There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
…………..a time to plant and a time to uproot, Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
We hope this letter finds you in good health and in good spirits. We have some difficult news to share, and it is with a sad heart that we share this with you. But, after much prayer and seeking the guidance of the Lord, we know this is the right decision. We have finally decided to say our good byes to our church family here and come off the mission field for good.
For the past year and a half we have been praying for God to grow this church spiritually and to help us to set up a stable church. We have been praying for a building, the right people to train in ministry, and for the finances to operate the church. At one point we thought if we don’t understand God's will by April of 2019, maybe it is time to leave. But then, we were surprised at the numerical growth that was happening. People were coming and calling Journey International their church, but we struggled with the fact that we still needed a building, key people to train, and more finances for the ministry.
Fast-forward a year later, and we are still praying for the same three things. We thought hiring our translator was an answer to one of the three prayer requests, but this did not turn out as we planned.
One of the bigger fears we had was losing momentum. After starting the church, we could only return home for a two-week visit at Christmas time each year (not much time to see family). We made a short visit out of fear of losing the few people that were consistently coming. We feared the people of this community would consider us like all the other expats who come and go. Prior to the Coved-19 virus hitting, we had to cancel church for two week due to rains and high winds, and then the virus caused quarantine until who knows when? We are certain when the quarantine is lifted it will take a very long time for people to feel comfortable enough to return to the church, if they return at all. We would be starting all over again.
This was not an easy decision to make, but we are sure it is the right one. We were so blessed to be a part of the many lives God directed into our path here. Bruce loved preaching and teaching every Sunday. Janine enjoyed many more things like teaching the children, preparing music, and creating all the props each Sunday.
Through the church: infants were dedicated to the Lord, some children received Christ and were baptized, children memorized verses and were gifted a Bible as a reward, the Gospel was preached every Sunday, many of those who attended recommitted their life to Christ, others began a relationship with Christ for the first time, and Bruce performed a couple of weddings as well. Those are just a few of the highlights we will remember while on this journey.
We had the privilege of meeting and sharing a meal with people from various parts of the world like: Brazil, Spain, Canada, America, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Norway. Through the church we have built some life long friendships that we will always cherish.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (NIV) After finally making the decision to go home, we knew the next step was to sell our belongings. This step was going to be tough. There were no people left here in Costambar. It was like a mass exodus here when the virus hit. Everyone returned to their own countries or their own villages here on the island. Those who were still here lacked funds to buy food, let alone our belongings. Well, this is how God showed up! We made a list of our belongings and sent it out to a few people and everything sold within 48 hours, including our car! This was simply a miracle! To us, this was confirmation that we had made the right decision.
We know that many of you will wonder, just as we did, why? Or, what if ? Some of you will not understand, and some will be happy that God used us for a period of time here, and that now is the time to return home to be with family. All we can do now is ask for your prayers and emotional support as we start this next chapter.
The virus has caused financial chaos for many, and some of you have had to cancel financial support to us. We understand! You have families to care for! We want to say, “Thank You for your faithfulness through your prayers and support while we were on this journey together (with you) for Christ!!!”
We have booked airline tickets for May 8th, but are not sure if this flight will actually happen. Please pray for this! The airport is closed, but they tell us they are still allowing a few US airlines to ferry passengers back to their country. So far, we haven’t seen any planes actually coming here. So, please pray for this miracle!
Thank you for being a part of our lives and this mission! We could not have done this without your love and partnership!
Bruce & Janine