Report on Work New York City area
Ernesto O., pictured here with his family, is the only close friend I have who used to be a leftist revolutionary. His quiet, analytical approach to life belies a violent past that he mentions only fleetingly in his conversations and his teaching. Once he told me quietly, "When you see your close friends being unfairly slaughtered and you are immature, you dont respond wisely." Thats why Ernesto joined the communist revolution as a young student in the university in San Salvador, El Salvador during that countrys civil war. He doesnt offer many details of what he did or saw during the war.
Ernesto married Lillian who introduced him to a peaceful revolutionary, Jesus Christ. Ernesto decided that Christs way was his only hope and abandoned Karl Marx. However, his past revolutionary activities placed him and his young family in grave danger from El Salvadors death squads. Therefore, he fled with his family to the United States in the 1980s. They settled in Newark, New Jersey. After many years, the government has given him and his family legal asylum here.
I first met Ernesto in the late 1980s at the Manida Street congregation in the Bronx. When he found out that we were trying to start a congregation in New Jersey, he offered to help and has been a faithful friend and brother ever since. Ernesto and Lillians three oldest children have grown from sweet little kids to mature young disciples that love to analyze the Bible. The youngest, Ezequiel, though only ten years old, seems much more mature than his years.
Ernesto used to read the writings of Karl Marx, Engles and other revolutionaries. Now, his son Ernie tells me that he reads the Bible several hours each evening. That dedication, and perhaps the despair he has seen, gives him a depth unseen in most of his contemporaries. He loves the prophets, especially Jeremiah, and preaches occasionally for us. He also does en expert job translating for Doug Focht, who preaches once a month for the Spanish congregation in Fair Lawn.
Two men were baptized at Upper Manhattan several weeks ago. Cheo and Geronumo are two men who Clara Frias invited to services. She heard Cheo talking with a "Jehovahs Witness" and politely waited until the "witness" was through to invite Cheo to services. After he and his friend attended several services, they decided to be baptized into Christ. I have begun a Bible study with Cheo and one of his daughters and hope to get one started as well with Geronimo.
* I continually receive encouraging responses from the bimonthly bulletin, Creced. Ive tried to make it more attractive by learning some new tricks on a new computer program, Adobe Indesign CS2. The Embry Hills church in Atlanta and Shores congregation in Giles County, Tennessee help me with the expenses for the bulletin. We mail out about 4,000 copies every two months.
* José Gutierrez, who has some artistic ability, is working with me onUSA several new tracts that include drawings. Drawings seem to illustrate the truths we are trying to present and grab the attention of potential readers. I need to spend more time updating and reprinting some tracts as well as updating my web page.
* Tom and Veronica Holley and their two children, pictured below, are in the States until March and I was able to see them briefly in Atlanta on December 23. Over the years, I have admired the expanding influence for good in Argentina and Chile that has come from Toms teaching and his example. He has infused a number of impressive young Christians in the southern cone of South America with a love of Bible study.
* I enjoyed a brief visit with brethren in the New Georgia congregation in Anderson, Alabama on Sunday, December 24 and with disciples at Embry Hills in Atlanta on December, 27.
* The brethren in Long Beach, California have scheduled me for a weekend meeting with the Spanish speaking members of the congregation, January 12-14.
* Beverly and I hope to attend the lectures at Florida College the first full week in February.
It is a great blessing to be supported by concerned congregations so that we can engage in this work that we enjoy so much. Thanks and may all have a happy and spiritually prosperous New Year.