As STS feeds into the lives of many people from different backgrounds, it can be difficult to give a flavour of the diverse backgrounds that people are coming from.
Below are some brief outlines of some of those who have come along to courses over the past few years. We trust that they give an indication of the lives we can touch and the influence we can have within the wider christian community within the San Martín area.
Name: Edgardo Panguilef
Denomination: Asociación Iglesia del Señor la cual ganó por Su sangre. Yo soy la puerta (Association of the Lord’s Church which he won through his blood. I am the door.)
Pastor since: 1976
I have been living in Junín de los Andes for five years, but have been a pastor for forty years. In 1976 I started my pastorate. I was born in San Martín de los Andes, in the Vega Maipú neighbourhood. I lived there until I was eleven, and then had to move into the city because I became fatherless. At that time I had to confront life on my own. I met the Lord when I was eighteen, and when I was twenty I entered Buenos Aires Bible Institute (IBBA in Spanish).
I came to Junín de los Andes due to my work. I am an employee of the government of the province of Neuquén and they transferred me here. Because I had a call to ministry, I had hoped to start a new congregation in San Martín, but instead I opened this congregation in Junín de los Andes
I see the work of STS as excellent. It is practical, and dynamic training leaders in the area where we are living. For me this is an excellent workshop. We were chatting with our congregation and we wanted them to have training. I will recommend them to study with you. We are really thankful for your work. May God bless you.
Name: Gabriel Castillo
Denomination: Misión Iglesia del Señor (Lord’s Church Mission)
Pastor since: 2010
Gabriel became the pastor of the “Misión Iglesia del Señor” after the death of his father, Pastor Arcadio Castillo. He was the church’s pastor for over fifty years and during his lifetime the church had grown to become one of the largest congregations in San Martín de los Andes.
Succeeding his father as pastor caught Gabriel off guard; he had little to no theological training. He has been meeting with a group of about twenty young people from his church to study and research material online, but without good criteria to discriminate the origin and theology behind it. He has attended the STS course on Biblical Interpretation, accompanied by his wife. This may be the first step for STS to become the source of formal theological training in the life of this pastor.
Name: Felicia Maciel
Denomination: Iglesia Bautista Jesús es Rey (Jesus Is King Baptist Church)
Felicia is a wife and mother of a teenage girl. She is the only Christian in her family. She worships in one of the local Baptist churches, Jesus is King, which has an attendance of around twenty. The pastor is a pediatrician in the local hospital.
Unfortunately, where Felicia lives and works is not easily accessible, so church attendance can be erratic, but she always looks for opportunities to learn more about the Word of God.
Felicia attended the course offered by STS on “How to interpret the Gospels”. Even though it was only a four week course, her work responsibilities stopped her from attending one class. As a housekeeper, she is not allowed to leave the property when the owner of the house arrives. She needs to be available every time they may call on her. On this occasion, the owner paid an unexpected visit and so Felicia could not attend the second class. This highlights how difficult it is for many people to commit to a full course. Life here can be quite uncertain.
Felicia was very grateful for the course and thinks it will help her “grow greatly”. Felicia now has a “clearer understanding of how to interpret the Gospels”. She is looking forward to being able to attend more courses in the incoming year.
Name: Hermes Reyes
Denomination: Iglesia Evangélica de Cristo (Christ’s Evangelical Church)
Hermes is originally from Chile. He is married and father of a five-year old. He works in the construction industry as a self-employed builder although, with the economic problems Argentina is experiencing, it is not always easy to find full-time work. With a young family, work and church responsibilities, Hermes has still made time to attend the STS workshops and is a keen student with plenty of questions about how to interpret and apply God’s Word to everyday life.
He is a worship director in his congregation and leads Bible studies for younger folks. He is conscious that what he is learning applies not only to life in ministry, but to his personal life, as an individual, a husband and a father.In Hermes’ own words, the workshops have “better prepared me to attend to the needs of many people who are now beginning to come to church”. He is interested in pursuing further education through STS’s courses and workshops. He is very keen to continue developing his ministry.
Name: Joel San Martín
Denomination: Iglesia Evangélica de Cristo (Christ’s Evangelical Church)
Pastor since: 2008
Joel has been living in San Martín de los Andes for over twenty-three years. Originally from Chile he chose to live in SMA. Previously, he was a member of the Israelite Church, a denomination that holds strongly to Old Testament law.
He became a pastor of that congregation in 2008 after they were “expelled from the Israelite Church for being followers of Christ”. At that point they became the Church of Christ, with an attendance of around seventy.
He tells us that he is “happy and glad” with the presence of STS as we have become a “help” to them. He believes in the importance of being a united church, and thinks that, as a church. they can do a lot for the community where they are living.
A construction contractor, father and husband, he has participated in STS courses and workshops from the start. “I am happy that Pablo and Colin have come to SMA.” Joel very much hopes that the courses and workshops will continue. He is thankful to God that “He has prepared these people to help us keep on growing.”
This is the story of Oriana Gutierrez (44) and her husband Martín Pacheco (52). They have been married for 25 years and have a son Abner (24) and a daughter Sabrina (16).
Oriana’s husband, Martín, has been taking the CCAP (Christian counselling course) provided by STS.
Before my husband went through the CCAP counselling course we had experienced many difficult situations. Martín was involved in several car accidents, and our children had challenging health issues. These impacted us. Only time had helped us get over there situations and the hurt they left. However, a major crisis was triggered in our family when my father was diagnosed with advanced-stage dementia. He passed away recently on November 25, 2014. To make things worse, around this time, my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. As my father’s illness was advancing, I became more involved with his care, and this impacted heavily on my family.
My marriage began to suffer and I was so angry about the situation that we stopped going to church. My work began to suffer too. We started to isolate ourselves even from our friends. We did not want any visits in our home and we barely answered the phone. We wanted to be alone with our pain. I fell into a depressive state, often crying as loneliness was all that I could feel. As a family, we barely spoke with each other; my daughter spent all day alone in her room. All joy in our home left.
One day Martín waited up for me at home. I had worked all day and stayed at the hospital until late into the night. He talked to me seriously about the need to realize the state we, as a family, were in. He had been studying with the CCAP group at STS and he was able to use what he learned to recognize that we were going through a crisis.
He talked about it and explained the stages to be expected in our situation. Most of all, he helped me realize what I was experiencing, and how this affected my family.
It made me feel better to know that it was “normal” to feel as I did and that there where other people going through the same pain as us. Above all I came to realise that this was going to pass.
From being a wife I became a “client”. Every day I would talk to my husband, telling him how I felt. I was able to trust him; he was my support and helped me to find a way out to the crisis. And he helped me to reconnect with God.
During the last period of my father’s life, I also had to help other patients at the hospital. My family supported me through all this experience. Since my father passed away, I have been going through an acceptance period and at the same time trying to accompany Martin as he deals with his father’s terminal cancer.
The experience is so different now. With the tools that Martín received from doing the CCAP course, we can now deal better with this situation. When a person is equipped to counsel, he can bring understanding and support.
With suitable training he becomes a valuable resource to society. I’m so thankful for what Martín received from STS.
Feedback on STS workshop on 4th December 2015
Theme: Introduction to the letter Philippians
Time: a three-hour workshop, from 9pm to midnight, with a practical segment in which attendees worked in two groups on a topic from the second chapter of the Epistle.
Material: It was a walk through the history of Philippi and its importance in the region as a nexus between Asia and Europe and the commercial (and Roman military) route between both (Via Egnatia). We explored the archaeological excavations where the city was situated and we located it geographically in today’s maps. We searched for the cities visited by Paul, (Neapolis now Kavala and Philippi near todays Krenides). We walked through the steps of Paul’s second missionary journey, and how he got to the city of Philippi according to Acts 16. We considered his relationship to the people of Philippi, and the possible location and situation of Paul at the time of writing this letter. And finally we glanced through the main topics of the letter and focused on the teachings in chapter 2 on the example that we have in Jesus Christ.
Resources: With this workshop we inaugurated the online platform in which students, after signing in, have access to all the material used in the presentation plus three videos: one on the letter itself, the other on the construction of the Ignatian Road, and the last on the battle of Philippi as portrayed in the HBO series “Rome” for a recreation of how battles looked like at that time. Other material was also added, and we will continue updating the material so students should keep on coming back for refreshers and updates.
“Describe how this workshop will be useful in your ministry?”
(This is the translation of feedback from the workshop at STS)
“This will help me to be more like Jesus and be able to serve in humbleness. It cheers me to continue ministering”
“Very useful, I learned a lot and it clarified other things.”
“It taught me to see the life of Christ and to work to resemble his humility and obedience.”
“It is so interesting. Learn in order to teach my brethren that wish to learn and listen.”
“It was easy to understand and follow through. It gives us clarity in our daily learning; it teaches us how to be clear and concise in the things we say.”
“It gives me pointers to understand how I should relate to others, understanding that joy is present even in suffering.”
“Being more humble and not holding any position as something to care about, becoming a servant to others, in obedience as Jesus did.”
“To cheer my brethren in this time of crisis that our country is going through. When we learn how to deprive ourselves of our pride and we put ourselves at the service of others, this produces joy.”