Saturday, March 29, 2014

How A Little Girl Made a Big Baptism

Nine year old Karielys Fontanes asked to be baptised about two weeks ago.

I said "Fine. But we need to teach you what it's all about."
And we did.

9 yr old Karielys's example brings two more to the baptism
Her cousin, 13 year old Shakira found out and asked if she could be baptised too. I spoke to her also.

Today, the day of the baptism, the little girls aunt, Yetzenia, came ready to be baptised.

I took all three of them aside and spoke again of what it all meant. We had a rehearsal of what was going to happen. Everyone was on the same page, so we went ahead and had a bigger baptism party than expected.

All thanks to a little girl who stepped forward to follow Jesus.

[In the video, I introduce the people, ask their names, why they came today and why they wanted to be baptised. They all gave good answers and we went ahead and baptised all three. Afterwards, as is our custom, we had a BBQ and made a full day of fellowship out of it.]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A "One of these Days" Person Comes to Christ in Our Church on Sunday.

"One of these days" Manuel would always say.

"Some time soon I will get into it, but not just now" said this owner of a video rental shop in town.

But his business of many years slowly faded away. He tried again by converting his video rental store into a "Colmado," a small convenience store for his neighbourhood. But that too did not go as he had hoped.

Manuel has a brother in our church and began visiting. Then, to my surprise, he started bringing in presents. At Christmas, he brought in a large number of poinsettias to decorate the church. Every few weeks he would bring something, like a special desert to share after the service.

Then the hugs started. When he came in the door, his face would light up and a handshake would be followed by a strong hug. He would give a smile that was not simple happiness, but had the feeling of a sincere and deeply felt gratitude attached to it. He always looked attentive and content to hear our preaching.

This last Sunday, I asked one of our deacons, Wilfredo, to preach for me. At the end of his sermon, Wilfredo had the privilege of seeing Manuel respond and come forward to accept Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

A suspected cancerous tumor in Manuel's kidney area is part of this story. We are sorry to hear of Manuel's health problems, but happy that he brought them to the right place and is seeking help from the right Person: He who can heal body, soul and spirit.

Welcome Manuel. We will be praying for you and hope to serve with you in our church in the days ahead.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Boomerang Blessings. Or not. It's Up to You.

I just read a good article in CNN about a massive wave of Puerto Rican migration that is now underway.

What does this mean for missions?

My first thought was this: What goes around comes around. 

A lot of people do not like Latino immigration and resist efforts to evangelise people groups that they do not like. But, like it or not, a massive wave of Puerto Rico immigration is happening right now. The question is, what will they bring with them in their luggage? Bibles or...other things. Will they come with Christ or without?

Missionary work, like ours here on the island, makes a difference. But not just on our island.

Missionary support helps missionaries do a work that not only changes lives for eternity, but it also has an affect on the kind of people who may very well become your next door neighbour.

Being a blessing to others is like a boomerang. It can come back to bless you. The only thing is, you have to give it a throw. It's up to you.

CNN: Why more Puerto Ricans are living in mainland U.S. than in Puerto Rico

"So many residents have left the island over the years that there are a million more Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States (4.9 million as of 2011) than in Puerto Rico (3.7 million)"

A Shoot out on Saturday Makes for an Interesting Sunday.

I think our guardian angel is doing an excellent job.

This morning,  I noticed a new beggar on the street by my church. I walked past him on my way to the corner bakery, where I bought 3 lbs of bread for our after church snack time. I passed the beggar again on my way back to church.

He called out to me, "Pastor, help me buy some bread!"

I took one of the loaves and went to hand it to him. He stopped me.

"No," He complained, "You don't understand. I don't want the bread. I need money to buy bread latter. It's for my Aunt. Could you give me money?"

"Well, then," I said, "I can't help you."

After church started, I noticed that he suddenly ran by our church steps, up a hill with another guy, and into the back yard of a neighbour. They grabbed a shirt with a number on it and started waving it around the street. Other people took notice and left.

"What is going on?" I asked a street person who attends our church.

"It s from the shoot out last night." Mike said, "One of our people was shot in the leg. The guys who did it came back. Everyone is running around trying to find them and catch them"

"Are we in danger?" I asked

Mike replied, "Well, I don't think so. They won't shoot anybody in the church on purpose. But if they find the guys who did it and start shooting, someone may get hit with a "Bala Perdida," (stray bullet)."

I announced in church for everybody to be careful on the way home, but nobody seemed alarmed. Just another day in our little town in the mountains of Puerto Rico.

We made it home alright. Praise God for His watch care over us on the mission field. If you pray for your missionaries, your prayers were just answered.

Thanks you!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Small Kids, Big Steps

Last Saturday, I could not attend AWANA (kid's club) so I asked the mother of one our most faithful families to run the program for us. She did.

This is her 9 year old daughter that helped mom lead the singing for the smaller kids. After the meeting, she asked her mom if she could be baptized!

Some might not value a 9 year old being baptized as a big deal. But it is.

At today's meeting, a little kindergarten age Sparkie said one memory verse.

That is a big deal also.

These little kids are taking steps in a direction that can change their lives and the world they live it. Praise God for small kids making big steps for God.

[Our littlest Puerto Rican Sparkie says her memory verse and is proud of herself, as well she should be!]

Monday, March 03, 2014

Tina Comes Home

My wife Tina spent 3 weeks helping my daughter Rachel and our son-in-law Max after the arrival of Josiah, our newest grandchild. Tina cared for 4 of the kids while Rachel spent time recovering and concentrating on the newborn.

Tina enjoyed spending quality time with the grandkids, and was happy to give Rachel a helping hand. But she is also glad to get back to her own house and get some rest herself!

She is pretty important around here and I am glad she returned!

Here is a little video of her time away: little Stephen, not quite 2 years old, reads Tina his alphabet book.