Let the Children Come

Our van

About 30 minutes into day two of VBS, I looked up to see our big family van pull up to the entrance of the event center where we meet. Ray opened the door and a stream of children came running towards the bounce house we had set up. I stood there counting them and thanking the Lord for bringing us a good size group of children with whom to share the Gospel. It is not easy to draw children into an outreach here in Montevideo. A three day Bible club for children is pretty much unheard of here outside the small Evangelical circles. Finding out we are religious for many parents doesn’t create trust, but rather distrust. We had worked hard at advertising. Our facebook advertising had initially seemed especially effective. We had had hundreds of clicks, and around a dozen children were pre-registered on our webpage. Could we reach the shocking goal of 25 children that our teammate Jeni Richline had said she was praying for? After our first VBS last winter had underwhelmed us with one non-missionary child who only stayed about an hour, it seemed too good to be true.

Children listening to the Bible story

So on day one we were prepared for the ones who had preregistered, as well as for children of our friends and neighbors to whom we had given personal invitations, not to mention the hundreds of flyers we had blanketed the neighborhood with. We even briefly talked about what to do if we had too many. But alas, just 3 or 4 non-missionary children came. Although a little disappointed, we were still delighted to get to share Jesus with these precious ones.

“And Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21.

On day two a mom came with a couple of children and said that she knew a lot of children from her neighborhood that would come, if they only had a ride.  So Ray took our big van, and she led him to a group of children from the government housing project not far from the church. He was able to fill up the van and bring a good sized group. And it was such a blessing to minister to a group of children who had a good time, and seemed especially eager for the sandwiches we served at snack time. Indeed, it is our prayer that we ministered not only to their physical need, but to their spiritual need as well. While the children were inside hearing the Gospel, some of the church members were outside ministering and praying with the mothers, and we pray these conversations will also bear fruit.

Our teammate Jeni Richline taught the Bible lessons. She is an experienced school teacher, both in the US and in Uruguay.

At the end of the three days, we counted about 26 non-missionary children that attended at least one day of the event! The Sunday after the VBS, our teammate Mark Richline led the prayer of the church and prayed that even some of these very children might be called by God to lead the church in Uruguay one day. Please pray this big prayer with us. Also join wih us in praying that we could continuing to  minister among these families in the coming months.

The handicraft done by one child.

Another encouraging fruit from the VBS was to see our fledgling church plant come together to make this event happen. We just had 2 adult baptisms and admitted 5 adults into membership. We are small, but we are growing and it was exciting to see relationships forming and the new members exercising their gifts. We are also looking as a mission team at starting a Bible study in another city about 2 hours away. One young man from the family interested in starting the study came and stayed in our home with our family during the VBS, in order to help out. He is from a place where there are very few Christian youth, and he seemed happy to come into our group of teenagers, help out, and be encouraged spiritually. It is tough on the children of believers to grow up in a culture where they very well may be one of the only evangelical Christians in their high school. It is also one of my prayers that the church in Uruguay wouldn’t lose any of its youth to worldliness or unbelief. Many of the future elders, deacons, pastors and church members are right now being nurtured in Christian homes. There is a spiritual battle for their souls. May the Lord strengthen the families and strengthen the youth in this spiritually dry land!