Chapter XXIX The New Baptist Church Has A Pastor

During the week several from the church stopped at the carpenter shop to talk to Paul. They wanted to know how he planned to vote on Sunday. All were inclined to vote in favor of calling their church a Baptist church, but they wanted to be sure that others felt the same way. Paul didn’t have a lot of work to do so he had time to sit and talk with them.

One man expressed to Paul the way he was thinking. He said, “I have so much confidence in Dr. Alvarez that I’m inclined to vote in favor just because he is in favor. I know that isn’t good. I should vote in favor because I believe that’s the way God wants me to vote. Paul said, “That’s the way I feel.” He also said, “Our problem is that we don’t know personally any other Baptist church. All we know is what Dr. Alvarez has told us. We don’t even have any books on the subject.” The other man said, “It’s not just that we don’t know any other Baptist church. We can’t even say that we know another evangelical church. There are two ladies in the church that say they once visited an evangelical church in another province.

Mary also had similar discussions with other ladies from the church. On Saturday night the Parks family read the Bible together as was their custom every night. They read the first chapter of James. After wards Paul said, “I think we should claim the promise in verse five as to how we should vote tomorrow.” He read the verse again. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upraideth not: and it shall be given him.” Then they prayed. Mary’s prayer was, “Lord, if there is any reason why we shouldn’t vote in favor of calling our church a Baptist church and calling Ralph to be our pastor, make it known to us.”

On Sunday all the brethren of the church were present. There were even some visitors. Dr. Alvarez opened the service by leading them in singing two hymns. Then he said, “I think we should agree on some things before we vote. With your permission, I think we should put some limits on who can vote. Do you agree that those who vote should be over 18 years of age?” all agreed. Then he said, “Again I want to welcome our visitors, but I don’t think they should vote. Are you agreed?” All agreed.

As you may have guessed, all voted in favor of putting the name Baptist on their church and calling Ralph to be their pastor. With this we come to the end of the story of the Parks family. I trust you have enjoyed reading it and have learned some things from it. If so, please pass it on and encourage others to read the story.

The End

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Chapter XXVII The Denominations

The new church was uncertain about whether they wanted to invite Ralph to be their pastor since he wanted to make it a Baptist church. They were all new Christians and had a lot to learn. They didn’t know what a Baptist church was.

The following Sunday Dr. Alvarez laid aside what he planned to teach. He decided he had better explain to them what a Baptist church was. He explained to them that he had never been a member of a Baptist church. He said “The church I came from was called an interdenominational church. That means it is a little bit of all the denominations. It was a good church, but, knowing what I do about Baptists, I wouldn’t have any problem being one of them. Last week I also made a call to a friend of mine who is a Baptist to make sure I had my facts right.”

He opened the class by asking forgiveness for not explaining to them what a Baptist church was. He said “What is most important is that we have the right relationship with God. Our loyalty should be to him and not to a denomination. Of all the denominations, I’m most in agreement with the Baptists because they don’t have any control over the local churches.”

One of the men asked, “What would happen if we remain independent of all the denominations?” “That’s a good question” Dr. Alvarez said. “Let me explain to you what would happen. In reality, we are are already in a denomination. We would be among what are called non denominational or interdenominational churches. As a rule, these churches don’t take a strong stand on some Bible doctrines. They try to be flexible so as to attract more people to them. For example, you remember that I talked to you about the difference between Armenians and Calvinists. Armenians believe you can lose your salvation and Calvinists believe you can’t lose it. Interdenominational churches often leave the door open so you can be either or.”

Now” said Dr. Alvarez. “Let me explain to you what a Baptist church normally believes. Salvation isn’t by means of a Baptist church. I have never heard of a Baptist church that believes that. There are multitudes who are saved who aren’t Baptists. Most Baptist churches adhere to certain beliefs. The most outstanding is that salvation is in the finished work of Christ and not by human merit. The Bible clearly tells us that in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Baptists also believe that baptism has nothing to do with our salvation, but that those who are saved should be baptized as a public testimony to what Christ has done for us. Romans 6:3-5 is usually cited in defense of that. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

Dr. Alvarez went on to say, “The result is that if we examine the beliefs of most Baptist churches we are not likely to find that they disagree with what I have taught you from God’s Word. The problem is that there are various groups of Baptists churches. Not all of them teach what we believe. Last Sunday I spoke with Ralph about his his beliefs. I didn’t find that he believes anything different than what I have taught you.”

Dr. Alvarez looked at his watch and said “No doubt some of you have questions, but our time is gone. The children have already gone outside. Next Sunday We will give you time to ask questions. We will wait two more weeks before we made a decision about asking Ralph to be our pastor.”

On their way home Paul said to Mary, “I now feel more at ease about accepting Ralph as our pastor. I have confidence in Dr. Alvarez.” Mary said, “Me too. He always tries to confirm what he teaches with the Bible. If he is convinced that Ralph is a good Baptist, then I wouldn’t have any problem accepting him.”

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Chapter XXVIII Two Decisions Facing The Church

On Saturday morning Paul and Mary talked about the church as they drank mate together. Paul asked, “Could it be that we are Baptists and just haven’t realized it?” Mary responded with a different question. “If we put the name Baptist on the church, does that we mean that we all become Baptists?” “Perhaps” said Paul. “These are questions we need to ask Dr. Alvarez tomorrow. You remember he said that he was going to give us the opportunity to ask questions tomorrow.”

The next morning there was a good group of people gathered in the Alvarez living room. First they talked about the need for a bigger meeting place for their church. No decision was made about that. After singing a few hymns Dr. Alvarez led in prayer and asked for God’s direction regarding decisions the church needed to make. Then he said, “In the past there were several undecided about whether they wanted to ask Ralph to be our pastor. Before we discuss calling the church a Baptist church, I want to ask if there are still some who are still undecided about Ralph.” The silence was an indication that there were no more questions.

Then Dr. Alvarez said, “Now I’m ready to take your questions regarding the wisdom of putting the name Baptist on our church.” One of the ladies asked the first question. She asked if putting the name Baptist on the church would make it easier to get people to come to the church. Dr. Alvarez responded by saying, ”Some are already asking what kind of church we have. Without a name we have no identification. As it is, we are just known as an evangelical church. That doesn’t tell people much because there are a number of churches that go by that name, but they don’t all teach what the Bible tells us. For me, it will be much easier for people to know what we are if we say ours is a Baptist church.”

One of the men asked if the Baptists would help pay some of the expenses, like the pastor’s salary or the rent on a meeting place. “No” said Dr. Alvarez. “Baptists don’t work that way. They don’t have a hierarchy that has control over the churches. Every church is independent. If we want to, we can have fellowship with other Baptist churches of like faith and practice. Sometimes churches do form an organization between them so they can be the owners of a camp or something. Churches can be members of the organization if they want to. If they are, they are asked to send delegates to their meetings so they can vote on decisions that need to be made. The organization has no control over the churches. We are just talking about putting the name Baptist on our church. That will identify what we teach. If we don’t teach what Baptist churches teach we won’t be living up to our name. As I see it, our church is already a Baptist church. We just don’t have the name Baptist on the church.”

Someone else asked: “Sometime in the future could we take the name Baptist off of our church if we want to?” “Certainly” said Dr. Alvarez.

There was further discussion. Then Dr. Alvarez said “Next Sunday we are going to vote on two things. First will be whether we want our church to be called a Baptist church. If you say ‘no’ to that then we don’t need to vote on calling Ralph to be our pastor, because he has told us that we won’t accept it unless it is a Baptist church. If you vote ‘yes’ then we will vote on calling Ralph. I want you to go home and pray about it so you can come next Sunday with peace in your hearts about how you should vote.”

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Chapter XXVI What Is a Baptist Church?

Ralph said that if he was to be the pastor of the new church one requirement would be that it be a Baptist church. Even though Dr Alvarez considered himself a Baptist, he hadn’t explained to the people what a Baptist church was. Ralph was a little surprised that the people didn’t know what a Baptist church was.

Ralph explained to them that churches began in the New Testament. He said, “At first they were identified by the name of the city where they were located. For example, in the book of Revelation there are seven churches mentioned. In Revelation 2:1 the first church mentioned was called the church of Ephesus. Then there was the church of Smyrna in verse eight. Each one is called by the name of the city where it was located. Then, in history, there were groups of churches named after the man who started the first one. There were a number of Waldensian churches named after Peter Waldo. Later there were Presbyterian churches started by John Calvin. There were also Luthern churches started by Martin Luther.”

“The name Baptist was first given to churches in ridicule by the Roman Catholics because they rebaptized those that the Catholics had baptized as infants. They were called Anabaptists. That means rebaptizers. Later they were just called Baptist churches. Baptist churches date back nearly 1500 years.”

He also explained to them that there are churches that are called Baptist that he wouldn’t be in agreement with. He said “They may have been genuine Baptist churches years ago, but over the years they have departed from good biblical teaching and never changed their name. I prefer the name Baptist because traditionally they have been the churches that have stood closest to biblical teaching and practice.”

Dr. Alvarez said, “I’m sorry I haven’t explained more to you about what a Baptist church is. I thought it most important that you have a good clear understanding about what the Bible teaches. I agree with Ralph about the name Baptist.”

The meeting was closed because the men needed to get a fire started on the grill for a barbeque they had planned at noon. Mr. Perez, who asked the question “What is a Baptist church?” talked to the men who were starting the fire. He said, “I thought maybe a Baptist church was like a cult, but now I feel more at peace about it.”

In the afternoon Ralph met with the men on the directive committee. They told him what they thought they could offer him as a salary. Ralph didn’t say whether he thought they could live on that.

On their way home Paul and Mary talked about the meeting. They had a good impression of Ralph and his family. They were a little uncertain about making their church a Baptist Church. Paul said, “Does that mean we will have to surrender control of the church to some religious group? If so, I’m not in favor of it.”

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Chapter XXV The Potential New Pastor

We are going to skip about a month of what happened in the life of the Parks family. It was just life as usual for them anyway. We want to get on to the arrival of Ralph and his family. It was a Saturday morning.

Dr. Alvarez had to go treat some sick animals so he couldn’t go to the bus terminal. He asked some of the people from the Bible study to go to meet them. One of the families had a big house and they offered to keep them. In all, some 20 people showed up to meet them. The bus was to arrive at 10:30. The Parks family was among those who were waiting at the terminal. They, along with some others, were able to walk to the terminal. Some came on city buses. One man was there with his pick up to take their luggage to the place where they would be staying. Another man came with his car to take the family. Several had contributed meat for a barbeque at noon at the house where they would be staying. The bus arrived about 10 minuets late. Everyone wondered how they would recognize the family when they arrived.

When the bus arrived everyone wanted to be the first to recognize Ralph and his family. They were looking for a young couple with a little girl. The first ones to get off the bus were an old couple. Then a man got off followed by several young people. Then several others got off, but they didn’t see a young couple with a little girl. They began to wonder if perhaps they didn’t come.

Ralph went around to the other side of the bus where a man was setting the luggage off the bus. He saw a young lady with a little girl. She stepped up to a man, pointed to a suit case, and said “That one is ours.” Paul thought, “That must be Ralph.” He stepped up to him and asked him, “Are you Ralph by any chance?” “Yes” the man answered with a big smile. Paul helped him carry their luggage around to the other side of the bus where the others were waiting. Paul Introduced Ralph and his family to all those who were waiting. He introduced each one by name. Ralph and his wife were surprised and happy that so many had come out to meet them.

The next morning nearly all the regulars and a few extras were at the Bible study. Dr. Alvarez introduced Ralph and his family. Afterwords Ralph preached. Then Dr. Alvarez led the group in a question and answer time so they could get better acquainted with Ralph and his wife. After several questions were asked and answered Ralph explained to them that the decision was theirs as to whether they wanted him to be their pastor. Then he said “If you want me to be your pastor I’ll have some requirements. One will be that the church be organized.. Another is that it be called a Baptist church.” Mr. Perez had a question for him. Several others had the same question on their minds. His question was “What is a Baptist church?”

In our next chapter we will learn how Ralph answered that question and whether he became their pastor.

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Chapter XXIV A Discipline Problem

On Sunday, after the Bible study, Dr. Alvarez proceeded with the matter of forming the directive committee. A number of the men raised their hands to say they were willing to serve on the committee. The doctor wrote their names on a white board so everyone could see them. Then he handed out a sheet of paper to all the adults and made sure they all had a ball point pen. “Now” he said, “On your paper I want you to write down the words secretary, treasurer, financial secretary, and member at large. Below each of those you can write the name of the man that you think could best serve in that capacity. Afterwords we will count the votes.” The votes were counted. Paul wasn’t chosen. He was a little disappointed, but he accepted it well.

Afterwords Dr. Alvarez asked “How many of you think we should invite Ralph and his family to come for a visit?” Everyone was in agreement. Dr. Alvarez said, “I’ll get a letter in the mail to him as soon as possible.”

On Monday, when Paul came home from work, he found Mary in tears. He asked her “What happened?” She said “Carlitos came home from school with a bad note. He has been suspended for three days for fighting on the play ground.” They called Carlitos and asked him what happened. As could be expected, he said “He hit me first.” Paul asked, “But why did you hit him?” Carlitos explained that they were playing soccer. “I had the ball and this boy hit me in the ribs with his shoulder and made me drop the ball. I lost my temper and hit him in the face. Then he hit me in the side of my head. I knocked him down, sat on him, and started beating on his shoulders. Others pulled me off. I was taken to the principle’s office. When they explained to her what happened she wrote me this note and told me not to come back to school for three days.”

They scolded Carlitos and Paul gave him a spanking. Then they both sat down, one on each side of him, and prayed that God would help him to control his temper the next time something like this happened. They both kissed him and assured him of their love.

Mary went to get supper ready. She was relieved that the problem had been solved. Paul started setting the table for her. Their relief didn’t last long, however. Someone was clapping their hands at the front gate. It was the mother of the boy that Carlitos fought with. She was furious. Paul and Mary both tried to calm her down, but with little success. She was insulting them with profanity. She threatened to take them to court. She said “Both of you aught to be in jail.” Silvia, their next door neighbor, heard what was going on. She came over and tried to help Paul and Mary calm her down. She wasn’t much help either. Finally the lady left, cursing them as she went. Mary went back in the house and burst into tears. Paul was angry. Carlitos was crying, knowing that he was the cause for what had happened.

Paul and Mary were new Christians and didn’t know how Christians should react under these circumstances. Paul said, “Sit down, sweet heart, and let’s think this over and decide how we should react. I confess, I’m angry. Do we have reason to be angry?” “Well I would think so” Mary answered. “Yes” said Paul, “We have reason to be angry, but will it do us any good? Perhaps she had reason for being angry with us, but I don’t see that it was our fault. It’s best that we just forget it and get supper ready. I’ll help you.” They both went to the kitchen.

While they were eating their supper Mary said, “I wonder what the neighbors are thinking. They must have heard what was going on. “That’s alright” Paul said. “Tomorrow we will explain it to them.”

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Chapter XXII Should Paul Rent The Store Front?

Paul needed to make a decision. He had finished the chests of drawers that the owner of their house wanted. The owner had given him permission to keep using the store front for a few more days so he could finish some more jobs that had come in. If someone was to rent the store front before he finished he would be left without a work place. He didn’t have the money to rent it.

The day came when the owner of their house came to pick up the chests of drawers he had made for him. Paul asked him to sit down because he had a question for him. He said, “If, by the end of the month, my earnings have been sufficient, I’ll sign a rent contract. Will you agree to that?” The owner said “Sure, I’ll agree to that.” Paul knew he would have to pray that more work would come in.

At the next Sunday morning Bible study Dr. Alvarez said he had a special announcement for them. He had a letter in his hand that he had received from his engineer friend. In the letter he said he had received a letter from a young couple in Buenos Aires who said they would be willing to consider coming to Chilecito to start a church. The man’s name was Ralph and his wife’s name was Joana. They had one child; a girl. Ralph had studied for two years in a seminary. He had experience in preaching but he had never pastored a church. He said they were willing to come to Chilecito for a visit if they invited them.

Dr. Alvarez said “I don’t want to invite them without your permission.” Then he said “Before we do that, I think it’s time that we started taking up offerings on Sundays. Before we do that, we need to form a directive committee. We need to have a treasure to keep track of the money and keep it in a safe place. That way, it isn’t just in my hands.”

There was a time of discussion. Someone asked if the Bible study group should offer to pay for the trip for the young couple. Dr. Alvarez said “I think that would be an excellent idea.” Someone else asked “Does this man, Ralph, have any skills? Will he be able to find a job here in Chilecito?” Dr. Alvarez said “That which would be ideal would be that we pay him a salary so he wouldn’t have to work. That is what most churches do.” “But” some one asked, “How could we raise enough money to pay him a salary?”

Dr. Alvarez explained to them that it would be impossible if everyone just put in one or two pesos in the offering every Sunday. In the Bible it talks about people giving 10% of their earnings to the Lord. It is called a tithe. In the Old Testament, what they gave sometimes even amounted to more than that. In the New Testament we don’t read anywhere that it is the Christian’s obligation to give a tithe to the Lord, but down through history many Christians have done that and God has always met their needs. Then he read to them Luke 6:38 which says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Then he said, “It’s just a matter of trusting the Lord and claiming his promise.”

There was more discussion about forming a directive committee. Dr. Alvarez said, “In my opinion we ought to chose at least four men to form the committee. One can be the treasurer, another the financial adviser, and one can be the secretary to keep notes of decisions that are made. The other will just be a member at large. I would like to give you a week to think about it and we will form the committee next Sunday.”

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Chapter XXI The New Carpenter Shop

By Tuesday of the next week the man had everything ready at the store front for Paul to start working on the chests of drawers he wanted made. Paul had to make three trips to the store front to carry the tools he had purchased. He made one trip carrying two saw horses that he had made from some lumber he had at the house.

In the afternoon a lady stopped by where Paul was working. She said, “Well I’m glad to see that you opened a carpenter shop here. I need to have someone replace a window frame at my house. Would you be able to do it?” Paul assured her that he could. He wrote down her address and told her he would stop at her house the next morning and take the measurements. Almost every day someone stopped and asked Paul about doing some work for them.

Paul asked the owner of the store front if he could keep working there since more work had come in. He said, “Sure as long as someone doesn’t come along who wants to rent the store front.” For that reason, Paul felt he needed to get the work done as soon as possible. He started working at 7:00 in the morning and didn’t go home until 7:00 in the evening. On Saturday he worked until noon and told Mary that he was thinking he better spend part of Sunday on the job. She was worried about that. She reminded him that he wasn’t spending enough time with the family. “And besides” she said, “Sunday is the Lord’s day. It seems to me like you should honor him on Sunday.” “I don’t know” he said.

On Sunday morning Mary was relieved that Paul didn’t get up and go to work like he was accustomed to. She didn’t know what a struggle he had gone through during the night. During the week Paul’s mind had been so occupied with his work that he hadn’t thought much about his family, and even less about God. In the night he was asking himself, “Isn’t it God’s will that I work to provide for my family? Besides, it’s just this one Sunday that I’m thinking about working.” Then some words came to his mind. They were “Give to God that which is his.” He wasn’t sure if they came from the Bible. Finally he said to himself, “If Sunday is God’s day, I should give it to him. I’m not going to work.”

Paul got up and ate breakfast with the family. Then he went with them to the Bible study at the Alvarez house. After the evangelistic meetings even more people were coming to the Bible studies on Sunday mornings. The house was really too small for all the people. To solve the problem, they agreed that the men would remain standing and leave the benches and chairs for the women and children. Someone suggested that they should look for a store front where they could meet. Paul didn’t tell them that he knew of one that was for rent.

As they walked home from the Bible Study that Sunday morning Paul said to Mary, “When I lost my job I didn’t give any thought to opening another carpenter shop here in Chilecito. I didn’t have any tools or a place to work. It’s unbelievable what God has done for me in less than a week. God has sure been good to us, hasn’t he? Thanks for making me realize that I should honor God by being in the Bible study this morning.”

Don’t miss the next chapter to learn more about what will happen with the Parks family.

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Chapter XX God Provides

December 13, 2016

Chapter XX God Provides

After losing his job, the thing Paul was most concerned about was how they were going to be able to pay their rent. He always had a good relationship with the owner of the house and he wanted to keep it that way. He decided the prudent thing to do would be to tell him that he had lost his job and wasn’t sure about how he would be able to pay the rent. The owner was very understanding of Paul when he told him what happened. His wife was listening to the conversation from the kitchen. She stepped into the living room and asked her husband if perhaps Paul could make some chests of drawers they were needing for two of their bedrooms. They both explained to Paul what they had in mind. Paul said, “Sure, I could make them, but my problem is that I don’t have tools of my own with which to work.”

The owner said to Paul, “Let’s go to the kitchen and I’ll do some figuring.” he asked his wife to put the tea kettle on so they could drink mate. Paul said he could do the job for $400 pesos, not counting the cost of the materials. The owner said, “Ok, we will take $200 out of that for your rent and with the other $200 you can buy some tools.’ Paul said, “That still leaves me with another problem. I don’t have a place to work.” The owner said, “It so happens that I have a store front that I want to rent. For now, you could work there.” Paul took the measurements of the chests of drawers they wanted made and gave the owner a list of the wood he would need. The owner said he would let him know when he had everything ready for him.

Paul went back home with a big smile on his face. The first thing he said to Mary was “It looks like God is already answering our prayers. The owner of the house has a job for me.” They rejoiced together.

Carlitos came home from school that day with his hip pocket ripped open. Mary asked him what happened. He explained to her that a boy grabbed him by his hip pocket and he tried to get away. Her first thought was “It looks like he is going to need a new pair of pants.” Almost immediately she realized that Paul was without work and they had to watch their money awful close. The only other solution would be to sew it up.

After Carlitos changed his clothes she threaded a needle and sat down to sew up his pocket. As she did so, a feeling of bitterness entered her mind. She began to think back over the previous weeks and months. She thought “All this began because of our friendship with the Alvarez family and because we are going to the Bible studies at their house.” It was as if Satan was putting into her mind the temptation to break off the relationship with the Alvarez family and go back to life as it was before they knew them. But then she thought of the peace that flooded her soul that night when she accepted Christ as her Savior. “I didn’t do wrong when I did that” she said to herself. Dr. Alvarez has told us that tribulation will come when we follow Christ. She remembered also how God was answering their prayers.

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