On Saturday, September 26th, 2020, our partners in Argentina gathered together church members from all over South America for conversation, prayer, and encouragement. While Argentina was the most represented, with pastors and families from dozens of churches and leadership teams, every other partner in South America was also included. Each speaker focused on telling stories related to the pandemic. Tales of the difficulties caused by the virus. Stories of the many miracles God performed through each community as well.
Willy Romanenghi and his wife spoke about their family contracting the virus, the fear, and the anxiety that was created. They spoke passionately about the outpouring of love that washed over each of them. Both from the churches in Argentina and around the world. Lifted by prayer, and love they, weathered the storm to emerge with few if any, issues after the virus was gone.
Luis Morillas spoke of the difficulty faced by many in Peru. Armed patrols roamed the streets, and whole industries were shut down. Yet God was still faithful and took care of the church. Luis, like our partners Elena Prado Effio in Pucusana and Jose "Segundo" Gonzales in Puerto Maldonado, received some aid from the U.S. Brethren Church. This enabled all of them to reach out to their communities and beyond and help restore hope. Luis closed by asking for prayer as the country faces ongoing hardship in the months ahead.
Carlos Quiroga spoke of the fear the virus had spread throughout the country. This fear added to the already difficult climate facing the people in the wake of government tax edicts resulting in mass riots throughout the land. Several in the congregation were hit by COVID-19, and although most recovered, a few did not, adding to the death toll.
Marcelo and Adriana Ferreri spoke for Colombia, adding stories of lockdown and great difficulty caused by the virus. A couple of ministries had to shift locations as they could not afford the rent. Marcelo emphasized God's incredible grace as they were able to adapt and serve in many wonderful ways. The church adapted quickly to an online worship service, even extending its reach to the U.S. and far beyond.
Juan Carlos Poletti stunned those in attendance by speaking of the new church birthed from an outreach they began to an area that was already struggling economically before the virus struck. In a small area known as Ypanee, they moved from feeding 80 to 100 people a day to 850 people a day as the pandemic continued. Bible studies emerged, impromptu worship services, children's ministries, and more. Many of the men in the area began clearing a spot to build a new church structure.
Tom Schiefer was able to attend and gave a brief greeting and word from the Lord, which was appreciated and prayed through.
Carlos Velen, the current president of the Council of Elders, not only gave an incredible message but called for continued prayer that the church throughout the world would continue to rise to the occasion. The call to bring hope, light, and life to so many living in fear and despair.
While this was the first gathering held, you can be sure it won’t be the last. Many more stories were told, more than can be reported here. However, an important truth was revealed. The enemy thinks he has hemmed in God’s people. Using the virus as a weapon of intimidation and fear. The significance of this assembly stands as an incredible reminder that God is still in control and is calling his people to follow him. Armed with love and compassion, we will continue to see God’s kingdom expand and people transformed by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.