I will share the most touching for me of these encounters: in the rush of a taxi journey, all of us squeezed into a hot and stuffy saloon car, the taxi driver’s prayer beads and mini idols swinging, Peter begins a personal conversation. The driver then shares with us his struggles, how he barely makes it to provide for his family, how things are really bad in Paraguay and are getting worse. As we approach our destination, Peter shares the gospel and leads him to the Lord, with a short and simple prayer. The likelihood of us ever seeing him again was slim, but we knew that the Lord had touched him right there and then, as he cried out to the Lord for forgiveness and recognised Jesus as His Lord. About a week later, we hailed a taxi driver down for another trek around the city. It was that same driver! He told us “I have wanted to find you again to tell you that since I prayed with you, everything in my life has changed. I have hope and I know that the Lord is with me, thank you!!” He was a new man in Christ, and we will never forget him.
One day, on one of our house hunting adventures, the Lord brought us to a humble home of a little 9 year old girl, Samira, who was born normal, but as she has grown a spinal deformity has developed, that without drastic and extremely expensive surgery would soon become life threatening. As I held Samira in my arms, we opened the Bible and led the family to the Lord. Then we shared about the promises of God through Jesus, His son, who according to Isaiah 53:5 took upon His body the suffering of this disease, and by His stripes she has been healed. Sweat poured down our faces and backs, but the presence of the Lord filled that little home, and touched the whole family. Samira was not healed instantly, as we all would have liked. But we continue to pray, and believe, encouraging ourselves with that story in the Bible when Peter and John enter the temple gate, Beautiful, telling a man lame from birth, “silver and gold have I none, but such as we do have, we give to you! In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and be healed.” Acts 3:4. Please join with us in prayer for sweet Samira, and her family, that she be delivered from this tormenting condition. As we left her, with many tears, she smiled and according to her aunt, was happy for the first time in a long while. She keeps asking “when will those people return?” As soon as baby is born, we will go visit her again and share more of God’s love and promises for her and her family!
As well as these encounters, we have felt led to revisit some of the people the Lord brought us to in our first trip, and introduce our children to them. It has been truly wonderful to share with them how the Lord has brought us here miraculously, and their part in the story of God confirming our call to Paraguay. All have been touched by the faithfulness of their Father to bring help to their nation, and have prayed with us for God’s perfect will for us here. It has been challenging to hear and see so many obvious needs of our dear Paraguayan brothers and sisters in Christ, at a time when we are not yet able to physically meet all of them. But, at every opportunity, as we make these journeys, we pray and encourage them, and always the Lord shows up with His love and strength.
We were so excited to reconnect with Matias, the 18 year old who by the Holy Spirit, declared to us (back in August) “this is your country, these are your people, welcome to Paraguay”. We met his family, and prayed with them after they shared their powerful testimony of how they came to the Lord. We visited their church, and prayed with them for the young people there. Matias also explained to us, the struggles of drug addictions and pornography the youth face here in Paraguay. The lack of family structure, a sense of hopelessness, and the easy availability of these evils, is accentuating the problem. We encouraged him to press into the Lord, and keep himself strong in God’s word. We look forward to our next visit with him.
Also, we have been to visit the orphanage twice now, and each time it has been so precious. Alexandra, the young lady who gave her life to the Lord on our first trip is blossoming. She loves our girls and we have such a love for her. When she turns 18, in a months time, she will have to leave the safety of “Hearts that Dream “, and find her way in the world.
We are praying for the Lord’s will and perfect plan for her life. Jerminia, the girls’ 'Tia', (or Aunt) as they call her, has so sweetly encouraged us as we pursue the Lord’s will here, and we have been blessed to be able to love and bless her work there with practical gifts of groceries and toiletries for the girls, as well as spiritually lifting them all up in prayer.
Just recently, we made a trip to visit Ever and Mirta, as well as Miguel and Jennifer at “Parque de las Naciones”. We had a very special evening with them, listening to all that the Lord has been doing with and through them since we left. Miguel, with real clarity and thankfulness to the Lord, explained how he has been through a time of Godly heart surgery, where the Lord has been dealing with deeply rooted cultural but ungodly behavior and transforming him into the image of His son! During this season, they have had very few interruptions, and he has not been scheduled to preach. He now feels stonger and closer to His King! And they as a family have had more time together, a request we had brought before the Lord with them last time. Ever told us that the Casique, Chief of the indigenous tribe he is reaching out to, has specifically asked for his community to have their own church to worship God in. After 10 years of plowing, that is so precious. But the miracle does not stop there: a gentleman at a conference Ever recently attended offered to financially cover the costs related to the church being built, even down to the seats! These dear brothers and sisters of ours last time spoke to us of their hopelessness and thoughts of giving up…here we were, just several weeks later, talking of all that the Lord had done!! And may He continue to strengthen us all!
Please pray with us for God's hand to continue to work through them all!
Peter & Evi Ratcliffe