Saturday, July 11, 2009

May and June, 2009

The last two months have been full of amazing opportunities for ministry. In May we enjoyed a very special visit. Paul and Theresa Bixby were with us for just over a week. We enjoyed a special time of fellowship with them as we recalled our first months of ministry here in Spain when we worked with them. But the highlight for us came Sunday when Paul preached for our morning service. The Lord used his message to convict and encourage hearts. It was a special blessing to hear the testimony of Antonio, who shared how God had especially moved his heart as he heard the Sermon. We also took advantage of their visit to have a special memorial service for Vicente. The Lord brought Vicente to Himself under Paul's ministry in Alicante some 12 years ago. Two years ago when he passed away, his family asked me to preach the funeral. The Lord has opened their hearts up more after Vicente's death then they ever were during his lifetime. So we took advantage of the Bixby's visit which coincided with Vicente's birthday. We invited Vicente's family members for a special evening service in which we remembered Vicente. I was able to preach to the Gospel to two of Vicente's daughters and one of his granddaughters. We rejoice in the opportunity to share with Vicente's family the spiritual blessings which Vicente found in Christ.

May was also a busy month for us all of the preparations for an extremely full month of June. Let me give a little bit of background. Three years ago, we organized the first Spanish Study Abroad program from Bob Jones University in Elche. We repeated the program two years ago. This year as we made plans for our third summer, the Lord put it on our hearts to have the program in Petrer where we live. This meant a significant change for us, for we have always tried to house the students with families from the church in Elche, but in Petrer we do not have enough contacts in the church to house the students. So I met with a local government official in charge of education in Petrer and asked if the Town Hall would be interested in collaborating with us. The response was enthusiastically positive. Over the following months, we slowly put together a list of and then interviewed interested families; when June came, we were able to place the students with unsaved families from our city. I must admit that there were several moments along the way in which we were very nervous about what could go wrong, but we prayed and trusted in the Lord to work in each situation. In fact, throughout the month of May, I preached a series of sermons from the book of Isaiah about trusting the Lord. And each week the Lord encouraged me to trust Him more. In June we saw the Lord work in clear and wonderful ways, opening hearts and allowing the Gospel message to reach people. The students were a beautiful testimony for Christ in their homes, taking the gospel to families that would have normally been closed to the message. But their testimony went much further! The families started asking permission to come to church with the students. Over the month we had visitors in our services almost every week. The last week of June was a special highlight for us. We had almost 60 people in our Sunday morning service, and I was able to present the gospel in a clear way. After the service, we heard several very open and positive responses to the message. We are praising the Lord for the door He opened for us to reach out to families in our town through these students. It was also a blessing to spend time with the students and see how the Lord is working in specific areas of their lives. This program reached far beyond academics through daily Bible studies and first hand contact with the lost. We rejoiced as we saw the Lord burden the hearts of the students not only for the families they were living with but also for others surrounding them. We feel like the Lord advanced His work here in our city by years through the contacts made in the last month. Please pray for us as we follow up these contacts and minister to these dear people. We look forward to seeing how God will continue to work in their lives.

Throughout June we were also busy making plans for a trip to the United States during July and August. Israel will be carrying on the ministry in Petrer while we are gone, and we are excited to see how God will use this experience to develop him. Please pray that the believers will grow spiritually over these months and that people who visited the church in June would return. Pray with us that Christ would build His church for His glory in Petrer.