Friday, August 31

Guayas Cantones for Christ

Guayas, with 3.3 million people is the largest province in Ecuador. The province is divided into 28 cantones (counties). By far the largest counties are Guayaquil and Durán with 67% of the total provincial population.

Most of the attention over the past 50 years has centered on outreach to the two largest counties of Guayaquil and Durán, accounting for most of the evangelical presence in the province.

In the remaining 26 counties (population 1.09 million) there is an unknown, but considerably lower percentage of evangelical Christians and churches.

The “Guayas Cantones for Christ” project seeks to focus prayer, investigation, training, evangelism, discipleship, and church planting on the remaining unreached/under-reached counties of Guayas province.

The project entails at least two churches partnering together to establish reproducing churches in each of the remaining 26 cantones. One of the two churches will be a local national church. The other will be a Stateside/international partner church or missions outreach team.

Together, the national church and their international partners, will adopt and engage one of the under-reached 26 counties. They will collaborate and work together to come up with a viable strategy for reaching their adopted county for Christ. More than likely this would be a 1-2 year commitment by both partnering churches.

The Guayas Strategy Coordinator (me) and Guayas Mestizo Team will facilitate and be available for help, but the responsibility for completing the task lies with those who come saying, "here we are Lord, use us according to your will."

The definition of “reached” is planting a minimum of three networking churches in the canton. Most likely these will be “simple churches” or “house churches”.

Simple/house churches are N.T. churches without all the extras that typify modern churches today (buildings and property, paid staff, etc.) The following documents help describe what we are talking about.

What do we mean by ‘simple church?’
What kind of churches are we planting overseas?
Simple churches need simple plans
Church planting lessons learned along the way
Simple church interviews (YouTube video from House2House)

Interested? Any churches or missions teams reading this post that would prayerfully consider partnering with us in this project, please contact us through the email address found in our profile (top right-hand side bar.) Reaching Guayas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a bigger task than we can possibly handle by ourselves. WE NEED HELP from those willing to come and take on the full responsibility for reaching an entire county for Christ. Is this something God might be touching you and your church to come do?

Tuesday, August 28

Is mass evangelism a thing of the past?

No way if you were in Guayaquil this past weekend for the Franklin Graham Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope). The richness of God's love and forgiveness embraced our city with over 185,000 people hearing the Gospel message and more than 15,800 public professions of faith in Christ--more than FIVE TIMES the number ushered into the Kingdom in Acts 2! That's more people than the total number of Baptists in the entire country after 50+ years of work. We are overjoyed at what God continues to do to bring this country to the feet of Jesus.

Most of the churches in our house church network fully participated by bringing people with them to the evangelistic meetings that they have been praying for and visiting over the past few months. Already many of those who made decisions are being followed up with discipleship materials.

This past Sunday I attended the baptism of an entire family whom one of our house church planters has been working with for a couple of months. The last to accept the Lord was the dad (pictured above.) He went with his family on the last night of the Festival of Hope meetings giving his heart to the Lord. The next morning he was baptized along with his wife and children, along with several others. Afterwards I rejoiced to hear his wife tell how overjoyed she was that all her family is now following Christ. Only one daughter remains to make her decision for Christ.

Watch this 3:25 BGEA video with highlights of the August 23-25 Franklin Graham Festival of Hope. To God be the Glory!

Sunday, August 26

The future of institutional missions organizations

I found the following thoughts about institutional missions organizations by Bob Roberts, Jr. quite interesting and thought-provoking. What do you see as the future of missions organizations like the IMB, SIM, YWAM, CCC, etc. as we know them today?


There has never been a time, or as conducive an environment, for mission agencies and institutions to engage the world like there is today. If it happens, mission agencies and institutions are going to have to:

1. see themselves as connectors of the whole body of Christ to the whole world.

2. release control or lose any control at all because people aren't going to sit around and wait.

3. train not just local culture and practices to a missionary but global culture and practices.

4. redefine how missionaries work, what they do and how they operate.

5. be a revolving door not just of sending western missionaries but of "global" missionaries from every society.

6. be a receiving entity for missionaries coming to America who feel called to work here . . .

7. value local churches and laymen beyond just seeing them as cows to milk for their institution (I'm convinced the key to raising funds is not asking for money but partnering and doing things together--there will be more money than they could ever imagine.

8. view themselves not as funders of people who want to be vocational missionaries but partners "gospel" seed planters of the kingdom throughout the world.

...People are going to work with people that are willing to work together and ignore those who aren't willing to partner. The days of a huge bureaucracy telling a church that is funding it what it can and can't do are numbered. Getting a bunch of young guys in a room and telling them "we want to hear from you" won't cut it. Getting a bunch of youngsters with a radical "newlight" missionary--saying there's a city, now take it, and the skies the limit. You empower them all, you infuse enthusiasm, and you learn from one another.

Wednesday, August 22

Things I wonder about

Gail Graves recently sent me his "Basic Simple Church Discovery Questions". Some of the below are adapted from this document. The rest are just things I have wondered about over the years. If you are willing to shed any light on any of the below, please feel free to jump in!

Where in the Bible does it refer to believers as members of a local church?

Can believers be part of more than one local church at the same time? (eg. a member at FBC-Dallas, Faith Bible Church, and Misión Evangélica Sión all at the same time) Why or why not?

If there really is only One Body of Christ, why do we persist in separating ourselves from one another and clinging to our denominational distinctives?

Why don't we ever hear any sermons on 1 Corinthians 12:28ff "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues..."?

Related to the above question, why aren't our churches structured according to Paul's order, rather than the way we are structured today with Senior Pastors leading the list? Are pastors even mentioned in the 1 Cor. 12:28 list?

Who are the Ephesian 4:11 apostles, prophets, and evangelists amongst us? Can you name any apostles, prophets, evangelists in your church today? What happened to these folks? Have their roles been absorbed by the pastor-teachers in our midst? If so, is this what the Holy Spirit intended?

Were Paul's epistles written to individual local house churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. or were they written to ALL of the Church in each of these cities (house churches-plural?)

Why doesn't Paul ever address his letters to the pastor or leadership of the churches like we do today when contacting churches?

Where in the Bible do we get the idea that listening to a prepared sermon is an essential part of believers gatherings?

Why do we delay baptizing new believers when every instance recorded in the Book of Acts indicates immediate baptism upon profession of faith?

How small can a church be and still be a church? Does the Bible say anything about how big is too big for a church to be?

What is a church? When does a group become a church? What is the Scriptural support for your answer?

Does a seminary education help or hinder those seeking to multiply new church starts?

What happened to celebrating the Lord's Supper as a meal? When did we begin substituting the Lord's SUPPER (meal) for a tiny cracker and sip of grape juice?

Where do we get the idea of paid/salaried pastors and church staff when 1 Corinthians 9 is clearly referring to itinerant apostolic workers?

Along these same lines where do we get the idea that "double honor" in 1 Timothy 5:17 for elders refers to a monthly salary and benefits package?

Why do we program our gatherings into hour long meetings rather than allowing the Head of the Church (Jesus) to lead and move among us as He desires?

Just wondering...

Monday, August 20

Festival de Esperanza - Franklin Graham (Guayaquil, Ecuador)

Festival of Hope - Ecuador sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will be held this week in Guayaquil, August 23-24-25.

All year long the churches of Guayaquil have joined together in a massive undertaking to impact our city for Christ. Multiple events and training have already taken place under girded by an umbrella of prayer. This week is the high point of this year long evangelistic undertaking with Franklin Graham coming for a three day "Festival of Hope".

As you read this, please pause and pray for God's Spirit to be poured out upon Guayaquil this week and that thousands would come to know Christ as Savior and Lord.

The following comes from the BGEA website...
Some of the best fishing fleets in the world gather in the teeming waters off Guayaquil, Ecuador. For the past year another fleet has been fishing in Guayaquil, however, and their goal is singular: they’re fishing for people. Churches, pastors, and believers are working alongside BGEA to bring the Franklin Graham Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope) to Guayaquil August 23–25, 2007.

With a population of more than three million, Guayaquil is the largest city in the South American country of Ecuador. Hundreds of churches and numerous volunteers around the city have been reaching out, telling others about Christ, and inviting people to the Festival so that they can hear a life-changing message...

A stream of renewal has been flowing through Ecuador for the past few years. The My Hope World Evangelism Television Project aired a message of God’s love on national television networks in 2004. Last year, Franklin Graham visited Quito, Ecuador, at the base of the Andes Mountains, to bring the Festival de Esperanza to northern Ecuador. Cold air blew through the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium in Quito, but the warmth of God’s love prompted more than 140,000 people to attend the Festival. More than 13,600 invited Jesus Christ into their lives as a result. It was the largest evangelistic outreach in Ecuador’s history.

Excitement is building for the Festival de Esperanza in Guayaquil, which will feature nightly messages from Franklin Graham along with special guest musicians Marcos Witt of Mexico, Marcos Vidal of Spain, Lilly Goodman of the Dominican Republic, as well as Ecuador’s own Gerard Mejia and Jorge Luis. A Festiniños (KidzFest) will be held Saturday morning.

Jesus’ disciples threw away their fishing nets and began to tell people the Good News of salvation, and their testimonies changed the world forever. Christians in Guayaquil this week will be fishing as well by inviting others to hear about Jesus Christ. Through God’s power, numerous lives will be changed at the Festival de Esperanza.

Friday, August 17

Settler or Pioneer?

According to Wes Seeliger, there are basically two camps in Christianity: the SETTLERS and the PIONEERS. Each has their own unique understanding of "theology" that determines how Christianity, church planting, missions, ecclesiology, etc. is carried out in everday practice. While only an analogy, I find Seeliger comes mighty close to the truth. Could the roots of the tension, accusations, misunderstandings amongst us be boiled down to are you a SETTLER or a PIONEER?

Frontier Theology
--By Wes Seeliger--

There are two views of life and two kinds of people. Some see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are SETTLERS. Others see life as a fantastic, wild, explosive gift. They are PIONEERS.

The visible church is an outfit with an abundance of settlers and a few pioneers. The invisible church is the fellowship of pioneers.

To no one's surprise there are two kinds of theology. Settler theology and pioneer theology. Settler theology is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of "Supreme Being," establish the status quo on Golden Tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life and live! The pioneer sees theology as a wild adventure, complete with indians, saloon girls, and the haunting call of what is yet to be.

The Wild West offers a stage for picturing these two types of theology. Settlers and Pioneers use the same words but that is where it stops. To see what I mean--read on.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small. This makes the thing easy to defend, but quite dark inside. Its doors are solid oak. No one lives there except pigeons and they, of course, are most unwelcome.

Within the thick, courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse runs the town. It is the settler's symbol of law, order, stability, and most important--security, The mayor's office is on the top floor. His eagle eye scopes out the smallest details of town life.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the church is the covered wagon. It is a house on wheels--always on the move. No place is its home. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love, and die. It bears the marks of life and movement--it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with bailing wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves in on the future and doesn't bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn't comfortable, but the pioneers could care less. There is a new world to explore.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--God is the mayor. The honorable Alpha O. Mega, chief executive of Settler City. He is a sight to behold--dressed like a dude from back East, lounging in an over-stuffed chair in his courthouse office. He keeps the blinds drawn. No one sees or knows him directly, but since there is order in the town who can deny he is there? The mayor is predictable and always on schedule.

The settlers fear the mayor but look to him to clear the payroll and keep things going. The mayor controls the courthouse which in turn runs the town. To maintain peace and quiet the mayor sends the sheriff to check on pioneers who ride into town.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--God is the trail boss. He is rough and rugged-full of life. The trail boss lives, eats, sleeps, fights with his men. Their well being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn't move--the pioneers would become fat and lazy. Living as a free man would be impossible. The trail boss often gets down in the mud with the pioneers to help push the wagon which frequently gets stuck. He slugs the pioneers when they get soft and want to turn back. His fist is an expression of his concern.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--Jesus is the sheriff. He is the guy who is sent by the mayor to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat--drinks milk--outdraws the bad guys. He saves the settlers by offering security. The sheriff decides who is thrown in jail. There is a saying in town that goes like this--those who believe the mayor sent the sheriff and follow the rules won't stay in Boot Hill when it comes their time.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find out which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians, feared by the settlers. Through his actions and words he shows the true spirit, intent, and concern of the trail boss. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it really means to be a pioneer.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the Holy Spirit is a saloon girl. Her job is to comfort the settlers. They come to her when they feel lonely or when life gets dull or dangerous. She tickles them under the chin and makes everything O.K. again. The saloon girl squeals to the sheriff when someone starts disturbing the peace. (Note to settlers: the whiskey served in Settler City Saloon is the non-spiritous kind.)

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the Holy Spirit is the buffalo hunter. He rides along with the wagon train and furnishes fresh, raw meat for the pioneers. The buffalo hunter is a strange character--sort of a wild man. The pioneers never can tell what he will do next. He scares the hell out of the settlers. Every Sunday morning, when the settlers have their little ice cream party in the courthouse, the buffalo hunter sneaks up to one of the courthouse windows with his big black gun and fires a tremendous blast. Men jump, women scream, dogs bark. Chuckling to himself, the buffalo hunter rides back to the wagon train.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the Christian is the settler. He fears the open, unknown frontier. He stays in good with the mayor and keeps out of the sheriff's way. He tends a small garden. "Safety First" is his motto. To him the courthouse is a symbol of security, peace, order, and happiness. He keeps his money in the bank. The banker is his best friend. He plays checkers in the restful shade of the oak trees lining the courthouse lawn. He never misses an ice cream party.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the Christian is the pioneer. He is a man of risk and daring--hungry for adventure, new life, the challenge of being on the trail. He is tough, rides hard, knows how to use a gun when necessary. The pioneer feels sorry for the town folks and tries to tell them about the joy and fulfillment of a life following the trail. He dies with his boots on.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the clergyman is the bank teller. Within his vaults are locked the values of the town. He is suspicious of strangers. And why not? Look what he has to protect! The bank teller is a highly respected man in town. He has a gun but keeps it hidden behind his desk. He feels he and the sheriff have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the clergyman is the cook. He doesn't furnish the meat--he just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss, scout or buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned to cook. The cook's job is to help the pioneers pioneer.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the bishop is the bank president. He rules the bank with an iron hand. He makes all the decisions, tells the tellers what to do, and upholds the image of the bank. The settlers must constantly be reassured of the safety of their values. The bank president watches the books like a hawk. Each day he examines all deposits and withdrawals. The bank president is responsible for receiving all new accounts. This is called "the laying on of hands."

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the bishop is the dishwasher. He does the chores so the cook can do his job. He supports the cook in every way possible. Together the cook and dishwasher plan the meals and cook the food provided by the buffalo hunter. They work as an interdependent team in all matters related to cooking. Humming while he works, the dishwasher keeps the coffeepot going for the pioneers. Though the dishwasher has an humble task he is not resentful. All pioneers realize that each man's job is equally important. In fact, in the strange ways of the pioneer community, he is greatest who serves most. (A bishop is the servant of the servants of God. If the servants of God are cooks, what else would a bishop be?)

The complete book from which this was condensed is available from the author for $6.95. Wes Seeliger, 4027 Lanark, Houston, TX 77025

Wednesday, August 15

Am I an evangelical?

A while back I joined the millions of people migrating over to Facebook, the social networking site. It was fairly simple to set up and have enjoyed networking with friends from around the world. However, when I got to filling out the profile section I was stumped by the last question: Religious Views.

None of the normal choices seemed to fit: Christian, Baptist, Conservative Christian, Evangelical...

Christian? I certainly consider myself to be a Christian. The problem with the term is that here in Latin America EVERYONE is a Christian. So "Christian" is not a very descriptive term. Ask anyone on the street if they are a Christian and they will most likely respond affirmatively.

Baptist? Yes, I consider myself to be a Baptist. However, in our context here Baptists are confused with Mormons. Since the Mormons are so much better known than the tiny Baptist population, when you tell someone you are a "Baptist" they assume you mean "Mormon". I don't know how many times I have told someone I was Baptist and they comment back, "oh, the guys who go around in pairs knocking on doors..."

Conservative Christian? Again, I do consider myself conservative in theology and being a conservative Christian applies to who I am. The problem comes that "conservative" is confused with the evangelical political right: the fundamental, right-wing brand of Christianity espoused by many of the better known TV evangelists. There is too much in fundamentalist Christianity that I do not identify with. The term simply comes with too much baggage that is detrimental to my sharing the Gospel with not-yet-believers.

Evangelical? That leaves "evangelical". Of all the terms this is the one that most conservative, Baptists and Christians in general identify with in our Latin American context. In a Roman Catholic country like the one we live in, there are two camps: Catholic and Evangelical. If you are a Catholic you do not identify yourself as being Evangelical. For ten years I was on staff at Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica Bautista Israel (covers all the bases!)

The only problem is that "evangelical" has become an umbrella term that includes EVERYONE else who is not a Roman Catholic. Jehovah Witnesses are now referring to themselves as "evangelical." The extreme left-field Pentecostals with all the extra-biblical things they add to the Gospel are also evangélicos. Since there are a lot more of the Pentecostal evangelicals around than the conservative Baptist types, not-yet-believers assume evangélicos are all the extreme Pentecostal kind of people. That has become a barrier for many to not want to become one of those kinds of people. So to say I am "evangelical" lumps me into a group of people that has also grown too broad for me to be able to identify with.

So what's left? What best describes my "religious views"?

Follower of Christ. I ended up inventing my own category to reflect what most closely resembles my personal views of my faith in Christ. I am a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I follow Him. His teachings are the guiding force in my life. I seek to make others followers of Christ. I am not out to convert people to being anything other than a faithful follower and disciple of Jesus Christ.

So, what are you? How do you describe or define your faith?

Sunday, August 12

Guayaquil House Church Network 2000-2007

Grandparents like to show pictures of their grandchildren. Church planters like to show photos of their "kids" too! Here are some of the wonderful people we work with in the Guayaquil house churches.

Friday, August 10

Nancy's story

Fellow missionary team member Barbara Rivers works with women in prostitution. She continues to see lives changed by the power of the Gospel. In a recent prayer letter she shares Nancy Morales story:

“I am the oldest of eight brothers and sisters. When I was 14 years old, my mother put me in a school. By the time I was 15 I had fallen in love and went to live with the man that became the father of my first three children. When my third child was five months old, I became critically ill. The man I was living with all but abandoned me. He sent me to Guayaquil where my mother was living. She took me in as well as my three children. I tried to get a job as a live-in maid but it was difficult to find any kind of work, especially for a woman with three children. I had to go from family member to family member for help. Our situation became more and more difficult. The children’s father did not help in any way and I had to find a way to feed the children.

One day, a friend of mine took me to a casino to work. She told me that I would make money. Thus I entered in the world of prostitution, fiestas and drunkenness. During that time, I came to know the man who would be the father of my other three children. Since this man also abused me and did not provide any money to feed my children, I had to stay in prostitution to make ends meet. I ended up marrying him and have three children with him. There have been consequences from my life that have caused my children to suffer greatly. I have one grown daughter who has dedicated herself to work in prostitution.

One day a friend of mine invited me to a Bible study. I accepted with the condition of not pressuring me to give my life to the Lord. When I arrived, I was afraid, nervous and uneasy. I did not understand what was happening with me while I was listening about the love and forgiveness of God. One of the ladies came up to me at the end of the meeting and talked to me about accepting the Lord Jesus as my Savior. God touched me in that moment and very emotionally, I repeated the following, guided by this lady: “Lord Jesus Christ, forgive my sins and cleanse my life. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. Enter into my heart; thank you because you love me and for giving me eternal life”.

At that moment, I wanted to laugh, sing, cry and jump for joy! My greatest desire is that my children and all my family come to receive Christ too. My life now has hope and I can rest in the Lord. I now have strength to face the problems I have and feel He will protect me even when others try to do me harm. I no longer feel indignation when people offend me. I do not respond as I did before, fighting and offending back. I have changed. I no longer pay back evil for evil. I am not as upset when someone hurts me. I have hope that my mother will soon give her life to the Lord. One of my sisters has noted how I have changed and now accepts my advice and likes to listen when I talk to her about God. I believe she is very close to knowing Christ too. I no longer drink and have left the evil and corrupt life in which I found myself. I will be baptized and my mother will accompany me. My son who is eleven years old has accepted Christ and will also be baptized.

I now know that Christ loves me. He fills my life and has made me a new person just as 2 Corinthians 5:17 states: “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; all things are become new”. God loves you and has a plan for your life. You can receive Him in your heart right now.”

Tuesday, August 7

Evangelism as spiritual conversations

Gary Rohrmayer shares some helpful thoughts on evangelism as spiritual conversations.
Evangelism has moved in the last 20 years from being a monologue (one-sided conversation) to a dialog (two-way conversation.)

There are people all around us who are receptive to spiritual discussions and open genuine spiritual guidance. George Barna sites, “That 62% of American adults consider themselves to be not merely ‘religious,’ but ‘deeply spiritual.’” This means that there is more than a 50-50 chance of getting into some type of spiritual conversation with people who travel in and out of your life. Learning to engage people in a meaningful, spiritual dialog is critical for a spiritual leader...

It is important for a leader to think strategically about their conversations throughout the week. If you don't plan it or make room for it, the likelihood is that it is not going to get done. I agree with Brian McLaren’s statement, “We should count conversations rather than conversions, not because I don't believe in conversions, but because I don't think we'll get many conversions if we keep emphasizing them.” The number of conversations you have is directly related to the number of conversions you will see happen over a year.
Last week we finished up a good week of doing a lot of evangelism with a volunteer team visiting from Texas. One of the things I observed during the many visits with not-yet-believers is that the times where we conversed, we connected. Our monologue presentations of the Gospel usually ended up rather flat and unfruitful.

What seemed to work best was (after introductions) for one of the visiting volunteers to share their story. We then encouraged the listener to interact with what they had picked up on from the story. By engaging listeners with the story, they were more open to sharing their own stories and struggles. The focus of the conversation quickly shifts from the one sharing, to the listener's own story. Heartfelt matters have a way of coming out when we have set the example by being open and transparent with our own stories. Once heart matters have been addressed it becomes easy and natural to apply appropriate Scriptures, prayer, encouragement, tears, hugs, and to offer an invitation for the person to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. During the week we had numerous people pray to receive Christ, including one entire household.

Many times people are not opposed to the Gospel message; rather, they have some obstacle or issue in their life they believe prevents them from being able to turn their lives over to the Lord. Spiritual conversations which have been initiated by the sharing of our personal stories opens doors for effective evangelism.

Sunday, August 5

Teleamigo 14th Anniversary

Yesterday the Teleamigo ministry celebrated her 14th anniversary. Saturday morning we met for a time of thanksgiving to the Lord for all He has done over the past 14 years.

Literally thousands upon thousands of people have been touched and lives changed by this volunteer ministry that uses prayer and counseling to reach people for Christ. There are so many people to thank. So many whose lives, love, and offerings have gone into making Teleamigo the ministry that it is today.

As we sat in a circle, I was moved by all the stories of victory shared by people who are or have been a part of Teleamigo over the years. I was a "proud grandpa" as three different "grandchildren" ministries are today specializing in areas of helping people that go beyond what Teleamigo is able to offer. Each of the three leaders representing these ministries warmly shared how they "cut their teeth" with Teleamigo and today continue to impact people's lives with the love of Christ.

Jesus assured his disciples in John 14:12 "The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." How true!

Over the past fourteen years the "five loaves and two fish" offered to the Lord on August 3, 1993 have been abundantly blessed by Jesus Christ. What began as something so small and insignificant, has touched the lives of over 2.5-million people. Untold thousands have been helped...Tens of thousands prayed over...Marriages saved...Babies born instead of aborted...The abused forgiving those who have hurt them...Alcohol and drug addicts loved and ministered to... Families restored and reconciled...The hopeless encouraged...Hundreds accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. Only eternity will show the full impact this tiny ministry operating on a shoe-string budget has had on the lives of so many who live here in Guayaquil. To God be the Glory.

Here is a 3:22 video about Teleamigo done by the IMB a few years ago. Thanks for viewing and especially for praying for Teleamigo as we begin our 15th year of ministry.

To read past articles in this blog about Teleamigo, type in the word "teleamigo" at the top of the page in the search box.

Thursday, August 2

The Future of Missions - Four Questions

Ken Sorrell, Alan Cross, Bob Roberts, Jr., Tim Patterson, Ed Stetzer along with other bloggers have all contributed in an ongoing interesting discussion dealing with the FUTURE OF MISSIONS. Please take a moment to click on any of the above to read some of the issues involved.

Today I would like to invite fellow IMB missionary Ken Sorrell to be my guest on the "M Blog" and with his permission reproduce his recent, "The Future of Missions: 4 Questions" that was submitted to the IMB-SAM Region Church Planting Forum. His four questions reflect four issues at the heart of mobilizing Stateside volunteers/partners to the mission field. Please feel free to interact with anything shared in his post. These matters ARE the future of missions and will either advance or hinder the Gospel depending upon how they are handled.


Greetings to all from Mexico,

I have been and continue to be encouraged and troubled with current trends in missions. I want to say upfront that I am in full agreement that the local church, in the U.S. and around the world needs to participate in a much greater capacity than we currently see taking place. It is exciting to see the level of interest in missions at an all time high. My concern focuses on the issue, not of participation, but knowledge. What many churches, associations, and state conventions term as missions rarely resembles any model or example as found in Scripture.

In a recent blog conversation with Tim Patterson, I posed 4 questions that I feel must be addressed as we look towards churches being both, "churches who send and sending churches", as Tim describes it. As I stated in my response to Tim's latest post, I want to be extremely careful here so please bear with me. I am struggling with a series of questions as I give serious consideration to this issue. Here are but a few.

1. There are many in the evangelical community today that feel that the current model of church is broken and needs serious adjustment. Assuming that a great majority of churches have strayed far from the New Testament model of church, what exactly will we be exporting when churches begin to go out as lone rangers to other cultures?

2. Where is the accountability for the strategies and practices of a sending church's missions efforts? Are they free to do whatever they want to do without any type of checks or balances?

3. Who is better prepared to evaluate missions projects, the missions committee at a local church or someone who is or has lived incarnationally in another culture?

4. Is this move to more intimately involved churches in missions really an effort to impact lostness or give fulfillment to U.S. believers?

I really hate the negative tone that these questions project because as I stated earlier, I am not opposed to a greater church involvement in missions. However, what is done and how it is done will either advance the Gospel or hinder the Gospel. This is not just a church problem but everyone's challenge. I work with missionaries who are called by God, love the people with whom they work, and really want to see a movement of the Spirit among their people. And yet, the bulk of their time is spent on activities that keep them busy but produce little to no fruit.

U.S. churches are a tremendous resource to Kingdom growth...We must find a way to engage in conversation greater numbers of our partners in order that we may learn from them and so that they may learn from us. The four questions above only touch the surface of the issues that must be brought to the forefront and addressed honestly and openly.

One other comment related to Alan Cross's comments to Guy. Alan states the following: "I guess that I am a stateside local church pastor that believes that the Great Commission was given to all Christians and that every local church should play a part. And, I don't want to just sit on the sidelines while I pay others to do it all for me."

I find this comment to be incredibly insightful and right on the mark, but not in the way that most churches in the states would read it. If the Great Commission was given to all believers and that the local church should play a part in fulfilling this command, doesn't this then also include our national believers and churches? Is it right for "others" to do the task for them that God has also commanded them to do? Also, in many situations, a few are being paid to do the task while the remainder of the believers sit on the sidelines and watch, or they sit on the sidelines and watch others do the task of the church for them.

If we are going to form true partnerships between U.S. churches and national churches, then it is critical that this relationship be based upon vision and purpose, rather than a redistribution of resources.