May 2013 Newsletter
People for Christian Service and Leadership
Last Saturday was
one of those beautiful days in San Diego, CA. I was sharing a
lunch outside with a retired missionary couple, Larry and Judy
Webb, who are still active with their denomination in South
America. I was sharing about Icthus when Larry asked how Icthus
groups are started. I said, “I have a great example about the
birth of a group in Colombia from an interview last week with
Julieth Dickson, the National Icthus Director.”
Julieth told us,
“It was just a year ago when I went to the Spring of Life
Church, a small church near Monteria, for the initiation
ceremony of their new Icthus group. The pastor and church
members waited expectantly. Then, on cue, 20 excited children
filed down the aisle and stood in front of their smiling and
“As the children sang the Icthus
song and shared what they had learned, I couldn't help but think
back on the 6 months of hard effort it had taken to start
this group. There had been frustrations and obstacles, but
tonight I was elated and praised the Lord for what He had
done to make this new group possible.
Starting this group
had required many months of effort. It all started when Julieth
visited the pastor, Rev. Carmelo. He had heard about Icthus and
wanted to know more. Three meetings were needed before his
questions were answered and he selected a group of people to be
trained. Julieth returned to the church on four consecutive
Saturdays to train these future guides.
couple of the trainees that the pastor had counted on to lead
the program lost interest. One month passed, and then another.
Finally, a shy young woman named Gabriela, one of those who had
received the training, approached the pastor. Gabriela asked
Julieth, in white, is next to Gabriela, in pink, with guides
from other churches at a national training conference.
"Pastor, what are we going to do about Icthus?" When are we
going to start?" Pastor Carmelo looked at her and asked
something unexpected. "Would you be willing to lead the
Gabriela had been praying for Icthus and planning to
participate, but never as the leader! Though it made her
feel very anxious, she felt God's leading and said "Yes" to
"I was very happy to hear about Gabriela's willingness. I knew
she would need mentoring, but she would be a good leader. I
visited the church two more times to help the guides prepare and
to bring them the manuals. Then I went back for their first
Icthus meeting and afterward guided them through an evaluation.
I also visited them for the 5th and 9th meetings, each time
helping them think about how to improve. The day before the
initiation ceremony I returned to help them decorate the church
"The following day at the initiation ceremony I felt a great
sense of joy. This group was now on its feet and will be
ministering to children for years to come.”
makes all this so special for me are the young people
themselves. After the ceremony Pastor Carmelo and Gabriela
pointed out child after child who, if not for Icthus, would not
be in church. A little boy ran toward me and gave me a huge
hug. I remembered that this particular child didn't have
parents and I thought of all the kids who are just longing for
love; the kind of love they can receive in the Icthus family."
Icthus Kids of the group at the
“Spring of Life Church” that Julieth was instrumental in
starting, celebrating their 1st anniversary.
Julieth’s story is an example of the effort often required
to start a new Icthus group.
“Sometimes it takes me many visits to convince the pastor
and congregation. Sometimes I have to travel long distances
on the bus which takes a lot of time. Often the lack of
sufficient funds for travel and materials is a major
"But what keeps me going, despite the difficulties, is the
strong call of God on my life and the deep desire to see more
young people connected to the church."
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I finished telling this story and resumed eating the
sandwich I had neglected on my plate. Larry and Judy both
shared how inspiring it was to learn of Julieth’s commitment,
perseverance, and sacrifice. Larry asked how much it costs to
start a new group like that. I said between $250 and $300,
depending on the distances. Larry leaned over to Judy and asked
for the checkbook. To my astonishment, despite the fact that
they live on a very meager missionary’s retirement and fund
their own post retirement mission work, they gave me a check for
$300! I said that Julieth will be inspired by their sacrifice
in giving this gift and will use it to start another group.
Julieth’s story is a
good example of the effort it takes to give birth to new Icthus
groups in Colombia and the other countries. Helping national
leaders across Latin America to start new groups is very
strategic for ministering to more children. Once started, an
Icthus group can go on for many years ministering to hundreds of
We appreciate you and other Icthus Friends, like Larry and Judy
The Lord bless you,
Don Weisbrod, President
Please join me in praying for Julieth, who while struggling with
diabetes is carrying on this ministry to 96 Icthus groups.
to help more children have Icthus.
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