Friday, September 28, 2012

Cost of Discipleship

Luke 14:25-35

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Following Jesus has a very high cost. We must love him so much that the love we have for any other person looks like hate in comparison.

A tough teaching from Jesus.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

…And a man who wants to build a building will first make sure he has enough money to complete the construction. He must count up the cost.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

The last couple of verses of this passage almost don’t seem to fit; Jesus starts talking about salt. If salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything, and must be thrown out. What is Jesus even talking about?

Passion, love, excitement, can be equated with saltiness. But in the (very long) narrow road, these feelings will not be enough. There has to be something else to it. There has to be a commitment that goes so much deeper. That even if we never received a single blessing from God, we would still follow Him, JUST BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS.

THIS is the cost.

Who HE IS comes first.

You should definitely listen to the above song, but better than the lyrics of RCE, I will leave you with some words of Jesus. I share them because they are convicting to me, and I need to examine myself as much as anyone else. 

The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tend to have many similarities. So this passage may be similar to the above passage in Luke, but the way Jesus ends in is, well, scary. If not scary, at least something to be taken very seriously:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” --Mark 8:34-38

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Profile of the Obsessed

I want to be a disciple. 
In the previous post, I shared Francis Chan's "Profile of the Lukewarm," and challenged us to do some self-examination. The following is Chan's "Profile of the Obsessed." 
To be completely obsessed with Jesus is to be a disciple. To love him above all else.
People who are obsessed with Jesus…
  • Give freely and openly without censure… love those who hate them and who can never pay them back.
  • Aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else…care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.
  • Live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another…believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to him.
  • Are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo…will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.
  • Know that the sin of pride is always a battle…know that you can never be “humble enough” and so they seek to make themselves less and Christ more known.
  • Do not consider service a burden…take joy in loving God by loving His people.
  • Are known as givers, not takers.
  • Genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world.
  • Think about heaven frequently…orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them.
  • Are characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being.
  • Are raw with God; they do not attempt to mask the ugliness of their sins or failures…don’t put it on for God; He is their safe place, where they can be at peace.
  • Have an intimate relationship with God…are nourished by God’s Word throughout the day.
  • Are more concerned with character than comfort…know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstances or environment.
  • Know that the best thing they can do is be faithful to their Savior in every aspect of life, continually saying, “Thank you!” to God…know there can never be intimacy if they are always trying to pay God back or work hard enough to be worthy…revel in their role as a child of God.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Profile of the Lukewarm

As we look at what it means to be a disciple, we have to examine ourselves.


Can I truly bear the name "Christian," because I am a "little Christ" in the world, representing him well to those who don't know him?

The following is an excerpt from Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love.

It shows us what it does NOT mean to be a disciple.

So let's do a little self-examination...


Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe 'good Christians' do, so they go. (Isaiah 29:13)

Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? (1 Chron 21:24, Luke 21:1-4)

Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. (Luke 6:26, Rev 3:1, Matt 23:5-7)

Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. (John 10:10, Rom 6:1-2)

Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for 'extreme' Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call 'radical' what Jesus expected of all his followers. (James 1:22, James 4:17, Matt 21:28-31)

Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbours, co-workers or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. (Matt 10:32-33)

Lukewarm people gauge their morality or 'goodness' by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. (Luke 18:11-12)

Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives. (Luke 9:57-62)

Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors, missionaries and radicals. (Matt 22:37-38)

Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focussed on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. (Matt 5:43-47, Luke 14:13-14)

Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go, or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give. (Luke 18:21-25)

Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focussed on today's to-do list, this week's schedule and next month's vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they consider the life to come. Regarding this, C. S. Lewis wrote, 'If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.' (Phil 3:18-20, Col 3:2)

Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, 'Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only the love of money is.' Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel 'called' to minister to the rich; very few feel 'called' to minister to the poor. (Matt 25: 34, 40, Isaiah 58:6-7)

Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the base minimum, to be 'good enough' without it requiring too much of them. They ask, 'How far can I go before it's considered a sin?' instead of 'How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?' They ask,....' (1 Chron 29:14, Matt 13:44-46)

Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and taking risks for God. (1 Tim 6:17-18, Matt 10:28)

Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens - they have their saving account. They don't need God to help them - they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live - they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis - their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. (Luke 12:16-21, Amos 6:1)

Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitised lives with holiness, but that couldn't be more wrong. (Matt 23:25-28, Matt 7:21)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Disciples Making Disciples (Colombia Part 4)

“Go and make disciples of all nations…”

Who are you discipling? And who is discipling you?

I know I am not the first person to ask those questions, but they bear repeating…because two thousand years after the Church was commissioned, the mission remains unfulfilled.

And visiting Colombia made me realize the impact believers who ACT LIKE DISCIPLES can make.

I sat in a meeting at the church—a meeting of an entire network. The Pastora (the Pastor’s wife) has twelve leaders, just like her husband does. And one of her twelve called a meeting for the twelve leaders she is training, who are discipling people in their homes. They invited the twelve leaders they are training… They call this a network, but I call it fulfilling the Great Commission.

It never ends.

Disciples who make disciples who make disciples…

Leaders who train leaders who train leaders…

It never ends.

There is a trickle-down passion for prayer, evangelism, discipleship, worship, and leadership development.

And that is why the House of Prayer Church of the Nazarene in Cali can claim the most impressive growth rate of the denomination, with 14,000 in attendance each Sunday.

And I began to wonder what it would look like if my home church adopted this strategy.

What would it look like if YOUR CHURCH practiced this?

So I’ll ask it again:

Who are you discipling?

Who is discipling you?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Now You See It (Colombia Part 3)

I'm assuming you already know this about me, but I will confess it anyway...

I like to talk.

And I have already talked a bunch about my time in Colombia.

So now I want to show you:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crazy Discipleship

I have been GREATLY impacted by something I read recently in Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love.

It has been several years since I read it, and I still think it is fantastic.

And I am thinking a lot these days about what discipleship actually looks like.

I want to be a disciple. I want that to be my identity.

Cailyn Stevens: disciple of Jesus Christ.

And I want to be characterized by the things that characterize Jesus.

First: love.

Chan talks about 1 Corinthians 13, and he makes a suggestion to us: to try to replace “love” in this passage with our names.

For me it would read:

Cailyn is patient and kind. She does not envy or boast. She is not rude or proud. Cailyn is not easily angered, and she keeps no record of wrongs. Cailyn does not delight is evil, but rejoices with the truth. She always protects, always hopes, always trusts, and always perseveres.

I must say, that is a little convicting.

But I want to be love embodied, and ultimately to represent Christ well.

I want to be a disciple. And I want to continue discovering what discipleship truly looks like. I plan to make it a further blogging topic.

But let’s make it a dialogue… what does being a disciple of Christ look like to you?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Intense (Colombia Part 2)

This time in Cali was intense. My schedule had me in the church praying every day, often for more than six hours a day. That sounds completely overwhelming! But I have to seek God earnestly in prayer to prepare for what comes next for me.

So yeah, it is intense, but isn’t God worth it?

I think most people are afraid to get alone with God, especially for any extended period of time. After all, He might start to speak, and ask something of me.

When we get alone with the Almighty, we can’t hide behind ANYTHING. God doesn’t look at the outward appearance; He looks at the heart. And He sees the deepest places, the ones we try to pretend aren’t there. When we get alone with Him, He lays every part of us bear. The sin we are so dreadfully ashamed of has to step into the light—fully exposed.

Then, there is nothing left to say but, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

There is so much FREEDOM in that, but it might very well be the scariest thing in the world.

But I have this idea, that THIS PLACE is where we find holiness. He dresses us in His righteousness, and when confronted with that kind of love and mercy, it demands from us a response. We can either take off the new garment and return to our filthy sin, abandoning God’s presence, or we can live in the light, remaining in His presence forever, covered by the blood of Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Totally free. And free to struggle to stay in the light.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jolting (Colombia Part 1)

I shared about false peaks nearly twenty times during Summer 2012. I knew that it was for me, too, on some level.

I didn’t realize just how much that message was JUST FOR ME.

Going to Cali, Colombia jolted me a little bit.

Four am prayer meetings, six hours or more in prayer, and getting up around 5 everyday will do that to you.

Worship service at 6:30 AM, and PACKED
But it was more than that. The Holy Spirit’s fire, the passion for their city, the love for God and love for prayer, it was amazing.

I went through so many thoughts and emotions, that I’m not going to be able to describe it all to you. But I’m going to try to give an overview over the course of my next few blog posts.

First, an introduction:

Cali, Colombia is a city of three million people. Yes, it was home to the infamous drug cartels. Yes, we know it for its crime, violence, and social issues, but it is also home to the largest Church of the Nazarene in the world.

Lines form as people go in and out of the six worship services on Sunday

They have six worship services on Sunday, the first of which begins at 6:30 AM. Fourteen thousand are in attendance weekly. Every Tuesday morning, a thousand people gather together at 4 o’clock in the morning with one purpose: prayer. For two hours, they walk around and pray together.

The church is open for activities every day of the week, but prayer is always the vital foundation of all they do.

But all this started with just a few people. In a tiny church. And when the pastor and his wife began the first morning prayer and fasting service, they were joined by three others. For years, they struggled to see growth.

When they wanted to build an extension on to the church, they lost many members, including the entire church board. But they didn’t give up.

They developed what we know as “The Master’s Plan,” a discipleship and leadership training method used here, as well as in many other Christian (and Nazarene) churches.
Attending an "Encounter With God"
the secret to this outstanding growth is disciples who make disciples who make disciples… Leaders who train leaders who train leaders…

And it is incredible.

And it’s the same strategy we will be using in Extreme South America to plant churches in sixteen urban cities.

And, I personally, can’t wait to see what God will do!

I know through my trip to Colombia, God revealed so much to me. He showed me that I really am not at the peak yet, and I have further to go, but He loves it when I keep seeking the peak.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Part Three: False Peaks

As I was leaving Cusco, Peru at the end of June, it was a very bittersweet moment.

I had just experienced an excellent short-term project. We did impact and outreach events to touch hundreds of lives. We dedicated two brand new churches to God. I heard the wonderful new believers of the churches I helped to start share from their hearts, “We have to fill this church.” But I had to say goodbye to these wonderful people who had become my family.

But I was so excited to be going home. Chipotle, Graeter’s, friends, and family. Come on, that’s exciting.

With all these mixed emotions, it was a tough moment.

So I was flying out of Cusco with all these feelings, looking down on the mountains that I had seen a thousand times.

Now the city of Cusco is set in a valley; the valley itself is at 11,000 feet above sea level. That is really high. You get to Cusco, and you have trouble breathing and headaches because of the altitude. And on either side of the city are just these amazing mountains.

Flying over them, I got to see the view from above. I started thinking about the times I have hiked them, and other people I have heard talk about climbing the mountains. I am not a very good hiker. I mean, one time when I climbed a mountain, I ended up falling down it. And I have come to the conclusion that no one actually LIKES hiking. Why would you? Your lungs burn and you can’t breathe. Your legs hurt and burn and you think one more step might kill you! There is NO WAY anyone actually enjoys that! The ONLY reason someone goes hiking is to reach the top, because when you get to the top, the view is incredible.

I remembered some of the stories I’ve heard about hiking though. Guys started climbing, and they went off the path, and they thought they got to the top, with the rush of excitement that comes with it…just to look over and see that the actual peak of the mountain was next to them, further up. They had only made it to the false peak.

I saw the paths leading up to the top of the mountain from above as I flew out of Cusco that day. I looked down, and saw the peaks, but I also saw the false peaks. It would be easy to be climbing, and think you got to the top, just to discover you only made it to a false peak…

And I started to wonder, what if our spiritual lives are EXACTLY like that?

What if we haven’t yet reached the HEIGHT of what it means to know God? Really know who He is, and know his Word. Even if we have been Christians for decades, what if there is higher to go?

What if we are not yet at the peak of what it means to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths? What if there’s farther to go?

What if we can still go higher in what it means to serve God, and live by faith, and love our neighbors?

What if we are just at a false peak?

What if there is higher to go in being filled completely with the Holy Spirit? I love what Francis Chan says in his book Forgotten God: “I want to depend so completely on the Holy Spirit, that if He doesn’t come through, I won’t make it.What if we can step out even more in faith, in giving, and in loving?

Because if there is one thing I know about hiking, it’s that the view is SO MUCH BETTER from the top.

**I want to pray for you, whoever is reading this blog right now:
Lord, thank you for who you are, and the way you transform lives. We have to just stand in awe of you, because you are the Cosmic God of the Universe, the Creator of more than 350 billion galaxies. And yet you know each one of us, even down to how many hairs we have on our heads. You are amazing God. And right now, I pray for the one reading this, that he or she would keep seeking that peak of what it means to know you, love you and serve you. We know we are not there yet, but we want to keep going higher with you. Because we really want to see that view you have for us when we reach the top. Amen.**

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Part Two: Mobilizing South America

I want to share about the next phase for us in Extreme Nazarene Ministries, and my new job, beginning this September, as Mobilization Manager for the South America Region.

We want to see the church planting movement expand to all of South America.

Our vision is Acts 1:8: “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

In Peru, we mainly worked in rural areas where there were no churches, using the 40/40 method. You are hopefully a little familiar with the 40/40 method, because I was a 40/40. The term 40/40 comes from Extreme Peru, where we sent out 40 North American, young, single missionaries with 40 Peruvian young, single missionaries. We go out two by two, just the way Jesus sent out the seventy-two in Luke 10. These missionary pairs live together, minister together, and bring differing cultural and social perspectives to the table.

Through Extreme South America (XSA) we will continue to use the 40/40 model, pairing up 80 North Americans with 80 South Americans, working together in teams to plant sixteen churches. This time around, instead of going to small towns, they are going to the large urban cities of South America—cities with a population of at least 250,000—where they will together plant a church of hundreds of people using the Master’s Plan strategy. [In the coming weeks I will be sharing more on this blog about the Master’s Plan and my experience in Cali, Colombia.]

Where do I fit in with all of this? My official job title is SAM Mobilization Manager. That sounds almost boring, but to me, it is pretty exciting.

Do you know that RIGHT NOW, there are young people in their churches all over South America who have a call to missions, and just don’t know HOW TO GO. I have already shared that I believe that God is still a God who transforms lives. Well I believe that our amazing God is still a God who CALLS people. He calls people to “go and make disciples.” That commission was given over two thousand years ago, but right now, TWO BILLION people in our world have never heard the gospel. “And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14)

For the first time in South America, a mobilization team will exist to seek out these young believers who have a call to go, and help deploy them to fulfill that call in their home country.

I am essentially a recruiter. But I have to seek these future missionaries out, help them discern their call, qualify them through an application process, work with local church leadership to interview them, help them raise support to go, teach local churches how to give to support their missionary, and send them out.

THAT is my job.

And the second phase of church planting gets me really excited. Because, these 40/40s begin in their Jerusalem. They stay in their home country, but leave their families and lives behind to go to a different city to plant the church. During the two years of church planting, they will also be studying theology and missions courses online through the South American seminary system.

After two years, they will have an opportunity to go somewhere a little further from home, i.e. Samaria, where they will plant another church in another large urban area in another country of South America. After four years of online study they will complete a Bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Studies (Missions) and have completed all requirements for ordination in the Church of the Nazarene.

We will have raised up an ARMY of North AND South American missionaries who are EDUCATED, EQUIPPED, and EXPERIENCED to send out TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

Isn’t that exciting? God is still a God who transforms lives, and He is still a God who calls people!

And we get to be a part of that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deputation Message Part One

I spent July and August home in Cincinnati, essentially, on my deputation before continuing for two more years in South America.

Now you might believe that the best part was eating lots of Chipotle and Graeter’s Ice Cream!

However, I can’t say that was my favorite part (especially after my jeans got a bit tight!). The most enjoyable and fulfilling part for me was sharing about twenty times what God has done in Peru and what He is continuing to do in South America.

Every week, people would comment on my enthusiasm. But how can I NOT be excited about what God has done?

And so, I am going to publish here on my blog the basic message, in three parts, that I gave while at home. It was never the same twice, because until now, I have never had it written down word for word. Each week, I surrendered my words to the Holy Spirit, and now I surrender my fingers as I type once again, the wonderful work God has done in Peru…

Part One: My Call to Missions and Church  Planting in Peru

About three years ago, while preparing to go to Peru to serve cross-culturally for the first time, I shared with many people my call to go, and at the root of that call was a belief in a God who still transforms lives.

I believe in a God who TRANSFORMS lives.

I grew up in Southwest Ohio, and from the time I was seven years old, I knew I wanted to be a missionary. I knew that I had a call from God; I don’t remember a booming voice from heaven or anything, I just remember…knowing, and contentment in knowing I was going to be a missionary.

So as I got older, I knew what my call was, and when I was fourteen years old, I had my first opportunity to leave the United States and experience a missions project. I went to the Dominican Republic, and felt for the first time it was like to not understand anyone speaking around me. I saw destitute poverty for the first time. I did real evangelism for the first time. And through it all, God confirmed my call to missions.

As I stepped into high school, my focus was still missions. And as I went to college at Southern Nazarene University I knew I still wanted to be a missionary.

At SNU, I heard about Extreme Nazarene Ministries for the first time, and the church planting movement beginning in Peru through 40/40 missionaries—young, single missionaries going out in pairs (one North American and one Peruvian) to plant churches.

And I heard the story of a women named Vivian.

Vivian was from the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, a mining town, where Vivian worked as…a prostitute.

And one day, a pastor and a missionary walked into a brothel. I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke! But that pastor and that missionary wanted to get to know these women so that they could minister to them and the light of Jesus Christ could shine into their lives.

And they sat down to talk to Vivian. At first Vivian was tough, ready for a fight. Every question received a response as tough as a punch. They asked, “Vivian, do you like your job?”

“You think I like this? You think I like having people come in here and telling me what to do? No, I don’t like this, but this is what I have to do.”

The conversation continued, and they asked her, “Vivian, do you believe in God?”

“Yeah, sure I believe in God. But God isn’t going to come down here and pay my debts. God isn’t going to come down here and feed my son. No, I have to take care of me and my own.”

And they kept talking to Vivian. And somewhere during the conversation, she started to change. That wall she had built up started coming down. And toward the end, Pastor Freddy asked her if she wanted to pray. And Vivian said yes. She prayed to turn her life over to Jesus Christ, for him to transform her.

Vivian left her life of prostitution and moved to another city. And that doesn’t mean that everything was perfect after this moment, but now she knew Truth, and she was walking with Him.

God transformed Vivian’s life. Because we serve a God who still transforms lives!

And I heard that story, and God began to call me to Peru, to see His transforming power continue to move. So I started to pray. And the real moment I knew I HAD to go to Peru was inside an arena, attending a Christian concert with the youth group from my church. Thousands of people gathered there, in the middle of the Bible Belt of the USA. And I KNEW that every one of them had been given ample opportunity to hear the gospel, in a town with a church on every corner, while I knew that two billion people in the world have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. The quote echoing in my mind said, “No on has the right to hear the gospel twice until everyone has heard it once.” (Oswald J. Smith)

In that moment, I knew I had to go to Peru, where a Catholicism that preaches salvation by works is polluted with ancient Incan beliefs, and so few know the truth of who Jesus Christ is and the transforming grace he offers to the lost.

In February of 2010, I arrived in Peru. Ministry in Peru looks a lot like planting seeds. We would go out and meet new people. And we would go out and knock on doors. So, any parents who told their kids not to talk to strangers, I did that everyday! It was my JOB to talk to strangers, and plant seeds. And sometimes we would plant a lot of seeds at a time, doing a big event, like a film showing in an open air plaza, and invite the whole town to come. We would share the message of the gospel with them and take down names and info for everyone, to be able to follow up with them. When we met new people, we would start Bible studies in their homes, and invite them to church.

And all of this really looked just like the Parable of the Sower Jesus tells in Matthew 13. Some of the seeds we planted fell on the path, and the enemy snatches it away before they have a chance to understand. Some of it falls on rocky places, where it can’t take root. Persecution comes at them in these small towns, and the fall away. Some of it falls among the thorns, and “the worries of this life, and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it out.” They start getting preoccupied with work, and hurrying around, and forget about Jesus, and don’t make time for his Word. But the REALLY GOOD NEWS is that some of the seed falls on good soil, where it produces a crop one hundred times what was sown.

There was good soil in Cusco, where God transformed lives.

Like Lucila and Roberto, in Oropesa, a town famous for their bread. This town just SMELLS good when you walk through it. And Lucila and Roberto are pretty well off for this town. Roberto is a driver and isn’t home much. And Lucila and Roberto were struggling in their marriage, and Roberto wasn’t around enough to be a good leader for their three sons.

And one day, the missionaries knocked on their door. They let them in and sat down to talk. And then they wanted to learn more about the Bible. As they did, their lives began to change. Their family was restored. They began attending the church, and quickly became leaders in the church.

And Lucila and Roberto had this piece of land. Land is pretty pricey in Cusco; because of tourism, land value is high. They wanted to sell it for $40,000, and probably could have gotten it. But they started talking to the missionaries about how much they want a Church of the Nazarene in Oropesa. And so they donated this land so that we could build a church in Oropesa.

In June, we built two churches out of Styrofoam blocks in Oropesa and Huaro with a group of short term volunteers from the US. And during the inauguration services for both those churches, the people were so excited. EVERY ONE of them said, “We have this new church! It is so wonderful, and so big, and we are so thankful! But now, WE HAVE TO FILL IT. The missionaries have done their work, and now we have to continue it. And in a year, we are going to need an even bigger church, one twice this size!”

God has transformed lives in these new, baby churches, and now they want to see it continue to happen in their families and communities.