Walking In The Presence of God

Paulette and I have lived for the past 3 1/2 years in Latin America.  Ever since we retired at the end of 2015, we feel like we have been walking in the presence of God.  The Holy Spirit has transformed our lives.  We love Jesus and we love each other.  That was not the case before we retired.

Background

By the grace of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ, He saved me in 1975.  This was just before my 23rd birthday.  A few weeks later, I shared that news with a Christian girl I had known since High School.  We married about 10 months later. Paulette and I celebrated 43 years together earlier this year and that is a miracle only God could do.

At the time we married I lived near Washington DC and played tuba in the US Air Force Band.  I also discovered an interest in income tax and prepared federal and state income tax returns for individuals.  In the next four years, I completed an accounting degree at the University of Maryland, and we moved back to Houston, Texas in 1980.

Family Issues

With our two sons, we found excellent churches, joined a great small group and got on with our life.  We were relatively new Christians and thought we were walking in the presence of God.  But things started to fall apart when my first son, Jeremy started taking illegal drugs when he was 11.  That was 1989.  3 years later, our second son followed in his brother’s footsteps. During their teenage years, the Texas legal system taught me more than I ever wanted to know.

Jeremy got successively worse, caused enormous problems in our home, and eventually died of complications from a drug overdose at age 30.  That was 2008.  My wife was devastated.  Somewhere in that time frame, I remember telling God that I simply didn’t trust Him anymore.  This was definitely the low point.  It is a real testament to the Lord and my wife that we are still married.

God Never Leaves Us

Fortunately, God has infinite patience and infinite love.  In 2014, we started planning what I called “Our Retirement Adventure” – retiring outside the USA.  I don’t remember ever consulting the Lord about our plans.  We thought we had it all figured out.  Paulette retired in late 2015 and my last workday was January 4, 2016.  We took care of a few last-minute details and flew to Roatan Wednesday, January 13, 2016.  A few days later, the Lord grabbed our attention.  We discovered an English-speaking church less than a mile from where we were staying.  We attended that Sunday, and I believe God hijacked my retirement adventure that day.  It was as if  He was saying, “I like this retirement adventure idea.  But now I will be in charge!”  (And we are very glad he did!)

After Roatan, Boquete Panama

We got involved in several ministries through the church and got back to reading the Word and spending time with God.  He started us on a training program, which I now refer to as “Live and Serve Christ in Latin America” (see ** below).  As we traveled, God introduced us to many people like us who were living on their Social Security and serving part-time in ministries throughout Central and South America.  Our life was not all roses, but throughout we felt Him drawing us closer.

https://www.facebook.com/MultiMinistriesPanama/

https://www.godseyeschiriqui.org/

Jesus Calls Us to Medellin

The real eye-opener for us was April 2018 when we became confident that the Holy Spirit wanted us to move to Medellin, Colombia and help another couple start a Christian Church for English Speakers.  We aren’t Pastors and we have no formal Bible instruction.  But for reasons only He understands, He is working through us and we are trusting and obeying Him for the results.

Grace Church Medellin

Shortly after we arrived in Medellin, we met Michael and Nichole Thayer who had been serving as self-supporting missionaries to a local Spanish Christian congregation.  They introduced us to their fellow missionaries and now we are one big family.  In addition to their work with the Spanish church, they help us with the English church.

Shortly after that, we met Gil and Marina Huguley, who had just arrived in Medellin after spending 11 years traveling around the Caribbean in their sailboat.  We got to know them much better during a class on evangelism.  Last March, our 3 couples decided to start one small group Bible study in our apartment with 7 people.

I built a website and Facebook page about the English speaking church in Medellin, and The Holy Spirit started working, drawing a few people at a time.

Grace Church Medellin Small Groups - Summer 2019
Photos of our two English small group study groups in the Summer of 2019.

Originally, I thought the plan was to focus on older Retired English speakers from North America and Europe.  But as you can see, God had a different plan for His English-speaking Church.  Shortly after we started, 4 younger people contacted us saying they needed a night study because they work.  Michael and Nichole started a group in their apartment.  So then we had 2 groups in Poblado.

Our Newest Group in Laureles

But there are also English speakers in many other areas of Medellin, and we especially felt drawn to Laureles. 4 weeks ago, the Holy Spirit worked out a bunch of details, and we started a small group Bible study in a Spanish Christian Church in Laureles.  Our first 3 attendees are Colombians who are learning English.  So God’s plan is much bigger than mine.

New Laureles English Bible Study
Our new group in Laureles with details, and photos of Steve, Pastor Carlos, and Paulette. Pastor Carlos is a constant source of encouragement!

Today we have 3 small groups studying the Bible in Medellin under the name Grace Church Medellin, 100% in English.  We are all studying the Gospel of John verse by verse, learning together.  We also sing using YouTube videos, pray for one another, and remember Christ’s sacrifice through Communion.

That is where we are right now, walking in the presence of God.  And we are looking forward to what God is going to do in Medellin and the rest of Latin America.  Please think about joining us, or at least come for a visit.  Medellin is a wonderful place to live and serve Christ.

Steve Tuggle

** Live and Serve Christ in Latin America

A few months ago with the urging of the Holy Spirit, I created a Facebook page with the name Live and Serve Christ in Latin America.  I am convinced that many Christian retirees in North America are struggling to live on their retirement income and dwindling savings.  Most of them could live very comfortably on their Social Security down here.  And I’m sure God has plenty of ministry opportunities in mind for them.  Now I just need a way to attract a much bigger audience to get the word out.

https://www.facebook.com/ServeChristLatinAmerica/

Can you imagine the impact on the Great Commission if millions of retirees used their Social Security as guaranteed support and came down all over Latin America and other parts of the world looking for a way to serve our Lord?

Please click the link and like our Facebook page.  Thanks for your attention.

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