We had a nice refreshing day after finally a great nights sleep for myself, although Gene didn`t sleep as well.
We went with John and Lise Francis to Mt. Hermon Baptist Church for 9am. Ally came in with 4 teen girls. She paid for their bus as that is the only way they can get in and some wanted to go but had no money. Maybe we could help with that - only about $1.25 to send a teen to church and back every Sunday!
The church is near the town center, it has a sort of an enclosed outside-inside compound right on a main street. A good youth band led the singing, and the place filled up by 9:30. Over 200 were there, although that may be due to the special meetings. They normally have about 150.
The singing was good and familiar, they sang `Santos, Santos, Santos`(holy,holy,holy), and `Mighty to Save`, plus several Spanish songs and choruses, plus several solos and testimonies. The children went to Sunday School (not held for the adults today), and then the evangelist preached for over an hour on John 21:15 (do you love Me more than these), and 1Peter 1:15 (be holy in all you do). Other than that I didn`t catch much of what he said. Spanish preaching is rapido! He was around 35 or so, preached well and gave an invitation after a long prayer. Several stood first for what I think was a call to slavation and then most stood to a call to holy living. Then they sang some more, we went forward to put our offering in a basket (tithes are separate) and then closed with more singing. It went to 11:45 - We chuckled about the length on the way out but it was great.
Then everyone gathered in the huge fellowship area for a meal of bbq meat, rice, beans, vegies, avacado and tortillias - excellant and quite a meal for such a large crowd. They had piniatas for the children, teens and adults which was great fun. Overall a great local church, full of life and young people!
The pastor is Hector, his wife is Wendy and he speaks pretty good English. He grew up there, went away for training and came back as pastor when the former pastor left and has been there for 26 years - sounds like you Steve. I asked him about the church - it was a Southern Baptist plant 50 + years ago. Since growing they have started 9 daughter churches, 8 of which are now sister churches.
He told me about their medical clinic, which they offer on weekdays to the public. I got Ally over to talk with him and he gave us a tour of the clinic and told Ally she can come in to help them. The doctor speaks English and so does Hector`s daughter so that will be a big help. They will also take a trip up to the mountain villages in August and she is invited to go too. What a blessing - this is what she wanted to do the most and although one door closed before we came, the Lord wonderfully opened up another. It is a real answer of prayer for Ally - it renewed her excitement and vision for the whole trip.
They have other opportunities for us to be involved and so I will be in contact with Hector and John Francis will help us as a liason. They are a church very much like ours and by helping them we can have an eternal impact on this city. As John explained to me, the people here have the heart and expertise for evangelism, but they need help with resources and projects and skills that our church can bring. I think this is the opportunity we have prayed for, in concert with our support for CASA HOGAR. They run an Awana program for about 170 kids on Saturdays and most of the children from the Home attend. The teens from the Home come into youth group on Thursday nights. The church used to pick up many of them for Sunday School, but lack the personnel to care for all the extra children. John and Lise would like to see the Home increase the connection with this Baptist church.
Their sound system is modern but could use some expertise, so I told Hector about Art and he was quite enthused to hear Art wants to come down next year. There are opportunities at the clinic for our nurses, and we talked about the possibility of a class teaching English to community people. The ideas and needs are endless, but I want to convey how we can practically help them.
We hope to share this and more when we get home, expecially during the August 12 service. Isn`t it great to see the Lord`s hand in all this! He opens doors we knew nothing about, because He knows the desires of our hearts, to serve and glorify Him.
I feel so very blessed and can hardly wait to see what the future holds for our involvement here.
Tomorrow, Lord willing we finish the roof!
Bye for now, Pastor Doug