Following Directions: Wests Heading Slightly East

This update is from David and Patti West in Argentina:

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. (NKJV) Acts 16:6-7

How frustrating this must have been for Paul and those who ministered with him. They had had such success in accessing various parts of Asia Minor. Their motive was pure: to preach the Gospel where Christ was unknown. Their efforts kept pushing them and encouraging them to move forward. Then they “hit a wall.” They were actually forbidden by the Spirit of God to continue this direction of advancing the gospel of salvation. I can only imagine the soul searching that took place in the heart of these men as they tried to ascertain the reason for this resistance. Well, it was no fault of their own, it was simply that the sovereign God had other plans and places for Paul to work. Verses 9 and 10 describe what was taking place,

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.  Acts 16:9-10

Once this mystery was resolved it was clear enough what was needed to be done; abandon for now this current ministry direction and pursue the direction indicated by the Lord. And off they went.

This is a vital principle for faithful servants of the Lord. Oft times our efforts to serve God meet with resistance or fruitlessness that defy explanation. We search our heart; we recheck all our motives and purposes to make sure we are on the right path. Then surprisingly another direction opens before us and we discern the Lord’s wise change of direction.

Such is the case for us. Our intention for coming to Argentina was, and continues to be, to train young men and women for full-time Christian ministry. The means to do so was to start a Bible college here in Chivilcoy where facilities exist out at our Camp and Conference Center. However, logistically, and practically, this situation was becoming something of a frustration. All the while, a need was arising in Buenos Aires with the Bible Institute that our National Fellowship (UCB) has operated for many years. The Institute is presently located two and a half hours east by car from our current home base.

The short tale is that the UCB leadership has asked me to be the new director in Temperley, BA. This new opportunity seemed at first to be a step back, but we see the Lord’s wisdom in giving us a new direction and a more advantageous means to start a college ministry. The facilities in Chivilcoy will be perfect for when we are ready to operate a campus-oriented ministry.

When will we start this new ministry? Like everything else, it all depends on how this pandemic continues to govern our lives. Argentina has one of the world’s longest standing lockdown situations. This affects our immigration process, our move, and our ministry. We have no certainty as to a time table for anything right now. We are praying that we might be able to take a mini-furlough this fall (our spring), move to Buenos Aires and then start the work at the institute in March. This is all in the Lord’s hands.

Thank you for your faithfulness in supporting us through prayer and financial giving. Humanly speaking we could not be here without you!

Christ’s Servants in Argentina,
Dave, Patti & Michael West

 

Under the Southern Cross, Quarantine Edition

Finding God in the Quarantine June 2020

Missionaries Curtis and Diane Steward report on the recent happenings in northern Chile.

It started out, I daresay, almost FUN—hardly anybody objected strenuously to an extended vacation just two weeks into the school year here! But the FREEDOM from regular routines and responsibilities quickly morphed into…

  • FEAR – of job loss, the future, and normal medical concerns compounded by the Covid-19 virus. Chile has more than 250,000 cases as of this writing. Two young women of our church work at the local hospital. At least five men with families have lost employment, at least temporarily, since March. Our church treasurer wonders how we’ll continue to pay the rent, especially when we barely use the building?
  • FAMINE – Chile had already experienced 5 months of destructive social upheaval previous to the current pandemic. Many grocery staples and medications are now in short supply or out of stock (yes, we’ve been affected!) Add to that, a famine of fellowship, friendship, and the hearing of the Word of God.
  • FRUSTRATION – with Zoom meetings, long lines to buy anything, lost cards, curfew, cancelled medical appointments, involuntary homeschooling for some, tele-trabajo (work-at-home) for others, tele-ministry for us, and the extra time it takes to live life online! We’re thankful that life is returning to at least a “new normal” for some of you, but here we don’t see any end yet

On the other hand, people are finding God’s GRACE and GIFTS amid the discouragement and worry. Although total lockdown has affected most of our colleagues at some time over these months, our city of Coquimbo has experienced far fewer restrictions than many areas. Curtis has been able to continue work on the house, though it’s slow. So thankful for extra hands when needed and for Fabián and Marisa, Christian neighbors who faithfully share lunch. Curt’s heart issues seem sorted now, and God provided the right doctor when he twice got metal imbedded in his eye.

Winter burst upon us this past week with TWO days of rain—a lot for here, but welcome in a drought.

In spite of technology’s challenges, we are also grateful for the ongoing Sunday school, prayer time, youth group, and women’s Bible study, both live and recorded. A men’s discussion group will be added this week. Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day have come and gone, celebrated online. I write several blog posts a week plus daily encouragement messages for the ladies, so I’m thankful for Anita’s help in ministering to this very needy group. Collecting and delivering food boxes on a regular basis has been a huge blessing and opportunity too.

Prayer Requests

  • Safety at the worksite, provision of daily bread and medications during complicated times.
  • Javiera and Jocelyne at the hospital.
  • Men in need of work.
  • One who was baptized last Oct. and whose grandmother died recently has become entangled with a cult. Wisdom in counseling.
  • Preparations and recording for Bible institute classes that both of us will teach next semester. Dixon, Eloy, and Javier taking online courses through Santiago BI.
  • Pray for the unsaved families now watching “church” together.
  • Comfort for the family of our Santiago friend, Jorge, who died of Covid-19 complications this month

 

Pirque Bible Camp Update (or not)

June 2020

Dear Friends & Family,

“Plans are subject to change at any time without any notification.” We have said this to our children many times over the years. The year 2020 seems to be the year for changed plans and unforeseen circumstances.

In Santiago, a person can leave the house just twice a week or face hefty fines. The coronavirus numbers continue to climb. The first quarter of school will be virtual with the second quarter is on a “wait-and-see” basis.

Due to restrictions, Dan cannot go to camp and the camp cannot function at this point. Please pray about this. In the light of these circumstances, it was suggested that we take a six-month furlough, visit our churches and supporters, and present camp. God has provided housing, transportation and other blessings.

So, our plan was to bring Vanesa to the states after graduation so she could work at camp beginning June 15. Due to circumstances in Chile (significant spike in COVID-19, lock-down quarantine measures, cancelled flights, etc.) we decided it was best to leave together as a family. We purchased new tickets, flew into Miami on the only airline flying to and from Chile and made our way to PA. We left Chile June 2nd and arrived in Pennsylvania June 10th.

Prayer Requests

  • The lock-down quarantine in Santiago and other parts of Chile. Social and economic effects are already being felt. So many people have lost work.
  • The drought situation. Last year, the camp limped along with very low water levels. We are praying for snow and rain during the winter months (June-August)
  • Keven, Bryan & Vanesa as they prepare to attend college at their respective Bible colleges this Fall. Pray for God’s leading in their lives, a good local church and godly friends.
  • Please pray as we schedule meetings to visit our supporting churches and individuals.

We are thankful for…

  • God’s timing – we were planning a furlough in 2 years. Due to circumstances, it makes sense to take furlough now.
  • God’s provision – we have had reliable transportation and housing since we arrived. We are thankful for continued prayer and financial support.
  • Technology – we are thankful for good internet so everyone can finish their studies. It is nice to remain connected with our church and camp in Santiago.
  • A home/sending church that we can truly call “home” while we are in the States.

Serving Him,

Dan & Becca Vallette
Keven, Bryan, Vanesa & Camila

 

Breaking News! Camp Ministry Update from Chile AND Uruguay

Proverbs 19:21 “There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand.” (NKJV)

Dan and Liz Thompson just sent in their June update. Here it is:

“Finally, brethren, pray for us. 2 Thessalonians 3:1

We are excited to announce our decision and calling to go serve the Lord in Paysandu, Uruguay starting, Lord willing, March 2021.  This has not been a hasty decision and many things had to fall into place.  It has been incredible for us to see the Lord’s hand at work orchestrating all the details. 
Here are a few highlights:

  • God has provided a team to serve at the Lican Ray Bible Camp.  Cheo and Andrea Onate (Hospitality and Maintenance), Freddy and Edita Gonzalez (Camp Director), and Javier Candia (Treasurer and Secretary) look forward to ministering together in the coming years.  We thought another term of service would be necessary to accomplish this, but God brought many circumstances together for this to happen quickly.  
  • God has worked in our hearts and given us a burden for the Paysandu Camp ministry.  Our GMSA co-workers in Uruguay expressed their desire to see a team take on the challenge of helping at the camp.  There are many needs at the camp and we are depending on the Lord to see how we can meet those needs whether they be financial, physical, organizational, and/or spiritual.  We feel the Lord has equipped us for this task!  
  • God has worked in the hearts of our children who at first weren’t enthralled about leaving home for something foreign to them.  As we prayed for the camp together, a desire to help has grown in them and now not a day goes by where Uruguay is not mentioned.  What a confirmation and a peace this brought to our hearts and a huge answer to our prayers!

We need your prayers!  Many details still need to fall into place. 

  • Freddy and Edita plan to come in August to live fulltime on camp and train for the ministry.  They have a few commitments to finish up with before this can happen. Pray!
  • We would like to finish the chapel and the Horeb cabin rebuild.  We are still finding the necessary building materials available for which we are thankful. We are trusting the Lord for his continued provision for the remaining funds needed for these projects. Pray! For more information and pictures of the construction visit our Facebook page or follow on the Camp’s Facebook.
  • We would like to take a survey trip to Uruguay in September or October of this year to visit churches and meet the believers we hope to serve in the future through the camp ministry.  We are not sure if this will be possible with the travel restrictions in place because of the virus. Pray!
  • We covet your prayers for the Paysandu Camp. Lack of camp activities and outside support from churches has stretched their finances to the limit.  We need to find concrete ways to help until summer camps (January and February) bring in some income.  God is able, so please pray!
  • We need the peace that only comes from the Lord, not our circumstances.  We depend on his strength to work and his wisdom to make decisions that affect our family and ministry.  Pray!
  • Continue to pray for the Lican Ray Bible Church.  We have seen how God continues to teach and edify his people even though we are still not able to meet physically.
  • Liz is still homeschooling Matthias, Morgan, and Madeline.  Please pray that they would be diligent to finish their semester as unto the Lord.
  • Pray for Micah.  He has been enjoying his first college online course.  In just over a month we will be taking him back to the States for school. Pray for us as we make that transition as a family.

Praise

  • We praise the Lord for the enthusiasm of the believers in Lican to continue to learn from God’s Word and encourage each other to grow spiritually.  Thank you for praying!
  • We praise the Lord for recent donations to Micah’s College fund and monies from one of our supporting churches to cover the cost of his books!
  • We praise the Lord that He continues to mold us into the image of his Son, Jesus. May we be found faithful! 

During these uncertain times, we are thankful for our sure position in Christ.  He is gracious to us by providing for our every need.  We thank him for our financial and prayer supporters, for you!  Thank you for giving sacrificially to the Lord’s work here in Chile and to our family.  We pray for you!

In Christ,

Danny and Liz,
Micah, Matthias, Morgan, and Madeline

 

More Progress at Chile Bible Institute Property

Yesterday workers poured three truck loads of ready mix (probably 24 yards) for the footings of the new dormitory building. This is a great step advancing the work of building a new Bible Institute facility in southern Chile.

Also a new water pump was installed, and some other concrete work was completed recently.

Pray that work teams may be able to soon travel to this location to continue construction. Missionaries Terry and Carol Thompson and Andy and Kolette Thompson are overseeing this work.

The goal is to use the property and buildings for Christian leadership development for Chile and the rest of South America. Dozens of new pastors will soon be needed for the churches in the southern cone as the older generation of pastors has to retire, not to mention the need for more missionaries throughout the continent. Please pray with us to this end!

 

Building Projects Still Advancing

Despite the coronavirus shutdown, some progress has been made in Uruguay and Chile on building projects for churches and a Bible Institute. Please join the mission family in giving thanks for these advances.

In Carmelo, Uruguay, Missionaries Mariano and Becky Proto have organized the cleanup and demolition of parts of a property purchased for a new church building and parsonage.

Across the Andes mountain range, near Temuco, Chile, the team including Terry and Carol Thompson and Andy and Kolette Thompson have made great strides to getting the first building operational on the new campus. This will be the director’s home for the “new” Bible Institute and will soon become occupied. Actually the Bible Institute has been operating for decades, but new space was required, and this ideal property opened up a couple of years ago.

In Antofagasta, Chile, the church has purchased a new property, but as yet has been unable to meet there because of the virus. Presently, missionaries David and Kristi Flinck tell us that Chile is several weeks behind the U.S. in terms of the peak number of cases, so it may be a little while before the church can enjoy the new facility. Much work remains to be done there in the next couple of years to get it “just right.”

The third floor of this structure has a kitchen, room that can be used for a Sunday school classroom, and a terrace with a wonderful view.

 

Wests in Argentina: Eternal Consequences

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23

For the last few months everything in the world has been pushed to the periphery. All is focused on the pandemic of Covid-19 and its prevention. Commerce and travel, the Global economy – postponed. My daily walks through the barrios of my city, greeting people with warm hugs, handshakes and kisses – postponed. Gathering with other humans, particularly for worship – postponed. Everything is about preventing the spread of the virus and the subsequent death toll arising from it. We are fixated on it, we struggle with it, we react to it in a variety of ways. And we track it. How many new cases? How many deaths? What does the graph look like now? As I write this note, the global total is 3.9 million cases and 270K deaths. It is serious and we should be concerned about it.

But Covid-19 is only one concern. For a variety of reasons, about 150, 000 people die every day. Every day. Some die of age-related issues. Some will die in a car accident or from a heart attack. Death is a part of part of our lives due to man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin . . .” Every day 150,000 souls enter eternity. We do not typically track those stats. While some, by the grace of God, will enter into God’s presence, the vast majority of them will slip into an eternity separated from God.

We have taken drastic measures to counter the threat of the pandemic – and we certainly should – but do we, with the same focus and intensity, take measures (humanly speaking) to prevent a Christ-less death? Let us remember that every soul, every death is precious and that we should persist in our efforts to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the past two months we, here in Argentina, have been in a very strict quarantine. Our trips out the front door are short and utilitarian. We buy food, pay bills and, well, not much else. We have not gathered as a church for two months. Our car has not left the garage for two months. However, we have found many things to do at home. It has turned out to be a good time to reflect on our ministry to the Lord for Argentina. We are also learning to flex and utilize technology to stay in touch, have meetings and worship together – in a manner of speaking. Our immigration status is still in limbo. Due to governmental precautions, we cannot make use of commercial air travel until at least September 1st. This puts our plans to travel to the States on indefinite hold.

We thank the Lord that we are in good health. We have learned to be content with God’s will through all of this. We are thankful for your prayers and your support. While we are looking forward to our visit to the States when this is all over, we persevere in our ministry during these unusual times.

Your Servants in Christ,
Dave, Patti and Michael West

PRAISE the Lord

  • God’s sovereignty (in control) 
  • God’s omniscience (has a plan)
  • God’s provision
  • God’s protection (safety)
  • Lessons learned
  • Technology availability

PRAY to the Lord:

  • Safety through this pandemic.
  • Continued progress in our Spanish.
  • Ministry development in light of changing circumstances.
  • A return of services that will allow us to make progress with the immigrations department and later with plans to visit the States for a mini-furlough.

Note: Please do not send packages to us in Argentina. We are unable to retrieve them.

 

UTSC March 2020: We Are (Still) the Church

Diane Steward reports on behalf of Curtis and herself from Chile:

In mid-March, when I did the preliminary layout for this newsletter, I had a completely different title and a somewhat different idea of where I’d head with the letter. Our Chilean summer was ending, and we were on a roll to start the year’s activities. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on ministry never even entered my mind. Today, desired or not, it’s front-and-center world news. After March 15, our church has pretty much functioned online and via our WhatsApp loops (like many of yours, no doubt).

Curt and the men of our leadership team had chosen the theme, “Don’t just go to church, BE the church” for this year. Little did anyone realize just how much we’d have to put this into immediate practice! A group of young couples had also just initiated a church multimedia ministry which quickly prepared to upload our prerecorded services to Facebook and YouTube. The Lord knew, though we didn’t, what we needed to have in place.

Some of you may remember our friend, Helen Prado, who suffered a
stroke on Christmas morning and went to home to heaven on New Year’s
Eve. I had the privilege of presenting her amazing life story at the memorial
service during our missionary conference in Argentina.

Prayer Requests

  • For encouragement and blessing in ongoing ministries online and over the phone.
  • For the situation worldwide, that we’ll all be able to return to a normal routine soon. Though we do our best under the circumstances, nothing replaces personal contact.
  • For wisdom in decisions regarding our local Bible institute. Classes were slated to begin in April. Now…?
  • For a speedy solution to Curtis’s health issues.
  • For a flight for our daughter. She planned to visit in Chile this summer for dental and paperwork.

Editor’s note: UTSC stands for “Under the Southern Cross,” which is the title the Stewards give to their newsletter.

 

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