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New Hope for Gina

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When Forest and Sarah Schell planted the Mi Esperanza (My Hope) church, they decided to begin by reaching children through an AWANA program. Forest was given permission to use an abandoned lot, so for weeks, he and Marcos (a national pastor) cleaned the land of debris. Then they put in topsoil and, eventually, grass.

While they worked, Gina, a Paraguayan woman in her 70s, began to gossip with her friend Juana about their new “neighbors.” The women made a covenant to never talk with the men about their religion. But one day, Forest and Sarah’s young boys, Caleb and Josiah, played near Gina’s and Juana’s houses. After that, both women invited Forest and Marcos to begin Bible studies in their homes.

The studies went slowly at first because the ladies and their friends had difficulty grasping the concept of God’s forgiveness and unmerited grace. Once, when Forest and Marcos were speaking on heaven, there appeared to be a breakthrough; one of Gina’s neighbors surprised everyone by saying, “I want to go.” The pastors were excited and began to explain to her how she might go to heaven. “No,” the lady interrupted. “I want to go home! This stuff is boring.”

However, one day Gina hurt her knee so badly that she could not get out of bed. Marcos prayed for healing for Gina in the Name of Jesus Christ. And she was immediately healed.

After that, Gina began attending church faithfully. When I (John) started to visit her during the week, I could tell that she understood the gospel. She would often rejoice over Bible verses that she had been reading and all that God was showing her through His Word. She would also cry over the lostness of her neighbors and friends. But I remember how hard it was for her when her friend Juana was baptized. Gina told me that she wanted to be baptized also. But her family warned her that if she was baptized in the C&MA church, they would stop giving her daily money for food. What could she do? What should she do?

Gina lived with those questions for more than a year while she attended church and grew in her faith. And she began sharing her new life in Christ with her family and her friends.

In September 2010, Gina told me that she wasn’t afraid anymore and that God would take care of her. No matter the consequences, she was going to be baptized.

And in December of that year, she was!

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