By: Tom Gibbons
October 6, 2021
We have been thinking recently about a couple of texts from the Bible:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. (James 4:13-15) and,
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; (Psalm 31:14-15a)
Both texts remind us that our total existence is in the hands of the Lord. Whether it be life and death situations, ministry, pandemics, or even immigration issues, the processes of our lives are firmly held by God in His sovereign, benevolent hands.
We are finally emerging from our cooler winter temperatures and experiencing the warmer sun and comforting breezes. Our weather here is relatively mild – compared to, say, Charleston, SC, or Savanah, GA. It is enjoyable. We are enjoying doing much outside work around the Mission House to spruce it up and make it a pleasant place to visit. We have not made much use of the facilities since the quarantine, but we like to keep it ready for guests and as a testimony to the neighborhood.
The Bible Institute is running very smoothly this semester with our 14 students. All four teachers have become very adept at using the Zoom program for classes. I must confess that I was not at first an advocate of virtual classes, but we are seeing many advantages to using the virtual classroom. I cut back my hours of teaching from four hours of class to two. This schedule still allows me to complete the necessary work but without the additional pressure. Next semester I am planning to even it out to three hours for that class.
Our immigration situation is moving forward “un poquito”. It is very complicated how it came about, but the bottom line is that the Department of Religion will start receiving applications in November for the letter we need to continue to process our application for our new temporary residency card. When all that is finished (we are praying for an end-of-November resolution) we will be able to make a quick trip to the States. But all the timing is in the Lord’s hands (see texts above!). Please pray for an early resolution to our immigration processing.
Patti, Mike and I attend the UCB Church in Pasco. Patti has been asked to teach Sunday School to 7-9 year olds. She is thrilled! (Her students are the four younger ones in the foreground of the picture.) I have been put into the preaching rotation as well as filling in sometimes at the Ezeiza church and doing communion a couple of times in Gualeguaychú (the missionary at that church is on furlough). Mike is involved with the youth group where there are a couple of people who speak English – very important for Mike! He loves it.
We appreciate all of you who pray for us regularly. We never tire of telling you that knowing you are praying for us has encouraged us immensely. We appreciate all of you who give of your resources to sustain us here as well. Without you we could not live and serve the Lord in Argentina. We want to let you know that we love you and pray for you regularly.
By: Tom Gibbons
October 6, 2021
After almost exactly a year and a half of exclusively online services, this month of September we were able to resume once-a-week Sunday-evening meetings in a borrowed church building. Although Curtis and I were unable to attend the very first time (precaution due to bad colds, but apparently NOT Covid), this was a huge step forward and a wonderful CELEBRATION for the entire congregation. A moment for tears of joy!
September is always a big month of spring celebrations for us. First, the 3-day Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day) picnics with our super-patriotic Chilean friends. Then we have 2 birthdays just weeks apart plus our 42nd wedding anniversary. Friends from around the country sent greetings for Diane’s online birthday, but by Curt’s birthday we were able to have friends in as well as actually go out for our anniversary!
During September, our kids’ club, Counter Current, celebrated a re-start. Our online Women’s Time continues well and has re-launched a Bible study on Revelation 1-3 which I wrote some years ago, with blessing! We also enjoyed a recent online celebration for retiring Chilean pastors, many lifelong colleagues.
Several months ago, our mission elected to hold our annual conference near the Florida headquarters this coming January, for the first time ever. This is due to the ongoing uncertainty of quarantine and travel restrictions in South America and the missionaries’ desire not to miss another year of fellowship and encouragement. Curtis and I plan to travel mid-November to visit our family for the first time in 3+ years (especially elderly parents) and care for necessary business and paperwork. Christina aims to return with us to consider working and serving in Chile. A welcome celebration—she hasn’t been back since leaving to study 4+ years ago.
• Praise the Lord for Francisco’s salvation. Pray for his marriage and family.
• Praise that the new-to-us vehicle (which broke down shortly after we bought it in July!) was finally fixed a couple of weeks ago.
• Celebrate with me the publication of my book, Destiny at Dolphin Bay, set in the Chiloé Islands of Chile. For more information, visit Seaglass Sagas or the book’s Amazon page.
• Thank the Lord for His direction NOT to move ahead with a couple of church properties recently looked at. Pray for the right place at the right price and the right time. (Hopefully soon… )
• Pray for details of our upcoming trip to the US and Canada: preparations, safety, blessing, etc.
• Pray for several dear ones with cancer: Myrian (a pastor’s wife here in Coquimbo), Raquel (a former student in Santiago), and my niece Jennifer.
By: Tom Gibbons
August 31, 2021
Life is full of debuts, departures, gooddays, and goodbyes.
We first crossed paths and shook hands with GMSA in the early 1980’s. A friend from Bible College, Pastor John Kenyon, and my late father in law, Pastor David Clarke, were on the Canadian Board, and twisted our arms until we said “ GMSA.”
At first we were observers, but before long we would see that GMSA was a “gospel mission.” So we pulled up a chair, sat down at the table, and with my wife Margaret have held hands with the Mission ever since. One’s steps are ordered by the LORD!
Along with being a Board member, we have served as Canadian Reps since 2014. Our objective has been threefold: to make GMSA better known, to challenge people to partner with their time, treasure, and/or talent, and to be a Barnabas to our many co-workers in the LORD.
We might have done more but hopefully we’ve done a little something to advance the great cause of Christ. We would be amiss if we didn’t mention our gratitude for your friendship and encouragement. Thank you, and God bless you really good!
On August 31 we will say “adios” to GMSA, and “hola” to a new season of life: retiring as “home missionaries,” but remaining as missionaries from home. We don’t know how the future will unfold, but we do know Who holds us in His hand (Is. 41:10; Ps. 90:1,2)! We’re not going to become “rock and rollers”: rolling out of bed in the morning, and rocking the rest of the day away in a chair. As God gives grace and strength, we want to finish well, and do something for Him (Deut. 33:25).
We praise the LORD that we can sit up and take nourishment, standing right side up, instead of laid out straight. We have hope from above, and help for below (Ps.146:5). God is faithful, and He is able (1 Thess. 5:24)!
God is faithful in calling and keeping you. Circumstances will change, but Providence will not. The LORD is unchangeable and immutable. Jesus is the same – yesterday, today, and forever (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8)! God can do what needs to be done. Imagine it, dream it, and be bold. Everything is possible, and little is much when God is in it (Eph. 3:20;, Phil. 4:13,19; Heb. 4:16).
As we part, we pray for one another. Things happen when we do. Blessings come down when prayer goes up! And so we end with “una bendición”: “The LORD bless you, protect you, smile on you, be gracious to you, show you favor and give you His peace” (Num. 6:24-26).
Keep looking up and going ahead. There’s a crown to wear and a ”well done” to hear. We will meet again – down here, in the air, or over there!
By: Tom Gibbons
August 30, 2021
Describing the life-changing power of the gospel ministry, Paul says that “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). Unlike Old Testament ministry, where Moses spoke with God and then had to cover his shining face with a veil, we trust God to “remove the veil” from blind eyes and thunder “Let there be light!” Only then will they see the full glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The opportunity to proclaim this life-transforming message and see God work is a glorious treasure, although we carry this treasure around in weak clay jars (2 Cor 4:7). We are thankful for many opportunities to talk with, listen to, and encourage people with the gospel. Sometimes we get to see God tear the veil off and create light out of darkness, and other times it’s the Lord’s Spirit making those gradual, progressive changes from one level of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18).
We still keep up with our regular Bible studies with several couples from the church. Our conversations are filled with honest questions, explanation and application of Scripture, and talking about bringing every area of our lives under the authority of Jesus. Our church continues to meet on Sunday afternoons at the beach park, which gives us plenty of time to pray, sing, fellowship, and disciple one another. The kids enjoy playing with one another and the younger ones find plenty of tíos (aunts and uncles) to keep an eye on them. The beach park is full of distractions and noise, but what church enjoys a sunset show like we do?!
We are hoping to be able to meet soon for the first time in the building our church bought last March. The constantly-changing requirements seem to allow us to meet (with many restrictions). We’re reminded often that in the world’s eyes, what we want to do is completely “non-essential” and should be avoided, but we view things a little differently, walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), so we aren’t discouraged (2 Cor 4:16).
Please continue to pray with us for the resolution of our permanent residency documents. We’re still in the same holding pattern we’ve been in since June 2019, with no change in over a year. We appreciate your prayers.
By: Kati Raven
August 30, 2021
“Teaching them to observe all things…” Matthew 28:20
We are so thankful for the faithful group of ladies who are eager to attend our ladies’ group every other Friday night. We are reading through a book together (Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth based on Titus 2) . The ladies are expected to read the chapter before class, then Monica and Becky take turns teaching/leading the group through a discussion and follow-up with verses and a short encouragement or challenge for the ladies over the content of that chapter. We began this study back in March, but then had to put a pause on extra church activities during the months of April-June when we had a high number of COVID cases in our town and in our country. We are so thankful that in July we were able to start all of our church activities back up again. This has been a great opportunity for our ladies to fellowship and grow as we encourage one another in our walk with the Lord about being a testimony and teaching the younger ladies in our church through our words and actions. Please pray that our ladies would continue to be interested in studying God’s Word and living out the Gospel!
“…commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
Since the month of March, five men in our church began taking three classes with Mariano with the purpose to learn to study the Bible better but as well to lend a hand when there is a need to teach. We began with Bible Study Methods, we are currently studying hermeneutics, and then expository preaching. Eduardo already has shared a devotional in a men’s meeting and Ismael and Alejandro will share in prayer meeting while I am in the USA for 10 days. Pray as well for Lucas and Christian. My goal is to have these men fully trained in those classes to give a hand to Pastor Bobby during our 7 week furlough (Jan- Feb 2022).
A building project can be compared to a new Christian. We want to see changes quickly and often that doesn’t happen. We are experiencing some delays in OUR timeline. So, we are learning many things among them is to have lots of patience. We still don’t have a bathroom for our church facility. WHY? You are probably asking. We only have one man who is hired from Montevideo. He can only come a few days a week. So, this makes the process much slower than we expected. The installment of the bathroom is getting close, but we also have to get permits from the town (which all takes time due to Covid restrictions). We appreciate your prayers in this area and many of you who have given towards this project.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO GROUPS FROM THE USA COMING TO HELP IN THIS PROJECT IN 2022!! PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED.
Is there a difference? Many have asked me this question. The answer can be ambiguous. There are many things in the process of both that will repeat themselves. Last month the decision was made for me to lend a hand in a sister church an hour away from us. They have been without a pastor for 2 years and are down to 9 people attending. It is my desire and prayer that God will provide a faithful pastor for these folks. I also want to help them to grow in the areas where they have not been taught to function as a local body of believers. I am traveling every other Sunday (with a group from our church here) to provide 2 sermons and counseling. Please pray.
• To be able to finish the multipurpose building by early October
• Mariano’s paperwork for residency in Uruguay
• Souls to be saved in Carmelo
• For wisdom and discernment to help the church in Colonia
• For the body of Christ in Carmelo to grow in maturity and unity