Thursday, October 20, 2011

Forward, march!

Guayaquil—Tom and Lydia will be traveling to Guayaquil October 27 and 28 to work with our pastors on our new Plan Guayas. As a result of many changes, Guayaquil has gone through a time of uncertainty. Some leaders who had been relegated to the shadows of former pastors have stepped up to the plate to become front-line leaders. Some members who were vacillating after the pastoral shift discovered that they were not in harmony with Wesleyan doctrines and ministry philosophies and have chosen to go their own way. All of this is part of an expected sifting process that has been essential to rebuilding the ministry in Guayaquil. Throughout the process, we have seen three leadership couples hold on to hope for a better day for Guayaquil. I believe we are at the doorstep of that better day.

Here is the basic Plan Guayas strategy that will be presented in our Guayaquil pastor’s meeting next Thursday:

1) Clarifying the status of our existing congregations and preaching points—currently there are two congregations in function—Fortin and Altar Cristiano

2) Focus on training: As four Bible institute students are about to complete their second year, they will be encouraged to focus half of their time on their studies, which will include some specifically Wesleyan courses such as Wesleyan history, doctrine of holiness and Discipline. The other half of available time they will spend on church ministries. The four students that will graduate in January of 2013 are Pilar and Nino Medina, and Juan Carlos and Diana Cruz. We currently have one other student in Guayaquil, who is Hilda Rodriguez, the sister of Pilar. She is in her first year of studies.

3) Focus on bringing our two Guayaquil churches to a better state of health. Primary emphases will be building local leadership, discipleship and Wesleyan doctrine, and stewardship. Special effort will be made to create a fellowship bond between these two churches through combined activities and mutual prayer support.

4) During the next fourteen months the Phase I period of the Plan Guayas will hopefully bring stability and health to our existing work and provide three well-trained pastoral couples to lead us into Phase II.

5) Phase II of Plan Guayas, although still evolving in detail, will include the following:
a) Plans for our next church plant/mission in the Guayas area
b) Stationing of two to three missionary units (likely Hines, Rice and Beck) in the Guayas area.
c) Pairing of missionaries with local Ecuadorian leaders for mentoring and coaching
d) Launching of one to two paired (missionary and national) teams for the establishing of new churches.

6) Phase III of Plan Guayas would likely be the planting of new churches in other areas of the country. In consideration are: Manta, Loja, Machala, Esmeraldas and Quito. However, before launching out into other areas, I feel it is necessary to have good stability (not perfection) in the Cuenca and Guayas areas.

Lighthouse, Racar—Attendance continues to grow and two women accepted Christ last Sunday. November 13, will see us “gathered at the river” to celebrate the baptism of about 6 to 8 new believers. Our total of new salvations stands at 56 since May. We now have an provisional advisory board which will meet for the first time next Saturday. Following our November baptisms I will be starting a membership class and our hope is to receive at least ten provisional members who would likely become full members by January of 2012. These will be the charter member of the Lighthouse. By that time we would expect to have a minimum of 12 full members and the church could reach “organized” status.

Bible month at the Lighthouse has been a great success. We are planning a big day on Sunday October 30, with preaching on the theme “This Bible is YOURS”, the idea being that it is God’s gift to each of us personally, and we must know it, use it, feed on it, believe it and share it. We then will have a hog roast, (Glad we are living in the New Testament era where pigs are OK!) Bible collection display and sales of new Bibles, which will be followed by a Bible Bowl type competition. We will break for recreation then have a snack time to cap off the month.

Next month’s theme will be “The Church”. We will draw heavily on Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church.

Lighthouse building—About the time we started building the Racar Ministry Center, the Vida Nueva congregation dissolved due to a pastoral failure and the future was very uncertain. We continued on track with the RMC facility so serve as ministry center at the national level, for gatherings and training events for our national leaders, housing for a missionary family, center for sports outreach and a meeting place for a future congregation. It is a multi-purpose building that is currently hosting a growing congregation of as many as 90 people each Sunday. We are clearly outgrowing the meeting room space, and on Saturday I will present a plan to expand this center to include a larger worship area.

This plan will have at least two phases. The first will be to pour a concrete slab directly in front of the RMC building. On that slab we will once again erect the blue tent, equipping it with adequate lighting for night activities, provisional wiring for electrical outlets, an elevated platform, including a nicely decorated backdrop to reduce the “tent-ish” look and to help the audience have a more pleasant ambiance, and more chairs to accommodate everyone. Cost for this new setup should be at the $1000 mark, and I believe our local congregation can raise all of it. This new setup will allow us to grow to about 160 people before we would have to have a larger facility. By that time, my hope is that this congregation will build a new multi-purpose facility (gym-size) adjacent to the RMC. This too should be financed primarily by the local church. This is an exciting day for the Lighthouse and for all of us who have invested over the last 11 years in Ecuador.

Prayer for the battle—One reason our team is so encouraged is that the battle is hotter than ever. The last three weeks has been filled with challenges including an attempted suicide, cases of family violence, rampages by those addicted to alcohol and drugs, verbal attacks and insults by a powerful witch, and some other things we can’t even talk about because of security reasons. Pray we will not grow weary. God has called me to more prayer time during these days. Will you join me?

We are expecting great things!


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