Thursday, May 24

Churute (Manuel's Story)


For months the church that meets in the house of Manuel had travelled every weekend to the small rural community of Churute about 40-minutes outside of Guayaquil. Their purpose? To plant a church in this roadside town where Manuel owns a piece of property.

After fruitless weeks of door-to-door evangelism and doing everything they had been taught by us missionaries, Manuel was about ready to give up.

But then God stepped in to the situation.

Manuel owns a nice piece of land in Churute. By the carelessness of a neighbor, "Don Carlos", Manuel's land was set on fire. Everything was burned to the ground...including his valued Mango trees. The whole community was prepared for a tense confrontation, and possibly violence due to the indifference Don Carlos had showed towards Manuel's property and his total economic loss.

Manuel was of course quite distraught by what had taken place and was unsure of how to proceed. Get the police involved? Sue the neighbor? Demand restitution? Confront the callous neighbor and give him a good tongue lashing? Before doing anything, Manuel decided to pray for a week seeking God's mind on how he should proceed.

Once the Lord had given him the answer and peace of mind, Manuel made a trip to Churute. Word quickly spread in the community that the "fireworks were about to begin."

Upon arrival, Manuel announced that he wanted to see Don Carlos. Neighbors stirred, whispers ensued, and someone ran to get the man who had burned Manuel's field to ashes.

Don Carlos arrived expecting a confrontation. Before Manuel could say a word, Don Carlos began blurting out excuses and defending himself about what had happened. Manuel lowered his head, listened a while, then chuckled a bit and interrupted him in mid-sentence... "Oh that, don't worry about it...I realize it was an accident...could have happened to anybody...just be a little more careful next time... What I came to talk to you about today was that we were wanting to enlist your help in trying to get the whole community together to see a film on the life of Christ. We were hoping you might help us with the refreshments. Could you provide some bread and maybe something to drink for the kids so that it might be a good time for all?"

To say the least, Don Carlos was stunned and at a loss for words. All he managed was, "Uhh, of course...count on my help...when did you want to show the picture?"

A week later, Manuel came back to Churute for the planned evening event. Word had spread about what had happened between Manuel and Don Carlos. The entire community turned out to watch the film on the life of Christ. After the movie, Manuel gave a short evangelistic message and an invitation for people to give their hearts to Jesus. EVERY PERSON PRESENT stood to their feet, raising their hands towards heaven, praying aloud--including Don Carlos!!!

The long prayed-for church was born that evening in Churute. That evening the Light of the World came to Churute. Jesus Christ was glorified as His church was planted in this tiny roadside community. A blip on the map overlooked by the world, but not forgotten by God.

UPDATE: What has happened since then? There are now THREE other churches besides the one in Churute. Manuel is moving forward with his plans to have a church in all the neighboring towns! The last time I saw Don Carlos he was assisting Manuel in a marriage ceremony of two new believers who had been living together out of wedlock. Don Carlos role was to read the assigned Scriptures aloud to the assembled wedding party!

Manuel meeting with the church in Churute at Don Carlos place.


15 comments:

Larry Who said...

What a great testimony! Tell us more.

Bill Lollar said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderfully encouraging story of God's power and grace displayed through the humility of this dear brother, Manuel. It really blesses my heart here in the spiritual darkness of Wales!!

jeff w. said...

Thanks - I appreciate the story and have shared it twice today already.

Jeff

Tim Patterson said...

Thank you Guy for this story! It is a great example of how God moves and how we should respond to His movement.

I did not get to comment on your last post about church planting movements... I would not emphasize the standard for church planting movements too much as you evaluate your work. As you know, cpm is a phenomenon that missiologists have identified and attempted to systematize. (Not to minimize what they have done... we have learned so much from their work). You also know that cpm is something that only God can cause to happen. We can only join God in what He is already doing. We can do things that will stimulate and nurture His movement. We must avoid doing things that will stagnate or kill His movement.

I would not use the cpm characteristics list to evaluate the work going on there. The list was developed by people that worked in a different context. I would emphasize using the Biblical pattern as the standard for evaluation. If we join in what God is doing in our context, doing the right things following the Biblical pattern... then it is up to God what happens and what that will look like (and it may not look like a text book church planting movement).

GuyMuse said...

Larry, Bill, Jeff,

Thanks to each of you for stopping by and reading this wonderful story that has born so much fruit for the Kingdom.

A follow-up story that you might find interesting on a church plant out of the Churute church is Mango: A Third Generation Church. Bill, I especially think you would find it interesting in light of your own recent post on "qualifications for ministry"! :)

GuyMuse said...

Tim,

Thanks for this good encouraging word about evaluating our work more upon Biblical patterns rather than cpm characteristics. I needed to hear that today! You are exactly right about our role being on doing the right things, and leaving the results up to God. This is exactly what we are trying to do, but long to see God swoop down and do something way beyond that which we are able to do in our own strength.

Mike said...

Hallelujah!

What do you know? This Christ stuff works! ha!

Mike

Strider said...

Great story Guy! I love reading about the redeemed and seeing them redeem others. Keep blogging Guy.

Burkhalter Ministry said...

So incredible! I can't wait to hear some more of these stories first hand! blessings,
beth

GuyMuse said...

Mike, Strider, Beth,

Thanks to each of you for stopping by . I am a fan of each of your blogs as well and am uplifted reading your stories of what God is doing through your lives and ministries. Manuel has an ambitious dream of starting churches from Churute all the way to the Peruvian border.

jeff w. said...

Thanks for the link - the Mango story was unlifting. It is nice to hear that our God is still at work - without our programs and plans.

Jeff

Paul Burleson said...

Guy,

Great post. Tell Manuel we appreciate getting to know a brother we probably won't meet until heaven.

I'm lax in commenting as you can tell. But I'm not lax in praying for you guys.

GuyMuse said...

Jeff,

Glad you took a moment to click on the Mango 3rd generation church start that grew out of the Churute work.

Paul,

Thanks for the prayers and interest in the wonderful things God continues to do in our midst. Manuel is a true servant of God and I count it a priviledge to know him and his family over the years. I would invite you and all readers to click on the above link to the "Mango" story which is a follow-up to this story about what God continues to do in this area.

S.A.M. said...

Wow, Guy. I just read this aloud to my wife, and we could not get to the end without breaking down. God does amazing things. Maybe Manuel should have the nickname of Job! Thanks for sharing.

SAM

GuyMuse said...

S.A.M.

It is an amazing story of the power and love of God to a small remote roadside village. I just talked with Manuel and he just got back from a missionary trip to the Peruvian border where they baptized eight this past week.