perfume, and hearing Felipe’s Bible story.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Apples on the ground, pie in the oven

I have never seen so many apples on the ground. This has been one of their best years for apples here at the Patagonian Bible Institute. Some of the apples are as big as a softball. They are already harvesting some. They take them to a special cold storage place that keeps them fresh until November so they can continually use them with meals for their 59 students.

I am staying in the very nice director’s home on campus here. (See photo) Directors Martin and Charlotte Jacobson, (photo) missionaries from Kentucky are two of the best of the best. This afternoon Martin picked up some apples off the ground and made us all a “smoothy” by combining chopped up apples and bananas. Uuuummm delicious! This couple works tirelessly during all their waking hours. They are constantly in a building program. Their dorms are fairly well finished on the inside and filled with students, but need to be stuccoed and finished on the outside. The large library/chapel building has a roof, but is far from completed and cannot be used. Naturally, like always, they are out of money. So building on the library/chapel has been halted awaiting another miracle. If you happen to have $60,000 hidden under the bed and don’t know what to do with it… well, just send it to the AGWM Missionary Ralph Hiatt account #283632 marked Patagonian Bible Institute. I’ll make sure it gets where it’s supposed to go.

Years ago, when Frances and I were here with our MMM (Mobile Ministry Module) they were trying to get the academic building up and going and had finally reached the end of all resources. Charlotte wept because they would now have to send the main builder, a wonderful brother, back home and close down the progress on the construction. About that time I received an email from a name I did not recognize asking me “What would you do if you had $100,000?” I thought it was just another gag and didn’t even answer it. But then a pastor wrote reminding me about the letter that his secretary had sent me. I knew this minister. He pastored a small church that was meeting in a school classroom. I responded, presenting him with the need of the IBP academic building. He immediately sent me (through the AGWM) $65,000 which I gave to the Jacobsons just after they had been in tears because they were having to shut down. The building was completed and classes started right away in those classrooms. I never asked that generous pastor what he did with the other $35,000… ha. I’m sure it, too, went for a good cause.

Lord, we need another one of those miracles… any time now, please.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seeking His Passion

Every Christian father and mother’s heart breaks for the sheep of their little flock that have strayed away. One never ceases to pray for them. Sunday night I preached from Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son… using some ideas from a sermon by AG Supt. George Wood. The lost sheep became lost by his own carelessness. With his face in the grass and never looking up he wandered away from the flock and the care of the shepherd. The lost coin became lost because of the carelessness of someone else since a coin cannot lose itself. Somebody who should have been responsible failed that take care of that coin. May God help us who have the responsibility to care for a few of His precious coins! The son became lost by his own rebellion even though he was part of a family with a loving, generous father. The father was deeply concerned for his lost son. He was not happy with 50% of his family inside his care. The woman was concerned for one coin even though she still had 90% of her coins in hand. The shepherd was concerned over one lost sheep even though he had 99% within the safety of the flock. It is of little comfort to tell a mother whose child has disappeared, “Don’t worry. You have another child.” Would we not be elated to have 50% of the lost in our city all saved and in church? But would Jesus be satisfied? Would we not be proud if we had 90% of the people in our town in our church? We would be on national TV and writing top-selling books. But would Jesus be happy? We would be flying super high if we had 99% of the people in our community saved and in church. But would Jesus be happy? God is not willing that any should perish. Our Good Shepherd will leave His flock and run to the mountains in the middle of a dark night to save that last bleating lamb from the jaws of the roaring lion that is hanging out nearby. God, give us the passion of Jesus!

The Patagonian Bible Institute (IBP) is a beautiful place. It our southernmost Bible Institute in the world I am told. The whole 10 acres was an apple orchard. The Welsh Christians that first settled in this area developed a wonderful system of irrigation powered by waterwheels driven by the river current and lifting the water high enough to run through irrigation canals. One of these little canals runs right through the campus. (Photo) They have had to remove many apple trees to make room for the academic buildings, kitchen, library and dormitories, but there are still hundreds of wonderful apples of all kinds on the 300 apple trees that remain. (Photo) The Lord seems to walk with you when you stroll among the trees. There are presently 59 students studying. They have just added a fourth year. The key figures in the development of this seminary are Martin and Charlotte Jacobson from Kentucky. They are so full of Jesus, so kind, tender and loving and yet so highly structured and self disciplined that they tend to reproduce these qualities in their students. The assistant directors, Eddie and Diana Echevarria, are also among God’s choicest servants. This morning I preached to the student body and staff. They extended the typical chapel time to allow for a good time of prayer. Who knows what God will do with these fervent students? I always say, “Watch out world! Here come the Argentines! Either step to one side or get run over, because they are going places for Jesus!”

Tuesday night I felt impressed to change my prepared message only an hour before arriving at the Rawson church, which is very unlike me. Once again I ministered on Jesus’ passion for the lost. I had no idea that this church had taken a theme for this month: “Seeking His Passion”. There was a strong congregation for a Tuesday night. The photo shows only a small portion of them. Most remained seeking His passion until around 11 PM!

God is treating me well. I still have a voice, not a super powerful voice, but a voice! It’s almost incredible! This week I’m only preaching 5 times. I have three days off to get ready for next week’s Spiritual Emphasis Week at our Mediterranean Bible Institute (IBM) in Cordoba.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Spin

Check out the excited youth group in the young Las Grutas church! (Friday night Photo)

I spent all day Saturday in the hotel in Las Grutas praying and preparing for a weekend of ministry in Sierra Grande, Puerto Madryn and Trelew. I took no time for anything else… didn’t even stop to eat. I finally finished a rough draft of a message for my Sunday night message just in time to load my suitcases in the car and get myself 130 kilometers down the road to Sierra Grande for the evening service. I arrived in time to spend some quality time with the pastors, Jorge and Norma Coba, before the service. Here the pastors are a dear couple that many years ago were my students at River Platte Bible Institute in Buenos Aires. They served for a time as missionaries to Brazil, then later, something like 7 years in Bolivia. Sierra Grande is kind of a ghost town whose mine closed down years ago. The church is small and has suffered some set-backs. The pastors said it had only 3 or 4 people in it when they came here 7 years ago. During the prayer time at the close, the keyboard player was keeping the music going while praying fervently down on his knees. I couldn’t resist clicking the camera. (Photo) Later I invited the married couples to gather up front for special prayer. There were 12 couples, plus the pastor and his wife…. (See last photo) That’s a pretty strong Saturday night congregation for a ghost town.

After church I drove another 135 kilometers to Puerto Madryn, arriving at my hotel at 1 AM. I got right to bed at 2 AM so I could be up and at the church at 7:45 AM for the 8:30 morning service where I was scheduled to minister. What a great church we have in Puerto Madryn! Pastors Horacio and Julia Balbi are the greatest! They have been like family to Frances and me. This is the area where the Welsh Christians settled many years ago. Madryn is a pretty city facing the sea. During certain times of the year huge “Right” whales can be seen playing in the waters. They say they come here to mate. I even saw one breach clear out of the water here once. Another time Frances and I and a bunch of tourists watched several of these monsters only about 150 feet from the shore just hanging around “tourist watching”… whispering to each other, “Hey Moby… Check out that guy with the striped shirt, short pants and dark glasses!” The Madryn AG church has Sunday School for the kids after the Sunday morning service and I stayed to have Felipe share a Bible story with a bustling church-full of kids of all ages. Then I drove the 84 kilometers to the Patagonian Bible Institute in Gaiman where I will now be staying in for a week in the home of Directors’ Martin and Charlotte Jacobson’s. They served me a delicious Sunday lunch. Then I crashed for an hour before rising to finish preparing my message for tonight in Trelew. Pastors Ramon and Blanca Saucedo have a powerful work going in Trelew with its fingers reaching out for hundreds of kilometers in several directions. I preached from the three parables in Luke 15: Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son… and asked the congregation of about 300 to come seek God for the same passion for the lost that Jesus demonstrated. This church is always good for a great altar time… and I was not disappointed.

Hey… It’s 2:30 AM again… past my bedtime. Good night.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Miracles come in many colors!

This afternoon I was driving only two blocks from the hotel, returning from a delightful lunch with Pastors Stella y Jorge Orellano, when I heard a strange sound under the car. I thought I had caught a wire or something in a wheel. I drove the two blocks and parked at the hotel, then looked underneath the hood. The main serpentine belt that runs everything important to the function of the motor and steering was disintegrating into long strings of flapping rubber. I asked the hotel desk man, Hector, if he knew a mechanic. He was just getting ready to change shifts and leave someone else, but he knew one and called a friend to get the mechanic’s number. I called the number. The mechanic’s shop is only two blocks from the church where I preach tonight. The mechanic knows the pastor. Moments ago he came and towed the car away to his shop. (See photo)

Well, what’s so miraculous about that? I’m so glad you asked. I have just driven 5,357 miles in this car on some of the most isolated roads on this earth. 95% of these areas had no cell phone service available, no mechanics, no tow facilities, no smiling faces to rescue me… unless some daring soul were to stop out in the middle of nowhere. In some cases there was only one car every ten of fifteen minutes! So the serpentine belt decided that it had no more to give and surrendered… exactly in the most convenient possible place! Had it broken at 3500 RPMs on the open road, damage could well have happened to the engine before I could bring it to a stop. Did you ever hear of anyone whose car broke down… who yelled a big loud “Thank you, Jesus!” and really meant it? Well… now you have.

I know it! I know it! You have been praying for me again. What a joy to be in His divine protection! When Frances knew that she was in her last days on this earth and I brought her home from the care center at her request, I posted two signs in large letters on the wall where she could see them. One was “Welcome Home, My Darling!” and the other “The Eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deut. 33:27. Oh, what security and comfort in those everlasting arms!

Bless you, each prayer warrior! Keep it up. You are a vital part of this team!


Just Do It!

Much of Las Grutas beach totally disappears when the tide comes in… so scramble to safety!

I was pleasantly surprised tonight to find that Pastor Julio Chazarreta (photo) has enlarged and fixed up his church building very nicely. His was the first Assemblies of God church in San Antonio Oeste. Twenty two years ago he was a deacon in Valcheta, 65 miles to the west. At that time Juan Sepulveda, another son of old Brother Pedro Sepulveda, was his pastor. He says that Pastor Juan Sepulveda just told him to move over to San Antonio Oeste and start a church… no money, no house, no property and no back-up plan. It was a repeat of old Pastor Pedro Sepulveda’s style… “Just do it!” and his kids caught the virus. The church is small. The people humble. God’s Word is important… important enough to carry a ragged, well used Bible even when walking with your family a long way to church.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Dead" Child Raised to Life

So much to tell! Last night I ministered at San Antonio Oeste. The city of 17,000 sets in a cove where fishing boats set out for the sea.

Pastors Ricardo and Alicia Espejo, founders of this new church, reminded me last night of how they were called into ministry. In 1995 Frances and I were visiting several small towns out in gaucho territory south of Buenos Aires, towing our living quarters with us. We called it our MMM “Mobile Ministry Module”. It served as our only home for 6 years. We were leaving one town when we were informed of a teenage girl and her family that wanted so much to go to the camp meeting that was just starting, but had no way to get there. So we offered to take them although it meant that Frances and the mother and daughter would have to ride inside the mobile house. We had to go about 80 miles out of our way on a back road filled with huge potholes. I remember having to slowly drive off the edge of the broken pavement many times with a huge drop off. It was stuff that no 8 ton fifth wheel should ever be forced to endure. When we got to the camp their preacher had not arrived, so I was invited to preach. Ricardo and Alicia were one of the young couples among the several hundred campers. That night I preached John 12:24 “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains sterile, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit.” Ricardo and Alicia responded to the call to come forward and plant the seed of their hopes and dreams in the fertile soil of God’s will. That night God called them into full time ministry. They left everything, sold their home and their car, took their family with them and rode a long distance bus to Rocky and Sherry Grams’ River Plate Bible School in Buenos Aires.

Upon graduation they felt a powerful call to San Antonio Oeste. They had nothing at all. Only a call, no backing, no money. Today they have a thriving church in a rented hall.

Pastor Ricardo is an unassuming guy that lets his wife, Alicia, do the talking. As we sat in their tiny borrowed house eating a midnight dinner at their table, she told of miracle after miracle, some last week, one the previous day. She says sometimes when her faith was very weak, her husband would make scary faith declarations.

Check out this recent miracle. There she is in the group of kids at Felipe’s feet. (See photo) She is standing on the far right wearing white shoes, a pink blouse, a big smile and a sparkle in her eye. She is a four year old whose mother is an alcoholic. Several months ago her mother gave her sleeping pills to calm her down and put her to sleep. Either her mother in a drunken stupor gave her an overdose or perhaps the little girl herself had access and took them all. The result was she did not wake up the next day. Her mother tried to awaken her but it was hopeless. She was limp as a rag doll. A lot of time passed. Much later her grandmother found her still in this condition and rushed her to the hospital. The doctors said it was too late to pump the stomach. The deadly medication was already in her blood stream. There was nothing they could do. The grandmother had been attending Ricardo and Alicia’s new church. There was no sign of life in the little child, but she carried the limp, apparently dead body to the church and interrupted the service. At her desperate pleas Ricardo stopped preaching. He took the limp body in his arms. The arms and legs dangled down. There was no indication of life whatsoever. He prayed for her and then they placed the slumped over little body in a stroller that someone had there. Pastor Ricardo announced to the church that before the service was over that little girl would walk out of there on her own. Then he went on preaching. Alicia admits she was worried. “After such a declaration, what will happen if she still lies there dead? He will be called a liar.” To the amazement of everyone the little girl awoke, climbed out of the stroller and walked around normally and with no brain damage. Everyone broke into praising God.

Last night a young lady called as she was returning home from the hospital in far away Buenos Aires. She had been suffering migraine headaches. Here in San Antonio Oeste the scans showed an ugly tumor inside her head, high in the frontal area. The doctors here were sending her to a hospital in Buenos Aires for the delicate operation. But Pastors Ricardo and Alicia laid hands on her and prayed. Then Alicia says, “He just announced to everyone not to worry because when she got to Buenos Aires the tumor would already be gone.” Again Alicia thought, “How can he dare to make such a statement?” Well yesterday this young lady called her pastor and announced that they had done all kinds of scans and x-rays and that they can find no trace of the tumor. The doctors are stymied. They have the previous scans in hand that clearly show the tumor, its size and location, but now it could not be found. They said there is no explanation and just sent her home. So now she is on the bus heading about 800 miles back to San Antonio Oeste. To God be the glory!

I’m asking the Lord to bless again tonight at our other AG church in San Antonio Oeste. Next week I am actually planning a couple of days off! I just checked and I have ministered 20 times in the past two weeks! The remarkable thing is that I still have a voice.