San Pablo (AR09)

by Keziah Kim

A bumpy, dirt road invited us into San Pablo. To our right side was what seemed like endless lush fields of sugar cane and to our left was a line of small homes that filled the barrios, or neighborhood. We stopped in front of Virginia’s humble home as she and several members of Iglesia Biblica Misionera affectionately welcomed us with the typical Argentine kiss on one cheek and a hearty embrace. After asking the Lord for His blessing and for His will to be done, we split off into groups which consisted of a Lighthouse member, a translator, and a member of IBM. We walked along narrow, dirt paths to share the gospel door-to-door in our designated area. Many children, in tattered clothing and covered in dirt from head to toe, wandered around the streets. Some of them were frightened to see a gringo while others were fascinated at the sight of an American in their obscure hometown. Taking my hand, some would ask, “How do you say this in English? How do you say that?” I recall one excited boy, thrilled to practice the one English phrase he knew, asking me repeatedly, “Hi! How are you?” We asked some of the children where their parents were. Most of them shrugged, responding, “They are at work.”

There is at least one church member of IBM residing in each of the barrios that our Lighthouse Team visits for the gospel campaigns. Virginia, a resident of San Pablo, has been a faithful member of IBM for years. Upon meeting her, I immediately noticed her abounding love for others and her gentle and quiet spirit. She is always beaming with a warm smile on her face, reflecting her steadfast, joyful heart. All of her belongings (mainly a bed, a refrigerator, a little plastic table, and a mini stove) filled her home, a single cramped room. Despite the little that she has, she constantly demonstrated her generous, giving heart. After our last morning campaign, she prepared and provided lunch for several of us. She then diligently spent that afternoon preparing and baking fresh bread in her outdoor brick oven. Her actions plainly revealed her desire to serve the Lord joyfully and diligently with all that He had given her. Not only did we notice, but so did the community of San Pablo. She is loved by the people there, many of them who are unbelievers. Weekly, children throughout San Pablo will gather at Virginia’s place for Sunday School where they learn about who God is and of His great love. It is no wonder that the people of San Pablo love her and perceive that she is different from other people. She constantly thinks of others before herself. When she was not serving her community in San Pablo, she took a long taxi ride out to the church to labor in the kitchen in order to serve us meals. One time, she tasted a little bit of the trail mix that our beloved home team had packed for us and she loved it. I had not yet eaten my little Ziploc-filled portion and wanted her to have it. Surprised she asked, “For me?” “Yes!” I replied. I was floored by her excitement as she remarked how much the kids of San Pablo will love it!

Virginia’s life is a testimony of God’s grace and of His great work in Tucumán, Argentina. The Lord is mightily using Virginia and other faithful members of IBM to make Him known. It was such a delight and privilege to have been a part of God’s grand plan by sharing the gospel with the people in San Pablo. Many of them are willing to listen and have softened hearts that desire a hope beyond this world. For the most part, the families with whom I was able to share were willing to listen and desired to hear the Good News. However, there seemed to be a lack of urgency and a shallow understanding of sin. Many of them do not see the need to repent, claiming to be a “good person.” One woman responded, “I believe this message but I am just too busy to really act upon it.” Jesus Christ is LORD and this is the message of hope that I am praying will penetrate their hearts.

I wrote in my journal on July 17, 2009 of how the Lord burdened my heart for the people in San Pablo. “I love San Pablo! I love Virginia!” God opened my heart to see the great need through a small glimpse of Virginia’s heart. In tears (while gently holding my arms) she urged me to pray for the people of San Pablo, that they would come to know Christ. She loves the people there so much; as I embraced her, I could not help but shed tears with her. The Lord grew my love for San Pablo and a desire to see Christ known among the people there. He also challenged me to ask myself whether or not I love my own community to the point of tears out of a deep desire for them to know Christ. Whether we are in San Diego or in San Pablo, my hope is that we would fervently desire Christ to be magnified and made known. I hope that we can join together in prayer to “Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20), asking Him to glorify Himself and to make Himself known among the people in San Pablo as well as the people in our own communities.

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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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