The Webb Family --- Dominican Republic --- September 2016
To all our precious supporting churches and dear family and friends,
From our hearts to yours:
We have some news we are very excited to share with each of you. God has been carefully and orderly guiding our steps in a particular way for the last year and a half, so allow me to go back. It was while we were visiting our churches here in the USA that the pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church took me aside and shared with me the immense needs that their Hispanic church (part of Madison Ave.) had...they had been without a pastor for 4 years at that time. Their congregation was nearly the same size as the English speaking, and because of the church location, inevitably, it should be growing even more. Madison Avenue Baptist Church is located in Paterson, NJ, a city once flourishing as the "silk city" in the NYC metropolitan area. Paterson sits just 15 miles from NYC. This particular city through the years though, has had set backs and hard times. It has become quite a unique city, as it now contains 85,000 Hispanics, that is 53.37%! The interesting detail is that it has become one of the fastest growing communities for Dominican Americans. In fact, the Dominican Hispanics have become the largest group represented among all the Hispanics here, which include Nicaraguans, Salvadorians, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Peruvians, etc.
Looking back at what God has done:
God called us out as official full-time missionaries in 1997, and every moment of that time has been full of gratefulness to Him that He would consider us to such a fantastic calling. It was Jan. 7, 2001 that we landed our feet in Santiago, DR. God had a very clear calling on our lives: church planters. Through the 15 years, He graciously allowed us to start a church at ground zero, with nothingness to begin with. Those were days of immense dependence of the Holy Spirit's guidance and His encouragement. God blessed where human possibilities and limits ended. He did the IMPOSSIBLE, and we were the blessed ones to watch it before our eyes for 15 years. At year 14 when the conversation with Pastor Harvey occurred, realities were at the forefront....Pastor Edwin was ready to launch out, the leaders had been trained, the vision was now their own. New Life Baptist Church was walking on its own. What a heart-wrenching thought to face. I guess all us parents could compare it to the realities of our children growing up. But that was right, that equaled growth and health. It was what we set out to do. So what do we do now? What is the voice of God saying? Kelly and I began praying fervently. The conviction struck very clearly: my life was no longer requiring the amount of faith of 'yesterday'. I sensed His call but the struggle was intense. But overwhelmingly the thought occurred: "I do not want to be another Jonah victim, Lord!".....
We said yes to the invitation in Paterson. Human reasoning says it doesn't make sense. Our income is nearly halved, Paterson has the reputation of being a less desirable place to live, but the call of God is very clear and that alone is our sight at this time. God has been speaking! To know He still wants to use us for new things in His Kingdom work, who are we? How grateful and humbled we are.
My heart can't be thankful enough to God, to know that the baton has been passed at Vida Nueva, He has grown up Pastor Edwin to carry on the work, His work. Allow me to share with you a very intimate tear jerking picture that I received from one of our members on the last service there....it was a precious day, a heavy day, an 'altar call' for me if you will. Pastor Edwin had planned and called all the men of the church up to the platform and then asked me to come up. He then rose to the occasion, 'baton' already in hand, and with all authority and leadership skill, lead in prayer over me, and over the church. As one member wrote my wife, "Be thrilled!, Pastor's student has converted to the teacher!" Is there any greater joy? Can any riches of this world compare? I give my life gladly for this, for all He has allowed. To God be ALL the glory.
Intertwining the churches:
We are thrilled about what we see unfolding. Let me share a bit... In the most unique way, I plan to continue to work with New Life. We will simultaneously merge preaching series at certain times throughout the year. Our people at New Life have been given much, and we are looking to them to now "give out" what they have learned and been trained in. All of this can happen thru technology today. For instance, one plan of ours is to connect our couple's life group leaders in the DR with the couple who is on their own here trying to build the same type of group. I will also be traveling frequently to the DR to continue to mentor the leaders there as well as bring some of the men from here to the thriving work God is doing through Real Momentum men's ministry there at Vida Nueva. The yearly conference is held in January. Another exciting launch that we see in the future that we have been working on and praying over is being able to "take" the passion of Real Momentum into Brazil, to a dear missionary friend and his local work. This has been in the works for sometime now. I plan to take a small team from Vida Nueva (again, the "been given much, much is required" concept) and now prayerfully, a few from here in Paterson with me on this trip. In there distant future we are also looking at El Salvador for the same purpose.
Details about the present work at hand:
"Iglesia Bautista Madison Avenue" presently has about 100 members from a variety of Hispanic countries. My family and I arrived just 4 weeks ago and I have hit the ground running as I preach, connect with the deacons, observe what is at hand and strategize how to begin. My plate is very full. I must continually fix my eyes on Him. If you know me in a more personal way, then you know my burning desire for the Arabic people as well. Guess what? The largest Arabic community in the state is right here in Paterson. In fact, there is an Arabic service every Sunday afternoon! I have spent some time with their precious pastor, and ideas and vision is growing about more possibilities.
A personal note:
What is our role now? You can continue to support us on a monthly basis, as we begin our work here among the Hispanics as well as the potential opportunity for working alongside the Arabic believers and community, or, through what we have now established at Global Faith called, "Ministry Projects", which allows for our continued work overseas, specifically in the mentorship of our Dominican leaders at Vida Nueva as well as our heavy involvement with the Spanish side of "Real Momentum" mens ministry in the DR and other Hispanic countries. However, I do believe right here is the precise moment to say a very heart-felt THANK YOU, for every prayer, every word of encouragement along the way, every bit of sacrifice given on our behalf with your monetary support - may you be encouraged to know, none of it was in vain. There is much fruit upon your account. And I plead to the Lord: "May fruit continue to abound greatly at Vida Nueva,"
We are so grateful and honored to be able to continue on with the mission board, Global Faith. It is a thrill for us to know that Global Faith will be the mission Agency for a medical ministry clinic for the economically under-privileged that has been birthed out of Iglesia Bautista Vida Nueva, began by Milly Fernandez, wife of Pastor Edwin. How exciting is that! I stand in awe at all God has done in spite of us.
We are glad to answer all questions you may have, so, if so, please don't hesitate to connect through email:
And please, we beg for your prayers for the Webb family in this new chapter...
1.for our hearts to have solidarity towards Him and His work- (and for the children, it being their very first time) living in the USA.
2.for this church to be a beacon and testimony to shine boldly in the midst of much darkness.
3.for our adjusted income - that we not fret.
4.for a true revival at Iglesia Bautista Madison Avenue!
Much love and respect,
The Webb Family
John, Kelly, Chloe, Camille & Christian