A Grand-daughter Church in the Lowliest of Places

June 4 2013

A Grand-daughter Church in the Lowliest of Places

In August 2010, an intercessory team began walking the streets of Medellin in faith, praying for the beginning of a house church that would saturate a neighborhood in Antioquia, Colombia. The physically and spiritually impoverished area supported the local economy through the sale of marijuana and cocaine. 

Colombians began sharing the Gospel door-to-door by explaining the Evangecube, a pictorial presentation of the Gospel. God answered their prayers as people began giving their lives to Christ. Rocío did. She welcomed us into her home to begin discipling in her new faith in God. Within the week she introduced us to two members of her family and her neighbor Martha who wanted to know more about the Jesus Rocío now spoke about. 

Martha confessed, “I am a slow learner and never understand anything,” but after studying what it is to be saved through faith in Christ, Martha and her friend surrendered to Jesus! The following weeks we studied the Bible with them and what it means to obediently follow Jesus. After several months the ladies were baptized, learned about the Lord’s Supper and celebrated communion in their home. The group began to grow as more family members and neighbors attended weekly meetings with Rocío and Martha. 

God was evidently Lord of Martha and Rocío’s lives. They continued walking throughout the El Tapón district asking God to touch lives. As they walked, they saw many drug addicts living along the stream. Compassion broke the ladies’ hearts, and they began to take meals to the addicts. One day they noticed a 12 year-old girl who was devastated by drugs and living under the bridge. Martha and her friends offered to help her and took her to Rocío’s house. They bathed her, gave her clothes and something to eat. She told them her name was Valeria and that her mother prostituted her to get money for drugs. She pled with us to help her get out of her destructive lifestyle. 

We took Valeria to a residential treatment facility and continued to visit her during her rehabilitation. Valeria also prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior! She introduced us to her Aunt Leydi who lives with her four small children in a shelter made from cardboard and plastic. She is under house arrest for drug trafficking. We shared the Lord Jesus with Leydi and her children, and they accepted Jesus and began working slowly through the discipleship studies. Today Leydi is preparing for baptism! 

When Martha and Leydi studied what it is to be a cheerful giver, Martha immediately put into practice what she was teaching. On several occasions Rocío’s house church had sent food and medicines to Martha. The local government had donated groceries to Martha in her impoverished situation, and from these groceries, Martha then shared her meager supplies. 

Several months later we celebrated an agape meal with Martha and Rocío’s combined house churches! Through a mom, an uneducated woman and a drug addict, God has sprouted a mother church, a daughter church and a grand-daughter church for the saturation of Antioquia, Colombia. And they noticed they were uneducated but that they had been with Jesus.

Greg & Shirley Carlson

ECC Church Multiplication Facilitator

Tags: joy, life change, outreach, victory over darknesstransformed

Joseph in India

March 15 2013

Joseph in India

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. Previously he was his father’s favorite with great dreams from God. Now he labored in Potiphar’s house as a lowly servant. But several times the Bible repeats the phrase, “the Lord was with Joseph.” In his darkest hour, when Joseph languished in prison for a crime he never committed, God was there with him. A divine purpose and plan was unfolding!

Today at lunch we met and prayed with the manager of the hotel, also named Joseph. His story is quite amazing. From an unemployed immigrant from Sri Lanka to the general manager of a good sized hotel, he has faithfully served with excellence. Yet he still considers his “job” to be sharing God’s love and Word with those around him. He often prays for the sick, imparting faith and healing. Now he stands at the crossroads of a new beginning, seeking to start up a number of hotels dedicated to the glory of God. He is trusting the Lord for many more miracles!

Earlier, Glenda I shared tea with a co-worker named Durai Suami. He is a young, very intelligent man of 35, and is committed to doing all things well. He is above all a servant of God, who faithfully carries out any task required of him. He is a teacher at our OMS/ECI Bible seminary, academic dean, practical ministries coordinator, associate pastor at a local church, editor and publisher of the ECI Church Planter online magazine, and hopes to soon embark on his PhD studies.

I told him of my vision to begin a compassionate church planting ministry in a slum somewhere around Chennai. We agreed to pray and gather information until I return in May. We will be seeking a T&M trainer who will begin the work under ECC supervision. In addition, D.S’s wife Ruth is a nurse who could help with a medical compassion ministry. Please pray for this dream to become reality.

Who will fulfill the great commission? Is God calling you to give financially, go in faith, or pray fervently?

Tags: God's provision, life changemissions in India

Caribbean Stories

February 6 2013

Caribbean Stories

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42

On my recent ministry trip to the Caribbean I was accompanied by five Canadian couples. What a blessing it was to have them be a part of the team to encourage and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ! One of the couples gave me a sum of money to give where “I saw a need or where someone could be blessed.”

During our trip we were having dinner with a pastor and his wife. They were in town due to the pastor’s health. He is diabetic and is losing his vision. During our conversation we were discussing Christmas and the meaning of Christmas. The pastor’s wife mentioned that years ago their family had a Christmas tree, but in recent years no trees or nativity scenes were permitted. Now, they wanted a tree for their children but could not afford one. I "saw a need” and felt led to give them some of the money to purchase a tree.  I cannot express the emotion they showed that evening.

The following day we were speaking to a pastor from another town who was giving us an update on his wife’s health. We have been praying for her. She has a broken jaw caused by lack of calcium and is being fed by a feeding tube. The doctor told them, "Until you get a floor in your home, your wife should not be living there because of her health and the danger of falling.” They only had a dirt floor, with some cement. They estimated what it would cost to replace the cement and dirt floor with some tile.  It came to almost the exact amount I had left to be given “where someone could be blessed.”  God is good! They will soon live in their home with a tile floor.     -Willie

Before I knew Christ, I was a very violent person, given to drugs and excessive drinking. I thank God that I met Jesus and accepted Him into my life. My desire is now to live for Him. The training sessions have been a great blessing and teaching for my life and have revolutionized my life. The day after I accepted Christ, I opened my house up for worship services and since then many more have opened their homes.     -Pablo

A young woman in the eastern part of the country was very involved in her work. One day, at five in the afternoon, someone came to her door and shared Jesus. She gave her heart to the Lord that day. She has been attending the local church but had not become involved in the training to plant churches. She attended a workshop last week, and it was reported that she had already brought 11 people to the church. Since the training classes, she has six new believers that have given their hearts to Christ. She is beginning a new house church next week.     -Allison

These are some examples about how God provides through His people as they obey the call to GO, GIVE and PRAY. Who will fulfill the great commission? Is God calling you to give financially, go in faith, or pray fervently?

 

Tags: God's provision, house church, life change, trainingtransformed

Transformed From the Deathly Grip of the Grave

January 21 2013

Transformed From the Deathly Grip of the Grave

In a dark cemetery in Asia lies the grave of an unnamed man. He was there because the man who murdered him was riddled with demons. Maybe the demons were evil associates of the Gedarene demoniac who made his home in the deathly tombs of another graveyard a long time ago. No matter the time difference, once again the devil had stolen the control of a man’s life. Satan had sabotaged his mind, rendering him confused as to what is and isn’t appropriate behavior in treatment of another human being.  

The “prince of this world” had martyred any opportunity for this dead man to respond to God’s love before his life was taken. The “destroyer” had murdered any chance of this convicted criminal father caring for, providing for and protecting Khiru, his young son.

This story doesn’t end with just a buried murder victim, a deranged man in prison and a fatherless son. Jesus once again stepped out of His boat and, confronting the enemy head on, spoke truth, which sent evil scurrying. With His authority, Jesus banished the devil and his works and once more healed a destroyed shell of a man. 

Through ECC workers, Jesus once again entered the remote and disturbed village in Asia. The imprisoned murderer was brought to his knees and, with a broken heart, overcome with confession for his diabolical crime, sought forgiveness and restoration. Not only did the murderer acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord but so did his son, Khiru, along with all his family! 

God always goes beyond what we can comprehend. He brought two fractured and estranged families together. Just as the Gedarene demoniac was delivered and restored to his family, so Jesus exchanged sadness for joy. The family of the murderer was forgiven by the family of the murdered, and now, together, both families of 10 adults and 5 children worship the same God in the same house church near the graveyard. Khiru, rejoicing in the forgiveness he has given his father, leads the house church. No one can testify more to God’s forgiveness than the demon-riddled father who became a murderer. Now the power to steal, kill and destroy has been exchanged for a life-giving, converted heart, full of the love of God.

by Shirley Carlson

Who will help to fulfill the Great Commission? Is God calling you to give financially, go in faith, or pray fervently?

Tags: transformed, victory over darkness, life changeforgiveness

One Faith Multiplied

January 14 2013

One Faith Multiplied

Note: part one is posted January 7, 2013

After many years of fruitful ministry in Ecuador, Enrique suffered a pre-stroke. He and Esther “retired” and moved in with son David. After his health was restored, he started serving in David’s church. Eventually, a vision for a larger church emerged and in 2006, at the age of 70, Enrique and Esther planted a new church in Naranjito.

Enrique continues to be a learner, and in this new ministry in Naranjito, he has captured from his son David, a church planter in Spain, the vision of establishing a network of house churches that work together to multiply themselves.

During a Sunday service when Bill Miller was in Ecuador preaching at the Rosa de Sarón church in Naranjito, Enrique and Esther’s son David went to the altar and surrendered his life to the call that God had placed upon him. That moment of yielding to the Spirit resulted in the extension of Enrique’s ministry across oceans and into places he would never see.

The impact of Pastor Enrique’s life and ministry on his son David has resulted in an ever-widening circle of leadership training and church planting, a movement that spans the Atlantic to reach Europe and return with renewed vigor into Ecuador. David Guillén leads a church planting network called “Peace and Hope,” based in Spain but stretching into Bulgaria, Portugal, Ecuador and various immigrant communities. The amazing ways that God is using David and his wife Gardenia are a direct result of a father’s example and investment in his son’s life.

We asked David about his father’s influence on his life. He highlighted four aspects of Enrique’s example that continue to be formative for him:

1. A personal commitment and love for God and unwavering obedience to His call

2. A pioneer, someone who sees congregations where no one else can see them

3. His father’s response to suffering and personal injustice.

4. Enrique’s personal life is without reproach; he lives daily into the scriptural command to be holy as the Lord your God is holy (Lev 11:44)

With the prayers, help and encouragement from ECC, God is now using David and Gardenia to multiply the faith of Enrique in these many countries and among these many people groups. 

OMS recently published the book these blogs were taken from entitled, One Faith Multiplied.

If you would like a copy of the book, you may purchase it on Amazon.

 

Tags: church multiplication, church planting, faith multiplied, life change, missions in ecuador, missions in spaintrain and multiply

One Faith Nurtured

January 7 2013

One Faith Nurtured

Note: part two is posted January 14, 2013

“Can anything good come out of Salango?” In the 1930s, Salango a fishing village was so insignificant that it didn’t even appear on a map of Ecuador. Life in Salango was very simple; there was no electricity and no running water. 

In 1936, a boy born in Salango was likely heralded with joy by his mother, but with no sense of the extraordinary plans God had for this new son of a fisherman, no hint of the impact that would be made when Enrique Guillén responded many years later to the Master’s call: “Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men!” (Matthew 4:19).

After many years of hardship growing up, including the death of his mother, Enrique moved back to Salango to live with his father, the man who for so many years had refused to recognize him. 

OMS missionaries working in the area were invited by Enrique’s father into his house. Fast forward to March of 1961 when the Word of God reached Enrique’s heart through a message preached there in the living room of his father’s house. 

Pastor Guillén says, “I was not convinced, I was converted!” He remembers that his life changed completely from the inside out; from that moment, his loyalty belonged 100 percent to the Lord Jesus. 

In the same year he married Esther, a radiant young Christian woman. Later, Enrique who was determined to serve the Lord decided to go back to school – he studied in the same classes as his son, David. 

David remembers with a grin that each term, Esther, he and Enrique compared grades, which was a great motivator for his son. “It filled me with great pride to have a father who didn’t believe in limitations … and still doesn’t to this day.”

After high school, Enrique’s desire was to study in the seminary. But committee members told him that a poor fisherman from Salango would never find success in the academic world and that he shouldn’t waste the time and resources with his futile dreams. 

But OMS missionary mentors elected to sponsor his studies. This generosity and vision on the part of the Mission continues to move Pastor Guillén to deep gratitude, even these many years later. 

When Pastor Enrique is asked about the motivation for his sacrificial search for training, he responds: “There is a people that demands our witness and a Lord who impels us forward. We have a debt of love and there is no room for discouragement!” 

Difficulties and rejection helped to shape within Enrique a special perspective of discipleship: with great intentionality, he seeks, finds and develops the potential in his disciples. 

He says, “I identify greatly with what is said of Peter in Acts 4:13—he was an unschooled, ordinary man, but they took note that he had been with Jesus! The Lord by his grace saw the potential in me and by his grace called me and equipped me for His service. I try to do the same with others.”

Next: The rest of the story…

 

Tags: faith multiplied, life change, servantmissions in ecuador

Servant of God

December 31 2012

Servant of God

At first glance, Pastor Prakash is not likely to impress you. No chance that he would be voted most likely to succeed in his graduating class. His big smile reveals crooked teeth. His eyes sometimes squint through the over-sized glasses perched on his face. His hair hangs over his ears and is often disheveled. A paunchy mid-section and well-rounded cheeks let you know that physical fitness is not his passion! However, it would be a big mistake to draw conclusions about Pastor Prakash based on his appearance.

This dynamic servant of God is a mover and a shaker. He leads with his heart, and his heart is abundantly filled with love. He came to faith in Christ from a Hindu background at age twenty. His sick mother was miraculously healed when all hope for her recovery seemed gone. Consequently, he quickly determined to accept Jesus Christ as the living God.

Since then he has been pursuing ministry among unreached Hindu people in a northeast region of India. His determination to share the Good News of Jesus is combined with a practical compassion. He seeks ways to find help for people by taking advantage of a variety of grants and programs geared to benefit the uneducated and the poor. Through the Every Community for Christ ministry, he is actively doing evangelism and training ordinary people to do the same. Thirty house churches in many villages have already been started. He has begun implementing the Train & Multiply strategy we are sharing. God’s people are being used powerfully by the Lord!

Pray for blessing and protection upon Prakash and his family. Ask God to anoint him with the Holy Spirit, imparting wisdom, power and guidance. Pray that the Lord will provide for much abiding fruit and for many villages to be reached with Christ’s salvation.

Who will fulfill the great commission? Is God calling you to give financially, go in faith, or pray fervently?

Tags: servant, dynamic service, life change, evangelism, trainingtrain & multiply

One Life Shared and Multiplied

December 10 2012

One Life Shared and Multiplied

Endla and Tamara have been believers for a long time but were not active in the church other than filling a seat each Sunday morning. In fact Tamara had become so bored with church that she spent most of the time looking for people and things to criticize, and eventually she had stopped attending altogether. 

That was until they started attending the women’s small group led by Piret Saard. As Piret quietly and steadily fed into their lives, they saw that God had work for them to do and that the Christian life could be one of dynamic service. Each week they were led not only to study the Scripture together, but also to apply it in concrete practical ways. This resulted in life change for both of these women. They came to understand that God had given them a life and relationship with Him that needed to be shared with others. Together they asked God to open the doors to non-believers that they could pray for, care for and share with.  

God answered their prayers and inspired them to approach the Rapla care home to see if there was some way they could help there. This home houses both pensioners and others who have fallen on hard times or have some kind of disability.

They were not sure exactly what they should do there, but God again answered their prayers and gave them the idea to take along a cassette player and some Estonian Christian music. This was a great hit and gave them the chance to discuss the meaning of the songs with the 6 or so who come regularly. They have also found other ways to serve by baking cakes to help celebrate birthdays or other special events. The word has gone out around the home that these ladies love us and pray for us and care when most feel that there is no one in the world who needs them.  They are slowly getting the message that it is not just Endla and Tamara who care, but that God their Creator also loves and cares deeply about them and seeks a personal relationship with them.

Who will fulfill the great commission? Is God calling you to give financially, go in faith, or pray fervently?

Tags: dynamic service, life change, answered prayerperson of peace