One of the big issues that STS faces is the prevalence of the Prosperity Gospel (in various forms) in the region and the elevation of personal “experience” to – and sometimes above – the place and authority of Scripture.
This teaching has been in Latin America for some time, but has found a strong foothold in the scattered and fractured churches in the Patagonian region, where poverty, both physical and spiritual, is sometimes clearly evident. It has also meant some expressions of opposition to what we are seeking to do, and the evidence of the battle for the hearts and minds of people is clear.
Keeping one eye on the possibilities of moving further south and at the same time being aware of the need in San Martin, the period from March to August 2018 was given over to developing and running a pilot course which took in different aspects of biblical and theological teaching in a format which is reflective and working towards the spiritual development of those who take part. The objective being to use the pilot as a means of determining the desire for a more developed course, and assess the ability of those participating to undertake such a course.
In answer to prayer, Dr. Colin Sims was able to return to San Martin for the development and duration of the pilot programme which was a boost to our “on the ground” presence and added significantly to the development of the pilot as well allowed for a review and upgrading of some of the week to week events which run alongside.
The course was very successful with those participants who had been through STS programmes, although it underscored the need for the development of basic skills, and the evident need of these skills within the Christian community.
During 2018 Mr Carli also studied for and received his certification in counselling and this has allowed the counselling aspect of STS to open up and this is something we would seek to develop in 2019 and offer the the community as a whole, irrespective of faith commitment.
In brief, the objectives for 2019 are:
- Continue with the regular activities of STS
- Meet the demand and requests for an additional summer course (with all of the preparation implications)
- Promote and establish the Counselling aspect of STS which is open to all the community
- Explore the opportunities for expanding the work of STS into neighbouring towns and villages
- The development of partnerships and invitation to other mission organisations to join us in the work in Patagonia
Further details of these can be obtained on request.
We would ask for your prayers for these and as we continue to look to the future, that we may know God’s guidance and provision and that all we undertake will bring honour to the name of Jesus.