A couple of our men (Marcos Sosa and Carlos Santos) in Guatemala sent me these pictures yesterday. They were working on a sustainability project at our newest church plant in Santo Tomas. We are currently renting this property but doing our best to raise the $120,000 that we need to buy the two buildings and land that you see in the photos. I laughed when I saw the photo and the caption he sent. He said, “This is hard, laboring work.” And it is. Their present project is to plant the field behind the buildings in corn and other vegetables that they can sell to help supplement their personal incomes and the church ministry. It is a worthy effort. I commend them. It is necessary. It is a step in the right direction of autonomous ministry.
For over 20 years I have worked in impoverished countries, evangelizing, discipling and church planting. It has been a tremendous blessing but has always been filled with special challenges. Today I am addressing just one of these challenges, that being the work of teaching and realizing autonomy for the churches we plant. Every place, every pastor and every church is different, even within the same country. In some cases there is a genuine desire in the heart of the pastor and the people to become self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. In others there resides a difficult and often times hard resistance on the part of both the pastor and or the church to take on the mature responsibilities of caring for themselves. They quickly grow complacent with having someone else take care of them and bear them along in life.
I know what it is like to be both a pastor planting a new church, a husband, father and provider for my family. I have had to work secular jobs outside the church ministry, as has my wife (more than I) in order for us to make ends meet in our home and to carry forth the church to sustainability. It is not easy. But it is at times necessary. I am writing these words, which will also be translated so that those I am presently working together with in various places and in diverse situations will consider long, pray and work much in order to come to the place where they have a biblically based church. As much as a pastor may want to be the lead, to be the head, the senior, the boss or whatever – as long as they have outside support they are never fully autonomous. We need autonomous churches. Brethren, pray for us!
We will never know the reach of our lives fully until we get to heaven, however, from time to time we get small glimpses of how the Lord might be using us as we minister for him. Recently I was communicating with a long-time friend that I have had nearly no contact with for years. He even had this to say in our recent communication: “Well, I guess we’ve exchanged more information in two days than in the last two decades.” That is true. He is embarking upon a new pastorate and we were exchanging thoughts about ministry. I had helped him in a new church plant more than 20 years ago.
In his email he mentioned the following: “I purchased at least three of your titles for Kindle. If I could get your permission, I’d like to make a few copies of the section in the Missions book about speaking in the Catholic church in Ireland for our folks. At least four of our people were Catholic, but find it difficult to think that others with that background could respond to the gospel. I think it would encourage them and others to read what amazing doors the Lord can open.”
We are always thankful for the Lord opening doors for us. We want to continue in His work, faithful to His leading. We are at such a cross road now. We have great opportunities before us and only God can work behind the scenes, in the places we cannot see and cannot reach to accomplish His purpose for His glory. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:18-19
Please pray for this project. Circle it in prayer with us. It is a vision beyond our resources, but certainly not beyond Gods. Each day God is giving us new promises and funds in hand for this effort. We believe this summer we will be able to continue the church plant, add the Bible Institute, the clinics and soon add the orphan and widow care centers that we are planning for this location. We need your help! Click on PayPal.
I am amazed that many churches have failed in fulfilling our Commander-in-Chief’s foreign policy.
As we turn the pages of the New Testament and read the words and the commands of Christ there seems to be a tremendous disconnect between the early churches and the churches of the 21st Century, even those who call themselves New Testament churches. Why is this the case?
Over and over again Jesus Christ said to his church; “Go into all the world!” This was His foreign policy. Somehow we have translated this message to into something like “come” into our church. He said we were to reach “all nations” and somehow we have decided this means “first” and “especially” Americans. He said that we should be witnesses “both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the world.” We have somehow interpreted this “both” to mean “a lot here and a little there”.
Christ’s Foreign Policy
1. The Foreign Policy Person. “And Jesus came and spake unto them”
▪ He calls us to leave the old life. (Matt 11:28)
▪ He calls us to learn the new life. (Matt 11:29)
2. The Foreign Policy Power. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”
3. The Foreign Policy Plan. “Go … teach all nations …”
▪ The plan involves movement – “Go”
▪ The plan involves ministry – “teach”
▪ The plan involves method – “all nations”
4. The Foreign Policy Purpose. “baptizing them…teaching them to observe all things”
▪ Delivering captives
▪ Distinguishing converts
▪ Developing Christians
5. The Foreign Policy Promise. “lo, I am with you alway”
▪ For competency – when we are weak
▪ For courage – when we are afraid
▪ For cheer – when we are discouraged
How much better would our world be if we who believe God would dedicate ourselves to follow the “foreign policy” of our Commander in Chief.
(Excerpt from my book – Missions Is … Challenging the Darkness. Available with other books I have on Amazon.com)
End Of Year Blessings & Opportunities
Good Shepherd Orphanage, Santos, Haiti
As we come down to the end of the year we would like to send out one last reminder about giving opportunities in which you may wish to be involved. We have so much to give thanks for in this past year.
Some have become involved by adopting the support of one of our children – FYI – several are still awaiting sponsors. (Orphans In Haiti) As you may imagine, the support and care for the children, staff and facilities of the Good Shepherd Orphanage is one of our boldest undertakings and largest expenses. This year we have seen many improvements that are sure to be a big blessing for the lives of those who live there – but many things still need to be done. We still have several things in the works at the home – a second bathroom / shower and more updates on the kitchen. Pray that we can respond to these things soon. We also have to raise the amount we send each month for the children’s school costs. The school has said they MUST raise the tuition amount we pay each month.
High Road Ministry Center, Xejuyup, Guatemala
We have also made some exciting improvements at Baptist Evangelism‘s High Road Ministry Center in Xejuyup, Guatemala, including the completion of the basketball court. (We still have to install the backboards and hoops.) These are not readily available in Guatemala and have to special order them. $$$) We also have new tile in the both bathrooms in the dormitories. It looks great! We also MUST purchase a new refridgerator since ours died recently. These are needful and ongoing projects to prepare for the mission teams that will be coming from the US this coming year. Last year more than 200 people participated in short-term, cross-cultural mission trips with us to Guatemala and Haiti. To give, click on the secure PayPal link below.
Support our National Pastors and our TNT (the next towns) institutes.
Each month we are hosting US pastors, Seminary professors and others in ministry to help us in the important job of bringing top shelf training to our pastoral students and church leaders with in the scope of our ministry. Last year in Guatemala, Haiti and Cuba we were blessed to have these TNT leadership training institutes. More are scheduled for 2017.