We are so excited to give you the next update for the Hispanic ministry here in St. Louis. We are so thankful to our supporters for taking the time to read this blog, for your constant prayers and encouragement, and for your general interest in this ministry. It means the world to us. The boys are learning so much here too as they help us start this congregation, and here is a photo of Noah leading singing in our "Young Leaders Devotional" before our evening worship. Eli and Noah look forward to every last Sunday of the month where they get to practice leading singing, preaching, and more. The young men do such a great job and we are thankful to the elders and deacons for taking time to invest in the future leaders of the church.
These past two weeks have been packed with getting to know new Spanish-speaking friends from various countries. One of the families that are visiting our worship services are driving from Granite City, IL. They are orginally from Mexico, and they have been struggling to find a sound congregation that worships in Spanish. They mentioned to us that they are ready to be attending worship regularly again, and they are focusing on getting their teenage children to learn about the Bible. They admitted that they were easily influenced by the world and its temptations of staying home on Sunday morning, and their children know very little about the Bible because of it. They even mentioned about driving out on Sunday morning as well so that their teenagers can have their teen class in English. This couple is starving for the Word of God and they had so many questions. Elias and I were able to invite them over one Friday for a "American" meal including apple pie, and they were also able to study the Bible. It was a great evening, and they returned to worship with us Sunday evening. This couple also found our congregation through Facebook.
Facebook, although it has its downfalls, is a huge tool for us to reach the Hispanic community. The majority of them have a cell phone with social media, and they check it regularly. The St. Louis Hispanics group page lets Elias post at least twice a week in their group to invite people and put a scriptural message. It was also through this group that Elias was able to meet Oscar and Sandra from Honduras. After some counceling back and forth, they decided to attend worship about a month ago, and have been regular ever since. They are from Honduras, and we love talking about all the beautiful places we mutally know, and of course the delicious food. Sandra surprised us while we were camping for a couple days over fall break with a delicious Honduran beef stew. She drove 45 minutes just to bring it to us, but we are glad we chose to camp nearby just in case anyone needed us. FUE MUY DELICIOSO. Abel especially loved putting his rice in the broth.
And... we save the most exciting news for last. This past Sunday we had our record attendance of 25! This included only Spanish speaking people. We had a total of 6 families!!! Since it was the last Sunday of the month, they had decided to have a potluck full of dishes from other countries. We had Mexican Mole, Rice and beans from the Domincan Republic, and homemade tortillas from Honduras, American corn bread, and tres leches for dessert. It was so wonderful to have everyone gathered together for a meal and fellowship. We ask for your prayers for these 6 families especially, that they continue to worship with us on Sundays, that their hearts can be opened to obeying the Gospel, and for those that are already baptized to grow in their spiritual walk. We ask for prayers for us as well. That we may have the right words, and do the right things to bring these people to Christ.
Sidenote: Elias is soooo much better, no doubt thanks to your vervent prayers. He is still coughing every now and then, but he was able to preach his sermon Sunday without much problem.
We have had a whirlwind of a month, but we are so excited to share with you the wondeful new developments that we have been blessed to experience this month.
First of all, we have gotten settled into our new home, and it just feels so great. We love being close to the church building and the large Hispanic presense here in St. Charles, as well as being able to jump across the river in a quick 15 minutes to have studies with our contacts in St. Ann. Since we have discovered that our contacts are usually not in Wal-mart, Aldi, or other stores until around 8:00 p.m. due to their work schedule, it is nice to be able to make a quick trip to pass out flyers and still make it home before bedtime. It feels like we moved from the country to the city again. HA! This is a picture of the front of our new home, and let me just say...aren't the boys getting so big? It's true what they say, the days go so slow, but the years go so fast. We don't have any tiny babies any more.
As what seemed to be a pat on the back for our decision to make some huge life changes in our Ministry, our first Sunday living in St. Charles was our record attendance of 17. (Not including American supporters) What an awesome Sunday it was! We had a large family come that had been communicating with Elias via Facebook, our beloved Aura (her daughter and granddaughter) from D.R. returned from Massachusetts, and of course our ever faithful Lilly, Edgar, and Raul. The English preacher, Matt Stewart, and his family were able to attend services as well which put us at 22. What an encouragement it was to have them worshipping beside us!
Edgar and Elias serving the Lord's Supper.
We were able to share some bread and coffee with our visitors after services were completed. It was truly a great evening.
An unexpected, but very timely opportunity that we have recently been given is being hired as translators in the Francis Howell School District. (for those of you reading from anywhere but the St. Louis area, that is the school district in which the church is located). For more details on how we help the community through translating please ask Elias. He will be happy to share with you the good things happening here.
We also were blessed to be able to celebrate Eli's 9th birthday this past weekend. Happy Birthday Eli! We are so excited to see how God uses you for His Kingdom.
On a not so wonderful note, Elias has been dealing with some health issues since about August when he returned from Polishing the Pulpit. He has always had issues with upper respiratory problems even as a child, but since the "cold" he caught while traveling wasn't going away, we decided to check out urgent care. They gave him some anitbiotics and sent him on his way. Well a month later, Elias still had this lingering cough that especially made it difficult to preach. It seemed to get worse the more he talked, and we all know preachers need to TALK! A couple weeks ago, while the rest of the family was at home school CO-OP, Elias took himself back to Urgent Care where they took chest x-rays, gave him a nebulizar treatment, and diagnosed him with acute bronchitis. He is still struggling with this lingering dry cough, and we have tried EVERYTHING! It seems to mostly flare up at night, when he gets winded, or when he is preaching, teaching, or talking for longer periods of time. Please pray that he can kick this cough to the curb so he can be 100% again.
Hello to all of our faithful followers and supporters. We are so thankful you stayed with us, and we so greatly appreciate all the encouragemnt you've given to us and our family. We wanted to update you on how things are going and give you some exciting news!
Yesterday, we rejoiced with Miguel Araujo as he was baptized into Christ. We met Miguel as he was traveling for work purposes from North Carolina. He had been considering his salvation for a while now, but he wasn't quite sure how to go about being saved. Elias gladly showed him scripture to support all his questions, and Miguel asked if he could be baptized the following day.
A large group of members from the Foristell Church of Christ were already gathered together, and were able to meet at the Randy Jackson home for a baptism in their pool. It truly was a beuatiful night. Elias spent some time afterward with Miguel helping him to understand what God expects of him as he begins his Christian walk in NC. We hope to see him again really soon.
We are also happy to report that Lilly, Edgar, and Raul are still faithful members of worship services and Bible class. Also, Edwin, Dorris, and their middle school age son return to worship with us last Sunday evening. They are experiencing some difficulties with Edwin's job as an electric line men, which involves some travel and unfavorable conditions. While he is traveling, Doris is not able to drive, so she depends on neighbors to take her to the grocery store, etc. Please keep them in their prayers.
Elias has been using several avenues of outreach to let the people know we are here and ready to teach them the Word. One of those avenues is a spanish speaking Facebook group in St. Louis. He regularly posts some spiritual encouragement in this group, and he ends with an invitation to the worship services. (see pictures below of two examples) Today, a woman colled and asked for more details about our services, and said that her and her husband have been going through some tough times, and they would like to come this Wednesday to Bible study. She went on to say that she has been reading his posts on FB, and they have brought her hope, and her and her husband would like to meet with us for prayers.
On another note, we wanted to let you know, we were able to find a home 6 minutes from the church building! It was super difficult, but we are thankful to have a home to purchase hopefully Sept. 27th. We cannot wait! You're continued prayers are appreciated. God bless!
Hello to all of our readers and supporters. We know that it has been longer than normal since our last blog post, but we have some big changes happening all at once, and we wanted to make sure they were in place before we let the world know. So let me just get right to it, because I like blogs that get right to the point. Anyone else with me on that?
Change 1: Elias and I decided to sell our beloved home in Wentzville. Although the house was very well fit for the size of our family, the location is a little too far from where the majority of the Spanish contacts are coming from. We knew that we wanted to live in Wentzville for the schools and the proximity to my family to be able to help with the boys, but all in all, we were spending too much gas money, and too much time driving back and forth. Sometimes we would drive from Wentzville to St. Charles, back to Wentzville to pick up the big boys from school, and back to Overland for door knocking in one day. Which is doable, but not practical.
Change 2: We sold our home! We are so excited that we were able to sell our home in less than 3 weeks, and we officially closed on that home August 1st. We are HOMELESS! Which I never thought I would be excited to say, but since we have looked at over 40 houses near the church building and anything off HWY 364 really, and haven't found anything that we could fit into as a family of 6 or afford, we have moved in temporarily with my hospitable parents. We know that God has the right house out there for us, but the market is just too high right now, and the choices too few for us to consider purchasing a home within our budget. So we are thankful for the space my parents have loaned out to us, and for their patience as well. Living with four grandsons under the age of 9 is not an easy undertaking. The boys however, would like to stay here forever.
Change 3: Since the boys would not know excatly what school they would inevitably end up attending, Elias and I began entertaining the idea of Homeschooling our children. This idea has been pushed around and fought so much within our own minds ever since Eli became school age, but I am a public school teacher at heart, and the thought of taking on schooling four boys on my own was kind of terrifying. What if I ruin them for life? What if I am not capable? But through a lot of prayer, research, and a great homeschool support group at our congregation at West End, we were able to push those fears aside and take the leap to begin our Homeschool Journey. I can do a separate blog about the reasons why we chose to homeschool, and answer all your questions you may have for us if you'd like, but for now let me just say, the boys are LOVING being together as a family, Bible time over breakfast with Papi before he goes to work, and being done with core work before LUNCH! This will also allow us significant time to evangelize throughout the week as well as travel abroud for misson trips and outreach efforts without effecting their schooling. WIN WIN! (here are a few pics of our first day of homeschool)
Change 4: Our very first neice on the Roque side was born August 1st. Agness Cristina came into this world through a lot of strength, stamina, and prayer on behalf of her strong mother Claudia. She was in the Hospital for 5 days, and in Honduras no one can be with you while you are laboring, so we were left to sit and wait, and pray. God had a hand in the birth of this tiny sweetheart weighing in at 4.9 pounds. Claudia was told the entire pregnancy she would have a c-section due to her high blood pressure and other risks, but last minute at 38 weeks she was sent to the public hosptial to give birth naturally. To say she was unprepared, would be an understatement. Long story short, Baby Christy was born safe and sound, and mom and baby are recovering at home. Please continue to pray for them as they heal, and a big thank you to all our friends and family who prayed for Claudia while she was in the hospital. The doctor literally saved her and the baby's life by being in the right hallway at the right time. God is faithful.
In the midst of these big changes, we have had some pretty encouraging moments by the visit of several old friends throughout the summer. Friends from Nashville, Memphis, and Freed-Hardeman have come to vacation in St. Louis, and we are so thankful they called us to give us a big hug and push to keep working hard for the Kingdom.
Also during these changes, our contacts and opportunites to meet new people have continued to grow. This saturday, we were able to attend a Back to School Fair with the Foristell Church of Christ where literally hundreds of people were given free school supplies along with lierature about the Gospel in English and Spanish.
We continue to see great benefits from changing our Sunday services to 5 p.m. Mainly that our members Lilly, Edgar, and Raul can be there at every service to take the Lord's supper. Our brother Edgar serves on the Lord's supper table each Sunday, and they have been a constant encouragemnt to us. Please continue to pray for the Hispanics in this community. Catholism is strong, and the world has done a great job of keeping our contacts either "Too busy" or "too set in tradition" to come on a regular basis. We know the Lord is working, we just need to keep spreading his Gospel message daily. May God bless you, and thank you for reading our blog. Please leave us a comment below!
After nearly 20 days of continuous campaign work, we are finally home. It has been such a blessing (a tiring blessing) to be able to door knock, evangelize, provide for the needy, and encourage fellow brethren both here at West End, and in the streets of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Although having our two large campaigns back to back was very exhausting, it helped us see that the church at West End and the church at Tegucigalpa, Honduras was very much the same. Both congregations were striving to seek and save the lost. No matter what language we speak, we have a Love and purpose that is a universal language, The Gospel of Christ.
Over the course of our campaign in Honduras, we were able to conduct 63 Bible Studies with 83 people. We had 3 baptisms and 2 restorations as a result of those Bible studies. The members and visitors of the churches of La Canada and San Miguel were blessed with socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hair accessories and combs. To say they were grateful, would be an understatement. The children of Villa Claudia were given a Bible lesson and a meal to feed their hungry bellies. These children live in a government funded community with their mothers and are in great need of food, clothing, and sometimes care. (see pictures below).
The congregation at San Miguel church of Christ was our main focus during this particular campaign. The members were given a short Marriage seminar Saturday evening, and then a gospel meeting each night there after on the topic "Living with God in a world who rejects God." The children were also taught lessons on the life of Jesus. (see photos below)
Our new sisters in Christ were a little timid of the baptistry, but overcame their fears knowing it was more important to push those fears aside and receive their salvation. Most of people we study with have never been in a bathtub let alone a baptistry. The door knocking is always my favorite part. You never know who you are going to meet, and it never ceases to amaze me just how receptive these wonderful people are to hear the Gospel. Almost every door we knocked on, we were invited inside to sit down and study the Bible. Praise God. His truth was preached over the entire department of San Miguel, Tegu.
Eli was given the opportunity to serve as well on this mission, and we are so proud of his willingness to jump right in and serve. He was able to lead singing in Spanish, give a devotional to encourage the team, and help out around the kitchen and clinic. He did not complain about the heat or the changes in schedule, but he was your typical kid at every dull moment he would ask to play a game on his Roque Families phones...insert eyeroll...even in Honduras.
None of these successes would have been possible without our amazing, go with the flow, never complaining, always willing to jump in and help TEAM. This also includes our "team" of contributors who were not able to attend this mission trip in person, but they sent their love with their monetary donations that helped bring 12 preachers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to help us canvas the area. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this trip possible.
I am so excited to tell our readers about our very first door knocking campaign and Gospel meeting that I hardly know where to start. From the give away day to the wonderful guest speakers, or perhaps the countless volunteer work or the delicious meals shared while having a Bible Study. It all was truly more than we ever expected. God is working friends.
We began our campaign on Thursday Morning bright and early. Some volunteers even beat us to the building where we made some last minute organizational changes, and at 10 am, the doors opened. We met 12 families that day, roughly 30 Spanish speaking people walked through our doors and were given an invitation to worship services. And unlike last time, we had each guest register in our handy-dandy....NOTEBOOK. While the parents were "shopping" the children were fed a warm meal accompanied with cookies and lemonade. The parents later joined them, while Elias, Carlos, or Wayne studied the Bible with them around the table. Every family was able to listen to the Word without rejection. (OH did I mention Carlos Hughes from South Carolina along with his wife Mari, Dallas and her two teenagers, Wayne Brewer from Mayblevalle, AR and a Maria, Roberto, and Evelyn joined us from out of state to help door knock and evangelize? What a blessing!)
We closed down the give away around 3:30 pm, and prepared for the first night of the Gospel meeting. Aaron Baker delivered a great sermon on Raising a Christian Family in a World without God. What was most shocking to the Spanish speaking brethren and us is the amount of support we received from the English-speaking Congregation. We had so many come to support us Thursday and Friday nights at the meeting we almost cried. It was so empowering and encouraging to see our friends and family walk through those doors and shake our hands. Thank you to all who came to support our meeting. You meant so much to us.
Friday, we got up, and did it all over again. Being at the building from 9 am to 9 pm with four children is not for the faint of heart, and I am so thankful to all the people who showed compassion and forgiveness and mercy to my sons while they were "trying" to help, play, waste energy and time, and not eat every cookie they saw on the counter. I am most thankful to my mother who rescued them Saturday night, when they were holding on only by threads. She took them home, fed them, bathed them, and put them to bed in our home while she waited for us to arrive. GOD BLESS HER TEN FOLD. What would we do without family or church family?
Friday, we saw around 5 families, 15 people, and lots of items were cleared out of our give away stash. Josh Robinson delivered a message on how Christians are to live in this modern world. Thank you JOSH!
Saturday we saw another 8 families or around 20 people come to our give away. Every family that walked through the door this weekend was a new face to us. We had never met them before, and several people are actively looking for a place to Worship on Sunday mornings. We had a delicious meal of Lasagna and salad to feed them all this day, and they were so appreciative, especially of the homemade cookies.
Saturday evening, Christian Torres, or Hannibal Church of Christ came to speak to us and encourage us on how to stay the path in a world without Christ, followed by Carlos Hughes and his sermon on finding your salvation in this modern world. All of our speakers did a fantastic job of studying and bringing us the Word.
Sunday was a day to remember. It was the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of our meeting here at West End as the Iglesia de Cristo. What a very special day it was! We had two families come back to Worship with us from the give away days earlier that week. They had many questions, and Elias was able to sit down with them and answer those questions. They said they would be back next week also!
We couldn't end this post without a huge shout out to the people who pitched in to help make this event a success. We met over 25 families, 60 plus people, door knocked 50 doors, and conducted over 12 Bible studies, several of which will be on-going. What a blessing! We had volunteers come up and stay with us from 9 am to 9 pm each night! We did not even have to ask for help, and there they were buying more food, cleaning more tables, speaking Spanish to our guests. Our helpers who have been in the "business" for many years could not express enough how they had never seen such love and support from a congregation to a Hispanic Ministry that is just starting out. God bless each one of you. We are forever grateful.
The Roque Family
We were blessed this Memorial Weekend with a visit from the youth group at North Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, TN. This group of teenagers worked so hard to get all of our give away items organized, mail 500 flyers (hand sealed and addressed), and pass out some invitations personally out in the community. We honestly could not have done it all without them and the brave chaperones that accompanied them.
We also had a hardworking and dedicated crew from West End that chipped in to help feed the group of 50 volunteers on two separate days. Not only did they feed them, but they served them, cleaned up after them, and supplied them with all their needs while they were here. Being a last minute event, we were not sure anyone else would have time to help us this holiday weekend, but we were blown away once again of the generosity and servanthood of the members here. Thank you to all that helped make this preparation day a success. We could not have pulled it off without you.
Our Give Away Day and Gospel Meeting event is now all set up and ready to deliver. Thank you to all the local congregations and members who donated items, food, and their time to help make this event happen. We will begin on June 6th-8th.
9 am-12pm Give away.
Lunch at 12.
1-4 pm Give Away.
Dinner at 5 pm.
6:30-8:00 Gospel Meeting
The Campaign will end Sunday Morning on June 9th followed by a fellowship meal with the Entire congregation. If you would like to attend the Gospel Meeting, we will have an English speaker on Thursday and Friday nights that will be translated into Spanish.
Also, during the campaign we have two groups from Hispanic congregations coming to help us door knock. One is from Maybelville, AR and the other is from Greer, SC. We are so excited to have these preachers and their members with us to help conduct Bible studies and door knock during our campaign. Please continue to pray for this work, that their hearts are ready and softened to hear the Gospel, and that our groups arrive safely.
Thank you again
The Roque Family
As some of you already know, we are anxiously preparing for our very first door knocking campaign/Gospel meeting. We are very excited to announce the speakers and topics listed above in our newly printed flyer. If you would like to come to our services to help support our campaign, that would be so encouraging to us. Our speakers and lessons will be translated Thursday and Friday night. We also have some brave volunteers that are going to be door knocking with us Thursday June 6th -Saturday June 8th. If you would like to help please contact us and let us know. You're assistance is greatly needed. If door knocking isn't your thing, then we will be having a GIVE AWAY DAY each morning of the campaign as well. We need helpers to help organize the donations, entertain the children while their parents are shopping or having a Bible study, trucks to help deliver the donations from other neighboring congregations, and help serving lunch as well as Dinner. We have also contacted various congregations to help provide lunch and dinner for our volunteers of around 30 people per meal. If this is something you would like to assist with as well, please let us know.
We look forward to all God has planned for the Hispanic Congregation this summer at West End. May God bless you.
Help...its a word that seems to be the theme of our mission efforts over the past several weeks. Lots of individuals in the community need our help, aid was given to our ministry through several different outlets, and we have a new young man who has come to us from Mexico named Enrique that has been a great help to Elias during worship services.
We are so thankful to the ladies Bible class at Arnold Church of Christ for supplying us with Spanish Bibles to give out to the community and to have in our Auditorium. Thank you again ladies.
We are also very thankful for all the people who are helping us plan our first ever door knocking campaign here in St. Louis. The Campaign will be June 6th-9th, and our next blog post will be dedicated to giving out all the details and needs that we have in order to make this outreach a success.
A young woman from Gautemala greatly needed our help on Tuesday morning. Elias had been studying with them in their home over the past months, but he hadn't heard from them recently. Until Tuesday morning. She called Elias with an anxious voice, petitioning him to translate for her at a local clinic. She had no one else to turn to, exhausted all her other resources, and she was feeling very very ill. She needed answers, and thanks to the People's Clinic in St. Louis, she received some attention, and was sent immediately to St. Luke's ER for care. She is in the advanced stages of Hypothyroidism, and her Thyroid is bulging out of her throat. She has too many symptoms to list, and she has currently been held in the Hospital for 5 days. Elias spent the entire day trying to help the doctors understand the severity of her case, and we are so thankful the doctors finally listened. She is receiving treatment now at St. Luke's, but she hasn't improved enough to be released. Please pray for her and her family as her husband has taken off work to be with her at the Hospital. They kept thanking Elias over and over again for all his time and help.
Enrique! Enrique is a new face to our ministry here at West End. He comes to us from Columbia, MO where he's lived for the past year, but originally from Mexico. His father and brothers are preachers of the Gospel, and he is no stranger to mission work. He has helped his father begin many churches of Christ in Mexico, and evangelism is not foreign to him. He also is a talented song leader and enjoys preaching. We are so thankful Enrique found our location through a Facebook invitation. He had been looking for a Church of Christ in the area, and was overjoyed to finally find a place he can call home. Thank you Enrique for committing to helping us in services, evangelism, and outreach.
Our Honduras Mission Campaign preparation is in full swing. We leave on June 14-21st, and we have at least 6 dedicated souls commit to joining us on the trip. Most of these hard workers are first time mission trip-ers, and we love a trip that has newbies. The excitement and passion they bring for saving souls and helping others is unmatched. We have also had several donations thus far for our benevolence efforts this year. We are asking for new socks of all sizes, toothbrushes, and travel toothpaste, hair-bows and hair-ties, and new brushes or combs. These are different than our school supplies and flip-flops we normally ask for, but also still very needed. There will be a donation spot designated for us at the Trivia Night at St. Peter's Church of Christ on May 11th. We hope to see you there.
If you have any questions or want to join us on a mission trip, there is still time to go! We are going to be able to have 10-15 local preachers join us on our evangelism team throughout the week, teach kids a VBS style class, host a gospel meeting, and seminar.
Letters from the Foristell 1st-3rd Grade Girls below:
We are so close to seeing nicer weather, and we cannot wait for Spring. This past week we were able to finally get the family out of the house and join Elias on his weekly Bible study efforts. He has been studying on Thursday nights with a new family that has just arrived from Honduras. We received their contact information from a member at West End, and we are so thankful he decided to reach out to this family and us. Marcos, the father, his wife and four children, his sister, and a couple other men are living in a home in St. Peter's, MO. The first day we randomly showed up at their home with some Honduran cream to welcome them to the United States and offer any translating help they needed for schools or work. They were so thankful they immediately invited us inside to sit at their dining room table and talk. They were open to an encouraging scripture reading from the Bible, song, and prayer. They even invited us back the next Thursday. Fast forward to the next week, Marco's son recognized us as we knocked on the door, and immediately invited us inside. We had brought Bibles that were donated to us through some very generous supporters. They were given to Marcos, his wife, his son Patrick, and his sister. They were so thankful and excited to have their very own Sword. Here is a picture of some of the Bibles for evangelism, and the blue hard back Bibles were donated for our worship services. We were also able to purchase a GIANT print Bible for another brother who is having trouble seeing.
The Bible study lasted two whole hours. The boys were so good and patient, and we ended up studying with 5 people there. What an exciting night! This past Sunday we were so excited to see Marcos and his family walk through those double doors. It always brings such a big smile to our faces when we get to study with someone, and they ACTUALLY COME to worship services on Sunday. It feels like our efforts are not in vein. Thank you to everyone who has sent us contacts or given us locations of Hispanic families in the area. You never know what they may lead to. God bless you all.
Elias and Kristi Roque have been married for 9 years and during this time have planted/grown 4 congregations. They have 4 boys 7 and under working alongside them.