Growing Grace in San Lorenzo

Growing Grace in San Lorenzo

A Honduran reporter once said that San Lorenzo was a village forgotten by man and God. Yet God had not forgotten. He used this report to inspire a Honduran priest to reach out to this isolated mountain community of subsistence farmers.  Missionary Jeannie Loving went along and began to serve the people in the name of Christ in 2008.  A church formed. Jeannie began to dream that this spiritual community would have its own building.

God opened the door for other projects first. Jeannie coordinated construction of a playground and a community center made of ram-packed earth. Several groups began to use this center, including a kindergarten and the new church. Eventually, Jeannie fixed up a simple house so she could be rooted in the lives of the people.

Hunger arising from crop failure is a regular occurrence in San Lorenzo. The villagers raise crops for their families’ daily food, usually without surplus to sell. Jeannie was eager to help them farm successfully. She applied her experience as an organic gardener to train farmers. Jeannie started a demonstration farm where she shows how to develop rich soil through composting. People receive seeds and seedlings.

Jeannie saw the community’s hunger for God, too. She organized Bible studies with the help of fellow Christians gifted in teaching. People have attended those studies enthusiastically. Jeannie says that “their greatest spiritual need is one we all have: to forgive. It is by forgiving that you are forgiven. We need a lot of forgiveness.”

When the Diocese of Honduras approved construction of the church building, Jeannie’s decade-old dream began to be realized. SAMS Missionary and Architect Jack Melvin designed the building with input from the community.  Jack shares that Edil, a member of the church and the chief contractor, “is a true craftsman, who puts love into his work.” Construction proceeded quickly in spite of a pause due to the pandemic – and with no electric tools! The priest, Father Victor, who serves three churches, preaches and leads Holy Eucharist every two weeks. Jeannie says “He is very pastoral. He sends all the vestry members daily encouragement, stories, and Bible passages.” Iglesia Santa Maria Magdalena now has its own space in which they can serve the community, thanks to generous Senders who caught the vision God planted in Jeannie’s heart.

A Bolivian church is the “Salt and Light” of Christ across their city

A Bolivian church is the “Salt and Light” of Christ across their city

SAMS Missionaries Dr. Rusty and The Rev. Tammy Firestone have served in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for nearly two decades. Today, La Trinidad Anglican Church, which Tammy pastored for 10 years, is now under Bolivian leadership. The church actively shares the hope of Christ in word and deed. During months of strict lockdown from the pandemic, small groups have engaged in neighborhood outreach to foster discipleship and care for others. They named the effort “Project Salt.” The small groups have delivered groceries and other essential items to needy neighbors, reminding them – as one elderly woman cried out in joy – that God has not forgotten about them. La Trinidad is living out its mission to be the salt and light of Christ.

Pictured above: Second from right, Rev. Juan Cris is installed as priest at La Trinidad. On the left, Rev. Tammy lifts up the Bolivian pastoral leadership in prayer.

Rev. Tammy shared the Gospel in word and deed at La Trinidad in various capacities for a total of 15 years.

When the pandemic hit, La Trinidad responded by coordinating efforts to deliver groceries to parishioners and neighbors around the city. This was no small feat, as the lockdown was strict and people could only leave home one (assigned) day per week. In this picture, Pastor Juan is getting ready to make a delivery. 

Salt Project package recipients

The La Trinidad church family in 2019

SAMS Missionary mobilizes Spanish-speakers for world mission through Trinity School for Ministry

SAMS Missionary mobilizes Spanish-speakers for world mission through Trinity School for Ministry

In Ambridge, Pa., SAMS has long enjoyed a warm partnership with Trinity School for Ministry (TSM). TSM’s academic buildings are just across and up the street from the SAMS office. SAMS and TSM share an interest in reaching the world with the Gospel through the Anglican church. Recently SAMS Missionary Russ Smith, in Chile, became an adjunct professor of Missions for TSM’s online Spanish Academic Program. Over the summer he taught the class World Mission to eight students from Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. Biblical training helps empower Spanish-speaking church leaders for ministry. As the Lord leads, the Gospel inspires them to share the good news globally. Read more about Russ’s ministry training church leaders on page 19 of TSM’s Seed & Harvest magazine.

In conversation, Russ explains that due to history and culture, Latin Americans are uniquely positioned to bring the Gospel to areas of the globe that are difficult for U.S. citizens to enter. 

Mobilizing Latin Americans for mission has been a conviction on Russ’s heart for 41 years. His leadership at the Rural Bible Institute in Chile and now his teaching for TSM help fulfill this calling on his life. 

Pictured above: A graduation ceremony of Rural Bible Institute students in Chile. Russ Smith is in the top row on the left. 

If you find this topic interesting, you may wish to learn more about the Latin American mission movement here.

Advent Devotionals for all ages from SAMS Missionaries

Advent Devotionals for all ages from SAMS Missionaries

Missionaries Kerry and Cynthia Buttram recently shared the following Advent resources with their church community, and we would like to share them with you! We pray you will be blessed as we pray together “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” Click links below to access PDFs. – Kate Ulrich, Communications Coordinator

Advent Booklet 2020

For those with children: Family Advent Booklet 2020

 

Mexican Christians pass on God’s provision to neighbors in need

Mexican Christians pass on God’s provision to neighbors in need

A small church in Mexico shines the love of Christ into their community, like the Advent of a small Baby shines light into all the world. When this church saw with Jesus’ eyes the needs in their neighborhood during pandemic lockdown, the leadership used a gift they received the previous year to distribute packages of food and Bible resources.

SAMS Missionary Meredith Omland has ministered to children through this Anglican church for over 20 years. She shared: “Everyone who received a package was blessed and many were surprised. One family said they hadn’t eaten anything all day. In giving out these packages, we’ve also invited people to watch our Sunday services. We’ve been able to add children to our virtual kids’ club group. We encouraged recipients to share the love of Jesus by sharing with others in need. We have heard numerous testimonies of how people who received these packages then, in turn, shared with their neighbors.”

Generosity begets generosity! Several Senders joined with Meredith’s church to provide resources for even more packages of hope. Over 312 packages have benefited 175 families, and more are ready to give away. Meredith is thankful her church in Mexico has been faithful “to shine Jesus’ light in the darkness and show His love to our neighbors during this difficult time.”

As the incarnate Word “made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14), SAMS Missionaries like Meredith usher in the coming of “the true light” (Jn 1:9) to many corners of the world. Your prayers, gifts, and encouragement during this critical time support them in this calling as they face new and multifaceted challenges caused by the pandemic.

I pray the Lord will inspire us through the examples of the church in Mexico that gave away a gift to help their neighborhood, and the recipients who passed the gift on to other neighbors in need.

My prayer for you is that the Lord will shine his light into your place of need this Advent season. May the light in you extend out to your neighbors in need, near and far.

With hope in the dawning light,

Stewart Wicker
President and Mission Director