4×4: A Cold and Rainy Terrain – Part 2 of 2

*This is part two of the article published in the previous post.

Each young person, upon arriving at the event, shared the obstacles they had to overcome in order to be part of this evangelistic experience. In each activity God showed them that He was with them and His Spirit encouraged them to be intentional about the time to evangelize. The Word of God reached the hearts of many people in this neighborhood and although some remained undecided, others gave their lives to the Lord. There was tears and smiles alike. Even though the children’s attendance dropped due to the intense cold, there were always children present to share the gospel. At night during the movie, when they thought no one would show up, God surprised them. There is a need, people thirst for God. Even though some got sick we still sang the hymn,

“In Him there is joy without an alloy;
’Tis Heaven to trust Him and rest on His words;
It pays to serve Jesus each day.

It pays to serve Jesus, it pays every day,
It pays every step of the way,
Though the pathway to glory may sometimes be drear,
You’ll be happy each step of the way.”

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To the glory of God, we can report that 33 people accepted Christ through the door to door evangelism, 22 kids also accepted salvation at Vacation Bible School and 5 kids accepted Christ thanks to the Project Goal sport event, and 3 accepted Christ through evangelistic movies. A total of 63 souls won for Christ! The Sanchez family and the hosting church have a lot of work now to do.

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Let us pray for these new souls and for those who have to believe by the word that will be given in the following days.

“God has called us to be bearers of His love, to share joy, to give hope to those who do not have it, to comfort the afflicted, He has called us to be light. No matter what you have to leave or if you have to make some sacrifice to be there, the best you can receive is the satisfaction of crying with someone in need, wiping a tear, giving a hug and looking at a smile on a child’s face and the satisfaction of being able to share with others the Good News and hope in JESUS!”–Lupita Calderón.

“I still marvel at how God uses us despite all our shortcomings. His love continues to mold us. It was not necessary to try to convince anyone, simply to just proclaim, serve and love. God took care of all involved because His grace covers everything. We have lived through difficult things before, during and after our travels; The enemy wanted to attack, but we were safe in the rock of our faith, Jesus Christ. The Father takes care of us and the Holy Spirit guides us. This experience made me grow in faith, humility and in love. I was very happy that people could meet their Savior and surrender their lives to Him.”–Mitzi Villegas

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” I met Mrs. Silvia, who is one of the people we evangelized. When we finished sharing the message, she was engulfed in tears, then calmed down and told us the following, ‘I’ve had days of great despair and I don’t know why. It’s an anxiety that does not go away. All of a sudden I cry, I get sad. Last night I was full of anxiousness, I had despair and nothing calmed me, so I asked God to help me and to show me what I should do, and now you are here! I know God heard my cry.’ This tells us a lot about the need that exists in the world, and the responsibility that we have as a church. Thank God, Silvia accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. “–Adriana L. Barraza 

We give thanks to God for the life of these young people, if you are interested in missions or would like to participate in a 4×4, contact us at misionglobal@mesoamericaregion.org or on our Facebook page .

This article was written by Maru Rodriguez, coordinator of Global Mission for the Mexico Field.

4×4: A Cold and Rainy Terrain – Part 1 of 2

With frigid temperatures and under a mist of rainy conditions the 4×4 All Terrain 2017 event was held in the Espino sector. This area is one of more than 15 sectors in the Valle del Roble neighborhood of Nuevo León, Mexico. The Sanchez family, originally from the southern part of Mexico, recently moved to this area. They searched for a church of the Nazarene in the area and could not find one, so they made the decision to rent a vacant house in the area and start a mission church. Given the urgent need to evangelize this area and knowing that someone could follow up on the work done, volunteer missionaries from 4×4 All Terrain offered their gifts and talents to advance the kingdom of heaven. Fourteen young people from Southern, Central, West, North and Northeast districts gathered, regardless of weather conditions that awaited them.

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During the last week of 2017, the 4×4 All Terrain team performed two simultaneous events in the mornings: the first was, The Goal Project, which was hosting many soccer teams in a field nearby. The second event was going door to door evangelizing the nearby neighborhoods. To help them with the evangelism they used the evangecube and distributed pamphlets to interested families.

Each day began with breakfast and participating in devotional, where testimonies were shared. After breakfast, the team began the day’s activities. The team also held night VBS where there were clowns dressed in awesome costumes, games, songs, and biblical stories. Each night ended with chairs set up in the park to watch an evangelistic movie and an invitation to follow Christ.

Read the testimonies of those who participated:

26232393_10155752777226351_3913626031354020134_o.jpg“Many times, I had asked myself if at some point what I experience and what I go through in life could be useful in the kingdom of God. After this event, I now understand that all the things that happen help us when we least expect it. During the activities with the children, several of the older teens helped us take care of the younger kids. I especially admired Mariel, a teenager who even shared her blankets to cover some of the kids. I was surprised at how much she resembled me when I was that age, and how we are similar. God used that incident to talk to me about how Jesus Christ transforms and changes lives. She felt validated, understood and accepted. The last day of activities Mariel accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior, knowing now that He loves her, He will transform her life and He will take her to places she never imagined.”–Ana Constantino.

“The Valle del Roble neighborhood, where we held the 4×4 All Terrain, is as needed as any other place. It was amazing to see how people took time to listen. God touched the hearts of those people, God made the right call. He was with us at every moment and gave us the strength to talk about Him, even with rain, God was listening to our prayers. He is great and I am very grateful and very blessed! I cry, but I cry with happiness, because I know that God made this possible and I thank Him. He is good to me, and I am ready for wherever he sends me.”–Waris Dirie Sánchez.

“By participating for the first time in an 4×4 All Terrain event, God showed me the need that exists outside our local churches. Every house that I visited with my partner, made me realize that people are waiting to receive the love of God.”– Valeria Rodríguez.

“I give thanks to God because He allowed me to participate again in this missionary program and to share the love He poured out on the cross. I love being a participant in this type of event and being able to share the message of salvation to other people. I love obeying the mission and commission that the Lord entrusted to us through His Word, “Go and make disciples.” This does not imply that we only share the gospel when we go to another city or participate in these events, but wherever we are, in all times and places we must speak of Him who called us. “– Abraham Barboza.

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*This article will continue in the next post.

If you are interested in missions or would like to participate in a 4×4 All Terrain event, contact us at misionglobal@mesoamericaregion.org or on our Facebook page .

Trickle-Down Evangelism

By Jeff Christopherson

Are disciples becoming disciple-makers?

Does trickle-down evangelism work? If we feed the disciple enough, will he or she become a powerhouse warrior for the Kingdom of God?

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Here’s the version you’re most likely to hear: “We have to focus on our people. So many of them are immature and in desperate need of spiritual instruction. If we prioritize the growth and maturity of our people then that will have a trickle-down impact on their passion and ability to live on mission and share the gospel.” And so we design our churches for growth, consciously or unconsciously, through this filter.

This rationale at first seems prudent, but far too often the stated goal never comes to fruition. Rather than passionate, mobilized, mature believers, the church’s efforts end up fostering an inwardly-focused people who are increasingly isolated from the world they are commissioned to reach. Instead of a kingdom warrior, our trickle-down efforts seem only to muster an isolated, insulated, and evangelistically impotent churchman.

In reality, the longer it takes for new disciples to become disciple-makers, the more unlikely it is they will prioritize this work. Over time, the gravitational pull of their new relationships in the church will extract them from their relationships with others who are far from God and his church. The stronger the signal that church sends of ‘come and see’ over ‘go and tell,’ the less likely personal evangelism will ever take place. What’s worse, the more the pastor is observed as a ‘teller’ rather than ‘doer,’ the less likely the flock will be personally engaged in the work of evangelism.

So the trickle-down evangelism theory suffers from two fatal flaws: it creates a busy leadership that in their busyness become largely evangelistically unengaged; and, in our unending efforts to ‘equip,’ we have unintentionally isolated the mission force from the mission field.

New Believers and Evangelism

That’s why it’s vital that we create structures to unleash new believers into the harvest immediately after conversion. Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds believers that all those who have been reconciled to God through Christ have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16–21). This work isn’t for those who have crossed a certain threshold of sanctification; it is a mission given to all those who’ve trusted in Jesus for their salvation. “God saves and sends” isn’t a trite cliché; rather, it is the two-fold pattern God uses throughout Scripture and history to foster his missionary work in the world.

The temporal link between saving and sending maximizes the potential evangelistic impact and builds life rhythms that foster evangelistic intentionality throughout the new believer’s maturation process.

First, those who have recently come to faith are far more likely to live, learn, work, and play with those who are far from God and his church. Their previous patterns of life were likely infused with those in need of seeing and hearing the gospel. Not only are they in relationship with the lost, but these relationships are the prime context to model the transformation that the gospel brings.

Who better to notice the change of thought and practice that follows conversion than those friends who have seen the fruit of unrighteousness that once defined a person’s life? Since the relational bridge to these relationships is already in place, it is wise to immediately leverage them for the sake of the gospel.

Second, this level of evangelistic intentionality creates rhythms that should define the life of anyone seeking to walk faithfully with Christ. The malaise and apathy toward evangelism that far too often characterizes God’s church is likely attributable to the fact that many new believers internalized their church’s priorities which failed to engage them in evangelism early in their Christian walks.

As a result, in order for evangelistic fervor to mark God’s church once again, they must unlearn all sorts of habits that seem to imply that evangelism is an arbitrary add-on to an otherwise sufficient Christian life. Linking saving and sending allows the church to build healthy practices from the outset, rather than expecting healthy rhythms to mystically emerge after long contradictory patterns have already been forged.

This mindset need not imply that it’s unnecessary to equip and train believers to maturity. What’s at issue isn’t this laudable goal, but the pursuit of discipleship in a way that is disconnected from the work of evangelism. We can’t expect that an extracted disciple’s growth in maturity will trickle-down to a waiting harvest no matter the quality and quantity of the sacred buffet that we offer.

After all, if disciple-making is the assignment that Jesus gave his church, then evangelism really isn’t finished until the evangelized find themselves as evangelists and disciplers.

This article was originally published at: Christianity Today

No Hands, No Feet but Yours

Christmas Day, and now Christmas season, have come and gone.  In this blog, in our podcast, and hopefully in your local church, you have focused on the Incarnation: God with us.  He came to bring joy and hope!  The God of the entire universe has taken on flesh and “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Is. 53:4).  This is great news!

Yet, as we move into a new year, the Incarnation not only comforts us, but also calls to us.  It calls for a deeper commitment on our part. The God who became like us now asks us to become like those around us in order to more effectively share this good news. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world.

Is that concept uncomfortable to you? I heard an author once who said we should retire that phrase.  “We cannot be the hands and feet of Christ to anyone,” he maintained.  “Only Jesus can be Christ to the world and it is heretical to assume we are in his place!” He does have a good point: only Jesus can save, and any language that begins to allude to us as doing any part of that is pretty risky.

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However, I believe the phrase is valuable and theologically sound.  The primary manner that God uses to reach this desperate world is through the Church!  We are his extension.  As the Father sent him, so He sends us (Jn. 20:21)!  In fact, the idea of us being his hands and feet comes not from some modern preacher or writer attempting to creatively inspire us in mission.  Remember 1 Corinthians 12:27? “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” This is pretty biblical, then, agreed?!

Perhaps the most eloquent expression of this reality was written nearly 500 years ago by a Carmelite nun, St. Teresa of Avila.  As you read it, be thankful not only that God became man for us, but that we, too, have been given the privilege to be his active presence in this world!

“Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

–St. Teresa of Avila

 

Wanted: New Church Methods For New Church People

By Karl Vaters

Changing the world with the Gospel of Jesus is less likely to happen using traditional methods with every passing year.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional methods of doing church. As long as you want to minister to traditional church members. Traditionalists (whatever your tradition may be) need places to worship, learn and be discipled. Too many of them have felt overlooked, even ridiculed, in recent years as many churches have rushed to make changes.

But, the traditional church member is dying out…literally.

If we truly want to change the world with the Gospel of Jesus, that is less likely to be done using traditional church methods with every passing year.

Traditional Church Methods Will Only Attract Traditional Church People

We need new ways of doing church. It’s ironic that I’m the guy saying say this. For at least two reasons.

First, I’m one of the traditional guys. A middle-aged, third generation pastor of a brick-and-mortar church with a mortgage and a full-time salary. Sure, the church I pastor has a slightly younger demographic than the average. And yes, we started dressing casually before most churches did. But if the sight of church members wearing jeans while sipping a coffee as they listen to the sermon feels radical – well, that’s just one evidence of how non-radical we really are.

Second, as a traditional church guy, I have no idea what I’m asking for. None. What would a truly God-breathed, Bible-honoring, life-transforming, people-reaching, radical change in the way we do church look like? I have no idea. But I do know this. We’re not just looking at one idea or one new way to do church. We need to be open to a whole lot of new ideas and new ways to do church. The days of landing on one particular church format, then promoting it as the right way to do church can’t end soon enough.

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Future Church Possibilities

Actually, there are a handful of principles that I think are likely to become more common in the next few years. I think the new, dynamic church is likely to be

  • Meeting in smaller, rather than bigger groups, even in big cities
  • In non-traditional sites
  • Locally grown and less generic
  • More hands-on in mission and outreach
  • More focused on relationship building
  • Highly adaptable, even experimental
  • Passionately focused on the core truths of God’s Word

At least I hope so.

Unfortunately, it’s also very likely that, while these new ways of doing church will be met with joy and relief by some, they will be met with skepticism and anger by many.

Step Up and Stand Out

If you’re crazy in love with Jesus and want to help other people fall crazy in love with Jesus, but you can’t figure out how to do that in a traditional local church setting, here’s my suggestion.

Stop trying to fit in.

Start standing out.

Start ministering the unchangeable truths of Jesus in ways that make sense for the people God is calling you to minister to, even if they’re the kinds of people who won’t come to a traditional church. Don’t worry about all the naysayers who will condemn you just because what you’re doing is different.

The church could use a boatload of different right now.

And I’m not the only old, traditional church guy who will be cheering you on, either. There are a lot of us. We may not know how to do it ourselves, but maybe we can be like Simeon and Anna. Maybe we can recognize Jesus when he shows up at the temple in a way no one else expected.

After all, the only “right” way to do church is any way that reaches people for Jesus.

This article was originally published at: Christianity Today.

 

Mission Briefing: 10/40 Window

By Howard Culbertson

About 30 years ago, missiologist Luis Bush coined the phrase “10/40 Window.” He did that to focus attention on a specific area of the world where millions of people have little or no access to the Gospel.

Bush asked believers to draw an imaginary rectangle on the globe, from 10 degrees north of the equator up to 40 degrees north of the equator, and stretching from western most Africa to just east of Japan. Pointing to that imaginary oblong “window,” Bush pleaded with the Church to mobilize prayer, people and resources to evangelize and disciple people in all of the unreached and least-reached people groups in the northern half of Africa, the Middle East, and the areas once ruled by the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires as well as much of Asia including India and China.

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The statistics from that 10/40 Window can be staggering. Two-thirds of all people on earth live in that rectangular area. Almost all of the world’s 55 least-evangelized countries are in the 10/40 Window. Half of the world’s least-evangelized large cities are in the 10/40 Window. The majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs live in the 10/40 Window.

Sadly, the 10/40 Window is also home to 8 out of 10 of the poorest of the earth’s poor.

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Many areas in the 10/40 Window are places that Nazarene Global Mission Director Verne Ward describes as “where the Church is not yet.” With just 10 percent of the current global Christian missionary force deployed there, that situation is not changing very rapidly. Unfortunately, almost 9 out of 10 of the people living in the 10/40 Window today remain outside the reach of current evangelistic efforts.

In several 10/40 Window countries, Christians suffer physical persecution and even death for their faith. Due to anti-Christian hostility and stringent government restrictions, many missionaries in the 10/40 Window have become creative in how they evangelize and disciple people. Many of the countries will not give visas to religious workers.  So they have been labeled Creative Access areas. For these and other reasons, Patrick Johnstone, of Operation World, has called this area the “resistant belt.”

Drawing attention to the evangelistic task yet to be done, the visually dramatic 10/40 Window concept has inspired many to offer themselves for missionary service in some of the world’s most difficult and challenging places.

Clearly, the countries of the 10/40 Window are not the only places that need missionaries. So, this is not a call to remove missionaries from other areas of the world and send them all to the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window countries are not the only ones in the world with sinners needing missionaries to cross cultural and language barriers to tell them about God’s redeeming grace. However, the 10/40 Window does contain huge blocs of people who, by any definition, are today unreached and unevangelized.

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We must pray that God will call more and more laborers into the countries in the 10/40 Window harvest field!

This article was originally published at: Engage Magazine

 

Ain’t No Difference

By Scott Armstrong

“For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:22b-26 NKJV).”

(Read Romans 3:22-31)

The verses we just read give us some pretty bad news.  We’ve all sinned.  Not one of us is good enough for God.  As The Message says, “We’re all in the same sinking boat,” and that means all of us.  As one country preacher puts it, “There just ain’t no diff’rence.”

Wait a second. No difference? That means the most awful murderer and the kindest, most generous person to ever live share the same destiny if it’s up to us and our own righteousness.

Let’s pretend there is a ladder stretching from humanity on Earth to God in the heavens.  If we piled up all the bad and good things we ever did where would the criminal be? The bottom rung, maybe? Where would Mother Teresa or Billy Graham be—people who have served Christ faithfully and changed the world through their ministries? Let’s put them on rung four or five. And you and I are somewhere in between. With just a few hundred more good works we can maybe reach God, right?

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There’s only one problem. The ladder has a million rungs. If it’s up to us to reach God by our own righteousness, we’re all hopeless. Even though in our eyes there may be a difference between us and others, in God’s eyes, we’re all at the bottom of the ladder. There just ain’t no diff’rence.

But the bad news is followed by really good news. It’s not up to us. It’s up to God.  Through his grace He can change our lives and we can spend eternity with Him.  The Message translates verses 23-24 this way, “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners…and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity…He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be. And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.”

So what? How does this affect the way we live? Well, we live overwhelmed at His grace, constantly thanking Him for saving us. And we also live humbly.  If we’re all sinners in need of a Savior, there is no room for bragging or thinking we’re better than anyone else (v. 27). God makes the difference.  Do you need more thankfulness or, perhaps, humility in your life? Is there someone in your life who needs to hear the good news that God makes all the difference? How can you show Christ to them today?