Saturday, June 30, 2012

She held a miracle in her arms

Today my grand-daughter Michelle held a miracle in her arms.  We were ministering to little children in a barrio where people of limited resources live and where the King's Castle kids do a Bible class complete with breakfast every Saturday morning.  I got there first by car.  Michelle came walking along with the team who went through the area between the many apartments to round up the kids.  

When I saw Michelle approaching with the others from a distance I saw that she was carrying a baby girl in her arms.  With the telephoto lens I shot her picture.  Later Missionaries Shari and Kim Babcock told us the story of this little two year old whose name is Martina. 

A year ago Martina fell off her 2nd story balcony onto the hard ground below.  She lay there unconscious and her mother came down screaming.  The little kids that come to the open air Bible story every Saturday gathered around her and prayed for her.  Her mother was frantic as medics lifted the tiny limp body into an ambulance.  The little kids told her, “Don’t worry!  We prayed for her and Jesus is going to heal her.”  She was X-rayed and thoroughly checked out.  She regained consciousness and was found to be perfectly well with no serious signs of the fall.  When they brought her back from the hospital, the little kids of the Bible class said to her mother, “Why did you worry?  We told you that Jesus would heal her?” 

This morning these children petted Perfume and met Felipe for the first time. 

They sat transfixed during his Bible story.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Wild Birthday Present

Today begins a new adventure.  My granddaughter, Michelle Gabriela, daughter of Tim and Cheryl Hiatt, arrived at the Buenos Aires International airport and joined me and her good friend, missionary daughter, Felicia Celeste Echevarria.

Both are 17 years old and I am giving them the wild birthday present of traveling and ministering with me for the next three weeks. 

Today and tomorrow they will stay with a few other girls, members of the evangelism leadership team in the King's Castle.

Only the girls stay in the Castle, but the fellows join them at meal time and in evangelism projects.  These are leaders and teachers of the leaders and there are hundreds of leaders all over the country. 

I parked my little Peugeot 405 inside the castle while getting it ready to carry all our gear.  I already had it full of my musical instruments, Felipe and my luggage... so I purchased a car-top carrier so that they'll have room to breathe inside the car.

Tomorrow, Saturday noon, we minister to children in a needy neighborhood near the Castle.  The Castle team minister to these kids every week.  But I'll bring out Felipe for the first time tomorrow. 

Sunday morning we leave going north 5 or 6 hours to Colastine for the Sunday evening service.  I have scheduled services in 12 churches plus a visit to the amazing Iguazu Falls. 

On July 17 we will send Felicia back to her parents in southern Argentina and I will accompany Michelle to her home near my home in Modesto, California.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Mushroom? No! Miracle Tree!

The meeting was now over.  Around the altar I had just prayed individually for well over one hundred spiritually- hungry people.  Finally the crowds had mostly left the altar area.  Pastor Gustavo Rossi called his leadership team of about 15 men and women forward and asked me to pray individually with each one of them, too.  Three of these big men fell into my arms as I was praying for them and then collapsed to their knees. Then someone came to me and whispered that two little boys were waiting for me to pray with them.  I went across the altar area and prayed with them.  A little girl was standing alone not far away with her head bowed.  I knew that she was waiting to be next.  Someone captured that sacred moment with a camera. 

This is definitely a "miracle church".  The "Cathedral of Faith" of San Justo is only 3 years old.  The mother church, the "Cathedral of Faith" of Buenos Aires assisted them in getting started.  After renting for almost three years, a few months ago God allowed them to purchase this structure which they have renovated with mostly volunteer workers and have remodeled into a great church building... complete with classrooms and a large 3rd story all-purpose room.

But the greatest miracle of all is the rapidly growing congregation.  Last night another 13 people came forward for salvation.  Already they have about 60 cell groups of around 10 people each... and are training leaders for many more.  I estimated 500 people were present in the evening service.

The children were in their respective classrooms, but came filing in at the appointed moment to see Perfume and Felipe.

Meet Gustavo and Susana Rossi who pastor this thriving new church. 

Mushrooms often pop up almost full grown overnight, but do not last long. This new church grew up quickly like a mushroom, but now looks more like a "miracle tree" that is destined to bring forth much fruit and last until Jesus comes!

God gave us a beautiful service and, after almost an hour of prayer-time at the altar, many were still not wanting to leave.  The very atmosphere was charged with the presence of the Holy Spirit!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blossoming Baby Church

Tonight I ministered for the first time in a new church started only 3 years ago in Merlo (a suburb of Buenos Aires) in a rented building.  It is only 10 blocks from another church I helped to plant with much blood and sweat, working alongside the pastor building a sanctuary during a 20 month nightly tent meeting.  That was 34 years ago.  Ten blocks apart and both churches are doing great! 

This new work is a granddaughter church of the one we planted in 1973-76 in the ghetto called La Boca.  That mother church probably has no more than 500 members, but it has many daughter churches since over 87 pastors and wives have gone out from that church into the work.  Truth is that 87 was the number 5 years ago and the pastor quit counting.  Several of the many daughter churches have grown into mega-churches with tens of thousands and now these daughter churches have started many granddaughter churches all over the country and in several foreign countries.  I will be ministering in two other granddaughter churches and at least one daughter mega-church in the next few days.

It's “Father’s Day” and Pastor Eduardo Kacheski presented me to his new congregation as a “Father of Churches” and gave me a beautiful plaque. 

Last night at another church the pastor told me privately that my ministry was “apostolic.”  I asked him please to never to say that in public.  I don’t want to be called an “apostle.”  I feel that the titles "apostle" and "prophet" are tossed around too lightly these days.  I need no titles since I’m not writing Holy Scripture.  The honest truth is that I don’t deserve all the hoop-ala that people here give me.  The rewards will be distributed correctly by King Jesus one day soon.  And the first shall be last.  That probably means the more titles, plaques and applause we get down here, the less we will get at Jesus feet.  Besides Frances and I already have more plaques expressing love and appreciation than can fit on my office walls… ha.

The little kids were adorable.  During the sermon some workers entertained them in one corner of the sanctuary “taking notes” on my sermon.  (Actually drawing pictures I think.)

One little guy enjoys a cookie-break.

11 new people responded to the altar call for salvation.  It is so beautiful to see God doing His “rescue work” in new lives. 

Later I gave an altar call for Christians that wanted to surrender their desires for the future to God’s will, whatever that might be. 

Hey, I get to do this almost every day.  Doesn’t that make all you USA preachers wish you were retired, too?


¿Do Grandpas Qualify?

Last night I enjoyed visiting and ministering in a church of an old friend, Daniel Grasso.  Before church started and again at the close I got lots of hugs, some from former students when I had taught in their night Bible School many years ago. 

I don’t know what it is with teen-age girls, but almost everywhere I go they come running to give me hugs.  Then they pose with me… each one separately, while they hug-up tight and someone takes a photo with their cell phone.  If anyone ever gets all these Facebook pictures together in one place with me wrapped in the arms of teen-age girls… they might have a case to fire me… or else to prove that teenage girls need grandpas. 
The congregation had just been dismissed.  I had greeted a few people who ran up on the platform after church… then five of these teenage beauties ran up together and just stood there at arm’s length all grinning and looking at me without a word.  Then wham!  All the hugs hit all at once.  Some of them had just come from weeping at the altar of dedication.  Of course, cameras were clicking.  Sometimes they ask me if I can be their grandpa.  I never refuse.  If they need a grandpa… I can handle that. 

Happy Father's Day... ¿Do Grandpas qualify?


Monday, June 11, 2012

A Hug for Jesus

A light bulb in the corner of the room was barely enough to see the letters on the page of the Bible. We were five adults and two little boys.  I had left my camera in the hotel room.  This wasn’t a scheduled service.  I had just dropped in to encourage Pastor and Mrs. BaƱay at their home in Ituzaingo, a small city beside the great Parana River. They happened to be serving the “Holy Supper” (as they call the "Holy Comunion" in Spanish) to a family that had been out of town the previous Sunday and had missed this blessed time.  As the pastor read the scripture, the presence of the Lord Jesus filled the kitchen of their humble cottage. Inside me... I was lamenting that I did not have my camera when I remembered I had my cell phone on my belt.  I tried to capture the moment without making a disturbance.  I prefer non-posed photos, but they noticed me and posed for the shot. The lighting was poor, the photo imperfect, but I just wanted to invite you to join with us around the table.  A plastic basket of broken bread was passed around and the common cup that you can see in the middle of the table was shared by all.  I played my accordion and we sang a hymn: “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away.  It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.” (The Spanish lyrics are almost an exact translation.)  Jesus joined us at the table!  He doesn't need little plastic cups set in shining ware.  I believe He is right at home in the most humble of situations.

Later I brought in Felipe for the little boys. You never know how kids will react.  A few are frightened.  Most are delighted.  But these two little guys ran up to hug Felipe and I got in on the blessing. So often after the preaching and the altar time is over, I find myself talking to someone when I feel little arms wrapped around my legs really tight.  I look down to see some little girl or boy looking up at me.  I think they really want to hug Felipe and I kind of get in the way.  And little minds seem to realize that Felipe and I are somehow “one and the same.”

Have you hugged Jesus recently?  Try it.  I think God, the Father, gets in on the hug.