Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"For unto us, a child is born...."

It hardly seems possible that another year has come and gone.  It has literally flown by, at least from my perspective.  Here we are already with Christmas next week and the new year beginning just a week later.  Looking back over the year it is good to remember, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, the new birth of all those who have made a decision to become Christ followers, and like the young man in the picture above, been baptized into Christ.  The "reason for the season" is to remember that birth of so long ago, of Jesus, who died on the cross and rose again, so that those who were predestined to become His followers, also from so long ago, might be born again.  We rejoice that there are numerous memories of such rebirths over this past year.  Praise the Lord!

Over the past year and a half or so, I have been involved in leading the Salem Hispanic congregation as well as serving as executive director of the church planting organization.  Time has flown by and it is increasingly amazing to me to see God's plan for the congregation unfold in many ways.  We have a leadership training program in place and folks participating in that are beginning to understand their own responsibility to "step up to the plate" and minister in various areas of church life.  It has been a tremendous blessing to see them blossom within the areas of their gifting and begin to minister to the family of God.  Please pray for those folks.

As a family, my wife and I are officially "empty nesters" for several years now, but that doesn't mean that we are ever alone at home with no kids around.  That is rarely the case, in fact!  Today for instance, in just a few hours (it is 5 a.m. now), our granddaughter Quinn will come to spend the day while her mama and daddy (Jodie and Matt) go to work.  A few hours later, Avery and Hudson, two of our grandsons, will be here for most of the day as well, while their mama (Jessica) goes to town to run some errand or another.  Then our youngest son, Kyle, and his Red Heeler, Jr., will show up for either breakfast or lunch (often both) and Jr. and Darby, our floppy-eared Setter pup will tear around the house on the heels of the grandkids.  Such is life for "empty nesters."  Keep in mind that we both work from home offices!  Last week one afternoon, our oldest son Caleb and wife, Nicole, and their daughter, Maddy, came out for a visit and dinner.  We love it! 

Patti continues to do medical transcription work from home, though her hours have been less than half-time in the past year or so.  We are thankful for the hours she does have and for the insurance that job allows us both to maintain.  I turned 60 a short time back and suddenly, burning the candle at both ends caught up with me and for the first time in my life, had to face the issue of high blood pressure.  My work hours, and a knee injury that is taking FOREVER to heal, have kept me from my now-over-12-years walking schedule for months it seems.  That may have something to do with the increase in BP since this past spring!  Those 5 miles per day did pay off.  Surprise, surprise!  Oh well, I can now order off the senior's menu at Denny's! 

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your prayer and support over this past year.  We realize that without you, we would be spinning wheels.  We value your partnership with us in this outreach to our Spanish-speaking residents.  May you have a blessed Christmas and new year!

Serving with you,
Bill and Patti

Monday, August 6, 2012


     It seems as if we went from a wet, wet spring to a warm, warm August in just a heartbeat.  These past few months have flown by and have been full of activities as usual for this time of year.  So far this year, our OLE Church Planters churches have attended our annual Hispanic Family Camp, at beautiful Winema Christian Camp on the Oregon coast, participated in the Hispanic National Christian Convention (HNCC) in Clovis, CA, held VBS programs, and now our final "summer event" wlll happen this coming Sunday at Silver Creek Falls State Park.
      This event is highly popular and we always have a great group of churches represented, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to witness to other park visitors through the outdoors worship service.  The park is very popular during warm weather, and we are situated near the swimming area that attracts so many families, many of them Spanish speakers.  The worship service is followed by a potluck/BBQ meal and we have many friends and families of church members present as well.   Every church will participate in some way during the worship service.  It is a great time of fellowship, so feel free to stop by (Aug 12, 10 a.m.)!

     Please continue to pray for our missionaries to Oaxaca, Mexico.  Brent and Martha Trent, sent out from the Salem area Hispanic church. They have recently "updated" their commitment to the ministry there. They are extending the length of time they will continue their outreach.  They originally planned on working for two years, then returning to the States.  However, there is much more work that they wish to accomplish in their area before they come "home."

     Besides my "normal" mission directing responsibilities, I have been eyeball-deep in the Salem Hispanic church, "Iglesia de Cristo, Ciudad de Paz" (City of Peace) for just over a year now.  Pastoring there has been a tremendous blessing to us as we see the congregation continue to grow, to see disciples seeking to lead out and evangelism being done.  We have established a training program for church members seeking to further their knowledge of the Word and also to help facilitate future potential leaders as they step forward. 

     We would ask that you continue to uplift the ministry of OLE Church Planters in prayer, and also financially.  The battle is won on our knees, and to that end, we have also started a prayer and fasting ministry within the Hispanic congregation in the Salem church.  However, our financial resources are short in every area, including within the local churches and the OLE Church Planters general fund, out of which we pay for our church planter's salary.  We have very little overhead or administrative cost, so 98% of every dime given to our GF goes directly to the church planting effort.

     Thank you for your faithful partnership with us in this greatly needed outreach to our resident Spanish speaking population!

Monday, July 2, 2012


It seems like summer comes and goes so fast that we lose sight of what all the hustle is REALLY about.  A late and very wet start to our Oregon summer postponed many outdoor activities that were planned for our Hispanic churches.  Yesterday (July 1) we finally gave up on two outdoor celebrations planned around pot-lucks in a park, and programmed them for inside the Family Life Center at Court St. Christian Church.  We celebrated both Father's Day and Kid's Day by grilling outside and everything else happened inside.  
Pancho and Ronnie baptizing at Camp Winema "Hispanic Family Camp"

With our annual Hispanic Family Camp being the initial summer activity, our churches are doing VBS programs and other typical summer church activities, and we will end up the "summer season" with our annual late summer joint meeting/ pot-luck picnic at Silver Creek Falls State Park in August.  This is a well-attended event and families from all of our OLE Church Planters churches participate in that service in some way.  The afternoon is filled with hiking around the falls, volleyball and soccer games and of course, carne asada and a variety of complimentary side dishes.  How we suffer for the cause!

As we continue these events, we would appreciate your continued prayers for our churches and leaders, and for many who are ill at this time.  Within our churches, we have several who are dealing with very critical cancer and several others who are suffering from other serious illnesses.  The work situation seems to have picked up some as it usually does during the summer months, so if you would, please pray the continued "upswing" in the employment of our folks.  We also praise the Lord for new families who have been added to our churches recently, several of whom are now attending in our Salem Hispanic church.  

With the Oregon Christian Convention over yesterday (July 1), our next big event during which we will be representing OLE Church Planters is the Hispanic National Christian Convention, to be held in Clovis, CA, this year.  Later, in the first week of August, we will be at Camp Winema for the Week of Missions. Please pray for us as we travel the miles in between these events.

Thanks for your faithful prayers and support!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012



 The gathering at Winema Christian Camp this year was attended by over 200 folks, and ended with 7 baptisms in the lake.  The theme of the camp was on regaining the hearts of our youth for Christ.  As such, a highlight of the event was a concert presented by Lydia Abbot, and folks responded to her music very enthusiastically.  Also, the central focus of the weekend was the Word, presented through preaching and teaching by Luis Vazquez, working with the adults, and Ismael Garcia, with the youth.  Churches participating were, Gresham, Hillsboro, Tigard, Newberg and Salem. Visitors from several other congregations also joined us over the weekend.  Please lift up the new believers in prayer, and also pray for the other decisions made at camp.  Que Dios les bendiga!


Meal time


Group sessions


Monday, February 27, 2012

Joint meeting in Salem

Salem Iglesia Worship Team
     On February 12, most of our OLE Church Planters congregations gathered at Court St. Christian Church for a joint meeting.  Court St. C.C. is where Iglesia de Cristo, "Ciudad de Paz" meets for their Spanish services every Sunday at 1:30 p.m.  Sunday School starts at 12:30 p.m. and Thursday Bible study and prayer time is at 6:30 p.m.
     At the joint meeting, or culto unido, we had somewhere between 250 and 300 in attendance.  Every church participated in the service in some way, and the Salem congregation had spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning preparing a delicious soup called Pozole to share with the visiting congregations after the worship service.
     Our speaker this time was the 2012 president of the National Hispanic Christian Convention, which will take place at Clovis, CA, this coming July.  Our brother, Frank Flores, is the minister of the Christian church in Clovis, and brought not only an excellent message for our group, but also brought information about the convention in July.  He also brought along his wife and three sons on the trip north, and we enjoyed getting to know them as well and sharing some Oregon hospitality with them.
During the worship service, each church also brought special music and the Salem worship team did an excellent job of leading all of us in congregational singing.
Special speaker, Frank Flores, of Colvis, CA

Special Music

Worship Time

Court St.Christian Church Sanctuary
Fellowship around the table...Pozole!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The RAINS have come....

Winter started in full swing in mid-January, 2012, with heavy snows in the mountains, rains in the valleys and evacuations from several Salem area small towns because of flooding.  Sand bags were seen everywhere and folks were scrambling to get to high ground after attempts to "stem the tide" failed in many areas.

This is a typical street scene from a flooded area near the airport in Salem.  Turner and Scio residents had much worse flooding as both towns have "streams" running through them...literally!

Driving through the areas that were flooded just last week and seeing all the sand bags still stacked in place where the water was running previously, I am reminded of Ezekiel 22:30, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." 

In the ministry of OLE Church Planters among our Spanish-speaking residents, God is providing men and women to build walls and stand in the gap.  I have written on this aspect of our ministry before, but it needs repeating.  It has been a tremendous blessing to see training programs start up in our various Hispanic congregations.  Most of our churches are now involved in some form of "advanced discipleship" or leadership preparation.

Some of our students are branching out from their home congregations and the training programs there to now minister in other congregations as well as in their home churches.  This is proving to be another opportunity for mentoring to these faithful disciples as they seek to prepare themselves for serving the Lord in a full-time ministry.  The churches themselves thus become the training field for future pastors, worship leaders or Sunday school teachers.  What a novel idea!  These "Timothys" are receiving practicum on a local church level in the areas of ministry that God has called them to. Please continue to pray for these faithful servants and their teachers/mentors as they juggle their schedules of full-time secular jobs, their families, their biblical studies and their ministries.

Referred to sometimes as "the farm system" of raising up church leaders, we believe it to be a valid method of preparing servants for the harvest both here locally as well as "overseas" in other fields.

The program that most of our churches are using now is in coordination with Colegio Biblico in Eagle Pass, Texas.  In this way, as our students progress through our local programs here, those that desire to further their preparation for ministry in a more formal manner, can get credit toward a Bible college degree.

Even as those sandbags are piled up to curb the raging waters of the storm this winter, so too, God is preparing men to build walls and to stand in the gap in the spiritual storm that is the battle front of extending God's Kingdom.  Please uphold them in prayer.

Thanks you for your interest, your prayers and financial support of this ministry.

Que Dios les bendiga ricamente!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Have a BLESSED Christmas (all year around)!

The wonderfully warm image above evokes a strong sense of nostalgia and seasonal marvel amongst the young-at-heart as well as the older folk.  Interestingly, it contains very little if any indication that the imaginary owner of such a scene in the home has any actual clue as to the real meaning of Christmas.

As believers in Jesus Christ, there are as many points of view regarding the Christmas celebration as there are traditions of the same.  We range from one side of the question to the other as far as our particular participation goes at this time of year.  Some do not celebrate Christmas at all, saying that it is something we need to observe every day, and quote the pagan sources of many of our Christmas traditions.

Still others point out that those same images (the tree, the "yule log" or the mistletoe, etc.) can be used to teach spiritual truths surrounding the birth of Christ, if one enters into the seasonal events "advisedly" and with eyes wide open.

Still others in our midst insist that these same traditions are not pagan but rather, merely family traditions which are harmless  in themselves as long as we realize they are what they are and do not try to add religious significance to the items or the traditions themselves, and instead just enjoy them for the natural beauty they add to the home, such as in the nostalgia-steeped image above.

Whatever your point of view, we do know that Christ was born in a lowly place in a humble manner and that the Scriptures tell us the story, from the words of the prophets to the Gospel account.  Also, we know that He was born with a singular purpose, to reconcile men to God.  

As C.S. Lewis wrote,  "The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God."

My point here is not to resolve the question of whether we should have a decorated tree in our home or even in a place of worship as some congregations do, or to give gifts to one another, but to simply remind us that we need to focus on God's singular purpose, and to do what He has called us to do in the fulfillment of the Great Commission as written in the last chapter of the Book of Matthew.

Matthew 28:18-20
New International Version (NIV)
 "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Perhaps one of the clearest statements made recently regarding this season was written by Stuart Briscoe, who stated the following:

"The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world."

On another note, this month another saint has graduated from this life and has entered into the presence of His Creator.  Our brother, Gordon Thompson, passed away in his home recently.  Brother Gordon served the Lord in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and here in the the USA, ministering for many years to the Latin populations in those places.  Brother Gordon and his wife, Erma, also served on the OLE Church Planters board of directors for a number of years.  He was a constant inspiration to us all and left many disciples, results of his long ministry, to continue on in the fulfillment of  the Great Commission, a responsibility that brother Gordon dedicated his life to.  We will miss you brother, and will see you soon!

May God richly bless you and yours, all year around, and may you know the grace and mercy of our Lord in abundance!