The church that meets in the home of Carlos and Maria has been meeting now for several years. I first met Carlos when he came to one of our church planting trainings. It was during the third week of lessons that sadly Carlos and María's small cane house burned to the ground leaving them with only the clothes on their backs. Satan figured that would stop any new church planting by this couple. As materially poor as they were, the Lord helped them come up with enough random bamboo slats, wood, and cement to rebuild. From the very beginning they dedicated the "living and dining room" space to function as the area for the meetings of the new church plant.
Today, this is a church that meets seven days per week. Every night the believers gather to comfort one another and share fellowship in the Lord. Those who miss are visited by Carlos and Maria the following day to see why they were not present. Over the years they have baptized many people into their small house church fellowship.
At one of the baptisms that I was invited to, Carlos and Maria together baptized five new believers. It took place in the heat of the day on a dirty little beach on the extreme southern end of the city. I was invited to go and take photos. I was glad to accept and share in their joy.
As 20 members of the church clapped and sang praise choruses at the edge of the water, thunderous loud speakers blasted away salsa, reggaeton and rap music from the various bars that lined the beach area. But nothing could change the joy expressed in their faces and the song coming from their lips.
The competing musics were symbolic of the spiritual battles raging between good and evil for this city. While there was no way to compete with the loud speakers drowning out the sound of the brethren singing, the reality was that Christ had once again defeated Satan. Seemingly, all the loud, vulgar music was Satan's yelling out his discontent of losing five more souls over to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
One of those baptized was an elderly woman who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The church prayed for her and anointed her with oil. The Lord graciously healed her.
After the baptisms, all the church went for a dip in the cool waters of the estero (branch of the sea that snakes its way inland.) One of the sisters brought a 2-liter soft drink along with three disposable plastic cups. All 20 adults plus innumerable kids shared out of the same three cups. Many would suck on the ice for a few seconds before returning it to the cup and allowing the next person to have their cup filled. As an "honored guest" I was given the cup first (thank you, Lord!) Believe it or not, that one 2-liter bottle (and ice in the cup!) "stretched" for everyone to have a full glass of refreshing drink!
Afterwards we went back to Carlos and Maria's for a thin slice of cake in celebration of the baptisms. Eating cake together was a breaking of a church-wide fast. As we ate our cake and more cola, people shared testimonies of the Lord's goodness. I was personally impacted by the vision this tiny church has to reach, not only their community, but the entire city.
Pray for these brothers and sisters. Not one of them that I am aware of has a steady job or way to support their families, yet each remain faithful to the Lord and are out there literally living by faith day by day in the Lord. Times are very tough economically for the country, and our brothers and sisters suffer greatly not knowing from day to day where their next meal will come from. They know what it means to pray, "give us this day our daily bread."