Help from Northbrook, February 2002
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Johnson Journal
Dear friends,
Actually, the title is misleading.  We constantly get help from our Father in heaven, and we're very thankful for it.  But in addition to His help, we have some friends from Northbrook Church in town to help us with remodeling.  Ken, Scott, Herb, Don and Donna arrived Saturday night and will be with us for a little more than a week.  God is good to us.
On Saturday we had a church growth conference in our locale called Planting and Harvesting, a plan for church growth that challenged the 20 or so leaders from our church.  We also had leaders attending from a couple of other churches.  The next step is to pray for God's direction in how to apply it in Caracas, through the CCB.
Our focus in the church for the next few weeks is living as the community of Christ.  We've had a membership seminar and our annual meeting, confirming our commitment to participation in the CCB.  The focus in the cell groups is the same, and we're using on some studies in James that talk about our responsibilities to one another in the body of Christ.  People are excited and there are lots of good things happening in the CCB.
At the same time, there are bad things happening in the country.  The populist president, Hugo Chaves, rode an amazing roller coaster from a failed coup in 1992 to an overwhelming electoral victory a couple of years ago, with about 75% of the vote.  Now his popularity has plummeted.  Coronel Sosa (a coronel!) of the Air Force called for his resignation in a public forum, and the people loved it.  When the army tried to arrest him on a freeway, those in the vecinity jumped out of their cars and homes to resist, and succeeded in helping Sosa get away!   Chavez stayed unusually quiet for about two weeks until a speech a week ago when he did exactly what the International Monetary Fund wanted, completely out of character for a man who has idolized Fidel Castro.  He took the controls off the exchange rate, and the Venezuelan currency, the bolivar, plummeted 30% over night. 
That means our loan on the church building, in dollars, increased by the same amount, at least in terms of the congregation's payments in bolivares.  And you can imagine that there are some people in the congregation hurting as well.  We need lots of prayer.  And we know we can count on you!