Bolivia 2016 - Update #3
Dear Gateway Family…
It is now Friday morning and the past few days have been full of both ministry and activity. We arrived safely on Monday night after a relatively problem free flight from San Francisco through Panama City to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. By the time we arrived in Bolivia it was 11 p.m but we “had” to fellowship for a while, have dinner and touch base on the conference beginning the next day.
The next morning (Tuesday) at about 8:30 we walked the 300 yards to the church and began meeting with the brothers. The first day of the conference we had 52 in attendance (40 men and 12 ladies). I taught on “The Structure of the Psalms in General” and then later in the day “The Structure of the Psalms in Particular” (i.e. in each Psalm). Joel Umanzor taught “Staying on the Line” and also headed up the Ladies small groups.
Now, this was the first time that we have taken the 2 ½ day seminar and squeezed it into two days, primarily by using the three extra hours on both evenings. We did this because one of the days was a national holiday and we would likely have a greater attendance. Sadly, what actually happened is that many who attended on Tuesday “could not attend” on Wednesday. This is a problem that we are constantly trying to work with. There is a tendency for the last day of the conference to be a day when many don’t show up for various reasons. Please pray for us as we discuss this and other considerations for future workshops.
So, on Wednesday, Day 2, our numbers decreased from 52 to 32. It would have been 34 but two men had to leave during the first hour because of emergencies at home. Still, there was a core of men and women who endured to the end. Joel taught two more seminars and preached a model sermon while I taught three more seminars and led the discussions and testimonies at the end. I am always humbled by what I hear from these men and women. Many of them said things like, “We have never been taught how to study a book like this” or “I now see why it is important to study difference genre’s in different ways.” Others simply thanked us all for taking the time to come and to show them how to study the Psalms. They said that they just don’t get teaching like this and that it is so very helpful to them.
Friends, what we do in hosting these seminars is for the glory of God but it is purposeful. We want to impact the kind of preaching and teaching that is taking place in the churches here in Bolivia. We praise God that we have this great opportunity to serve the greater body of Christ in this way.
The people really have enjoyed Joel. He is a warm and funny brother who loves the Lord and the men were extremely attracted to him. I praise God for His goodness and provision in allowing Joel to be a part of this ministry. Alex has not had much opportunity to be used in the ways that he had expected. There haven’t been things to fix and, add to that, we have been on the go most of the time. Still, Alex has been a real ministry trooper and served both days in the capacity he knows very well at our church. He assisted in the registration and served in the back as new people arrived or needs were made aware. He has been willing to jump in and help where needed. The hard, but good lesson, is that ministry isn’t always what you want it to be. Sometimes you have to adjust and find a way to serve the rest of the team, and in this case, the hosts.
All-in-all, the conference was a success. The brothers and sisters learned the tools necessary to wrestle with the book of Psalms. They demonstrated that in their small groups and even after each small group when we would briefly review the passages they had just studied.
Please keep praying for us…
God is good!!