Dear Praying Friends,
Busting At The Seams!
Each week our church is packed out, as people young and old are experiencing God’s amazing grace. It’s great to see new visitors nearly each week and a constant flow of people repenting and believing on Jesus for salvation, as well as following in baptism and discipleship. Leaders are being raised up and are serving in ministries both within and outside the local church body. The field is ripe in Colombia! We are needing more space and praying about our next steps. Would you pray with us?
Our Bible Institute is entering into its second semester this month. The 17 men in our institute all have a desire and calling to preach the Word, however and wherever God would see fit. Great days are ahead! Several of these are looking into training with me on a daily basis. Pray that the Lord gives us wisdom in training these, as well as the financial backing to allow them to dedicate themselves fully to the ministry.
In other news, there is a possibility we will be opening a children’s home soon. It’s an opportunity that the Lord seems to be dropping in our laps. We are praying for a family to help us lead this new endeavour. Stay tuned for details!
Learning To Say Goodbye
It was good to have Jason Fowler with us for part of June. He is a young man from our home church (Lighthouse Baptist in Dawsonville, GA), and is preparing to return for a long-term internship to work in our ministry. It’s amazing to see how God has worked in his life since I met him 9 years ago. Please pray for him. We have another individual and a small group who are planning to come this summer. If you’d like to line up a trip for your church or family to see the work here in Colombia, just shoot me an email or give me a call. We’d love to have you.
Our Kids, The Negotiators
There are several small stores in the first floor of our apartment building. Well, Anabel, our 4-year-old, found an umbrella toothpick one day, the kind they put in drinks, and took it into a store and came out with candy. We asked her where she got the candy, so she said, “I traded for it!” They’re learning the Colombian way! 🙂
Praises & Prayer Requests
Our church, Iglesia Bíblica Bautista El Faro. We’ll be celebrating our second anniversary in July! Pray for the spiritual growth of recent converts, as well as wisdom in how to accommodate everybody in our limited space.
- Men preparing for ministry in our Bible Institute. (Alfredo, Andrés, David, Díver, Ernesto, Félix, Hernando, Javier, Jesús Alberto, Jhon Fredi, Juan Carlos, Juan Danilo, Kenneth, Leonardo, Libardo, Óscar, Richard…)
- Trip to Chile in July. I was invited to preach a youth congress for some ministry friends, and Juan Danilo, one of the young men training with me gets to tag along!
- Pray for increased monthly support. With all the ministry growth we’ve been experiencing, comes greater expenses. Pray that God would lead more folks to partner with us in reaching Colombia with the Gospel.
- Pray for our family’s health. We’ve been dealing with minor illnesses lately, and Aubrie has had some deeper issues since the beginning of the year. Pray we can get some answers and relief for her.
Thank you for holding the ropes for us as we minister in Colombia. God is adding much fruit to your account! We love you thank God for every remembrance of you.
Love In Christ Jesus,
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” Philippians 1:3-5
Over the course of 7 sell-out evenings, more than 3,500 people walked through this outdoor reality drama depicting the end times. Many of these people left eternally changed. All of these people left challenged.
This October, you will have a chance to experience that same heart-pounding, thrilling journey of Biblical proportions. If you live anywhere near Atlanta or North Georgia, you MUST plan to be there. Bring a friend. Bring your family. Bring your church. You don’t want to miss it.
In anticipation of larger crowds, this event has been expanded to 11 nights. For detailed information and to buy individual or group tickets, visit: http://www.hellsgates.com/
If you are not able to attend, please pray that God does a magnificent work for his eternal glory.
Why do many of our converts fall away? Why is it that christian workers burn out? Why is there so much sin in the lives of most “believers”? Why is it so hard to find people willing to surrender their lives for the Lord Jesus Christ?
I sincerely believe that churches today are full of lost people. I would go even as far to say that many leaders of churches are as lost as the people they try to reach. Why is this?
Could it be that their perspective of the Gospel is warped?
I challenge you to find the time to read the following article. It is written by a great friend of mine who is a church-planter in North Africa. It will help your perspective, I promise.
You can check out the original article on my friend’s site by clicking here.
I have recently been appalled at how my independent Baptist brethren have got the Gospel only half right. What do I mean? Let me give you a few illustrations:
1. I heard a sermon recently where the preacher (Bible college grad from an ind. Bap. school) gave the following illustration: “If I were to offer to give you a year’s worth of provision for a minute’s worth of work, would it be a good deal for you? Sure. So God gives us provision for eternity, shouldn’t we serve him for this short lifetime?”
If you missed it, the Gospel is not: Serve me and I’ll give you eternal life. It’s not even: Serve me since I already gave you eternal life. Why? Well, in eternity we’ll serve him, too. No. The Gospel is a new heart. A new life. New desires. From Ezekiel to John 3 to the writings of Paul we learn that the whole point of the New Covenant is that we will WANT to serve him if we’re born again. He will put a new heart in us and we won’t turn back to the old heart of sin (Jer. 3:17). This is a changed life! Not a life that serves God in exchange for eternal life. That is the motivation for all false religion. We have nothing to bring to God. He brings everything to us in the Gospel and makes us alive “unto good works” (Eph. 2:8-10)
2. I heard a song recently where the line repeated was this: “I am satisfied with you. I hope you’ll be satisfied with me.” I love the dear brother (also a grad of an Ind. Baptist college and a missionary) who sang this. In love I have to say, God is already satisfied with you! That’s why Jesus came! He satisfies God for you. He makes you satisfactory. (Rom. 3:25, 5:1, I Jn 2:2, 4:10) Then he frees you from a life of needing to work to satisfy God. God sees you as perfect, just, and completely whole. Now the motivation to serve him is a heart overflowing with thanks for his kindness, mercy, and blessings! (Is. 63:7)
This is natural in the life of a believer in Christ. No, we don’t need to work to satisfy God. In fact, could our work ever satisfy God? No, only the work of the cross. It didn’t only satisfy God concerning our salvation but it also satisfied God concerning our life as “Christ followers”. God is satisfied with his blood washed children. Don’t think your service as a missionary is what satisfies him with you. Christ’s service on the cross already did that.
Don’t the Muslims in North Africa need to know that working to obey Allah’s laws won’t satisfy him? Don’t they need freedom from a life of striving? Don’t the Buddhists of SouthEast Asia need to know that doing good works won’t help them reach Nirvana having satisfied the Creators demands through Buddha’s Four Nobel Truths? Don’t they need freedom from that sort of life of striving? Don’t the Hindu’s of the Indian Subcontinent need peace with God without the sacrifices and the works on the Ganges river? The missionary message is that God’s demands have been satisfied in Christ! We satisfy God when Christ is in us! His blood! His cross!
3. I recently heard another preacher (well-known and respected) preach these words exactly: “The security of our salvation is up to God. The assurance of our salvation is up to us. When we are living right we will know we are saved. When we aren’t living right we will doubt it. So then, the Bible teaches works assurance.”
Would it be, then, ok to say, “For by works are you assured of salvation through your efforts. That, not of God, it is the result of hard work.” (see Eph 2:8-9 for a reference)? I don’t think so. My salvation was a work of God by grace. My new life in Christ is work of God by grace. My assurance is a work of God by grace. The whole life of a Christian from beginning to end is a work of God by grace! Doesn’t Phil 1:6 teach us that he who began the good work in us (John 1:13) is the same one who completes it? Not of works, lest any Christian should boast.
Here are a few reasons I think we as Ind. Baptists miss the Gospel so badly:
1. At it’s root, we have understood salvation to be a prayer of acceptance that saves us. Since the Holy Spirit, repentance, and the new birth (new heart, new desires) don’t play a large part in salvation, then neither do they play a large part in the rest of our lives.
2. As a result of this root we have a lot of people who aren’t born again, don’t have the Holy Spirit of God living in them, and we try to get them to continue by the power of the flesh by works (Gal. 3:3). The only way left to motivate them is by scolding them or by making them feel guilty. “You have been given eternal life in exchange for a simple prayer, shouldn’t you then work harder in exchange!” is the common logic.
I think it’s time we square up with the Bible and stop trying to assure lost people that they are saved. The message of the Gospel is, “You will know them by their fruit.” If a person is saved they WILL want to serve God with all their hearts. They just need to know how. They need someone to walk with them and help them learn to walk in the grace of the Gospel the same way they were saved. We don’t need to work on their fruit, we need to look at the root.
The grace of the Gospel is not only for salvation it’s also for sanctification. It’s all of God. He has made me a new person and now I serve him out of this new heart. I serve him out of overwhelming thanks. God is satisfied with Christ in me. The work I do is Christ living in me. In myself is no good thing. When I understand Christ’s work in me and I am more and more consumed with a desire to serve him. That’s the new covenant. That’s the new heart he’s given me. It began with Him and will end with Him.
Here are a few verses to help you contemplate the work of the New Covenant in your sanctification:
Ezekiel 11: 19-21 ”And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.”
Jeremiah 3:15-17 “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. 17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
Philippians 1:5-7 “ For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”
Before coming to Colombia, a mentor and pastor friend of mine recommended that I get together with Freddy Nieto while in Bogotá. He’s the pastor of Iglesia Bíblica Bautista de Suba (Suba Biblical Baptist Church) and is doing an incredible work. We met up with him and his wife this morning and spent several hours learning about the way that God is working in Bogotá and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go to any of their church services, but we were able to tour the church’s beautiful facility and spend several hours with this precious pastor and his wife. Their church runs about 500 and they see people saved every week. There are many studying in their Bible Institute getting ready to go out into the rest of the country to reach the lost. Amen!
Be praying with me if you will, as Brother Freddy asked me to consider coming back in January to preach their annual youth camp. It would be an awesome opportunity but we’ll have to see if finances and time permit and ultimately if God opens the doors for this.
Later this afternoon we met up with a new missionary family, Daniel and Jennifer Mee along with their beautiful little baby girl Eliana (definitely made me miss my daughter Amira). They work with ABWE and just arrived here in the country about a month ago. They gave us some great advice about deputation, moving to Colombia and general tidbits of info they wished they’d have known before moving here. God is really working in their hearts and they are excited to be part of a movement of church planting and evangelism here in Bogotá and around Colombia.
After a delicious dinner with the Mee family we went to the Bogotá Baptist Seminary that is sponsored by ABWE and enjoyed their evening chapel service. There are quite a few young people studying in the Seminary to become pastors and missionaries and even to be laymen in the churches. There were maybe 40 in the room, then another 90 or so studying online through correspondence courses. Praise God for what he is doing in this ministry! The Lord has already used them to start dozens of churches around Bogotá and there are plans for even more churches down the road as God permits.
What we are finding is that God is definitely working here. It is incredible! People are finding hope. Souls are being eternally saved. Lives are being changed. Families are being restored. Revival is being experienced. It is great!
However, even with the wonderful news about what God is doing in this place, we must be honest with ourselves.
Let me throw some stats at you… I live in the US state of Georgia. According to the 2010 US Census, there are 9,687,653 people in Georgia. That’s just a little bigger than the city of Bogotá–smaller, if you include Bogotá’s larger metro area. In 2005 there were an estimated 8,190 Baptist churches. That’s one church for every 1,183 people. Do we need more churches there? Of course!
Yet… in this city of over 8,500,000 people (11,000,000 according to some statistics) there are maybe 25 or 30 churches, total. Only 25 or 30. That’s all. To me, at first, honestly it seemed like a lot. It seemed that this city, at least, was being reached. But that’s only one church for every 440,000 people. Wow.
God is working here.
But the need is still great.
What are we doing to reach this city?
What are we doing to reach the world?
What will you do?
We’re leaving tomorrow. I am thankful that we’ve been able to spend this time here. God has worked in my heart and I am more excited than ever about coming to this beautiful country and to these beautiful people to tell them about my beautiful Savior. He loves them and gave his life for them. The least we can do is deliver the message!
Today we went to la Iglesia “La Biblia Dice…” (“The Bible Says” Church) and got to meet some new friends. This is a Baptist church that was started by a missionary, Paul Clark 26 years ago (the church’s anniversary was today), and God has blessed in huge ways. The church has been pastored for a while now by a Colombian man who was reached through the ministry and they have about 1,000 people, with two services that are packed to capacity every week. They have sent out many people from the church to start more churches and have dozens of daughter and granddaughter works around Colombia and in Venezuela. Their goal is “Colombia Para Cristo en 5 Años” (Colombia for Christ in 5 years). They are well on their way!
After church, Pastor Rudy Garrido and his precious family took us out to eat and then to their home for a wonderful time of fellowship. God is using this man in an incredible way.
He explained to me the three stages of discipleship that has become the heart of their ministry. When somebody accepts Christ they are invited to an “induction” course. They meet once a week, either on Monday or Saturday, and go through 8 lessons that teach mostly about salvation, eternal security, baptism and church membership. These lessons are taught in a group setting by one of the church leaders.
After these 8 weeks, most of these people are baptized and join the church, then are invited to be involved in a more thorough one-on-one discipleship series of 13 lessons. The people teaching these lessons are people who have gone through all three levels of discipleship themselves and can identify with the individual on a personal level. A taxi driver would disciple another taxi driver. A housewife would disciple another housewife. A businessman would disciple another businessman. etc… These lessons deal with the basics of the Christian life and get people well founded in what they believe and how to explain to others what they believe.
Then, the third level of disciple ship is a series of 16 lessons that go very deep into the Christian faith, getting people well familiar with the theology of salvation, having a strong prayer life, how to do in-depth Bible study, evangelism methods, etc. When people come out of these lessons, they are able to comfortably teach others in the one-on-one courses.
Furthermore, the church offers more classes for going deeper in one’s Christian life. The series they’re going through now is “¿Quién Es Dios?” or, Who is God? Even the pastor and his wife go to this and it is almost like another church service, with about 300 going through this at any given time.
People get saved every week. There were about 15 that were saved today! The church is involved in many outreach programs, going on mini missions trips around Colombia, soul winning in local parks (they give people a free bottle of water if they’ll give them 5 minutes in return lol), conferences for young people and so many other things. Most of the people who visit, are saved and get involved in the ministry are personal friends and contacts of the church’s members. They teach a lifestyle evangelism. Not just one day a week. It’s a whole manner of life.
This is truly an incredible ministry. A ministry we might like to learn from even more, if God permits.
Be praying for God to direct us as to His perfect Will. We definitely need His guidance.
Tomorrow we will be meeting with Freddy Nieto, another national pastor here in Bogotá, then hopefully visiting the ministry that ABWE has here along with their Bible College. We’ll keep you posted!