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Ministry News and Updates

Straining to See through the Muck and the Mire

Posted by David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz have moved from San Antonio, Texas to Paraguay to join the Lord in what He is already ...
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on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 in New and Updates

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will..-Romans 12:2 (NLT)

One of our heart’s desires when we came to Paraguay was to host a Life Group in our home that would be centered on inviting the Holy Spirit to teach us, taking time to worship the Lord, drawing new people into God’s kingdom and at the same time teaching those that have walked with him what it means to be a disciple-makers.
 
Being in a new culture meant taking time to visit other small groups and see what worked and where we could improve. It meant giving up on things like trying to force involving the kids when most groups here don’t meet until later in the evening making kids' involvement difficult. We began our Life Group a little over a year ago and except for two brief visits, it has been a life group of 3 (this includes David and I, so you do the math). There were times when we felt very discouraged about the size of our group and considered giving up or joining another group. We began to slack off from inviting our neighbors and we worked ourselves into a rut where it was easy to believe, “okay God, apparently this is all you have for us.” Don’t get me wrong, we saw some amazing growth in our one member and some sweet intimate times where we knew the presence of the Holy Spirit was among us, but it still felt like 3 was not much to write about. Not to mention our one member was not actively involved in a church and we were longing for her to experience life as part of a larger body.
 
After coming back from our trip to the U.S. refreshed in the newness of God’s love and call for the people of Paraguay we were committed to once again inviting people and praying for God to make our group a place of acceptance and outreach to the lost. Before we had time to move beyond prayer, a lady in our church approached me and told me they would like to visit our Life Group. That same week a woman I have been discipling who had just become a believer last summer, messaged me and told me she was committed to becoming more a part of the body of Christ this year with or without the support of her family and asked that we pray for her family. We looked to move the night of our Life Group to accommodate these new families but first checked with our one faithful member to be sure this would work for her. She excitedly agreed and said she could come direct from her job. Our first night we opened our doors and were surprised to find more than just a few people waiting to join us. By the second week we had filled every seat in our living room and the doorbell kept ringing, to the point I was thinking, “who could that possibly be? Everyone who knows about this group is already here!”
 
One day a few weeks ago, I drove into my driveway rushing to get lunch prepared and head off to pick up Isabel from school, when I spotted our sweet elderly widowed neighbor sitting out in front of her home. I felt like I should go and visit with her, but I knew it would cost me precious time. As I entered the house I decided, “fine God, have it your way, I’ll take the puppy outside to do his business and if afterward she is still there I’ll talk to her.” I turned the corner and there she was, all smiles. Turns out she was too busy to talk much but we exchanged a few words and I invited her to our study that night. Much to my surprise she said, “Sure, why not. Can you have David come by and walk me over?” She left our group that night not having said much during our time with the Lord, but was quick to tell us all she would see us next week and not to forget her. She has been coming now for close to a month and is seeing the power in prayer as others in the group pray for and over her.
 
The friend who is a new believer did come as did her husband. He agreed to alternate visiting life group and church with her maybe once a month--So far he has been doing both. His very first night at our group he told everyone he is not a believer but that he sees the difference this has made in his wife and he is searching and wants God to be real to him at more than just a head knowledge.
 
The second week of our study our faithful long time member shared the vision part of our time together, which sets the stage for why it is we come together and study, worship and pray. She shared Romans 12:2 that calls us all not to be conformed by the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. She then walked us through the picture God had given her of how we trudge though the world so much that it can’t help but stick to us, but when we come together in Life Group it’s a place where everything in the world can get stripped away and we can see the truth, the renewal, of what God has planned for each of us in his kingdom and as part of his body. It was so powerful that we honestly could have ended our time right there and all walked away praising the Lord. Both David and I were almost brought to tears as we saw how God has grown her over this year into a leader who speaks truth with such humility and power.
 
It would be easy for us to have thrown in the towel when it looked like Life Group wasn’t working out. That we were big fat failures and should apparently find a different day job. But God had something precious he has been doing during all this time. I’ve said before that if God moved me to Paraguay with the intent to reach just one person that it would be worthwhile. I’m seeing now how that looks in God’s economy and how he can then take that one and do more amazing things than we could ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:2)
 
As part of this call our family has answered in coming to Paraguay, each of you reading this is such an integral part. You walk with us through the valleys and pray with us when we can’t seem to see beyond the suffocating presence of this world that sticks to us. Thank you for continuing to partner alongside us. Take a look at the prayer updates in the left margin for current ways you can continue to pray. If you would like to receive more regular updates on ways you can pray, please send us an email and let us know you would like to be added to our Paraguay Prayer Warriors email and/or Facebook list.

 
In Christ,
 
David & Rebecca
Elizabeth, Lucas and Isabel

 

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