Our life recently has felt like a chaos smoothie with some transition and culture shock thrown in for good measure. Our “parent couple” recently had to go back to the states, and we’ve struggled to get a replacement family down to Argentina. We had some substitute leaders for a while, and the pastors have been living with us for the past three weeks. The pastors are excellent leaders, but we’ve definitely felt short-handed with a job that already felt too big. We are now coming through to the other side a little worse for wear, and praying fervently for help as we face the transition of new leadership and changing job responsibilities with the official inauguration of our church. Through all the feelings of loss, stress, and frustration, God has been working miracle after miracle in front of our eyes, just as we would have prayed for Him to do in the best of circumstances. Here’s one:
Two Saturdays ago, we performed an evangelistic skit in the main plaza of Cordoba. It was our first event that we planned and completed on our own since the short term team went home. The skit was a pantomime to music of a girl rejecting Jesus, facing Satan as her only other alternative, watching Satan kill Jesus in her place, then being rescued by the resurrected Jesus. It was short and powerful, but most of the characters were demons. After the skit, we got to walk out into the crowd in our demon costumes and talk with people about Jesus, a bit of a paradox. After our first performance, we walked to another plaza where we were planning on performing, but there weren’t enough people so we ended up returning to the first plaza and performing in a different part where we wouldn’t have repeat audience members. It was now getting dark, but we figured we’d go for it anyway. We still had our makeup on, so why not? After the performance, Pastora and I talked with some teenage girls who enjoyed the skit, but were already Christians attending an evangelical church in town (we praise God for the Christians in Cordoba, but we can’t steal them for our own church). When we walked away from them, the crowd had already dispersed a bit, but there was a woman and her daughter sitting by a tree a little ways away. Timidly, I ventured over to them and said hello (obviously I actually said, “como estas?”). Pastora and I chatted with the woman, Victoria, for a while. She shared that she felt like she didn’t have any peace in her life, and she didn’t know what to do about it. We explained the peace that God offers, but she was very hesitant to believe.
Sunday, I sent her a text letting her know that I was praying for her. I also included Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Monday, she wrote back asking if she could come to our house to talk with us. Tuesday, she and her daughter met with Pastora and me in Pastora’s apartment. Her life story unraveled in front of us, a family history of many divorces and suicides leading to her. After observing the poor choices of her family members, she had become a bit of a recluse; if she doesn’t interact with people, they can’t hurt her. Unfortunately, she couldn’t shield herself from constant fear, panic, and anxiety. I was struck by how normal she seemed to me. Her life story could have been (and may be) identical to that of a teacher in my school in the states. She wasn’t buried in a life of addiction or Satan worship, but she was still broken and hopeless. Pastora and I both shared how God had changed generations of sin and pain in our own families and the peace and joy we see in our families now. Every time we tried to encourage her with, “God can change your life,” she responded with, “I know He can, because nothing else has.” She wasn’t enamored with the love or hope of God. She was completely defeated and completely confident that God was her coming victory. There had obviously been a change in her heart since Saturday. She accepted God’s promise and forgiveness for her life that Tuesday, almost one week to the hour before I began typing these words. She helped us clean the church on Thursday, attended Bible study Saturday, and we expect to see her again at a discipleship class tomorrow night. The last time I saw her, we made plans to celebrate Christmas together. A week ago, the only person she had in the world was her nine year old daughter. Now she has a church family and the Prince of Peace dwelling in her and guiding her steps.
Every redeemed life is a miracle, but we are especially reveling in these first fruits of a great harvest God has called us to here in Cordoba. We have cleaned the church building and painted about half of it. There’s still a lot to be done before our first service August 9, but God has been and will continue to be more faithful than words can describe.