Dear Praying Friends & Family,
The last two months have been a roller coaster. In this report, I cover some of the enormous challenges we’ve faced, as well as some of the tremendous blessings. Through it all, God is our rock and fortress, and we cling to him.
“Pastor, We Need To Talk.”
I landed in Colombia toward the end of July for a quick, 2-week trip to celebrate our church’s 4th anniversary and the wedding of one of our preacher men. It was looking to be a joyous trip, but I heard a fateful phrase way too many times… “Pastor, we need to talk.” I sat through dozens upon dozens of complaints, observations, and concerns, all about one of the men who had served closest to me for the past four years. After all was said and done, this man decided to leave, and he didn’t leave well. He hurt many people and thought everyone was against him. He wouldn’t let others help him. To him, it was everyone else’s problem. Pride destroys as nothing else can! As we dug deeper into the situation, we found numerous issues beyond mere hurt feelings. Pray for this man, as well as his family and two other leaders who left with him. We continue to love them and pray that they repent and can be restored to fellowship with Christ’s church.
Moving Forward In Faith
It may sound crazy, but I’m grateful that this horrible situation took place when it did. Our church and the rest of the leaders have risen to fill in the gaps, and I believe we are better for it. We lost around ten people, but since then we’ve had dozens of new families visit, new members added, and new leaders are stepping up. We improved several systems, and the church is in even better shape than before. We’ve been encouraged in seeing both spiritual and numerical growth in the past month. Our leaders are united, as is the entire church body. People are still being saved and discipled. New opportunities are opening up like never before. We press on in the strength that Christ gives.
We recently enjoyed a baseball game with the whole family for the first time. Aris, our 3-year-old, had never been to such an event, and since everyone was shouting, she decided to join them with a loud “HALLELUJAH!”
Praises & Prayer Requests
- Thanks to offerings from some of you, we were able to recover 100% from the church robbery I write about last time. Praise God!
- God has given us safety on the road, several good meetings, and a few more supporters. Amen! Pray as we head into a hectic “missions conference season.”
- The landlord of the house our second church is renting notified us that she needs the property back soon. However, we were just offered an incredible piece of property next door. We are trying to raise $50,000 to purchase it when we return to Colombia. I’ll write more about this in our next letter. If you’d like to give, click here.
- We thank God for some excellent opportunities we’ve had to witness while here in America. There is still a great need here!
The Our Generation Summit
We will be participating in a missions event like no other on December 28-29, 2018. For the first time, The Summit will take place in Ohio. Plus, it’s only $80, including lodging. We would love to see you there! For more info check out their website: www.ogsummit.com.
Once again, thank you. Your prayers and financial support have made our ministry possible. May God supply your every need.
To Magnify Christ,
Aaron & Aubrie Vance and family
To download a PDF of this letter, click here.
Or, following is a JPG of this prayer letter that you can also save and print:
And some recent pictures from our ministry and family:
Happy Memorial Day! I want to thank those that have served in our country’s military, and the families of those that have given their lives to defend our freedoms. May we always appreciate the sacrifice that they’ve made and may we always remember that freedom isn’t free!
And as Christians, just as Americans, somebody had to pay the price for our freedom. Jesus Christ died on the cross 2,000 years ago to make us free from the bondage that is sin. I love what John 8:32 & 38 say,
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Please enjoy this video that was put together a couple of years ago for my church, Lighthouse Baptist Church in Dawsonville, GA to remember those that have laid down their lives, and to celebrate the freedom we have because of their sacrifice.
If you can’t see the embedded video, please click here)
Monday morning I was greeted by the news. Every radio station I tuned in to, every news report I read, every person I spoke to seemed to be bursting at the seams with the news that Osama Bin-Ladin had been found and had been killed.
“USA!! USA!! USA!! USA!! USA!!” … The chants seemed to echo in every corner of the country. The enemy has been destroyed. After 10 years of playing hide-and-seek, justice has been served. The world celebrates.
But, how should Christians react to this news? Honestly, there’s a conflict in my mind as to how I should respond. On one hand, it is wonderful that this man has been stopped, and that no more innocent lives will be taken by his hand. But, I find it hard to celebrate. It hurts to know that another soul has dropped into hell, eternally separated from God.
I mean, does he deserve hell? Yes, of course!! But guess what…so do we!
What does the Bible say? Honestly you can find scripture for both sides of the matter.
“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” Ezekiel 18:23
“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:” Proverbs 24:17
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” Matthew 5:43-46
“When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.” Proverbs 11:10
“The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” Psalm 58:10
“And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king’s house.” 2 Kings 11:20 (after an enemy of Israel was brought to justice)
“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” Deuteronomy 32:43
As God’s people, we are to realize several major things:
1. We all deserve God’s wrath and judgement. You’re a sinner just as much as Mr. Bin-Ladin was. You deserve hell. So do I. Even if we only offend in one point of the law, we are guilty of it all.
2. Justice will always be carried out. Whether here or in eternity, each sin must be accounted for before a perfect and Holy God. We know that God is good and will always do right.
3. Christ is our only hope. He paid the price for our sins. We were reconciled freely back to God through the righteousness of Christ himself. The only way I escape the judgement of God is because it was already poured out on Jesus on my behalf!
4. God is not willing that any should perish. Though each human must one day be judged, God’s desire is that they be reconciled, forgiven, justified and pardoned.
So, in all the celebration, we can rest assured that justice has been carried out. This justice is good and was deserved. But let us also mourn that another creature of God has perished. My hope is that Osama Bin-Ladin accepted Christ in his last moments of life, but we will never know that until we reach eternity. Enemies of God will be judged. But God desires for those same enemies to become his children by accepting the pardon of Christ. Will you pray with me that more enemies of the cross be reconciled by the cross?
“And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Before coming to Colombia, a mentor and pastor friend of mine recommended that I get together with Freddy Nieto while in Bogotá. He’s the pastor of Iglesia Bíblica Bautista de Suba (Suba Biblical Baptist Church) and is doing an incredible work. We met up with him and his wife this morning and spent several hours learning about the way that God is working in Bogotá and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go to any of their church services, but we were able to tour the church’s beautiful facility and spend several hours with this precious pastor and his wife. Their church runs about 500 and they see people saved every week. There are many studying in their Bible Institute getting ready to go out into the rest of the country to reach the lost. Amen!
Be praying with me if you will, as Brother Freddy asked me to consider coming back in January to preach their annual youth camp. It would be an awesome opportunity but we’ll have to see if finances and time permit and ultimately if God opens the doors for this.
Later this afternoon we met up with a new missionary family, Daniel and Jennifer Mee along with their beautiful little baby girl Eliana (definitely made me miss my daughter Amira). They work with ABWE and just arrived here in the country about a month ago. They gave us some great advice about deputation, moving to Colombia and general tidbits of info they wished they’d have known before moving here. God is really working in their hearts and they are excited to be part of a movement of church planting and evangelism here in Bogotá and around Colombia.
After a delicious dinner with the Mee family we went to the Bogotá Baptist Seminary that is sponsored by ABWE and enjoyed their evening chapel service. There are quite a few young people studying in the Seminary to become pastors and missionaries and even to be laymen in the churches. There were maybe 40 in the room, then another 90 or so studying online through correspondence courses. Praise God for what he is doing in this ministry! The Lord has already used them to start dozens of churches around Bogotá and there are plans for even more churches down the road as God permits.
What we are finding is that God is definitely working here. It is incredible! People are finding hope. Souls are being eternally saved. Lives are being changed. Families are being restored. Revival is being experienced. It is great!
However, even with the wonderful news about what God is doing in this place, we must be honest with ourselves.
Let me throw some stats at you… I live in the US state of Georgia. According to the 2010 US Census, there are 9,687,653 people in Georgia. That’s just a little bigger than the city of Bogotá–smaller, if you include Bogotá’s larger metro area. In 2005 there were an estimated 8,190 Baptist churches. That’s one church for every 1,183 people. Do we need more churches there? Of course!
Yet… in this city of over 8,500,000 people (11,000,000 according to some statistics) there are maybe 25 or 30 churches, total. Only 25 or 30. That’s all. To me, at first, honestly it seemed like a lot. It seemed that this city, at least, was being reached. But that’s only one church for every 440,000 people. Wow.
God is working here.
But the need is still great.
What are we doing to reach this city?
What are we doing to reach the world?
What will you do?
We’re leaving tomorrow. I am thankful that we’ve been able to spend this time here. God has worked in my heart and I am more excited than ever about coming to this beautiful country and to these beautiful people to tell them about my beautiful Savior. He loves them and gave his life for them. The least we can do is deliver the message!