October 26th, 2015 Update from “Iglesia Internacional de Cristo de Chile“
Our family, The Barreto’s, arrived in Santiago de Chile on July 14th of this year. Our arrival brought excitement and anticipation. The church, the Chilean brothers and sisters, even the culture and the people around us, received our family with particular warmth that made us feel at home from the very beginning. God has taken care of us in all areas of our lives since day one. Our daughters (Gabriela 11 and Anabelle 9) have developed many friends and love their school. Every day their Spanish is improving and they are excelling academically as well.
God has answered many personal prayers…like having the kids’ school right across the street from where we live. Even before we moved to Chile we prayed that we would be able to have and build great friendships with families that would live close by. It’s awesome to see how God has brought four families into our lives that live just a few minutes away from us. Most of them have small girls around our kids’ age. In view of those friendships we began a small Bible talk or house-church in our neighborhood together with two disciple families that also live close by. We are having a lot of fun, building family, friendship and learning about God with our new friends in the community.
As far as the ministry and the Church is concerned, our plan from day one was to get to know the church. We wanted to meet every disciple, spend time with them and learn their history, and understand where the church has been. We have met with many disciples and continue to do so. At the same time we have been seeking and praying for God’s divine direction for the church in Santiago and for the work in the Church in Viña del Mar as well. As we were seeking the Spirit’s guidance, we began to preach and teach about faith and how we need to have faith to listen to the voice of truth, the voice of God and His direction for our lives.
God made evident the need and the condition of the church in Santiago and Viña. If I can put the state of the church in a word, especially in Santiago, it would be “HURTING”… the church has been hurting for many years … from previous leadership, from divisions, and from each other. However, despite all of the pain and hurt, the faith of the disciples has been tested and as James 1:3 says, and they have developed perseverance. It is admirable how they have held the church together and have endured many tests. Now, however, the church needs healing. We are at a crossroads, like the church in Galatians 5:13-15… we either love one another or destroy each other. So it became clear that we needed to work on vs 14 of Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
We are grateful for the Allison’s and their work for the previous two and half years helping the church to focus on Mat. 22:37 where Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Their work truly prepared the hearts of the disciples for the work the Spirit was going to do next. Now it is time to work on the second part of that scripture…vs 39 – and the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So a plan was developed for God, through his Spirit and following the example of Jesus, to heal the church in Santiago and in Viña, in order to restore the church’s foundation and begin rebuilding God’s kingdom in Chile.
With the above in consideration, these are the plans we have placed before the church and at the feet of the Lord for his guidance (Prov. 16:9):
Three Biblical Principles to teach and equip every member in the Church:
- Love One another
- Jesus in the community
1. – Love One another: using tools like the Book “One Another” from Tom Jones and Steve Brown, we are teaching and equipping the church how to love one another, how to reconcile our relationships, how to forgive, and so on. We are already seeing relationships being healed and reconciled. By faith we believe the brotherhood in Chile can truly love one another, accept one another, forgive one another, so that Santiago and Chile will know we are disciples of Jesus.
2. – Discipleship: For many years this term has not been well-received by some of members of the church. Many have been manipulated and hurt through the wrong use of a “Godly process”. However, we believe that once the previous foundation of loving one another has been laid out, it will be an organic and natural process to talk, teach and equip the church about the Biblical and spiritual way God wants us to help one another obey Jesus and grow in him.
3. – Jesus in the community: Once the disciples are loving one another and are helping one another to obey Jesus’ teachings, then we will begin teaching and equipping the brotherhood on how to take Jesus to our communities. We will be exploring the church in the first century and how to be church every day, not just once or twice a week. How can we be more like the Acts 2:42 church … everything in common, sharing everything, where no one is in need. A church that impacted the very communities where the disciples lived and saw God adding to their numbers daily.
The question was how do we equip the church? … How do we teach every member in the congregation?. So far the church’s gatherings didn’t truly allow an interactive and deep teaching environment. We had either great attendance and very little participation or great interaction with very little attendance. Therefore we made a change: instead of having one location for midweek for the entire 150+ disciples, we decided to have three locations, in which members that live or work close by can gather to be equipped and taught biblical principles. So far we are meeting on Fridays every-other week in three locations: West, Central, and East of the City. Soon we will have another location for equipping the disciples in the South part of Santiago. Also, in addition to equipping the congregation, this is allowing the raising up of trustworthy brothers and sisters as well.
Something that has been really encouraging is the connection God has developed with our sister church in Viña del Mar. This church was planted 10 years ago by the Santiago, but over the years has become less connected to the Santiago brotherhood. Since our arrival the brothers and sisters in Viña have expressed their desire and need to work together with the Santiago church. So with great joy and enthusiasm they have embraced our plans in Santiago and they will also be teaching and equipping the church in Viña on the Biblical principles mentioned above.
Another huge need in the Church is the revival of the Campus Ministry. At the moment we only have three disciples actively going to college. At one time this ministry was vibrant and produced many of the solid married couples we have in the congregation today. So, we decided to meet with the campus students and the alumni in the church. We prayed, talked, dreamed and finally decided for my wife and myself to start a Bible talk in one of the Major Universities at a specific day and time of the week. Not only are the three campus students on board, but also all of the Campus graduates are willing to help in the evangelistic efforts that soon will begin on the Universities.
As far as Benevolence, the church continues to serve the homeless and the needy constantly. Every Saturday a group of about 10 to 15 disciples gather in a public market called “La Vega” to provide Breakfast and the word of God to more than 40 homeless people. We are building great relationships with some of them. One particular man, Abraham, has a 2 year old son (Axel). They have been coming for months to La Vega for breakfast and recently he and three other people from la Vega started coming out to the church services. Pray for him and many more to come to Christ.
God has also guided us and directed us to restructure the main leadership in the church. When we arrived the church had one leadership group in charge of Teaching, Pastoring, Ministry needs and Logistics. It was evident that the tasks were too much for one small group. Therefore with much prayer and in view of Acts 6:2-3 we decided to create three inter-dependent groups to serve the church. We are in the process of forming the last two groups.
The three groups are:
- Teaching and pastoring group, consisting of three men and their wives, in charge of the teaching and equipping.
- Serving tables group, consisting of brothers and sisters who are trusted, full of wisdom and the spirit to make sure there are no needs overlooked in the congregation.
- Logistic group, consisting of organized and skilled brothers and sisters to help with communication and event logistics in the church.
We have faith that God will revive and restore the love for Him and for our neighbors as we keep learning from Jesus and God keeps working in the hearts of every disciple. Please pray for the plans we have laid out before the Lord, for the new Bible talk in Campus, for the benevolent work in la Vega, and for God’s guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit as we strive to follow his son and Lord of our lives, Jesus Christ.
Last but certainly not least, brothers and sisters, we want to express our deepest gratitude to you. Thank you for your spiritual, emotional and financial support. The decision for our family to move to Chile was not an easy one, but many of you, with your prayers, advice and encouragement, helped us see the clear evidence: God had prepared us for such a time like this. So it is with great appreciation, humility, fear and trembling that we have embarked on this quest to see God’s Glory shine in the country of Chile and for him to be known by all.
The Chilean Saints send their greetings and love.
Nelson & Carolina Barreto