Hot. Hushed. Hollow. These three words could well describe the days at FLORECE during the summer months of January and February in Iquique. While we *thought* we knew the reason - tourists arrive, locals leave for vacation - it nonetheless tested the edges of faith at times with worrisome "what ifs" about the effectiveness and future of the ministry.
And then came March. With still a week to spare before month's end, the thirteen new clients who have arrived equal over half of our total number of clients in the first five months of operation! It has been nothing short of breathtaking ... exciting ... overwhelming.
It is hard to keep track as the number seems to grow daily, but we currently have at least seven ongoing studies taking place with clients on a weekly basis. A good number are prenatal classes, as we have found this to be a "niche" where there is a felt need among the women we service. We are happy to provide information that gives them confidence and preparedness for delivery, while also having regular opportunities to introduce God's personal involvement and care for their baby's health and their own lives also.
In the month of February, our first "FLORECE baby" was born. This was a special boost of encouragement to our team of volunteers during the slow months, a reminder of 1 Corinthians 15:58 to "... stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always gives yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (NIV) Our client gave birth at 5:45 AM and by noon was sending us a text and a picture of her beautiful baby boy. What a blessing!
In addition to prenatal classes, we have Bible studies and individual counseling. Each situation is unique and much wisdom is needed. Often we feel inadequate and must cling to the confidence that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV) It is God's Word and His Holy Spirit who do the work in hearts. We are just privileged to be His vessels!
In the past weeks, God has reminded us of so many truths both positive and negative. The latter: What tremendous needs and painful stories are hidden in the souls around us. How many people have been hurt by those they perceive as representing the Church, leaving us to hear "I believe in God, but not the church" in multiple client interviews. Yet the positive: Individuals who wouldn't dream of darkening the doors of a church are walking through FLORECE's doors. Volunteer counselors who thought they "couldn't possibly" are finding that they positively can, by God's grace and through His Spirit! What seems hopeless one day is made reality the next. Only GOD!
FLORECE means "to blossom." As we witness this brand-new ministry bud and unfurl, we are awed at God's faithfulness. We have yet to fully see what this bloom will finally be, but left in the hands of the Creator it can only become more beautiful. To God be all the glory.