Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Cubulco Church

During my latest visit to Cubulco I was able to spend a considerable amount of time with the church and the pastor. I enjoyed being involved in the different activities that the church had during the week that we were there.
On Monday morning the church was responsible for the devotional time at the hospital in the morning. We sang a few songs and then shared a portion from God's Word with the people that were waiting to be seen by the doctors. Around 40-50 people were there and it was a privilege to be able to share the Gospel with these people. In previous years the hospital invited the different churches to do devotions only during the visit of surgical teams from North America. However, since recently the hospital has asked the churches to be involved more in sharing the Gospel and visiting the in-patients. Sadly to say most of the churches have not responded to this invitation since many churches do not have the practice or custom of visiting the sick in the hospital. Thankfully, the Reformed church of Cubulco through Pastor Edgar Xicara has answered the call and is regularly and faithfully visiting the sick every Thursday. Pastor Xicara has experience with this kind of ministry as he was involved in visiting the sick in the hospital in the city when he attended the Presbyterian church there. 
On Wednesday and Thursday, as you already know from my previous post, Pastor Xicara and I were in the mountains visiting the church in Los Pajales.
On Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm we had a prayer meeting the home of a young couple, This couple is once again faithfully attending church thanks to the pastoral visits of Pastor Xicara. One of the things I did after coming back from our year in Canada was make a list of the people who attended church while we were still living in Cubulco and who were no longer attending. I had asked the leaders of the church to make one, but for some reason they left out a lot of people. I also went around with Pastor Xicara and visited some of the homes and introduced him to these former members. Often the introduction was on the street as we ran into former members. Pastor Edgar since that time has gone and visited many of the people and some have returned.  David and Lina where one of those that have returned and have involved themselves once again in the church. The prayer meeting was at their house and after a time of singing and listening to a meditation from God's word we prayed in a circle with each person taking a turn. One of the neat things that Pastor Xicara does is keep a record of the prayer requests. After several weeks he reads the requests out and discuss how God has or has not answered the request. This is a practical way in which one can keep track of God's answers to prayer.
After the prayer service we went and visited a member who had strayed for several years away from the Lord. This man has been an alcoholic for many years and for a time while he attended our church he was able to stay sober. However, he fell back into it and stopped coming to church. I visited his home several months ago with Pastor Edgar, but only his wife was home. To my surprise Pastor Edgar some how got in touch with him and has been visiting him regularly several times a week and praying with him so that through the power of the Spirit he is able to overcome this vice in his life. For me it was nice to sit down with the family and pray with them. I also felt a little guilty since I feel I did not do enough "pastorally" when he stopped coming to church around 5 years ago. 
On Sunday we had the privilege of worshiping with the believers. We had Sunday school from 9:30-10:30 and then the worship service from 10:30-12:00. We commemorated the death and resurrection of our Saviour through the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It was good to see that many participated. It was also good to see that there has been some growth in the church. Around four families have been added to the church most of which used to be members in the past. There are also a number of children who are attending church thanks to the witness of the learning center. 5 of these children have expressed a desire to be baptized and are currently in the process of being prepared for that step in their lives. It is beautiful to see the Spirit of the Lord moving and seeing fruit on our labours.
On Monday, Pastor Xicara left early to go to the city to be with his wife (Ericka) who had just lost her aunt. Ericka had been very close to this aunt as she had been her second mother and had raised her for part of her life. Our family also prepared to go back to the city, but before we could go I received a frantic phone call from a widow in the church whose 15 year old daughter had just run away with her boyfriend. She was worried since she did not know where she was and she was also deeply disappointed and troubled that her daughter would do such a thing. We postponed our trip by a few hours in order to be able to visit the family, listen to them, pray with them, and give them Biblical counsel. Although this was a difficult moment I was thankful to be able to be there. The beautiful thing about being part of a church is that we do not only share in each others joys and triumphs, but also share each others pain, burdens and failures.
In closing I would encourage those who read this blog to keep the Cubulco church in your prayers, as well as Pastor Xicara and the leaders. There are many challenges and many deep rooted problems. Many members of the church have a lot of baggage and this is often due to their upbringing, cultural norms, and social-political context. I do not blame them since they often do not know any better. It makes me also reflect on my upbringing and how blessed I am for this upbringing. It is a tremendous blessing to be raised on Christian principle and with Christian ethics and also live in a country that was founded on many of these principles!