As we close this activity-filled year, we give thanks to the One who came to this earth... who was born, lived as God and man and who gave his life as a sacrifice in our place so that we might know Him... Our Creator and Lover of ourSouls! That, Dear Friends, is the Good News! And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone." New Living Translation
The second semester was only one week away when we returned from our ministry trip to Cuba. Nothing like jumping back in with both feet. We processed new students, trained our students who would be working for scholarships, and prepared for the weekend, when we would welcome back the greater part of the student body. Such a great crop of kids and such a privilege to be a part of their
lives. (Right) Pic of our hard working scholarship students...
Every year we look forward to the sermons that our third yearstudents will preach thoughout the year. It warms my heart and makes me glad to hear and learn about what the Lord has been teaching each one of them during their time as students at IBP. They have matured and grown in many ways and now they are prepared to take the good news of the gospel to those around them.
This semester's Spiritual Emphasis week was exactly was the doctor ordered. A Spiritual challenge straight to the heart as Pastor Carlos Rendon (right) brought the devotional and evening messages from which we all received and benefited. During class hours, motivational speaker Ivan Devia (left)taught our students about influence and evangelism through social media and the web. We live in days of ever changing technology and this was precisely the right teaching at the right time.
There was such excitement in the air following Spiritual Emphasis for the annual IBP Youth Day(right) which we call IBP Joven (in Spanish). This year's event was very well attended with 250 youth from nearly two dozen churches from cities near and far who joined in for a full day of learning, socializing, and celebrating our God together. Ivan Devia stayed on to speak to the young people about the wise use of our devices and social media. Students also attended workshops throughout the day on leadership, choreography, graphic design & multimedia, and worship leading.
Following IBP Joven, we received a special visit from missionaryCharles Stewart (left), the host of a long running radio show and podcast called "A Message to the Conscience". He gave a workshop to our students about communicating the gospel effectively via media. We are pleased that so much knowledge has been made available to our students.
The second half of the semester flew by quickly with activities every weekend. On one in particular we honored two couples who have worked along side of us and ministered to our students and who will soon be moving on.
Goodbyes - As if the goodbyes that come naturally every year were not enough, this semester we say goodbye to missionariesBen & Belu Grams (left). Theyhave been our Campus Chaplains for the past three years and have now come to the end of their time with us. They created a niche that became a place of counsel and spiritual guidance for our students that bloomed and turned into something beautiful. We will miss them and their two beautiful boys, Toby and Zeke.
After six years of being on staff as administrative secretary and assistant to the director, Rocio and Jonhy (right) have felt God calling them to step down and to devote more of themselves and their time into their role as church planting pastors in the small community of Playa Union. They have travelled the forty minute drive almost daily after work to attend to their church responsibilities. May God open doors as they take this step of faith to dedicate more time to the people God has called them to. Please pray for housing and jobs as they move to Playa Union.
God began doing something new a few months ago which took us by surprise this summer. About the same time, God was speaking to us about getting out of the boat…getting out of our comfort zone and taking steps of faith…again.
The first step for me (Eddie) this time around, was taking a flight to the capital city of Buenos Aires and getting my Cuban passport renewed. One month later it was ready to be picked up. The next week I purchased tickets for Diana and I to travel to Cuba. Many months prior, God had asked me to dream and then he put it all together and the dream became a reality.
Why was this a big deal? In recent years, God began to stir in me a desire to return to the country of my birth. I knew that if I went to Cuba, I wanted it to be for a purpose… to minister. Of course, I also wanted to see family I had not seen in years or ever. After all, I was only four years old when our family left. Lastly, I wanted to see the natural beauty of the Island. It was a two week trip which unfolded in early September.
God is good, God is faithful, and God wants us to believe him for greater things. With him nothing is impossible.
Below are some pictures where you can see that God gave me the desires of my heart...
Left - Preaching at the church in Havana where my parents pastored in the early 60's. Right - Preaching at my mom's home church in the city where I was born.
Preaching in my dad's home town of Ciego de Avila at the church he attended while in his teenage years. From here he went to Bible school.
In each of the three cities we visited, I was able to connect with family.
God even blessed us with a day at one ofthe lovely Cuban beaches.
We serve a good God, folks! One who is interested in every detail of our lives and One who wants to show us what it really means to live an abundant life.
Another Great School Term - Patagonian Bible Institute These are the new students we came to know this term of classes. Yes, working at any educational institution means every year there are many goodbyes. There are the goodbyes between semesters and there are the goodbyes that are more final at the graduations. However, these places of learning are also awesome because there are a lot of hellos! We are privileged to be able to meet and to have a small part in so many lives. We thank God for this privilege and for each one of these children of God, our brothers and sisters in the faith who will go out and impact the world for Christ.
On Easter morning, we all gathered around a bonfire for a special Easter devotional. As you can tell by the picture, it was cooooold! Your spring is our fall.
We welcomed IBP's newly elected school board to our home after introducing them all to our student body. Our Spiritual Emphasis speakers, Javier and Rosa Arribas, pastors serving in Buenos Aires, not only ministered to our students but also involved them in ministry through drama. Javier is the author of his autobiography, Atrapado (Trapped), which tells how God brought him out of a life of drug addiction to a place of telling others about the hope they can find in Jesus! And all too soon it was time for goodbyes. Here in Argentina, May is the end of the first semester and the beginning of winter break. It was a great term of classes for which we are thankful!