Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I hope all is well at home, and that everyone is enjoying this holiday season with family and friends. Things are not near as hectic here during this season, and it is a lot easier to focus on the meaning of the season from abroad, and to ponder the greatest miracle of all-the incarnation of Christ. Pastor José told me the other day that he heard a lady in New York was killed in a stampede on Black Friday as one of the stores opened. I told him it happened every year (which it does), and he was baffled. To people who have never had the means to go shopping for anything but the bare essentials (and many times not even that), it is hard to comprehend the madness. I had to admit the total lack of priority most in the good ‘ol U.S. of A have, and shake my head along with him.
But not to make it sound like those who have less, somehow as a result have their act together either, I want to tell you in the remainder of this newsletter of a recent event that happened the days prior to our Thanksgiving. For months, I had been seeing a “3 Days of Miracles” poster hung up all over the town of Esperanza, but gave little thought to it...until those three days were upon us, and 8-10 thousand people (I’d have to say that 1/2 to 3/4 of the city) went every night to watch this “Pastor” from the United States perform “miracles” and preach on wealth and prosperity.
I remember Wednesday night, as we were having prayer service (with low numbers), looking behind me and seeing the streets filled with people, all walking to the event. Tony and I drove by it after the service and were blown away at all the people. The message was typical– health and wealth if you give. But what we were not expecting, was to see people from our church (who had skipped our service) there. A sad, heavy weight (that I am accustomed to feeling here) once again fell upon me as I drove home. How could everyone be so blind, and how could those we have been teaching for so long be fooled?
Well, its times like those, that you feel like throwing in the towel. When you look at all the street preaching of the true gospel we’ve done, the witnessing, the teaching, and all the praying, but then see the whole city, and even many within the camp dazzled by Satan and his false gospel, it just makes you lose heart a little, and second guess things. But like David often did, after he got done lamenting, I want to end with praising God. A little talk with my dad, and especially the Word of God (2 Cor. 2:12-17) lifted my spirits. I read again where Paul learned of churches he had labored for with blood and sweat, only months later, embracing false teachers, and I saw how despite his anguish, he was strengthened afresh in the knowledge of Christ as Victor! We are here to serve Christ, by serving others with the gospel that can change lives, but oh how being here is changing us as well!
—Gracias y Dios los bendiga, Jared and Celia