Category Archives: Argentina

Missions Monday #12 – AR Testimonies

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz (and other contributors)

Over the years, many people from our church have been a part of the Argentina missions trips, and have been very appreciative of their time there. I personally have benefitted greatly from the multiple conversations I’ve had with Pastor Jorge Ahualle, Eduaro Buldain, and many of the leaders and members of IBM Tucuman. They have been a joy and a model of how to do ministry, wherever you are. Here are some other members from previous trips who have some experiences to share with you. We hope you enjoy them!

Hwa and Suzie Park (LBCSD)

I think Suzie and I were recently married when we went together to Tucuman to share the Gospel to the beautiful people of Argentina. Looking back it was an amazing experience we both shared that set the foundation for our marriage of what it means to make disciples of Christ. Going door to door, sharing matte with complete strangers all while avoiding wild dogs were both exciting and adventurous. We still talk about Tucuman  from time to time and would love the opportunity to go back one day for sweet fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Tucuman.

Ryan McAdams (LBCSD)

The Argentina Missions Trips have a very special place in the story of our family. My wife and I essentially met preparing for the 2007 trip, and after both also going on the 2008 trip, we returned on the 2011 trip for the first time as a married couple! We also took our baby daughter with us when we returned on the 2013 trip. Though we haven’t been able to return since then, the trips have still helped to shape the very core of our family, inside our home and out.

Every trip emphasizes the M of Lighthouse’s MVP statement, the fact that the Lord Jesus has called us to make disciples of all nations. Every trip demonstrates the difference between coercing an individual to answer Yes (or , as the case may be) to a series of questions and the implantation and germination of the seed of God’s word into a person’s very being, that making of a disciple that results in a true follower of Jesus Christ. While these truths drive our planning and execution of the mission trip, they also affect our family’s home life, even in the shepherding and development of our children. Rather than force an insincere confession of faith from them before they understand the truth, we want to trust God with the regeneration of their hearts, and will work to provide an environment that will present the truth of God to them in its fullness and majesty.

The trips have also reinforced the idea that missions doesn’t just take place overseas. Perhaps, by definition, missions happen somewhere else, but then the work of missions should not differ much, if at all, from the work of our own church. This idea has anchored our family as well, as we have sought to avoid compartmentalizing the church, and including it as a vital part of our family life instead. During our time in Tucumán, the church would have almost every meal together, and while they certainly meet together more often during our visitation, the principle of community as a platform for ministry drives our family’s willingness to spend time together with the rest of our church body. Even this serves the goal of disciple-making, since those among the family of God minister internally by helping each other grow further in obedience to all of God’s commands.

Even though we miss dearly our brothers and sisters in Tucumán because of our absence from them, God has used our times there to draw us closer to him individually and as a family even to the present.

Josue Ahualle (son of Pastor Jorge Ahualle, Iglesia Biblica Misionera)

Hello! I am pleased to be able to share with you some of my experience with the LBC visits to our church in Argentina.

The first time we visited I particularly was very small but I will never forget the joy and the unity that was produced in our congregation. It was beautiful to see how we struggled to communicate, the funny signs and gestures that harmonized an atmosphere of happiness and love between brothers and sisters. Each year we were able to make new friends and even though we do not share a lot of time together, each one of these brothers who came won a place in our hearts.

Today I can understand what it means to be part of a missions trip… Sacrifice, time, preparation… that’s why I give thanks to God for each and every one of you! Without a doubt God used you all greatly in our lives. It’s been a great encouragement and help each year you have visited us, many brothers and sisters who are attending today, are the result of the evangelistic campaigns that we have done together. There are many experiences that God has allowed us to enjoy together and I hope there are many more.

Once again I want you to know that I am very happy to have known you and I very much admire the love you have toward God and his work.

God bless you!

Missions Monday #10 – AR Multimedia

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

You may be unaware of this, but there are a good number of resources related to our Argentina trips over the past 12 years. If you have ever wanted to become familiar with our missions trips to Argentina, especially what we do and what we’ve learned, then you’ve come to the right place! Please peruse what we have collected over the years. We hope it will be a blessing!

TEXT

  • Our articles related to Argentina missions give many details from various trips over the years, from many different team members, past and present. I even have a number of entries from 2012 on my personal blog, if anyone is interested.

AUDIO

PHOTO

  • Check out all our photos from previous trips: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 (days 1-2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, final), 2012, and 2016.
  • Pastor Jorge, his wife Norma, and son Josue came to visit us in 2010, in lieu of a missions trip that year. We had a very special night welcoming them to our church family, and a potluck before their departure.

Missions Monday #8 – Door to Door Evangelism

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

One of the unique aspects of an LBC missions trip to Argentina is the opportunity for the team members to share the gospel by going door-to-door in the different neighborhoods in Tucuman. In a culture that is very receptive towards family, friends, and visitors entering into homes, Iglesia Biblica Misionera (Missionary Bible Church) has taken advantage of this great opportunity to get a foot in the door, literally, to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all who would hear. We have been blessed to be able to partner with IBM to declare the saving truth of Christ to children, youth, university students, mothers, fathers, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, blue-collar and white-collar workers.

When a team of LBC members travel to Tucuman, Pastor Jorge Ahualle, along with the leadership, plan an evangelistic campaign composed of members of IBM, LBC, and translators, who will be sent to a neighborhood for the purpose of going door to door and evangelizing the people there. Past trips have been such an ordeal, that half the team would go to one neighborhood, while the other half will visit a different one. Every neighborhood has a home base, of which one of the members of the church will open their home to prepare for the day’s schedule. Any tracts that are to be passed out, meeting with the entire group for fellowship and prayer, and instructions on where to go happen every day. Each LBC team member will have a translator and a member from IBM to give more details about the regular events at IBM.

As we go out, each small group would walk around the block, clapping our hands to get the attention of the residents, and ask if they have a few moments to spare. Sometimes they come out to the gate to hear what we have to say, other times they invite us in and even provide mate (tea leaves steeped in hot water) to share with one another. Even in the midst of family life, many are willing and eager to listen to what people from America have come all the way to say. While we tell them what Christ has done here on earth to deal with our sins, many nod in agreement, as if they understand or are familiar with what we are telling them. This can seem encouraging, but many times, it is part of the culture to not offend strangers who enter their homes.

Upon returning to the church, we usually eat and spend time with one another for a brief period of time, then spend some time back at our hotel for a nap. This is to prepare for the evening program where we return to the same neighborhood to invite the people to. We will have music, a skit for the children to watch, and a gospel presentation to the crowd. We then stay and try to speak with those who have come and continue the conversation. Any questions they may have, we seek to answer with the Scriptures, which has promised to be sufficient for every good work.

Some of you may wonder what effect these door-to-door evangelism campaigns have on the people of Tucuman. The first is the fact that every year, more and more people in these neighborhoods hear the gospel of God’s amazing grace, some for the very first time. Second, many grew up going to the Catholic church, yet never understood why Christ came to die on the cross. They were completely mystified as to the need for a perfect sacrifice, and what that means for everyone today. Parents and children are exposed to where in Scripture God calls all men everywhere to repent, how the death of Christ provides a way of escape from sin and God’s wrath, and how they can have a new way of life in Christ.

Third, LBC and IBM members work side-by-side in the fellowship of the gospel. This has solidified some of the friendships between churches, as we have come to be gripped by the same gospel that saved each of us, and now we unite together to proclaim that same truth to others. We embolden one another to call people to lay aside their sin, and to lay hold of Christ as the One who is worth living and dying for. As we continue this partnership, spiritual conversations concerning the day’s events, as well as what we are learning and growing in come to the fore. It becomes easier to talk of spiritual matters when engaged in ministry together.

We pray that as we return to Argentina this summer, the Lord would see fit to use His Word to bring about the salvation of many to Christ. We pray that He will use our feeble efforts to make us faithful to the task of making disciples, primarily by supporting Pastor Jorge Ahualle and his family. We also ask to be faithful in the task by working with those who are there full-time to make disciples of Christ in their respective neighborhoods, whether amongst their own neighbors, or within their own families. We have much to look forward to, and hope you will be with us in prayer! To God be the glory!

Missions Monday #5 – Introducing the Argentina Team

Josh Liu

Hi! I currently serve on pastoral staff at LBCSD, overseeing College Life. I have learned so much in my 10 years at LBCSD–coming in as a freshman at UCSD to now serving on pastoral staff. It’s been an incredible journey! Part of that journey has led me to participate in our short-term missions trips to Argentina, which has continued to develop my theology and passion for evangelism and global missions. This year will be my sixth trip to Argentina with LBCSD! I’ve had the opportunity to build deep relationships with many of the members and leaders at Iglesia Biblica Misionera Tucuman. I look forward to serving, equipping, and edifying IBM Tucuman, and to be a source of refreshment and encouragement to Pastor Jorge and the other leaders.

Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Hello, everyone! I am husband to Andrea, on staff with Sonlight Ministry and Youth Group Ministry, and am also a Math TA at a non-public middle and high school. I have been a member at LBCSD since 2006, and have grown in my understanding of the Word and its application ever since. I became involved with LBC missions upon hearing the work this church has done with IBM Tucuman, and thought I could be of service. I do speak Spanish, and have come to embrace LBC’s vision of missions to assist churches in helping fulfill the Great Commission. Growing up, I have always had a strong desire to assist thriving Spanish-speaking churches where the pastor preaches the Bible, and men and women grow in their understanding of the Word, in their Christlikeness, and in their boldness by getting the gospel out to those around them. This will be my seventh trip to Argentina with LBCSD, and I am truly excited to see what God has in store for this trip! My prayer has always been that God be glorified on every trip, that I do my part to serve those in leadership, and to always be ready to tell, expound, defend, and unashamedly proclaim the gospel to all who will hear. One interesting fact about me is I was on television once in high school as part of the Academic Decathlon team, where I gave a few incorrect answers, but did get one right answer during the competition.

Andrea Vigil-Ruiz

Hi, I’ve been a part of the Grace Life Ministry for about two and a half years now. I currently teach a high energy, but very sweet and kind, class of 31 fourth graders that keep me on my toes! Since becoming a member at Lighthouse back in 2009, I have heard Pastor John Kim describe short-term missions as “doing church somewhere else.” My first trip to Argentina in 2012 helped me understand what Pastor John meant by that. Since that trip, my love for missions and being able to actually physically be present to help other missionaries has continued to grow! I am so excited and thankful that I can be a part of the team this year! One interesting fact about me is usually I don’t like bright colors, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. My closet currently has mostly neutral tones of grey, black, navy blue, and beige, except for this one very bright yellow cardigan that my small group gave me for my birthday one year. The girls wanted to help me branch out!

Brian Wong

Hello church! I am currently a graduating senior at UCSD. There isn’t too much to explain or a complicated reason as to why I’m going on missions this summer. When thinking about our missions teams, I considered supporting through prayer and finances, but then it dawned on me; why don’t I just physically be a part of the team? And thus, since I’m physically able to and have the availability to do so, I will be going for the sake of making disciples of all nations.

One fun, unique, or interesting thing about me is I love potato chips, and have a habit of sometimes replacing meals with a family-sized bag of chips. It’s pretty bad.

Randy Sarmiento

Hello Church Family!!! For those of you who do not know me, I serve as one of the deacons here at Lighthouse Bible Church, San Diego. I was born and raised in Houston, TX for most of my life, but due to joining the military (US Navy) I was deployed and stationed in various parts of the world. Eventually, by God’s design, and definitely not mine, I was stationed here in San Diego where I found out about the church and have been a member since 2006. Again by God’s grace, in 2008 I met my amazing wife Elaine through the church and got married in December of 2009. We are overly blessed with 3 rambunctious, fun loving, and social little girls, Charlotte (6), Isabel (4), and Estella (2). Overall I am so thankful for God’s continual grace, and I am so very humbled, honored, and blessed to get to serve His church.

In going to Argentina, I greatly hope to faithfully serve the church there, invest in others, counsel, and present the Gospel to the lost. Just as many before me have passed on the torch of Christ and His Word to people around the world, I too hope to pass on the His greatness to those in Argentina. Secondarily, since I was formerly a medical logistics coordinator for the military, and truly have a heart for medical missions, I hope to make contact with local government officials and medical providers in hope to someday collaborate with them in serving the church and community with a medical missions team of our own. I truly look forward to meeting and encouraging the our fellow brothers and sisters in IBM Tucuman.

A fun fact about me: I love to barbecue … So I’m a master chef on the grill. Just ask my wife 😉

Wesley Wong

Hi, I’m a full time evangelist disguised as a Computer Science major at UCSD. My salvation with the Lord started since eternity past when God predestined me for adoption as his son, but it wasn’t until freshman year of high school that I responded to his saving call by faith and repentance. Since then, the Lord has been tremendously faithful to grow me. That being said, I’ve wanted to go on overseas missions for a while, but summer internships have kept me busy. As I transition into full time work, God slipped in a couple weeks of down time for me to go to Argentina. As for a fun fact, I tried street preaching at UCSD!

Kristen Chan

Hello, church family! I’m a student graduating this June. At first, I dismissed the idea of going on missions because I thought missions wasn’t for me. When Mr. Mellwig came and I heard his testimony of how people in the Czech Republic have never heard of Jesus, God softened my heart to consider going. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sinful attitude in brushing off the call to obedience and putting it on others. God provided me with availability and no obligations for the summer, so I applied (late) to Argentina! I’m so thankful that God has placed this opportunity in my life as I have already been sanctified through the preparations. Please be praying for our team and that God would further his kingdom in Argentina!

Nathalie Paucar

Hello! I am a UCSD graduate, currently working as a Research Associate at a biotech company, and am a part of the Salt and Light Ministry here at Lighthouse.

For a while, since coming out to Lighthouse, and becoming a member, I’ve felt God has given me a desire to go to Argentina, since I am a Spanish-speaking native and have a desire to go on missions. Having interacted with Grace Alcaraz and Andrea Vigil-Ruiz, with their Spanish preparation last year for Argentina, it drew my heart to pray for the possibility of going when asked. So, when asked if I would go this year, God answered my prayer, by setting all things straight and perfectly that I may go on Summer Missions this year.

An interesting thing about me: I have visited more countries than I have states of the United States.

Trusting God with Finances

by Grace Alcaraz

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:25-26

I find myself turning to this verse so often in my 10-plus years of being a Christian because I worry so much about money.  Growing up, my parents were not rich or financially stable, so I always worried about how we would pay our household bills, my school activities, medical costs, and college applications. In college, I worried about getting my financial aid check on time to pay for tuition, rent, food, and books. When I started working my first job out of college, I started worrying about saving money for my wedding while living paycheck-to-paycheck, barely making ends meet.

God was faithful in all those stages of transition in my life. I had a roof over my head in high school with running water and electricity. I remained healthy without any major illnesses. I applied to, got into, and successfully graduated college with relative ease. I also got married last year to Roger in a beautiful wedding ceremony, a 300-person guestlist, and a free flight to honeymoon in Denmark, thanks to my work. So with all that God has abundantly provided, what else is there to be anxious about?

In my sinfulness– plenty. I am anxious about advancing my career, the rising costs of rent, paying bills, debt, the future of the Alcaraz family, retirement, the list goes on. Through my conversations with the members of the church in Argentina this July, I realized that these are concerns of people everywhere. We all at some time struggle with the feeling of not having enough, but how do the members of Iglesia Biblica Misionera in Tucuman deal with it?

During the weekend retreat we spent with IBM, the schedule was very open. We had a morning sermon followed by 6 hours of free time to spend however we wanted. I wanted to know the church members better, so I spent my time talking with people. I found out one of the members, we’ll call her C, was not native Argentine, and had actually immigrated from a neighboring country about 10 years ago. I asked C a simple question, “How did you come to Argentina?” and it spiraled into a 3-hour long conversation. She told me about her family back in her hometown, how she’d been working as a nanny since age 12, and that she moved to Tucuman to take care of a family she worked with from her native country. After her move, she met her husband, J, on the job because he was a chauffeur for the family she was working for.

They eventually got married and when they were expecting their daughter, C’s trust in God’s word was put to the test. It was her husband’s conviction through Scripture that when their daughter was born, C would stop working to be a stay-at-home mom. This was a struggle for C, as she had been making her own financial decisions since she was only 12 years old. Suddenly, she felt that she needed to give up her independence and self-sufficiency. She was embarrassed to have to ask her husband for grocery money, something she never had to do before.  Her husband only made $600 a month, a low wage even by Argentina’s standards. How were they going to raise a family of 3 with $600 a month? Furthermore, she kept reasoning that with a baby on the way, she needed to make as much money as possible to be able to purchase the newest and best baby gear.

C’s job situation didn’t change, but her perspective did. Right before C and J’s daughter was born, J’s work had received a large shipment of brand-new, high-quality baby gear donated from Spain. There were durable toys, comfortable clothes, and an expensive stroller included in the shipment that C & J would never be able to afford. J was able to bring that shipment from Spain home for his baby. He didn’t have to pay anything for it or ask for it. It was all just given to them. When their daughter was born, C would run errands using the stroller, and she would get stopped in the streets by interested moms asking, “Where did you get that stroller? How much did it cost?” They were so impressed because the quality and craftsmanship was something that wasn’t found in Argentina. Her only response was that it was a gift, a very unexpected gift. The very things C was trying to work so hard for was handed to her by God’s generous provision. That’s when she first learned to trust God and His Word in her family life.

C and J’s  daughter is six years old now. Ever since C’s career shifted from taking care of other people’s homes to her own home, C told me that they have never felt that they were in want on J’s $600-a-month salary. All their needs have been met, they always have enough to eat, and they are thriving as a family desiring to please the Lord. Their daughter is an affectionate child learning from C’s example as a godly wife and mother. Currently, C is teaching her daughter about humility, specifically to not be boastful and proud when she gets better grades than her classmates.

Through my time with C, I saw so much of myself in her story. I saw how I failed to believe in God’s promises and trust in His provision. Whether its family life, my career, housing, or whatever else under the sun there is to worry about, I needed to be reminded that He has blessed me richly. He has provided me with so much already, and there is no reason to doubt that God will continue to be faithful.

Editor’s note: This is the last of a series of articles being provided by the 2013 Argentina short-term missions team announced here.

A Sinner Just Like Me

by Roger Alcaraz

It’s not everyday a grown man says to me, “I hope you don’t look down on me for sharing that.” It’s even rarer to hear those words in Spanish, but that’s what an IBM church member said to me after sharing his testimony. His story came straight out of a soap opera– full of drugs, violence, and sexual sin, all rolled up into one man.

As he shared with me, a complete stranger, his voice became softer and his gaze shifted from me to the open air just to avoid eye contact. I could tell that bringing up the sinful events of his past was embarrassing for him and yet he continued to share about the violence and drugs that enslaved his former life. Most humiliating for him were the times in his life when he was despaired to the point of death. Four times he tried to take his own life and four times, he said, God showed mercy.

Being now saved, he looks back on his testimony and wonders why God would ever save him, a sinner. By the end of him sharing, we were both in awe of the power and mercy of God, but I sensed that he felt ashamed of his past. It’s certainly no life I would wish upon anyone, but I told him the beauty of the Gospel is that no matter what a person’s life looks like, the story is the same. I couldn’t help but identify with him, as I’m sure all believers can, because whether you’re the person who did drugs or the person who grew up in the church, we were all equal sinners before God.

What is more, the church needs people who struggled in the fight against drugs, violence, and sex because God says that we’re able to comfort others with the same comfort that we have received from God. Since God comforted and brought hope to a depressed and violent man, this man can then comfort those struggling in ways others can’t by just saying, “God helped me through the same struggle and he can help you.” This member is a necessary part of the body, and in the end, God is the one who put him in and brought him out of his condition. He still struggles with drugs and the chains of its enslavement are hard to break, but it is clear that God is the victor of his story and was at work within him.

Now this man seeks to be an example to his children and lovingly raise them in the church so they can hear God’s word and follow him from a young age. He hopes they would never make the same mistakes as he did, so he entrusts them to God. Encouraged by all this, we gave glory to God in prayer as we thanked him for the salvation that is by grace alone through faith alone. Amen.

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a series of articles being provided by the 2013 Argentina short-term missions team announced here.

Ministering in Argentina as a Mom

By Stephanie McAdams

Praise the Lord, our team arrived back to San Diego safely just a few weeks ago! Though it was my fifth time participating in the missions trip to Argentina, it was my first time as a full-time mom (the last time I went, I was pregnant).

Someone asked me a few days ago if our family would have done it all again if we knew that our daughter Charis would get so ill. (She caught some nasty stomach flu, possibly on the plane traveling to Argentina which wiped her out for the majority of our time in Argentina. Ryan and I both got sick towards the end of the trip too.) So I stood there, still feeling weak from the bug I had, thinking for a while how to respond. And as tears started to fill my eyes, the only reply that was truthful was… “Of course”. Their response was a look of surprise, because I had just described how scared I was, trying to take care of a constantly vomiting baby for a few days who looked like she was going to pass out from dehydration (in a foreign country, mind you). But, honestly, Ryan and I would have done it all again. Why? Because we love the Iglesia Biblica Misionera (IBM) church family in Tucuman, Argentina as if they were our own family. We desire to encourage them to love Christ and live for Him more and more, whatever the cost. We recognize the great need IBM has for fellowship and encouragement from other like-minded churches, which is rare in Argentina.

Though I was out of commission for a good chunk of the trip to take care of Charis, which is my main responsibility (and joy) no matter where I am, God provided some conversations and pockets of time to spend with some of the church ladies of all ages and stages of life. In particular, I was looking forward to encouraging the youth and single gals of the church through one-on-one conversations and a time of teaching on various topics like beauty in God’s eyes, finding identity and security in Christ (and not Prince Charming), and God’s design for marriage and the role of a wife. By God’s grace, He provided opportunities to chat with a few gals and teach the youth and single ladies as a group one of the evening sessions when Charis was not throwing up. Though it was difficult for me personally to battle feelings of discouragement and being so distracted with concern for Charis’ health, God used one conversation in particular with an older mom of the church at the beginning of the trip to, in a sense, prepare me for the unforeseen challenges.

For the past seven years, God has given me a special relationship with a particular mother at the church. From my first conversation with her in 2007, she poured out her life to me. Raising three children as a single mom, working long hours to provide financially, and trying to serve at church as well (though never as much as she wanted to). She longed for various family members, who wanted nothing to do with God and His gospel, to see the beauty of Christ. I would listen and weep silently with her as she would share about her daughter, around my age, who year after year indulged in a life full of sin and pleasures of this world. I remember receiving a letter from her last year, with nothing more than a plea to keep praying for her family, especially her daughter.

When I saw her at the beginning of this trip, she pulled me aside as I was rocking Charis to sleep, and her countenance had changed… There was light in her eyes and an indescribable joy and peace. With tears streaming down her face, she began to update me on her life. God answered years and years of unceasing prayers- her sister’s and daughter’s heart softening toward God, different work hours to be at home with her sons more, closer relationship with her younger son, godly growth in her older son. But the greatest change had happened in her heart and perspective. She learned to let go of her desire to control her family’s life and not get so discouraged at her perceived failures in her various roles. She learned to trust in God with humble dependence daily. She learned to delight in Christ, and let His love compel her to persevere as His servant in any circumstance.

As much as I had hoped to encourage her, she then proceeded to exhort me as a young mom. She knows me pretty well, having physically seen me at my various life stages. Perhaps she could sense my insecurities as a first time mom? It’s true, from time to time I have found myself struggling to balance my roles as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, etc., to point them all to Christ as much as I can, with joy and peace instead of discontentment and guilt.

Of all the things she could have told me, I’m so thankful that she reminded me to pray and trust God in all my God-given roles. She learned from years of experience that she can not control people nor circumstances, but instead humbly depend on God for help and trust He does all for our good and His glory. Funny thing was, these were truths my own parents have reminded me time and time again for as long as I can remember. They caution me against finding my worth and righteousness in my works, and instead to fear and worship Him, seeking to faithfully and humbly obey His commands out of love and gratefulness for the Cross. So, this mom jogged my memory of my own primary disciplers’ (my parents) wise counsels to me!

And she specifically encouraged me to invest in Charis with my time and to cover her in prayers, trusting that God has our children in His grasp. It was at this moment our conversation abruptly ended as Charis awoke, and just from looking into her eyes, I knew that something was not right. As I took her out of the stroller, she vomited all over me, and thus began the next few days of intense illness for Charis. I thanked God for His grace to provide this timely heart to heart with this dear sister, whose example to me of submitting to God’s will and being faithful to pray unceasingly for her family saved me from utter discouragement and despair in the days to come, especially when I feared for Charis’ life. Though I still struggled in my heart a lot as her condition got worse, God’s truths I gleaned from this small conversation stuck with me, and I begged God to help me believe them.

Some might say the trip was not worth it, for me and Charis to go, if I spent so much time taking care of Charis instead of with the church family. It’s true, I personally talked to fewer ladies this time than previous trips. But I really did desire to encourage them as much as possible. Proverbs 16:9 reminds me that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” As much as I tried to prepare Charis for weeks before leaving (practicing sleeping in a portable tent and a baby carrier, packing a lot of packaged baby foods) and keep her away from germs, she still didn’t sleep well and got sick. As much as I wanted to spend time talking to the IBM ladies, my daughter needed my care and attention.

In this season of my life, God has called me to be a wife and mom, leaning completely on Him for grace and strength. Realistically, ministry to others looks different now than the time before my daughter came. I am learning that this doesn’t mean I am less effective in ministering to others. Sure, on some days, I am home with Charis, making and feeding her meals, wiping her runny nose, singing and dancing, examining the details of a flower with her, reminding her to obey me, or holding her tightly after a fall. I pray that Charis, my life-long disciple, would see Christ in all these “little” things on these days.

But then other days, Charis and I are going for walks while chatting with college gals, reaching out to unsaved neighbors, meeting up with other mom-baby pairs, attending church events and meetings, or flying to Argentina. On these days, I pray that Charis would see my joy in sharing the gospel of Christ to the lost and building up those who truly know Him.

I pray others would be encouraged and challenged in their walks with God as they watch me love my family, but I need to trust even that to God and focus on having the right heart attitude. Psalm 51:17 reminds me that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

It was our family’s joy to go to Argentina this summer to minister to IBM church. We hope to go again for the sake of encouraging fellow believers and dear friends. But for now, I seek to live each day in humble trust and dependence on God, as I look to love Ryan and Charis and others.

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a series of articles being provided by the 2013 Argentina short-term missions team announced here.

Decisions and Blame

by Ryan McAdams

The doctor stared at me, expectantly.

My wife was staring at me. My baby cried on her lap. The clock had passed midnight.

Through a translator, the doctor had asked me, “Shall we inject her?” And now, I had to decide.

Leading to this decision, we had to decide to leave the church at our meeting site and venture to the doctor’s office and then the hospital at ten at night. We had to decide to leave because we had decided to re-join the church earlier in the evening after deciding in the morning that my wife and sick baby should stay at the hotel to rest. In addition to all of that, we had decided to take this trip in the first place.

So, who should receive the blame for the circumstances in which we found ourselves? Do I blame the baby for her weakness? Do I blame my wife for her strong desire to re-join the church for that final meeting? Do I blame the team for pushing us physically? Do I blame Argentina for its unsanitary environment? Do I blame God?

No! If God has given me the role of head of my family and I intend to fulfill that role, then the responsibility and blame for these decisions lie on me.

I struggled throughout the trip with my desire to assign blame as a result of our difficulties. Bags too heavy? Why did my wife have to pack so much? (I could have told her that we needed to pack less [and then helped her!] beforehand.) Baby not sleeping well? Why didn’t the leaders schedule more breaks? (Solely by virtue of joining the team, we knew this would probably happen.) Even in my life here, I battle with the same train of thinking. Running late? Why did my co-worker have to start talking with me as I was leaving? (I could have politely excused myself [or impolitely, and then have other consequences with which to contend] or have prepared to leave earlier to account for things like this.) Feeling spiritual disconnect within the family? Why do other people have so many activities and demand so much of my time? (If I really value our spiritual lives, then I can step away from other activities that interfere with that time.) In every case, I have the option of blaming others or accepting responsibility for the present state.

But, why should I accept responsibility? To answer this, we can start with the first human, Adam. Eve ate from the tree, gave some to Adam, and then God asked Adam to explain himself. Adam attempts to absolve himself completely when he responds, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate. (Genesis 3:12) He implies that Eve made him eat, but he even also adds a subtle jab at God with the sneaky reminder that God gave him this irresistible temptress. I need to resist the temptation to blame Adam for my tendency to blame others here, but let’s just say that I fail in good company. So, what does God do? Does God tell Adam, Oh, you’re right! Eve, I’m holding you responsible for this whole mess, and Adam, I’m sorry for giving her to you. No! God holds Adam responsible not just for eating the apple by himself, but for allowing Eve to eat as well!

Solomon saw this attitude enough to pen a proverb about it. Proverbs 19:3 says When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord. This cuts straight to the point. If I believe God is sovereign (and I do), any blame I point outside of myself will inevitably rest on God. But, Solomon clearly places the blame on the man.

Even to come to Christ, one of the first steps involves taking responsibility for your own sin, and realizing that you do deserve condemnation for it. The beauty of the gospel is that Christ took the punishment the sinner rightfully deserved and that God doesn’t hold that sinner responsible any more! This incredible reversal leads to incredible gratitude precisely because that forgiven sinner understands the magnitude of his responsibility before Christ took it.

All throughout the Bible, God holds man responsible for his sin and the decisions that he makes. And yet, I see in my heart, and all around me in the world this attitude of self-victimization and evasion of responsibility. Throughout my time as the head of my own family, I’ve struggled (and grown, thanks to God) in this area, and our time in Argentina helped me reflect even more on this truth as I had to confront my own thoughts in various circumstances there.

Ladies, I hope you can mine some helpful truth from these thoughts, but I have targeted men in particular for two reasons. First, I have found that many of us seem to share this struggle.

But secondly, and probably more importantly, God has called men to lead, whether in the home or in the church, and people have all sorts of ideas about how leadership looks (or ideas about manliness). Some of these ideas come from the Bible; many do not. But, I can confidently say that the idea of handling responsibility does come from the Bible, and that many young men pursuing manliness overlook this aspect of leadership.

It is my hope that those men younger than me would learn this more quickly than me, and that we would all grow in our humility, which according to the apostle Paul, is the attitude that Christ exemplified.

I give God much thanks for the trip he allowed me, my family, and my church to take to Argentina this year, for the lessons in responsibility I learned, but also for the joy and fellowship we experienced with the church in Tucuman and within our own family as well.

To conclude the story, I authorized the doctor to inject my daughter. They also prescribed her some medicine to quell her vomiting, which worked for the remainder of the trip. The church and translators showed us much hospitality, even in the sixteen hours between the hospital visit and our plane flight to leave. We were able to return home safely, and have no regrets about choosing to take the trip.

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a series of articles being provided by the 2013 Argentina short-term missions team announced here.

Encouraging the Leaders of IBM Tucuman and Preaching to the Pastoral Training Center Students

By Pastor Patrick Cho

One of the greatest joys for me personally when I visit Tucuman is simply sitting with Pastor Jorge and talking with him about ministry. I suppose it’s easy to adopt a mentality that we are going to Argentina to teach the Argentines about ministry and the Bible. But when I sit with Pastor Jorge, I realize that I am in the company of someone who has years of experience in a ministry environment that is arguably much more difficult. Every time I have visited Tucuman I have gained a wealth of wisdom listening to his “war stories.” Besides the value of the insights that I receive, I am grateful for the camaraderie and fellowship we enjoy in the Lord. One year, we sat out on the church patio together with a guitar and took turns singing songs of praise. Neither of us knew what the other was singing, but it didn’t matter because we were singing to the Lord.

This year, our team was invited to Pastor Jorge and Norma’s house for lunch. This has become somewhat of an annual tradition to go over and enjoy a hearty beef rib BBQ out on his front lawn. The food is great but the company is better. It is such a blessing to spend a day with the Ahualles, to see them interact as a family and to benefit from their warm hospitality. Even through an afternoon of relaxation and hanging out, I am challenged by their example of hospitality and love.

One of the goals our team has on our summer trips is to be a blessing to the church leaders in Tucuman. Pastor Jorge and the leadership team of IBM Tucuman work tirelessly to minister to their church family and the surrounding barrios. The community where they reside is riddled with drug use, physical abuse and violence, drunkenness, and even murder. Meeting with people to address issues of the heart is constantly exhausting and the leaders there have to carry the burdens of the people with them. I’m sure at times it is easy to become discouraged. Pastor Jorge has shared on a number of occasions that it is particularly difficult when church members seek to hurt and attack. I’ll never forget his helpful illustration – It’s always more bearable to suffer the bite of a wolf because you know that the wolf is out to hurt you, but the bite of a sheep is especially painful because you never expect one of your sheep to bite you.

It isn’t even just with Pastor Jorge but with the other leaders as well. Beto Barrionuevo has become a dear friend over the years, and I have really come to appreciate the conversations we have had about ministry as well. I’m struck by his humility as he asks me for advice about certain ministry issues. Like Pastor Jorge, he is older than I am with many more years of experience. But he is eager to grow and learn. He loves the church and wants it to be as strong as possible, but also confesses that at times it is extremely difficult.

When we go to Argentina, we make it a point to encourage these leaders in any way we can. We support them financially, provide books and resources, and bring them gifts for their family. We want them to know that there is a church on the opposite hemisphere who cares and is praying for them. I know how difficult and disheartening ministry can be and how much these men can sometimes feel like they are on an island to fend for themselves. The relationships we have built over the years have been a tremendous blessing and joy, and the trust that has developed between us has been equally strong.

This year, when we left Tucuman and arrived in Buenos Aires, we were taken to the pastoral training center that was established by Eduardo and Matias Buldain. The center is actually located at their home in San Justo, about a half hour drive outside the city center. About six young men were there to take an exam and Eduardo asked if I would be willing to share a devotional with them in the morning. Understanding how these men were being invested in and the kind of training they were receiving really encouraged me. I was thrilled to hear that one of the classes they would be taking was on expository preaching because there is such a dearth of good preaching in Argentina.

It was a huge privilege to address these men and encourage them from the Word. What was especially neat was that one of them was a member from the church in Tucuman studying to enter pastoral ministry. All this reminded me of one of the major reasons for our return each summer. This nation is starving for the gospel and solid biblical truth and there are a handful of faithful men seeking to minister to the people there. We have such an awesome opportunity to be a part of it even in a small way. We can encourage these leaders to press on in the work and to be faithful to their calling. Praise God for this wonderful opportunity!

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a series of articles being provided by the 2013 Argentina short-term missions team announced here.

Parts Growing and Working Together

By Josh Liu

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Romans 12:4-6a)

If you have been at Lighthouse Bible Church for any length of time, you might have heard missions described as “‘doing church’ somewhere else.” To briefly explain, the believer’s mission is to make disciples of Christ through the vehicle of the local church because of love for God and love for people (cf. Matt. 16:18; 22:37-40; 28:18-20; Acts 1:8); this mission ought to be the focal point for all believers everywhere. Thus, what we seek to accomplish here in San Diego we seek to accomplish on our missions trips – “doing church” somewhere else. Indeed, it truly is a special opportunity and an amazing experience for a church to send its members to meet a church in another hemisphere for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Still, overseas disciple making presents some unique obstacles; one in particular is the language barrier.

For many southern Californians, proficient fluency in a second or third language may be uncommon. While many of my peers (myself included) studied Spanish in high school, their language skills have since then deteriorated. For our missions trips to Tucuman, Argentina, a portion of our financial support goes toward translators’ transportation, meals, and so on. In previous trips, there was need for a 1:1 missionary to translator ratio in conducting an evangelism campaign with Iglesia Biblica Misionera (Missionary Bible Church, or IBM) in Tucuman. This year, the team focused on encouraging and teaching the members of IBM, which required fewer translators. Nevertheless, the translators were an integral part of our ministry to and relationship with IBM. Here are the main translators for the 2013 Argentina missions team:

Left to right: Martín, Pablo, me, Wanda, Florencia

Left to right: Martín, Pablo, me, Wanda, Florencia

Daniela

Daniela

I had the privilege of getting to know new translators and catching up with old ones; some are part of the church (i.e. Pablo), some returned to visit and made themselves available to us (i.e. Wanda); and some were completely new to IBM (i.e. Martín, Florencia, Daniela). These translators volunteered and graciously served us. They each have different backgrounds, different experiences, different gifts, but all supported our team’s goal of encouraging, discipling, and serving IBM. Translating is incredibly difficult and draining! Martín and Pablo translated our main messages–between Pastor Patrick, Roger, and me, we preached 10 times. Pablo and Daniela helped me with a children’s program; Martín, Florencia, and Wanda helped me in my personal interactions and conversations with church members. I was thoroughly encouraged by their servant’s attitude. Praise God for how He brings together different members of the body of Christ to further His Kingdom!

While my focus and ministry were aimed at IBM, I had the opportunity to encourage and serve some of our translators. Knowing my background in TESOL and experiences with international students, Pablo, Daniela, and I talked about English language education in Argentina and how it can be a means of ministry both inside and outside the church. Perhaps the highlight of my time with the translators is exchanging testimonies of how God graciously saved us.

The testimony of God’s saving grace to Florencia (shared with permission): her brother, Martín was saved first from her family at a Christian camp. Over time, their whole family eventually began going to church. Florencia remembers attending church since she was nine years old. However, she shared that she was saved when she was 14 years old, two years ago. She was walking to school early one morning when a van suddenly pulled up to her. She was pushed into the van and kidnapped! Her kidnappers began asking her a series of questions and eventually learned that they kidnapped the wrong person. During that time, Florencia thought, “If I were to die, what would happen to me?” She prayed to God and trusted Him with her life. Shockingly, the kidnappers let her go. She found the church that she used to attend nearby and was taken to school where she met with school officials, her parents, and the police. Her attitude towards life now has completely changed. She shares that despite any circumstances, even life threatening events, she always has hope in Christ’s death and resurrection. Now, she seeks to love Christ more and serve Him in everything she does.

It is incredible to witness God’s work in another person’s life and to be blessed by the fruit that is bore.  It is a privilege to serve alongside another member of Christ’s body for the furthering of His Kingdom purposes. It is a blessing to encourage and edify other parts of the body, even unexpected parts not usually connected to the local body of IBM. Let us pray for these translators–for their faith and ministry–who helped us “do church” somewhere else.

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a series of articles being provided by the 2013 Argentina short-term missions team announced here.