Tom and Dee Yaccino, serving with Del Camino Connection
“Love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 MSG)
On a recent connection in South America I had the honor to be in Buenos Aires on the weekend that Juan Jose Barreda Toscano was celebrated for 20 years of pastoring Iglesia Evangelica Bautista de Constitucion (IEBC).
You should know IEBC has a reputation for throwing incredible parties that are not like your typical church potluck dinners. They have themes, lights, DJs, food, “asados” (grilled meats), dancing and a sense of loving community like very few social gatherings I know. It is epic.
However, the 100 year-old missionary planted Baptist church in the heart of Buenos Aires was not always known for throwing parties. Baptist tradition is historically pretty conservative. But Juan Jose had a vision for a new ecclesiology—a church that was known for its love and for its celebration of what new life in Christ can look like.
JJ loves the church. He loves his pastoral role. He shepherds the church toward becoming a family bound together by Christ with a shared passion for being examples of a new kind of Kingdom community that really loves their neighbors. IEBC is inclusive and missional—welcoming the stranger and thriving in diversity. It seems as though everyone engages in such a way that the church has become a place where women and men, young and old, immigrants and nationals, homeless and well-established, those who live with disabilities and those who share their abilities, all congregate and party as one. It is contagious. It is attractive. It is a space charged with life, energy, and a sense of belonging and mutual concern. And as with any family, their love for one another endures all sorts of messiness, challenges, and dysfunctions. But, as family, they stick together, demonstrating what a God-designed Kingdom community is meant to be.
JJ and IEBC participate in a network of churches in Latin American and the Caribbean called the Red del Camino (RdC). The anniversary party was a great opportunity to get pastors and leaders from other churches from the RdC under one roof partying together, breaking down taboos and biases that tend to keep churches, that are traditionally and theologically very diverse, isolated and insulated from each other.
Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote in “Life Together” that… “God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song. It is the song that the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the world. (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3) It is the song of the heavenly fellowship.”
To see them come together literally singing and dancing to the unforced Latin rhythms, disco balls, (strobe lights and all) reminded me of this “song of heavenly fellowship”. Those who gathered shared life with one another and their neighbors all throughout the week…tutoring kids, feeding the homeless, hanging with the youth who live on the streets near the train station. Their joy and sense of freedom to celebrate so fully can be directly traced to their commitment to live life together fully.
I am glad I was able to be a part of one of the many famously thrown parties by IEBC, and experience this community of disciples that truly gets what Jesus meant by “Love one another”. We hope you are inspired by what they are doing and prayerfully consider accepting our invitation to support their efforts to make all things new!
With grateful hearts,
Tom and Dee Yaccino