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, 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 Prayer and Ministry:
“…a living sacrifice…which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
Today is Memorial Day as I sit down to write. It dates back to 1868 when a still fragmented country was struggling to recover from the wounds of a Civil War that threatened the future of our nation less than 100 years after its birth. Among the many post-war challenges that America faced was the grim task of burying and honoring some 600,000 to 800,000 soldiers, both Union and Confederate, who perished in “...the single bloodiest military conflict in American history.” It was originally designated as Decoration Day “…for the purpose of…decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.”
It is a time to stop in the busyness of life and remember that the freedoms and blessings we Americans enjoy every day were purchased at a great price and with great sacrifice. Thousands of men and women still today stand in harm’s way to guarantee the continuation of the liberty that makes our country the envy and, at times, a safe-haven of the world’s oppressed. We have all heard the familiar quote, “Freedom is not free.” The truth of that statement is seen not only in the sacrifices our young men and women on foreign fields, but also in the tears and heartache of the families they left behind. As we observe this solemn and sacred day, may we all whisper a prayer of thanks to God for those who gave all and for His Comfort and blessing of those they left behind.
We are living in one of the most critical periods in our nation’s history. As in 1868, we are confronted with many issues that can undermine all that has been accomplished by the sacrifices of those we honor today and threaten our future as the “…land of the free and the home of the brave.” Those words of our national anthem penned by Francis Scott Key are being called into question today by some of our liberal politicians who champion the myth that a socialist approach is the road to the future. In my travels and ministry in Latin America, I have seen first-hand and up close the FACE of socialism in the hopelessness of so many that I have met. I have heard the VOICE of socialism in the speeches of politicians who care is for a cause of their own making than in the welfare of those they are called upon to serve. I have seen the RESULTS of socialism in the abject poverty and corruption that it fosters.
Those brave men and women who sacrificed themselves for our good have every right to expect us to respond to their sacrifice. In the text above the apostle Paul, who would soon lay down his life for the cause of Christ, urges his fellow-believers in Rome to do the same, not by dying, but rather by LIVING their lives in an environment hostile to all that their Savior had taught. Today, we live in such a moment in history and in a similar environment. Those who dare to embrace the authority of Scripture and endeavor to apply its principles in practical daily living are ridiculed and discriminated against. But in vs. 2 of Romans 12, Paul challenges those believers not to be “conformed” e.g. “pattern” their lives after the customs and standards of this world system but rather to be transformed by allowing their minds to be renewed (I believe) by the Word of God.
So…as we come to the close of another Memorial Day, may each of us recommit ourselves to being a LIVING SACRIFICE in honor, first of all, of the SAVIOR Who gave His life for us and for our fellow countrymen who laid down their lives for us. Let’s live to make AMERICA and the WORLD a better place!
May our dear Lord continue to do HIS WORK in each of us for HIS GLORY! Thank you for your prayers and partnership.
James G. Adams
The WITNESS Project