Monday, December 10, 2012

Knees Ready?? Let's Pray!

This coming Saturday the 15th is our FIFTH (wow, really??) annual Christmas outreach event for the Hispanic community in Vancouver. Please pray! As before, please pray the people will COME. We are more than thrilled that this year the flyers have been distributed to the Spanish speaking families of two different schools - what a great way to serve families at schools that we are connected to. This time each year, we are always concerned that we haven't made enough efforts in promoting the event - which brings us to our knees in even more prayer, that God would spread the word in a way only He can. Pray that all the details would come together, and that there would be enough hands to help. Along with the usual activities (piñata, hot meal, crafts, games, gospel skit, goody bags) this year we are adding a raffle to give away a basket of groceries, and sending home a New Testament with each family. May God go before, beside, and behind us!

So that's the urgent piece of news to communicate to you before jumping in to this update - here's the rest:

Towards the end of September, José began a new job for the Vancouver School District - thank you for praying! His position as a para-educator has allowed him to work with small groups of children in all grades who are struggling and need extra help and attention. He also takes on the responsibilities of translating school documents, and interpreting for parent-teacher conferences where the parents speak only Spanish. Praise the Lord for such a great job with so many opportunities (and health insurance!). Since this job requires full-time hours, please pray for José as he dedicates his heart and soul to ministry at night and on the weekends.

September: the girls turned 10 and 8 - aren't our three angels adorable???
In October, the women's group began meeting again for coffee and fellowship. End-of-the-month potlucks also provide much-needed fellowship as we strive to unite and connect these precious brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging one another to follow the Lord in their daily lives. José leads in-home Bible studies every Monday and Friday nights, allowing him to guide and direct others toward the Bible in a more personal environment. We are beyond ecstatic to share with you also that a classmate of our daughter prayed to receive Christ as her Savior at school during that month!

We treated the senior women to breakfast, asking them to form a Sunday prayer team
Beginning in October and ending just this week, Ruth was part of a 3-woman team leading a weekly class called Respectfully Yours - a study just for wives from the Love and Respect marriage curriculum. What a life-changing study! For further reinforcement (do you suppose God wants to strengthen our marriage??), José and Ruth both attended a Weekend to Remember conference in November - a highly recommended conference for any couple! What a blessing to attend and to be reminded of many important principles as we seek to become more like Christ in our home (p.s. - it's really hard! But not impossible!).

Also in November one of the ladies in Spanish ministry slipped and broke her foot, requiring surgery. The bad news - she  had to be in the hospital for almost two days. The good news - she went home with not only a new pin in her foot, but also a new life in her heart! She prayed to receive Christ that morning!

New-believing mom and her sweet family
November brought a new addition to our home (I bet that caught your attention!)- a niece of José's has come from Honduras to live with us for a while as she works to save money to finish college. The kids adore her and she is so much fun to have around!
Welcome, cousin!
Worship team with one of the new worship leaders
As we are already a few months in to our fifth year with the Spanish Ministry at Evergreen Bible Church, we ask that you pray urgently for leadership development. Our gifted worship leader, who was also an elder, has chosen to step down and leave the church in order to focus on a difficult home situation. Please pray for him and his family. And pray for our ministry, that God would fill the much-needed role of worship leader, and an additional elder to support the constant work of shepherding. We ask that you also pray for us as leaders in working through all the aspects that have come with these events.

Coffee hour after Sunday service

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. --Jude 1:24-25

We hope to update you as soon as possible after this Saturday's big event, that you might rejoice with us over what God has done in our community! And until then, Merry Christmas to you, our dear friends and family!

For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.--Is.9:6 (Message)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 comes fall!

Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers through the summer and into this new season of fall! We are so full of God's richest blessings and are just bursting with thankfulness. Here's a quick summary with photos:

We celebrated Father's Day in June with a special tribute and prayer of dedication for all the fathers.

Some of the preschool class on Father's Day

The school age class giving a special dedication to fathers
We had the privilege of hosting a musical group on tour from Rio Grande Bible Institute. They blessed our church with an amazing concert, and then as a family we enjoyed some time with them as we hosted them in our home.

The women had an absolute blast meeting for coffee every other week at a nearby restaurant. Here are most of them during the last coffee get together before the summer hit.

The littlest ones are now consistent members in the nursery, and even they are learning about God's love for them on Sundays! Many thanks to our faithful nursery teacher who gives of her time every week.

With less rain, more sun, and warmer temperatures we returned to our park potlucks! Always a favorite time for the congregation, we love to spend the day in fellowship and sports.

You'll just have to imagine the amazing smells coming from that grill in the background! Latinos know how to cook the best food ever!!

We're not sure who loved the park potlucks more - the adults or the children!

"Now Samuelito, if you want to be a good pastor, it all starts with knowing how to play soccer..."

The men have some "serious fun" when they play soccer!
The summer also allows us to have special one-on-one time with other families. We really cherish that time as we grow our friendships, and encourage one other towards Christ.

Karla is a dear woman with a beautiful servant's heart!

In August we welcomed our newest member, Isabella! She is the daughter of the first couple that got married in our congregation over three years ago.

Also in August we enjoyed a family day-camp at Lewisville Park just a few minutes north. Activities included games for children, competitive family games, worship and a Bible devotional, soccer (of course!), volleyball, splashing in the ice-cold river, and the most delicious food you could ever imagine. And finally at the end of summer, a small group got together to climb to the top of Multnomah Falls:

As you can see from this pictorial review of summer, God has continued blessing the Spanish ministry at Evergreen Bible - raising up leaders, deepening the discipleship, and growing a true family bond. Small groups decided to continue to meet through the summer, so Jose has taught every Monday and Friday nights in different homes, and the men get together every Sunday evening to play soccer. Sunday School remains constant at an average of 10-15 preschoolers and 15+ school age children. We give God glory for bringing forward two gifted teachers who have committed to the preschool class for the rest of the year.

Looking at the new school year ahead, we anticipate further growth - not necessarily in numbers, but a "downward growth" to build a solid foundation and encourage strong roots in the leadership. In the next month, we will put on a Sunday School teacher's training workshop, encourage the families' involvement in the AWANA club at Evergreen, rebuild the youth ministry, and return to the monthly church potluck dinners, just to name a few.

In personal news: I cannot express adequately in words our humble gratitude to the Lord for providing for us financially over the summer. Despite the 50% income, our needs were provided for over and above the minimum! On top of that, we were even able to enjoy some family vacation time, again by God's provision through gracious friends and other family members. Three weeks ago Jose began working at night again, this time with a man from the Spanish congregation. Thankfully the work schedule is flexible, allowing Jose to join the family for dinner, and able to keep up with Bible study teaching. We are currently waiting to hear if Jose will be officially offered a position in the Vancouver School far it looks very promising! Please add this to your prayers! Having a school schedule would be ideal in order to keep up with ministry needs and maintain a sufficient income.

Will you pray for the Spanish ministry and for us?

  • Please pray for leadership development - that Jose would receive the pastoral support that he needs
  • Pray for the Sunday School teachers and other leaders - for stamina, more helpers, and as they teach the children God's Word, for the rebuilding of the youth ministry
  • Please pray for a difficult situation that we have been battling
  • And we ask prayer for our family and our marriage as we continue to struggle to put into practice what our hearts and our heads tell us from the study of the Word
If you are ever in the area, please come visit! We'd love to have you join us in a unique and exciting Spanish worship service, or come to our home for a meal and coffee - always coffee! And if you are reading from far away, we would love to stay in touch with you. Feel free to contact us for any questions, prayer requests, recipes, good jokes....

God bless your fall season!

With love, the Alvarez family

Friday, June 8, 2012


The only advantage to infrequent ministry blog updates is that there is much more to tell you all about! Please excuse the silence - there's really nothing to blame but that we have let it slide.

Last February our church of EBC held another bilingual worship service, where the music and the teaching were in both Spanish and English. This was once again such a blast, as we loved being all together, and completely soaked in a glimpse of what part of heaven may be like - worshipping with a large family of believers from all different tongues and cultures. I hope all of you get to experience that at least once here on earth! Click HERE for the audio of the teaching, this time our pastor taught us from Revelation, while Ruth translated.

The most exciting news that we could possibly have to share with you is that since we wrote you last, several more - a quick count brings five individuals to mind - have accepted Christ as Savior. Will you take a second to praise the Lord with us for that? When this ministry began three and a half years ago, we hoped and prayed that it would bring an evangelistic movement to the Spanish speakers of this area, and what an honor to be a witness to it! Ten people were baptized early March of this year in a special baptism service that was held.

Jose and Juan with a precious lady from Chile.

We now have official elders! Three wonderful leaders were officially chosen and prayed for as they were commissioned to a leadership team. Please pray for them and their families!

All the men of the church were invited for the first men's breakfast at the home of one of the elders. They enjoyed a great time of fellowship and meeting some new men who might be interested in joining the group. This is the group that attended the breakfast:

Recently we had to say "hasta la vista" to a dear friend and his family - they were crucial in the foundation of this ministry and will be greatly missed! Now that seminary has been completed, the Lancaster family will be continuing a ministry in another area of Portland. God bless them!

The first almost-six months of this year has seen us growing strong in our regular weekly and monthly activities. Jose now leads two of the three Life Groups that meet weekly, and most often joins the worship practice on Saturday nights. Ruth is on rotation to teach the preschool Sunday School class, and also coordinates teacher schedules and curriculum. As a family, we have been warmly blessed by having many other couples and families into our home for meals and fellowship. Just last night there were a total of 17 here for dinner - and that was just us plus one other family! A new baby was born, Mother's Day was celebrated with flowers and poems, monthly potluck dinners were held, and much, much coffee was consumed.

Some of the children reciting a poem for Mother's Day

With a heavy heart we share with you that the private high school where Jose has taught these past five years now has to close due to economic struggles. All staff, including Jose, now must seek other employment. When you spend time in prayer today, would you please include this in your prayers? The teaching job provided about 50% of our monthly income and was also a wonderful opportunity for Jose to minister in the lives of the teenagers that came through his class. We know that God will provide for us - we don't know how! - but we trust that He will bring a new job to Jose that will work well as he dedicates time to ministry as well. (And we sure hope He does it before next month's bills come due!)

Great peace have those who love your law,
    and nothing can make them stumble. Ps.119:165

 Now here's something that just makes you shake your head in wonder...the very day we received the official word of the high school closing, the title for the children's bedtime devotional was "Trust God." It sure gave me a smile! And the next morning as I listened to a teaching, the points "just happened" to be that in a crisis you can either 1)panic 2)be paralyzed or 3)pray! So we have been praying!

We look forward to sharing with you again, and please drop us a line to let us know how we can pray for you!

Points for Prayer:
  • growth and discipleship for those who just received Christ and those who were recently baptized
  • stamina and wisdom for Jose as he leads
  • protection from attacks from the enemy, as he surely cannot be happy about this growth! In fact, the very Sunday that two received Christ, the enemy found a way in to attack - we pray that Christ will continue to rule in the hearts of each of His children!
  • growth and unity as a family
  • new employment for Jose
  • upcoming summer outreach events

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Acts 20:24. My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

The giddy tension of the participants. The roar of the crowd. The excitement in the air so strong you can almost touch it…. Here at the starting line of 2012, we invite you to join us for a lap or two while we share with you some of God’s tremendous new blessings in our lives and ministry.

Since the Christmas outreach, a new family has joined us in Spanish ministry. Last Sunday we reached the highest number of attenders yet at 92! Praise God, the Sunday School rooms are bursting with children (13 in preschool alone!) and more ladies have stepped up to help in teaching. The youth group is also becoming stronger, and this month they will hold their first big activity at church. The women just finished a weekly study of “Becoming a Woman of Excellence” and will continue to meet weekly for fellowship, prayer, and learning more of God’s Word. The three Life Groups continue to meet faithfully every week as well. What a joy to work alongside these people as we encourage each other to live like Christ!

For the past three and a half years Jose has been serving as pastor to Spanish ministry as a volunteer, working two, often three additional jobs to help make ends meet. This year, however, brings a big change to our family - probably the biggest change since moving to the US from Honduras. Our home church of Evergreen Bible Church voted to bring Jose on as a part-time paid pastor! Jose will keep his daytime job teaching Spanish at Vancouver Christian High School but has quit his night job, meaning he now has evenings available to dedicate much-needed time to ministry and family. “Relief” does not even come close to describing how we feel at this blessed change. We praise God for this blessing, and are praying that He would help us as we work on organizing our time – figuring out how to be a more “normal” family. The children have been extra excited to see their daddy at breakfast and dinner – a novelty they have not been able to enjoy for five years.

Sunrise from our breakfast table
So what does this change mean for us financially? The transfer from night job to “part-time” at church enabled us to make a straight step across in our budget without extra strain – a great blessing we are so thankful for. We are only $800 from reaching our monthly budget needs. Serving the Lord here on the mission field of Vancouver has evolved from launching a ministry where Spanish speakers would have a place to learn and worship to becoming a church-planting operation as we have seen many come to the Lord and as the group has grown in strength and number. We are humbled that God would allow us to be involved in His work to spread the gospel and help grow believers here in this vibrant but needy community.

Is God asking you to be involved in this work too? In order to reach our monthly budget—which includes both ministry and family expenses—, we only need 20 people to commit to giving just $40 a month. Or ten people to give just $80 per month…you get the idea! As you consider where to send this year’s offerings and gifts, would you please prayerfully ask God if He is leading you to support this church-planting ministry here in Vancouver? On the right side of this page is a link to N.I.C.E., the mission we are members of, and you may follow the steps there to send in support (or click HERE - select "Missionary Support" and then type in "Jose Alvarez" on the next page); or funds may be mailed to 909 Main St. Suite #5, PO Box 2225, Sumner, WA 98390.

A day trip up to Mt Hood to enjoy the snow

We didn't stay long as the pretty snow kind of turned into a blizzard!
Thank you in advance for considering supporting this ministry, and many, many thanks to those who already do. You are the sponsors, the capable pit crew, our fellow racecar drivers, AND the cheering crowd, all wrapped up in one. We could not serve in this capacity without you!

How to pray for us:

  • Learning how to manage this new schedule in a way that best blesses ministry and family
  • Wisdom as we lift up those who are struggling, and encouraging growth for those who are already walking with the Lord
  • Provision of the funds that are still lacking
We would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment here, email, or even send old-fashioned letters! God bless you as you serve Him where you are. And the next time you smell engine exhaust in the air, may it serve as a reminder to pray for us.