Easter in Antofagasta
This Easter was quite distinct from last year. Setting aside the fact it was almost a month's difference from last year’s Easter, more people were in attendance. We can also say that it was because of the atmosphere of this year’s service, as we had decided to do a “resurrection breakfast” and service. I had high hopes for the service because more people generally come during special holidays. Plus, we have a higher number of families attending regularly. God did not disappoint, greatly exceeding what we were expecting. Most of us had been up since 8 o’clock that morning working on last minute details of the service. We were prepping for a lot, from making the decorations, putting together sandwiches and fruit bowls, to gathering what was needed for the service. It was quite the rush, I was doing fine until I saw there was only one hour until service. That was when I said to myself, “Okay, I need to go and make sure we are presentable!” We decided to arrange the service differently than normal, thinking about the new people who would be coming. Before we knew it people were showing up. Luckily, our leaders were there and were able to help with last minute details.
I just couldn't hold my smile in as people started showing up. We saw some people who hadn't been to service in a while, others who brought a friend or family whom we were not expecting, and God just brought the whole service together. As a leader in the area of communications I got a spot in the front row on one of the sides, which meant that I got a panoramic view of the service from the altar to the greeters in the back. As I played the music I could see the kids singing with smiles on their faces, hear the voices of others singing at the top of their lungs, shouting their praises for this special day, and then those who joined us for the first time feeling what was going on.
My heart felt so full in that moment. I was content that God was bringing people to the service, remembering that all of this was for him. I thought about how this service is glorifying His name, because last year we had nobody in our service. This year we had 65 people attending! How amazing is that? With 7 of those people being invited by church members and us, it reminds me that God is that we may plant the seeds, but God is causing the growth of each one of these people, speaking into their lives.
We finished our service sharing. With having so many people, many of us missionaries had to float around trying to get to know the first timers. We were not the only ones greeting our first time guests, but our leaders who are in training also were going around the room meeting and welcoming people into their home church. It was a little clunky, as our church is under construction, but it was full of an atmosphere of sharing, smiling, and feeling like a family. Vince brought a lesson at the end. He made a cross out of 11 volunteers from the congregation and having a couple invited people into the cross, with the end goal that those who entered would leave and invite others in. After all was shared and done, each and every person left the church with a big hug and a smile. I am still amazed by God. He used this Easter in a big way and I can't wait to see what he has in store for our church in the last 5 months here. Maia Reynolds is a 40/40 Church Planter for the project in Antofagasta, Chile. Along with the rest of her team, she has been working in Antofagasta for a little over a year. You can read more about Maia and her work with Extreme here.