3 John 4 states, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” This is a true statement for those of us in ministry. We praise God that we were able to celebrate a vow renewal for Martin and Carolina as a result of this “walking in truth.” Their marriage had crumbled before they came to know Christ, and it has been wonderful to see what God has done in and through them these last three years since they were saved; even leading them to a vow renewal/church wedding that they never had done before. God is in the life, marriage, and family restoration business, and we are so excited to get to be a part of it in this family and others like them!
FIVE YEARS!! Iglesia Bautista Redención celebrated its fifth anniversary on June 12th! What an emotional time for us to see this baby church of believers continue to grow and mature. So much has happened during these past five years and we have learned so much through this ministry. God has amazed us by bringing our church family this far. Please pray that we will continue to grow in spiritual maturity as well as in number as we reach the lost in our surrounding area and disciple those reached for the glory of God.
Well, winter vacation has come and gone here. But it was a two-week period of busy-ness with two YOUTH CONFERENCES. One took place for almost a full week across the country. Our youth were challenged to follow God through wonderful preachings and were able to make more Christian friends from other parts of the country. They came back drawn closer to each other and with a stronger desire to serve the Lord. The other one was a two day retreat at camp, hosted by our and sister churches in the area. We praise God for the six young people who came to know the Lord as their Savior, among other decisions as a result of this retreat!
March brought fall weather as usual in the southern hemisphere. It also brought a new school year, with new grades for the kids. We have a last for our daughter Natalie- her senior year of highschool. All these years of grade school are finally coming to an end! We are so very proud of her and the godly young woman she is. Please pray as she makes plans to continue on with the direction God has for her life. We pray she will always follow his leading. The beginning of the school year also always marks a new year of seminary for Ben. He thoroughly enjoys teaching not only lay people from our churches and many in the region, but also men who are training to be in the ministry. It is a great privilege. The seminary is now virtual and in person. Going virtual has expanded the reach of the seminary, something we thank God for. Please pray as the seminary leaders are in the process of joining with Louisiana Baptist University to be able to offer an accredited diploma to the students! This will be a wonderful thing to offer our students who are pursuing full-time ministry.
A wonderful event that we always look forward to each year is the Easter Family Retreat. We have not been able to do it for two years because of the pandemic, so we were thrilled to be able to plan it once again this year. Our church (Redemption Baptist Church, Gonzalez Catan), and our mother church (Calvary Baptist Church, Isidro Casanova), all joined together from Thursday through Saturday of Passion week, with rest, relaxation, fellowship, preaching, and teaching for the children. I always love to teach “Resurrection eggs” which tell the full story of Jesus’ passion week and a wonderful plan of salvation. We thank God for the lives touched that week through the preaching, and for the deeper friendships and bonds built within our own church and between the two churches.
The youth ministry in our church is something we long to build up while reaching the youth in our community. As a result we are having weekly youth meetings and trying to get our youth involved more with each other, with the rest of the body, and in service. Please pray for our youth. It is always hard to help them dig deeper in their relationships with God and with each other. Superficiality is very prevalent in our culture now and we have to constantly combat against it. Pray for our youth. That they will be grounded in the truth, and that they will see their need to be true, genuine, godly friends to each other. This is God’s desire for them and ours also. There will be a couple different youth winter retreats coming up soon to help spur them onto a deeper relationship with the Lord and each other.
Milestones are wonderful to celebrate. We had a sweet milestone to celebrate in our marriage on December 29th: Twenty years of marriage! We thank God for each other and the relationship He has given us and grown us through. As a wonderful way to celebrate this milestone, we were able to get away the first week of January all by ourselves while Rachelle’s parents watched the kids for us. It was a wonderful time of enjoyment of each other and also exploring a new countryside in Argentina. We thank God for this special time we were able to experience. And thank you to many of you, our supporters, who gave extra Christmas gifts that helped pay for this trip and invest in our marriage.
January is Summer Camp season. Bible camp has a special place in our hearts because of decisions made by children and youth during this time apart from the world, concentrating on God and his Word. We were able to participate as a family in two weeks of camp, and took twelve youth and two children to their corresponding camps. Although we had a heat wave one week and a monsoon the next, many decisions were made while there including the salvation of one of our own youth! Please pray for Alvaro, the young man who was saved, and for the rest of our youth to be firm in the spiritual decisions made while there at camp.
Amidst camps, and missionary/pastor retreats we took off for a week up north to go to an ordination of one of Ben’s former seminary students, family vacation, and a visit to one of the missionaries our church supports. It was a whirlwind trip, but a wonderful time as a family we were able to relax but also be a part of the special ordination service and celebration afterward, and then see how the Perdiguero family’s ministry is going in Villa Dolores, Cordoba. Your giving makes it possible for our church to exist and also since our church exists it supports eight missionaries. You have a double investment into the Great Commission as a result!
The end of February we took advantage of a the “Carnaval” holiday here and helped out in a marriage retreat out at camp. We had 5 couples from our church go to spend time with each other and to invest in their marriage. One of our couples, Martin and Carolina (pictured on the left) gave their testimony of how God saved them and restored their marriage. It was a wonderful to see God use them to tell of His grace, when two years ago they were lost and their marriage was in shambles. Please pray the marriages of our church will be strong and serve the Lord together as Joshua 24:15 states. Strong marriages build up strong families, and strong families are essential in building up a strong church.
This OCTOBER Ben co-planned a yearly fellowship CONFERENCE for pastors and missionaries throughout Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. This year it was virtual as well as in person. There were only about seventy present because of travel restrictions and complications, but many were able to benefit from watching the services and preaching online. We praise God that the theme “Persevering in the Ministry” was very encouraging and practical.
We also celebrated MOTHER’S DAY here in Argentina once again in October! This year for Mother’s Day we had a beautiful celebration. It is wonderful when the church gets to be large and mature enough to take part and share in the ministry burden. We were privileged to have the Mother’s Day event planned and carried out mainly by the church ladies! We had a fellow pastor’s wife share a special challenge to mothers, and we had over forty-five mothers and daughters attend! We praise God for this! Many were first time visitors and were able to hear the Gospel presented possibly for the first time. No one made a profession of faith that day, but we are thankful that seeds were planted.
BAPTISMS and NEW MEMBERS are always a reason for rejoicing. Praise God there were four who followed the Lord in believers’ baptism on October 24th. That same day we had a special service for those who were baptized and those who had finished membership classes, and a total of ten people joined the church! We have seen an influx of new attenders with all the craziness and uncertainty of the COVID pandemic. However it comes about, God is faithful to grow His church and we are grateful to be a part of this ministry here in González Catán, Argentina. Please continue to pray for unity and servant hearts in our congregation. Many of the new members have been plugged into areas of service, but we pray that everyone will see the need to be involved and minister together to others.
Five years ago some area pastor’s wives decided to start a regional WOMEN’S RETREAT the first weekend in December. Rachelle and her mother, Diane, planned this year’s retreat to be held on December 4th, and 135 women were able to attend! This was a record number for this retreat, and they were blown away by the eagerness of women around Buenos Aires to gather together and spend some much needed time in God’s Word with other believers. It was a relaxing, encouraging time. We were also glad that thirteen women from our church were able to go!
Please continue to PRAY for the remaining activities this year, such as Christmas baskets to be given on Saturday, December 18th, and our church’s first official Christmas program on Sunday, December 26th!
Restrictions are finally easing up here in Argentina! We praise God that we can finaly begin to go back to “normality” in many ways. What this implies is that we could hold a children’s day event in August, membership classes for those interested in joining the church, and an eye clinic/grocery giveaway in September. The CHILDREN’S DAY event was still smaller than usual, but we were able to have twenty-six children and many of their families come and hear the Gospel. It was also an opportunity to involve new members in the planning and carrying out of this event. It is always wonderful to involve others in serving God through serving our church and community. We praise God for the involvement of our church family, and the dedication to Christ’s cause.
The last 3M EVENT (stands for Message, Materials, and Groceries- “Mercaderia”- in Spanish) the church was able to hold was a discount eye exam clinic and grocery giveaway. These are always wonderful times to reach out to our community with the explicit reason of sharing the Gospel message with those who come. Many came for the free eye exams and discounted eyeglasses, many for free groceries. But, what many did not know was that they would also leave with the message of God’s love and salvation. We have had a couple of people begin attending as a result of these events, but we pray it will contniue to bear more fruit in the coming months. We, once again, thank those of you who make these events possible through your generous and loving giving. God is good to provide!
We thank God that we have many desiring to join the church through MEMBERSHIP. Because of the confusion emotionally driven religion causes here in Argentina, we usually accept members after going through a membership class so they can be sure to know and agree with our biblical stance on doctrinal issues. This is a wonderful time in which those wishing to join our church family grow closer together and see what we are all about. We project to have a baptismal/new members service in October to welcome those who desire to grow and serve the Lord together with our church family. Praise God for these new colaborers He has sent our way to serve and minister to our community with us. Please pray for spiritual strength and unity in our church as we know Satan does not want churches to grow and be a strong witness for the cause of Christ.
Greetings from winter in cold Argentina. We are in the middle of winter break right now (end of July), and enjoying a rest from school and seminary, but will start back up soon at the beginning of August. We praise God for a good first half of the school year, with seminary classes being only online again since the lockdown in April and May. We have many taking classes to prepare for ministry that normally would not, so we praise God for that.
We had outdoor services for April- May, and even three weeks of virtual services when the country had a larger lockdown at the end of May, but praise God we were able to be inside in June, when the colder weather hit! We had many Sundays right above freezing which would not have been nice for having outdoor services.
Every time we go forward or backward in quarantine all the measures change for us so we are constantly having to re-plan and readjust how many services we can have per week, the length of each, and time of day. It is exhausting, but we must be flexible if we want the church to remain open and available to our members and the community. Because of our desire to be worshiping in-person as much as possible we have had families join who have not been able to find a church home during this time. Many churches have closed their doors and after almost a year and a half of Covid, many are almost desperate to find a good church home. We praise God we can be that spiritual home and refuge to them, while continuing to minister to the church family God has already given us to serve.
We have had grocery outreach in May and July because of many of you giving sacrificially. We thank God for this, because there is a great physical need in our area as a result of fewer jobs because of the pandemic. It is a wonderful time for our church family to serve the neighborhood, and talk to them of their greater need- salvation! We were also able to give used clothing in the July outreach, which was gratefully recieved also! We hope to keep doing these events as long as we are able. They are a light to our community during these dark times of the Covid pandemic. Covid is still running rampant here, and the health system collapses regularly because of the lack of resources. Please pray for both the spiritual and physical health needs of the Argentine people and our ministry.
Click the link below to download or view a printable version of our prayer letter:
The first quarter of the year has flown by as we have been almost back to normal with services, youth meetings, discipleships and events. Unfortunately, the CAMP SEASON had to be cancelled in January for the first time since the camp was founded almost sixty years ago. The health department would not approve overnight stays at the camp due to Covid, so we had a one day youth conference and also a one day marriage conference during a two day holiday in February instead. So many have missed in-person gatherings and both were well attended. We were able to take around twenty youth from our church alone to join others, and then the couples enjoyed a day concentrating on improving their marriages. All the time shared was a great blessing to everyone!
In February we re-started in-person Wednesday night Bible Studies and our kids’ class! It was thrilling to be able to meet together mid-week in person after a long ten months!
With things a little more relaxed at the beginning of the year, we had GREATER OPPORTUNITIES to minister and reach out to people. We held an outreach event at church to distribute groceries, school supplies, and the Gospel message. It was well-received, including people asking to take a Bible home with them. We have also been able to minister to our church people with activities for the youth and marriage enrichment activities, and a one-day Easter retreat. Our church people have really been praying, connecting, and inviting their family and friends, and God has been faithful to work. One lady accepted Christ as her Savior on Easter Sunday after being invited by her neighbor to come to church. So many people are searching for peace, comfort, and hope in these hard times, and we must lead them to the One who can provide hope and salvation. Unfortunately, APRIL brought new restrictions, prohibiting group indoor activities. As a result, many churches who do not have a patio have had to close their doors once again. We praise God that we can still meet, although at first we were led to believe that we would need to have at least two services, splitting our people up. However, we just found out we can fit everyone in one service since we have the space outside! We praise God for this! We also pray the ban will be lifted soon so churches can again gather to worship and freely carry out the Great Commission.
Happy Mother’s Day to Merry Christmas! October brought us Mother’s Day here in Argentina, and, as usual for this year, we celebrated it differently, without a large event at church because we were still not allowed by the government to meet for such things. So, we hosted an online and in-person Mother’s Day meeting in different houses of our church ladies, with a special speaker all the way from Mexico! Since all the houses connected to Zoom it was possible to be “together” with our church ladies. Once again we adapt to whatever way we can to be able to meet the spiritual needs of our people.
Starting in November churches were allowed to meet indoors once again! Restrictions still abound, and no one under twelve nor over sixty is supposed to attend our one-hour meeting. We, of course, struggle with this since our church has close to half our attendees in those two age brackets. As a result, church attendance is only half of what it used to be, along with people being discouraged because of multiple reasons. So, we ask you to pray that our people will prioritize being together as a church family.
In December Rachelle made a quick trip to the U.S. for a week for her grandmother’s funeral, who unexpectedly fell ill and passed away. It was a good time to be there for her grandfather, mom and dad, and aunts and uncles during this hard time in the family. Thank you to those of you who prayed for her and her family during that time! She made it back in time to finish things up for the many Christmas events.
This year Christmas church events were very different due to COVID restrictions, but Christ was still preached and God still worked. Through some generous supporters, God enabled us to be a blessing to our neighborhood. The church pitched in and we gave out 400 bags of groceries to needy families around the church. Approximately 100 families were also willing to receive a Bible and information about our church. We are praying that God works through this and other things to do His ministry here in our city.
Please PRAY for our church, city, and country in the New Year. Argentina suffers from moral and spiritual poverty along with economic poverty also. We pray God will work a revival in Argentine hearts. It is desperately needed.
Our lives continue to be bound by an endless quarantine, prohibiting social gatherings including church services. September 20th marked six months of remaining indoors and not gathering as a church family! However, amidst the upheaval and the setbacks this causes, we have seen the truth Paul highlights in 2 Timothy 2:9. The apostle, while imprisoned and in chains, describes his resolute focus for the sake of the Gospel. He expresses a passion to do all that is necessary, and endure even as a prisoner, so that others may hear the good news. The basis for it all: “God’s Word is not bound!” Even though we have been in this quarantine lockdown for so long, we can firmly state “God’s Word is not in quarantine!” Here are some of the ways this truth has played out recently:
We have been able to continue meeting through Facebook Live streams, Zoom and Whatsapp calls, and even visiting many in person during these months. One on one discipleship has increased, and people who normally would not reach out for help or counsel are doing so in this time. One of our church members has lived in her neighborhood for over 30 years, and everyone knows she is a Christian. In the past couple of months desperate neighbors or family members have reached out to her and she has been able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them, leading 3 of them to the Lord! She is also beginning to disciple them and see them grow in their walk with God. We praise God for how God is using her and others in our church to reach out in these hard times with the Gospel.
Sunday, September 20th we had a BAPTISM in our backyard pool! Martin and Carolina were saved last year, and have been discipled throughout the quarantine. Since we didn’t know when it would be possible to do a baptism at church, we did not to wait any longer. It was wonderful to see them take this important step in their spiritual growth and walk with Christ. We have also been inviting individual families of our church over to eat once a week. Some of the families do have immuno- compromised family members and we respect their need to stay isolated, but others so desperately need to be in contact with others, especially their church family. We are seeing small steps in this direction, but pray that churches will be allowed to legally gather and worship together very soon!
We were hoping that by now we would have some differences or changes in the lockdown situation here in Argentina to report to you. Unfortunately nothing much has changed. As of the end of June we have spent over 100 days in quarantine. Our kids have only left a couple of times each to go the the doctor, a trip to church in the van to check on the church building, and going to the corner stores to buy candy or dog food. The only two to go out are Ben and Rachelle, to the store regularly, do some visiting (always armed with a government-mandated mask and permit), or take some food boxes.
As a family we are coping fine, but 100 days indoors is still 100 days! We have a large back yard which we are thankful for, and a large enough house that we are not tripping over each other, but the novelty of it all wore off after the first month. We have tried to use the extra time (time that would normally be spent with other people, or traveling) to play with our kids and be more actively involved with them as compared to when we are running here and there with ministry that normally occurs outside the walls of our house.
Ministry is still occurring, but most of it has still continued to be delegated to Zoom through Wednesday night meetings, men, ladies, and youth Bible studies, and facebook live Sunday morning services and children’s classes. It has been a difficult time trying to continue to minister to our people who are tired of being indoors, some in hard family situations. Many are hurt and frustrated at loss of regular jobs, the lack of real connection, and poor internet adds to an ever increasing spiritual distancing from the rest of the church body.
The end is still not in sight. The government will not say when they will lift restrictions, and as of right now, restrictions state that people can only go out of their homes to do “necessary” errands such as grocery shop and go to some doctor appointments. Everything else is closed. Failure to have legal “papers to circulate” when stopped can result in fines, vehicle impounded, and even a night in jail. Tensions are high in the country, but so far only peaceful protests have taken place. Please pray for Argentina. Desperate economic times are resulting from this shutdown. We pray it will all be resolved soon.