Uruguay: Serving in the Center of God's Will
By Ana B. Caracciolo
Uruguay is located on the southeastern coast of South America, next to the Atlantic Ocean. Our two biggest neighbors are Brazil and Argentina. Brazil is north of Uruguay, and Argentina is west.
The official language is Castilian (Spanish), but Portuguese is also spoken in the North, because of the region’s proximity to Brazil. Uruguay’s citizens enjoy free education from the primary level through university, which has contributed to a high literacy rate (98.7%) and level of educational achievement.
The Republica Oriental del Uruguay is a secular society, although 47 percent of citizens identify as Roman Catholic. About 30 assemblies are scattered across the country, which is slightly smaller than Washington state, with a population close to 3.5 million.
I was born and raised in Mercedes, Uruguay, and in 2015, Buena Park Christian Fellowship in southern California commended me to serve in my home country. But my ministry began long before 2015.
THE START OF MY MINISTRY
You may know of Evelyn Pelley (Missionary Prayer Handbook Day 24, refocused), a missionary who served the Lord in Bolivia, Colombia, and Uruguay. Now 91 years old, Evelyn lives in Western Assemblies Home in Claremont, California. In 1978, Grace Bible Chapel in Fullerton, California, commended her to the Lord’s work, and she served as a music teacher at Escuela Cristiana Camireña (Camiri Christian School) in Bolivia, which Eugene and Loraine Train (CMML missionaries now home with the Lord) started. You are probably wondering what Evelyn has to do with my present ministry in Uruguay. Let me tell you.
In 1976, after I graduated from Fundación Escuela Biblica Evangélica (FEBE) in Villa María, Argentina, Eugene Train invited me to serve the Lord at Escuela Cristiana Camireña. My answer was yes—I accepted the challenge. So, at 19 years old, I left home to serve the Lord as a teacher of various subjects. In 1978, I met Evelyn. Besides teaching at the Christian school, we trained Bible Club teachers and participated in children’s and women’s ministries.
In 1981, my home assembly in Uruguay commended me to the Lord’s work in Colombia, where I again served alongside Evelyn. Then, in 1993, we returned to Uruguay to re-establish the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) ministry. We earned advanced CEF training and instructors of teachers credentials. Then, we began training Sunday school teachers across the country.
After 12 years of living in the US, I realized that the Lord had different plans for me when the government rejected my visa application. So I remained open to the Lord’s guidance for my future. In 2015, the Buena Park assembly commended me to the Lord’s work in Uruguay, where I continue to serve today.
Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica of La Espada, which I attend, is the largest assembly in Montevideo. It hosts two annual conferences, and a great number of believers from all over Uruguay attend them. God has blessed the La Espada assembly with many young people who actively reach others with the Gospel.
Usually, I join them for door-to-door gospel tract distribution in the surrounding neighborhood. The youth are also actively involved in children’s activities, like open-air Bible classes, special programs, and youth and teen Bible camps. In the past, I trained young people using my CEF experience, equipping them with strategies to reach out to kids.
Yet ministry looks different now. The COVID-19 pandemic suspended some activities, as well as some of my travel and teaching. However, recently, I prepared the lesson plan for La Espada’s annual children’s program, designed for use in open-air Bible clubs this year. Similarly, I am organizing the Ecilda Paullier assembly’s annual Sunday school program. Under normal circumstances, I would travel to Ecilda Paullier once per month to help them with their Sunday school and children’s ministry.
Also at La Espada, I am involved with a women’s Bible study, although, right now, we cannot gather due to the pandemic. Every 15 days, I would meet with a small group of women— about six to eight—in one woman’s home to study the Bible. It was a joy to learn together from God’s Word.
I help the pro-life group CENVIAB (also known as Abundant Life Center) with its evangelistic outreach. Again, under normal circumstances, we would pack and distribute baby bundles in the Pereira Rossell Hospital in Montevideo. Every Saturday, we would meet to pray and pack the baby gifts, which we would deliver three times per year: Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, and Christmas. Believers donate the baby clothing, especially for newborns, that we would include in the bundles. We thank the Lord that the hospital staff allowed us to visit room to room and talk with young and older mothers (parturientas). Along with the gifts, we would present the Gospel. Although we paused our activities due to the pandemic, we still get together for prayer time via Zoom on Monday evenings.
One of our team members, Guillermina, organizes these activities and follows up with the mothers we talk to. Recently, she contacted Diana, a young woman who aborted her baby. Guillermina ministers to Diana via phone calls. Please pray for Diana’s salvation. Pray also that CENVIAB will find someone to create a professional video to help us reach young people via different internet platforms.
Please pray for my one-to-one evangelism. Before the pandemic, I would visit bus stops to distribute gospel tracts and talk with people waiting for their rides. Since the pandemic limits this ministry, I thought of other ways to connect with people, especially my neighbors. During the holidays (Christmas and Three King’s Day), I distributed bags containing snacks and a gospel tract that says “Merry Christmas!” The tract looks like a Christmas card, and it is widely accepted. I thank the Lord that I had the opportunity to talk with a neighbor and two security guards in the building where I live. Please pray that they will be interested in the Gospel and trust Christ.
Since the Lord called me to serve Him back in the 1970s, I have seen Him lead and guide me to where I am today. It is wonderful to be in the center of God’s will. Thank you so much for your faithful support and valuable prayers. ■
Ana Caracciolo is commended from Buena Park Christian Fellowship in Buena Park, California.