Our main goal in 2018 was language learning and cultural acquisition. And as we have learned and observed Argentina in general, I (Eric) have also made three main observations about the church here as well. And out of these observations have arisen goals for 2019 that we are excited to see implemented, Lord willing.
- There is a lack of strong healthy churches.
About one month ago, we had an Argentine family over for lunch after church. As we were talking, we asked them why they traveled over 1.5 hours just to come to our church. We hoped that surely there was another healthy church between our city and theirs. But they told us they could not find a healthy church near their home, and for them, it is worth driving almost two hours each way every Sunday to hear the word of God preached and be able to fellowship with other believers.
Unfortunately, they are just one example of many in our church that we have talked to that tell us that they have a difficult time finding a healthy church near their hometown or even in their entire province. These people are not just being particular or picky about the church they attend. While there are some churches, many of them are not strong churches. Many teach the prosperity gospel. Often they lack biblically qualified elders/pastors. And so many have a faulty view of the gospel.
On two recent ministry trips around Argentina, on both occasions, I (and my team) had the chance to meet with small groups of believers that gather regularly to sing, study the Bible, and pray. What they lack is a biblical church, and I’m not talking about a building. What they lack are Biblically qualified leaders and pastors. When talking to them, they expressed their desire to us to have a church. Our burden for them is great. In many ways, they are sheep without shepherds.
Our goal: In 2019, one of our goals as a team will be to meet with these groups when we can and train potential leaders with the hopes of having a church planted in these areas.
2. There is a deep need for theological education.
On the other hand, there are also many areas in Argentina that have churches with pastors. But many of these pastors lack any kind of training and have a great desire to be trained more so they can teach their congregations. Imagine trying to run a marathon when you have not been adequately trained. This is what it is like for many of these pastors who are trying to teach and preach, counsel, lead, and help their churches every day and don’t have the resources to do so. In early September, our team met with about 15 pastors and other believers from various parts of northern Argentina, some from very difficult to reach areas. They all expressed their need and desire for more theological training, practical leadership training, and spiritual formation.
Our goal: In 2019, our team will be starting up to three new leadership and pastoral training sites in Northern Argentina.
3. A hunger for the Word of God and for ministry among the younger generation
We live in Cordoba, Argentina. Cordoba is home to over 1.5 million people and has many different universities. Our church, Iglesia Biblica Bautista Crecer, has seen many young students enter into its doors. We have had the chance to talk with many of them over meals in our home. I have had the chance to meet regularly for Bible reading and book reading also. And as we have talked, I have seen a love for the Lord and a desire to do ministry.
Some want to minister in their own contexts here in our city, but many also want to plant churches in Argentina or do missions in another country as well. It has been exciting to see a younger generation of Christians in our church excited to do ministry in different ways. These young people are passionate about Scripture and theology and are giving much hope to the church here.
Our goal: Our goal in 2019 is to disciple and train these young leaders, encouraging them to follow the Great Commission here and all over the world.
Thank you for your continued prayers for the work and church here in Argentina!