Happy New Year! Five years ago we were preparing for a final move to Uruguay. We’re grateful for the network of churches and individual partners who have supported and encouraged us over these years. Beginning in March we hope to present a five-year report to these churches and to see as many other friends and family as possible. This has been a period of transition, learning, and—by God’s grace—much opportunity. Our report is summarized below, along with a brief update in key areas. Thank you for your continued prayers!
Instituto Bíblico F.V. Dabold. EMU’s Bible institute has trained many pastors and leaders over the decades since the 1940’s. The program offers classes both in Montevideo and interior Uruguay. JM has taught an average of one class per year in the Bible institute since our arrival, and we anticipate continued involvement in 2018.
Facultad de Estudios Bíblicos del Uruguay (FEBU) (College of Biblical Studies of Uruguay). By the time we arrived in 2013, a project was underway to provide a college-level program to train servants for local churches in Uruguay. Classes began in 2014, and we were privileged to participate in the early stages of this effort. Our work with FEBU has been the focus of our energy during these years: We’ve taught music, hermeneutics, homiletics, apologetics, and grammar and writing (skills that most students have not had prior opportunity to develop). Administration and counseling (student discipleship) have also taken large amounts of time.
At the end of 2017 FEBU’s first graduates completed a four-year program focused on Bible-study tools, theology and pastoral training, and practical ministry. Please continue to pray fervently for FEBU’s ongoing development in these and other areas. JM is preparing to teach Homiletics I (beginning in March, this time online while we travel).
Campamento Emanuel. Each summer (January and February in Uruguay) we have served in EMU’s camp in Guazuvirá on the coast. Opportunities have included staff training, preaching, music, counseling, and supervising an informal camp for some of the EMU workers’ children. In January (2018) JM will teach counseling sessions and workshops to new and returning staff during several days of staff training.
Iglesia Bíblica Maranatha (Maranatha Bible Church). This is our local church in the city of Pando. In June 2015 Don and Pat Garwood returned to the U.S. due to difficulties with his health. (Don is D’s father.) JM is now responsible for most of the weekly preaching. Daniel and Viviana (D’s brother and sister-in-law) are a great help, but there is need for a full-time pastor to lead in evangelism, discipleship, and vision for the future.
We don’t view the development of institutions as God’s primary purpose; such ministries are tools, means to an end. Often that end is not only the students that so captivate our attention, energy, and affection: God’s goal is our own transformation into Christlikeness, that the Son be preeminent among many, many brothers and sisters (Rom. 8:28-30). We know that this—our own sanctification—is a work in progress. But we are just as confident that God will complete that work. We look forward to the great day when we will be completely changed, because we will see Him as He is!
We expect our involvement in all of these ministries to continue for the foreseeable future upon our return to Uruguay, scheduled for July 6. We anticipate seeing many of you soon: March (Southeast U.S.); April (Midwest and Mountain States); May (Alaska); and June (Alaska and Southeast U.S.).