WE HAVE A BABY!!! Joseph Daniel Hedderman was born on May 26 at 8:42 p.m. Mom and baby are both healthy, and we are definitely enjoying all the “firsts,” the tender moments, and the lack of sleep that come with a newborn. We feel so blessed that God would entrust us with this little one. Thanks for all the prayers, cards, messages, comments, and every other way that love has been shown to us by you all throughout this new stage of life!!
I sit here writing this from my living room on Day 81 of quarantine, and we’ve still got until at least the end of the month. I say that, knowing full well that the rest of the world is going through the same thing, and it has been incredible to me to watch what God has done through this time all across the globe.
James 1:3-4 tells us, “. . . the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” It teaches that through the trying of the “norm,” we gain patience; and through that, we become what God has for us. It has been a fun journey to see what God is doing with our church and with our ministry here through this time, perfecting us every step of the way.
We were actually in the States when the quarantine order was given, but thankfully, we were able to catch a last-minute flight home, getting here two hours before the borders were completely shut down, as they have remained now for going on three months. We are so grateful to have made it, as there is talk that they could remain closed until October.
As practically all the world has, we have gone virtual in all of our services, but due to the extra time that our people have, we have been able to increase the number of services and meetings we have, every day having study groups in which we can teach more and more of the Bible. We have been able to have nightly calls with our teenagers, and we have been taking the Bible, chapter by chapter, and they have been studying it, sharing what they find. We have been able to start a weekly, broadcasted evangelistic program for teenagers here. Heather has been able to continue her ladies’ ministry. We have biweekly kids’ programs, with viewers all the way from Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela; and even the “normal” preaching services are having more and more impact as the quarantine stretches on. We’ve seen multiple people come to Christ through the virtual world in which we all now live.
As we have continued to see additions to the church, we also had a painful subtraction. One of our deacons, who was also the head usher, Hno. Franklin Llontop, lost his battle with COVID-19 a few weeks ago, leaving behind his wife, one married adult daughter, and two teenage daughters. It has hit us hard, as he was actively involved in so many aspects of what we do here. He was my barber, and right before Heather and I got married, he allowed me to live with them for six weeks. I called him my Peruvian dad, and he called me his white son. At church, he taught Sunday school, was the main greeter, organized the team of ushers, and was the one who pushed everything from behind the scenes, always actively working but never accepting any of the credit. Please pray for his family, as well as the church.
One of the things that has most impressed me during this time is to watch the people react to adversity. From stories of converted neighbors, brought together by quarantine, to stories of families studying to be able to witness to other family members, our church has stayed active as a soul-winning institution, even in the midst of this time. Perhaps, though, one of the people who has most stood out to me is that adult daughter of Hno. Franklin. It’s become the norm for our people to share the transmissions, thus reaching others, but with Mayra, it has gone beyond just sharing. Every transmission, as soon as she gets on, she will tag 10-15 people in the comments so that they tune in. Her burden to reach others, both here and in the city that she’s from, is obvious. It’s a blessing, as well as convicting, to see her burden for those in her world, and we have seen people come to Christ through her “comment ministry.”
Please pray for our people. Thanks to donations from so many of you, we have been able to deliver food regularly, as well as financially support almost 40 families during these three months, helping to keep them from being evicted, allowing them to put food on the table, and showing them the love of Christ. So many of our people lived day to day before the crisis started and in three months have not received a paycheck. Through your generous donations, so many of them have been able to quite literally survive. Family after family, tears in their eyes, send their deepest gratitude to those who have helped financially, as well as those who are praying.
We love serving here, we love being able to represent you all here, and we are blessed to be right where God would have us.
May God continue blessing you.
Josh, Heather, and JOSEPH Hedderman