Another great day or so here in Argentina! Last night we had a simultaneous youth conference and conclusion to the marriage conference. Jacqui came and shared her testimony and gospel invitation to the youth, just in time to be ferried back to the marriage conference to lead a session for the wives. I gave 2 talks to the youth on "what is truth¿" and "power truths that change everything" before running over to the marriage conference to speak in the closing session to husbands. A great evening of ministry! Dozens of couples crying and reconciling after the event. We closed with an invitation to renew commitments and seek forgiveness among families, and it was to the glory of God to see how many broken situations were demonstrating new grace!
A funny story to make you laugh: the art of translation can be dangerous! In speaking to husbands I asked, "how many of you would take a bullet for your wife¿" Only 2 guys raised their hands, sheepishly. I was astonished...asked for more but they weren't really responding. One guy raises his hand and says, "why do you ask that?" Come to find out, my interpreter had mistranslated my sentence to say "how many of you would put a bullet in your wife!" Yikes! We failed to note who had raised their hands the first time!
This morning Pastor Dan and I spoke at a breakfast for area pastors. We gave them a crash course in missiology, giving overviews of our church models, spiritual growth strategies, leadership development and principles for leader health. It was fantastic and the pastors were very appreciative of the new ideas. While leaving one said, ¨"It's encouraging to be reminded that in all cultures it is the same sin issues that enslave people but the same Savior that sets them free...that you aren't sharing a formula but Biblical principles that remind us it is Christ who gives the victory." how true.
Tonight I'm off to Sanchales to preach at a church plant and meet with leaders in that area. Should be a great evening...but long day.
A story of faith that I will always remember: Mario Ledesma. his son, Gabriel Immanuel, is my translator from Santa fe. Mario grew up the son of an alcoholic father who died in prison. All of his family was lost, addicted to various substances and very abusive. Mario's wife accepted Christ about 18 years ago (after marrying Mario) and spent years praying for her husband. He would come home and beat her, frequently end up in jail or nearly killed in accidents as a result of his drinking but she kept praying for him. In 2000 Mario almost died after his 6th car accident from driving drunk. In a panic he decided to check out a local church conference saying, "if something doesn't change I might end up killing myself." That night he encountered Jesus and his life was forever changed. He came home, reconciled with his wife, sold everything their family had and moved to a Bible Institute in Buenos Aires. He was determined to know as much about this Jesus as quickly as possible. working multiple jobs to support his family while attending 3 years of studies, just 6 short years after his near drunken death he is an elder in the main church in Santa fe and in the process of planting a new church in the barrio where he used to live out a life of violence and abuse...his church door has bullet holes from the warm reception the barrio provided him - but Mario is determined to show them the love he knows will change their lives, since not too long ago he was one of them. Gabriel, his 17 year old son - who remembers the before and after picture of his dad - tells everyone about his dads faith story and hopes to one day bring as many people to Christ as his dad has been able to.
What a faith story! selling everything to seek after Christ. the faith of the local church here is amazing. Families welcoming in orphans and widows into their small homes, rejoicing in their nothing because they know they have everything in God. these are the stories that will most impact us as we return in a few days.
Tomorrow we're off to Santa Fe to host a retreat for church planters...more adventure!
thank you all for your prayers!