La Iglesia de Integral y Restauracion is really an amazing place, staffed and nurtured by an even more blessed group of people – kin we were so grateful to have met today (Sunday). The church stands as a physical embodiment of God’s love, and her people serve as a tangible reminder of the Spirit’s work in empowering saints to live holistic and pleasing lives to God. For the first time in maybe forever, Zach Dalton may have actually undersold something (this is not lost on me); in this case it was how amazing the church is, what great kingdom work they are doing.
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by church staff and ushered into a Sunday School classroom. Once there, we met and chatted with Hector Jimenez, who serves on the church staff and is also the Senior Pastor’s son. Hector then gave us a tour of the church, during which he shared about a few of the ways God has been so very faithful to the church and to all their different ministries. For example we knew we had kin when Hector told us about some of the challenges they had in renovating their building. To all those reading from Harrisburg, I think we can all be grateful that we never had someone up front during a Sunday service get completely drenched by water coming through the ceiling.
The church service itself was such a blessing. We all really enjoyed the worship – music has this wonderful ability and characteristic where it can very easily break down language barriers. Besides, the Spirit of the Lord was so felt, that we all were too busy enjoying the presence of the Lord. Hector was then able to serve as a Spanish translator for his wife, Katie Blaylock-Jimenez’s sermon, as she preached in English. The service closed with an altar call for anyone in suffering or struggling – as people (maybe 30??) sauntered to the front for prayer, which was such a blessing to see. Two people also came forth and pledged their lives to Christ – including one young boy who walked to the front all the way from the back – it was enough to make some of our team cry. Lastly, one of the pastors for the church, huddled our team together, and then prayed over us. It was a great joy to be ministered to all day at La Iglesia de Integral y Restauracion.
Our afternoon was spent enjoying a great family style lunch, before we headed to a Formando Vidas house, located up a mountain, but home to so many great views of other hills and valleys. Formando Vidas is a ministry led by Evie and Steve Bartel that takes in street children. “Over the years, the ministry among the street children has grown until it is now a seven stage fully integrated approach to changing the children’s lives forever, mostly by the ultimate means of the restoration of a long term Christian family for each child. The seven stages, now led and carried out by 25+ mostly Latin American full time staff members, include: street and ghetto evangelism, a drop in center and crisis shelter, a half way house, a transition school, long term re-parenting homes, family restoration, and “follow through” as former street children who’ve grown to be young adults enter mainstream society. (http://colombiastreetkids.org/about-us/staff/steve-evie-bartel/)”.
We were blessed to be able to make dinner for the crew at Formando Vidas. So many of our team members commented on how much tonight (Sunday) felt so much like hanging out with family. This is such a testament to the work Evie and Steve have been doing for decades. I was also proud of our team’s willingness to share Christ’s love with the children and youth; many have been praying for our unity, and it’s such a privilege to serve with this team, and to see us really grow together as a family. And laugh. We laugh a lot around these parts, and it’s a sweet blessing!
Tomorrow we will be serving at another Hogar de Paz site, and I believe another Formida Vidas location as well. We have been encouraging our team to finish well, to let God use them to keep pouring out Christ’s love, and to conquer any challenges that have been holding them back on the trip. I am excited to see what tomorrow will bring.
As always, thank you all for your love, prayers, and support. Please continue to pray for us. Pray that we may be so filled with God’s love, that it overflows on to all we serve; please pray that we continue to shine our lights for God’s glory.
We remain so very grateful to God for each of you, for your love, prayers, and support. We serve together, and we are all doing this kingdom work together. Thanks to you all again!
God bless and take care. Dios te Bendiga (God bless you)!
Youth Missions Team