Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

From the Herfsts

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The following are some exerts from the 2nd and 3rd quarterly report from Rev. Herfst.

Greetings from the Herfst family. The following is a brief update of the Church planting arm of the FREE Reformed Mission in Guatemala.

Aldea Work:
Regular trips to the aldeas continue, Eliezer Suarez has helped out significantly in this area, In Patuy there is steady growth, Chirrasmos is holding steady and recently, two new families have joined. A number of others are showing cautious interest. Chemito continues to provide spiritual oversight here in Cubulco and is much appreciated. The group in Xinicati has been going through difficult times. The opposition has discouraged a new family initially, but they seem to be willing to continue attending the services again. Another woman has come to faith, but the threats of her husband prohibit her from attending worship services. (As an indication of how God is working, it should be noted that after our last trip to this area, the husband is now seriously considering and wants to attend himself.)

During the last week in July, it was our privilege to baptize 74 people in the fellowships of Patuy, Chirramos and Pichal, 15 families and three singles received baptism. It is difficult to express in words what this means for us. All of these people until recently knew nothing of Christ and His grace. To be an instrument in the hands of God (together with Santiago, Chema and the others), is a source of wonder and amazement, To God be the glory! During the pre-baptism interviews, we were encouraged by what we heard and saw, Yet as we pointed out time and again: this is the beginning, not the end,

Attendance remains about the same in town, but the construction of the new church is creating some interest. During July, I preached in the Nazarene church at a midweek service. I also performed a funeral service for a single mother who lost a three month old baby.

The construction of the church is nearing completion. Window frames are being installed. The electrical work in the education section still needs to be done. We anticipate having the opening ceremony in the beginning of September D.V. (This date is changed to the beginning of October D.V.)

Recently, we have had some very unique opportunities to preach the gospel in the community. On July 4, I was asked to preach at the inauguration of a new water project that will provide drinking water to two communities, La colonia El Naranjo (where we currently meet for worship) and a new Colonia that is being constructed behind the airstrip. The activity was attended by a few hundred local people as well as local authorities and representatives of various organizations (World Bank, FONAPAZ, the Archbishop's office etc). Using John 4, I sought to direct them to Christ who offers living water.

On July 15, we participated in a historic moment. The new mayor was installed in office and he asked if I would preach. From the steps of the Roman Catholic church I preached to a crowd of about 2000. Given the circumstances and occasion, I encouraged the new mayor (and the community at large) to seek the wisdom that comes from God. Proverbs 8, Job 28 and James 1 and 3 provided the basis for this message. The response to both messages has been positive and has opened the door to further discussion with various people. We praise God for His goodness in providing us these opportunities.

While on the whole the family is doing reasonably well, Jackie has been afflicted with an almost steady stream of ailments, while not major illnesses, the constant barrage does become discouraging at times. With the onset of the rainy season, the children all dealt with viruses as well, but now seem to be fine. Because of the delay in returning to Guatemala, home schooling is continuing, but will conclude this month. Kathryn will be using a video program in September for four of her classes.

The following is an update submitted by Rev. Schouls from a telephone conversation with Rev. Herfst. In addition to the news which we gathered from the quarterly reports we have also learned of the following by telephone. In passing this on, we trust it will also lead the churches and all readers to further prayer for this work.

á Eliezer Suarez, an evangelist from Spain, who had been of considerable help to Rev. Herfst since April, had to return to Spain with a serious illness. First it was thought he might have suffered a stroke; then doctors in Guatemala City considered a possible viral infection. Now the possibility of the onset of multiple sclerosis is being considered. On Friday, September 18, this brother was well enough to fly back to Spain and he is getting treatment there. May the Lord graciously remember him.

á The health of Mrs. Herfst has improved and we are thankful for that. She is "just about back to normal."

á In the settlement named Xeul (Sha-ool), north of Cubulco at quite some distance, about forty people have asked to join the church, There is, obviously, a real hunger for the gospel here. What is especially noteworthy is that this village has for years been a stronghold of witchcraft and witch doctors had a tight grip on the population. Of further interest is the fact that the work here had been done primarily by local believers; Rev. Herfst preached here only about once per month.

á In Los Pajales (Pa-ha-lees), referred to above, the work continues although it is clear that the people are suspicious and not ready to accept Rev. Herfst. Perhaps also here local believers doing the work of evangelism will receive a more ready ear. Still, to have a hundred people come out and listen to the gospel, even if it is critically and with suspicion, does mean they are there and that the Lord, who can break the hardest heart and win over the most suspicious mind, can work on them with the Word.

á Moises Ramos is a 27 year old teacher who has been working in one of the larger cities (Coban) but who, due to an eye disease which is incurable, has been pensioned off effective October 1. He originally came from Cubulco and has returned home. In contacts with Rev. Herfst, he has told him that for the last fifteen years he has been listening to Rev. Juan Boonstra' s Spanish version of The Back to God Hour and has become convinced of the truth of the Reformed views. He is a music teacher as well as an all round scholar. In his studies he has come to appreciate the Reformed view on church music (and that, in a country where evangelical churches are "rocking!") He is anxious to assist our outreach in whatever way possible.

á Alejandro, another teacher, who had been in touch with us some years ago but who, at that time, could not say that the Lord was leading him into closer cooperation with our work, has come back and let it be known that staying with the Assemblies of God church is becoming more and more difficult for him. He wanted to do something to help his people on the level of local politics but was disciplined by his church for that. Currently, he is taking courses to equip him to be a radio announcer and Rev. Herfst is hopeful that he can be used by our mission when the (new) local station goes on the air.

á Finally, it is hoped that the new church building will be dedicated on October 10. The whole project is making quite an impact and it is expected that many people will be there for the opening ceremonies. Central to all that will be the preaching of the Word. If this information gets to you, dear reader, before that date, let us, from far away, remember this in our prayers so that, even as the church building there is dedicated, it may be with the prayers of believers from another part of the world. Should this get to you later, then we can still pray that the Lord will bless and continue to bless this work.

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