Ted and I were married in 1970, about a year and a half after I was baptized. It was his dream, inspired by Bro. Harry Whittaker, to devote a few years to missionary work in Guyana. So in 1971 we set off on a journey that would forever change our lives. Ted was 23 and I was 22; he had just finished his Conscientious Objector alternate military service and I had just finished earning my teaching credentials at the university. We were young, naïve, and inexperienced — but earnest. Ted had signed a 4-year contract with the Guyana government to teach math in a secondary school in Berbice, the “country” part of Guyana. As we flew over miles of uninterrupted, dense, tropical forest, our first glimpse of Guyana, and our new home for the next 4 years, a part of us inwardly gasped, thinking, “What have we gotten into?” We reminded ourselves that this had been a matter of earnest prayer for many months and now the reality was upon us; there was no turning back from the plow. We clasped hands and offered silent prayers for our heavenly Father to overshadow us with his love and his wisdom.
In October and November of 2012 it was a pleasure for Bro. Jim & Sis. Jean Hunter to again visit our brethren and sisters in Peru, Chile and Argentina and offer talks and classes for the interested friends who study the Bible with us by correspondence.
The 6 lectures given in each city were on straightforward first principles—the ones that usually are the hardest for new Bible students to grasp and accept. Each evening there were 2 talks on one theme: the first was “God is one, not three,” the second night’s topic was “The myth of the fallen angel,” and the third, “Do we have an immortal soul? What happens when we die?” (going on to the hope of the resurrection). It was encouraging to see how little objection there was from those who attended. Apart from a couple of fervent believers in fallen angels or the immortal soul, virtually all nodded their heads throughout the talks and stayed for ages afterwards to chat. One of the advantages of mostly having postal students out to the talks is that they have already studied the Bible with us for some time and are acquainted with its basic teachings.
Over the last couple of years in Lima we have tried different locations for the lectures, after a number of contacts said they just did not go into the downtown area where we had been holding the talks. Apparently they didn’t go to other parts of the city either, since they never did show up! So on this trip we went back to our original location in what is basically a back-packers’ hotel in the old centre of town and were pleased to get a total of 19 contacts out. One fellow who brought 2 friends said he had been reading the material on labiblia.com for years and loved it, though he had never requested the course. He received an invitation to the talks because we had gotten his email address from the web site. One of his friends told us that he had never believed in the popular idea of the devil and was very pleased to find out he was on the right track! A huge amount of literature was taken.
In Santiago and Córdoba there were 8 or 9 interested friends out in each city in addition to all the brethren and sisters. Once again there was lots of serious conversation after the lectures and many pamphlets were taken. It was also encouraging to have a good number of private classes with those who are preparing for baptism. In all three locations we have a steady and promising group of students who are progressing nicely in their understanding of the Bible and their dedication to the things of God.
There is a real need for long-term missionary support in these new ecclesias to help them get on their feet. We hope that in 2013 there will be enough volunteers (and funds!) available to achieve this goal. God willing, a young brother from New Zealand, Brydyn Melles, plans to spend much of the year living and working in Córdoba, which will be a great help to the ecclesia and friends.
We pray God will bless this work and be with all our isolated brethren and sisters to guide them in his way as we await the return of Jesus and the Kingdom.
Submitted by Sis. Jan Berneau
Due to advertisements in the Readers Digest during the Year of Witness efforts in 1976, individuals in Puerto Rico have been receiving Christadelphian correspondence courses and literature since the late 1970’s. Baptisms resulted from the efforts of missionaries and short term field workers during the 1980’s. Nevertheless, due to a variety of circumstances, it has been a challenge to establish an ecclesial base in this country. At present there are four members on the Island. Three members are in the city of Ponce and one in San Juan. Sister Jean Hunter in California handles all the correspondence work for Puerto Rico and indicates that there are many postal students, and quite a number answer their lessons extremely well, but when they are phoned, they respond to personal contact with little enthusiasm.
The churches in Puerto Rico are big business and provide entertainment. The Evangelical and Pentecostal style churches, along with many others, demand tithes of their congregations, promising wealth and personal prosperity from God, if they give their money to the church. Very little commitment is required as far as Bible study. Plus, religion and politics are mixed together as natural partners. Commitment to the Truth is extremely foreign and not acceptable in this type of culture and materialistic environment.
Brother Edgardo Saldaña never felt at easy in the evangelical “happy-clappy” churches. He is in the photo with this article (left side) with Brother Miguel and Sister Aida Robles at their home in Ponce. The Robles were baptized over 25 years ago. Several years ago Edgardo found us on the Spanish website labiblia.com and started answering questions. After a few years of correspondence courses and phone lessons, he was baptized on April 30, 2011 in Los Angeles. During a recent visit to Puerto Rico at the end of September, Edgardo introduced me to Angel Garcia (one of the postal students he had looked up), from Canóvanas. During the course of three days, Edgardo and I spent about fifteen hours studying with Angel. He had all kinds of good questions. He said he did not want to debate; he just wanted his questions answered from the Bible and to learn. This was a very pleasant task indeed! Edgardo will continue to meet with Angel and we do hope that he will make the decision to follow in the footsteps of our Lord.
Bro. Don Luff (Linkman)
The following article from Bro. David and Sis. Joan Andrews, describes their recent trip to St. Lucia, from Guyana where they have been helping in various ecclesias.
Return to St Lucia
On Friday 6-July-12 Joan and I once again left Guyana on a three-week visit to the beautiful Caribbean island of St Lucia (our third in three years) and as usual we were welcomed at the Vigie Airport just outside the capital of Castries, by our fellow labourers and local Brothers, Andre George and Eddie Anthony.
On our previous visit in August/September 2011 we held a number of public lectures that focussed on Israel and the many signs that herald the return of Christ. On this occasion we chose to follow through with five lectures surrounding the theme: How shall a man cleanse his way?
The related topics were: 1) A dream coming true; 2) Signs of the times; 3) The world today and you; 4) The world tomorrow and you; and 5) Making it right with God.
Flyers were prepared and distributed. The response while not as encouraging as expected, saw a number of visitors faithfully returning on each occasion.
During this visit we were very pleased to observe an added feature of gospel proclamation entitled “Lunch & Learn” being practised and for which the Ecclesia should be complimented, in that each Tuesday and Thursday the Hall is opened to interested friends during the mid-day hour for Bible discussions. Because this exercise entails visitors foregoing their lunch, light refreshments are offered.
During our stay, the book of Acts of the Apostles happened to come under review, and again, a core of about four to five interested friends, as well as a few Brethren who could make it, repeatedly showed up to share in this spiritual treat. This exercise presents many opportunities to focus on Bible first principles, prophecy, and early Church history, thus helping with a greater understanding of the purpose of God. As such, this new practice carries potential to attract the serious enquirer and should be encouraged, perhaps by more aggressive advertisement, personal and otherwise.
Over the three weeks, we were privileged to share in six such sessions touching on Acts chapters 20 through 24 and each of them involved lively discussions and serious Bible questions from our visiting friends. Topics raised during these sessions included: 1) Holy Spirit Gifts; 2) Sabbath Keeping; and 3) Citizenship of the Kingdom.
On 12 July, we once again seized the opportunity to visit the Lambert family who were instrumental in aiding our early preaching work in St Lucia, only on this occasion, the matriarch Mrs Lambert had recently died after a prolonged illness. We however met at her sister Ahya’s residence, just about a hundred yards further down the road. Sadly, Ahya also is confined to a wheel chair. This however did not prevent her enthusiasm in the presence of her five visiting friends as we expounded the good news of the Kingdom of God and tried to comfort her in her physical distress.
Joan and I also paid our usual visit to the home of elderly Bro George Rock, who lives in Gros Islet, near the tourist resort of Rodney Bay, as well as our dear Bro Sydney Enebelli and Sister/wife Ruth who invited us for a lovely dinner and fellowship around the Word. We were glad to again see Ruth’s two sisters, Sister Lois Hammond and Eunice who were spending holidays away from home in Canada.
It was one of St Lucia’s national holidays on Monday 16 July and we thought it convenient to get away to a somewhat different setting and escape the city noise that usually accompany such revelry, so we invited all the Brethren to come with their bathing suits and Bibles and join us for a trip to Pigeon Island.
The only music we played came from our excited chatter over the Bible readings. The sunbathers at Pigeon Point must have thought us a strange and anachronistic bunch! We didn’t care being heard and would have welcomed interested listeners but they kept their distance! What’s more – there were lots of good Caribbean food to help keep the physical side happy. Sorry only six of us were able to make the trip.
Brethren’s Class and MIC
It was good to be able to meet with the Brothers specifically to consider tips for improving our service in the Ecclesia. We considered points on presiding, prayer, and how to prepare Bible addresses.
By Friday 27 July it was time to leave St Lucia, together with Andre and Eddie, and head for Tobago to attend the Bible School and 13th Triennial Caribbean Youth Camp. Having these two Brethren in attendance no doubt should prove good exposure to the overall benefit of the St Lucia Ecclesia in the long term, seeing there is only one Meeting on the island. They also went on to visit the Ecclesias in Guyana where they rendered yeoman service by way of exhortation, public lecture, Bible Class, and Youth Circle.
Again, we sincerely wish to register our appreciation for this opportunity to share in the work in St Lucia.
Submitted by Sis. Jan Berneau
Flying from El Salvador to Panama City, Bro. Don Luff and I were met by Bro. Luis Sobles of the Colón Ecclesia. The weather in tropical Panama was a bit rainy and saturated with high humidity, and quite different from the climate of California. Yet again the warm greetings of a brother in the one faith melts those differences, and we were welcomed into his and Sis. Vanessa’s home.
On Thursday, Bro. Luis took me to the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal and we watched the tugs ready the ships to pass through the locks built in 1913. Six locomotives pull the ship ever so carefully through the locks as the ships move from the level of Gatun Lake down 87 feet to sea level. So tight is the clearance on either side that the huge ships are only 12-15 inches from the walls.
For this trip, the Colón Ecclesia had planned a special effort on Saturday featuring four classes. The activity was promoted in several ways, including placing 50 posters into local businesses, distributing 500 handbills, radio announcements, newspaper ads, and guests were personally invited. Distributing the handbills along the main street in town on Friday, we found that passersby were eager to take the handbills and all were distributed in less than an hour. An air-conditioned Banquet Hall had been secured, and Saturday morning all of the members of the Colón Ecclesia were readying the facility for the classes. Apparently true to the custom of Panamanians, no guests were in attendance at the 11:00 AM start time. By 11:45, however, the first wave had arrived, and guests were streaming in all day until there were 25 visitors, and 13 of their children. That was double the size of the 12 embers, and 6 of their children.
There were three classes on “The Messiah” given by Bro. Don and I wound up the day with the PowerPoint presentation “The Crossing of the Red Sea”.
The guests had so bonded with the members that they willingly participated in the group photo afterwards. Unlike guests to our own ecclesia in Simi Hills, California, this group found the literature table especially interesting and every piece of the 200 or so pamphlets sent down by Bro. and Sis. Jim and Jean Hunter were taken. Six of the guests returned on Sunday for Memorial Service, and stayed for the presentation on “The Miracle of Israel”. In our home ecclesia, guests are often quiet and reserved but here in Colón, the guests were talkative, participated in the activities, joined in the group picture, and actually made the day an enjoyable one for everyone.
Sunday night we moved to Gamboa and visited Bro. and Sis. Jay and Llori Gibson of the Panama City Ecclesia whose home is on the edge of Gatun Lake. We shared the classes with them, and the next day we watched the myriad of ships pass by just a stone’s throw from their patio. As our trip drew to a close, I thought of how wonderful it is to share fellowship with brethren and sisters I had not known before, but now have fond memories of, and wish us all to be together in the kingdom.
Bro. Doug Hawthorne, Simi Hills, CA