Today was our last day of ministry! The week has gone by so fast…
We woke up and ate/met like usual. The entire morning at Pastor Fernando’s church was devoted to discipleship training—that is, training the nationals to disciple the new believers after PG and I leave.
We explained the concept of ‘Yellow’ ‘Stories of Hope’ (for when a person doesn’t want to put their trust in Jesus just yet but is interested) and the ‘Green’ ‘Discipleship Stories’ (for new believers to start growing in their faith). PG made an excellent analogy—if a newborn baby is left by itself with no one taking care of it, it’ll get sick and probably die. So new believers need to be visited, discipled, taken care of. Similarly it isn’t enough to hand a new believer a Bible and say, “Read this!” That’s like giving a newborn a 12-oz steak. They can’t digest it. So the church members need to continue to follow up with the new believers and those who showed interest, feeding/teaching them God’s word so they can grow. So we taught the nationals how to lead a simple Bible study using these stories and had demonstrations, practicing, etc.
During lunch (since it was our last with Pastor’s family), PG presented some gifts to the women who’d cooked for us all week. We also gave some small gifts to the teens who came all week (Marcos, Alicia, etc.) and people who worked especially hard (Alejandra and co).
In the afternoon, Carmen and I helped PG sort through the papers we’d used all week to record names of people, addresses, decisions to accept Christ, notes, etc. We played ball at the court for a while and actually had a lot of non-Christian kids from the neighborhood join us. We shared the gospel with them using the eBall and it was very cool.
Then PG, Isa, Carmen, another brother, and I had a time of prayer for Pastor Fernando’s family—they feel people from the neighborhood and a nearby church are talking bad about them, they feel a bit lonely and burned-out. This was (surprisingly or not) the closest I’ve felt to God all week. More than when I was sharing the gospel or training people with Evangecube or even morning devotionals. While we were praying for Sucre and for a unified church and against jealousy and harmful rumors and for strengthened relationships within Pastor’s family and for His peace on their household… there was His presence.
I should pray more.
During tea at 5pm, Pastor said words of thanks and goodbye to us and gave us some presents (if you see me with a cool bag….!) and we gave him some. The church goodbye service was around 6pm-8pm. There was music worship (Pastor Fernando is still an incredible guitarist and singer), and then PG and Isa and Carmen and I went up and PG gave a short good-bye message. We presented Pastor with gifts for the church—offering, ministry supplies/new Bibles, second eBall, and the people info papers (a gift and responsibility for the church! to follow up with and disciple!). Pastor Fernando gave a good-bye message. I said a few words. Pastor played guitar/sang while every person in the church came up and hugged us one-by-one. It was kind of emotional, especially when the people I’d been working with all week came around… Yeah. Final goodbyes to Alicia, Blanca, Rosi, Marcos, Misael… Alejandra and Claudia… Pastor and Pastora…
The great thing is, though, (again quoting PG), because Austin Chinese Church is focusing on Sucre for missions now (before, teams went to Tarija, Santa Cruz, Trinidad, etc. alternately), we get to say goodbye with the hope, God willing, of coming back next year. So we can build a deeper bond with the city and its churches.
It was a great last ministry day! I’ll have updates with final thoughts over the next few days.
Isabella – 7/14/16