Wednesday - Argentina. Latin American Assemblies Mission Conference
We arrived in Argentina on Tuesday and stayed over in a place called Lujan pronounced Luchan as we in Scotland would say the ch at the end of Loch.
As we turned into the town by car we were confronted with a huge Basilica which dominates the whole town. The picture I've attached is a picture of the Basilica. The following is a story of the image of Mary and why it is so significant in Argentina.
The Luján image was made in Brazil and sent to Argentina.Tradition holds that a settler ordered the image of Mary in 1630 because he intended to create a shrine in her honor to help reinvigorate the Catholic faith in Santiago del Estero, his region. After embarking from the port of Buenos Aires, the caravan carrying the image stopped at the residence of Don Rosendo Oramas, located in the present town of Zelaya.
When the caravan wanted to resume the journey, the oxen refused to move. Once the crate containing the image were removed, the animals started to move again. Given the evidence of a miracle, people believed the Virgin wished to remain there. The image was venerated in a primitive chapel for 40 years. Then the image was acquired by Ana de Matos and carried to Luján, where it currently resides.
Each year there is a pilgrimage of thousands who walk from Buenos Aries to the Basilica and celebrate a mass in the square in front of the church. The town is full of religious shops selling artefacts and images of Mary.
It's really sad that so many who believe in God can miss the message of the bible - 1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
The rest of the week until Saturday afternoon will be spent at the conference. The purpose of the conference is to consolidate missionary support groups in South America and create them where there is no support to send missionaries overseas.
This is extremely exciting when you bear in mind the backdrop and story behind this. The growth of the church in South America has been significant over the past 100 years. This was driven by God calling missionaries from the UK, Canada and the States to come to Latin America. This growth has now flamed a desire for South America to start sending missionaries to other parts of the world where there is a need to hear the Gospel.
Over the next 3 days we will be looking at the biblical basis for mission, the role of the mission service group, the financing of mission, the role of the commending church and the importance of the call to mission. There are many subjects to discuss around these matters. It is hoped this is the start of a support group similar to Echoes or Interlink for Latin America.
The picture I've attached is the session John Aitken facilitated at the start of the conference which looked at the growth of the world church and challenge of mission for the 21st century.
This will be the last blog until I return to the UK where I will summarise our very busy trip to Bolivia and Argentina.