MONDAY: I spent the day compiling our team's "Annual Statistical Report" (ASR) for 2007. These are the indicators that the International Mission Board uses to help us evaluate our work over the past year. Our team reports for the past year: 18 new church starts, 202 baptisms, and 22 new outreach groups (churches in formation). We were close to reaching our goal of training 200 new church planters, though obviously, not all ended up planting new works. The 4:1 ratio of people trained and people actually implementing the training continues to hold. For every four people trained, only one will go out and DO what it is they have been trained to do.
TUESDAY-THURSDAY: Was spent at the annual meeting of the Ecuador Assemblies of God pastors as their invited guest. On Tuesday night I had the privilege of challenging their pastors to step out in faith in reaching their goal of 1-million new disciples for Jesus in '08-'09. During the invitation to commit to doing all they can to reach the million, nearly every single pastor came forward for a time of prayer. They have adopted our team's COSECHA (HARVEST) church planting materials as the tools to help them reach this goal. Basically the plan calls for 1) everyone praying the Lord of the Harvest to touch the hearts of 60,000 laborers this coming year and train them, 2) every church plant at least one new church, and 3) every believer in their assembly to win/disciple eight. These three emphases are to be pursued until the million are reached.
One of the highlights of this meeting was on the final night when one of their own pastors who is known for his leadership in prayer, challenged all the AG pastors present to lead their churches in 2000 hours of praying for the goal of a million new disciples. I "peeked" during the invitation time and saw what looked like more than 200+ AG pastors raise their hands promising God to lead their churches in this prayer challenge. Folks, that's 400,000 hours of prayer being focused on the million new disciples! Oh that we had that kind of prayer commitment in all our churches!
FRIDAY-SATURDAY: We went out with a team of volunteer students from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh to help with some of the flood relief going on about an hour out of Guayaquil. Words cannot express the magnitude of this incredible tragedy that has struck the coast of Ecuador. The suffering and despair of millions of people is beyond anybody's ability to grasp or begin to alleviate. One of the things that personally impacted me were the cries of help calling out to us from people needing food and water. We only had provisions for about 150 families. Our canoe was constantly being chased down from those who had boats with people begging us for food. Saturday, my wife Linda and son Joshua went out for the day and spent five hours in waters up to their waist installing split bamboo flooring in cane houses which were on the verge of falling into the water. I hope to have a YouTube video up in the coming days to show more of this tragedy taking place on the coast of Ecuador.
SUNDAY: We said good-bye to the volunteer team with a brunch at a fellow missionary's house and then off to the airport. The rest of the afternoon was given to making Sunday a literal "day of rest!"
Thanks for your many prayers and interest in all that God continues to do in our midst. Pray that we would have wisdom to know how to get a handle on training the 60,000 workers this year, and how to best alleviate the suffering of the millions in the ongoing flooding.