Posted by: Jim Holway | April 23, 2009

Pompano Beach beach baptism

No, it’s not a misprint.  The church building where the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking church meets has been contaminated with mold, and the baptistery is not functional.  So when Gabriela wanted to begin her new life with Jesus, we headed to the beach in Pompano Beach.

One of the negative consequences of owning church buildings is that everything tends to be done inside the building, hidden away behind thick walls.  It adds to our fortress mentality.  Public baptisms have proven to be some of the most outward-focused and impactful things we have done here in South Florida.  Many Latino congregations here rent storefront space, and head to the beach for every baptism.

It’s amazing to see people’s reaction to this ancient tradition practiced on a modern beach.  Kids gather around.  Beach walkers stop to gaze.  Boogie boarders take a break.  Much of the party atmosphere quiets a bit out of reverence for this holy act.  And invariably, there will be some who linger just a little bit longer to find out what this is all about.

What a wonderful way to proclaim our faith in the resurrected Jesus!

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Gabriela is from Mexico, and she has found a “home away from home” with the Pompano Beach church.  The week before her baptism, she learned that her father had been killed by narcotraficantes. Though shaken, her faith never wavered.

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Carlos takes Gabriela’s confession in the presence of the gathered church and beach goers.

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The sea was rough that day, but nothing would hinder this determined young lady from beginning her new life in Jesus.

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Three of the young men who witnessed the baptism hung around to ask questions.  The two church leaders, Carlos Preciado (far right) and Carlos Guzman (second from left), were able to begin a conversation that could lead to more people drawing near to Jesus.

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The wind was blowing strong when we gathered for the customary group shot.

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Afterward, we took over a little beachside pizza joint to celebrate Gabriela’s birth into Christ.

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Posted by: Jim Holway | March 26, 2009

His House, His Children

Miami is known as a place for raucous Spring Break celebrations.  A group of 14 college students from Abilene Christian University helped demonstrate that Miami can also be a place for serving and loving those in need.

This is the 5th year Miami has hosted ACU students for Spring Break, and this year the group focused their efforts on His House, a faith-based children’s home just north of Liberty City.  Although the group was not able to work with the children (security clearances could not be obtained in time), they were able to serve in tremendous ways to help this organization serve the fatherless and abandoned children of Miami.  His House has over 80 children on site, and some 350 in foster care.

As with many charitable organizations, keeping up with donated items is an ongoing task.  When the group arrived, the donations room was so packed it was difficult to walk through it.  They cleared out all the items that would not be of use for the children at His House, and organized the remaining items.  The plan is to make a boutique where the children can come each month and choose clothing and other items.

The other major task was Building 32.  This building was even more jam-packed with stuff, mostly furniture and large items.  The building was desperately needed as another home for children, so the stuff had to go.  Everything was loaded onto trucks heading to the dump, other area churches, and items that could be used at His House.  I was amazed at how much heavy lifting this group of mostly women was able to accomplish.  ACU girls are buff and tough!

While the benefits to His House were huge, the impact of His House on these college students was ever greater.  Various have indicated that they would like to return to Miami and work either at His House or in some other capacity in Miami.  Come on down!  There is plenty to do and the workers are few.  Thank God for raising up workers from ACU.  Slow clap for ACU! (I apologize for the veiled reference — the group knows exactly what I mean!)

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Orphaned children can find a home at His House.

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There is a Christian School on site, with teachers and support from Dade Christian School.

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On our tour of homes, we were impressed by each house and room.

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Teenagers are two to a room,

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and younger children are four to a room.

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The donation room!

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Building 32!!

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The buff and tough, hard at work.

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More than one student in the group said this was their best campaign experience ever.  I agree!

Posted by: Jim Holway | February 2, 2009

Día de la Confraternidad 2009

Last Saturday, over 400 members and visitors of the Spanish-speaking churches of Christ in Central and South Florida gathered for the fifth annual Día de la confraternidad (Day of Fellowship).  This year’s confraternidad was hosted by the West Broward Church of Christ.

The main speaker for this special day was to be Larry White, a brother who has been active in Spanish-speaking ministries for many years.  I knew of Larry through his materials we received in Argentina, but had never met him personally and was really looking forward to it.  On Friday morning, I received a call informing me that Larry’s health would not permit him to travel, and would I be willing to give the two keynote addresses.  With a certain degree of fear and trepidation I said yes, cleared my calendar, and went to work to pull some material together.  God was gracious, and the talks went well.

It was wonderful to see God’s people work together for a common cause.  Various congregations provided people-power and expertise.  The theme was the vision and mission of the church today, so while we were coming together, God’s message to us to “Go!”  May God continue to send workers to South Florida, and may He continue to send us out of our buildings and into our communities!

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Registration for adults…

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and kids went off without a hitch!

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There’s nothing like sharing lunch with over 400 friends!

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Juan Carlos Cucchi, the leader for the Latino group at West Broward, did an awesome job coordinating the day.

Posted by: Jim Holway | December 16, 2008

A different kind of Thanksgiving tradition

When we lived in Argentina, the only U.S. holiday we honored with true dedication was Thanksgiving.  Even though it is a uniquely North American remembrance, the idea of setting aside a day to thank God for his goodness is a healthy spiritual discipline.  Amidst the turkey and all the trimmings, the family gatherings, and of course, parades and football, many take a few minutes to reflect on the bounty God has poured out from above.

The Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters at Sunset have a different tradition for Thanksgiving, one that deserves consideration.  On Thanksgiving Eve (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), the church gathers for an all-night vigil of prayer and worship.  Throughout the night, there are times dedicated for prayers of thanksgiving and specific prayers for individuals and situations.  There are numerous speakers who share reflections and words of encouragement.  There are blocks of singing and praise.  There are breaks for coffee and walking around to keep fresh, and at 3 in the morning, there is a bonfire.  The vigil concludes at 6 A.M.

At a time when many will sacrifice sleep to get a good bargain, an immigrant community of faith in Miami sacrifices sleep to pray.  I can think of no better way to “get into the holiday spirit.”

Posted by: Jim Holway | November 4, 2008

Team Hoyt

Many of you have seen the video of the father and son team, Dick and Rick Hoyt.  Rick’s parents have not allowed his challenge with cerebral palsy keep him from accomplishing what many others have not: marathons and triathlons.  It is a wonderful testimony to what teamwork can accomplish.  Check out this inspiring video.

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