Last week I posted about something significant that appears to be happening in regards to the house church ministry that meets in our home on Sundays. I mentioned it was too early to give details and that I hoped this past Sunday would provide the fruition of this development so I could share it in detail this week.
So, here we are in this week and I still haven’t shared it. That’s because Sunday things didn’t go as planned. However, I’ll share the situation with you and you can join us in prayer for the Lord’s will to be done.
While this story has its beginnings in many other roots that go back weeks, months, and even years, I think it’s safe to skip those smaller connections and simply start with a phone conversation I had last Monday with our co-worker, Tim O’Brien.
Tim called me to discuss a few things about the community center and the house church plant. Primarily, he brought up that the house church plant is in need of mature, nationals who can help us in this work, so that at some point, we can begin a new church plant, or so that should we not be able to continue on the field, the church would have solid national leadership in-place to be able to continue. Of course, that has been one of our foundational principles all along, but after working in this together for about 2 years, we still aren’t anywhere near having that kind of maturity and leadership, and it isn’t developing rapidly just yet.
So, we left that conversation with a need to pray and ask God to show us how to proceed and possibly with whom to proceed should the Lord bring to us a mature, national believer(s) who might help us in this work. It is His church so we trust that He will take care of it as He sees fit.
Later on Monday, I began my first of six physical therapy sessions over two weeks (tomorrow being the last session, having these on M-W-F). That normally wouldn’t seem like anything significant to this story, but that is where the surprise pops up. That Monday I spent about 30 minutes with my therapist, Giovanni. Beth was with me and we enjoyed this young man and his pleasant nature and in the discovery that he is relatively new to our city having been born and raised in Puebla.
On Wednesday, I returned alone and I thought that I would take the opportunity to mention Puebla again and perhaps use this topic as a way to share the Gospel with him. I probed him a bit with his knowledge of a good taco restaurant (Puebla is known for its tacos arabes, among other foods) in a certain area of the city with which I am familiar. Of course, being a life-long “Poblano” he knew it. I ended up asking him if he had ever heard of a seminary in that same area of the city and that it is related to the Bible churches in Puebla. I figured he might have heard of these but it was probably a long-shot.
His reply was surprising to me. Yes, he knew of the seminary and that he had come from Puebla as a member of one of the larger, well-known Bible churches in Puebla! Wow! I was stunned that here in San Juan del Rio I could “run into” someone with this background. He mentioned knowing of a Camino missionary who teaches at the seminary and of having a relation to the Christmas music outreach called “Coro Unido.”
I guess it may have been the first time I was happy to have “failed” in attempting to share the Gospel with someone! What a blessing to meet a believer in a city with probably about 1% evangelical population (at best)!
As we talked more, I discovered that this physical therapy clinic is a family business. His twin brother (Jonathan, also a believer) and sister (also a believer, and married to a believer) own this business together. They have been here in San Juan for a year and a half and have never found a church to attend. Of course, I gave them a warm welcome to our house church plant. It turned out that Giovanni thought they would all come this past Sunday, including their parents, who are also believers and moved here with them. Six believers and a 5-year-old son of the sister could possibly come this past Sunday!
They were excited to learn about us as much as I was about them. It sounded like a possible answer to the prayer we had just begun to offer up to God about our need for mature national believers to help us in the work.
Unfortunately, they didn’t come on Sunday. It turns out that the parents had a prior engagement in Puebla and that Giovanni had forgotten the paper with our directions and phone numbers in the office and couldn’t contact us to let us know they weren’t able to come.
So, here we are looking ahead…the invitation still stands. I THINK they are serious about visiting with us and perhaps continuing to attend on Sundays, but it is obviously premature to say that they might actually visit and whether or not they might be “the ones” to help us in this ministry. We certainly don’t know enough about them just yet.
Please pray for this family and that they will simply do whatever the Lord wants them to do in regard to being a part of a local church. Also, pray with us that along with the O’Brien family, we’ll continue to minister faithfully to the group the Lord has brought together here, and that we’ll see spiritual growth in us and in the believers who meet with us on Sundays and throughout the weeks in personal Bible studies and discipleship.
I’ll post further on this if it does develop into something significant.
In other news…in a couple hours my mother-in-law (and thus us too) is hosting a missionary couple who are with TEAM and who have an interest in ministering in this region of Mexico (among others). I don’t think they’ll find San Juan del Rio as the fit they’re looking for, based on what this couple mentioned in an email describing for what they’re looking. Nonetheless, they will get a couple days’ taste of the town here, and we’ll wait and see whether the Lord leads them to this needy area. We don’t know them, but we do know some solid TEAM missionaries, and both Bethie and I served in summer missions with TEAM way back in our college years.