Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Me of Little Faith!

I just got word that indeed the poster was hung on the announcement board at the WIC offices and not only that, but they made photocopies to distribute to their clients!! This is GREAT news! These offices are a great place to come in contact with Spanish speakers in need - I am ecstatic! Praise the Lord!!



Praise! and...Prayer!

This morning I went to the local W.I.C. offices with a poster promoting the Spanish community Christmas party, thinking the odds of getting approval for the poster to actually be posted were quite slim! Much to my surprise the young lady at the desk was quite enthusiastic to hear of the event we're hosting and not only did she believe that her supervisor would post the advertising but that they would also be able to make many photocopies to distribute to their Spanish-speaking clients. This is an exciting possibility and that's why I'm asking for your prayers! Please pray that the supervisor would approve the posting and that copies would be distributed. God be glorified that a government office might be used to bring the lost to Himself!!

Ramons testimony

Your faithful prayers are helping in many unseen ways for people like Ramon, who was just baptized last month! Enjoy his testimony (especially if you speak Spanish!), and prayerfully consider how you might become more involved with this ministry! See our quarterly update below...



Monday, December 6, 2010

December Update

Beloved friends and family,

"…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…." Isaiah 9:6

What a delight it was to work with Rebekah as she memorized this verse for Awana -- listening to many different versions of Handel’s Messiah on YouTube. We trust that this Christmas season you and your home will be celebrating our Savior, our Wonderful Counselor…our Prince of Peace!

Last month we joined with the congregation of our brothers and sisters at Evergreen Bible for a very meaningful baptism service. The new believers that we mentioned in our October letter joyfully professed their faith through baptism, as did our precious eight-year-old daughter, Rebekah. Jose performed the service for these three and as you can imagine, our hearts overflowed with blessing!

We have continued the monthly fellowship dinners, which has proved to be of great blessing as those relationships strengthen. Jose is leading the Friday night small group through Focus on the Family’s Spanish version of the Truth Project. In addition, the Ecuadorian couple on our leadership team has taken on a “First Steps” study with the new-believing couple. We are so thankful for this, as it is grows both couples in discipleship and in the knowledge and understanding of the Word.

This month will hold two important activities for our Spanish-speaking group. Saturday the 11th is our Christmas dinner, where each family will bring a special Christmas food unique to their country and culture. Saturday the 18th we will hold our third annual community Christmas party for Spanish speaking children and their families. This year we are ramping up the promotion, increasing the scale of the program and hope to have a larger group from the community with whom to share the gospel. Please pray with us for this outreach event! May His Name be glorified and may He draw many to Himself.

How to pray for us:
*Pray for the Christmas party, that the gospel message would be clear to those who don’t have Christ as Savior
*For Ramón and family, who have only enough funds for one more month
* Strength and energy for Jose as he keeps up with his work, ministry schedule, and bi-monthly volunteer trips to teach at the Bible school in Salem, and for financial provision. Our ongoing prayer is that God would graciously provide so that Jose could keep just one job (rather than two or three) and dedicate the rest of his time to ministry. Would you prayerfully consider if God might use you in this area?
*For our family, that Christ would remain the center of this holiday season in our home and our hearts

Merry Christmas to each of you!
Jose, Ruth, Rebekah, Isabella, and Daniel Alvarez





To send monetary support by mail (Checks made out to “NICE” with our name in the memo):
N.I.C.E., PO Box 64750, University Place, WA 98464-0750


video

Monday, October 11, 2010

October Update

A busy summer blew by us and with it some really amazing blessings that we are excited to share with you!

Summer park outreach: In our June update we told you about our plans to go to a local park in order to meet and bless other Spanish speakers. God let us have sun and warmth for each Sunday out of the month that we went, and for that we are thankful! The park outreach events were successful in that we were able to strike up conversations with Hispanics, including them in games of soccer and volleyball, sharing hotdogs with them, and inviting them to our Spanish service. Though we have ended this activity for the year due to our typical Washington weather of rain and cold, we will definitely pick this up again next summer, hopefully increasing the outings to several times a month.
More souls won for Christ: Recently three more of our service attenders accepted Christ as their Savior! Take a second and praise God with us for that! One of these new believers had just moved here, and as she and her husband had hardly any belongings, our beloved church generously responded by furnishing their home.

God’s provision for our ministry: We were contacted by a brother in Christ who God has used to send us children’s Bible story books in Spanish – one of the new believers is reading these Bible stories to her young daughters and they are now learning these treasured stories together!

Additions to our leadership team: A beautiful young couple from Ecuador who has been attending the Spanish service since their wedding in March of last year has now joined our leadership team as we plan and pray together – what a blessing to have them!
Alvarez family activities: As mentioned, it was a crazy busy summer, but what a joy to get to visit family members from both sides. In July Ruth and kids flew out to Virginia to be with her sister and family for two weeks, rejoicing in the addition of a new nephew. After that came a fun-filled week with a visit from out-of-town friends. A week later we as a family of five finally made it back to our beloved country of Honduras for a two-week, never-a-dull-moment, fast-and-furious visit with precious family and friends. September brought a big challenge for Ruth in speaking at Evergreen Bible’s women’s retreat – praise God for stretching us beyond our self-imposed limitations and for equipping us along the way! Now that October has arrived, we are one month back into the typical school-year routine. Jose continues to work two, sometimes three, jobs as Spanish teacher, sanitation engineer :), and soccer referee. He has really enjoyed his trips down to Salem to teach at the Spanish Bible school and is forming a great relationship with those students…even meeting a fellow Honduran!

How to pray for the Spanish Ministry and for us this fall:
*Planning and carrying out the annual Children’s Christmas Party outreach – we hope to reach many more this year and work much harder to go farther with this event.
*Discipling the new believers and wisdom in the weekly Bible studies and monthly fellowship dinners with the Spanish speakers
* Stamina and encouragement for Jose as he keeps up with his work and ministry schedule, and for financial provision. Our ongoing prayer is that God would graciously see fit for Jose to keep just one job and dedicate the rest of his time to ministry.
*For our family, that God would be glorified in our home - in our words, thoughts, and actions
We praise God for all of you, our dear friends and brothers in Christ, for coming alongside and lifting us up in prayer! Thank you for visiting our blog, and feel free to join us on Facebook or contact us and let us know how you are and how we may pray for you.
Trusting, obeying, and happy in Jesus,
Jose, Ruth, Rebekah, Isabella, and Daniel Alvarez

To give online, see the link over there on the right!
Or to send monetary support by mail:
N.I.C.E., PO Box 64750, University Place, WA 98464-0750
Checks made out to “NICE” with our name in the memo

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Welcome to the Family!

Please pray for Irma, her husband Ramon (not pictured) and their three daughters...may the daughters follow their parents' decision to become Christ-followers.

Also remember Teresa who recently prayed to receive Christ as her Savior.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June Update

Well, here in Washington the saying must be changed - "April showers bring May....showers!" And June showers too! It has been WET! One thing we've learned living here, however, is that the rain doesn't change your plans. Also, umbrellas are optional. Very handy things to know.

Along with rain, April and May brought some exciting events that we'd like to tell you about. In April we held our first park outing with the Spanish ministry team members and most of the Spanish congregation. Our purpose was two-fold: to enjoy fellowship together as a group, and to meet other Spanish speakers at the park. The first purpose was achieved with great success and barely any effort! The second purpose needed some tweaking and fine-tuning in the planning. We were very thankful to enjoy sun that beautiful Sunday afternoon! One month later we held the second park outing, this time trying a different park, and were once again blessed by sun as God held back the rain for us. Some new Hispanic friends joined us and the fellowship we all had together made for a day rich with blessing. Later in the afternoon some other Spanish speakers from the community showed up at the park, and Jose with some other men were able to play a pick-up game of soccer with them. We plan to continue these Sunday, after-church park outings every month, hoping that as the summer progresses we'll be able to make more contacts and form more relationships with other Spanish speakers.

The greatest news we have to share since our last update brings so much joy that I'm told even angels celebrated in heaven! Angela, a young mother of three who has been coming to Spanish service for a few months with Teresa (see blog entry below), prayed to receive Christ as her Savior. Please pray for her, that her relationship with the Lord will grow, and that she will be able to bring Christ into her home with her husband and her little children.

In May Jose began a new and exciting ministry working together with N.I.C.E. He travels once a month to Salem, Oregon, to teach for the Hispanic School of Ministry. This school functions to prepare prospective pastors and church leaders for ministry. The Saturday classes are team-taught by Jose and four other Spanish speaking Bible school graduates.

June will bring a sad goodbye as our friends and ministry team members, the Zavala family, will be leaving us and heading back to their previous home in San Diego. We expect they just might not be as sad as we are, as they trade in their boat paddles and boots for sunglasses and flip-flops!

How to pray for the Spanish Ministry and for us as we move into the summer months:



  • For June's Sunday park outing - that it would dry up long enough for us to go, that we would come in contact with more Spanish speakers
  • Wisdom as we restructure our ministry team and continue to seek ways to grow and improve the ministry
  • Stamina and encouragement for Jose as he keeps up with his work and ministry schedule, for financial provision so that his work load might be lightened
  • For Alejandra, one of our members, whose husband just left for Korea with the armed forces and will be gone for one year. They have two small children.
  • The Zavala family as they move and travel south
  • For our family that we would find quality time to spend together and that God would be glorified in our home

Thanks to all of you, our dear friends and brothers in Christ, for coming alongside and lifting us up in prayer! We would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment here or to contact us by email, phone, or even old-fashioned letter writing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prayer Letter April 2010

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12



Friends and Family,

We’re excited to share with you this first official prayer letter coming from our family to yours! About one month ago we contacted you to let you know of our acceptance by the Northwest Independent Church Extension as Missionary Pastor (and family!). We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about what this means.

Who is N.I.C.E. and what do they do?

“In 1958, a group of faithful pastors, concerned that many communities in the Pacific Northwest that did not have independent, Bible teaching churches, determined to work together to plant churches and assist struggling churches in those communities. The result was the birth of Northwest Independent Church Extension (NICE).”

Our purpose is to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ. We do this by:
1) Planting churches,
2) Assisting existing churches,
3) Providing placement services to pastors and churches,
4) Serving churches with ministries of evangelism, training, and counsel toward equipping each church to become a growing, reproducing body of believers, and
5) Encouraging each church served to become and to remain an independent fundamental church.”
Taken from their website at http://www.nicechurchplanters.org/

What will we be doing, now that we are members of N.I.C.E.?

The same as before, only more of it, God willing! We mentioned in our last letter that we are currently in ministry at Evergreen Bible Church in Vancouver, Washington. Let us tell you briefly how that came about.

Moving up from Honduras in June of 2006 was a big step for all of us, but particularly for José, who had spent the previous ten years serving as a pastor. As his heart’s desire was to continue to serve in ministry to some capacity, we began to search for a theologically solid, Spanish-speaking congregation where he could participate and serve. Driving around town, hours on the internet, and visiting a couple of small churches only proved to us that this area of the country has a great need for such a congregation! God led us to our new home church at Evergreen, and after attending for two years we felt a stronger calling to propose the start of a new ministry to Spanish speakers. This new ministry began in September of 2008. We are blessed with a great team and José is now like a fish put back in the water! Since the ministry began, we have seen four people come to Christ, one wedding, two baptized, and two small group Bible studies. Praise the Lord!

Why this ministry launch packet and prayer letters to come?

I don’t know about you, but I love getting mail and keeping in touch with people. The purpose of these letters go beyond that and deeper, however! Have you noticed that the more you strive to serve the Lord, the more battles you seem to face? And when you face those battles, have you experienced the power of prayer? We have! Simply put, we need your prayers! We would be thrilled, encouraged, and strengthened to know that we have friends and family who are committed to praying for us in this ministry. We will face challenges in finding and reaching out to those Spanish speakers who do not know Christ, or those who do know Christ but have fallen away, or those who do not yet know there is a place where they can worship and learn from the Word in their native language. We will face challenges in our family life as we balance work and family and ministry. We ask you to commit to praying for us on a regular basis.

As with every missionary and every ministry, funding is also a necessary part of life! Currently José is holding three jobs in order to provide for the family. He enjoys his work as a Spanish teacher at Vancouver Christian High School, has held his night janitorial job (where God has also given him opportunities to share the gospel in English!), and takes on a seasonal job of soccer referee on Saturdays. We have often thought, “wouldn’t it be great if God would make a way so that José could focus more on the ministry and maybe hold only one other job on the side?” (Not to mention his family would love to see him a bit more!) We do not know your current situation, but we do not want to limit what God can do through you, should He move you to support our ministry here. We’d like you to know that for your convenience, you may give online through the N.I.C.E. website mentioned above, or through a link here on our ministry blog on the right column. You will find a place to type in our name in order to designate us as the recipient of your gift when you select "MISSIONARY SUPPORT". If you would prefer to mail a check, let us know and we'd be happy to mail you the necessary information and envelope. We ask you to seek the Lord’s leading in helping finance this ministry.

Thank you for reading…we promise the next letter won’t be quite as long! We would love to hear from you – what God is doing in your life, and how we can pray for you. Meanwhile, feel free to keep up with us through our blog.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

In His Service,

José and Ruth Alvarez
Rebekah, Isabella, and Daniel

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weekly Bible Study

Last Friday it was our turn to host the weekly Bible study and small group. We had eight Spanish speaking guests who first enjoyed a typical Honduran dinner with us (a meal which has now become a treat for us rather than the nightly routine!) before opening the Word and studying under Jose's leading. Meeting during the week is crucial with this group as it lends greatly to cultivating relationships, a high priority among the Latino culture...opposite of the general North American tendencies to isolation and privacy.
Here are some of the attendees:

The group has been studying a foundational study called New Life in Christ, and this week the focus was on daily time in the Word and in prayer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pray for Teresa!

Teresa is a sister in Christ in our Spanish congregation at EBC. She had out-patient surgery today to aleviate excruciating pain that she has been experiencing for EIGHT years due to ovarian cysts. Sadly the surgery revealed a greater problem and she'll need to go back in for more surgery soon. We visited her this afternoon as she is recovering from today's procedure. Despite the pain and discomfort, we came away filled with hope and joy for her. Wonder why? Because she said to us that she has been the only family member among her sibblings who has strayed and has walked away from God...but, she said, no longer! She told us that she has decided to give her life back to Christ and to follow Him as never before! Praise the Lord! This is great news. We ask your prayers for her - for her physical suffering and upcoming surgery, and more importantly, for her decision to walk with Christ again.
Teresa is the lady seated here at the right, during last Christmas' potluck dinner.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FAQ's

More info to come, but for now here are a few FAQ's (not in any particular order):

Q: Will you be leaving to a missions field?
A: No, our missions field is right where we are in Vancouver, WA, and we believe the Lord has us here for an indefinite time, until He shows us something different.

Q: What will you be doing?
A: Pretty much what we've already been doing, only hopefully more of it! We are working to raise up the Hispanic ministry in the church that we attend, Evergreen Bible Church. With the approval of the leadership and the congregation, we began this ministry in September 2008.


Q: Will Jose be able to quit his night job with its difficult schedule?
A: No, we are not able to make any changes in employment yet.

Q: What does your ministry look like?
A: Weekly worship services in Spanish at 11am while EBC worship services take place - we meet upstairs in the youth room. Jose preaches and leads worship. We now also have two Life Groups meeting Wednesdays and Fridays; Jose leads the Friday group and they meet in different homes. Our leadership team meets monthly to pray, plan, and discuss. The ministry looks like a mini-church, where members are discipled/shepherded by one or more leaders. One of our goals, however, is to seek consistent unity with EBC as we are still "one church, two languages."

Q: What are you trying to accomplish?
A: In a nutshell, Matthew 28:19-20, only in Spanish! Here is an excerpt from the proposal written in 2008 before we began:
The Vision
**In obedience to God's command in Acts 1:8, expand EBC's borders by challenging the body in reaching the needy group of Spanish-speakers with the gospel, here in our own community
**That EBC's Spanish-speaking neighbors have a church body where they will be able to worship, serve, and grow in their walk with Christ (and perhaps even learn a little English along the way, which would further assist them as they adjust and strive to succeed in this country)
**That EBC have a ministry for the Latinos/Spanish-speakers in such a way that EBC remains one church, under the same leadership, with the same theology - that the Spanish-speaking body of believers be united in brotherhood with the rest of the body at EBC



If anyone has any other questions, leave a comment and we'll answer!

All About N.I.C.E.

Here you can read all about the missions agency we just joined. These are some excerpts from their website:

Beginnings:
Nearly a half century ago, a group of faithful pastors were concerned that many communities in the Pacific Northwest that did not have independent, Bible teaching churches. They determined to work together to plant churches and assist struggling churches in those communities. The result was the birth of Northwest Independent Church Extension (NICE) in 1958.

Today:
In the years since 1958 God has allowed us to plant over 100 churches, place missionary pastors in another 100 small, struggling churches, and assist many, many others in their growth and development.

Our mission is to plant and serve independent, Bible preaching churches throughout the Northwest. We have men strategically located throughout the area to assist you and your church in planting new churches, finding a pastor or interim pastor, pulpit supply, leadership training, outreach ministries, Bible conferences, and counsel and encouragement.

And you can read a little bit about the Hispanic ministry with NICE here.

Our December Newsletter...

It’s time once again for an annual update letter and we have much exciting news to share! On March 6 our son, Daniel Isaac, was born! We praise God for a great delivery (aka “epidural”) and a healthy boy to delight (and tear up) our house. We were also blessed with a visit from Ruth’s sister and niece to share in and provide support during that time.

Over the summer God led us to move to a new apartment where we are thrilled to have more space for our growing family, as well as the lovely perk of enjoying a swimming pool. Both girls have learned to swim now.

Fall brought the start of another school year as well as the girls’ birthdays. Rebekah, now 7, continues in the Spanish Immersion program in first grade. Isabella, now 5, was accepted for early entrance to kindergarten and is also in the Spanish program. It has been fun to see the girls read and write in both languages, and to hear them begin to speak Spanish again. Please pray with us that God will give us wisdom in raising kingdom servants.

José survived a difficult early summer as for several weeks he undertook four jobs (yes, it was possible!). Thankfully since late summer he has been back to the routine of just two jobs (teaching Spanish at a Christian high school, and night janitorial work). Unfortunately as his home country was suffering political unrest, he was unable to make a visit this year. Our hopes are that next summer all five of us will be able to go. Please pray with us that God will give grace to José and provide a more normal work schedule.

Both José and Ruth have been so blessed to continue to work in the Spanish ministry at our local church for over a year now. We have enjoyed the involvement with Spanish speakers and have witnessed four individuals come to Christ! Moved by compassion for José’s difficult schedule which keeps him from dedicating more time to this ministry, and by the vision to reach Spanish speakers to provide them with a Bible-based church, the missions committee has asked us if we would consider joining a missions organization so that through the organization they might provide us with a monthly offering. We have prayed and agreed that this may provide José a fulfillment of his desire to spend more time in ministry, and that the organization suggested would be a good fit for us. So now we are in the process to join the Northwest Independent Church Extension (N.I.C.E.). NICE is a church planting organization with a Hispanic department, and we are excited to serve God along with them. Please pray with us as we take these steps.

This month we celebrate the birth of our Savior, our God-with-us, and we pray that together with us you will experience the joy!
With love in Christ,
José, Ruth, Rebekah, Isabella and Daniel Alvarez