Monday, March 31, 2008

Saddest Meeting of Ministry

Yesterday evening I had perhaps the saddest meeting in my 16 years with this ministry.


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.”

What Happened?

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

But Wait, There's More

“But wait, there’s more.”

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.”

Scott / Ellie / Canita Team

Morning prayer time before heading to areas

Steve / Bob / Kyle Team

David / Jenny / Ben Team

Ben and Raul, his translator extrordinaire

Evening Bible Study with one light bulb

Virgin territory for this new church!

Mary / Sherry / Charlie Team

Auzelio / Mark / Cathy Team

Carol's team shares door to door

Xemina trusts Christ as Mark shares Gospel

Auzelio leads neighbor to Christ

Garry / Drew / Emily Team

Kip / Scott / Sam Team

Jim / Michelle / Luke Team

Much fruit in this neighborhood!

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

Heading Back to Bolivia

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

Africa Prayer Update

Coming into our kitchen a few days before I left for Africa, I was shocked to see Woodlyn sprawled on the floor. If it hadn’t been for the smile on her face, I would have thought our “junk cabinet” had exploded. Papers spread all over. Years of phone books scattered beside her. Seemed like every stray thingamabob in our house had burst out of that cabinet.

Reminded me of one of her favorite sayings: “this isn’t a mess . . . its progress.”

My first stop on this Africa trip was Rwanda. We’ve had a mess in Rwanda. Early last year we suspected something fishy was going on with our national director. He seemed like such a humble and hardworking guy. The reports we were getting were great.

But red flags kept popping up, so we hired a finance person to provide more accountability for the money. Then we hired another person to audit the field ministry reports. We were saddened when they found serious reporting and financial discrepancies. Needless to say, he is no longer with our ministry.

Now the Lord of the Harvest has blessed us with wonderful progress in the midst of the mess. As we interviewed candidates last week for a new national director, one clearly rose to the top. He has strong leadership credentials, plus he is nationally known for a ministry he started that teaches integrity to business, government and religious leaders! God has provided perhaps the one person in the whole country of Rwanda who is best suited to rebuild the trust of pastors and other leaders!

I’m now in Ethiopia praying and planning with our team about our 2008 plan and budget. Please pray for--

· Smooth transition for our new Rwanda national director

· God’s direction for our Ethiopia ministry this year

· Staffing and finances to accomplish our ministry plans in both countries


Mike Jorgensen

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Back to Africa (Rwanda)

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.


Mike Jorgensen

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Personality Makeover

Now that our son, Philip, has finished his Eagle Scout project, he decided to have a personality makeover. If you need a break from work, or political news, or stock market rollercoastering, or whatever else has ya buried, take a look at the process--