LATIN AMERICA UPDATE
Latin Americans are no strangers to suffering and hardship whether from the ills of their respective societies or the day to day struggles that many face in just trying to have a life and raise a family. In addition, that all that, this great region of our world in recent days has been pummeled by natural disasters that have brought death, destruction, and misery.
Less than one year ago parts of Cuba were devastated by hurricane Matthew. Just last month, Cuba took a direct hit from hurricane Irma, the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall there in more than 80 years. In the 72 hours it battered the island, it killed at least 10 people and brought destruction on nearly every region of that nation. Parts of Havana was chest-deep in water. This afternoon I received word that the Cuban people are again bracing for the possibility of more water and wind from hurricane Maria but praying that it will turn north. The impact on the already strained economic situation has been enormous. Tourism, a large part of Cuba’s income, is virtually non-existent. The agricultural sector has been hard hit, creating food shortages that are not expected to improve quickly. As a result, after consulting with the pastors there and with their counsel, we have postponed the Cuban Project at least until February or March of 2018. To try and host the numbers we were anticipating in the various meetings would be an additional burden on the churches there now. We have the literature already printed there and waiting until this current crisis is over. Please pray for the churches there who will use this hardship to demonstrate Christ’s love to their unsaved friends, family, and neighbors. One pastor in an area in eastern Cuba especially hard hit by last year’s October hurricane told me that this has been the most fruitful year for the churches there because of what God has done in people’s hearts through that disaster. God has HIS Plan in all this!
Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, is another nation of the region that is suffering new hardships right now. Early last month, hurricane Franklin made landfall there twice causing widespread flooding and damage. Just a few hours ago, a strong 7.1 earthquake brought death and destruction to a large area of central Mexico, including its capital, Mexico City. The current death toll stands at some 139 and expected to rise. Tragically, it is feared that many of those have been children. Tuesday afternoon’s earthquake comes just 11 days after an 8.1 earthquake shook southern Mexico killing some 100 people and destroying more than 45,000 homes. It has been termed the “…strongest in a century.” I am scheduled to hold 2 meetings there in these areas in November and December. These meetings will be hosted by pastors who received training in two of our previous International Soul Winning Directors Institutes in Mexico City. The training materials for these meetings are already there these pastors are excited about our ministry in their churches and to the pastors and church leaders who will attend from other local churches. Please pray for our brethren there as they go through this crisis time.
These events of recent days and those that are still unfolding remind my heart again of the uncertainty of this life and the URGENCY of seizing every opportunity to get the Gospel to as many as possible. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement as we seek to serve our Worthy Lord!
Special Note from James Adams
Dear Partners in Ministry and Prayer:
“For me to live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21)
Life is an amazing and wonderful gift from God. It comes with much potential, many pleasures and manifold challenges. God gives it to each of us unsolicited, free of charge and with one primary purpose – to glorify Him. Accomplishing that divine expectation depends on what we do with our potential, how we manage life’s pleasures and how we respond to its challenges. Tragically, to some life is a gift they squander on selfish and trivial pursuits. They live day by day simply existing without ever really living. I read once of a man who spent his life obsessed with collecting balls of string. Others live only to please themselves. Their lifestyles reflect the sentiments expressed in a popular song of another time, “Just Live For Life.” One stanza reflects the emptiness of a life lived without real purpose:
Come with me my love
And seize the day
And live it
Live it slowly live it fast.
Never thinking once
Till tomorrow's come and gone
Admittedly, there have probably been times in all of our lives when that reasoning sounded appealing. But it is totally unrealistic and leads only to emptiness and disappointment. It’s like trying to quench your thirst on a hot day by drinking a bottle of some sweet soft drink. It gives a short-lived fix but the thirst soon returns with greater intensity. Only water can really satisfy thirst.
What a contrast with the words of the apostle Paul in his personal testimony to the Philippian Church. Imprisoned in Rome, and from a purely human perspective, uncertain about his earthly future, Paul shares a WONDERFUL DISCOVERY– “ For me to live is Christ…!!!” He had come to the realization by then of at least 2 great truths that gave him both satisfaction and comfort:
- Paul had come to understand that Jesus was not only the SOURCE of his life but Christ had become the ESSENCE of his life. To really live is to know Christ. (Colossians 3:4) “My life now is all about JESUS!”
- Paul had come to the realization that living the Christ-Life is the secret to genuine contentment, joy, and victory over the circumstances and challenges of life. (Philippians 4:11-13, 19)
One of the great joys of our ministry is sharing that life-changing message with those we meet in ministry. In our travels, we see so many who are seemingly clueless about what life…its worth and its purpose…is all about. What a blessing to see personally and hear from those we minister to, of those whose hearts are open and hungry to know not only the SOURCE and ESSENCE of LIFE but also its SECRET!
After 57 years as a believer and almost that long in ministry, I think I can honestly say that I understand, at least to some degree, what Paul had come to understand. My great desire would be that I would have a better understanding of what the Christ-Life is all about, not just in theological theory but also in practical, personal application. I am convinced that when we lose our motivation and desire to know MORE about what Paul KNEW and EXPERIENCED, our lives lose its savor and impact. As God reminds you, please pray for us that we will continue to pursue a greater knowledge of our Dear Lord so that He might be more clearly seen in us!
God bless you, dear friends! Thank you for CARING and SHARING!
James & Kim Adams
The WITNESS Project