This is a typical story of how house churches get started in Guayaquil...
Mónica was hired to clean the house of a believer, Martha. Mónica began to open up with Martha about the problems she was having at home with the man she was living with. Martha would cry and pray with Mónica. She openly shared Christ telling her He could heal her life and home if she would just trust him. Mónica thought it too good to be true what Martha shared.
One day Mónica decided to invite Martha to come to her house to share the Gospel with her family. Martha took along Marlene, a gifted evangelist from the house church she attends. Marlene and Martha arrived at Monica's and gathered the family together to dialogue about spiritual matters. Monica felt strongly that she should give her heart to Christ. She was certain that she would be the only one to do so. Much to her surprise, Medardo, her daughter Aneida, and her live-in boyfriend David ALL gave their hearts to the Lord! From the very beginning, Medardo and David were changed dramatically by the power of Jesus working in their lives. Monica and Aneida were overcome with joy in the Lord.
That was September 2006. Marlene, Martha and others began 45-minute weekly bus trips to disciple their new converts. Both couples decided early on that it would be best to get legally married. Recently they were all baptized (see video here.) In Mónica and Medardo's home they proudly display their framed new believer diplomas--Baptism, Discipleship I, Discipleship II, and Christian Marriage Certificate. In all I counted TEN framed certificates on their walls! Several others have since been won to the Lord. These new beleivers are being discipled by Medardo and Mónica. Both just completed our 7-week COSECHA to help them with their own church planting. They will now proudly add their new "Church Planter" certificate to their wall collection!
This past Sunday, Barbara Rivers and I were invited to visit the new church that meets in their home. We sang song after song as everyone wanted to make sure their favorite was sung. Medardo shared his testimony and a short devotional thought on faith. It was evident that he had worked hard on it all week knowing his "teachers" would be present. Prayers were voiced, the offering was collected, and words of encouragement were shared by several. Medardo and Monica shared that just this past week their other daughter, Maria, had also accepted the Lord!!! They are overcome with joy that their whole family--including grandpa--has joined the family of God!
After a lunch of chicken and rice, everyone gathered around Monica's sister, Rosa, to share Christ with her. She listened intently to all the testimonies of how Christ had changed everyone's life. Words cannot describe how precious it was to hear testimony after testimony of how Christ has totally transformed their lives, brought them happiness, freed them from the shackles of sin, and given them a purpose for living. Medardo even shared he had lost 20 lbs. since becoming a Christian. He called it "sin weight" that was taken away when he gave his heart to Jesus! Monica's sister Rosa has SEEN the change in her family's lives, and knows it is for real. Yet she was not yet ready to give her heart to the Lord. She will though, it is just a matter of time!
After worshipping, sharing, eating, picture taking, and visiting together for nearly three hours everybody went home happy.
This is how house churches get started in Guayaquil. For all my years of studying and preparation, reading books, attending conferences, strategizing, fussing and fuming, church planting boils down to...
1) Someone going to share the Good News of the powerful life-transforming life that is found in Christ.
2) Making disciples of those who respond by walking alongside them in their initial steps of life in Christ.
3) Baptizing as soon as possible those who believe.
4) Teaching them to observe all Jesus commanded.
Should church planting really be any more complicated than that? If we will do our part, Jesus promises to do his part and BUILD HIS CHURCH.