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!