he quarantines and shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 have made ministry difficult this year. But the Lord uses for good even the evil effects of sin in the world – like viruses. Teaching English online, for instance, has turned into one of the great outreach opportunities of this time.
During the past few months, the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile has continued to reach out to local communities with the Gospel, despite the lockdowns. Worship services, devotions, catechism classes and Bible studies are shared online while in-person services are not permitted. Pastors maintain phone contact to encourage and assist members whenever possible.
Sixty Lutheran pastors and church members from Guatemala and Honduras gathered online for four days of Disaster Response Training last week. Pastor Alejandro Lopez presented the virtual classes from his location in Panama. Missionary Deaconess Cheryl Naumann from the Dominican Republic coordinated the instruction through the Mercy Center, an institute of Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic.
Although the Covid-19 situation is seeing little improvement in Peru, the Church continues to be a beacon of hope in the community, reaching out with the Gospel, and sharing His mercy with those in need.
We are excited to welcome new missionaries to the LAC Region! The Rev. Dr. Gerald Paul has accepted a Divine Call to serve as a missionary in the Cayman Islands. He will be joined by his wife, Heidi, who is a preschool teacher.
As this pandemic has continued to spread, over the past several weeks, Panama has rapidly become the worst-hit country in Central America according to infections per capita, and second only to Chile in all of Latin America.
We had our first in-person worship service in the reopening on Pentecost Sunday. We met in the outdoor patio of our earthquake damaged buildings rather than the much smaller rented location where we could barely seat 10 people under the strict social distancing requirements. Because of our position on the globe, Puerto Rican summers are hot, and Ponce is the hottest part of the island; but fortunately, our usual 3 pm service time just happens to perfectly coincide with the ideal angle of the sun for casting shade over our patio.
The parishioners of Palanga parish church, member of the Evangelical Luterana Church in Lithuania (ELCL), celebrated this past Ascension Day at their home church adorned with a brand-new crucifix.
On May 2nd, 2020, a major 5.4 earthquake hit Puerto Rico near the city Ponce. Two hundred families lost their homes after the earthquake. About twenty families were moved to a hotel near the church. The hotel is full because the other rooms are occupied with all the people who were at the refugee camps back after January’s earthquake who did not find a home. The pandemic has not stopped the Church’s response or outreach!.
People come here to survive—not voluntarily. Waves of Venezuelans, including nurses, dentists, engineers, teachers, students, and others, reluctantly take the short, ninety-minute flight to the Dominican Republic, and embark on a life vastly different from what they are accustomed to. Having left behind family and friends, home, and everything familiar, they begin life again, from scratch. They leave the country that they love, not because they want to, but because they have no other option if they want to live.