Dear Praying Friends & Family,
Hello from warm and sunny Bucaramanga, Colombia! We thank God for a safe and smooth trip back on January 15th. We have hit the ground running and have many things to report in this letter, but first, a summary of our furlough last year.
- Total church services/meetings: 159
- New churches visited: 36
- Total miles travelled: 36,587
- New financial supporters: 15
- Beds slept in: 56
- Gallons of gas used: 1,830
- Vehicle break downs: 0
- Books read: 72
We praise the Lord for the blessing of furlough! Yes, there were challenges, but God is always faithful. As you can see, he was very good to us during these 11 months.
Walking in Truth…
One of the greatest joys we had upon returning to the work in Colombia was in finding the churches united, growing, and walking in truth. We continue to meet new believers who have come to Christ since we left on furlough, and even those who are serving and being trained by the leaders we left behind. Our team of preachers and leaders have worked tirelessly, and with sincere hearts, all for the Glory of Christ, knowing their labor is not in vain.
At the end of January, we signed a contract to purchase a 3-story building for our second church. God miraculously provided all the funds for this work in a short amount of time, and he used several of you to do so. We thank you! Our church in Cafe Madrid, Bucaramanga, Colombia thanks you. Those who will hear the Gospel and have the chance to believe also thank you. We should have the keys and be able to move in on March 28th.
Part of living in our area of the world is that we feel tremors (small earthquakes) often. We were welcomed back to Colombia by one of these tremors one night while I was meeting with the men of the church and Aubrie had all of our girls on our bed at home. Being on the 8th story of our apartment building, the effect is somewhat multiplied. Our 3-year-old Aris had forgotten about these tremors, and shouted, “What is this bed doing?!” Everyone is safe and sound, by the way.
As both of our churches move forward, we are continually looking for ways to keep growing and expanding the glory of God here in Colombia. Lord willing, we plan to start another church toward the end of this year, and maybe 2 or 3 next year. The leaders have been trained and are excited about the possibilities. Long term, we need at least 45 churches just for our city and hundreds more around the country of Colombia. We also look beyond our region and country, and we see many other nations who have yet to hear. We know that God wants to save them as well — how can we reach them? Friends, the harvest is great, and the time of harvest is now, but the laborers are few. We thank you for faithfully partnering with us in prayer and financial support as we do our part. But, I can’t help but think that maybe God wants some of you to join us… Are you willing?
May Christ Be Magnified,
Aaron & Aubrie Vance and family
Here are a few recent pictures from the ministry:
Yes, we took all of these bags to Colombia, and they all arrived with us. Praise the Lord!!
It’s great to be back at our church, who welcomed us back with open arms (and cake!).
This is it, folks! The future home of our church in the Cafe Madrid neighborhood of Bucaramanga.
The kids look forward to having a classroom instead of sitting outside on the sidewalk.
Reunited with old friends.
The highways of Colombia are full of Venezuelan families who have fled their country amidst the economic crisis. Some will establish themselves in cities of Colombia, while others are en route to other countries of South America. Pray for us as we minister to these precious souls around us.
Photo: Getty Images
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)
Dear Praying Friends & Family,
We just finished up Thanksgiving here in Colombia. It’s just another day for most folks, but it causes us to remember that we truly have much for which to be thankful! Besides the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin cheesecake we were able to enjoy (thanks to my mother-in-law!), we are sincerely thankful to God for everything around us. His blessings are plenteous, and his grace is abundant!
Thankful For Our Newest Baby Girl
We are pleased to introduce you to Alethea Jewel Vance, born November 16, 2017. Aubrie and the baby are doing great, and we are all adjusting to having a household of 4 daughters! Alethea is Greek for truth, and Jewel is Latin for Joy. We pray she can be a beacon of truth and a conduit of joy to the world around her!
Thankful For Our Upcoming Furlough
Our tickets have been purchased and we are starting to fill up our calendar for our furlough from the first week of February until the end of December 2018. Our goals are five-fold: (1) To give a report to our supporting churches of the work God has done; (2) To raise urgent financial and prayer support for the growing ministry; (3) to visit with extended family; (4) to raise awareness for world missions; (5) to give an opportunity to our leaders and churches in Colombia to exercise their gifts and calling.
We are praying to add 20 supporters to our team. If you haven’t yet begun partnering with us to reach Colombia, would you prayerfully consider us in your monthly missions budget? If you would like to schedule a meeting with us, or just need more info, email us at email@example.com. Also, please see the included recommendation letter from our sending church pastor, Dr. Charles Blackstock.
Thankful For Recent Church Growth
Both of our churches have been growing stronger each month. We recently met with 30 of our church leaders to plan out the 2018 calendar while we’re gone. I look forward to hearing how God continues to use the church to reach our community. The need is great, and the doors are wide open to get the Gospel to the people! We are already planning to starting at least 3 more churches by the year 2020, Lord willing. Several of our men have taken great steps toward leading the two established churches while we are away next year, which also serves as preparation toward starting their own churches.
Thankful For Christmas In Colombia
Our entire city transforms every year at Christmas. Extravagant lights, fireworks shows, elaborate nativity scenes and a festive environment makes this time of year a lot of fun. However, most people see Christmas just as an excuse to party, have time off of work and relax. Though it would seem on the surface that Christ is more prevalent in Christmas here, most people still do not know him. They haven’t heard the true Gospel, of salvation that isn’t earned through religion or works, rather by grace through faith in Christ’s finished work. In other words, many here “have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). Christmas is a great time to share the Gospel, both here in Colombia as well as wherever you live and minister. Let’s not hide the hope we have!
Thankful For Our Prayer Warriors
We appreciate all of you and your prayers for our family and ministry. Truly, God is working in spite of us, and I believe the prayers of His saints have had a great impact. Don’t stop! In fact, here are some specific requests you can lift up to God on our behalf:
- Pray for Alethea, and all the paperwork left to do for her to be a dual citizen and be able to travel.
- Pray for our furlough travels coming up January 31st, as well as the meetings we will have next year.
- Pray for the men and women who are leading the various ministries in our churches, both now and while we are gone. Especially pray for the men who will be preaching the Word.
- Pray for more missionaries in Colombia. Never has there been a time in which people were more re- ceptive to the truth of the Gospel, yet there is a need for more full-time Gospel-preaching laborers.
With love & prayers from Colombia,
Aaron, Aubrie, Amira, Anabel, Aris & Alethea Vance
Dear Praying Friends & Family,
Jesus said in Matthew 16 that he would build his church, and that is exactly what is happening here in Bucaramanga. This month’s update is full of praises as well as some family news.
New Church Taking Baby Steps
Our second church plant here, which we began in March, is growing and people are becoming more grounded through Bible teaching and preaching. Several of our leaders have begun weekly home bible study groups to strengthen new believers as well as give them an opportunity to make a Gospel connection with their friends and family. After 4 months of meeting in a community center, we finally found a place to rent at the end of June. It’s a small house, and there is a lot of work to be done, but we are thrilled about the progress and the new opportunities. Two of our men, Félix and Díver, are sharing the load of pastoring this new work. Please pray for them, and specifically that Félix would find a godly wife.
Edifying The Body Of Christ
Our first church in Colombia will be 3 years old in a couple weeks. We have a constant flow of new visitors, new believers to baptize, and new disciples who are committed to following Christ. I have loved seeing the spiritual growth and maturity of these believers over the last few years. As I look around, it is evident we are entering into the next phase of ministry and the next stage of this church plant. At the beginning, my family and I did everything from cleaning the church, teaching children’s classes, evangelism, discipleship, preaching all the services, organizing special days, teaching leadership classes, bookkeeping and more. Now, those who were brand new believers not long ago are not only serving in all of these areas, but leading. Some are not only leading, but they are also leading other leaders. This is what missions is all about! We look forward to many more years of being involved in this ministry!
Baby Girl #4 Coming In November!
Yes, you read that right. We’re having ANOTHER girl! Each of our girls — Amira (7), Anabel (5) and Aris (2) — are excited and already suggesting names, some of which are pretty wild! Pray for Aubrie in the 2nd half of the pregnancy.
Saying Goodbye From Far Away
My grandfather, Donald Swaim, passed away at the end of June. He would have been 87 in a couple weeks. He was a believer and was always witnessing to everyone he met. He took me to Mexico, where he had been a missionary, when I was 15, and he constantly encouraged me to follow God’s will for my life. One of the hardest parts of being on the mission field is not being there with loved ones in the end, though we do rejoice in the hope we have in the Gospel. Thanks to technology and the help of some family, I was able to speak to him and say goodbye before he passed away.
Coming Back For Furlough in 2018
Lord willing, our family will be returning to the States for furlough from February 2018 until the New Year. This will serve several purposes: (1) to give a report to our supporters of the great things the Lord has done; (2) to raise more financial support from new churches as the ministry expands and we plant more churches; (3) to preach world missions and cast a vision to see God call more laborers; (4) to spend time with extended family; (5) to provide an opportunity to the preachers and leaders in the ministry here in Colombia to exercise their gifts and calling. If you would like to schedule us to come to your church, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call (678-696-0082)! We are now filling up our calendar.
As always, we are grateful for each of you for your prayers and financial support. Thank you for holding the ropes for us as we minister in Colombia, South America!
With love in Christ and for his glory,
Aaron, Aubrie, Amira, Anabel, Aris (& BABY) Vance
Here are some recent pictures from our ministry and family: