a note from LCMS Missionaries James & Christel
Imagine my surprise. Here I was on the streets of Salta, Argentina a city in one of the country’s border provinces with Bolivia, nestled among tall mountains which form the tail of the high Andes, I expected to find a quaint but slightly backwater town shuffled away from civilization, after all I’d never even heard of Salta before. But Salta’s 1.2 million inhabitants live in an incredibly urban environment, packing the streets and shopping centers, going on about their busy lives, whether I acknowledged their existence or not. In the world we live in, even 1.2 million people is hardly a lot, but the idea that so many
people could escape even my cursory knowledge was a bit sobering. Argentina’s biggest city of Buenas Aires has nearly quadruple the inhabitants than the population of Panama... The size of some of Brazil’s largest cities are impossible to fathom, the capitol of Sao Pablo has nearly 19 million people. What am I getting at? We have alot of work to do!!! We have only a handful of LCMS missionaries in Latin America, for the entire continent you can count them on both hands, we could send every one of them to just one of the smallest metropolitan areas in Latin America and still the numbers would leave a staggering task for such a small number of people. This is why it’s so important to understand that it isn’t up to us to make this mission happen, we just have the opportunity to be a part of this overwhelming and impossible task. Each pastor and congregation is a part of this. Without the Holy Spirit this would be utterly hopeless. But the Holy Spirit is the one making this all happen, and we get to be the messangers that the Spirit will use! It’s amazing to me how much of this world is unknown to me, not because it is buried deep in some jungle, but because so many lives are swallowed up in the crowd. I spent my time in Salta filming and photographing the work of missionary David Theys, and it’s a miracle what is happening there. People’s lives are being changed every day, the gospel is spreading, and even though I may not have known anything about the city of Salta before, and even less about it’s inhabitants, God knows each of those people by name, knows every hair on their heads, and has called us to go out to the ones that He so desperately loves, to tell them so.
Every Tuesday I venture out on a “Diablo Rojo” (Red Devil Bus) for about an hour (two hours if I get on the wrong one) and get off in Los Andes. It’s here that Gloria Dei Lutheran resides and offers ESL to the community. It has been an experience beyond comprehnsion. Here, English classes are used as a tool to reach out to the community and provide the people with a tool that will help them in their work or in school. However English is not the main focus of these sessions, it’s sharing the Gospel. The National Church wants the churches here to use me as a resource not as a leader in this outreach. Since the whole purpose is to reach out to the community, who better to reach out to the people of the community than themselves? So my job is very simple, I show up, teach a few grammar rules and then read or talk about faith issues. What has been incredible over the last few weeks here, especially in Los Andes, is that different people keep coming. The members of the congregations are building strong relaionships with these students and the faith questions are coming. The picture above is of Pastor Reuben (Pastor of Gloria Dei) talking briefly about Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8). This is an especially crucial story as many people here know or have an idea about the Scriptures but have never had any one really explain the revelance of it in their lives.
After the Bible study we sang songs in Spanish then in English. I sat there looking at each one of the students and thinking wow, the Holy Spirit is moving, there is no doubt in my mind. One of the biggest struggles here in working with the churches is keeping from creating a dependency on ourselves. Lets face it, it usually easier to do it yourself than to teach and encourage someone else to do it for themselves. However, not creating dependency is crucial to making the church be the Body of Believers it professes to be. These English classes have really opened a lot of doors for relationships with the people of Gloria Dei and are resulting in changed lives. It’s something that I am so blessed to be a part of but have had no hand in doing. The Espiritu Santo is working and igniting fires in these peoples’ hearts. I ask for your continued prayers for their lives as they are turning to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
thanksgiving for English Classes. thanksgiving for good health. transition for Jack Johnson. Anthony as he continues to serve in Peru. Jon and Heidi and they continue their transition in the States. national leaders in Panama and throughout Latin America. strength in being on the field without fellow missionaries. Tulio as he continues his studies for the pastoral ministry in Honduras.
LCMS World Mission 1333 S. Kirkwood Rd. St. Louis, MO 63122 check memo: “Neuendorf” www.lcms.org http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal. asp?NavID=13345
Published on May 31, 2009