Jr. Church

2 Weeks ago we started Jr. Church. ¬†Up until then the children and babies had been in the service with the adults. ¬†We had been wanting to start a kid’s class, but the timing had not been right, but that has all changed now. ¬†There are 8 kids and 4¬†babies that regularly come to church with our families, plus any visitors. ¬†We made these benches and a stackable crip/changing table to be able to fit in the small room in the back of the church. ¬†So far the kids have been loving the class with Sandra teaching, and the mothers have been letting their babies stay in the cribs when they can. ¬†After the first kid’s class I asked them who was a better teacher, me or Sandra. ¬†Sandra won hands down!

benches crib

The Great Commission

Great CommissionLast night I preached to our church a sermon titled ‘Your Part in the Circle’. ¬†It was based on 2 passages in Matthew. ¬†The first was¬†16:15-18, and the second was 28:18-20. ¬†I would like to briefly share it with you.

“What is the purpose of Christianity?” ¬†There are some who have created their own churches based on Christian teachings, but are far from true Christianity. ¬†Some examples of this are:

  • Constantine (313 A.D.) began the Catholic church with the purpose of¬†increasing his own power. ¬†My, how it worked! ¬†For the next 1,200 years the Catholic church wielded more power than any king in the millennium.
  • Charles Taze Russell (1879 A.D.) began¬†Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence¬†(predecessor to¬†the Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses). ¬†Through the¬†sales of religious materials he amassed a personal fortune¬†equivilant today to 7 millions dollars!
  • Joseph Smith (1831 A.D.) began the Mormon church and, through his self-appointed authority as prophet, publicly took to himself at least 33 wives (and who knows how many more in private). ¬†There is little to be imagined as to what his motive for starting the church was.
  • Many of the modern-day cults have also been started for various reasons, and many have accomplished their purposes.

What then is the purpose of true Christianity? ¬†To find the answer one must only look to its¬†founder, Jesus of Nazareth. ¬†Jesus’ purpose on earth was one thing only – the salvation of sinners. ¬†He said in Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”, and again in John 3:17, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” ¬†Jesus’ single and solitary purpose was to save us.

Jesus started the church and gave to it His own purpose. ¬†The church was to be an extension of Himself. ¬†For this reason Paul refers to it as the ‘body of Christ’. ¬†Everything that the church does should be in accordance to Jesus’¬†purpose. ¬†Any activity that the church engages in should have a direct or indirect result of people getting saved. ¬†It has been said this way, “Keep the main thing the main thing.”

As seen in the examples above, many others have twisted the purpose set forth by Jesus to accomplish their own purposes,  and they have done so in a variety of methods.  Jesus, however, gave the church only one method, and He backed it with His authority and blessing.  That same method that was used 2,000 years ago still works just as well today.  For us to invent other methods is unproductive and destructive.

In Matthew 16 Jesus¬†said that He would build the church, and protect it. ¬†Therefore, it is not our job to worry about the building of the church. ¬†That is Jesus’ responsibility, not ours. ¬†We get ourselves into trouble when we start encroaching on His responsibilities, instead of focusing on the ones that He gave to us. ¬†This being the case, the success of a church is not measured by¬†its size, but rather by its obedience to Jesus.

Jesus’ method was simple; it only contained 4 parts: go, evangelize, baptize, and disciple.Everything that we do as a church should fall into one of these 4 categories because each of them results directly or indirectly with people getting saved. ¬†We find these in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:¬†Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

The first command is ‘GO’. ¬†Many churches are content with trying to get people to COME to church. ¬†There is certainly nothing wrong with someone getting saved in church (in fact it happened in our church last night!), but you will be hard-pressed to find¬†a Biblical example of this. ¬†In the vast majority of the cases (if not all), people were saved in their homes, in the streets, in jails, and in common gathering places like the Jewish synagogues. ¬†The church was the assembly of those who had already believed. ¬†There certainly is no wrong place to get saved, but the problem is that if all the evangelism that a church does is within its own walls, then it has not fulfilled the first step of the Great Commission. ¬†We must all purpose to regularly GO to where the sinners are. ¬†Every fisherman knows that if you want to catch fish, go where they are biting.

The second part is ‘EVANGELIZE’. ¬†The phrase that Jesus said is this, “teach all nations.” ¬†What are we supposed to teach them? ¬†There are a few verses that one should take into account here: ¬†Luke 11:52 “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”¬† Romans 10:1-2 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.¬†¬†For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.”¬† Romans 10:14 “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”¬† In each of these verses ‘knowledge’ is the key. ¬†I believe that this is also what Jesus was referring to when He told Peter that he had given him the ‘keys of the kingdom of heaven.’

It has been said that faith is the key that opens the door to salvation.  That is a true statement, but to be able to apply faith, it must be done correctly.  There are 3 parts to faith, and all 3 parts must work together.  The formula is:

Knowledge + Belief + Action = Faith

James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”¬† Romans 10:14, “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” ¬†To believe something, one¬†must know of it, and to apply your belief, one¬†must act on it. ¬†And so it is with salvation, to be saved one must understand how it works, believe it, and ask for it. ¬†We must teach others of the free salvation that Jesus offers to us, and help them through the formula of faith.

The third part of Jesus’ method is to ‘BAPTIZE’ those who have been evangelized. ¬†Simply put, baptism does¬†not save us, it rather identifies us with He who has saved us. ¬†Just as a wedding ring identifies a man with his wife, baptism identifies us with Jesus. ¬†Both the ring and baptism¬†are physical representations of spiritual decisions. ¬†For us to complete the Great Commission, we must follow Jesus’ instructions and baptize the believers. ¬†This is not an exhaustive study on the doctrine of baptism, just enough to mention what it is and where it appears in Jesus’ method of church-building.

The final part of the Great Commission is to ‘DISCIPLE’ those who have been baptized. ¬†It is here where the church teaches the new convert the ‘everything else’ of Christianity. ¬†This should be¬†a 2-part process: the Basics of Christianity (sometimes referred to as ‘milk’), and the continual learning of the Christian faith (often referred to as ‘meat’). ¬†As soon as someone is saved, they should begin studying the basics of Christianity “that ye¬†may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

When they have successfully finished this basic training, they should immediately begin the circle of the Great Commission with others who are not yet saved. ¬†One doesn’t have to be a Bible scholar to go soulwinning or teach basic Bible doctrine. ¬†He just needs to understand it sufficiently. ¬†At this point it becomes his responsibility to become a teacher to others. ¬†Hebrews 5:12, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” ¬†If one does not take the step of becoming a teacher at this moment, he will revert to be one that needs to be taught again.

Last night I called several children to the front of the auditorium to help illustrate this process.  I represented the original soulwinner and completed all 4 steps with the first child, my daughter, Lilianna.  I then turned her around and walked with her to the second child.  Lily completed the process with the second child, and so on.  The process was clear.

There are 2 schools of thought on the completion of the Great Commission. ¬†The first states that it is the responsibility of the PASTOR. ¬†According to this idea, the growth of the church can happen, but it is a very slow process. ¬†If the pastor successfully disciples 5 families each year, in 10 years there will be 50 families that have been discipled. ¬†Of those, many will not last because they don’t personally have Jesus’ purpose in their lives.

The second school of thought is that the Great Commission is the responsibility of the CHURCH, the entire assembly.  According to this idea, the growth of the church is exponential.  If each family disciples only 1 other family each year, in 10 years there will be 1024 families that have been discipled.  Of those many will end up leaving to start their own ministries, and the growth of the church becomes even greater still!

In short, the entire sermon was geared to this end: if we do our part, Jesus will do His. ¬†It was James Hudson Taylor that said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” ¬†The same is true for this truth. ¬†If we fulfill the Great Commission, Jesus will build His church.

The invitation questions were very simple: 1) Are you saved?  Do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?  2) Are you stuck somewhere in the circle?  What is the step that you are stuck on?  3) Is it time for you to start your own circle with others?  There was a good response: 1 was saved, and several determined to take their next step.

4th Service and 3 Saved

Today we had our 4th church service. ¬†Each week so far we have had some remarkable things happen. ¬†This time was no exception. ¬†Friday evening Franco’s wife (Sandra) was able to come to Arica because it was a holiday weekend in Bolivia, and is staying until Monday morning. ¬†This was great because she was able to come to church today with her family.

Normally, I try to witness to people before they come to a church service, but with Sandra we had not had the chance to so far.  The message was about the benefits of belonging to a biblical church, and several points of the message touched on different aspects of salvation.  Not only was it good for Sandra to hear, but also for the others who have only recently been saved themselves.

By the time the message was over, the message of salvation had been throughly explained.  In the invitation I asked if there was anyone who had not yet made a decision to become an active part of a biblical church but wanted to make a decision to do so, and several people raised their hands.  The second question was that if anyone was not totally sure that they would go to heaven when they died.  At this point Sandra, along with 2 other people (1 a new visitor), all raised their hands.  After the invitation and a brief Q&A time, they all came to talk to me about how they could be saved.  We sat down and explained the plan of free forgiveness using the Wordless Book, and all 3 got saved!

Sandra, the kids, and I were very excited about all that had happened, but not nearly as excited as Franco was.  Finally, all of his family was saved.  What a blessing that we get to be here in Chile leading whole families to Christ.  Thank you for all your prayers, and for the many of you who help us to be able to stay on the field.

Salvation with Dinner on the Side

There are people who are ‘keys’ to winning others to Christ. ¬†The woman at the well was one of these keys – she brought her city to meet Jesus. ¬†It seems that we have also found a key in our area – Franco. ¬†Ever since he got saved, he has been continuing with the discipleship course, has been out soulwinning with me, and tries his best to arrange opportunities for me to witness to others.

Yesterday some of his family members came to Arica to visit him: his daughter, younger son, a few nieces, a nephew, and a friend. ¬†Because Franco doesn’t have a kitchen in his apartment, we offered to cook for his visitors. ¬†We had hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill! ¬†After everything was done cooking, we all sat around the table and began eating. ¬†About half-way through the meal, Franco began telling his story to them of how he got saved. ¬†He finished by saying, “And now Pastor will tell you how you can be saved, too.” ¬†It was so sudden that I had to wait a few seconds to finish the bite of hot dog that I had just taken, but after a few seconds, I asked them ‘The Question’.

All of them replied that they were not sure that they would go to heaven. ¬†I explained to them the idea of free forgiveness and they were all very happy to accept it. ¬†We prayed right there sitting at the dinner table. ¬†It is amazing how ‘key’ Franco has been in seeing many of his family members saved. ¬†In addition to these that I just mentioned, he has helped with the salvation of his older son, 3 of his son’s friends, his brother, his sister-in-law, and several others that we have meet in town. ¬†All that remains of his family to be saved is his wife. ¬†She will hopefully be coming to visit in a few days. ¬†Please be in prayer for her that God will prepare her heart to receive the message of the Gospel also.

Church Member Now Saved

A few months ago we were introduced to Karina.  She had been attending a church in Tacna, PERU, but livid in Arica, CHILE.  She was so excited that we were going to be starting a church in Arica!  She told us to let her know when we started so that she could attend.  True to her word, she came to the Christmas service a few weeks ago.  She also sand that she was interested in the discipleship course that we offer.

This last Wednesday we were finally able to line up the time and day and Josiah and I went to study step #1 РSalvation.  Her sister, who has been a member of the church in Tacna, PERU, for 7 years, was visiting this day and was also excited to attend the class.  We studied several aspects about salvation: what it is called, how you get it, and how long it lasts.

After finishing the study, I asked her to tell me about the time when she got saved. ¬†She answered that she has “received the Lord” about 2 years ago in a church in central Chile. ¬†That phrase caught my attention because it is generally what the evangelical churches use to describe the time that they dedicate themselves to obeying the Bible. ¬†Right then we put the conversation in reverse and I asked her ‘The Question’ to which she replied that she wasn’t sure if she would go to heaven. ¬†Right down the Roman’s Road we went and she accepted the free forgiveness that Jesus offers. ¬†At some point in the presentation of the Gospel, she told me that she had never understood that our forgiveness is completely free and without strings attached. ¬†She had always thought that one had to somehow do something¬†to earn his forgiveness. ¬†This little book has helped me to understand that the only thing that I can do to get saved is accept what Jesus has already done for me. ¬†Thank you, she said, for taking the time to come and study with me. ¬†I’ll see you Sunday!

A Trip to the Hospital

The other day we were finishing up some work when our neighbor, Amari, walked up to our front door holding¬†bloody hands. ¬†She had been washing a glass cup that¬†was chipped on the brim and had sliced the area between her thumb and index finger. ¬†She was quite scared because she had no idea what to do. ¬†Sandra got me some paper towels and I put them on the cut and then applied pressure. ¬†After holding it there for about a minute, I had her to continue while we¬†got what we needed together to run to the hospital. Amari,¬†Franco, Sergio (Franco’s son), and I got into the truck and zoomed to the hospital.

I dropped them all off at the front entrance and then circled back around to find a place to park.  There is no parking provided at the hospital, and it is located in one of the busiest areas in town, making parking a very difficult situation.  Finally, I found a spot, parked the truck, and then headed over to the hospital to join with the others.  They had registered her with the front counter and were now waiting for her to be called.  She was still holding the same bloodied paper towels.

After about a half-hour of waiting, I asked the front desk (who was just a lady with a notebook sitting behind a folding table) how much longer she had to wait.  She told me that there were people who had been waiting since 11:00 that morning, and it was now about 5:00 in the afternoon!  Turns out that she had forgotten to write her name in the book, so now everyone that had come in during the half-hour was now ahead of us in line.  After a bit of convincing, she wrote her name on a separate piece of scrap paper and then disappeared behind the doors.  About 5 minutes later, Amari was called.

They took her and 3 others to one of the side rooms to collect financial and personal information, and traded her paper towels with a¬†formal bandage, but still didn’t begin the treatment of cleaning and stitches. ¬†They then sent her back out to wait until her name was called again.

We all went outside so we could wait in the fresh air. ¬†Franco and Sergio excused themselves so they could go buy something to eat, leaving me with an opportunity to ask Amari ‘The Question’. ¬†She responded that she probably wouldn’t be going to heaven. ¬†She already believed in God and the Bible, but was knew that she was not living in accordance to what the Bible teaches. ¬†The funny thing is that she is the type of person that would probably not give us the time of day if she were not in the exact situation that she was currently in. ¬†After explaining how free forgiveness¬†works, I asked her if she wanted to receive it. ¬†The enthusiastically replied, ‘Yes!’

We still had a few hours of waiting ahead, but at least now we could see the reason that all this happened.¬† Franco told me that he had noticed that many of the people that we were seeing saved, including himself, had to pass through a difficulty so that they would be open to hearing the Gospel. ¬†“I wish that all that had to happen to me was a trip to the hospital. ¬†I would rather have received 1,000 cuts like Amari did rather than go through what I had to. ¬†However,¬†I’m glad that God saved me.”

Christmas Cookies

One of the neat things about our ministry here in Chile is that we bring some new/foreign ideas to the people here. ¬†One of our family Christmas traditions is making decorated gingerbread cookies. ¬†In the States this is pretty normal, but here it is almost unheard of. ¬†I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started, but some of the ladies that were at the Christmas service found out that Sandra knows how to make gingerbread cookies, and were asking if they could come back to our house sometime so Sandra could teach them.

A few days later 2 of the ladies came to the house and the gingerbread making began.  From 3PM to 10PM we were making cookie dough, cutting them out, baking them, decorating them, and of course sampling them.  The kids had such a good time, and Sandra was able to share some influence.  I am always happy for the times that she is able to play an active part in the ministry here.  She may not be able to go out door-2-door soulwinning, but she does have an influence on the people that we are working with.

At the end of the day everyone was able to take several decorated gingerbread cookies home, and our hearts are now a little closer-knit.  Please pray for us that our efforts will be multiplied in the hearts of those whom we minister to here in northern Chile.

Eduardo and Maria

About 2 months ago I began working with a young man named Eduardo. ¬†He and his wife, Maria, bad been having some difficulties, and were therefore open to talk. ¬†It’s amazing to me how often God uses times of difficulty to draw us closer to Him.

The first night that I met Eduardo, we talked about the problem that was going on in his family, and also presented a solution – the marriage triangle. ¬†I explained to him that if he wanted to get closer to his wife, he would first have to get closer to God. ¬†“How do I do that?” he said. ¬†From there it was fairly simple to lead him to Christ.

He immediately began discipleship, and consistently met with me each week.  After learning about Biblical baptism, he wanted to do it right away.  So one Saturday he met us at the beach and his wife and son came to watch his baptism.  I had not yet met Maria and had not had an opportunity to witness to her.  On the beach we explained again to everyone exactly what Biblical baptism was, and then Eduardo and I went into the ocean far enough to get him all the way under.  Timing it with the waves was interesting, but it worked.  When we came back to the group an the beach we presented Eduardo with a BEAMS Bible, and then began witnessing to Maria.  She also accepted Christ as her Savior!

We continued the discipleship course as before, but now Maria was joining in.  It was wonderful to watch her grow as her husband explained Biblical truths to her that I had only recently taught him.  Then last week, after studying about what a Biblical church was, she told we that she been thought through the idea of baptism and was convinced that she needed to do it.

Last Saturday afternoon we all met again at the beach in the same place that Eduardo got baptized and helped Maria to follow her husband in believer’s baptism. ¬†Afterwards we presented her BEAMS Bible. ¬†For the next few hours we talked while the kids played in the waves. ¬†What a blessing to have a free, warm-water baptistery!

God is blessing our efforts here in Arica. ¬†Thank you for continuing to pray for us. ¬†Like with anything, there are good days and bad days, but in 100 years, only what we have done for Christ will matter. ¬†I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to serve.

Black Friday

Black Friday for us was much different than it was for many people.  Thanksgiving evening was spent visiting with a Chilean Christian family.  They had asked us earlier in the day if they could come over and talk about some things that they wanted some counsel on.  The visit lasted until late in the evening, so Black Friday morning was spent sleeping in, instead of in a line waiting for some store to open.  Even Elisha, who generally wakes up around 7:00 AM, slept until after 11:00 AM.  That never happens!

A little after I had woken up, I received a call from a friend who was stuck down town with a car that wouldn’t start. ¬†I went to go help them to pull their car to the mechanic. ¬†I was so happy because this time my truck was at the front end of the rope, and not the back! ¬†Needless to say, we have had to have our truck pulled several times since being here.

Soon after I returned home, Lily and I had to rush over to the dentist for her monthly tightening of her braces.  When she was finished we ran a few errands and then rushed home for dinner Рleftover Thanksgiving dinner!

After dinner I had to hurry and finish printing the discipleship booklets that we needed for the classes that evening.  Josiah and I took Franco and his brother with us into town, and as we drove both Franco and I witnessed to his brother.  We had just finished presenting the Gospel and drawing the net as we arrived at our destination-the place in the road where I first met Franco.  We prayed right there in the truck.  After we finished, Franco was so happy that his brother, who he had been praying for and witnessing to over the phone, was now saved.

We dropped Franco and Ruben off, and continued to our first discipleship class.  It was sweet to see Eduardo (who has been saved for 2 months now) re-read the booklets with his wife, Maria, who only recently has gotten saved.  It is wonderful to see the Lord working in their lives.  After we finished there, we drove to a nearby neighborhood where our second meeting was.  Catalina and her son Diego have both recently gotten saved and have begun discipleship.  We finished there at 11:00 PM, and then headed to our last class.  Cristian and Marisa, who have also recently gotten saved, can only study late at night because of his work schedule.  We enjoyed the time studying, and then started for home.

On the way have, Josiah told me that he should always go with me because each time that we have gone out someone has been saved.  I think his wanting to go again also might be influenced by the 2 cups of yoghurt, 2 pieces of Christmas bread, the cup of juice, 3 toy cars, playtime with the kids in the homes we visit, and staying out until 1:00 in the morning with dad.  In any case, I was glad to have his help and company.