International Ministries

Fixing our Eyes on Jesus

April 13, 2010 Journal
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Dear Friends in Christ,

Recently I participated in a church´s anniversary celebration, which happened to take place for an entire weekend!  The Babiney church, which celebrated 71 years of life in March, is located in a rural area outside of the city of Bayamo (famous in Cuban history because the citizens burned the city down so that when it was captured by the Spanish it would be a hollow victory).

The church has an interesting history in that one Estelita Almaguer heard the gospel in a town outside of Santiago, but decided to return to her home town of Babiney in order to share the good news with others. The first believers were her parents who opened up their own home as a meeting place as they testified about God to family and neighbors. The founders were mostly women who made and sold items in order to raise money to build their simple church sanctuary, which is still in use. The only difference is now they have taken off the front wall so that during special events more people can participate in the services from the backyard.

The celebration consisted of four activities, in which I played some major part. Saturday and Sunday nights are regular services, but I was the guest preacher that weekend. Having never visited there before, I was not certain if I was “on target” in the texts that I had chosen, but I felt gratified that a few people commented that they needed to hear what had been said. They did a dramatic representation on Sunday evening of the church history, speaking of the people who had a part in the formation and ministry of the church including the three churches founded and their seven current missions.

A major part of the celebration for me, however, was an introductory teacher training workshop given Saturday for the teachers and lay leaders who are in charge of their seven missions. On Sunday I tried to give a good example of the teaching  I´d been talking about on Saturday: they combined ALL of the Sunday school classes in the sanctuary for me to lead! The adults helped the children and we even heard from the “special needs” class (mostly deaf and blind). I divided the pews into study groups as we looked at different biblical examples from Hebrews 11. They took Moses, Abraham, David – even the founders of their church—as examples of people of faith who overcame challenges and difficulties. Of course we ended the lesson with the passage “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let  us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance…let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …”  (Hebrews 12:1-2).  

I was and am very conscious of those who have gone before me – and those who also stand with me today—as we serve Christ together. Thank you for standing with me in prayer and support. May we always keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who sends us in His name and sustains us.