A Transformed Life in Venezuela

From Heartbreak to Helping Others

With her marriage over, Leiza had been adapting to her new life and wanted to keep herself busy by turning her attention to others. She thought this would help her get over the break-up of her marriage more quickly. She joined a local church, and soon discovered she had a real hunger for the Word of God, and wanted to learn more about Jesus’ message of hope.

The pastor of the church she belonged to invited her to attend a Project Philip Bible study. She loved the lessons so much, and found the material so easy to share with others, she decided to train to become a Philip (a Project Philip Bible study leader) herself. She says, “it did not take me long to become a Philip at all.” Leiza began to share God’s Word with children and teenagers living in some of the poorer areas on the outskirts of Barquisimeto. “The rural village had no basic services like electricity or garbage collection, and no chance of prosperity for the residents. I could not believe I did not know that such an impoverished area was right outside my town. I saw many children on the street, so I asked some people about it. They told me most of the parents leave their kids alone to look for jobs in other cities.” Leiza says God told her in that very moment to serve these children.

“I started a Project Philip Bible study for children, and it has been wonderful,” she says. “The youngsters are smiling more, they communicate better, and they love the illustrated Bible because they never had anything like it before.” Leiza hopes to transform the future of children through the Word of God.

This Was My Opportunity

Can God Help My Family?

Married when he was just a teen, Asuncion and wife struggled to raise their babies but when sickness became routine, they found themselves unable to purchase medicine. “Our baby got sick a lot,” he says sadly, “and when we couldn’t give him the medicine he needed, we were desperate.”

“Then a neighbor of ours volunteered to take our child to their church for prayer. And, of course, we went along,” Asuncion recalls. This neighbor was a newly trained church planter who used Project Philip Bible studies to reach others in his community—in this barrio there were no churches and no hope for people like Asuncion.

“I just knew this would help my child,” Asuncion says, “and that’s why I started to study God’s Word in a Project Philip Bible study. I needed to find out how God can help my family, so this was my opportunity.”

Training to Help

As he studied, he began to understand how God’s love was his only hope. “I trusted God, and my life has not been the same,” he confesses. “Everything turned around for me and my family.”

Soon, Asuncion was telling others about his new faith in Jesus Christ, “and I needed help and training to do so,” he adds. “In my business, I am able to help other teens here find work, and I share with them how God helped me,” he offers. “When I am able, I lead a Project Philip Bible study myself.”

“Studying God’s Word with Project Philip Bible studies has changed my life,” Asuncion says, “and I am becoming a stronger man and a stronger Christian.”

Changing Lives in Nicaragua

Changing Lives in NicaraguaLearning and Loving Jesus

This struggling ministry is trying to change the children’s lives in a way that will last—through basic education and studying God’s Word. Using Project Philip Bible studies, about 170 students in this Nicaragua school have the opportunity no one else offers them: education and the chance to learn how Jesus can transform their lives.

Diego is one of the students—a ten year old, and he strikes everyone as quiet and shy. That is, until asked what he’s learning. “Before, God was no big deal in my life,” the child says with unusual boldness, “but now I’m learning more and who He truly is.”

He’s eager to tell a curious, wandering story of his young life, but then he comes to a conclusion that leaves everyone impressed. “In the past, he was a savior. Now, Jesus is my Savior,” proclaims Diego.

Reaching a Family

“My family wanted me to have an education, and that I can also learn about God is even better. I love that I can talk about the Bible in school with my teachers,” he adds.

Diego’s family is religious, but part of an obscure movement trying to make inroads among the most vulnerable in the area—something even young Diego understands. “They knew we’d believe anything, and they promised us things they shouldn’t have,” he says bluntly.

“So, when I learn from the Bible, I go home and talk about what I’m learning with my family. I tell my family that learning the Bible saved my life and I know Jesus is my Savior.”

New Life for a Troubled People

New Life for a Troubled PeopleGoing Back to Serve Jesus

The Malleco Province is the center of Chile’s painful conflict over land and resources, and the plight of the Mapuche indigenous people—the main indigenous population. They are an ancient people, and unfortunately, they have long suffered in the fight over land and resources.

Pastor Alberto is from here, and his new life in Jesus Christ began here, but it took a few twists and turns for him to return. “I first learned to study God’s Word right here using Project Philip Bible studies,” he says, “then I went away to study at school until one day a professor told me to go back home—to Angol, back to where I first met Christ, and serve there.”

The Power of God’s Word

“Because of the history of the conflict, the people in the community face a struggle,” Pastor Alberto shares, “and it always takes time for God’s Word to change people’s lives here.”

Quick to point out the sincerity of their interest in the Gospel, Pastor Alberto also knows the hardships they face. “The people here work long, exhausting hours in the fields or forests to make a living. They come to church tired, and need a simple way to learn and beat the fatigue they carry. Long sermons don’t work, but these Bible studies do.”

And he quickly adds, “Here, God’s Word is changing lives like never before. God is saving marriages, transforming the way parents help their children, and even after so much pain with the government and police, the people are forgiving and living in peace.”

“This is the power of God’s Word, and we’re so thankful for everyone who is helping the people find hope in this part of Chile,” Pastor Alberto says.

Searching for Hope in Colombia

Living in Paradise

Colombia has the second largest population of internally displaced people (following only Syria), and many have been forced to flee the drug violence, civil war, and natural and economic disasters, to try to settle in Bogota. “I want my children to have a chance,” says a mother named Saida – her husband and six young children fled to this area several years ago and struggle to live on about $3 per day in a barrio named Paradise.

Saida’s home is just a 6-foot by 12-foot wooden shack that sits on short stilts to elevate it above the open ditch of raw sewage, and the tiny kitchen is out back with a butane stove perched on a small table with the only visible food being a small bag of potatoes. The only hope for Saida’s family comes from believers who serve God by sharing His Word in Paradise through Project Philip for Children. Yimmy is here in Paradise every day, teaching children’s lessons and helping them read God’s Word using the easy-to-read illustrated Bible for children.

Lost and Found

“To reach these families, we have church services every Friday and Sunday, and keep these gatherings short so people can return to their households, their children, and their jobs,” Yimmy says. “As adults and children understand God’s Word by using Project Philip, their lives are transformed and they discover hope for the first time.”

Yimmy’s ministry is motivated, in part, by his own experience. “I lost everything in my life not long ago, and at that time I did not believe in God, but then God changed me,” he confesses, “I know God’s Word changed my life, so I know it can change the lives of the people of Paradise.”

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.”