Sunday, November 26, 2006
Toward the end of the week Woodlyn learned "the rest of the story." Two years ago Hilda's life was in a shambles. Her alcoholic husband, Daniel, was making life miserable. She had no one to turn to.
But then Larry and teammate Abigail showed up at her door. They shared with her the hope that is in Christ. Even though it happened in just a few minutes, she knew it was a huge decision to make. She decided to put her faith in Christ. God then used her changed life to bring Daniel to salvation after the campaign. Over time he was delivered from his bondage to alcohol.
Daniel helped in the campaign last week, too. In fact, he's driving the pickup in the picture below, which we took long before we knew his story. And he's now in seminary in nearby Santa Cruz!
Often people ask "what happens after you leave?" Much of the time we do not know, for we leave the work in the hands of the local host churches to do the follow-up discipleship. So this was a sweet reminder that God continues to change lives and communities through the seeds He plants through our teams.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Bolivian Church Planting Coaches
Earlier this year we challenged Pastor Enzo to recruit a team of Bolivian trainers/coaches to expand the ministry here. His first response was “30 by the year 2010.” “Great,” I responded, “but how ‘bout this year?”
“Well . . . . maybe . . . maybe 5 by the end of 2006,” he reluctantly answered.
I told him that I would pray for 10 this year. He gave me one of those “well, go ahead if you want to, but . . . “ looks.
We are tremendously blessed this week to have 18 church planting trainers from 8 cities all over Bolivia! God has used Pastor Enzo to answer our prayers exceedingly, abundantly above what we asked or thought was possible. Today each of them committed to try to train at least one church and 50 people each month. Hallelujah!
Out of the Mouth of Babes
Two years ago Abigail Willett celebrated her 13th birthday in Montero. We praised the Lord when she ended up with a 13 year old translator named Amanda, who had just returned from spending a year in the US with her family.
Amanda, now 15, again is working with Larry and Woodlyn’s team. She has been at our leader training sessions bright and early every morning. She has been one of the leaders for the kids part of the evening meeting when over 80 kids have shown up!
Yesterday she wrote this on her evaluation form at the end of the First Steps church planting training: “I want to train 12 disciples (over the next year), and have each one have their own cell group, and they then also train 2 others, and those others each train 2 others.” Pretty great vision for a 15 year old, don’t you think?
I thank God for the special team he has given us this week:
· Edna Alexander, who lost her husband this year to cancer, spending her first Thanksgiving without him here with us
· Steve Anderson, who's been a campaigner with me more than anyone else on earth!
· Newlyweds Gordon and Yvonne Wu, spending their first Thanksgiving as married couple sharing about Christ here
· Larry Strickland, enjoying his second campaign to Montero
· George O’Leary, on his first ever mission trip
· Our daughter Joanna, who took time off from her job as a teacher to share this joyful week with us
· Our son, Philip, celebrating his 16th birthday far from his friends back home
· And my wonderful wife, Woodlyn, who gave up one of her favorite events—cooking a great big traditional Thanksgiving feast for our family—to walk the dusty streets of Montero showering people with the love of God
We thank our loving Lord for changing our lives, and allowing us to see His handiwork here in Montero. And we thank each of you prayer warriors for advocating our cause before the throne of the Most High God.
Oh, yeah, your burning questions about our menu here today! No, there isn't any turkey available. They said sometimes you can find it around Christmas time. Guinea pig (called "cuy" here--pronounced "coo-eee") is the delicacy of choice for many in Bolivia, but thankfully no one has "threatened" me with that today.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Pastor Hamer is the leader in that area. He also is one of the prospective “church planting coaches” who is with us this week to learn how to train others using our methods and materials. He said one of the former witch doctors comes regularly to the church. He is the one who hobbled into the church courtyard in great pain. The team prayed for him that day, and Pastor Hamer reports that he remains healed to this day! God is showing His power here in many ways.
The other has opened his home to host a cell group.
The last witch doctor in the neighborhood never accepted Christ . . . but God answered their prayers for he moved out of the neighborhood. It is now a “witch free zone”!
But there is even more good news. Since Pastor Gary and his daughters helped Pastor Hamer plant that new church in July (No. 1), they have planted two more new churches and are working on a third!
Paster Hamer said that it was the new believers from July who planted the new churches. As they went through the discipleship lessons, some new believers led some family members to Christ in Santa Cruz. But they lived a long way from the church . . . so Pastor Hamer started new church No. 2 where they lived. 34 people now attend regularly.
Then some other new believers did the same in a village called Yapacani about 90 minutes from Santa Cruz. So they started new church No. 3 there. It is very new, and has 16 people who are involved.
And they are working on No. 4. Another new believer that Pastor Gary led to the Lord in July began to grow as he was discipled. He went back to visit his family in Beni, which is another province an 8 hour bus ride away. When he came back to Santa Cruz . . . 15 newly saved family members came with him to ask that a church be started for them. So in February Pastor Hamer and some leaders from church No. 1 plan to go to Beni to officially inagurate No. 4.
God is bringing glory to Himself as he uses the new church started in July, which now runs about 70 in attendance, to multiply itself as disciples make disciples who make disciples.
This Campaign Begins
Yesterday we started our e3 Mission Trip here in Montero, Bolivia. We are working with 3 mother churches in 4 areas where they are starting new churches or cell groups. Sunday morning our teams worshipped with the mother churches. Sunday afternoon we did the “Vision” and “Pray” sessions of our First Steps church planting training. Then our teams went out to those 4 areas to apply what they learned by prayer walking the areas. Or in one case “prayer driving” their huge area (see picture below).
We are blessed to have 16 pastors and leaders from other cities here as potential “church planting coaches.” At the end of the week we hope they will commit to train others how to do evangelism and church planting using what they learn this week.
Please continue to pray for God to use this week to expand His kingdom in Bolivia.
Today is our son, Philip’s, 16th birthday (on left receiving a Bolivian "Happy Birthday"). Please pray that God will bless him in a special way this week.
By the grace of God I get hit with a stomach bug only about once every 30 trips. Unfortuantely, this is one of those trips. Please pray for Jehovah Rapha to heal me, and for continued good health and strength for the rest of the team (both Bolivian and US).
Thanks for standing in the gap for us!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
As the situation in Bolivia deteriorates, more and more people are leaving. Churches are losing members as they head to Spain or other countries in search of work and stability. Families are torn apart as parents go abroad to look for work, leaving kids with relatives. We've met kids who have not seen their parents in years.
In the midst of this exodus, our e3 Mission Team heads to Bolivia Friday (Nov 17). During Thanksgiving week we’ll train about 30 Bolivians how to equip their countrymen to use the EvangeCube and plant new churches. Part of this Train the Trainer event will be "practicing" in several communities. As we do "lecture" and then "lab," pray that many will trust Christ and several new churches will be planted.
Please also pray the God will use this conference to provide hope to Bolivia, and to ignite a church planting movement there.
Jesus is The Answer, for He transform communities by changing hearts and then lives.
Click here for a prayer calendar to print and pray through.
Click on the link below to see a slide show that you can pray through, too.
Thanks for standing behind us in prayer.
Monday, November 06, 2006
But Plan B appears to be just what God wanted all along! Over the past few months Bolivia has continued to slide toward socialism and political chaos. So we changed the focus of the Thanksgiving trip. Now we will train Bolivian trainers to do what we do. They will train churches in evangelism and church planting. Whether or not we can take teams in the future . . . they will continue the work.
Last week we received an exciting email from Pastor Enzo Saavedra. In it is a list of 26 Bolivian leaders who want to be trained! We will challenge each of them to train one church and 50 people each month for the next year. If all of them were to be faithful in this, 1300 people could be trained each month, or over 15,000 in the next year. That would be many multiples of what we could do with US teams. Hallelujah!
God has infinite ways of accomplishing His will, and sometimes saying “no” to our prayers is how He does it. Our Plan B turned out to be His Plan A+.
Would you pray for one of these Bolivian trainers? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you one of their names to pray for during the next 30 days.
You probably are wondering “What about all those eye glasses?” They will go to good use . . . on a future trip.