Missionary Rufino Laines and his deaconess wife, Mariana were called as missionaries to Granada in November 2005. Visiting with the couple this past weekend, we agreed that their time in this community was over and it was time for the church to prayerfully consider where he should now go to give witness to the Gospel. “We’re ready to go wherever the Lord calls,” was Mariana’s concluding comment.
When first called to serve in Granada, their assignment was to use every means possible to reach out with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and when the Holy Spirit gathers together a community of believers, to teach and with the community identify those who might be prepared to serve as a pastor and deaconess. By God’s grace, all this has been accomplished and on the 28thof March, a son of the congregation, Guillermo Zuniga, will graduate from our theological education program and be ordained into the ministry.
Some of you may remember one of Pastor Rufino’s first contacts in Granada – a police officer who was struggling with his vocation as a policeman. Could Christians really serve in the police force? In responding to the man’s concerns Pastor Rufino reflected on how God rules through government. He also spoke of sin and its consequences and of God’s eternal answer in the person of Jesus Christ. His clear witness to the Gospel touched the man’s heart and he himself became a wonderful witness to Jesus.
Though he has now moved from Granada, the contacts that followed led to the formation of a small community of believers. They first gathered in homes, then in a community centre. We had first planned to rent a facility that might be used as a worship centre, but soon discovered that it would be more cost effective to purchase land in this increasingly costly tourist city. With the assistance of Concordia Lutheran Mission Society that became possible. Since that time, with the assistance of several mission teams, the first stage of a church has been erected. (no windows or doors as of yet) The congregation now gathers here each Sunday for worship.
On the Sunday we worshipped with them, there were forty-seven people gathered. Pastor Rufino tells me that there is a membership of 60, and praise God, that is increasing. Next Sunday we will have some baptisms and confirmations.
Soon however this chapter in the ministry of Missionary and Mariana Lainez will come to an end. What will become of them? Where will they go? While the church here will make that decision in the next few weeks, I can perhaps give a heads up.
Monday morning we travelled to a community about 70 kilometres to the south, a city called Rivas. Pastor Rufino had met one family from this community when they visited a clinic held at the Granada church. Invited by this individual to come to Rivas, Pastor Rufino travelled down. One contact led to another and to another. Soon Pastor Rufino found himself travelling down every two weeks to visit, to make new contacts and to teach.
What a surprise when we arrived in Rivas. There to greet us in a little house were 17 people. They apologized that they could not all come; some were working. Those present shared a little of who they were, how they had become aware of Pastor Rufino and his message. They also spoke of their hope – of one day having a missionary in their midst. They also told me they didn’t have enough chairs for every body to sit on and wondered if I could do something about that. And there are babies to be baptized too!
Pastor Rufino tells me that he has 16 contact families in Rivas. They gather whenever he is able to come down and he leads them in devotion and study. He believes that God is opening this new door for the Gospel and you can tell by his smile that he is excited! So am I!
Our day in Rivas concluded with a devotion led by Pastor Rufino. We joined in the prayer asking that God would bless this new developing community of believers. May God provide them with a shepherd; may they be bold in their witness to the Gospel and may God continue to bless the ministry of Rufino and Mariana Lainez!
Up to this year, the ministry of Pastor Rufino and his wife has been supported by an individual family from one of our LCC congregations. This year, Zion Lutheran in Cloverdale, B. C. will underwrite a portion of those costs.