Dathan and Allison Marshall reporting from Chivilcoy, Argentina:
Joel 3:10b – “… let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”
The apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, where he says, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” There is a truth here that is very difficult to accept and obey. In order for you and I to be strong, to be successful, to be called ‘great’, we must first become weak. It is like an athlete who first submits themselves to the difficult, rigorous training of their body (being made weak), before they compete in their perspective sports with a durable, well-trained body (then made strong).
Unlike these illustrations, Paul is referring here to an inward humility, a change of heart and perspective, a recognition of one’s weaknesses and inabilities. After all, are we really strong at all? Just take one look around at humanity (especially in comparison to all of creation) and you’ll quickly see how weak, how fragile, how foolish, and how incapable we truly are. Do you want to know how to become strong? The answer is not to first begin an exercise program, or eat healthier, or anything physical, emotional, or social. We must first ‘take pleasure’ in our weaknesses, which means to ‘think good about’ or ‘to be well-pleased with’. You and I (whether we admit it or not) are weak, and often times, our weaknesses are made quite evident by the struggles of life. But, Paul is boasting about his weaknesses, because the strength of the Lord, the power of God, is revealed and made known through weakness. You see, when we are without strength and are in the middle of a ‘difficult training exercise’ in life, God provides us with His strength and power to overcome, which would bring praise to the only One who deserves it. Identify your weaknesses. Take pleasure in them. Rely on God’s strength and grace (v. 9). Give praise to God for what He has done. Then, as Joel 3:10 says, “… let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”
Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you. Thank you for your prayers, for your support, for your encouragement, and for your testimony for Jesus Christ! We thank God for each of you, and for your faithful and generous part in our ministry. As you read through our newsletter, we hope you are truly encouraged and uplifted by what God has been doing through our lives, and we would ask you to please continue praying for our family, our ministry in Argentina, and these other prayer requests:
Please pray for…
- Our Ministries: our primary church ministries are teaching on Thursday evenings and leading the college/career group on Saturday evenings. Please pray for spiritual growth for these young adults, and for wisdom and effectiveness in teaching God’s Word.
- Our Health: just like all believers, we are in the middle of a spiritual war against sin. Please pray for both our spiritual and physical health, that they would not impede or interrupt our service for God and the responsibilities we have here in Argentina.
- Our Future: our goal is to plant a new church in the city of Bragado (about 30 miles SW from here in Chivilcoy) in the near future. Please keep us in prayer in regards to the wisdom, patience, strength, and teammates we need to do this, as well as trying to find an apartment or house to begin living there.
Praise God for…
- His Strength: after being here for 6 months so far and enjoying seeing God accomplish many great works during that time, we believe it is necessary to give God the praise for what He has done, and for what we believe He can and will do in the future by His strength in our weaknesses.
- His Work: God has given us clear direction about choosing to go to the city of Bragado, God has helped us (all 3 of us) to receive our temporary DNI (last step before permanent residency!), and God continues to open doors for us to share the Gospel with many people.
The months of August and September, which are the last months of winter here in Argentina (unfortunately, no snow), were highlighted with a young adults conference in Uruguay, and Dathan’s parents visited us for 10 days.
October has been an extra busy month, with a Pastors Conference, Ladies Retreat, and work teams that have come from the USA to help work at the camp. In the first week of October, about 90 ministry leaders came to the camp in Chivilcoy from Chile, Uruguay, and other parts of Argentina, for a 3-day Pastor’s Conference. What a blessing it was to meet so many faithful, hard-working men who have devoted their lives to full-time ministry!The camp also hosted its first ever Ladies Retreat, where about 80 women gathered from churches in Argentina and enjoyed time of fellowship, worship, and studying God’s Word. In between these two big events, a work team from the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey came down to help prepare the camp property for the Ladies Retreat, and ultimately, for summer camp in February 2018. Pastor Bill Park and his wife, Betty Jean, led this group, which included two others (Herman and Heidi). In their short, yet productive time here, they were able to clean all of the buildings, cut all the grass of the 25-acre property, and make big advancements on the second cabin building. We are very thankful for their ministry to us here in Chivilcoy, and we always look forward to seeing them again and spending time with them on their next annual work trip.
Lastly, Dathan was finally approved to play in his basketball league in the Local games, yet still has to wait for further paperwork to play in the Provincial level. Having played in two games so far, there is already a big difference in the interest, acceptance, and curiosity of why we are here and what we believe in. We praise God for these open doors to share the truth of God’s Word and about Jesus Christ, which stands out above any other religion or other belief. With Allison practicing and engaging with her volleyball team on a weekly basis, and with Dathan practicing and playing games with his basketball team, God is using this ‘common interest’ with those in the world, to be able to reach them with the Gospel. It is our prayer that these opportunities would not only change individual lives, but also supplement the growth of the local church.
Again, we would like to say a big ‘thank you’ for your prayers and support! Just as God is working and producing fruit here in Argentina, we hope and pray that His work is being accomplished where you are as well. Despite our physical distance from you, as the body of Christ, we have been brought together by the same reason (grace) by and for the same person (God) to accomplish the same mission (glorify Him). Romans 11:36 – “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” May God bless you as you serve Him with your whole heart!
Dathan, Allison, and Eliana Marshall