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
Here’s a fun post for you. These are a few adjustments we’ve had to make here in Colombia having to do with daily life. This list is definitely not conclusive, but they are just some things we’ve found interesting and had to learn. 🙂
At The Store
- Fruit is dirt cheap. Just be sure to wash off the dirt.
- Eggs are not sold nor stored in the refrigerated section but on a room temperature shelf.
- Milk is not sold in jugs but in bags, also on the non-refrigerated shelf.
- Cheese is used everywhere, but any type of yellow cheese is rare and expensive, that is if you can find any! (aka “Goodbye, Cheddar”)
- Mountain Dew and Red Bull both are sometimes available, and are less than a dollar for what costs $2-4 in the States.
- “Ragu” pasta sauce is imported and costs about $6 per jar.
- Bottled carbonated water is as common as uncarbonated water.
- Today we saw a tin of cookies (the same brand Aubrie used to buy for her Grandpa for Christmas at the Dollar Tree) for about $9.50 US.
- We won’t be eating those cookies.
- Hot water heaters are available, but not common. When we asked a real estate agent about this, he asked if the local water was too cold for us. We mentioned that we enjoy a warm/hot shower if we can get it, he gave us a serious look and asked, “But won’t that make you sick?” 🙂
- Tile instead of carpet, bars on windows instead of screens, and open windows instead of air conditioning (The AC isn’t too much of a problem since it stays moderately warm).
- Many friendly Colombian neighbors love to play music loudly at night. Salsa, Reggaeton, Mariachi… oh yeah.
- Rent is a bit cheaper than the US, but buying a house or property is much more expensive!
- Traffic signals, lines, and signs are merely suggestions and often ignored.
- On a 3 lane road, many times there will be 4 small cars and a couple of motorcycles squeezed in between each car. True story.
- For a city of 2 million, I’ve only seen 1 small wreck in the week we’ve been here. Not sure how that’s possible as I’ve seen how people drive here. Lol…
- Seat belts are almost never used. Just hold on for your lives!
- Many people have multiple cell phones. In fact, there are over 49 million active cell phones and Colombia’s population is only 47 million.
- On many street corners there are people who carry 50-100 new-release movies with copies of the cover and a burned DVD in a plastic bag, selling them for 1-2 dollars each. Yes, pirated. Right next to the cops. They don’t sell many in stores. I wonder why…
- Public restrooms are between 25 cents and a dollar to use, toilet paper is rationed, and most public toilets do not have seats.
- People that are strangers will often stop what they’re doing for hours to help you. I find this unique and refreshing, even coming from the Southern US!
- As I mentioned in my last post, our little blonde haired girls are referred to as “Monitas” or, little monkeys. There aren’t many foreigners, even in our big city, so they get lots of attention!
- Colombians are very proud of their heritage and superiority in society (what people group isn’t?!). I had a taxi driver preach to me for 1/2 hour last night about how terrible each other Latin American county is, and how Colombia and its people, of course, is supreme in all things. I just smiled and said how much I liked Colombia. 😀 Inside I thought how great it would be if this man got the same passion for Christ and his glory… what a difference he could make!
Just because some people do certain things differently, doesn’t make them weird. Actually, it makes us weird, because we are prone to do things differently than them, in their own land. We try to have a student’s eye, watching and learning how people do things. We try to have a servant’s heart, helping and lifting up instead of expecting to be served. We try to have the Savior’s mind, who left it all, came to a different land, and gave his all for us so that we could be with Him.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Let us all have the eyes of a student, the heart of a servant and the mind of our Savior!
Feel free to share, comment, or add to any of this. God bless!
I was thinking today about all those of you that have invested us, and it really blows me away!
You have sacrificed time in praying for us regularly.
You have sacrificed finances and given so that we may go.
You have treated us more kindly than we deserve.
You have cared for us, loved us, helped us, kept in touch…
We are spoiled.
I feel like the most blessed person in the world.
Every minute, every dime, every thought and kind word given has helped us on our way to Colombia.
God has been doing a great work, and you’ve had a part!
Lives have been and will be eternally impacted because of you.
So, thank you!
This summer, my family and I will be joining a team of missionaries in helping out at the Our Generation Camp in Dayton, TN. I want to challenge you to consider coming this year. It has made such an impact in my life, that I plan on giving away a sponsorship for somebody by next week (see how to win at the end of this post).
The following description is from their website:
In 2004 a group of young missionaries headed to the field held a camp (Baptist Camp for World Evangelism) for college age students interested in foreign missions. God blessed in a such a tremendous way that the world is still feeling the impact of the decisions made that week as alumni are now serving all over the world. Over the years the camp evolved into the Our Generation Student Leadership Conference and remained a focused training ground for foreign missions. In 2011 we expanded our vision and began to provide the Our Generation Camp for middle school and high school age students. It allowed them exposure to young missionaries, missions training, plus all the fun and excitement expected in a summer camp.During the Our Generation Camp we have two tracks running simultaneously. Two camps, five days, but for one mission! We are blessed to have over a dozen missionaries families join us to serve as keynote speakers, counselors, and to spend time with the students. We believe this unique equation makes for an awesome week with maximum impact on the life of the teenagers and college students.
Date: May 27 – May 31, 2013 (Mon – Fri)
Location: Fort Bluff in Dayton, TN
Cost: $200 (special pricing for youth groups)
Interested in bringing a group!?!
We would love to hear from you! Please, email Trent@visionbaptist.com. He will communicate with you directly and answer any questions you may have.
We will email you a Youth Pastor Packet that will help you as you promote the camp to your youth group, meet with the parents of the teenagers, and recruit youth sponsors to join you.
In partnership with Fort Bluff Camp and missionaries around the world we believe we offer a premier, missions focused camp at an extremely reasonable price. We have all you would expect in a summer camp plus so much more!!
To see more info about camp speakers, the schedule, and to register, please visit the official camp website here.
Now, for the good part…
If you are interested in coming to the camp or know somebody else that is, I want to help you get there! How do you win? Simple… leave a comment below, share this post on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to the email updates. Doing each of these things will earn you a separate entry. Then, next Wednesday, April 17th I will use a random picker to select the winner.
“¡Viva el Papa! ¡Viva el Papa! ¡Viva el Papa! ¡Viva el Papa!”
I tuned in yesterday afternoon in time to hear multitudes of Catholics from all over the world chanting in expectation of their new leader. Flags were waving all over the Vatican. The cry of the crowd was a cry of enthusiasm, expectation and energy as the new pope was to be revealed.
Then, as the curtains were pulled back, it was announced that the pope was none other than Argentine Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name Pope Francis. Indeed, this man is the first Latin American to ever be chosen as Catholicism’s Papal leader.
He is a simple man, choosing to be as much among the people as possible, live a simple life, help the poor and deny many of life’s dainties for the “greater good.”
He led the people in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, then a prayer to Mary.
You could see expressions of hope on the faces of all who listened.
…But is there hope in the pope?
I need to be careful here, because my intention is not to carelessly offend those that hold to the catholic teachings. But could I be so bold as to say, Catholicism, at its core teaching, is leading over a billion people to hell.
Why is that?
Don’t Catholics believe in God? Don’t they believe in the Bible? Don’t they believe that Jesus died on the cross?
Yes, they believe all of these truths.
But what is different between biblical Christianity and catholic teaching? Simply put, it’s a matter of do vs. done.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Eucharist.”
Their teachings go on to express that there are 7 sacraments of the church, and in keeping these sacraments you will have favor with God and earn salvation.
But ask any catholic if they know where they will spend eternity and they always reply, “I don’t know” or “you can’t know” or “I won’t know until after I die.”
Why is that? Because salvation is depending on what they do. They are initiated into the church as a baby when they are baptized, they go through confirmation as a child or young adult, and they take the communion. They confess their sins to the priest, pray to Mary, pray to the saints and other idols, and help the poor, but it comes down to one question: What is their salvation depending on? DO or DONE!?
Friend, there is no hope in the pope. He is just a man. He may be a nice man, but he is a man who is leading people down a religious road straight to an eternity that is separated from God.
Salvation is only by grace through faith. It is either grace or it is works. It cannot be both. Jesus already bought our salvation, and offers it as a gift to all who will believe on him. Why are you trying so hard to earn it?
If you have never been biblically saved, if you are still trying to work your way to God, if you don’t know for sure if you’re eternity will be Heaven or Hell, I challenge you to do one thing. Repent.
Repent of your sin and your faith in works or religion. Then believe on Jesus. Run to Jesus. Throw out any other hope that you have and cling to the cross where Jesus paid for your sins. He says he will forgive you. He will accept you. He will make you his child and an heir to all promises. He promises to give you life. Don’t wait any longer.
The Bible says in John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
You have God’s word on it. He never breaks his promises. Don’t wait any longer. Believe on Jesus.
Christian, maybe you agree with all that I’ve written here. Would you pray with me for the billions around the world that are deceived by religion? Would you pray with me that God would raise up more laborers to take the GOOD NEWS to them, that Jesus paid it all? Would you pray that God would open their eyes, that they would know the truth, and this truth would make them free?