Mar 28, 2007

Eight baptized in La Caramuca

Los bautizados y padrinos
March 25, 2007, was a joyous day for us in La Caramuca as eight children from our Sunday school received the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

From the beginning we have had the objective of planting a church here, but we had imagined baptisms would follow more work with adults in the community. In January, however, after a lesson about the baptism of Jesus, these eight children (well, the older ones, at least) began asking more and more questions about baptisms. This led to the question, "Why can't we be baptized?", then "When can we be baptized?" Then came the simple request, "We wish to be baptized."

Luz Maria and I talked with their parents (there were two families involved) and gained their full support. After a presentation by Pastor Ted Krey on the significance of baptism and the responsibilities of parents and godparents, Pastor Ted and Pastor Edgar Brito from Corpus Christi Lutheran Church in Barinas together officiated at the baptisms.

The baptisms were done outdoors under our roofed patio. Not only were the parents of the children present, so were parents of the preschool children.

The children ranged in age from 18 months to 13 years. Their names are:

  • Yexi Karina Torres Ortega (13)
  • Deisi Yovana Torres Ortega (10)
  • Yaneth Andreina Torres Ortega (18 months)
  • Yovani Javier Torres Ortega (10)
  • Jhonny Alexander Torres Ortega (7)
  • Richard Alexander Pérez Chinchilla (7)
  • Jimmy Orlando Pérez Chinchilla (8)
  • Angie Yoximar Pérez Chinchilla (10)

Baptism of Yexi TorresWe rejoice that the Holy Spirit has worked through our mission project to bring these young ones into the Body of Christ. It is the consummation of our hope, and by "we" I mean not just myself and Luz Maria, but also Luz Maria's daughters, Yepci and Charli, who have assumed much of the responsibility for teaching the Sunday school and preschool. Also essential to this work have been the assistance of Luz Maria's son, Pedro, and his wife, Mari; and Luz Maria's daughter, Sarai, and her husband, José, in such tasks as cook and cleaning, construction, property maintenance and repair.

But as the Apostle writes in 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, it may be Paul who plants, and Apollos who waters, but it is God who gives the growth. Even as the foundation of baptismal grace is the promise of salvation in Christ given along with the application of water, not any decision on the part of the baptized, the same Spirit who created faith in the hearts of these children will fan it into flame in their lives.Candles

It has been been our great privilege to have taught these children since 2004 and witnessed their response to God's Word. We pray that the sowing of the Word here will bear much more fruit.

Construction of the fence around our property has been slowed by a shortage of cement. The reason for the shortage is the Copa America, an international soccer event scheduled to be held in Venezuela for the first time this year. Barinas is one of the eight cities in Venezuela that have been chosen to host Copa America competition (in fact, the U.S. soccer teams plays Paraguay here July 2). Therefore most of the available supplies of cement have been purchased for remodeling La Carolina Stadium and expanding guest capacity in the city's hotels.

Jose building blocksNevertheless, we were able to purchase some bags of cement this past week. Pedro and José have been drawing water from our well to make concrete blocks on site. This is much more economical than buying ready-made concrete block and paying a truck driver to haul it out here. Yesterday José working on his own made 30 concrete blocks.

There is some bad news from Barinas. Edgar Brito has announced that effective July 31, 2007, he will resign as pastor of Corpus Christi. Edgar has served as pastor of Corpus Christ for the last four years without receiving any salary or benefits of any kind. To support himself and his wife, Mariel, he has had a job delivering packages during business hours on weekdays. But he and Mariel want to start a family (both of them are under 30) and Edgar has reached the point where he does not think he can find higher-paying job that will allow the free time for his responsibilities as a pastor.

The Corpus Christi congregation will be greatly challenged to find the leadership it needs when Edgar steps down, given the lack of qualified pastors within the Lutheran Church of Venezuela. It is for this reason, and for the sake of the children that have been baptized here, that I am studying in Caracas to assume pastoral responsibilities for our mission in La Caramuca.

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