Mango is a 3rd generation church start. They were born out of the Churute church plant just down the road, which in turn was born out of the Duran house church. If you haven't had a chance to read the Churute story, please don't miss the blessing! What follows is, "the rest of the story" of what God continues to do...
Today my daughter and I drove an hour out into the rich farmland to Mango to be with them in their Sunday gathering. Mango is not really a "house church" in that there is no way they could possibly fit everyone inside the tiny home of Marino, the servant-leader. Instead they meet outside under the shade of a Mango tree on little plastic stools. There were about 20 adults and a dozen or more children in attendance.
We met for three and a half hours. Part of the time was formal, but most of the time it was informal sharing, singing, praying, eating, making plans for an upcoming Baptism service, sharing of the Word, and exhortation with everyone present taking part. Most of the time, however, was spent sharing stories of how God has worked in each of their lives.
Don Cueva (on the left). When he became a new believer, Don Cueva raised chickens for a living. A couple of weeks after professing Christ as Lord, his neighbor poisoned over 200 of his chickens saying he was tired of Cueva's chickens crossing over into his land. All poor Cueva could do was pile the dead birds in a heap and burn them. Don Cueva was as hot as the fire burning and was out to get revenge. But his cousin Manuel (see Churute story, above) shared with him Romans 12 where the Lord says, "vengeance belongs to me; I will repay..." As a new Christian, Don Cueva decided to wait and see how the Lord would truly avenge him for the wrong done to him.
Cueva decided to grow rice in the 4 hectares of land he owns. The bad neighbor owned 12 hectares of land and also sowed seed for rice on his land too. When harvest time came, Cueva's 4 hectares produced MORE rice than the neighbors 12! To this day, Cueva's rice field continues to produce more rice each harvest than his evil neighbor! I questioned Pablo again today and he just shook his head and said the Spanish equivalent, "it beats anything I have ever seen, there is no earthly explanation!" Don Cueva has tried everything he knows to befriend the neighbor--"if your enemy is hungry feed him"--but so far all he has seen accomplished is exactly what Romans 12 goes on to say, "you will be heaping fiery coals on his head..." We talked about several ideas he might try to win over his embittered neighbor. Will you pray for this neighbor's salvation? Don Cueva is truly burdened for his neighbor's soul.
Pablo (on the right). The last time I visited Mango was a year ago. We had gone for a day of evangelism in the locality. Pablo had never witnessed so he was assigned to my team. We visited several houses and shared the Gospel at each. After that we told Pablo, "It is your turn now. You see how it is done. You do it." And do it he did! You'd have thought he was a pro going around house to house sharing Christ! When we got back to the "Mango Tree" church for a meal and gathering, he broke down weeping and shared with us that his daughter had been kidnapped six weeks earlier and begged us to pray for her. As he knelt in the dirt, the entire church of new believers gathered around him and cried out loudly to God asking Him to bring the girl back safely. A few weeks later, his daughter showed up completely unharmed. The kidnappers had tired of her and sent her home! This greatly strengthened Pablo's new faith. He, along with Marino, Cueva, and a couple of other men in the Mango church are looking to start new churches in every town and village in their area of the province!
Some people feel that churches like Mango are much to weak to survive on their own for long without a trained pastor to lead them. All I can say is if you had been there today, heard their stories, seen how so many of their prayers have been answered, listened to their testimonies of how they came to know the Lord, watched them interact with one another, you would no longer doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ truly is His church and He is able to care for her just fine!