Monday, March 31, 2008
In 2004 our team of Steve, Joe, Taylor and Wallace worked in El Quior. Over 120 people prayed to receive Christ. They did not have a place to meet, so they asked new believers to host Bible studies in their homes. 7 new cell groups started that week.
About 8 months later I returned to Santa Cruz. I heard that the 7 cell groups had multiplied to 11, so we visited on a Saturday afternoon. They had just gotten permission to meet in a school in return for a promise to paint some classrooms.
On that surprise visit I saw some wonderfully surprising things. About 40 adults were doing discipleship lessons in the shade of the school building. 100+ kids were involved in various activities under the trees. The church was alive and healthy.
Bad News Last Night
Yesterday I was eager to revisit the church. In the evening we were close by, so we stopped by the church. It was dark, but we could see the outline of a huge building. The building was dark, but the light in the pastor’s house at the back of the property was on. We knocked on the gate.
As we sat down to talk, sadness rolled in like a damp fog. “This morning we had 2 adults and 15 kids in our service,” the pastor replied to our questions. “And in the afternoon service we had 9 adults and 20 kids.”
Only God knows. But I have some questions.
The church was planted with the vision for focusing on discipling new believers. No building? No problem! The discipleship continued in homes. It even multiplied in homes even though (or maybe because?) they had no place to meet.
At some point did the focus change to a building and programs? On that second visit, I met a missionary couple. They had not been present during the first 6 to 8 months of that new church—they were on furlough back in the States. They were not there when the 7 groups grew to 11 home groups.
After that visit, I began to get their newsletters. They asked for money for a building. They told what programs they were leading. No mention of discipleship. No talk of equipping local believers to do the work. Did the vision change?
Last night the pastor shared how they started to give out food every week. Then they implemented membership cards to control who got the food. Then they added more rules to stop people from bringing multiple cards to meetings.
Buildings and handouts are not bad in and of themselves. The question I have is “did the church die because the vision died for obeying Christ’s command to make disciples?”
Sunday, March 30, 2008
When I hear those grating words on the TV commercial with the bearded guy, I lunge for the remote to mute whatever infomercial he’s doing that day.
But those words were pretty sweet here in Bolivia.
Yesterday I saw Pastor Luis, whom we worked with last year. A year ago our team of Kip, Greg, Jocelyn and Mike worked with Pastor Luis as he planted a new church. Pastor Luis is a missionary from Argentina, and he already had started the work. But we had the opportunity to serve him and his team for a week as they planted “Iglesia Biblica Missionara” (Missionary Bible Church).
This morning I had an exciting assignment—I got to preach in that church. Here’s a picture of the adults attending this morning after the kids and their leaders went to do Sunday School. About 60 adults attended, plus 5 leaders and 30 kids. God is at work. This church is thriving. Hallelujah!
“But wait, there’s more.”
This week this one year old church is planting a new church! It has picked an area about 40 minutes away where it is working to establish a new church. So Kip, from last year’s team, and Scott and his son Sam, are again serving Luis and his team. God is at work in Bolivia!
Please pray for Jesus to fulfill His promise in each of the 8 places we are working this week: “I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Evening Bible Study with one light bulb
Virgin territory for this new church!
Xemina trusts Christ as Mark shares Gospel
Auzelio leads neighbor to Christ
Ministry is turned over to local believers
Joy of seeing local teenagers learn to boldly share their faith
Follow-up discipleship visit with new believer
Sunday, March 23, 2008
If you’ve been to Bolivia with us, clicking on this slideshow will bring back great memories of your visit. If you’ve not been, it will give you an idea of the many people there who God has touched through people praying and people going.
Please pray as you watch. Our next team to Bolivia leaves this Friday. We’ll be working with about 8 churches who want to start new churches. Your prayers back in the States will make a difference in Bolivia.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Coming into our kitchen a few days before I left for
· God’s direction for our
· Staffing and finances to accomplish our ministry plans in both countries
Sunday, March 09, 2008
This morning I head back to Rwanda. I love Rwanda. God has completely changed it since the genocide in the mid 1990s. Its president has led it through a wise process of reconciliation and rebuilding.
What do you do when your population is about 9 million, but then hundreds of thousands of those people participate in killing a million of your people? How do you come up with enough courts and jails to deal with that situation? The Rwandan leaders decided to focus on reconciliation instead of retribution. The key leaders of the genocide were dealt with in one way. But the rank and file members of the mobs were handled differently.
They set up community genocide courts. They still meet every week all over the country. If a perpetrator explains who they killed, how they did it, and who they worked with, and publically repents, then they are forgiven! They have community service to perform, but they go free to provide for their family.
The president also focused on cleaning up the country. He has worked to clean up corruption, crime and even litter! Now Rwanda is the cleanest and safest country in Africa. Construction is booming as international companies build headquarters and invest money there.
On this trip we will be interviewing applicants for a new national director. It is exciting reviewing the resumes of the experienced and solid leaders who have applied for the job. Please pray for God’s will to be done in this selection process as His will is done in heaven. We are surrendering this process to the Head of the Church so that we hire His choice for this strategic position.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008