I remember the first time I met Jaime. He was sitting around my table with three other teen guys that Pedro was then discipling. What made that day memorable was that between the four of them and the five of us (at the time) a grand total of sixty tacos disappeared in less than half an hour! I remember Jaime's good manners, cheerful grin, and friendly disposition, but nothing of great spiritual depth.
Fast forward two years later, and Jaime is not the same young man. Yes, he is still good-mannered, still cheerful, and still friendly - but he is so much more! He is mature beyond his years, trustworthy, visionary, a joyful leader. His goals for the future - which two years ago were to become a chef - have radically changed. While none of these things are our doing, it is such a privilege to witness God's work in this young man's life and to support him in the new direction God is leading.
And Jaime is not the only one. This past Sunday, Nicolas stood in the pulpit and shared a message form God's Word. His sermon was challenging, consistent to Scripture, humble yet fervent and clearly spoken. Just a few years ago, Nicolas did not even know the Lord personally. Yet now he is studying at our ABWE seminary in Santiago, preparing for full-time Christian service. What a joy to see God's hand at work in his life and to encourage his calling!
Two other young men from our church, Alex and Mario, are also studying at the seminary. Next year, we have several young people interested in attending Bible institute in neighboring Argentina. Truly our young people are the motor of our ministry at the current time. We hate to see them go but are thrilled at how God will mature and mold them through focused study of his Word.
Recently Jaime sent out a prayer letter sharing his testimony and calling. I thought if fitting to include in the context of this post, and hope it will be a challenge and encouragement to others as it is to us.
Dear brothers and friends:The purpose of this letter is to tell you what God did and is doing currently in my life and the desire He has placed on my heart.TestimonY:My name is Jaime Ramirez. I was born July 16, 1993. I was not born in a Christian home, but despite this my family has always supported me in everything and raised me with good values. I was born and raised in Iquique, around many “friends” with whom conversations revolved around when our next outing (to get together in an environment with alcohol and cigarettes) would be. If for the most part I knew to say NO, many others times to follow my peers and not look the “fool” I did things I should never have done.Without obtaining anything except a momentary “happiness,” I began to question what was happening in my life, if that was the real “me,” if what I was doing in secret was okay. I thought no one saw me, I thought that those things would lead me to genuine happiness, that everything I was going through would fill that emptiness in my heart that would not be filled with absolutely anything. Time went by, everything around me changed, except me.In the year 2009 with the young people of Iquique we began attending a summer camp at Word of Life, where we would have an unforgettable week. In that year, many teachings reached my heart. I felt a weight. I felt that God was working in my life. The week ended and back in Iquique I would attend church the first two months and then the rest of the time went on to do whatever with my life, until the time for camp approached again for the following year because the soccer at camp captivated me and was the impetus for me to keep attending. That was how 2009 and 2010 went, just emotions, but in 2011 I realized something. God opened my eyes, saying, “Jaime, you are a sinner, a person dead in your trespasses and sins, filthy. Next stop, HELL.” That year I truly understand that God sent Jesus to die for my sins, to die for a sinner who deserved nothing. That on that cross should have been written in indelible ink, “JAIME.” That year, God saved me and I made the decision to study in the CEED (Center of Evangelism and Discipleship Training.)There were many problems to be able to study, the opposition of my parents, the cost and also the fact that I was already registered for university. God in His infinite mercy, I don’t know how, but He is God, allowed me to study His Word in Santiago, exceeding my expectations and conquering those giants that for me were impossible, but that for God are nothing. That is why at this time the Lord has placed a conviction on my heart to prepare for full-time ministry and it is in this that I wish to have you share, since God has placed the desire to study at Word of Life Bible Institute in Argentina.Dear brother, hoping you might participate and have the privilege of being part of the work of God in my life, I share these prayer requests:Holiness and integrity in my lifeThe salvation of my family30 co-laborers who would give a monthly offering of $5000 pesos (approximately $10 USD) to be able to study at Word of Life Bible Institute in ArgentinaI thank you for the time spent in reading this letter, hoping the Lord might guide you to be a part of His work in my life. May the Lord bless you.