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GOD'S INVISIBLE CHURCH IN ARGENTINA
Story of Melody Taube
by Joel Comiskey
Alliance Life, 1998
As I looked down upon the upper-class Argentine people from our 7th floor apartment, I thought to myself, “God, I don't feel qualified to reach these people. “After all, I was brought up as a missionary kid in the jungles of Bolivia among the Guarayo Indians.”
The Christian and Missionary Alliance allowed us to pioneer a cell church (based on small groups) among the upper class people of Argentina, and we realized that it wouldn’it be easy. Almost all of the church growth in Argentina, in fact, comes from the popular class.
In the midst of our own inadequacy, God broke through. He gave me a verse from Hebrews: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). That’is it, Lord. This is our invisible church.” I chuckled at the fact that my husband and I had come here to pastor an invisible church.
One day as I passed through the nearby mall, I noticed a group of ladies practicing aerobics. This aerobics class occupied the entire third floor of the mall. Dressed in their tight, colorful, athletic garb, it almost seemed like a fashion show. But God spoke to me, and I sensed that this might be the opportunity that we’d been waiting for.
I decided to join this exercise group—in spite of my own inadequacy and weakness. That first day, I felt so awkward as I dressed in my aerobic garb. “How am I supposed to act?” I felt conscientious that I wasn’t dressed exactly like one of them. But day after day I faithfully exercised with these Argentine women. I felt like God was smiling at me. I just knew that He would put-it-all together. God showed me that I needed to exercise, expecting Him to work. I discovered that the key was “expectation.”
The breakthrough finally came. Our high school kids came home from Quito, Ecuador to spend the holidays with us. My daughter, Laura, joined me in the aeorbics class. Not accustomed to the aerobic movements, the other gals stepped all over Laura. God used this to open doors. When the aerobic class finished, Laura began talking with a gal named Graciella. “This is the day I’ve been waiting for,” I thought. Filled with new boldness, I approached another women named “Maggie.” As I began a conversation with Maggie, suddenly we were talking to four other women—Maggie’s friends. These women decided to stay for coffee and as I began to say good-bye, I heard the long-awaited words, “why don’t you stay with us for coffee.” After weeks of hoping, waiting and praying for our invisible church, the opportunity finally arrived. That day as we sipped coffee a bond began to develop. In fact, we enjoyed out time so much together that we all decided to meet for coffee the next week. I left that day “floating on air.”
The second time for coffee someone said, “Wouldn’t it be great be great if someone could film us?” “We have a video camera,” I piped up. I knew this was a God-given opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. The next day, my husband, Dan, came down to the mall to film us while we were exercising. Everyone wanted to see the video, so we asked them to come to our apartment to watch it.
After watching the video and enjoying the refreshments, one of the gals said, “Let’s have more parties like this one.” Everyone agreed. “We want our husbands to get to know everyone,” said another. We invited the husbands to the next social gathering. These social meetings were so successful that the goals began to “look for reasons” to meet together.
On one occasion, we were celebrating Teresa’s birthday. After drinking coffee they turned their coffee cups over; “what are they doing?” I wondered. Then Monica said, “Melody doesn’t believe in this.” They explained to me that when they turn the coffee cups over, they read the future of their lives by the foam that remains. I said to them, “Yes, you’re right, I don’t believe in this.” I believe that God governs my life and that I don’ need a coffee cup to tell my future because my future is in God’s hands.” Then they started asking questions about fortune telling, witches, and palm reading. “My authority of all this is God’s Word, the Bible, ” I said. “There is a verse in Deuteronomy chapter 18 that says that God abhor all these things?” They were all listening intensely as I shared God’s Word.
Afterwards, one of my friends, Maggie, asked if she could come to my house to write a letter for a job interview. As I helped her write her letter, she said, “About that conversation yesterday, I want to know if that verse is really in the Bible.” So I got my Bible, showed it to her, and she was amazed.
I told her that about God’s plan of salvation, and she sincerely thanked me for talking to her about God. Later I found out that she went home that evening and prayed to receive Jesus Christ in her heart. “Thank you, God, I said, “You can even use the devils wiles for your glory.” Maggie was our first convert. I began to read the Bible with her each week. Besides meeting weekly with Maggie, we offered an English class for our aerobic friends. Then the God gave Dan and me another idea: “Why not convert out English class into a Bible study?” When we shared this idea with the rest of the ladies, they readily agreed. Thus, our first home cell group was born.
During these meetings, Dan reads a passage of Scripture and together we discuss its meaning. The groups has fluctuated over the last year from 4 to 12, with three husbands attending at various times. The participation and earnest questions never cease to amaze us.
These women are now like a family to me--in fact more than family. They don’t talk about their family as much as they talk about our group. I’m with one or more of these women almost every day. We drink coffee every Tuesday or Thursday (after practicing aerobics), and I rarely miss a meeting. Dan and I have prayed with their families, counseled them, and been in all their homes.
Several have prayed to receive Christ and one of their family members was baptized. Admittedly, the work is harder among the men, and we are asking God to work among them. But as I look back upon those initial days and the fears we experienced, I can say with total confidence, “God has been faithful.” He’s opened so many doors. And though our cell church is still largely “invisible” we believe that He will continue to work until a vibrant cell church is established among these needy people.