LETTER FROM MARTHA BERBERIAN Guatemala, October 23, 2008
Dear Prayer Partners,
Today is my 64th birthday. Where have all the years gone? Certainly the Lord has been faithful since my early childhood in New Jersey, growing up in North Carolina, moving to Latin America at the age of 11, meeting Sam in Argentina in Bible School, serving the Lord in so many ways since then, and living by faith day by day. (And I am still learning new things, Office 2007, blogs and websites.)
Seven months have gone by since our last letter and I am wondering how have YOU been? Has the Lord blessed you in a special way? Perhaps He entrusted you with an unexpected problem that shook you from complacency and brought you into a new relationship with the Lord. That has been the case, working on my dissertation for 3 years, finally finishing October 1st with 150 pages, titled “The need of national authors and publications to develop a truly Guatemalan church”. With 2.5 million evangelical Christians (out of a total population of 10 million), you would think that Guatemala would produce a good amount of its own literature. Not so. Less than 2% of the literature in the bookstores is produced by Guatemalan leaders, and the dissertation includes proposals to solve this problem.
WRITING AND PUBLISHING (via our small editorial: Ediciones Sa-Ber).
My weekly column appears in La Palabra with a wide readership, and I am continually editing articles or books for fledgling writers (all in Spanish of course). We decided to reprint a book Sam and I co-wrote on the family a number of years ago, finding it as straight to the point as ever. We scanned the text, added clip art, retitled it Principios para la Familia Integral (Principles for the Integral Family), and are preparing a new cover. It fits our 3 goals: short (64 pages), economical ($3.25), and useful (family orientation).
TEACHING. The end of April I finished teaching the course Techniques of Research to the first year students at the Panamerican University School of Theology, and then for three months I taught an experimental course on the Masters in Theology degree level, guiding the writing of the dissertations of 9 students (5 pastors, 3 university professors, 1 administrator). See the picture above. We had an interesting experience of learning and growing, with one of the students graduating October 2nd, and several more will graduate in November.
FAMILY. We became great grandparents in July, when Ryan Samuel was born to Kristina and Mark in Houston. The Lord is good. It’s unbelievable that Lisa’s son Andy is as tall as I am! We are thankful for each of our children and their families. Sam’s sister Lydia visited us earlier this month; she and I edited Yenovk Berberian’s autobiography (68 pages), adding photographs. Excellent story! Lydia plans to publish it in Spanish in Argentina. See the following picture of Lydia, when visiting the library.
DOULOS FOUNDATION: Frederick Crowe Institute and Dr. Núñez Library
The Institute, founded and supervised by Sam, provides junior and senior high education to pastors and leaders (and other adults) in the Saturday program, as well as providing the same level of education to adolescents in the weekday program. 40% of our 170 students are from extreme poverty level families who live on less than $250 dollars a month. You can make a difference in their lives as a donor. We continue to rent a large house in downtown Guatemala City; the 6 classrooms barely hold 18 students each when our goal is 25. The 13,000 volume library (begun with Sam’s personal library in 1989) survives and grows with donations of Spanish books and funds to cover projects. We need funds to digitalize the extensive card catalog.
THANK YOU for your prayers and gifts whether large or small. We invite you to be a part of our ministry by praying and giving, perhaps sponsoring a needy student ($300 per year per student), or a gift for our personal expenses. We want to thank those who have donated towards the building fund, and for library projects. Please send the designation with your donation.
For a tax deductible receipt, write your check to CMM (Christ’s Mandate for Missions) directed by our dear friend, Jorge Parrott, and mail to P.O. Box 7705, Charlotte, North Carolina 28241, USA. Telephone: (704) 225-3927. If you don’t need a receipt and it is more convenient, you may deposit your gift directly into our Bank of America account. Write us for details.
Proverbs 11:25: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
Prayerfully, Martha Saint-Berberian
Letter from Sam Berberian – Oct 22, 2008
Since our last letter in March our ministry continues as varied as you can imagine. For example, twice this month I was a guest on Vision Radio; one was a 6:00 to 7:30 a.m. interview on the subject of “Determination”. The other program was from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on “How to recognize your vocation”, both aimed at young people. In August I taught two workshops in a large congress for youth leaders called Especialidades Juveniles. I was surprised to be included among the three favorite speakers. I wonder if it is the sense of humor, or saying it like it is.
Teaching and Training Leaders for 30 Years
Looking back over 50 years of ministry, 30 of those have been spent in Guatemala, which has become our home, our people. During these past months I have had trips to Escuintla, Baja Verapaz and Mazatenango for meetings or classes, as well as two workshops in San Lucas, teaching a group of some 40 pastors who separate 3 days every 3 months for training. (See the picture, I am on the left in the black suit.) Most in this group have barely 7th grade education so the training needs to be simplified. As you know, I am Dean of the School of Theology of the Panamerican University; I am proud of the pastors and professionals who give priority to training to enhance their ministry for the Lord. Since March, two of my students graduated, one from the graduate, the other from the undergraduate program. In the picture is one of my 2rd year students, Sergio Martinez, pastor of the large church pictured below where I am preaching.
Ministry in churches, schools, retreats, dinners
Sundays I have been speaking in various churches in the Guatemala City area, some of them with 100 members, others are larger, including a Baptist church, Nazarene, Verbo, Central American, and independent groups. I have spoken at several couples dinners, motivating family unity (once team-teaching with my wife), as well as men’s breakfast meetings. A couple of months ago I gave the closing message to a large group of pastors and leaders in their international annual retreat. The presence of the Holy Spirit was very evident and touched many lives. I am often invited to speak in schools, either to the teaching staff or to the parents. As you can imagine, I need to be flexible and my style and content is continually changed and adapted according to the need.
Cell phone ministry and counseling
I use my cell phone for personal ministry, so when the phone is ringing (or vibrating), you wonder, like a fireman, what will be the call and you have to be ready to help and guide a pastor, a teacher, someone with a question or problem. For example, a student of mine got stuck while studying a passage in the New Testament with his discipleship group. I was able to give him some ideas from the Greek context that helped the study get on its way again. (You may remember that my mother was Greek and I have spoken Greek since childhood.) Another call came from a former student, leader of a big church, asking for guidance before attending a board meeting. My goal is to be available to help people in need.
Thank you for praying and giving
The description of our ministry that I just gave makes clear we can go on doing this work by the grace of the Lord and your prayer support, so that we be sure and do the job the Lord asks us to do. Only eternity will show how far has gone the investment of our friends in our teaching and preaching ministry through the years. As Paul said to the Corinthians, knowing that our work is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. 15:57-58.
As a closing paragraph, all of us know how long we have been living, but we never know how much is left ahead of us. Please pray for us to be faithful to the Lord, and thank you that your support gives us the means to do the job that God calls us to do, in the Frederick Crowe Institute, Doctor Nunez Library, Panamerican University, or in the churches.
(Dr.) Samuel Berberian