“Keep preaching like that. Don’t ever let fear keep you from speaking what the Lord has given you to say.“
These were the words of a pastor at a church where we recently ministered. While preaching to the families gathered, Ricky had mentioned that we do not often get invited back to churches because of his message. On the contrary, if we do get invited back, it’s because of Ricky’s message. It seems contradictory, but it has always been the case that Ricky’s preaching is the hinge on which our future with any church pivots. Hence, we are blessed to reunite with some people after meeting them once, while others we meet only once, and never again.
It’s ok, though. We did not go into this life of service to make tons of friends. That should not be the purpose of any mission or ministry, and I think those whose mission it is to truly share the Gospel would agree that it is often quite a lonely road. We take comfort in the ministry of John the Baptist because oftentimes, people don’t really know what to make of us. They often don’t understand why we place so much emphasis on the message portion of the presentation, as if we are not attuned to the current culture of ‘church.’
In a sense, they are right. No true believer should be satisfied with the status quo as we’ve come to know it in church. But in another sense, this is why ‘Casa de Doña Jenny’ even exists—because our experience in today’s churches has taught us that we have to offer something additional to the Word in order to be let in the door to begin with. Sadly, in many churches nowadays, God’s Word is simply not enough, and we have had a number of unfortunate experiences in which church leaders want to hurry the process along to get to the comedic portion. Leaders have held up signs or hand signals to indicate to Ricky how much time he has left–the length of time they originally allotted all of a sudden being shortened, and being attributed to some sudden, unforeseen circumstance.
I am often the one who has to deal with mitigating their anxiety while Ricky preaches, though I am not sure I do such a good job of comforting them when I tell them, This is the most important part of what we do. He is preaching God’s Word, and as one who fears God, I cannot stop him or I would be in sin. But, as this is your church, you can do whatever you think is right. This is not ever easy or fun, nor do I relish or wish for these encounters. Believe me when I tell you, my knees and lips tremble the whole time (I am grateful for a mask to cover everything but my eyes nowadays), but I am clear on one thing: my duty before the Lord and before my husband.
In these experiences, not a single church leader has ever approached Ricky to tell him that his teaching was unbiblical. Many will offer all kinds of apologies and excuses for cutting the service short, but never have they accused him of false teaching.
Some common reasons we have heard countless times:
He’s teaching to the parents and not the children. My answer to them is that we are not a children’s ministry. We are a ministry aimed at every member of the home and we make sure, when coordinating our visit to a church, to explain the presentation as ‘designed to reach the whole family from children to grandparents,’ and that it includes a Word-centered preaching portion. The label of children’s ministry has been put on us time and again…but never by us. Besides, the Word of God is for everyone, and Ricky makes sure to tell families that anything he is teaching them, he has already taught his own children.
His message is too serious. Our very souls’ eternal state depends on how seriously we take God’s Word. If we cannot be serious about God’s Word during church services, then where does that leave the church today?
1To everything there is a season,Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4
A time for every purpose under heaven…
4A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
The children are getting antsy. Church was never intended as a place for parents to unload the responsibility of their children for a couple of hours. But often, we find ourselves in a situation in which that is exactly what is expected: that we will remove the burden of parents and essentially babysit their children at the altar. Children should be trained to sit quietly with their family in church, and that training begins in the home. When parents fail to do this, it is not the church’s responsibility, the visiting minister’s responsibility, or even the Sunday school teacher’s responsibility.
On the contrary, there are many times that church leaders and congregants express sincere gratitude for the straightforward way in which Ricky brings the message; many who are thankful for the emphasis on Scripture as the final word on all matters. People often tell us that, though they brought us in for a mid-week service with the idea of ministering specifically to the children, they are grateful that the message was edifying for the congregation as a whole with its simple language, scripture-based teaching and accessible application. Many are thankful for the completeness of the ministry in bringing worship, truth, joy and laughter to families. In the best case scenario, pastors have even invited us back for a Sunday morning so that we can minister the same message to the entire congregation.
Nevertheless, no matter what we do or who we please or don’t please in this world, our prayer is always the same: that God is pleased with the sincerity of our intention and with the integrity of our hearts.
I know no religion but sincerity.-Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 17
FEEDING HIS SHEEP
We had the opportunity to minister in a small church this past month where most of the people were actually watching on their computers at home. You will see in the photos that we are wearing face shields to minister because the space was too small for us to be able to have ample distance between us and the congregants who were present.
This was an exciting evening for our oldest son, who got to sing with me for the first time during worship. He’s been playing tambourine for some time now, and is also learning to play cajón during our rehearsals at home. Marcos was cool as a cucumber, humble and focused. It also happened that the church’s talented band members accompanied us on electric guitar, bass and drums. We congratulated Marcos on his first time ever playing with a band, and he is excited to be a bigger part of our worship now. We in turn are excited about the things God is doing in his heart and life, and this worship offering is just a small outpouring of what he shares with us daily about his desire to walk in God’s ways, marry a godly woman and lead a household that serves the Lord.
near and far
This past month, the Lord presented more opportunities for online ministry. A school teacher asked us to be a part of her first parent-teacher meeting of the semester. Since she knew there would be a lot of anxiety on the part of everyone about the way this school year would be carried out, she called to ask if Ricky could help her open the meeting with a prayer and some encouragement for the parents and students. Below are some photos of the morning, where Marcos and I led them in a song, and Ricky brought a brief message to those in attendance via Microsoft Teams.
That same night, we were able to participate via Zoom with a group gathered at a youth leader’s home in the States. A couple who leads the youth in their church have been following our ministry for some time, and asked if we could bring biblical teaching to their group. We started with worship, and Ricky brought a message of salvation through repentance to the group. At the end we got to take a ‘group photo’ with the youth…
CONTINUING ONLINE MINISTRY
We never get tired of praising the Lord for leading us to create the online component of this ministry 3 years ago (wow, time flies). This gave us plenty of time to learn how to translate the way we minister into video format for such a time as this, when a large part of everyone’s lives has moved online.
Our boys have been starting to learn the basics of Final Cut Pro, the video editing software we use, since they have shown to be very opinionated about the creative choices we make. It’s nice to get their input and they have some very funny ideas that we have incorporated to our character-driven videos. Below, a round-up of the videos posted online in this past month…
- EXPLICACIÓN DEL LIBRO DE ESTER
- Concept: In this message about the dangers of pride, Ricky explains the story of the book of Esther, breaking with the convention of using this book mostly only in women’s Bible studies, taking the glory away from God and focusing on female empowerment.
- Teaching/Bible Verse: the book of Esther and many other passages
- Views: 1,811 as of this writing
- CASA DE DOÑA JENNY POR ZOOM
- Concept: In our last post, we wrote about a video we edited together for a church that wanted to include it in one of their virtual evening services. We decided to post the video to our ministry’s Facebook page shortly thereafter, and it has received a great response, with tons of comments and other positive reactions.
- Teaching/Bible Verse: Proverbs 4:23
- Views: 7K as of this writing
- LIGA DE COMPINCHES: EN LA REUNIÓN CAMARADA
- Concept: Doña Jenny and Don Paco travel to space in another dimension to save their fellow compinches from the evil Mosca Vader in this fun, comic-book-inspired video.
- Teaching/Bible Verse: Just for fun, this video is a showcase of some of the characters that have featured on our YouTube page since the beginning.
- Views: 112 as of this writing
- ALABANZA EN VIVO Y EN CUARENTENA
- Concept: Two worship songs we often play and sing performed from home and in churches. Also included are clips from live events that we have done in the past few years.
- Teaching/Bible Verse: We hope this video will help lead families in worship from their homes, as we have included hand motions for the Gospel message, as well as lyrics so they can sing along.
- Views: 1,732 as of this writing
PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION…(and also, puppies)
As things begin to open up more on the island, we believe it is still necessary to take maximum precaution in everything we do outside our home as a family and ministry. We trust in God’s protection over those who serve Him, and we are careful to assess each opportunity to leave our house in the light of whether it is really necessary and wise to do so, lest we tempt Him. We leave the house to serve in churches and for necessary errands. If Christians are truly called to love our neighbor, that means putting our own comfort and freedoms last. We are honest with our boys that this reality has no foreseeable end as of now, and that the things we can enjoy during this time are great blessings of mercy from our Father in Heaven.
One such blessing is a litter of 5 healthy puppies that our youngest dog gave birth to in August. (Apparently, she got along with our boy dog better than we thought!) We have been caring for them and helping their mama nurse her five babies. Immediately after all five puppies were born, Eugenio, our youngest, happily yelled out, “Now we have EIGHT dogs!” Thankfully, it is only temporary, but it has been a one-of-a-kind experience for our boys to see the birth and to gain some knowledge about the miracle of reproduction, and how a mother cares for her young. When she was pregnant, she would follow me around the house like a shadow, and the boys said, “She’s probably following you because she needs to learn how to be a mommy.”
It’s also been really fun to have daily puppy playtime where we rub their bellies and they scamper all over the place exploring, playing, making a mess and finding a nook to nap in. As far as at-home entertainment, a litter of puppies is about as great as it gets! And 5 puppies means there’s more than enough for each one of us to snuggle.
We are grateful for the continued support this ministry receives through your prayers, encouragement and giving. If you would like to make a contribution to RAME Ministries, there are two different ways you can do this: financially or physically.
To give financially, you may click HERE to go to our PayPal donation page, or click on the image of our family below.
To contribute to the physical needs of the ministry, you may click HERE or on the image of the gift below. Items start as low as $7.
Thank you for reading, and may the Lord grant you health and bless you richly.