The church in El Suyatal is a humble non-building made from thin metal sheets. But it’s not the structure that makes up a church. On this Sabbath, church service was held under a tent set up on a plaza/cemented area in town, where the evangelistic meetings had been taking place each night. You could feel the joy under that tent as people praised God for answered prayers that week.
Next to the tent was the backyard of a house. There was a pig sty there. I had never worshiped next to a pig before.
Erick’s sermon spoke to me in a very special way. Erick Montenegro is the evangelism coordinator for VIDA. He was a systems engineer, turned snowboarding instructor, turned missionary (by the way, I loved how there were so many engineers in VIDA). Although I didn’t get to see him preach night after night in El Suyatal for the evangelistic series, I saw his heart for God’s work during the morning prayer sessions we had each day.
Erick would pray that God would show him and everyone in VIDA what His grand plan for evangelism is for El Suyatal and the neighboring towns. He wanted to follow God’s plans and not devised his own. He prayed that God would show the things that hinder them from seeing God’s vision and for the courage to remove them.
I think Erick shared from his heart in his sermon. He spoke on Matthew 13:31-32 which says,
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
It takes faith to see beyond the humble beginnings of God’s kingdom. Sometimes we get frustrated as we see many other things in the world progress faster. But we need to believe that the seed will indeed be the greatest among herbs.
He shared how he was starting to get discouraged because the efforts done in El Suyatal seemed to bear no fruit. Studies after studies, meetings after meetings, and still some people wavered in their decisions to follow God. Then he shared how Melissa from GYC Intermission told him last night that she wanted to be baptized today. It was an encouragement from God to him, assuring him that his labor was not in vain. It wasn’t what he expected, but the Word of God still moved.
When they called Melissa for the baptismal vows, Alex, another GYC Intermission-er, also joined her up front to be baptized. He had expressed his desire to be baptized to Gio and was planning to be baptized in New York, but Gio encouraged to not delay.
From where I was sitting, the story was about God encouraging his workers. It was like I saw God telling Erick, “I know your struggles and burdens. Your labor is not in vain.” Those whom He has called to do His work are brought nearest to Him.
“Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?” Numbers 16:9
In seeing God’s encouragement for Erick, I was encouraged. God too was speaking to me that He knew my burdens and my labor was not in vain. And I felt the sweetness of the Lord encircling His laborers.
I felt like walking back by myself after church but that was generally not recommended. So I kind of walked with people. I needed to talk to God.
Witnessing someone(s) making a death commitment to Christ is always a tremendous blessing. Melissa and Alex were baptized after church in the creek next to Buena Vista. Three other people also decided to be baptized in a future date.
During the night prayer, I shared the blessing I received during the sermon and read 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” That was mostly for Erick.
He told me afterwards about why he had been praying for the ‘master plan’ in the mornings. Thus far, he felt that the efforts had been a patchwork. He wanted to see the big picture, to see as God sees. He told me if I wanted to help, to pray for that too. And I’ve been praying that God would honor his desire ever since.