October 2016 Prayer Letter
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.
((Click here to download a printable PDF of this prayer letter))
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!
August 2016 Prayer Letter
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…
((Click here to download a printable PDF of this 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:
Hope In The Pope?
“¡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?
“Daaaadddaaaaa!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. “Come here Daddy! I need you!”
It was 4 AM this morning. My precious 2 1/2-year-old daughter Amira was crying in desperation. So, what’s a good dad to do? Down to her room I went.
At first sight of me she seemed relieved, and immediately she exclaimed, “I need some milk.” We talked some, quenched her thirst, and the conversation quickly went from her dry throat to more pressing issues.
“I need to sleep with you in Mommy’s bed” (funny how that works, isn’t it?). “No dear,” I replied, “you can stay in your bed. Just a couple more hours until the sun comes up. Your bed is nice and comfortable!”
“But there are monsters on my wall.”
She said it in such a matter-of-fact manner that I had to try to keep from chuckling.
Turns out, the monsters were not just on her wall, but also in the closet, under the bed, and on the ceiling, she told me. Honestly, I don’t know where she got that idea, but she was fully convinced of the infestation.
I showed her how safe her room was, that monsters weren’t real, then I assured her that God is in our house and he keeps the monsters and other scary things away. She got tucked in and slept for a few more hours, and woke up nice and cheerful as if nothing had ever happened. Thank goodness.
How many times do we act the same way? All around us there are “monsters” out to gobble us up. Maybe not the big, hairy, green ones, but our fear manifests itself in other ways.
- I can’t try anything new because I might fail
- I can’t witness because people might reject me
- I can’t give to the church or missions because I might not have enough for other bills
- I can’t speak to anybody about God because I might make them angry, and I might even be persecuted
It shows up in missions all around the world. May I be bold to say, Fear-based Christianity and fear-based missions is sin.
Why is it that the most frequent command in Scripture is to fear not? I believe that there are 2 prominent reasons:
1. Fear causes us to magnify a lie instead of Jesus
What is fear? It is worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet! Satan whispers a doubt, a lie, an unfounded anxiety, and we swallow it. That’s why we find the following in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
Anything that makes itself greater than my God is an idol and must be torn down. Tear down your fear. Bring your thoughts into captivity. Trust Christ.
2. Fear causes us to miss God’s will
When fear controls your life, the Devil gets the victory because you’ve already given up. “There’s no use in trying.” many might say. When we think of reaching the world with the Gospel, what is the greatest hinderance? We have missed it because we’re dominated by fear. Paul told one of the young men he mentored in 2 Timothy 1:6-9:
“6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”
He had to remind Timothy of something that was forgotten. Fear doesn’t have to own you. God has something greater for you. The power to defeat that fear is already in you. If you don’t squash that fear, you will miss God’s plan for your life!
Christian, What’s your fear? What’s the “Monster on the wall?” What’s lifting itself up above Jesus in your life? What’s holding you back from doing God’s will? It’s time to lay it aside and trust Christ. It’s time to live boldly for the ONE who gave all for us.
Flower Vase Freedom?
Celebration of Independence
Yesterday, July 20th, Colombia celebrated 202 years of independence from Spain. Colombians all around the country demonstrated their patriotic loyalty much like we do for our 4th of July celebrations in the USA. They enjoyed a day off from work, parades, time with family, massive feasts, and giving thanks for their freedom.
The story of their independence is a rather interesting one, revolving around a Venezuelan-born man named Simon Bolivar (who spent most of his time in Colombia and liberated 6 countries from Spain), and more interestingly, a conflict about a flower vase. Yes, a flower vase! You can read about that story here.
The battle for freedom in Colombia wages on.
I’m not talking about simply freedom from oppression from rebel groups, violence and political uprisings. Yes, that is what many focus on, but I’m talking about the freedom that Jesus speaks of in the Bible.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
You see, Colombia, just like the rest of the world, has a root need for eternal freedom. If you look at the entire passage there in John 8, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were religious. They had the right family heritage, being sons of Abraham. They had the law. They had the right customs and practices and they didn’t see their need for being made free.
But Jesus saw that they were indeed servants and slaves to sin, and of their father the Devil.
Pretty harsh words, aren’t they?
Set Free or Made Free?
No matter how hard we try, in our own effort, the best we can do is to be “set free” from sin. There’s a difference between that and what Jesus actually said. He said he would make us free!
Here’s a good way to picture it… If you were in prison paying for a crime that you committed and I came by with a bomb and blew the wall off to let you out, I would have set you free. The problem with that is, eventually they are going to come looking for you (and me) again to throw us both back behind bars. It would be a temporary fix.
But, what if I go and pay your penalty for you. I can then walk in the front doors with the warden, who reaches for his keys and lets you out, now a free person. You’ve been made free. There is a great difference! Because, now, there is no more condemnation (See Romans 8:1).
How are we made free? By Jesus Christ! He paid our penalty 100%. As long as we try to work our way to God, the best we can do is break free for a little bit. We can’t get completely free from sin, and we can’t get completely free from eternal condemnation.
But, thanks be to Jesus, he has already paid the price and offers to MAKE us free! The Bible calls that Justification. My record is cleaned. God’s books show that I am free. There is no more punishment for my sin. No condemnation.
Do you see the difference? That’s what Colombia (and the rest of the world) need to hear.
What about you?
Have you let Jesus make you free or are you still struggling along, trying to make it on your own. If you were to die today, would you spend eternity with God, or would you be found guilty. It all goes back to what you’re depending on. Are you depending on your works? Your religion? Your effort? Your family?
Jesus Christ died on the cross to buy your freedom. Why don’t you believe in that today? Don’t just believe that it happened, but put all your faith in what He has done and repent of your own effort. He said he’d make you free.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
If you need help or if you have questions about salvation and being made free, I and my family would love to help you and answer your questions. Leave a comment, send me a message or give me a call. I promise to respond because Jesus loves you, and I do too.