Ivan graduated from a Bible academy in the Dominican Republic and is now serving as the pastor of the church “Jesus is the Only Hope” in Sullana, Peru. He is also a co-laborer with Javier Carhuapoma.
Thanks be to our God, who leads us from victory to victory, and who manifests the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself through His people. How great our God is and how small we are! Yet, it is His good pleasure to use us to announce the glories and riches of His Kingdom.
Struggles and Victories
More than ever before, we are battling with the enemy and fighting off his fiery darts. I say this because with every increase in the proclamation of the gospel, we find more and more obstacles. Now, more than any other time, we are seeing that for many people, Christ is the Stone of Stumbling. To the degree that we are preaching the gospel, many people have proven to be stubborn and cold, refusing to listen and obey the gospel of repentance, and showing the true desire of their heart. However, though there are many who do not have eyes to see or ears to hear, there have also been some who have listened and continue growing in the knowledge of the gospel.
The Lord has recently added another brother to our number. He is an older man named Sebastian, and he is a shepherd of sheep who lives close to our home. When my wife and I met him, he explained to us that he had heard about the gospel for many years, and that at one point he even traveled to a church some distance away in order to hear more about the Bible (There were no churches close to his house). We talked with Sebastian about his life, and explained to him the message of the gospel. The Lord has now opened His eyes to understand little by little, and since that day he has come faithfully each Sunday to our church meetings. It has now been two months since he began attending our services, and he is growing in the knowledge of the truth. We hope, by the mercy of God, that Sebastian will continue faithfully in the Lord and that he will increase in understanding. Also, pray for the life of Blanca, a young woman who has begun coming to the church with her two small children. She visits the church regularly, and we are praying for her salvation.
Our great goal as a church is to know more of God. We firmly believe that as a regenerate people, the knowledge of Him will cause us to love Him more, and as a result, to serve Him more effectively. We are still a young church plant, and are not large in number, but I see in the believers an abundant love for the work of the Lord. It has been a great satisfaction and encouragement for me to see our prayers worked out in the lives of the brothers and sisters in the local church.
We ask for the prayers of you all, that we might continue growing in a love for the Lord, and that we might have a constant passion and longing for His glory. I know that God is greatly blessing us, and I consider all the trials and battles to be blessings, knowing that through them He is molding us to His character.
A Robbery, God's Sovereignty, and Endless Hope
It is a great source of joy to know that we depend upon a God who is inscrutably powerful. When Habakkuk came to grips with this truth about God, he was able to say that the adverse circumstances in which he found himself, and in which all believers at some point find themselves, were not and could not be a reason for displeasure or bitterness. Rather, they must be seen as an opportunity to truly understand from the heart that the Lord is our strength (which only a regenerate heart is able to understand), and that even if we were to be without basic necessities, we have an all-powerful God who strengthens us.
I am assured that circumstances are not enough to cause our convictions to waver. This month, the trials the Lord has allowed us to pass through, and the temptations of the enemy, have been very difficult. It seems that more and more each day I am realizing that real life is often much more difficult than the life we read about in many books. It is one thing to know in theory the sovereignty of God (His decrees, His reign over all things and His rule over every detail of our day, etc.), but it is an entirely different thing to experience it. However, when we experience the sovereign hand of God in the midst of trials, He also equips us and enables us to say, “We are nothing without our God! And this life has nothing to offer us apart from Him!”
Toward the end of the month, we were once again victims of criminals in our neighborhood. A couple months ago they broke into our house and stole money along with a few other possessions. This time, they broke the back door and stole a laptop and other household items while we were visiting one of the sisters of the church. Thanks to our God, we were helped by the police and in a short time we were able to get back some of what was stolen. However, the thieves had already sold most of what they had stolen, and so we were not able to get any of those items back. While it is humbling and difficult for the flesh to accept, I know that these men are lost and are in need of the Lord’s mercy. Therefore, we pray that His mercy might reach their lives. I also know that this is perfecting my character and it is equipping me to trust more completely in our God. We worship God for the work He is doing in our lives, even through these events, knowing that all things work together for our good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
Regarding the ministry that the Lord has entrusted to us, He has been overwhelmingly good. So many things have happened that should have crushed me under the weight of shame and despair, and yet God has reminded me that all that takes place is ultimately in accordance with His grace and mercy toward us.
As a church we are continuing to study the Word of God, and just this month we finished a yearlong series on the Sermon on the Mount. How the church has been blessed as we have come to see the distinctive marks of the believer and our supreme goal, which is attaining to a fuller reflection of the character of Christ! Personally, I have been abundantly blessed in the preparation of expository sermons on these three chapters, and the Spirit has opened my eyes through this text to attain a deeper knowledge of our wonderful God.
Beginning this month, the church is taking advantage of the library provided by HeartCry by the grace of God. Once again, thank you all for your love and concern for the work of the Lord here, and for the support that you give. It is such a blessing to us. Though we do not know one another personally, the Lord has made us brothers and members of the same body, and He has given the same charge to each of us to play our part in rowing the boat. God has put us in different places and we all have different fields of ministry, but all of us work for the same God and the same Lord.
Please, continue to pray for my family as this month has consisted of many struggles in our health. Praise God that it is through our weakness that His power will be perfected in us.
While we are yet in this earthly dwelling, our lives must be consumed in service to our beloved God. I long for the Lord to find us as faithful servants until the day that our Master comes for us.