I recently had the opportunity to travel with fellow team member Tom Schiefer to Argentina to meet with several of our South American partners. The purpose of the visit was twofold. First, engage in the second round of ongoing summits with many of our partners. Having met with a large group previously in Colombia in the fall of 2017. Second, build relationships with the pastors and leaders of the Brethren Church in Argentina.
The first few days were spent connecting with the pastors, leaders, and the people of Nueva Vida Church in Cordoba, Taking time for long lunches, walks and deep discussion with Pastor Walter Romanenghi, his wife Adriana, and the pastors who serve with him. Both Tom Schiefer and I spoke during the Sunday services. Tom giving an incredible word in the morning and myself talking about connections around the world and a word in the evening. Tom Schiefer's call as a liaison and more to Argentina and the people here is one directed through the Holy Spirit. His message was amazing and the response was incredible. We prayed over many people that day in ways I can't describe accurately. One family we prayed over were refugees from Venezuela, people who walked and rode buses for 10 days with very little in the way of belongings to be free of the poverty and violence in their home country. Incredible people with incredible courage and faith.
We had an opportunity to tour the Diquecito campground where Tom explained that what we were seeing was a profound change brought about by the Spirit of God doing great things. Several short-term groups through the past decade or so have come to help with the expansion and ministry.
During our time in Cordoba, Tom and I had an opportunity to see Cecilia Castro and meet with Marisol Gomez. Both of whom work with and lead the Cordoba Immersions group. We heard Marisol’s testimony and listened to the vision they have to reach kids and business people alike. The connection and partnership we are forming is one that I believe will have a profound impact on students and adults in both countries for years to come. I expect our churches and students will hear much more about opportunities for ministry with Cordoba Immersions in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Tom and I journeyed to Soldini, an area just outside of Rosario, to see the work there. Spending time with Pastor Tito Hernandez and his beautiful family. We toured the church building and the school as well. Enjoying time with teachers, administrators, and children alike. Tom handed out colored bands from the Revive Indiana ministry and explained the Gospel story through the colors. The kids loved the lesson and the gift.
The Soldini School has an incredible vision for the future. One that will span at least a couple of generations. It is quite amazing to see not only what has been done already, but what is yet to come. In January the Nappanee Church is sending a team down to help with some of the work. If you would like to know more or want to be a part of this or another team going to the area, give the Nappanee Church a call.
After a cramped, long, but laughter-filled 6-hour drive, we arrived at our final destination for the week, Villa Bautista Thea retreat center. The Partners meeting was incredible! Each greeted each the others with hugs and kisses as though it was just yesterday that we last saw each other. During our meetings, the team discussed several topics. Things that are happening in ministry, personal issues, and more. One of the brightest moments was the inclusion of Lautaro Vitale, a young man from the Nueva Vida church who acted as our translator for the entirety of the partners' meeting and the conference. Lautaro learned English in school, but never really thought it would be all that helpful. God has a really awesome way of seeing the whole of our lives far in advance and put Lautaro in just the right place at just the right time. An amazing young man who has a special anointing he was completely unaware of.
In Argentina and South America, the issues of sexuality and transgender development are a huge problem as well as abortion. In the United States, the laws have mostly bypassed the church as a whole. In South America, they are directly attacking the church. We discussed similarities in these issues around the world and how each area is handling the discussions.
The vision we cast for all of us working together in new concerted and reciprocal ways became the central topic. Not only in keeping our new partnership rooted in Christ and covered by the Holy Spirit, but future church planting efforts in new places. Scott was asked to continue to lead the group in communication and connection. This is a huge honor and responsibility.
As we finished our conversations in prayer and worship we began planning our next partners meeting to be held in 2021, in Santiago, Chile with the expectation that new members will also come to the table from Peru, the Philippines, and more.
The last few days were a time of laughter, worship, and the building of new relationships. The Brethren Church in Argentina scheduled their General Conference for the following two days. This was their first General Conference since 2009 where they celebrated 100 years of ministry. Guest Speakers included Adrian Castro and Marcelo Ferreri, both pastors from the Brethren Church in Colombia. Worship was loud, filled with praise, adoration, and celebration! Folded in with times of deep, powerful prayer which wove the entire conference together through the Spirit of God whose presence was felt in every aspect of the conference.
Our Brothers and Sisters in South America are alive and well. They are excited about what the future for the Brethren movement holds worldwide, while specifically praying for the Brethren Churches in North America. The Father is doing amazing things through the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus in ways that would astound most of us. They rely on the Spirit and live in a faith that is often rare to find here in the United States. Something WE can learn from our partners to do more.