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 Praying Friends & Family,
I am writing this update during a layover halfway between Colombia and the USA. Yes, we have officially begun our furlough. We are looking forward to the next 11 months. However, to be honest, we have been inundated by intense emotions and spiritual warfare. What will happen to the work, the people, our close friends and spiritual family in Colombia? Yet, we rest in Christ‘s faithfulness, and we trust him for the future. After all, it is HIS church.
A Time To Reflect
Long before we landed in Colombia as missionaries, and long before there was a church, we were already preparing to leave. It may seem odd, but having an “expiration date” of sorts allowed us to have a determined goal and clear path of ministry. If our purpose is to not only win disciples of Christ but also to train them, this deadline gave us something to work toward. Now, we leave behind not only 2 growing churches full of passionate followers of Christ, but also the leaders to continue to take them to the next level. There are 8 preachers who will preach regularly, 4 who will preach semi-regularly, and another 4 who are just starting and will assist in scripture reading, discipleship and other ministries. Other men and women have stepped up to lead every other ministry of the church. What once fell only on the shoulders of Aubrie and I, has grown into a dynamic effort of many to make disciples and see Christ glorified. It really is incredible that God would allow us to be a part of HIS work in Colombia.
Successful Recent Activities
Here’s a quick rundown of what has happened in our ministry and what we’ve been up to since the last update at the beginning of December:
- Christmas outreach in our Cafe Madrid mission church. We were able to sponsor, with generous help from both of our local churches, over 100 needy families with baskets filled with food, basic toiletries, toys for their kids and a Gospel DVD.
- First men’s retreat. Why did we wait so long to do this? It was great to get away with 30 men and study John chapter 17 and Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, as well as relax a bit and strengthen the brotherhood.
- Missions conference. We enjoyed the fellowship and preaching from Latin American missionary pastors who serve in Bogotá – Colombia, Maracay – Venezuela, and Trujillo – Peru. What an eye opening time. Please pray for these families. In addition to fully supporting our daughter church, our main church is giving sacrificially to others to see the Gospel get to the regions beyond!
The church and its leaders are also getting ready for events to reach even more people during the whole year. I look forward to hearing how God uses them, even in our absence
Planning Ahead & Dreaming Big
We are already making big plans for our return at the beginning of 2019. We hope to begin at least 3 more churches in key areas, as well as other outreach ministries to minister to the 2.2 million people of our city of Bucaramanga, and beyond. Obviously as we make all these plans, we submit them to the Lord and his will. For the task ahead, as well as the growth of our family, we find ourselves under-supported. We are praying and trusting God that during this furlough, we can see another 15-20 monthly prayer and financial partners added to our team to help fulfill the Great Commission. Will you be pray about being one of these special partners?
From The Mouth Of Babes
After we landed in the USA, we were standing in the immigration line for US citizens. There was another American lady behind us, and Anabel, our 5 year old, looked up and told her it was OK to take her picture if she wanted to. She‘s been used to this for the past 4 years, but apparently blonde hair & blue eyes are more common here than in Colombia. The lady was a bit perplexed.
We are sincerely grateful for you. Because of your faithful giving and prayers, God is adding much fruit to your account. People are being saved! Continue to pray for our family during this furlough. We expect to have a great time sharing of God’s favor upon the ministry, but we are not oblivious to the possibility of reverse culture-shock, as well as the dangers on the road. Also pray for our dear friends and leaders in the churches of Colombia during our absence.
Rooted & Grounded In HIM,
Aaron & Aubrie Vance
(along with Amira, Anabel, Aris & Alethea)
Just a quick note to let you know that tomorrow, Sunday, March 5th, is the big day! We’ll be officially inaugurating another church here in Bucaramanga, Colombia at 4 PM in the afternoon.
It has been exciting to see how everything has been coming together. The enemy is fighting, yes, but the Light of the Gospel always overpowers the darkness!
This is the same neighborhood we’ve been working in during the last two years, primarily with the children. Because of this, the reception has been fantastic, even beyond what we expected. We’ve handed out thousands of invites and spent many hours in prayers and preparations, but we know that all is vain unless it is God doing the work.
If you get a moment this evening or Sunday before 4 PM Eastern Time, please join me in prayer for several things:
- For the 25+ leaders coming from our first church plant, including one of the men who has been training with me during the last couple years and will be preaching the main message. Others will help with music, children’s programs, logistics, etc.
- For the people in this new neighborhood, that they would continue to be receptive to the Gospel, that many would believe, that the new believers would take steps toward growth in their new Christian life and that we could train leaders of leaders who will take the torch and run the race set before them.
- For wisdom in finding a more permanent meeting place (we will be meeting in a community center as we continue to search for a building to rent/buy).
- For finances as we help the church get off the ground (if God would have you give toward this need, you can give by check or online here).
- For me and my family as we lead the charge. We have all been battling minor health issues during the last week and we pray this won’t get in the way of serving.
I’ll send another update on Monday, Lord willing. We don’t really know what to expect, but we trust that in all things, Christ is magnified! It is, after all, his church, his work, done through his strength, in his grace, and for his glory!
Colossians 1:27-29 says:
“27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
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: