March in Chile is the start up of all the activities and commitments that were laid to rest for the summer months. School begins, vacation ends, and in our case ministry resumes its race. I find it important to remind myself that this race is not a sprint - but a marathon.
As one colleague put it so aptly, "It's much easier to fill the calendar than actually get it all done!" Our Iquique missionary team of four couples gathered at the end of last year and carefully planned the church and evangelistic activities for 2011. Last month, we met again to review and fine tune some of those details. And now we have hit the "on" switch and jumped full tilt into the exhilarating, exhausting work of a new year of ministry.
Each week will hold multiple discipleship opportunities for Pedro, as he works with four teen guys and two adult men and as together we hope to meet with two married couples as well. In addition, I've been asked to disciple one of our teen girls. Using chronological Bible teaching materials, these discipleship times help to give new believers a foundation in what God's Word says as well as an understanding of God's great story, from Creation to Revelation. It has been a joy to see spiritual growth and maturity through these studies as well as reproduction when those who have been discipled go on to disciple others.
This year the pastors, including Pedro, will be dividing up weekly teaching opportunities on Sunday mornings, Thursday evenings (our prayer meeting night) and monthly teaching opportunities for our men's ministries and married couples' gatherings. The pastors' wives, including me, will be sharing the teaching times for our monthly ladies' ministries in addition to other teaching responsibilities for Sunday School classes. It is a blessing to be on a team and share the work of ministry together!
Many special events dot our yearly calendar as well. This month we look forward to a weekend of teacher training with Dr. Cheryl Fawcett, who is coming from the United States for this purpose. We will also celebrate a morning of baptisms and anticipate around 15 people taking that step of proclaiming publicly their faith in Christ. In April we look forward to Easter; and in May the men will enjoy both an ABWE men's retreat as well as our church men's retreat, both to be held in Iquique. And the list goes on!
We truly look forward to all God has in store for 2011. Always we are so excited (and sometimes we are overwhelmed!) by this responsibility which has been entrusted to us. Yet we praise God for this very special ministry and we ask for His grace and strength to run the "marathon" well, for His glory!