A Life Without Hope

eNews_1703_story2I Met Jesus

She lives in a small city in Venezuela—a country facing a desperate financial crisis that punishes the poor most of all. Religion is often a confused mix of superstition and culture in Armanda’s city, and they find little consolation. Without the help of believers like you, the great majority of people in Venezuela simply cannot afford the cost of a Bible. And in desperation, people like Armanda consult spirits, “searching for help and answers to solve our problems,” she says.

“But when the Lord Jesus Christ came into my life, it was when I needed Him the most,” she adds, “because it was when I was diagnosed with cancer.” She began her chemotherapy treatments and continued to attend a Project Philip Bible study near her home. “I felt weak because of the treatments and spent my days in tears, but in that Bible study I met Jesus and He strengthened me and gave me peace.”

My Savior and Healer

“Today I repeat this prayer, ‘The Lord is my Savior and Healer, and I shall not want,’” she says with determination. “I am your sister in the Lord, because I have come to know Jesus as my Savior and I have given myself wholeheartedly to Him. To those who made this possible, thank you.”

Armanda says, “You have helped me know God’s Word for the first time in my life—when I needed it the most—and God has changed the way I think, live, and how I live with my family and friends. I know my Lord Jesus Christ has allowed me to see things from an entirely new perspective.”

New Life in Chile

New Life in ChileChanged Lives

Neglected as a boy, Vincente lived on the streets and as a teen he was tangled-up in drug use and theft. He quit school and soon immersed himself in a life of violence and eventually jail. After serving short jail sentences, Vincente fell deeper into the drug trade in Chile and found himself serving a serious term in a prison. But that’s when he heard the Gospel for the first time—in a rehabilitation center connected with the prison—and his life changed completely.

Soon, Vincente was made a leader in the rehabilitation center, and he found his true calling. “Because of my background, I knew the needs of the inmates,” he says, “and I knew that it was through studying God’s Word that these men had a chance to change their lives.”

From Prisoner to Pastor

Using Project Philip Bible studies today, Vincente is known as Pastor Vincente, and he leads the Cachapoal Rehabilitation Center in Peumo. “I’ve trained 34 residents to be Philips (Project Philip Bible study leaders), and the easy-to-read Bible is essential for these men,” Vincente reports. “They just don’t have any money, and therefore they need Christians to help them, and when they learn God’s Word through Project Philip they discover a way of sharing the Gospel with others. They also find meaning in their lives after wasting so much time using drugs and in prison.”

“Their lives are being changed, just like my life was changed,” Vincente confesses.

Finding a Way to Plant a Church

Finding a Way to Plant a ChurchTraining Philips – Empowering Believers

This is a rural village with high unemployment and little access to education or—most importantly—God’s Word.  Because of the pervasive poverty in Curacavi, planting a church is very difficult because people have to travel great distances for work. “These long commutes to and from work have a negative effect on churches, making it especially difficult for working members to attend church gatherings during the week.” This is a common concern among the many under-resourced churches struggling to survive in this area of Chile.

Pastor Carlos knew these pressures could easily overwhelm his small church, so he needed a creative way to empower believers and found it using Philip Acts 8™ Bible studies. “We trained Philips, and the eager new members are seeing their first results,” he says, “Three home Bible study groups are now meeting and studying their way through Philip Acts 8™ Bible study materials.”

Their Lives Are Being Transformed

“After the Bible studies are done, on the same table where they were reading God’s Word, they eat a meal together to build the community. All are touched by the Word of God and they are witnesses of how their lives are being transformed,” Pastor Carlos says.

These Bible studies have given new believers the training they need to share their faith with others at work and during their long commutes. Equipped with training and their own Bibles now—something they could not afford—this church is growing and lives are being transformed in Curacavi.

Searching for a Better Life

Hungry for God’s WordLearning Boldness

“I used to be afraid of talking to people about Jesus,” Justino admits with a shy smile, “but since my Church Planter Training it’s not so hard.” During his long workdays, Justino looks for opportunities to tell others his own testimony, “and people relate to it,” he says. “People are looking for community and they are under the influences of alcohol, violence, loneliness, and illiteracy. But they’re hungry for God’s Word and when you talk to them, that’s what you discover.”

Learning God’s Word

When he’s not at work, Justino walks through his city, inviting people to join a Project Philip Bible study he leads. “When I completed my church planter training, I began to knock on all the doors of this community,” Justino recalls. The homes that didn’t sic their dogs on him, let him in. “We read one chapter of the Gospel of John each time. We go slowly because people here have just a few years of education and they don’t read that much,” he adds.

The new church Justino planted now meets in a four-walled building, put together with hand-made bricks. It is unfinished — without doors or windows and a single bare bulb dangles from a wire overhead. It’s not much of a building — especially for a church planted by a bricklayer, but Justino isn’t concerned with the building. “This is already too small for this church,” he happily relates.

New Faith and New Churches

Church planters in this area of Peru are from the communities they reach, made-up of common laborers who work long days and still live in poverty. They know firsthand the way people live — their struggles, disappointments, and hopes of something more. After long days, they try to meet new people to share the Gospel and disciple new believers to build these new churches.

“The people here are poor,” Justino says, “and they struggle as laborers or try to run a small shop.” Most in this village live on just a few dollars a day, the meals are cooked over open fires, but they are happy when they gather together to read God’s Word.” And this is the better life Justino was looking for.

Abandoned as a Child

Rosilia, Children, Orphanage

Found by God’s Word

Over the years, Rosilia became an addict, had children by different men, and wound up in prison (her children in an orphanage). But from this shocking start, God has made something beautiful from Rosilia’s life. In prison she was given a Bible and eventually began to read it — and couldn’t stop.

Her life changed when she cried to Jesus for salvation, and her reformed ways led to an early release. She found her children and discovered an opportunity to serve God. “He showed me a place, and told me to get started bringing in homeless children and taking care of them,” she recalls.

A Home for Others

Today, Rosilia runs a recovery center and shelter in Mexico City which is home to 166 women and girls. They welcome the homeless, recovering addicts, and those facing disabilities — and they study God’s Word together using Project Philip. The women and girls face many challenges — emotional and physical, and recovery from abuse, neglect, and poverty—but together they are learning how God’s Word can change their lives.

Trained as a Philip herself, Rosilia saw how this could change lives. “These girls immediately began to boldly share the Gospel, using what they learned to disciple other residents,” she says, adding, “Even the government inspectors leave in tears because the girls share Jesus with them and pray with them.”

Jesus filled my life with love

New Life, Dominican Republic, Latin AmericaNew life and a new church

A Bible League International church planter was part of Lucia’s new life in Christ, and soon a Bible study was started in Lucia’s home. “I agreed to it with great joy,” she says, and soon Lucia was the leader of this new study that grew into a new local church in her neighborhood.

With a Bible and Project Philip Bible studies, Lucia faithfully and lovingly led the Bible study that soon joined with other small groups in the area. “Since that time, I have taken seriously the commitment to teach the Word of God to others,” Lucia confesses.

Joy in her ministry

Soon, Lucia became part of a Project Philip for Children ministry, and that’s why she’s known as Aunt Lucia to the kids. And today she also leads a ministry for women in the church. Equipped with Bibles, biblical resources, and training from Bible League International, Lucia is a strong example of the power of God’s Word in a life and a local church.

Since losing her husband recently, Lucia has continued to dedicate herself to the ministry, “Here there is no retirement. I’m still working for my Lord,” she says.

Literacy Changes a Life

bible-based literacy, Literacy Changes a Life

Start at the Beginning

“I could not even write the letter ‘a’ when I began,” Dulux remembers. So this is where Bible-based Literacy starts—with the simplest skills. And as learning builds, the students start to use phrases and sentences and paragraphs from the Bible.

This unique Bible-based approach encourages new readers (or new to the language for second language literacy students) to appreciate God’s Word as they learn and discover how God can change their lives, and local churches provide a way to dramatically help believers and strengthen their ministry.

God Can Help Me

Dulux also learned something about how God was able to help her. “At first, I did not believe that I would be able to write and read, but I learned that God is able to do great things, and that He can help me,” she says.

“What has impacted me more is that now I am able to better participate at Sunday school because I can have the Sunday school lesson book in my hands and read and understand it. I have to thank God because now my eyes have started opening. I can write my name and I can dial a phone number,” Dulux says. This is the power of Bible-based Literacy—lives are changed, through understanding and believing God’s Word.

The Way to Christ

Patagonia, Project Philip, The Way to Christ

Learning the language of the Gospel

The closest settlement is about 160 miles from his front door, and Sergio’s ministry trips often take him 800 miles to reach the 9 separate colonies he serves with Project Philip Bible studies and Bible League International Bible translations. He loads a van with these materials, and sets out to visit remote indigenous colonies—small towns of about 200 people, often isolated, and speaking their own language.

Sergio has devoted himself to bring the Gospel to people whose only experience of European culture has been at the point of a sword. For example, missionaries refused to learn the language of the people, and instead forced them to learn their Spanish, renamed the people with European names, and coerced them with a message of forced conversion. Sergio, by contrast, has acquired Guarani – the language of the indigenous people, and he shows them respect by learning their names.

Ordinary obstacles

With his affable ways, Sergio has been well received by the people of Patagonia’s interior. “They describe how others came with Bibles and swords, but they received me and the message of Christ,” he says. Using Project Philip in his ministry, Sergio says the people respond eagerly to the Bible studies – especially the young people. When he visits a colony, and begins to guide them with Project Philip Bible studies, he returns to the colony to continue the study and follow-up personally with the people.

Because he has been well received, the people are willing take Spanish Bibles and biblical resources from him (they want to learn Spanish in order to improve their interaction with others). And Bible League International’s Spanish easy-to-read Bible is what Sergio uses to show them the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Sergio’s ministry is complicated by the ordinary obstacles, but especially the harshness of Patagonia’s winters which cut-off these colonies for months at a time. “Sometimes we have to wait until springtime to do follow-up in the Sierra Mountains,” he says. And the other obstacle is the poverty of the people,

“The colonies are very poor with very limited resources,” Sergio says. This is why Bible League International partners with Sergio to serve in this region – equipping the under-resourced to transform lives through God’s Word.

New Believers and New Churches

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Project Philip at Work

“Everyone here is a new believer,” she says, “I began here as an extension of another church in the city with a Project Philip Bible study. We grew from a group of 8 people into this church of 45, and we used Project Philip every step of the way.”

Geysol uses her Bible League Church Planter Training with great enthusiasm, and she sees God’s blessing in her ministry, “This church is made up of very poor people who are united in spirit and purpose. We have a momentum here and the Lord is making something beautiful out of us. He is restoring marriages. Entire families and couples are coming to the Lord,” she gladly reports.

“We learn Project Philip here and when people go home, they are prepared to reach out to their families, neighbors, and friends. This is how we reach people. This is how we grow,” Geysol says, “What is going on here tonight will be repeated in homes all over this barrio.”

The Light of La Churequita

In another barrio, Managua’s garbage is dumped next to an impoverished area named La Churequita. It sits under the acrid odor of burning rubbish, and the waste and decay are overwhelming. But in this small barrio of tin shacks and dirt streets lives a loving woman named Aracelly who shines as a bright light for Jesus.

Aracelly came here with her husband and discovered the despair of living in the waste of the capitol city. “We were desperately poor and neither of us had jobs. I didn’t know how we were going to survive,” Aracelly remembers. But God sent help – a woman saw Aracelly in despair and sat with her. “She was from a church in the village and she talked to me for nearly an hour about her faith in Jesus,” Aracelly recalls, “and I received the Lord during our conversation and I was overwhelmed. Jesus came into my life in a great way.”

How God is Changing Lives

Today, Aracelly leads children’s and women’s Bible studies using Project Philip, and weaves in her own story to emphasize how God is able to change lives, even in this poor barrio. And it’s because of your generous support that these under-resourced churches are equipped through Bible League International. God is using you to change lives in Nicaragua, and throughout the world.