Good morning everyone!
I really wish that I was better at updating the website… but I guess that wishing doesn’t make me any better at it. Since we last updated here, we have been back to the USA for a month, we returned to Bolivia and have now inaugurated the new church in Santa Cruz!
As most of you know, we were home in Garrett County from mid December through mid January. We had a great time, and really enjoyed seeing everyone… and also most enjoyed meeting Derrick for the first time too!
Our Goal in the States
Our main goal was to raise much more monthly support, and to be honest, although we received quite a few newpledges, we didn’t even come close to our goal.
As we have mentioned before… we have really had a tough time of it over the past year or so. This is because of the rising costs of living and ministry here in Bolivia PLUS the fact that over the years we have slowly lost support, mainly because of lack of contact. That, and the fact that we have felt VERY CLEARLY from God that we are supposed to extend our ministry to the city of Santa Cruz, put us in a tight spot. How? With what?
After analyzing these questions… we basically said that the only way that we’re going to be able to pull it off is to raise a whole lot of monthly support, in the middle of the worst economic crisis that most of us have ever experienced, in only one month! Our monthly income wasn’t reaching; we weren’t able to pay our bills on time. We were WAY behind on Erynn’s school fees, etc. That’s here in Sucre, in Santa Cruz the cost of living is about 30% to 40% higher. Our original budget just to start the church in Santa Cruz was $32,000 to $36,000, depending on what we could raise. Our estimates for Rent and Bills and Salaries there were close to $4000.
Needless to say, we didn’t even reach our goal for the personal income that we felt that we would need to live in Santa Cruz, let alone raise enough one time gifts and monthly support to begin the church in Santa Cruz.
That’s where the bad news ends… THANK GOODNESS!!! (To make this clear, we have received quite a few new pledges since we have returned… but they still don’t reach… YET) .
Something that we have learned over the years is that God doesn’t usually work how we expect him to work. Knowing this and knowing CLEARLY that God had called us to do this; we decided to go ahead and do it anyway, even though we don’t have any money to do it. We didn’t know how, but we just decided to charge forward. Boy I’m glad that we did.
So we called everyone that we knew, gave them the address to the house, and began preparing for our meeting the next evening.
Our First Meeting
We really didn’t expect many people on the first evening. Three of our leaders from the church in Sucre had decided to move to Santa Cruz to work with us there. We knew 2 more couples and one other from Santa Cruz who would be there. Other than that, we didn’t expect much.
To our surprise 24 people showed up in that meeting! We had several who had before been part of our church in Sucre show up, as well as several people who had been part of a large church that had broken up several years earlier after big time pastoral problems. Many of them had never found another church where they had felt comfortable, and when they heard that we were coming, they decided right away that they wanted to be a part of this new work. (God has been so good in allowing us to gain a really good reputation around the entire country).
The meeting went wonderfully. Norah and I shared the vision that we have for Santa Cruz, and the entire country. We shared that we have the minimum goal of having 300 members in one years’ time, and that if God was going to do this work that it would need to involve every single one of them. We shared that we didn’t have ANY money, and that anything and everything that we do will have to come from giving and fund raising. In few words, they were ecstatic.
Expectations and Reality
We had originally expected to travel to Santa Cruz every TWO weeks and not begin having services until April, but everyone wanted to get started right away. After much discussion, we decided to have our first evangelistic service on Saturday the 14th. We flew home on Saturday the 7th, and both of us returned to Santa Cruz last Friday. We had a meeting with those same people again, and on Saturday we had our first Service, which was amazing. At least 15 new cell groups will open over the next two weeks. We flew back to Sucre on Sunday, and had our service here in the evening. We plan on doing this continually up until we permanently move to Santa Cruz in June of this year.
God IS With Us
We still don’t know how it’s all going to happen, but we do know that God is with us! That’s the most important! We are seeing his hand in everything we do.
To put it bluntly, we still don’t have enough money to travel to Santa Cruz and back every week. To fly down (by bus it would take us at least 17 hours each way, through rivers and on terrible roads… this would kill us quickly if we do it every week), and to stay in a CHEAP hotel, it’s going to cost us around $1000 a month. Where will this come from? I don’t know. But I’m sure that God will move earth and sky for it to happen.
We PRAY that God will move people to understand the need, and to be sensitive to his voice. If you don’t support us yet, we ask that you would… this is an awesome adventure that we want EVERYONE to be a part of!
Yesterday God gave us a pleasant surprise. A dentist who was once part of our church who now currently lives in Argentina is here in Sucre for a few weeks. She came to our house yesterday with a message that she felt that God had given her a month ago for us. (She had no idea about what has been going on in our lives or ministry as of late).
She told us that God had instructed her to tell us several things. 1st, that He has not forgotten about the promise that He gave to us many years ago. He has been preparing everything, and that we WILL see that promise fulfilled in our lives shortly. She gave us this verse from Genesis 28:15… “And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.”.
That promise that God gave us many years ago was that he was going to give us multitudes throughout all of Bolivia, and that he was going to use our lives to bring complete change and blessing to this country.
She also told us that God showed her that economically he was going to raise up our lives and the church like he never has before. During the worst economic crisis that the world has seen in a long time, he was going to bless us like never before, and that those who are part of what we are doing will be immune to the problems that the world is facing. We will be a testimony to thousands of his faithfulness.
Glory to God!!! May his word be true! We will put our trust in HIM.
As always, this is VERY long. I really hope you made it through!!! May God bless you richly and if you have ANY questions or just want to write… PLEASE DO!!!
Local Phone Number
301-859-4401 (EDIT: We are GMT -4 Hours… 1 Hour Ahead of Eastern Standard Time – EST)
Both Norah and I are on facebook too, and we try to keep that very up to date. It’s a very good way of keeping in touch. Just look for JASON SKIPPER and NORAH SKIPPER there on facebook, or you can click on these links…
Hope to hear from you soon!