Most Sundays, as we lock up after church, we feel an even mixture of sadness and joy: sadness over people and situations that concern us and joy over those in which we can see God working. Then, there are Sundays like yesterday, in which joy is overwhelming, and faith is sight.
To get to yesterday, let’s go back to March of 2020. Covid restrictions here made us start wearing masks and stop meeting in public. Church went online. Just like many of you, we were scrambling to learn how to livestream a church service and care for our members from a distance. What was a difficulty for us, however, was part of God’s saving plan for others.
Susana, a single woman in her early 40’s, had just lost both of her parents, her pet died, and she was painfully alone in quarantine. She called her friend (named Si) in France, who went online and “happened” to find our church. Susana reluctantly began watching our church online, then started coming, and was taken under the wings of women in the church who have taught her and loved her as their own daughter or sister. Yesterday, Susana gave her testimony before the entire church, thanking many people who were part of her salvation story, including Si, who, of course couldn’t come all the way from France to be there. Suddenly, a stranger stood up and walked down the aisle. “I don’t believe it!” Susana said. It was Si! She had surprised all of us to be there for the baptism! She hugged her friend and cried for joy, and most of the church cried with her.
Si was overjoyed that her friend, Susana, is now her sister in Christ
Paulo, a father of two elementary-age boys, was agnostic. During the lockdown, he went online and spent hours listening to videos of people giving their testimonies of accepting Christ. He also found our church’s livestream and started attending in person. Since then, David has sat with him for hours answering his questions and pointing him to Christ. Yesterday, he testified of how God has helped him believe and is changing his life. His mother and sister were saved last year, and they sat in the front row with his sons watching him be baptized yesterday.
What a joyous moment!
Like a captivating painting, there were strokes of beauty all over the sanctuary. A deaf church member’s 3-year-old daughter sang in sign language with all her might. A woman quietly placed money in the building fund donation box. People whose recent pasts include drug addiction, sexual sin, loss of loved ones, or financial distress were worshipping the God who restores and sustains. The church was packed to the gills with 134 people! Plus, after 25 months straight, we were able to meet without wearing masks! We saw each other’s smiles for the first time in 2 years, and God gave us so many reasons to smile.
It has been a long two years, but God has been working His plan. What a joy to glimpse the beauty of that yesterday!
We are also seeing steady progress toward our building fund. As of today, we have reached 50% of our goal. Almost 30 different churches and individuals have given to help us get this far. We are overwhelmed with gratitude! God willing, we will reach our goal of $100,000 by the end of May.
We also have a very generous partner who has offered to match any gift, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. This is a great encouragement to us, and if God puts it in on your heart to give, your generosity will be multiplied.
This is an exciting time! Good things are happening! We depend on your prayer and are grateful for your encouragement.
Our love be with you all in Christ Jesus, The Booths