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:
Dear Pastors, Family & Praying Friends,
The last month has been packed full of God’s blessing on the ministry in Colombia. Read on to rejoice with us, as well as to be able to pray about several needs.
Making It Official
In September, we took a big step as a body of believers in officially organizing and constituting our church. Over 60 saved & baptized adults signed a covenant of membership and legal documents as founding members. What an exciting day! Pray for us in the days ahead as we submit paperwork and travel to Bogotá to finalize the legal process. Having these documents allows us to open more facets of ministry, & assist missionaries who will need religious visas.
Passing The Torch
We were pleased to have my pastor, Charles Blackstock, with us for a week to celebrate the organizing of the church as well as preach several special services. He was a tremendous blessing to our people, to the men who are training for ministry, and especially my family. I wouldn’t be here today were it not for the years I spent under his mentorship!
Looking Around In Love
We love these people. We love the way God is working amongst them. Many of the men and women who have gone through the discipleship program are now reaching & teaching others, both within the church body and in the community. Continue to pray for this work, as well as a new meeting place as we are out of room! To move into a larger facility is going to cost quite a bit, but we have a BIG God! Pray if God would have you to support this ministry monthly as lives are being changed. It would be an investment into eternity.
Looking Back In Joy
Just over 10 years ago, in October of 2006, God allowed me, as a young, overconfident, single gringo to begin a Spanish ministry in Dawsonville, GA as an outreach of my church. I learned so much during those years. God was patient with me. My pastor was patient with me. Those first few families were patient with me. But through it all, a church was born and it is thriving today. The man who pastors now, Alfonso González, was my assistant for the last few years before we turned over the work to begin deputation, and is doing an excellent job! Many times I feel like a parent of grown children who are beginning their own families. That’s what ministry is all about. We trust to see the same thing many times over here in Colombia!
Looking Ahead In Hope
Our mission work in the north of our city is going fantastic. About 150 people meet with us on Saturdays in a park under trees & tarps with a “Sunday-School” type structure. We plan to find a building soon & establish a “full-service” church here as soon as God gives us the green light and one of our men is ready. Pray for this, as well as the finances to help them get started!
Also, each year we have a special event for Christmas. We give a gift to each child, teen, and adult who come to the program on Saturdays, a meal for everyone and a special presentation and Gospel message for the whole community. If you would like to sponsor one (or many!) of the 150 people, we’d love to give you the opportunity to do so! Just send a check to MWBM, PO Box 519, Braselton, GA 30517 and mark it “A Vance – Special Project”, or you can give online!
We Believe In Prayer
We couldn’t be here without your prayers! As you pray, please remember us in the following:
- The growth of our church — As well as finances to find a larger facility (we are packed out each week)!
- The training of the 16 men in the Bible Institute — Alfredo, David, Didian, Díver, Ernesto, Félix, Javier, Jhon Didier, Jhon Fredi, Juan Danilo, Julián, Kenneth, Leonardo, Libardo, Óscar, Óscar Mauricio…
- The advancement of our mission in the Café Madrid neighborhood — Especially the Christmas program in December and future plans to officially establish a church.
- Our family — Specifically our health and finances, and an upcoming trip I have in November to preach a pastors conference in Cuzco, Peru.
We love you & thank our God for each remembrance of you. Keep on keeping on for Jesus! He is worthy!!
Love In Christ,
The Vance Family
PS – Here are a few photos from recent days in the ministry here. Enjoy!
Dear Praying Friends,
The work of the ministry in Colombia is flourishing and God is adding much fruit to your account! We’re pleased to share the latest in this month’s prayer letter…
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since we officially opened our main work in Colombia! We celebrated our church anniversary in July with over 170 attending! I’m humbled that God would allow us to be a part of such a great ministry. The church is packed out each week. Just in the last few months, we’ve seen dozens trust Christ, follow in believer’s baptism and begin discipleship. Several of these new believers have even joined the other men in our Bible Institute to train for the ministry.
I am so glad that God allows us to have a part in the spiritual formation and training of these men of God. Many of them are showing great potential. In addition to preaching and teaching in bible studies and children’s ministry, we have one of them give a “mini-sermon” during each service. This is truly the reason we are here! To reach people, yes; to start churches, yes; but we are here primarily to train men who can continue to do the work for generations to come, as seen in 2 Timothy 2:2.
Pray for several of these men who are looking to take the next step in their preparation. Many are giving up their careers and university majors to pursue the calling God has placed on their lives. We are looking into developing a work program for them to be able to focus entirely on their training. This will be an added expense to the ministry. Could I also ask you to pray about whether God would have you increase or begin support of our ministry specifically for this purpose of training faithful men?
God’s Work Among The Nations…
In July, I had the opportunity to travel to Chile to preach a youth conference hosted by ministry friends. One of the men who is training with me was able to make the trip as well. I was encouraged by the local churches and the men in the Bible college there, as well as the missionaries who labor in Chile. God is doing a mighty work all around the world. How will you be a part? Will you go as a missionary? Will you help others as a sender? We all must pray that the Lord of the harvest would raise up more laborers for his harvest! We all must be busy about the Father’s business!!
Praises & Prayer Requests…
We literally could not do what we do without your help in prayer. It is always an encouragement to know there are people holding the ropes for us. Please remember us in the following requests.
- Our church family — especially as we plan to organize our church in September.
- Men preparing for ministry: (Alfredo, David, Ernesto, Félix, Javier, Jhon Fredi, Juan Carlos, Juan Danilo, Julián, Kenneth, Leonardo, Libardo, Mario, Óscar, Santiago…)
- Several men who have drifted off — some into sin and the cares of this world, others who are battling discouragement and sickness.
- Our 2nd mission work in the north part of the city, the leaders who serve there, and wisdom for our next steps.
- Our family — specifically our health and finances.
We love you all. Let us know how we can be praying for you! May the Lord bless you as you glorify Him, and may his peace, hope and love reign in your hearts.
Love In Christ Jesus,
Aaron Vance & Family
PS — Here are some recent photos of the ministry:
September 1, 2014
Brace yourselves — This is perhaps the most exciting prayer letter we’ve ever written! The past two months have been packed with God’s grace and blessings. Here is a quick rundown summary.
The Iglesia Bíblica Bautista El Faro had its first official services on July 13th with around 40 in attendance. Several acknowledged their need for salvation, repenting and believing on Jesus that day! There have been new visitors every week and many families and individuals are plugging in with personal discipleship, helping around the church and bringing their friends. Pray especially for a few young men who have shown interest in going further. Christ is building his church!!
Just days before the inauguration of our church, a Colombian lady contacted me from the USA whose mother was back in her hometown of Bucaramanga visiting family, and suddenly passed away. Both the daughter and this woman had been recently saved and were attending a good church in Florida, and I was asked to perform her funeral. The wish of this woman was that her lost family members would hear the Gospel preached at her funeral. What God did was truly amazing. By our best counts, about 120 people showed up for the service at our church (which really only holds 80), and heard a clear presentation of Biblical salvation. Dozens of these decided to place their faith in Jesus alone for eternal life. It was amazing! What an honor to this lady who had just been saved one year before. God is good!
More Lives Changed
We have seen several receive Christ and become born again in the past month, including religious people, who realized that Jesus is the only way, He is enough and that works do not save; also Atheists, who understood that there is a God who created them, loves them and died for them; and even an ex-paramilitary hit-man, who found a new beginning and new life in Jesus. God’s power has no limits. He is mighty to save all who will believe.
A Productive Visit
Our pastor and several from our home church came to visit in July. They helped get out thousands of invites the weekend before the big church launch and were a tremendous help to get the building ready for all the people. God worked through them and in them. Please pray especially for two of the young men that desire to return here or another place as God leads to work as full-time missionaries. If you would like to bring a group to Colombia, please get in touch with us, or see our website with details about a trip for students and singles June 15-25, 2015. We would love to have you!
- Growth of the church numerically and spiritually
- Families and individuals who are in discipleship
- A new youth outreach starting this month in the poorest and most dangerous neighborhood of our city
- Additional monthly financial support. At this point we have many more plans but are only held back by lack of funds. Would you consider partnering with us, that fruit would abound to your account? No amount is too small!
- Aubrie and the new baby — they are healthy and in the 2nd trimester already!
We love you and pray that the abundant grace of Almighty God would fill you, bless you and enable you to continue laboring for his Worthy Name!
Aaron & Aubrie Vance and family
Thank you for all you do to make it possible for us to be here! How can we be praying for you?
“Dear Lord, bless all the missionaries, and… um… and… um… and… yeah, bless them. Amen.”
You’ve been there. You’ve heard it before. A missionary comes to your church and says, “Pray for us!” In your mind you acquiesce, and you may even tell them, “We’ll be praying for you, brother!”
But what does that mean? How should we actually pray for them? Will a “blanket prayer” work? Just one big “Bless them all, Lord!”?
In short, no.
I’m going to take a few posts to outline some things that I’ve learned from my personal study on this topic. What does the scripture say about praying for other believers, particularly those serving as missionaries or ministers of the Gospel?
Let’s start with a something so vastly important yet incredibly basic.
1. Get To Know Your Missionaries!
Philippians 1:3-8 “3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”
If you don’t know somebody, you won’t be able to pray for their specific needs. Any missionary that’s worth his salt will take time to try to communicate with his supporters. Prayer letters, emails, a personal website, a blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc… whatever it takes to get their ministry and needs “out there.”
But that means nothing if you don’t make an effort to keep up with them.
Supporting missionaries financially is important, yes, but make an effort to put a face to the check you send. When you know your missionaries and try to keep up with what’s going on, you’ll feel like you’re doing more than sending empty checks and prayers out into the eternal abyss for an unknown soul. You’re interceding for and investing in a friend.
As your read the epistles from the Apostle Paul to the New Testament churches, you’ll see that there was a definite friendship between them. He knew that they were more than converts or supporters. They were brethren in Christ and “Yokefellows” in the ministry. Friends.
Get to know your missionaries.
2. Pray For Laborers!
Matthew 9:35-38 “35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
So many times we are so preoccupied praying about our own needs, our wants, our family, and the bunion on our toe that we completely forget to pray for what Jesus Christ TOLD us to pray about.
Sure, he cares about your bunion, but do you know that one of the few, if not the only direct prayer request Christ gave us was for Laborers for the Harvest? That’s an incredible thought. He lifted up his eyes and saw the multitudes. He had compassion on them. He was moved for their necessity. And we… we are focused on ourselves.
When is the last time you took time to pray specifically that God would send more missionaries into the world? Take a map or a globe, pick a country and ask God to send laborers there. Research the need. Population. Religion. Current works. Then beg the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.
But watch out.
He might send you.
3. Pray For An Open Door!
Colossians 4:2-5 “2Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”
Missionaries must work hard. They must put forth an effort to study diligently, learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, reach people, train people, lead people and duplicate themselves.
But all of this is in vain unless the Holy Spirit opens up a door.
What’s an open door? It’s an opportunity. A chance to reach somebody, win them and train them. It’s an opportunity to glorify God.
So, just as Paul asked the Colossians and others to pray for an open door of utterance, pray this for your missionaries.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3!