Alf and Hilary Cooper link letter no. 28 October 2019

Very dear praying friends,

We are now deep into September and preparing to celebrate Chile’s National Independence Day, an event that lasts a whole week. It’s three months since we got back from the UK and we finally feel ourselves again and that we are properly back in our own environment – spiritually, in ministry and amongst the family, grandparenting once again!

Photograph of President Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera and his wife at Chile’s National Independence Day
President Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera and his wife at the celebration of Fiestas Patrias (Chile’s National Independence Day) – it’s an expression of Chilean culture and activities on 18 September are officially centred on a religious celebration “Te Deum Ecuménico de Fiestas Patrias”

Visiting our link churches in the UK

We greatly rejoiced as we visited most of you on the weekends, travelling from our base in Oxford. We were there for a term at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) and during the week, Alf would visit libraries and work on his doctoral studies while we lived at the CMS Community House on Iffley Road.

We have wonderful memories of our weekends including the HTB Leadership Conference in London where we met up with many Alpha Course workers as well as some from our nations in South America. We attended many beautiful church services, from St John’s Whittle-le- Woods in Lancashire down to All Saints in Sidmouth, Devon. We also enjoyed special times of ministry in our longstanding home churches – St Giles, Northampton, St Andrew’s, Chorleywood and All Saints, Woodford Wells.

You will also be amazed at how your wonderful English hymn books and liturgy refreshed our thirsty souls and we would often find ourselves very moved as we shared in your worship and your loving and brave stand.

Since Jahnn and Ara have worked at (and remain connected to) St Augustine’s, Broxbourne, we feel that it has also become another home in the UK for us! This is even more so since its vicar (and rural dean), Charles Hudson, came out to Chile to spend a glorious month with us in July last year.

However, we were very aware that we could not get to some of our other link churches, nor visit our precious friends in Northern Ireland, so visiting these churches will be a priority when we are next in the UK. This will be from the end of May right through to the Lambeth 2020 Conference in July and August. We will again be based in Oxford for studies but travelling on weekends. Please write to us if you would like us to fit you in for a visit.

La Trinidad

As you will remember, we have returned to continue the role as rector. We are seeing a new emphasis on prayer so we have set aside a special prayer room with weekly Wednesday morning meetings at 6am and regular prayer chains with fasting. Ministry is constant with Marriage Encounters, Youth Encounters, Children’s Encounters, Men’s Encounters and many others. We are seeing much fruit from these and from the Alpha and Marriage Alpha Courses.

Confirmations

Some of the fruit we are seeing includes last month’s confirmation service where nearly 30 new members were confirmed and taken into full membership and service. We are very happy to see these new people continue to bring other new people into church so that the circle of life in Jesus continues!

Alf preaching in church
Preaching during a confirmation service at La Trinidad
La Trinidad during the confirmation service
Confirmations at La Trinidad

Elim

However, we have even more reason to be further encouraged! September saw the beginnings of a new and very exciting initiative, a dream come true! Elim stands for Escuela de Lideres y Ministros Laicos (School for Leaders and Lay Ministers) and is effectively a Bible school that operates in the evenings and invites lay leaders to train for further ministry. It will follow the path of some of the ministry training in the UK, particularly schemes like St Mellitus College in London. We were surprised that nearly 40 leaders enrolled and over 30 have stuck with it, pursuing a fairly sacrificial period of study with enormous enthusiasm! It certainly keeps us on our toes and I have had to kick off with the first classes on the Doctrine of the Bible, the Canon of Scripture, Total Inerrancy and other interesting subjects!

A lecturer during a session at the new ELIM Bible school
The new ELIM Bible school

“Inside the Palacio”

I am very happy to inform that my English version of “Desde el Palacio”, called “Inside the Palacio”, is on Amazon (https://amzn.to/30XuO7S) and it will arrive within a few days if you order it. I have now received copies in Chile and hope to take one to the president in the next few weeks as well as some of the dignitaries mentioned in the book. If you have read it, you will see how the amazing story of the 33 lost miners (chapters 3 and 4), the history of the evangelical church in Chile (chapters 5 and 6) and the story of how churches have sought to uphold biblical values within Chile (chapter 7) continually bring Christ to the fore on the national stage.

Alf’s PhD Studies

We were so surprised and blessed last year by the generous response to our appeal for help in covering some of the costs of our PhD studies. CMS is kindly helping us with the funding for this but it has meant that we do need to raise the funds each year (the cost is around £6,000 per year). Last year we were fully covered thanks to your loving response. If you can help with funding this year, please give in the usual way, and if you have any questions please email Paul Read, people in mission funding manager, on paul.read@ churchmissionsociety.org and 01865 787525.

Photo of our granddaughter María
Our granddaughter María

Finally…

We were overjoyed to hear that Mark and Dani are expecting their first baby girl! Please pray for them at this time.

We share with you our love in Christ,

Alf and Hilary

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