A new work which is the result of the exercise and labor of a number of different believers.
Four years ago this month, brother Ron Wahls, from the Garnavillo, Iowa, assembly, asked if we would visit some Spanish speaking people in the town of Postville, Iowa, located about 30 miles northeast of Garnavillo. We felt there was an interest so we commenced a series of meetings that lasted five weeks, seven nights a week. During that time several professed to be saved.
Since then we have made a number of visits to Postville and others have professed faith in Christ. The attendance from the neighborhood ranges from about ten to sixty, including teenagers and adults.
The Los Angeles Times referred to Postville as, “the miniature Los Angeles.” Its multicultural population of about 2,300, consists primarily of wealthy Hasidic Jews that own and operate the kosher slaughterhouse in town, to the poorer Latinos that work for them. During the last ten years, Postville’s population has increased by fifty-five percent. The meat packinghouse in town is the largest kosher plant in the United States, with hopes of becoming the largest in the world. If this happens, it will mean more growth, increasing the ever-growing Latin community.
This sudden growth has created housing problems, with multiple families living in one house. To help alleviate this problem, brother Ron Wahls is working with the city of Postville to develop new homes just outside of town.
At first there was little or no interest shown towards the Hispanics. But now, different sects are making an effort to penetrate. Since we started our meetings, a Spanish-speaking priest has been called in to try to get people to come to his meetings.
The Latin population comes from Central America and Mexico. Most who attend our meetings come from a Mexican village called Barril, located in the State of Zacatecas. This has been helpful in one sense in that they know each other. On the other hand, such familiarity generates an atmosphere of difficulty, as some don’t want to be reproached for coming to the meetings. Even the people from their native village in Barril have applied pressure on some who come. But, with all this, there has been a continuous interest in the meetings.
Nelly and I spend time in the different homes, getting to know the people, speaking to them about the gospel and helping them adjust to their new environment. Meetings have been encouraging with good numbers coming out each night.
One lady has surprised everyone who knows her. When she lived in Mexico she was very devoted to her religion and despised anyone who wasn’t. She recently arrived in Postville and is related to a family who, for the most part, are saved and attend our meetings faithfully. She not only comes, but also listens very attentively. She shares with her husband what she hears each night.
We were told of a lady who used to have the worst tongue in the village, to the point where very few wanted to be around her. Since coming to the meetings she has changed. One person told us that it is a miracle. The lady herself hasn’t said anything about being saved. We trust that not only her tongue has been affected but also her soul.
A man and his wife, who live 30 miles away, have been coming. At first we felt they came just out of curiosity but during the last few meetings he has sat on the edge of his chair listening to every word. Sometimes they come on their own and at times they come with Dale and Myriam Brandt from Garnavillo, both of whom know Spanish and have been a real help to the work. Dale is giving Spanish lessons to the believers who want to learn the language.
We greatly appreciate the tireless labor of the believers from the Garnavillo assembly. Though many don’t know the language, they are with us each night, helping by bringing people to the meetings, or by bringing refreshments. Some of the younger sisters help by taking care of the young children so their parents can listen without interruption to the gospel.
Also, every Lord’s Day, the Garnavillo believers have a Sunday School English outreach in Postville. They average about 50 children.
We do appreciate the prayers of the Lord’s people, as we don’t know what future plans the Lord may have for Postville. At the present time, we are sowing the seed and look to Him for guidance as to the outcome. Perhaps some will return to their homeland and take the gospel to others. Perhaps we’ll have the joy of seeing an assembly established in this the fast-growing Latin community. In all things, may His Name be honored and glorified!