Written By Eric:
I have wanted to sit down and write a brief recap of the pastor’s retreat, knowing many of you were faithfully lifting us up during that time. If you looked at the schedule of meetings, you know the time there was busy from morning until late at night. For me, it was a valuable time to connect to pastors and ministry leaders from all over the country. Our colleagues did a wonderful job of connecting me through introductions to many key leaders. Of course, I found many people who knew my father and/or my father-in-law. What a blessing it is to be connected to them, being reminded through the testimonies of the national pastors how God used my father and father-in-law to further His kingdom in Argentina.
The focus for the retreat was on covenants. Every sermon expounded on the biblical meaning and significance of covenants, how God is a covenant God, and we are a covenant people. We were challenged to remember the covenant we have made to work together in love, in spite of differences between us, for the purpose of winning the lost in Argentina (and around the world) to Christ. This emphasis was significant because the Argentine Baptist Convention has become divided through the years due to differences in doctrine, methodology, and personality conflicts, at times. Have we ever experienced anything like that in the U.S.? During one meeting in which people were bringing proposals for a possible restructuring in order to work effectively together, one pastor jokingly leaned over and said: “aren’t you glad you never deal with this sort of thing in the U.S.?” I leaned back to him and said: “they sent me here to learn how to get through this, so I can go back and tell the pastors in the U.S.!” We enjoyed a laugh together, while acknowledging differences arise everywhere. On the final day of the retreat, one leader laid out a clear proposal for change, based on conventions around the world that are healthy, and have a good model that could be implemented here. We need to continue to lift up the Argentine Convention in prayer as leaders and pastors across the country seek to work together once again in unity and love.
I was able to sit and talk with several pastors from the southern part of Argentina, where we are to focus our energy in ministry. It was a blessing to hear of churches that have been planted, growth in the churches, and lives bearing spiritual fruit. There is, however, much work to be done. The area is vast, many have not been reached, or even engaged with the gospel. Please pray for us, and the other couple on our team, as we seek to work together with our national brothers and sisters in Christ to win souls for Him and plant churches.
While at the retreat, and following the time there, I have asked many individuals for wisdom regarding where we are to live. Our leadership laid out the possibility of La Plata, approximately an hour south of here. There were several pastors present from La Plata, the churches there are strong and active in sharing Christ. We sense, however, that we are to continue praying about the specifics before committing to La Plata. It makes a lot of sense to live there for the purpose of mobilizing Argentine believers toward the south (since La Plata and Buenos Aires have the largest group of believers in the country. In terms of relating to the pastors and churches in the south, however, living in La Plata would prove a challenge. We were able to talk with our leader about these thoughts, and he also saw the pros and cons associated with this decision. We all agreed to continue to bathe this in prayer, and seek the counsel of others. Would you please commit to pray for us in these coming months, that the Lord would make His will clear so that we can move to the place He has ordained for us?
As you know from other posts, I took Elias with me to the retreat. He and I had a wonderful time together, and made many sweet memories. Having him there with me, however, proved to be a blessing in more ways than one. Numerous pastors or pastor’s wives commented on how well he behaved through the long meetings. Several young pastors or leaders talked about how they desire to bring their children with them for retreats like this in the future. One older pastor told me he was reminded of how he used to always have his son with him at events like these, and how his son is now attending seminary, preparing for the ministry! Our prayer is that we would always find ways to bring our kids along with us, taking every opportunity to pour into their lives, discipleing them day by day. If the Lord will use our family to challenge and encourage others to do the same, to Him be the glory!
Thank you again for your prayers on our behalf. We appreciate each and every one of you!