Update and Prayer Requests: May 2023
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
We thank you for praying for our church during this time of so many changes. Tomorrow (Saturday, May 27) there will be a service for the denomination to install Max as our pastor and Eduardo as the assistant pastor. We are thankful that all this has been settled without too many problems.
In the church meeting when the assistant pastor was voted on, Beto was also elected to be the church business secretary, Nicasio was elected to be the youth pastor, Fernando and his wife were elected to be deacons. (Four of the five people elected faithfully attend the Zapotec service!)
You may remember that Nicasio has been the youth pastor for many years; he enjoys it and has a wonderful rapport with the youth. During the pandemic, when we weren’t attending church, Nicasio continued the youth group online. Then our (then) pastor decided that there should be an in-person youth group and so the youth of families who were attending church in-person dropped the online group and started attending the in-person group. So even though Nicasio has just been elected to be the youth pastor, he has continued to be one! He would appareciate your prayers as he molds the two groups into one; their first meeting will be on June 11.
The new deacons, Fernando and Elizabet, were elected to aide the deacon couple that is responsible for unlocking and locking the church for services, setting up chairs, reminding parents to quiet their children, and waking those who have nodded off. Since Fernando plays bass for the Zapotec service, he suggested that they take care of the Wednesday night service and that the other couple cover the Thursday (Zapotec) service. We are so pleased at how this is working out: the other couple have resisted attending the Zapotec service but now that they have to, are happily participating in the Zapotec Bible study! Last night, as Nicasio was closing the service, Angel said, “We could go til dawn—and that would be ok!” Someone also heard him say that there wasn’t any need to be waking people up during the Zapotec service, since no one dozed off!
A few other people are also starting to regularly attend the Zapotec service; we are thankful for them and for the Zapotec service being announced during other services to encourage people to attend.
In our last update, we asked you to pray for the classes we’d be having with several Quiatoni pastors, to teach them to read and write in Zapotec, to learn songs and hymns in Zapotec, and to learn how to evangelize. Even though not everyone attended, the seven pastors and leaders and the two teens that attended really seemed to enjoy the day long class. For their writing assignment, Nicasio asked them to write about why they had left the Catholic church or why they had stayed in the protestant church. A couple of the older men gave verbal answers, instead. We were saddened and not very surprised that no one said it was because they’d believed in Jesus as their Savior. The lack of truly understanding the Gospel is a direct result of church always being in Spanish. They heard the Gospel clearly in Zapotec several times during the day, when Beto taught about how Jesus used parables to share the Gospel and when Candy told how she’d become involved in spreading the Gospel in Zapotec, especially teaching the children. (She told us later that her dad had asked for the day off work so he could attend the class! He videoed her reading a large, classroom sized book about creation and the need for a Savior.)
There were many highlights to that day—but it was long! The pastor had asked Nicasio to preach in the evening service and then we had supper before leaving. We had left home at 5 am to be there for breakfast and got home at midnight. I took a nap in the truck between class and church, so I could drive home since Nicasio was “on” all day long.
The second day of classes was scheduled for May 27—before that day was selected for Max’s installation service. Nicasio told them that the date would have to be changed (several of those pastors will also be at the installation service, too) and for them to let him know what date they decided on. He didn’t hear anything from them and was thinking that they were not wanting more classes. Rather depressing! But he got a call yesterday, could we come on June 3rd? Yes! We’ll be there! Once again, we ask for your prayers for the classes, for open minds and hearts for those who attend. (We’ll be leaving again at 5 am; I don’t know if there’ll be an evening service or not.)
One of the two teens who attended the first day of classes is interested in attending a Bible school. Nicasio talked with her, and because she wants to study the Bible, suggested that she attend the four week workshop on 1 Corinthians that SIL will be giving in mid-July. She agreed and will join Beto and Fernando in the workshop. Fernando, besides playing bass for the Zapotec service, also alternates with Beto doing the opening part of the service. We are going through the Gospel of Mark for that part and we have been amazed at Fernando’s abilities in teaching as well as the studying he does in preparation. So Nicasio thought it would be good to “stretch” him a bit and invited him to attend the 1 Corinthians workshop, which he agreed to.
Beto suggested to Nicasio that he have an online class with Eloisa and Fernando to prepare them for the workshop. He taught them the difference hermeneutics (interpreting the Bible, usually through one’s own point of view) and exegesis (studying the background, culture, language, etc. of a book of the Bible). Beto used the parable of the prodigal son and asked them how they imagined the prodigal was dressed when he returned home. They answered “dirty” “ragged” “stinky.” Beto said, “When I imagine him, I see him dressed in ragged pants and a ragged shirt—but that’s not how they dressed in Jesus’ time.” Fernando said, “That’s looking at it hermeneutically!” Please pray for them attening the workshop and thank God with us for Fernando and Eloisa as well as Beto, Candy and Elizabeth. Thank God also for a very generous gift that will pay the expenses for them to attend the workhop.
Thank you for your interest, prayers and support of our ministry of Bible translation. Your part in making all these things happen is a real blessing to us!
love, Valerie and Nicasio