The groundhog might have declared six more weeks of winter, but our spring newsletter is here early! Take a look at some of what’s been going on in this last ministry quarter.

Click on the image, or hit the link and you’ll get in on all of the action with:

  • A report from our most recent XA team visit.
  • Updates on the status of church planting in the Yucatán,
  • And a bit about what’s going on with our family.

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

http://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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TWMS4

What could be better than kicking off the New Year, spending 3 days discovering how you can fit into God’s plan to save the world? “Nothing,” answered the 6,153 college students that attended the 4th World Missions Summit (TWMS4) from January 4-6 in Houston, Texas’ George R. Brown Arena.

TWMS4 is a joint venture between the Assemblies of God college ministry, Chi Alpha, and Assemblies of God World Missions to engage the next generation in global service. During the event, the attendees are challenged to “give a year and pray about a lifetime.” When the event ended, over 1,800 students had responded affirmatively to that challenge.

As a family, we were invited to participate in the conference where we had the opportunity to connect with these students during four “Meals with a Missionary” and in the Latin America Caribbean exhibit and experience areas, sharing our calling and ministry and helping them to determine their next step in responding to God’s heart for the nations.

While the overall response was amazing, the highlight for us was the interactions that we had with the students on a one-on-one basis. Whether it was helping Liam* connect the dots from his past life of dealing drugs in the rural Midwest to serving God on a foreign field or praying for Hunter to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with each conversation we were encouraged by this generation’s passion to be a part of something bigger than themselves and humbled by the opportunity to direct them in living out that passion. Of course, confusing old and new friends alike by having my twin brother Mike at the event was pretty fun too! All in all, we return to Mexico blessed and revitalized for having been a part of TWMS4.

How is God leading you in the New Year? How do you see yourself engaging in missions in 2017?

Photo Captions:
Over 1800 students respond to the call to give a year (large).
Dave: making coffee and missions connections (top).
Kelly: stopping to visit with Lanley from Cape Girardeau (middle).
Rebekah: braiding hair in the LAC exhibit (bottom).
The whole Godzwa Summit crew (bottom middle).

*Names have been changed.

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Although the temperatures don’t seem to recognize it, as we turn to the last page on the calendar, we welcome the winter months here in the Yucatán! With the change in season comes the opportunity to inform you on all that’s been going on in this last ministry quarter.

Click on the image, or hit the link and you’ll get in on all of the action with:

  • A reflection on our last decade of Christmases.
  • A report of the fruit of our church planting program,
  • And updates from our family as we move into the new season.

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

http://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years since we spent our first ‘winter’ in Mérida. Although we headed into the Christmas season without the typical blustery winds or early snows of home, we could still hear the carols and melodies both in the stores and on the streets as choruses would sing the message of Christ’s birth for all to hear. There was also the smell of pine, as families purchased live trees to decorate to transform their homes for family gatherings and Christmas celebrations.(Here’s a video clip from our own Christmas tree adventure!) We learned that piñatas were popular with both kids and adults alike during this season, not just for birthdays. Reenacting the Christmas story was also a tradition. One year, our daughter even got to perform as Mary (see picture above).
 
Our first Christmas here, we were invited to share in the festivities of our pastor’s family. There, we discovered that gift giving happens at midnight after the Christmas Eve service and a late family meal. Christmas Day, then, becomes a continuation of family time and eating those all important dinner leftovers.
 
Throughout the past 10 years, we’ve seen that, although the expression may be different, the hope and expectation of the Savior is what unites us regardless of our differences. Thank you for joining with us that we may continue to proclaim this message so that this universal Body of Christ might continue to expand. 

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This month I’m reporting on site at the General Council of the Assemblies of God of Mexico, but instead of writing about it, I’ve recorded a short video fill you in on all that’s going on. Click the play button above to take a look.

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When we think of teams, our mind naturally turns to the world of sports and those teams that dominate the game that they play. Being a baseball fan, my mind naturally goes back to the Yankees of 96-2001. Their string of four World Series wins in five years made it look easy, but the remarkable character of that team was the lack of superstars at any position. Still, what they lacked in individual statistics, they made up for in cohesion. They found ways to win.

As we look forward to a Yucatan peninsula full of churches, we understand that we cannot fall into the trap of searching for superstars. As the great teams have proved, talent alone doesn’t win championships, it takes teamwork. That is why we’re working to create just the sort of team that will enable us to advance to our goal. We’re pleased, then, to report that what began as an ad hoc committee of three in late April to introduce church planting concepts has now blossomed into a network of ministry partners in strategic positions to promote and administrate what we believe will become a church planting movement.

Our first strategic partnership was forged with the evangelism department in the district of Yucatan. The president of the department, Ricardo Rodriguez, has not only opened up his pre-approved dates to hold our events, but he also brings a passion for souls and a commitment to prayer to our church planting team.

Another key player has been found in our long-time friend, and now director of the district missions department, Silverio Blanco. He has lent his vast knowledge of the district and his more that 40 years of ministerial experience to the work. These men join Felipe Sabido, Alfonso Vera, Abel Can and a group of five regional coordinators as together we work to steer this church planting vision through its various stages from inspiration to implementation.

Of course, what characterizes any champion is one thing: production. For us, production means new churches planted. That, in the end, will determine if these key elements have combined to form a truly great team.

Will you pray with us that we might see this production? A major milestone comes October 20-22 as we invite potential workers to take part in our first church planters’ retreat of the program.

Please pray:

  • For an anointing on the location and the program.
  • For the clear and powerful presentation of the concepts.
  • For the right people in attendance.

Summer is fading into memory: lazy summer mornings are being exchanged for the rush of getting the kids off to school, trips to the pool are being traded for commutes to extracurricular activities, and the sweltering heat is being replaced by more moderate temperatures.

It’s the time to anticipate the changes of the season: crisp fall mornings and changing colors of the trees. It’s the time to root for your favorites as the baseball postseason begins to take shape and football occupies our Sunday afternoons. It’s also the time to look forward to our latest newsletter!

Click on the image, or hit the link and you’ll get in on all of the action with:

  • An encouraging update on the our building project at Instituto Bíblico Bethel.
  • Plans for the extension of our church planting initiatives,
  • And updates from our family as we move into the new season.

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

http://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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Equipping the 90%

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When you think of a church planter, what comes to mind? A Bible School graduate? An associate pastor? A missionary? In May, I found out that, at least in Latin America, the church planter is probably none of these.

Attending the Assemblies of God Church Planting Roundtable in Quito, Ecuador, I was confronted with the staggering statistic that up to 90% of church planters are laity. That’s right. They don’t have advanced theological degrees or ministerial credentials. But they do have a call.

This past week, I met one of those church planters. His name is Miguel Avilés. Prior to his involvement in the ministry he worked as a police officer. Still, at the age of 58, when many are thinking of retirement, God was moving on his heart, and even though he was so nervous he couldn’t finish his first sermon, he remained faithful to the call he had received to preach.

That was 16 years ago. Since that time, he’s seen God direct him from church member to itinerant preacher to, four years later, pastor of Tierra Santa, a church that he began together with his wife, Alicia.

Ministering with them on Sunday, I got a chance to hear the church’s twelve year history—one of faith, perseverance, and a bit of trial and error. As church planters, they’d succeeded, but it’s easy to see how many like them fail—because of isolation. Although spiritually prepared for the battle, Miguel and Alicia have faced struggles that they hadn’t anticipated. They admitted that they didn’t have the toolset to face many of those challenges as they did, alone.

But what if they didn’t have to go alone? What if they had the support of a modular system of training readily applicable to the stage of their plant? What if they were grouped together in a cohort of church planters, each one pulling for and praying for the other? What if they were paired with someone who could assess their progress, make suggestions, and help them deal with the myriad of problems along the way? What could that mean for church planters like Miguel and Alicia? What could that mean for the Yucatán?

That is what we are asking ourselves as we move forward from our June workshop “Sembremos Iglesias Saludables“. A pilot project for church planters starts September 17, which is part of a permanent church planting program. It’s goal: to keep people like Miguel and Alicia from having to go it alone. Be in prayer with us as together we take this step of faith to equip the 90%!

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Isn’t it amazing how a deadline can motivate you to reach your goals? Since 2010, we’ve been working to provide Instituto Bíblico Bethel with modern, adequate facilities to help stimulate its mission of training ministers to reach the lost here in the Yucatan and beyond. While the first floor of our new multipurpose building is now complete and functioning, featuring a kitchen, open cafeteria, and administrative offices, progress on the second floor had been steady but slow. However, a special donation of books from Latin America/Caribbean Library Services set to arrive in October has accelerated the pace toward the completion of the work.

Things began with a special gift from Licking Assembly of God, which enabled us to purchase the materials and contract the labor to finish the interior walls of the second floor. Encouraged by this contribution, the administration sent out students in the month of May to preach in area churches and collect an offering to continue the work. In that week, they were able to collect almost $2,000 to put towards the construction. With those funds in hand, steps were taken to secure the second floor, installing handrails and walls in areas previously open to some pretty dangerous drops.

In the month of June, we were blessed to receive the assistance of a team from LifeStream Church in Washington, MO. Their team of six worked together with Bible school students and local construction workers to pour and level the entire subfloor of the second level of the building, preparing our library, classroom space, and dormitory for the final step of laying the tile floors.

As we enter the month of July, we look forward to partnering with First Assembly in Eldon, MO, as they send 11 members from their Pulse Youth Ministries to help install the electrical service to the second level as well as work in various projects around the Bible school complex.

As you can see from the photos above, the visual difference is marked. What you can’t see, though, is the change in attitude toward the project. Previously a missions project fueled primarily by outside funds and labor, now students, faculty, and administration are now joining together with our short term teams to ensure that the deadline is met and these facilities can finally be utilized.

Thank you for your contribution towards moving this project towards completion. Your prayers, donations, and your labor has done much to bring us to this stage, and we are confident that it will see us through to its completion.

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School is out for many in the US. The barbecues have been cleaned off and fired up since Memorial Day. These are the signs that summer is just a few short days away! If you’re tired of waiting, though, the summer edition of our quarterly newsletter is available now!

Click on the image, or hit the link and you’ll get in on all of the action with:

  • The report from our first Red de Multiplicación Church Planting Seminar.
  • A roundup of some of the ways that God has been stretching our limits,
  • And updates from our family as we move into the new season.

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

http://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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