Wednesday, August 30


Insights from a CPM practioner by Curtis Sergeant has been a helpful document for me personally. One of Curtis' ideas that I keep going back to is his IYKDWYBDYKGWYBG idea.

Wondering what the letters represent?

If You Keep Doing What You’ve Been Doing,
You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Been Getting.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results. Also, if you just do the same thing you have been doing but do more of it, you will probably get the same thing you have been getting, just more of it. So, if you are dissatisfied with the current results, then you need to consider altering your approach or changing the methodology that is currently being used. Constant ruthless evaluation is an important habit if you are seeking maximum effectiveness. Never be satisfied with the status quo. Always seek to improve...

I have found this advise to be so true. We get stuck in our ruts and just keep ploughing away hoping somehow that if we just do more of it and work harder at it we will somehow get the desired results. Even when something is obviously not working, we have the tendency to not change what we are doing.

For us nothing seems to work for very long. It seems we are always in a stage of transistion. What worked three months ago no longer is getting the job done. The "perfect materials" were perfect for about two weeks, now they are shot full of holes. Our "Superstars" have moved on to something else and we are back to square one with finding God-called church planters.

It amazes me how desperate I can get for stability and order. We want a plan, a program, a tried and proved formula that we can put into operation and sit back and watch the results pour in. Yet ministry (the world for that matter!) doesn't seem to operate that way. I suspect a lot of our personal frustration with CPM is due to the fact that it is not a formula or step-by-step plan. The IYKDWYBDYKGWYBG idea is encouraging to me in that it is a constant reminder that WHAT we do and HOW we do it matters. We need to constantly evaluate and measure what is working and make the needed changes.

Saturday, August 26

What did Jesus say and what he did not say

Alexander Campbell over at has posted two entries by India church planter Victor Choudhrie, both worth reading. The first entitled a passage from india - why mince words? deals with 15 essential steps for changing from traditional church to New Testament church. I found it very enlightening and encourage you to click on the link.

The second article by Choudhrie "What Did Jesus Say and What He Did Not Say" is reproduced below. As you read, you may disagree with Choudrie's interpretation of the various Scriptures quoted. I personally found it refreshing to read a non-western interpretation on the various Scriptures and points he brings out. At the very least, Choudhrie will get you to rethink these issues considered so "ordinary" and "common sense" in our Western church culture. While I would agree with his conclusions, I have personally found several of them very hard to implement in our own church planting due to the strong traditions that prevail. When planting New Testament churches does one go with one's traditions for these things, or do we really seek to practice what we find in the pages of Scripture? Let me know what you think--and actually practice!

  • Jesus never asked you to worship only on Sundays. His disciples worshipped daily, broke bread from house to house and the Lord added to the church daily and the churches were planted daily. ( Acts 2: 46-47; 16: 5; Heb. 3: 13)

  • Jesus did not say that you appoint qualified professional pastors. He gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to equip His church. (Eph. 4: 11-12)

  • Jesus never said that only the pastors can serve bread and wine. Jesus served roast lamb, bread, bitter herb and wine for the last supper. Whenever His disciples gathered they shared Agape meals together in His remembrance. (Exo. 12: 8; 1 Cor. 11: 20-26)

  • Jesus did not say that you should tithe. According to His teachings, the disciples opened their homes and shared their possessions with others so that no one lacked anything. (Acts 4: 32-34; Deut. 8: 17-18)

  • Jesus did not ask you to build a church building. He said God does not live in houses made with human hands because the heaven is His throne and the earth is His foot stool. Now we are the temple of the living God. (Acts 7: 48-49; 2 Cor. 6: 16; 1 Cor. 3: 9)

  • Jesus did not say that only the Pastors can baptize. Jesus said you go and make disciples and baptize them. (Matt. 28: 19)

  • Jesus did not ask the pastor to bury. He said let the dead bury the dead, you go and raise the dead. (Luke 9: 60; Matt. 10: 8)

  • Jesus did not ask you to follow the church program. He said follow me and I will make you fishers of men. He did not ask you to send believers to Sunday service or the Bible school. He said send the laborers to the harvest fields. He said he who gathers is with Me and he who scatters is against Me. (Matt. 4: 19, 9: 38, 12: 30)

  • Jesus did not ask you to organize crusades and conventions. He will not judge you on the basis of large crowds or the wonderful worship and beautiful music. He will judge on what you did for the little and the least of the world. (Matt. 25: 31-46,18: 3-6; Isa. 58: 6-9)

  • Jesus did not say that only men can talk in the church and the women should cover their head and keep quiet. He made them talk, even allowed them to argue with Him in public. (Luke 10: 40; Mark 7: 24-30)

  • Jesus did not say that you are just a layman. He bought you with His blood and ordained you priest and king. As royal priests, make disciples, baptize, equip fishers of men and rule on earth. (Rev. 5: 9-10; 1 Pet 2: 9)

Victor Choudhrie is a cancer surgeon by profession. He is a senior Fellow of the American and British colleges of surgeons. He quit his job as the Director (CEO) of the Christian Medical college, Ludhiana in Punjab, India in 1992 to take up full time Church planting ministry in central India. His wife Bindu is also in full time church planting ministry, equipping women to be house church leaders and trainers. God has blessed this ministry abundantly. Large numbers of grassroots level leaders have been trained who have planted thousands of house churches all over India as a result.

Thursday, August 24

Why all the uproar about CPM methodology?

Ben Cole over at Baptist Blogger has been slowly posting his multiple part history of Church Planting Movements and the Crisis of Power in the Southern Baptist Convention. As an IMB missionary, this series has been interesting reading but confusing as to why there is so much uproar about CPM methodology...

Any church planting methodology is just that: a methodology--an imperfect means to get the job done. From the very beginning it has always been said that CPM is a messy affair. Anyone out on the frontiers of missions actually involved in multiple church plants would readily agree. There are a few undebatable essentials that must be in place, but a lot of it is "unchartered waters" where we seek the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us in the next step. Church planting is less a science than it is an adventure!

It frustrates me a little to hear CPM picked apart by people who have not experienced first-hand what it actually means to be assigned a people group the size of the State of Alabama. What would these same people do if it was just them and maybe a handfull of others assigned the job of standing in the gap for reaching millions of people in their assigned region?

It seems that most people criticizing CPM are those that only have to worry about growing their own local church year to year. The Great Commission (the missionary task) is about reaching the nations, an entire people for Christ. It takes a lot of "coloring outside the box" and a mega-dose of faith, prayer and following the H.S. for this to happen.

I have yet to see a critic of CPM actually involved in anthing close to a CPM! CPM was never intended as a panacea for church planting, and no one claims it is the perfect methodology. If there is something better and more effective going on out there, speak up, show us, let us know... We are game for anything that will bring more people into the Kingdom in a faster and more efficient manner.

CPM gives us tools to deal with a God-sized task. I for one am grateful to visionary servants such as Sergeant, Garrison, Rankin, Simson and others who have taken a lot of heat and yet made more of an impact on the people's of the world coming to the feet of Jesus than all their critics combined.

For those interested in more of my ramblings about CPM, check out the following past posts on the subject, A Church Planting Movement Amongst All Peoples, CPM: Babies Teaching Babies?, Revisiting CPM Methodology, and Church as a movement rather than an Institution.

What are your thoughts or experiences with CPM? Any questions? All comments welcome!

Tuesday, August 22


God is definitely at work in hearing the many prayers offered for the saints as described in our previous post.

MANUEL called me yesterday morning all excited to report that God had sent him an ex-commando, a real foul-mouthed, fully-armed "Rambo" who for unknown reasons has decided to take on Manuel's case and defend his cause. He has become Manuel's "best friend" and is standing guard 24/7 over the properties and threatens to blow off anyone's head that attempts to invade the "Lord's property!" While I admit such "answers to prayer" don't jive with my own personal theology, one has to admit, WE PRAYED; GOD ANSWERED. I am continuosly amazed at how often God responds to prayer not in the way expected, but often outside of the small box we have Him enclosed!

Manuel went on to say that the Lord had impressed upon him the Scripture in Romans "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK..." So on Sunday they fed all the invaders sandwiches and colada (oat meal drink). Everyone was happy about that and assured Manuel they would leave his land alone and only invade the others around him! They went on to have an open-air evangelistic service and will begin a new outreach group with those interested.

MIGUEL showed up unexpectedly yesterday. His situation remains the same with his employer, but continues to negotiate a solution. However, what he had come to share was how excited he was that on Sunday 7 new believers showed up to their discipleship class and 25 kids. He is so thrilled and came to ask us all to come out for a visit and especially to continue to pray for the new church plant.

PEDRO also had a wonderful weekend. A fellow missionary on our team, Barbara, visited his new house church group on Sunday. They had 10 new believers show up for the first discipleship class that meets in his empty car mechanic workshop. Barbara said he did an excellent job discipling them. I shared his story with a couple of other house churches who are committed to raising a love offering this week to help Pedro out. I am waiting for them to present their offerings first before sharing with Pedro that in the past days I have received a foreign love offering from someone in Europe! Since the European offering is so much more than what our people will be able to give, I want to wait a few days and not overshadow their own offering which they are working on this week to help Pedro and family. I know he will be overcome with gratitude to the Lord when he hears about these love offerings from his own fellow believers and those in far-away places.

JOHNNY and family are much encouraged, though still saddened by the loss of their loved one. He told me over the phone this morning that many people in his town have been impacted by their faithful Christian testimony and manner of facing death. When I told him how many people had been praying for him and his family and the church, he was genuinely impacted and expresses his appreciation to each of you for caring about someone so far away and not even known. He was also encouraged by the word that a group of us from Guayaquil are planning on coming to his town in the coming days to help him and the church with an evangelistic emphasis weekend.

Truly God is responding to each of your prayers. We look forward to hearing even more victories in the days to come.

Saturday, August 19

Satan is hitting hard--PRAYER SOS!

Satan is hitting us hard these days. Just when momentum starts moving things forward, the enemy steps in. Where we think ground was gained, we end up taking two giant steps backwards.

The past few days have seen much suffering and hardship for the servant leaders we work with in the house churches. Discouragement is at an all time high amongst our people. The questions arise in all our minds, "is it worth it?"

On Thursday I travelled a couple of hours through thick falling volcano ash to be with church leaders Johnny and Maria Victoria who lost her dad to disease. Not only do they have the grief for their lost loved one, but the church that meets in their house is struggling. They are confused and discouraged wondering where God is in all of these things. They are all alone in a small town with no other support or encouragement. The devastation from the volcano is all around them and thousands are homeless with their worldly good destroyed.

As Pedro was just beginning to get a new church plant started in his home this past week due to the help of the Texas volunteer team that was here, thieves broke in and stole all the tools of his trade. He is a car mechanic and now has no tools with which to work. Last week Pedro went out and bought on credit his first major tool replacement to be able to get back into business. On Monday night thieves broke in a second time and lifted the new machine through the roof. When the thieves were discovered they threw the newly purchased machine down to the ground completely destroying it before running off into the night. Now, not only does Pedro have a large debt to pay, he has no tools to help him work.

Miguel, another young man who worked with the Texans, and just beginning a church plant was driving a company car at work and to avoid hitting a woman on the street swerved and instead ran the car into a post. The damage was $3000 which the owners said he must pay them immediately or be fired. He was fired.

Manuel, one of our main church planters is having to stand guard 24/7 in that his property is being invaded by squatters who are trying to possess his legally obtained properties. Manuel's dream is to use this property for badly needed social ministries amongst the poorest of the poor (medical clinic, lab, eye clinic, training center, trade school, etc.) Through massive corruption of local power brokers, he is having to stand all alone against hundreds of people who have already paid money to the brokers for Manuel's land. There is no police protection or legal recourse. The only way is to stand out front and turn people away. He is trying to maintain a Christian testimony but the corruption is so rampant. It looks like he will lose all his hard worked for land and dreams to unscrupulous greedy people.

There are many, many more stories of those we work with on a daily basis going through very difficult trials these days. I won't mention our own set of trials and burdens but suffice it to say, we too are being tested!

Would you be so kind as to pause a moment and pray for all these and the others whom space does not permit to write up their stories? This is a very real side of missions that often isn't mentioned--the trials and tribulations that go hand-in-hand where God is at work to build His Kingdom.

The enemy is putting up a terrific battle against the saints of God. But we already know who has won the victory, and in Him we put our trust and confidence for the ultimate victory and Glory of God.

Thanks for praying.

Wednesday, August 16

Grass-roots theological training on the mission field

When New Directions came on the Baptist missions scene nearly ten years ago, many people felt the IMB abandoned overseas theological education. TE continues to be a "hot issue" in missions and has recently come to the front again. Much of the Summer 2006 print issue of IMB missions magazine, The Commission, seeks to clarify the IMB's position on overseas theological education. IMB reporter, Kristen Hiller, writes about one of three major methods that TE is carried out in the Baptist overseas context. Our TE training in Guayaquil was chosen as an example for the "grass-roots" method of TE. Below is her article that appears on page 22 of the magazine...

Grass-roots: Feeling God’s Presence
--by Kristen Hiller

Sunlight pours through the glass ceiling of the Fundacion Clemencia, flooding the great room where a small cluster of elderly residents clap their hands and sing: “Santo, santo, santo!” or “Holy, holy, holy!”

Had Jose and Adriana Salazar not taken in these abandoned elderly in Ecuador, they probably would not have gotten food, shelter, and a chance to hear the Gospel.

The Salazars have spent the past five years establishing the Fundacion Clemencia, where they minister to the neglected elderly of Guayaquil, while also balancing their own theological studies.

Since 2003, a partnership between International Mission Board missionaries, workers with Serving In Mission, and national church planters has produced the Theological Education by Extension program allowing people like the Salazars to study theology while leading house churches.

"TEE is really filling a need that’s not being filled by the traditional seminary approach,” says Guy Muse, IMB strategy coordinator for this part of Ecuador. “Our goal, of course, is that we would like to see everybody, every single believer, trained theologically.”

As opposed to the traditional seminary approach, TEE allows students to stay in their local churches, study at their own pace, and meet each week for discussion and lecture, Muse explains.

“We don’t train and then send out,” Muse says. “We send out and then train church leaders as they actually do the work.”

The TEE curriculum is comprised of four levels of study, each taking about two years to complete. TEE enrollment averages between 70 and 100 students, who meet at various times and places throughout the week.

Those who have completed earlier levels of the program now teach others who are new to theological study.

Although Muse and other missionaries initially served as instructors in the program, TEE in Guayaquil is now led almost entirely by Ecuadorian church planters.

“As national believers completed levels, missionaries just stepped out of doing all the teaching,” he explains. For the program to continue long-term, Muse says it must be led by national teachers.

After studying in both a traditional seminary as well as the TEE program, house church leader Carlos Perez Flores says the TEE curriculum is a better match for the social and economic reality of the Ecuadorian people.

Xavier Alvarado, president of the Ecuadorian Baptist Convention, says only 20 percent of pastors in the convention have received any kind of theological training. By using the TEE program, Muse says 90 percent of those leading house churches have been trained.

Flores says that since national believers must work at secular jobs in addition to their ministry roles, TEE allows them to further their theological training while providing for their families in a secular workplace.

“If we want to reach the multitudes we need people who are able to transfer practical concepts to people’s lives,” Flores says. “We must be able to train others who also have families and work, and who also want to serve the Lord themselves.”

Muse estimates only one in 10,000 of those living in Guayaquil have the financial and social means needed to attend a traditional, live-in seminary.

“That’s not the world these people are living in,” Muse says. “We need to take theological education to them. No one’s neglecting theological education--it’s just a different way of doing it.”

Monday, August 14

20 things to do while not multiplying churches

Steve Addison always has great things to say about church planting. I recently stumbled across his 20 things to do while not multiplying churches. While his list brought a smile, I have to admit the truth stings a bit when it gets too close to home!

1. Call yourself an apostle. Have some business cards printed. Hand them around.

2. Throw lots of money at subsidizing unhealthy, declining churches.

3. Throw money at “experimental missional initiatives” and never evaluate their effectiveness.

4. Set goals for multiplying new churches but don’t make it clear who is responsible to accomplish the goals.

5. Make someone responsible but don’t give them any real authority, discretionary time, or funding. Change the appointment every two years. After ten years, save money by retiring the position and making everyone else responsible.

6. Appoint a committee to undertake a study and write a report. Wait three years then do it again.

7. Hire a consultant to undertake a study and write a report. Wait three years then do it again.

8. Appoint the wrong people to plant churches. When they fail conclude that church planting doesn’t work.

9. When you see a healthy church plant say, “Yes it’s growing but it’s not really a Reformed/Baptist/Assemblies of God/Presbyterian/Methodist/New Vine/etc (choose one) church.”

10. Require pioneering leaders to be theologically trained before they can plant a church.

11. Throw your best leaders at your biggest problems, not at your greatest opportunities.

12. Watch pioneering leaders exit your movement and then comment on their lack of commitment.

13. Reward pioneering leaders with promotions. Get them away from the front line. Harness their drive to keep the institutional wheels turning.

14. In the 1960’s change the word “missions” to “mission.” To usher in the new millennium change “mission” to “missional.” Around 2010 plan to change “missional” to “postmissional.”

15. Agree to plant new churches when: (a) You’re large enough (b) You’re healthy enough (c) You have the leaders to give away (d) You have the money to spare (e) God has clearly shown you it’s time (f) When the cow jumps over the moon.

16. Run workshops on church planting. Hold conferences on church planting. Offer a course at your theological college on church planting. Do nothing to follow up with the people who show an interest. Make sure only experts get to teach. Keep the practitioners away from the students. Keep the students in the classroom.

17. Grow your church, facilities, staff, and budget as BIG as you can. Let your vision stop at your car park. Let church history end with you. Let the Kingdom dream die.

18. Set ridiculous but catchy sounding goals like “500 in 5 years,” or “2,000 by 2,000.” Three years after the target date expires set new goals. Don’t forget to change the dates!

19. Modernize your theology then postmodernize your theology. Remove evangelism and church planting from the centre of God’s mission in the world. When decline hits make sure the paid professionals are the last to feel the pinch.

20. Lastly, set up a blog on church planting. Link to other bloggers on church planting. Be sure they link to you. Add smoke and mirrors.

Saturday, August 12

“Seven Questions with a Southern Baptist Missionary”

Recently over at OKPREACHER'S CHRISTIAN RESOURCE CENTER I was asked to answer the following seven questions. The answers I gave are reproduced below...


  1. What were some of the key issues that lead you to serve with the International Mission Board? My parents, Jim and Pat Muse were missionaries serving with the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC. Growing up overseas as an MK (missionary kid) I always had a great admiration and respect for my missionary “aunts and uncles.” When it became clear to us that the Lord was calling us to serve Him overseas, there was never a question that the IMB was the way to go. I feel our Board is on the “cutting edge” of missions and has an excellent grasp on the issues surrounding the bringing in of the worldwide harvest being prepared by God’s Spirit.

  2. What is your greatest passion? To see the the fulfillment of the Great Commission in my lifetime. I believe it can be done. I believe it is the Lord’s will. I believe God has already provided every single resource and provision to make this a reality. We need to get our act together and join Him in what He is clearly doing amongst the nations.

  3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time? Without a doubt it is the disunity within the Body of Christ. There are many competing agendas and we seem to be divided on every front: theologically, strategically, in priorities, missiologically, denominationally, in our church traditions/practices, even in what we think the major task is for the church.

  4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry? A few things come to mind:

    --How important your specific, focused praying for us is. Only eternity will reveal to us all the role prayer has had in everything God is doing in our midst. Join our prayer team by sending a blank email to
    --How grateful we are for the support of Southern Baptists, both in prayer, interest, and in faithful giving, that make it possible for us to be here. The Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering are two channels of financing world missions that have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of lives for the Kingdom.
    --That churches planted overseas don’t look or feel like churches most of us are accustomed to. They are much closer to the first-century churches that met in homes with lay leadership under the Lordship of Jesus.

  5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States? Having spent most of my life overseas, for me the biggest culture changes are when we go back to the States for visits. The materialism of Stateside Christians, the way churches spend so much on themselves is truly amazing.

  6. There has been a lot of blogging about pressure from the IMB towards missionaries to produce converts. Do you feel pressure from the IMB? What type of ministries are you doing to reach people and start churches? I recently blogged on this very question of pressure from the IMB and can be read in its entirety here. In short, yes I do feel pressure to “produce converts” but that pressure is not coming from the IMB or our local leadership; rather, it is coming from an inner sense that we have an open window in time to bring in the harvest. As stated above in #3, we are bogged down and not bringing in the harvest as fast or as effectively as I feel we should be doing, given the resources and personnel the Lord has amply provided.

    What are we doing to reach people and start churches? We understand our task as one of mobilizing the existing church into the harvest fields. We believe that every believer is full participant in the Great Commission. Our job is to train believers to go out and win their family/friends, baptize them, disciple the new believers in newly planted local house churches.

  7. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year and are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer? We feel the Lord has given us the vision of seeing 500,000 new disciples of Christ meeting in thousands of newly planted house churches in the coming five years. Everything we do is focused on this vision and passion. We would appreciate your prayers for the Lord to mobilize (call out) his church to be active participants in this great harvest.

Thursday, August 10

I've Been Tagged!

Marty Duren tagged me to answer the following questions on my blog. So here goes...

1. One book that changed your life: there have been so many books that have impacted me over the years, I'll share both a recent book and one from the past. The Shaping Of Things To Come, by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch. And, from the past, Hannah Hurnard's classic Hinds Feet On High Places.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Houses That Change the World, Wolfgang Simson

3. One book I'd want on a desert island (other than the Bible): Where There Is No Doctor, David Wener

4. One book that made me laugh: can't think of one, but since so many others have mentioned Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller, I'll have to get hold of a copy and read it. I need a good laugh these days!

5. One book that made me cry: The Heavenly Man, Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway (it was that moving!) What a testimony.

6. One book that you wish you had written: The Present Future, Reggie McNeal

7. One book you wish had never been written: The trilogy, Rethinking the Wineskin, Who Is Your Covering, Pagan Christianity, all by Frank Viola. Now that I have your attention, these are must read books. I simply needed somewhere to place more titles that have greatly impacted my life. Truth be told, life has not been the same after reading these classics. They will definitely challenge everything you've ever believed about church.

8. One book that you are currently reading: Parenting Teens With Love & Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay

9. One book that you've been meaning to read: Waking the Dead, John Eldredge

Now I tag Donnie Starkey, Linda Muse, Gary Snowden, Outoftheshaker!, and Ben & Christine Haley.

Sunday, August 6

To God be the Glory, and a big YEEEEAH for Texas volunteers!


Tomorrow we finish up a week with a volunteer team from Texas. I could spend this post telling everyone what a great group they are, and how much we appreciate them coming to help us. But it is really not about the volunteers, as much as what God did through them this week.

We worked with a team of 13 Texas volunteers in two different sections of town where we are trying to get new works (churches) started. Stateside volunteers are a curiosity, and usually most people out of courtesy will open their homes and listen to their message. We like to first have the volunteers share their story (testimony.) If we sense the Spirit at work in the life of the one listening, we will go on to share the Good News of Jesus and invite them to receive Christ.

In many cases what happens is God's Spirit knits our hearts together and they too open up and share their own stories. This leads to an open heart-to-heart dialogue. Often tears are shed by both volunteers and the ones they have come to minister. Most of their stories are filled with loss, sickness, poverty, hopelessness, broken hearts and lives. I never get used to hearing their tragic stories. It always drains me emotionally and by days end I am exhausted.

For the visits we divided into teams. Each team had at least two Texas volunteers, a Spanish translator, and a couple of national brethren (one of which is part of the local church planting team.) While we are out "sharing the Gospel" our main task is to try and identify the "person of peace" (POP) the home where God is clearly at work. It is there that the new church will be eventually planted (Luke 10:1-9.)

Join us on a typical visit...

The local church planter takes us to a house that he has visited several times already and personally knows the people. We climb a wooden ladder to get inside the single room cane shack. Lying on the one bed in the house is an older woman dying of cancer. Her daughter sits at one end of the bed, we at the other. After proper introductions and a bit of small talk, Carrie and Mandy share their testimonies. Before they are through, the woman has tears pouring down her face. Carrie and Mandy kneal beside her and begin wiping her tears and stroking her face. We share with the woman how precious she is in God's sight and that He hasn't forgotten her. A few verses are shared. When she is asked if she would like to receive Christ and have the certainty of eternal life, her tears speak louder than the nod of her head. After praying for her salvation, we gather and lay hands praying for her healing. After 30-40 minutes we leave and go to the next house that the church planter has for us to visit...

The same pattern is repeated with another tragic story and God breaking through to touch another soul. In nearly every visit, people's hearts are touched by the Holy Spirit. While they don't always make a decision on the spot to give their hearts to the Lord, the seed is at least planted for a future harvest.

In the parable of the sower Jesus speaks of different kinds of ground that the seed falls upon. We never know if the hearts who have prayed with us are that "good ground" that bears fruit. Our task is to share the Word and His to make it bear fruit.

We have a "house rule" that within 48-hours of someone accepting Christ, that person must be followed up with discipleship. We want to avoid Satan snatching the seed from as many hearts as possible. Out of those being followed up this week we hope to start at least two new churches.

Will you pause for just a minute and pray for the people of Guayaquil? If you could hear their stories like we have, you would want to spend an entire day in prayer for their salvation. Pray for these who have made professions of faith. Pray that they would continue to walk in the steps of their new Master. Pray that at least two strong churches would be planted in the coming days.


For more photos of the Texas volunteer team, click here to see my wife's blog entry.

To God be the Glory, and a big YEEEAH for the Texas volunteers who came to help us this week!

Thursday, August 3

Do they really understand our message?


Stephen Bowers is a good friend and fellow IMB missionary serving in South America. He has written the following paragraph in a recent prayer letter that caught my attention.

...Jesus gives us divine insight...when he says in Matthew 13:23b “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it.” Jesus also says in Matthew 13:9 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. Really and truly UNDERSTANDING the Word of God is essential and absolutely necessary for those who will finish the race and for those who will bear and yield fruit.

Many times I have scratched my head trying to figure out why a church plant fails, why things start to crumble, or where people get their crazy ideas! Could it be that it is as elemental as their simply not understanding the word? Does the evil one really snatch away that good word which has been sown simply because they have not understood it? Wow, that is something to think about!

We assume people are understanding just because we have said the right words and they have smiled and nodded their heads. What has taken us a lifetime to understand and grasp, we expect those we are sharing the Gospel to instantly comprehend. Is it really a surprise when they don't?

The reality in many cases is something quite different than we intended. I have seen this over and over again. People tend to hear what they think you are saying, not necesarrily what you are saying.

Another aspect of this is our tendency to believe people need lots of information before they can really "get it." Often, little of what I am trying to communicate is getting across. All my words are filtered through their own world view, experiences, prejudices, upbringing, etc. How nice it would be if there were a way to get inside someone's brain and see what is really being understood!

Our message is also suspect in that our listeners often question or are confused by our motivations. Why are they here? Why are they telling me this? What do they really want out of me? What's in it for me if I accept their message?

Anyway, I think I'll go back and meditate a bit more on Matthew 13. A key missiological feature is the need for people to clearly understand the Gospel message. It is our responsibility to communicate that message clearly.