Francisco Buono just passed away two weeks ago. He was a teenage boy in 1966 when I was preaching in this city of Cordoba, north central Argentina. A teen-age girl had invited him to come hear the Hawaiian guitar. Many years later he told me what I had preached that night. He never forgot. He gave his life to Christ the first time he had ever been in an evangelical church. Francisco, we all called him Pancho, studied in Bible School and became an effective evangelist and communicator of the Word. For years he travel extensively through several countries in evangelistic crusades and learned to preach in English while ministering throughout the USA. He then went back to the neighborhood where he had grown up in this great city of Cordoba, Argentina and started a church. His church grew strong and he started a Christian School. In spite of a deadly disease, Pancho worked faithfully as a pastor and as the Superintendent of the central district of the Assemblies of God with hundreds of churches. He never complained about his pain and although he knew that he was leaving soon, he was always up-beat and encouraging to others. Now he is in heaven. “Comforting!”
His great church sent numerous young people out to start new churches in the barrios. I visited one of those churches last night, Wednesday.
It is not a large church, but by starting time, 8:30 PM, all the chairs were filled with people excited about Jesus.
At the close, many responded kneeling, to dedicate themselves to fulfill God’s plan for their lives. I prayed with the little kids who were saying “Yes” to God’s will. Jesus was saying, “There is hope for the future!”
At 10:45 PM I was sitting in a chair on the front row bent forward in silent prayer, while many were still kneeling. Then I felt little hands on my back and heard little voices praying for me.
Pretty soon I was buried in a huddle of little pray-ers. I opened my eyes for a moment and looked at the circle of little feet on the floor. Little hands, little feet and little voices were bearing me up in their prayers. God was listening. I needed that!
What darling kids! “Strength for another day!”
I got back to my bed-room at the Cordoba Bible School after midnight and was in bed by 1:30 AM. My alarm rang at 5:45 AM as I had an 8 AM schedule meeting with 500 eager school kids at William Morris Christian elementary school. I ministered here in 2011 and they haven’t forgotten.
This morning Felipe quoted a memory verse and sang, “There is Life, there is Life in Jesus.” The children were orderly and very responsive.
Then I did it all over again for 60 darling Kindergarten kids.
When I arrived at the school earlier this morning one of the teachers came rushing to hug my neck. She was a 5 year old deacon’s daughter back in 1967. Frances and I slept overnight many times in her parent’s crowded tiny humble house with our three little boys and their four kids. Over 45 years ago I taught her to say her only English words, “Eenee meenee miney moe. Catch a monkey by his toe. If he hollers let him go. Eenee meenee miney moe.” 20 years later she quoted it to me perfectly. This morning the chapel service was over and she whizzed by me to hurry to her classroom of kids. I whispered in her ear as she passed, “Eenee meenee minie mo” and she giggled. “Memories!”
Tonight I will minister to the students of the Cordoba Bible Institute known as the Instituto Bíblico Mediterraneo or IBM. At our table at lunch two ministry students introduced themselves as from churches we had helped to plant, one from San Juan northern Argentina 370 miles to the west over against the Andes mountains… the other from Puerto Deseado 1,430 miles south on the Atlantic coast. Both are really sharp students preparing to serve the Lord however He chooses. “Rewarding!”
Tomorrow I leave for ministry in Catamarca, 290 miles to the northwest.