IBM’s Service of Love to LBC (AR09)

by Teddy Yu

Hola a todos! Como están? *hug!* *kiss!*

That was how the team and I were greeted multiple times a day while with the church in Tucumán (known as IBM). Sure, such intimate and expressive greetings resulted in more than a couple awkward moments. But not only did it not take very long to get used to, it also quickly became a time that I looked forward to throughout the day. This was because their affectionate greetings were only a part of their expressions of love and joy toward us.

It was apparent from the first night we arrived that the church was extremely excited to have us there. As we entered the meeting place (salón), some church members greeted us with hugs and kisses while others lined the walls and back of the room cheering and singing their greetings. And this wasn’t a calm and collected, “Hello, welcome to Tucumán.” No, the members of IBM definitely made sure we knew how much they appreciated us. I saw team members who had gone previous years being greeted like children having returned home after being away for too long. The tears of joy and laughter they shared spoke of the depth of their shared affection. For a newcomer such as myself, it served as an appropriate introduction to the reputation of love that IBM so richly deserves.

One tangible expression of IBM’s love toward our team was clearly seen in the food that they provided for us. Each day, from morning to night, there was a team of IBM ladies (and Julio Lizarraga, a leader at the church) preparing, cooking, and cleaning for our meals. These meals included: breakfast (in addition to the breakfast from our hotel), lunch, tea and pastries, and dinner. And each meal was exquisitely delicious; from the hand-made empanadas (pastrylike dumplings) to the mounds of meat lovingly grilled by their grill master Marcelo Espeche. Also, the youth girls of the church served each of the meals, making sure that the members of LBC were served first and to full satisfaction before they would serve the members of IBM. They wanted to make sure that we had enough to eat so that we could better continue the work of missions. Such selflessness! Furthermore, the cooking and preparation of our food came at no small cost for some of the church members. Marcelo had worked extra hours beforehand so he could take time off from work to grill meat while we visited the Ahualles. In a country where work is hard to come by and money is not easy to earn, that’s a big deal. One of the church ladies, Virginia, walked and took a bus for two hours to get to church so she could help prepare our meals. Such examples of self-sacrifice just to have the opportunity to spend time with us were a common sentiment held by the church members of IBM.

Yet the provision of food, as delicious and abundant as it was, paled in comparison to how IBM loved us and welcomed us into their lives. We served as partners in ministry as our team came alongside their existing ministries in the barrios (neighborhoods) to go door-to-door and hold neighborhood outreach events. There were also plenty of occasions for playful fun from the park days to the traditional orange peel fight to the spontaneous cheering and singing and other “talent.” Additionally, we were privileged to join IBM in worship each Sunday and thereby have a glimpse of the transcendent glory of God as it overcame both culture and language differences. Yet we not only ministered alongside IBM, but we also had many opportunities to minister to the church members as well. Each member of the LBC team was enveloped by the various members from IBM as they opened their hearts and shared of their struggles and triumphs. Together, we mourned at the destructive power of sin and we rejoiced at the sweet grace of God that leads to life. And all of these aspects of serving together, serving each other, and worshipping God together flow out of our fellowship together as fellow believers in Jesus Christ. And indeed, it was this fellowship that we enjoyed and celebrated as brothers and sisters in Christ that was the sweetest blessing of all.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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