“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
– 1Th 5:16-18 ESV
We give thanks for what our gracious and sovereign Lord is doing. He has called us to plant churches in Uruguay and we are laboring in our first church plant in the capital of Montevideo. IPEM (Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica de Montevideo) has been in existence as a mission church (that is what we Presbyterians call a church which is not yet self governing) for a little over a year now.
Praise the Lord that we are meeting weekly on the Lord’s Day each Sunday evening for our public worship service. I have been preaching through the Gospel of John, which is a great message for our church. At the end of 2016 we started a membership class called “Los fundamentos de la iglesia” each week before service, though we took a few weeks off during the holiday season. There are currently 7 individuals attending the class and we are praying that each one will desire to become a member and join with us in laboring for the glory of God through this church plant.
Please be praying for IPEM and for how God might use this church as a lighthouse, leading travelers through the darkness and fog to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray for the effective preaching of the Word of God; pray that the Holy Spirit will attend the proclamation of the truth with power.
Pray for our membership class: that the Lord will grant wisdom to Pastor Mark and me to lead and teach these classes and that the people will learn and grow in the faith.
Pray that God will use this church and our mission to be a beacon of light; ask that we will have boldness as we ought to have.
Give thanks to God for His faithfulness, grace, mercy and power.
From the beginning, we have sought to make prayer the foundation of our church plant. We have no illusions that we bring something new, unique or flashy to this very secular nation, something that would allow us to succeed where other missionaries have failed.
We, along with many other missionaries, have a treasure that is contained in jars of clay. The Gospel is living and powerful and capable of changing lives. But it is only through the power of God that eyes will be opened and people will bow before the Savior. For this reason, our church plant has met every Thursday night for prayer.
Sometimes visitors come. Sometimes church members come. Often it is just the two missionary families. But we come together to pray before our King, that He would be merciful on us, and on the people of Uruguay. There is a spiritual battle, and we feel it each Thursday as we prepare to attend.
Please pray that we would be faithful in making prayer the foundation of our ministry AND please pray that the Lord would soften hearts in Uruguay.
Recently, a fellow missionary approached us with a 12 passenger used van that he is selling. It is more economical than a newer model, and it will both be big enough for our family, and big enough to use for a variety of ministry purposes. We have been doing a “Go Fund Me” campaign to raise the funds, since MTW no longer receives contributions for personal needs of this nature.
We rejoice to report that God has provided the necessary funds to purchase this van!
We want to give a hearty thanks to all those who contributed and ask that you would continue to pray for the details in purchasing it and obtaining the proper documentation in Uruguay.
Our missionary teammate, Rev. Markus Jeromin, has been focusing on English outreach, among other things. He started an English Bible study on Wednesday nights, and two English classes on Saturday afternoons. Both of these outreaches have proven to be effective as a way to show love in the community and as a way to develop relationships.
If you remember from past prayer letters, the Jeromin family signed up to come in 2016 to help our mission while our other teammates, the Richline family, have been on furlough. They have settled in well here, and have developed some good relationships in the community. Although they originally planned to be here just one year, they are hoping to be able to stay with our mission for the next three years, through our next furlough. We need more laborers. They were willing to drop what they were doing in their lives in the U.S. and bring their 4 young children to answer the call to serve here. God has blessed their work abundantly and has blessed us with their friendship.
Please pray that the Jeromin family may be able to continue serving in Uruguay longer, if the Lord wills. Please also ask the Lord to bless the English outreaches.
Life in Montevideo can be challenging at times. We have had a big struggle with mold in our house during the cold and wet winter. It grows on many of our walls and ceiling – probably half or more of the walls were covered in mold. We were considering the cost of getting it cleaned and painted, when one day the owner came by with a painter and they agreed to wash and paint all the moldy areas.
Praise God that the walls have been painted, and please pray for long term mold solutions.
As winter in the Southern Hemisphere ends, the mold problem subsides – but we start to deal with mosquitoes and flies. This year there is concern that the mosquitoes may be carrying dengue fever and Zika virus. For our last two summers, we have not successfully been able to cover our doors with screens, and it is essential to keep them open for air flow. We have ordered some magnetic screens that tape on the door frame.
Please pray that we can keep the mosquitoes out of our house this upcoming Southern Hemisphere summer.
It all started with the question: “Where are you from?” The young man who works at the pizza place wanted to know why I am here in Uruguay. When I explained who we are and why we have come, the conversation turned to the things of God. From his questions, I gather that he is fairly skeptical of the Church in general and of the Bible in particular. His first concern was what we thought of the latest Pope’s favorable pronouncements on homosexuals, but then he quickly called into question the authority of the Bible by pointing out that it had been written by men. This in turn opened a door to talk a little with him, but then mostly to his co-worker – a young woman who says she believes that God is a force and who says that she can’t believe that the account of a talking serpent in the book of Genesis could be historical. At the end it all, I believe we were able to raise some good points and share a short synopsis of the gospel message. What a wonderful opportunity from the Lord. It is because people like these young folks that we have come to Uruguay – so that many may be called to believe on the Name of Jesus!
While we are blessed to be able to serve here in Uruguay, it does come with its own challenges. One challenge we face is in purchasing a vehicle. Until now we have functioned via buses and taxis, but that has proved challenging, especially as we become more integrated into life here. After much prayer and consideration, we have decided to pursue purchasing a used vehicle. Autos here sell for more than 2 or 3 times the cost than they do in the U.S. Because of that, we will need to raise additional funds. We have found a van we are interested in and are hoping to purchase it or another of similar size. We are asking the Lord to provide a total of $17,000 toward costs.Would you consider a special contribution toward this need?
Since this is a personal need, Mission to the World cannot process contributions toward it. Also, the contribution would NOT be tax deductible.
Our missionary teammates departed for furlough and left us their car to use until they return in 11 months. After having lived 13 months without a car, this gives us a chance to see what life is like for those in Uruguay who have a car. It also adds certain responsibilities like driving safely in a place where the rules seem crazy at times as well as taking care of regular maintenance like purchasing new tires. This was the task that I set out to do, not realizing at first that I would once again be in a taxi talking with the driver about the things of God.
It was a crazy morning. I had to arrive at the garage early to drop off the car, catch a taxi back home, pick up Michele, take her in a taxi to the hospital for a pregnancy checkup and then drop Michele home via taxi and take same taxi to the garage to pick up the car! Thankfully everything worked out smoothly and now we have four new tires and assurance that our baby’s heart continues to beat normally!
One unexpected encounter was with the first taxi driver, though God is sovereign and nothing is a surprise for him. As usually happens around here, people want to know why we are living as foreigners in a foreign land. I told him that I am a pastor and we are working here with the Church. This is the point where I get to share about what kind of church it is and where and when we meet (in case the driver wants to visit). After sharing that, I asked him if he went to church. His answer was not surprising, knowing that Uruguay is the most secular nation in the Americas: he does not attend church and has no interest in doing so.
“Really?” I said, “Do you believe in God?” That started a conversation which lasted all the way home about God and what is historically known as the problem of evil. The problem is usually put two ways: Continue reading God and the Problem of Evil→
Children always seem to outgrow or ruin perfectly good clothes in a short period of time. It is especially difficult to keep up with buying the right clothes when one has 7 children to look after! Last Saturday I went to the mall here in Montevideo (called “Shopping” by the locals) to buy some pants and shorts for our boys. The process involved the inevitable and dreaded dressing room (which all young boys love, right?). As the boys were trying on clothes, I spoke with the employee working at the dressing room.
The man was friendly and looked to be about 50 something years old. As we were talking I shared that I work with the church and am a pastor. That is something I have to get out right up front because every new person I meet wants to know why we have come to live in Uruguay. Actually, it is a great opportunity to start conversation about the Lord or about their beliefs. I get all kinds of responses varying from the surprised exclamation of “oh!” to the apathetic change of topic – which must signal a desire on the part of the person that they are not interested in the things of God. In this case the employee seemed pleased and shared with me that his granddaughter had been sick with a brain infection a few months ago. It looked very serious and they thought she would not make it long. But God in his mercy allowed her to recover and she is well. He shared that the doctors all say it must be some kind of miracle and he seemed thankful to God.
In my limited time with him we were not able to get into all the details of his personal religious beliefs nor an explanation of the gospel message, but I was able to invite him to church. He indicated he might be able to walk over after work on Sunday and visit the service. We pray that the Lord will indeed lead him to come and hear from God’s Word. Though not every conversation in public hits all the main points of the gospel message or draws out the details of the person’s personal beliefs, seeds are planted and the conversation can usually be directed to the Lord in some way. In this case there was the realization that the Lord God is the one responsible for the healing of this man’s granddaughter and I was able to give him a gospel tract with my phone number and the church web site. God is at work in all kinds of ways!
Mildew on the walls inside of older homes is a big problem here in Montevideo. This was our first winter here and we were hit hard by the mold. There is a layer of black mildew on the walls on our second level and some places on the first floor. Apparently, one is supposed to keep the windows open to get plenty of fresh air and sunlight regularly during the winter. With cold weather and a house with no central heat or even a wood burning furnace, I’m not sure how we would be able to do that without being miserable. Continue reading Mildew→
The day was bright and sunny but rather cold. I had walked my daughter to her ballet lessons and decided to visit some of the local businesses where I had met individuals over the course of the past 10 months. I was hoping to hand them a flyer and invite them to our first official worship service this coming Lord’s Day. We have been working on a new church plant in the neighborhood of La Blanqueada in the city of Montevideo – the capital of Uruguay.
Though we have made several contacts in the community, we still have no core group of folks other than our two missionary families. Of course, we just began working in earnest on the new work a few months ago, but we were hoping that the Lord would send us some mature Christians as well as new believers (through evangelism) by now. Our prayer is that we might see the miracle of regeneration before our very eyes as our gracious and sovereign God brings people to faith in the Lord Jesus. There are so many that are living apart from Christ and have no idea of their need – either completely oblivious or actively suppressing the knowledge of God. Thankfully, we have faith that the Lord is able to change their hearts and know that no matter how opposed or apathetic to the gospel they seem, the Lord can use us to challenge them to turn their attention to the things of God. Like the Apostle Paul, they may be “kicking against the goads” (Acts 26:14) but the Lord can suddenly intervene and turn their lives upside down.
After dropping off my daughter, I entered a store to invite a clerk that I had spoken with on a number of occasions. When I offered him the flyer, he would not take it. It turns out he is a Roman Catholic and is opposed to even accepting the flyer, much less visiting the church. Another encounter was with our veterinarian. She was kind to take the flyer, but explained that she does not practice any religion. I assured her that everyone is invited, whether they have a religion or not. Another stop took me to the bakery where I invited the owner. He said he would be working during our worship service. Coming to the hardware store I was surprised that it was closed already. I’ll have to pass by there another time to invite my friend the hardware owner. He is very interested in religions of all sorts – meeting with an Eastern meditation group and studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
One benefit of doing this has been the opportunity to learn about the trials of neighbors. One shop owner shared with me that his mother is in very grave condition in the hospital. A neighbor shared with me that his son (who is about my age) is in the hospital for heart problems. They aren’t sure what the treatment will be or how serious it is yet. I assured both the shop owner and my neighbor that I would be sure to pray for their loved ones. We live in a lost and fallen world where suffering is everywhere, but we hope in Christ who has come to offer grace and eternal life to broken sinners. I am thankful that in the age to come there will be no more suffering nor sin (Rev. 21:4). I’m also thankful that we can share the message of the hope of Jesus (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Rom. 10:9-10; Rom. 1:3-4) with others in this age and pray that all God’s people (including myself) will remain faithful, all the while praying for more boldness (Eph. 6:19-20) and open doors for the gospel!