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Dear Praying Friends & Family,
The Apostle Paul affirmed from a Roman prison that he was suffering and bound, “but the word of God is not bound” (2 Timothy 2:9). God continues to work, even through quarantines and lockdowns! We have seen some incredible stuff here in Colombia during the past months. Also, we’re excited to announce a new door of ministry that God has opened for us. Read on for more!
Ministry In Times Of COVID
As I write this letter at the end of July, we are now passing 130 days of national quarantine lockdown. It would be easy to hunker down and wait for this pandemic to pass. Ministry looks different and is honestly challenging, but we always need to move forward with God! After over four months of virtual church services, fellowships, classes, discipleship, and counseling, we feel a bit of virtual fatigue. But as we take a step back and look at what God has done, it’s all worth it! We’ve seen several people saved, new converts grow, and families restored. Seven of our church members have had loved ones pass away during this time. It has been tough but also has provided opportunities to lead other family members to Christ. We keep hearing of formerly antagonistic brothers, parents, and neighbors who are hearing and believing. I was able to share the Gospel with a 30-year-old man with AIDS on his deathbed just hours before he passed. Another man, an agnostic in his 70s, accepted Christ last week. It’s worth it!
A Huge Step Of Faith
Three years ago, the former pastor of a Charismatic church on the south side of our city contacted me. He asked if we’d be interested in taking their building. It wasn’t right timing then because we were starting our second church in the far north region. He contacted me again almost two months ago and offered it to us again. This time, I went to look at the possibility, along with several men from our church. It is in a very strategic area where we desperately need a church, and we have talked about the potential for some time now. Well, it seems now is the time. After praying, fasting, and seeking counsel, God has let everything fall into place. We have decided to move forward in faith to start another church, even though we’re still waiting on the government to lift church-meeting restrictions. Taking a step like this seems a bit crazy, but I believe the Lord is in it! We’re going to take a few families and start this work from scratch. In a virtual business meeting, our main church voted unanimously to accept Félix, one of our preachers, as their pastor, and in favor of the new work. It feels like a trust fall, but I’m amazed at how God seems to be leading and affirming this decision. Over the next two months, we will be getting things ready to start having services in the Agape Baptist Church. There are so many things we will need to purchase, and though we already have some savings for this church plant effort, we could use some more help with the finances of getting started. We would be grateful for anything you’d like to send. You can give online or by mail through MWBM and mark the gift “A. Vance – church plant.”
A Close Call With The Family
The national government still requires minors and adults over 70 to remain in their homes, except to walk within a half-mile of their house occasionally. Well, Aubrie recently took our 10-year-old Amira out to walk and spend a little time with her. A man on a motorcycle stopped to rob them at knifepoint. Thankfully he only got their picnic breakfast and some art supplies, and, praise the Lord, they are both OK. Pray for those who are desperate during this time.
We came to Colombia to evangelize the lost, establish local churches, and equip leaders (at least, that’s what’s on our prayer card). Since we arrived nearly seven years ago, God has guided us in fulfilling those goals and allowed us to see things of which we had only dreamt. However, the work isn’t done yet. We must keep focused on Christ and his mission, even amid uncertain times. Thank you for faithfully supporting the ministry and praying for us. We’d love to hear from you. How can we be praying better for you?
For The Glorious Christ,
Aaron & Aubrie Vance & Family
Dear Praying Friends & Family,
Many of us had a “20/20 Vision” theme for this year, but nobody saw 2020 coming! If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that life is fragile, but God is faithful. Yes, things are different, even difficult, as we continue our lockdown here in Colombia, but we refuse to complain. We recognize that neither our God nor his Word is bound. He continues to work mightily!
Difficulty Prompts Creativity
Colombia went on full quarantine on March 20th, and it isn’t stopping anytime soon. Our outreach, discipleship, counseling, and teaching ministries all look vastly different from a few months ago, but the work continues. We thank God for modern technology to creatively minister. Daily, people meet virtually for corporate prayer, group training, and one-on-one discipleship. We also push out Gospel content and preaching daily to the masses on social media. Pray as we continue to adapt to the restrictions placed upon us.
Difficulty Propels Generosity
We have witnessed first-hand the generosity of God’s people, both in the States and here in Colombia. Many of you have sent special offerings during this time, and we are sincerely grateful! God has taken care of us. Whether you are a new or long-time supporter of our family and ministry, thank you! Additionally, our people have given like never before to meet the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ who are not as fortunate. Even as many faithful members lose their jobs, the church offerings have increased. It is genuinely baffling. Because of this generosity, we have assisted hundreds of people with groceries and basic needs. God’s people respond this way in times of adversity!
Difficulty Proves Sincerity
Whenever persecution comes (or any pressure in life), it reveals what is on the inside. Curiously, and sadly, during the past two months, I have had several hard conversations with people who attended our church but have now drifted away, either to apostasy, false doctrine, or indifference. I believe God will use this pandemic to purge his church of those who do not sincerely believe. There will always be those who consider themselves Christians because it is convenient, or because they have accepted a false gospel. May our version of Christianity always align with Christ and his Word.
Difficulty Produces Simplicity
This pandemic has been a blessing to us! Through it, God has stripped away much of the busyness and assiduity of life and forced us to slow down. Our family has enjoyed much more quality time together to study God’s Word, teach our kids songs of faith, cook, and enjoy meals together, and pray for those around us. We did these things before, but not to the same degree. Though we continue to minister daily, we must contemplate what ministry is all about. The quarantine has taken away our ability to fulfill much of what the church is supposed to do, and maybe God allowed it to reveal how much we need to get back to the basics. Christ commissions us to make disciples of all nations. Christ commands us to gather faithfully and connect sincerely with his church to love, correct, help, and teach one another. Christ called us to be salt and light in the world. Have we made “church” and Christianity more about an event than following Christ?
Difficulty Provides Opportunity
Currently, in Colombia, our total lockdown is in effect until July, and the “health emergency crisis” is declared until the end of August. Despite the abundant changes and challenges, there are more open doors than ever to reach the lost world around us. People need hope, and we have that hope. Let us not back down; instead, let us advance in the mission! Our family is in it for the long haul.
Aubrie and I, along with the girls, send you our greetings and sincerest love. We are deeply grateful for your prayers and financial support. We are praying you and are here for you if you need to reach out to speak to a friend.
For Christ the King,
Aaron, Aubrie, Amira, Anabel, Aris & Alethea Vance