Monday, July 31

A modern-day "Five Loaves and Two Fishes" story--Teleamigo!

Is God still in the business of multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes? In Guayaquil, Ecuador we believe He is!

In Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus saw a great multitude of needy people and felt compassion for them. He healed their sick and then told his disciples, “you give them something to eat.” They of course had no idea how to feed such a crowd, especially since all they had were five loaves and two fish. But they brought what little they had to Jesus. He, in turn, took what they brought him, blessed it, and then instructed his disciples to “feed the multitude.” Five thousand were fed that day with twelve baskets of leftovers!

Fast forward 2000 years to the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, a metropolis of nearly 3-million people. Jesus still has compassion on the multitudes and his words still weigh on the hearts of his 21st century disciples, “you give them something to eat.”

“But Lord, how?”

“...What do you have? Bring them to me...”

In August 1993, modern-day “loaves and fishes” were brought to the Lord. Five telephone lines, and two audio cart machines provided by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Over the past thirteen years, an unbelievable 2,477,616 contacts have been made through the TeleAmigo ministry! Indeed, those “loaves and fishes” have been blessed and multiplied thousands of times over. Last year an average of more than 13,600 contacts were made every month through telephone, internet, and personal counseling sessions.

Every “contact” is a person loved by Jesus and has a story to tell. A desperate 16-year old “María” called to say she was planning to have an abortion. She did not have work and had no income with which to bring a child into the world. Her boyfriend ran off leaving María ashamed and feeling all alone to face this crisis. The TeleAmigo counselor shared Christ and was able to persuade her to trust the Lord as her Savior and not abort. Today mom and “Baby Teleamigo” come by the office regularily for visits! María is proud of her boy and is able to provide for him with the job God provided her with.

“Ricardo” was a troubled young father with many marital problems. His contact over several months with TeleAmigo also led him to a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is now asking if his home might be used to open up a new house church in order to reach his family and neighbors!

TeleAmigo (combination of the words “telephone/friend”) is a Baptist evangelistic counseling and prayer ministry manned by volunteers from various churches.

August 3 marks the 13th anniversary for the ministry. How blessed have those loaves and fishes been since ‘93? Only heaven will reveal the fullness of lives touched and ministered to in Jesus Name. Hundreds have prayed to receive Christ as Savior. Scores of marriages healed, countless individuals ministered to, and the blessings continue on and on, day after day...

Is Jesus still in the business of multiplying the loaves and fishes?


Wednesday, July 26

Meet my brother Greg Muse

Growing up overseas as an MK definitely makes an impact upon our lives. Many people wonder how children raised overseas "turn out." Of course, the story varies with each child, but here is part of my brother Greg's story, as recently written up in the El Paso Times newspaper. I am very proud of my brother and invite you to read what follows.

At 45, former lawman finds
a new road as an agent for God
By Bernadette Sedillos Self / El Paso Times

Greg Muse may be a rookie preacher, but he practices what he preaches.

"I'm a born-again slave of Christ -- that's all I strive for now, to be a slave for God," said the 45-year-old pastor of Fort Hancock Baptist Church.

That may sound like normal "pastor speak" but Muse isn't a typical preacher. And he's not speaking only figuratively either.

The former counterintelligence agent and Texas state trooper has eschewed his previous professions, and life's possessions, to follow a calling that's tugged at his heart for more than 20 years.

Muse isn't out to build his own "megachurch" or megaministry, either. He has taken on the pastorship of the small Baptist church in the tiny rural community of Fort Hancock, 70 miles east of El Paso.

"I've seen cities in Third World countries that look better than Fort Hancock," said Muse, who grew up with his missionary parents in Ecuador. "But we're very happy to be here. This is where the Lord has called me, and I'm very blessed to be here -- the people are wonderful."

Muse and his family moved to Fort Hancock about a year ago. Despite facing a future with a fair amount of uncertainty, Muse and his wife, Cathy, say they've found a great sense of peace in their still-new life that is simultaneously exhilarating and calming.

"The Lord has always been faithful to us," Cathy Muse said. "After you've been where we've been, driving the 40 minutes into El Paso is no big deal."

The perspective the two have gained comes from walking a road that has not always been smooth. Many couples, when they reach middle age, begin enjoying the fruits of their labor and often buy nicer cars, a bigger home or take exotic vacations.

Instead, the Muses dropped their proverbial nets to follow their master's call. They continue to live their lives on a day-to-day basis.

"I feel freer than I've ever felt," Muse explained, when asked about the difficulty of leaving behind a beautiful home, a good paycheck, job security and even health insurance. "Sometimes you can get so caught up in all of that that you get bound to it. I've been there; I know. But I can see now that I'm fully in God's hands."

The calling

These days, changing careers in middle age isn't uncommon. Many companies are downsizing and forcing early retirement on employees. Some people, too, simply want to pursue an unfulfilled dream.

Few though, are willing to give up everything they own to make a dream a reality. In Muse's case, he isn't chasing a fantasy.

"I'm finally listening to God," Muse says. "I ran away from this when I was younger. I questioned my calling a lot. I turned my back on it."

A Texas native, Muse was born in Wichita Falls in 1960, the middle of three children. His parents became Baptist missionaries, and when Muse was a toddler, his parents packed up the family and moved to Ecuador.

It wasn't an idyllic experience.

Muse was picked on by native children who viewed the missionaries as outsiders. He was pelted with rocks, called names and threatened.

When he turned 18, Muse returned to Texas and enrolled at Southwest Texas State University (now called Texas State University) in San Marcos.

Muse wanted to major in physical education, but at 19, the young man felt that God was calling him on a different path. So, Muse changed his degree plan from P.E. to speech and communications, which he figured would improve his ability to preach.

Muse became a youth minister during summers. After graduating from Texas State in 1982, Muse enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

For two years he was devoted to his studies and to his calling, but then he began to be plagued with doubts.

"I started wondering if I was doing this because of my dad," Muse said. "I started thinking that maybe it wasn't at all what I was supposed to do."

A different path

Muse, who had already married Cathy, heard her father, who was in the Air Force, talk about opportunities in the Department of Defense.

Muse became intrigued by the excitement of a career as a special agent working for the government in counterintelligence. He decided to pursue a career in the Defense Department, and he left the Baptist seminary.

Muse was accepted for the training and became a spy buster. But though he excelled at his work, Muse felt something stirring in his heart.

"I knew I wasn't doing what God called me to do," he said. "I would think about it, even though I was getting paid very well, bought a nice home and had everything that I wanted."

The still, small voice that beckoned him at 19 continued whispering. Muse said he knew he couldn't ignore it any longer.

After 12 years in counterintelligence, Muse told his wife he wanted to serve God as a missionary. "I knew when I married him that he had a calling," Cathy said. "I knew he probably would be a missionary, so I knew I had to support him."

So in 1997, while living in San Antonio, the Muses sold their home, their furnishings, their vehicles and became missionaries in China.

"All we had left was 13 duffel bags of clothing and pots and pans and a few other things," Cathy said.

At the time, the Muses had two daughters -- a third was born six years ago -- and the two girls could pack only one duffel bag between them.

"It was tough on them," Muse said, a tinge of sadness in his voice. "They had to choose just a couple of things that they really wanted to keep. We had a garage sale, and a couple of times they would run back to the table to get something after having second thoughts. It was very hard for them."

Greater challenges were ahead for the family.

The Muses moved to an area near Beijing, China, and found themselves in very spartan, primitive conditions.

"We had no car and we had to walk to the grocery stores," Cathy said. "It's real interesting grocery shopping in China."

After four months, stress and numerous trials took their toll. "I was having a hard time," Cathy conceded. "To be honest, I just couldn't live there anymore."

The Muses packed their bags and moved to Costa Rica and later to Panama. They worked as missionaries until 2000. "We had some difficulties, and I started feeling doubts again," Muse said. "I just sank into a pit of depression."

Muse said he became overwhelmed with anger, unresolved anger from his childhood. He had been bullied so much as a child that, upon returning to similar environments in Costa Rica and Panama, old resentment boiled within.

"I thought, I don't want to be a missionary here," Muse said.

After the family returned to the United States in 2000, Muse decided he would return to work in the secular world. He jumped around at a few jobs and in 2003, he went to work for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He became a trooper in El Paso County.

"Everything was going well, but I felt God calling me in my heart," Muse said. "I knew that I had a good job. I knew that the work was honorable and important. But I would go home every night and I'd be in tears. I was not doing what God wanted me to do."

While still a trooper, Muse began preaching occasionally in Fort Hancock in 2004. But it wasn't enough.

In June 2005, Muse resigned from the DPS. Again, he and his wife sold their home. They moved from East El Paso to Fort Hancock and are living in a small parsonage.

Is he feeling doubts or regret?

"Absolutely zero," Muse said, confidently.

The preacher is coming up on his first anniversary at Fort Hancock Baptist Church in June. There are about 40 people in his congregation, and Muse said anyone who "hungers for God" is welcome.

"I don't have a specific plan, really," Muse said. "I told the people, 'I don't really know what I'm doing, but I hope you'll take me as I am.' "

They do. And so do others in Fort Hancock.

"He's a wonderful person, he's very nice," said Maria Franco, a waitress at Angie's Restaurant in Fort Hancock.

The small diner, the only real sit-down restaurant in Fort Hancock, is a popular meeting place for friends and neighbors.

Franco, who has lived in Fort Hancock for 30 years, says she's impressed with Muse's ability to speak Spanish so well. "Both he and his wife are very nice people," Franco said. "He's a good father, too." Muse and wife Cathy, who has a part-time job with the Hudspeth County Conservation Irrigation District, both say they will continue to "walk in faith."

"I'm just taking things day by day. Seek the face of God -- that's what I'm trying to do," Muse said.

"I think that's what most of our congregation wants to do, too."

Sunday, July 23

On being called 'Rabbi' (the use of titles within the Body of Christ)

This will probably be a strange post for most who take a moment to read what follows. If all will be seated, I will now rise to take my place up on my soapbox. I confess this issue is one of my personal "quirks" but here goes...

I think some of the most ignored words of Jesus are to be found in Matthew 23:1-11, especially verses 6-11...

"They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, (7) and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. (8) "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. (9) "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. (10) "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. (11) "But the greatest among you shall be your servant...

I'll mail anyone reading this a s/.100 bill (not to be confused with US $100 it's an old extinct Ecuadorian bill worth about $0.004) if they can show me anywhere in the New Testament where servants of God are referred to by a title before their name, rather than by description of their giftings or functions. For example, Paul never refers to himself as the 'Apostle Paul', it is always something like:

Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ (Rom.1:1)
Paul, called as an apostle (I Cor.1:1)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus (II Cor.1:1)
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men...) (Gal.1:1)

You can look up the rest of Paul's epistles for yourselves. In every case he describes his calling, gifting, function within the Body of Christ--AFTER his name, not as a title proclaiming his accomplishments or importance.

In Christ's Kingdom we are all on the same level as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all "bond-servants" of Jesus Christ. The only thing that differentiates us is our gifting, or function within the Body of Christ.

If this is the biblical pattern, why do we continue to practice the use of honoring one another with titles such as Dr. So-And-So, or Rev. So-And-So? Why do we refer to servants as "Pastor John" or as they do here, "Licenciado Pastor Reverendo Pedro Gomez" (they tack on ALL of the titles they can think of to make sure everyone knows how important they are!)

Is this not in clear violation of Christ's words in Matthew 23 in his condemnation of the Pharisees who loved the "place of honor" and "chief seats" and "respectful greetings" and "being called Rabbi?" The above are COMMANDS of Christ, not suggestions. According to Jesus we are not even to be called 'leaders'!

My own job title is "Strategy Coordinator" but I insist on this being a description of my assignments, not a title. I don't feel I am any more qualified or special than any other missionary out there serving.

In our own mission work we only use the terms "hermano" (brother), and "hermana" (sister) for everyone. We try to be very careful to not give the impression that some of us are somehow more important, or "more called" than others. In any of our meetings ANYONE is welcome, even those meetings of a sensitive nature. We don't want to do anything that would give an impression that some are more qualified or more important to deal with matters than others. As a result, our poorer, uneducated brethren are often used of God to accomplish extraordinary things as they are encouraged to use their spiritual gifting, rather than something they have been made to feel inferior about through no fault of their own.

At first glance it may seem I am making a big deal about nothing. But is it a big deal? I think so. Allow me to put forth my case a bit more, I'm just getting warmed up! :-)

Galatians 3:28 speaks of, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for YOU ARE ALL ONE in Christ Jesus." James 2 speaks about not holding an attitude of personal favoritism towards those more fortunate than the poor by making "distinctions among yourselves." Are not titles a distinction amongst us?

All of us have heard introductions of fellow believers beginning something like...

"Today we have with us one of the most influential and respected pastors in America. His church has grown from 0 to 50,000 in just five years...certainly one of the most humble men on the planet...and one of the most insightful visionaries in Southern Baptist life today, it is a great honor for me to present to you Dr. John Doe (applause)... Why can't we simply introduce each other as, "John Doe, a dear brother serving our Lord in Oklahoma...?"

Am I against successful ministry, or education and learning? No, certainly not. I strive for these things in my own life. We highly encourage everyone we work with to get as much training, education, learning as they possibly can throughout their lifetime and within their means to do so. We rejoice in the victories and successes of those we co-labor with.

The problem comes that education, titles, ordination, recognition, and degrees have a way of separating us from one another. We unintentionally create religious "castes" amongst ourselves. We invite the "pastors" to come to certain meetings, or the "professionals" to a prayer breakfast. We single out "leaders" for certain events, and so forth. All of this has a subtle way of silently killing off the "priesthood of all believers."

Those without the public recognition of their "importance" begin to feel and ACT like second-class Kingdom citizens. They begin to expect only those "Rabbis" with the titles to do the work of the Kingdom. Since they are just "ordinary" Christians, the attitude quickly becomes one of mediocrity and complacency, and business as usual. I am not "called" so therefore it is not my responsibility...

Therein lies the reason that 2000 years after Christ gave us the Great Commission, we are no closer to fulfilling the task! Imagine what would happen if every single Christian really understood themselves as a "CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION...?" Knew they were a front-line soldier in the advance of the Kingdom? That the Great Commission is not just for the Drs. the Revs. the Pastors, the professionals, but for ALL OF US!

'Nuff said on the subject for now. Now you know why they ship us quirky missionaries off to the far extremes of the earth. We are indeed weird and "out of touch" with reality. :-)

Thursday, July 20

Today the students taught the teacher the prayer lesson

Enrique spent the morning praying to the Lord to provide him the needed $3 to make the round trip into the city to attend the church planting training session that afternoon. When it was time to board the bus, he only had enough money to make the trip in, but not enough to get back home. He went ahead and went out to the highway to await the bus. A fellow believer "happened" to pass by and Enrique's prayer for the needed money was answered. He was the first to arrive for the training even though he had come the farthest.

This afternoon's session was the "O" of "c.O.s.e.c.h.a" (harvest.) It is the prayer module of our church planting training. I had come prepared with a full afternoon of teaching and activities on the importance of prayer to church planting.

The first item we covered was that it is God's will that "none should perish." Everyone was asked to write down the names of all the family and friends they knew who are not yet believers. We went over the "3 steps" of how we should pray for the lost and I even prayed a short "model prayer" illustrating what we had just gone over making sure everyone present knew how to correctly pray for the lost on their list. I had planned about 15-minutes for this activity and was ready to wrap it up and move on to all the other important prayer points I intended to cover during our training session.

I was already on the next item when Enrique raised his hand and full of emotion in his voice and on the verge of tears began to tell us about two of the people on his list. I patiently waited for him to finish so I could continue my teaching on the prayer module, but Enrique begged us to stop right then and there and pray for their salvation. Before he was through speaking, Matias interrupted and shared his burden for 2-3 on his own list. At that point I lost control of the training session. My "model prayer" and teaching up to that point was absolutely nothing compared to the heartfelt praying and crying out to God that ensued for most of the remaining time.

No, we never got around to really dealing with all the "prayer tips" I had intended sharing. Several pages of great prayer materials and teaching on prayer were layed aside, but boy was there some genuine heartfelt praying for the lost!

Why am I so "content oriented" and think that information is what it is all about? Is my teaching on the subject of prayer what matters, or is praying itself what really matters? When was the last time I shed a tear for a lost person? How burdened and heartbroken am I for the hopeless souls around me? Am I able to fill out a whole sheet of paper with the names of lost family, friends, co-workers and cry out to God in passion for their salvation?

Today the students taught the teacher the prayer lesson.

Monday, July 17

A response to "Should Missionaries Feel Pressure to Produce Converts?"

Wade Burleson posted yesterday on his blog a good article entitled, "Should Missionaries Feel Pressure to Produce Converts?" I agree with Wade that many missionaries seem to sense a feeling of being "pressured to produce."

I would like to respond to his question from my own perspective. I am one of those missionaries who feel an incredible amount of pressure to produce converts, baptisms, church starts, 2nd-3rd generation multiplication, etc. The pressure I feel, though, is not coming from the IMB or our immediate leadership. Rather, it comes from an inner sense of urgency that we have a unique window of time in which to gather in the harvest. We are seeing very little fruit in light of what we sense we ought to be seeing. So much time is being lost daily due to our floundering and indecisiveness. We can't quite seem to be able to put all the pieces together.

The Lord has provided us with every resource needed to bring in the harvest. The Gospel has been present in Ecuador for more than 100 years. There are some 800,000 evangelical believers in this country of 13-million. A huge army with which to work and more than enough "foot soldiers" to easily finish the task in this generation. We have the Scriptures in the main languages spoken, abundance of adequate materials to work with, Christian radio and TV, literature ministry, theological education, general openness to the Gospel, national and international missions efforts, etc. What is left to complain about not having? God has provided every tool and resource necessary to finish the task. Why haven't we been able to bring in the harvest? Therein lies the "pressure" the frustration that I feel. If the Lord were to return today, 94 out of every 100 people in Ecuador would pass into a Christless eternity. Talk about PRESSURE! Have we lost the sense of the horror of hell?

A few of the obstacles have been expressed well by fellow IMB M Bloggers David Rogers, Ken Sorrell, Mr.T, Stepchild, and certainly contribute to the overall picture. But all of these combined are not the real source of the problem. To me the root of our inability to coordinate a concerted effort to win this country to Christ is due more to our being duped by Satan. We are all guilty of being territorial, divided, proud, seeking our own kingdoms, jealous, judgmental, legalistic, "my way or no way" get the idea. Satan must be quite pleased with the success of his strategy for slowing down immensely the gathering in of what is a clear harvest field.

In short, our greatest sin has been to divide the Body of Christ. Something that was never intended. Instead of One Head (Christ) we now have thousands of heads competing with one another. Each "head" thinks his way best and is "God's plan." We "heads" are frustrated that all the other "heads" don't see things our way. Each "head" is out there doing his own thing, feeling the pressure to produce and prove their way is "the way."

I don't know the answer to this dilemma, but pray the Lord has mercy on us all. Sometimes I think the only solution would be for the Lord to allow a huge catastrophe or crisis that so overshadows all our petty differences that all else would be swept under the rug and we come forth as one of united Body of Christ to minister and reach this country in a short timespan.

Any feedback, words of wisdom, or input from anybody out there is more than welcome. As a missionary or church worker do you feel you are "pressured" to produce? What are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 13

FAQ for house church planting in Guayaquil

1. Where do you get your servant leaders from? By praying the Lord of the Harvest to send us those He is calling to serve him in this way. In the beginning nearly all came out of established traditional churches. Currently most of the newer church planters are second generation. Our conviction is that as we pray Luke 10:2, He answers that prayer. Personally, I am doing less and less training, as those whom we have trained are doing more and more. In the past we have used radio spots to announce upcoming training opportunities. Now it is mainly by word of mouth, talking with people, and simply being open and available as the Lord touches hearts to allow us to work with them. We let it be known that if there are at least ten people willing to be trained to start churches, we will go to where they are and work with them.

2. Do lay people baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper? Are they ordained? Yes, lay people baptize and serve the Lord's Supper. No, they are not ordained. Amongst Baptists this has been more of an obstacle. The general feeling seems to be that only ordained servants of God can serve in these capacities. We try to not make a big deal about these issues, but nevertheless are always questioned about this as if we were going outside the Scriptural norms by allowing non-ordained ministers to serve in this way. What we try to stress is the need for baptizing new converts ASAP, not WHO should do it. We downplay the WHO and emphasize in WHOSE NAME they are being baptized.

3. Are not these house churches breeding grounds for heresy and false teaching? Over the years we have not seen nor heard any false teaching done by the servant leaders whom we have trained/mentored. However, I have observed practices that I am personally uncomfortable with when outsiders come in or are invited to a HC meeting or event. My own observations is that there is more poor teaching coming from the established traditional churches than from the new works.

4. How do you train servant leaders? Over the years we have continuosly adapted our materials and training to best suit the needs of those being trained. What we keep discovering is the need to further simplify what it is we do. Our tendency is to want to give more than can be absorbed by those being trained. Currently we use COSECHA (harvest) which is a step-by-step process on what to do to start a new church (see previous blog entry.)

5. Materials? What materials do you use? Where do they come from? They come from all over. The only materials we use in the house churches themselves are 1) Bibles, 2) a songbook that we put together with accompanying CD/cassette, 3) short discipleship lessons which can be xerox copied according to the number of people in the group. Most of the lessons are adaptations from other sources (eg. "Pioneer Evangelism" by Wade Akins, other missionaries lessons, etc.) Others are lessons we put together as a team. The truth is they have been copied, begged, adapted from all over. We need to do some work in crediting the sources from which the materials have been taken, but haven’t done so yet. There are lessons for one full year of house church meetings. All the lessons are supposed to be done in 30-40 minutes. One of the things we found is that most lessons out there are simply too long and too complicated for those studying them. We place more importance on understanding and obeying a given lesson, rather than simply completing a lesson.

Our COSECHA church planting manual and the discipleship manual can be downloaded from

6. Do the servant leaders leave their home churches to dedicate themselves exclusively to the new house churches being planted? Some do and some don’t. In the beginning some are very loyal to their mother churches and wouldn’t think of leaving. Most start out doing both but find that the new church plant begins to take up more and more of their time and their interest. Soon they find themselves with their first allegiance to the church plant. Over the years we have found that most usually end up leaving their tradtional church home and give themselves exclusively to the new house church plant. We don’t make it a requirement that you have to forsake your local Body of Believers in order to plant a church, but this is what usually happens in most cases. Again, we leave these kinds of issues to the Holy Spirit for Him to deal with the person.

7. How do traditional churches react to the house churches? Most do not consider them legitimate churches. They will call them cells, Bible studies, preaching points, or even a mission of an existing church. Very few, if any, really accept the house church model as being a true New Testament church. Some pastors are extremely opposed to our working in this fashion and consider it a threat to the stability of the work in general. The idea that lay people can do the work of professional, ordained clergy has been threatening to many and walls of defense have gone up to protect the establishment. Much work needs to be done yet in prayer and in dialoging with pastors and leaders about these issues.

8. How many people come to a typical house church meeting? On the average between 10-13 adults and young people will be present in a house church meeting. Of these about a third will be visiting not-yet-believers. There are always children present who fully participate in the meetings along with the adults.

9. What do you do about tithes and offerings? Every house church tends to do their own thing. We have several discipleship lessons that deal with the subject of money, giving, stewardship, etc. Most use their small offerings for purchasing Bibles, or for planned evangelistic events. Others will use their gifts and offerings for needs of the local Body of believers (medicines, food baskets, medical expenses in general.) More and more they are giving to missions (this is what we encourage.) The house churches in our local network are currently helping to support a foreign Ecuadorian missionary serving in South Asia. We are in the planning stages of wanting to send out a second missionary in the near future. I am only aware of one house church that actually gives their leadership a love offering. The rest use their monies for outreach or helping the needy amongst them.

Sunday, July 9


COSECHA is the Spanish word for harvest. It is our step-by-step method for training in church planting. The entire process can be taught in a single 5-6 hour workshop. However, we prefer to teach it over 7-10 weeks in weekly 2-hr. sessions.

Each letter of COSECHA stands for a module that must be understood and applied if there is to be a church planted.

“C” is for concientización [to make conscious] where our goals and vision are shared and HOW we are going to reach them. If people don’t know what they are expected to do, they will usually flounder. Clarity is of utmost importance. In the “C” module we show that the way to reach our goal of 500,000 baptized believers in newly planted house churches can be accomplished in the coming five years by every believer winning, baptizing, and discipling eight others per year. New believers are taught and trained to do the same. Everyone has an entire year to concentrate on their “eight.”

“O” is for oración [prayer]. We teach two prayer emphasis: 1) pray for the lost on the prayer lists each has made out of at least ten people who they know who are not saved and live around them, 2) pray the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into his harvest fields. Many of us talk a lot about prayer, but the key is to actually spend much time in prayer about the new church plant.

“S” is for servir [serve]. Those we are praying for must be served by us. It is in this third module that the heart of our strategy, Luke 10:1-9 is covered. This is the strategy that Jesus used to prepare his own 70 disciples for the work they would do after He returned to Heaven. In becoming aware of the needs of those we are praying for, we look for ways of serving/ministering to them. God uses these acts of love to open their heart.

“E” is for evangelizar [evangelize]. As we are praying and serving those the Lord has placed upon our heart, we ask Him to show us the best way we might share the Gospel with them in God’s time. We teach a “tool box” approach of some 20 different ideas and methods for sharing the Gospel. It is up to the individual and the Spirit to use the best method for each of those they are praying for.

“C” is for conservar el fruto [conserve the fruit]. This is a crucial step and one that if not heeded will be the cause of a loss of everything done up until this point. We must conserve the fruit the Lord has given us. Within a maximum of 48-hours, any new convert must be followed up—no exceptions! If the Lord has given you a convert it is YOUR responsibility to follow-up immediately. We teach four follow-up steps which include going over their decision for Christ, answering any questions/doubts that they have, helping them to fill out their own prayer list of lost family/friends, and setting up a time to begin the discipleship lessons.

“H” is for hogares [homes]. We meet in the home of the one making a decision for Christ. We teach a three-part outline of what takes place in a house church meeting. The new believer is encouraged to invite all their family/friends to participate in these discipleship meetings. From the very beginning this “church in formation” is intentional about being a church. They do everything a church does (yes, even with non-believers fully participating.) When the first baptisms are performed, the Lord’s Supper is also partaken of. The group ceases to be a “church in formation” and the new church continues to meet in the same way they have from day one. They cease from “becoming a church” to “being a church.”

“A” is adiestrar [discipleship]. The new believers continue in their own discipleship for ten weeks. If they are living and practicing the first ten lessons, they are expected to win their own “eight” and begin the process over with those they win to the Lord. Nobody is expected to leave their own church, rather they become parts of a growing network of local house churches. These small house churches relate to one another and share times and people with one another for the building up of the Body of Christ. New disciples continue to be discipled throughout the year (there are 52-lessons.) In this way everyone is being discipled by someone, while at the same time discipling someone else.

While it is far from being a perfect model and certainly does not work out as neatly in the “real world” as described above, the model continues to serve us in our local context. For those critical of methods and formulas, and who are quick to throw out these kinds of approaches, I would point out that last year the Lord used this model of training to start 31 new churches and another 44 outreach groups in varying stages of church formation (according to IMB definition of church.) This is not to boast, but to point out that people need guidance and help in doing church planting. We have learned that many people are willing to plant a new work, but simply do not know how. Until the Lord shows us a better way, we will continue to train people in COSECHA.

Friday, July 7

What God is teaching me these days... (Pt 4 of 4)

1. Patience. This is one lesson I have been on for most of my life, but God continues to teach me more about this one too. It is almost like God has his own time table for things taking place. Most of my ministerial frustration and desperation comes from having a different time table than the one God is on. It has been comforting to realize that if somehow I could get a copy of God's time table I would see that all the Kingdom things I so long to see are things He too wants to see happen. But His time table is set up quite differently from mine. His takes into account all the work currently going on the in the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters around me. He is coordinating a myriad number of things going on in the lives of us all to accomplish the "coming of His Kingdom." Things do not revolve around my wishes and desires or how I think things should operate in the Kingdom.

Back when I was a teen, I pasted into the back of my NASB (the same Bible I continue to use today) the following handwritten quote: "It took such a long time to see, God's Kingdom revolves around Him not me." Back when I pasted it in my Bible I thought it was a profound statement and colored it green and drew a border around it I was so impressed. Thirty years later I am still learning this lesson. It indeed takes a long time to see... :-)

What kinds of things is God showing you these days? Share with us in the comments section!

Monday, July 3

What God is teaching me these days... (Pt 3 of 4)

2. We don't take God into the world; He is already out there busy at work in people's lives before our arrival. Our job is not to go out and tell people they need God in their lives. This supposes our contact with them is their first encounter with spiritual matters. Not so.

Instead our task is to DISCOVER what spiritual activity God has been doing in their lives and begin there. There are plenty of Biblical references to back this up: Philip and the eunuch, Jesus and Zaccheus, Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Jesus sending out the 70 to find "men of peace" (discover where God is spiritually working in their lives and stay there.)

Reviewing Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" has been most helpful for both this point and #4 below.

Lesson number 1 coming up...