Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bolivia Home Run

What happens when a pro baseball player hits 12 for 12? Bats 1000? He gets lots of attention, and if he keeps it up he gets a big raise!

What happens when God enables a church to bat 1000?

Pastor Gary Willett asked me to speak his weekend (10/21-22/06) at Potomac Heights Baptist Church in Indian Head, Maryland. Pastor Gary and many in their church have been with us to Bolivia. In fact, they are the first church to adopt Bolivia as one of their strategic missions projects.

I asked Pastor Enzo Saavedra, our Bolivia e3 leader, to check back with all the new churches PHBC members have worked with during their 3 campaigns.

What Pastor Enzo learned astonished me, and also challenged me to continue to develop the work in Bolivia. God enabled them to bat 1000! Here are the stats—

12 -- New churches planted by PHBC members
12 -- Areas still active! (although one has moved to another location)
44 -- Average attendance
150-180 -- Attendance at largest new work
10 -- Attendance at smallest new work

I’d call this a spiritual “home run.” But not a “Grand Slam.” For in addition to this great news there also is sobering news to share. One area has kept going, but experienced a split. Another area continues even though the pastor moved to Spain to find work. Many are experiencing difficult economic conditions. Several are looking for new places to meet because they have outgrown the home or other place where they meet. All need more encouragement and equipping to continue to reach out to their communities.

--Please pray for the God to strengthen the leaders and churches with whom we have worked.

On Saturday we teach their ministry leaders our First Steps church planting curriculum. While they plan to focus on planting churches in Bolivia, Pastor Gary wanted their leaders to learn the ministry multiplication principles in First Steps. Then on Sunday I’ll be sharing this glorious good news with the congregation. Please pray:

--For God to multiply ministry as He challenges His leaders at PHBC
--For God to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” through these sessions (Eph 4)
--For God to raise up more laborers, prayer warriors and financial partners for the work in Bolivia

Friday, October 06, 2006

From Lonely to Unity

Thanks for praying for our trip to Peru last week. Sorry I wasn't able to send back "on the field" reports--my laptop crashed. But your prayers were answered in powerful ways.

“I feel so alone.”

This was the most consistent comment as we began our Leaders Summit. It was shared by several of the e3 country leaders. Even though ministry was going well in every country, many shared how they felt they were going it alone, trying to organize campaigns, cast vision and grow into a larger e3 ministry. But by the end of the trip what we heard was . . .

“We are together. I now know the other e3 leaders, and we are going to work together and help each other.”

By the grace of God, He took away the sense of loneliness that some of the leaders came to Lima with. They laughed together, prayed together, worshipped together, and heard testimonies of how God is at work in the e3 Latin America countries. Each also shared the struggles they have. By the end of our time together we signed a covenant of cooperation, which was an exciting end to a very productive Summit. Picture at left is of all the e3 country leaders praying for the implementation of the covenant of cooperation.

Some more highlights:

In Peru they now have 40 "mobilizers" who are leading church planting campaigns of only Peruvians (no North Americans). They now are doing almost twice as many without us as with us! That's an big answer to prayer. God has used Juvenal and Katty Bejar and Alejo and Dorothy Quijada to accomplish this major milestone.

In Venezuela Omar PiƱa has developed a similar network of Venezuelan e3 trainers, along with excellent training for them. Another great example of taking the ball and running with it.
Omar also offered to send one of regional coordinators to other countries to help them develop their organizational structure and ministry strategies. These "coaches" probably will be going to Bolivia, Costa Rica and Panama in the near future.

Diego Trujillo from Ecuador shared how he has been asked to be the director of evangelism for a a national association of pastors. This is propelling our evangelism and church planting tools and methods to new prominence nationwide.

In addition to our Leaders Summit, we also did a leadership conference. The primary purpose of that conference was to model how to do a nationals’ only First Steps LDC for the 40 people who now are e3 mobilizers in PE. But 340 people showed up!

All our national e3 leaders shared at the leadership conference about how God is working in their country. So the conference turned into a giant pep rally for missions outside Peru. Many people indicated an interest in going to one of the other e3 Latin American countries on short term mission trips.

Thanks for praying for this trip, Pr-Air Force. Our work in Latin America took a huge step forward last week.