Teaching leaders to teach

During the months prior to leaving Argentina for furlough, we trained several men and women to lead our Sunday morning Bible study hour. There are five men and six women leading a total of 70 adults in small groups. Praise the Lord for the willingness of these leaders to teach others.

God is really blessing the ministry of the Sechrests in Pilar! Our church people are responding well to their leadership, while the church leaders continue to lead well. This is another confirmation that our church is well on its way to becoming independent.

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Investing in building relationships through basketball

What’s the good news about the Good News?

The good news about the Good News is that God continues to work through relationships to proclaim His name in all the earth.

Last November, the Hoops for Hope organization sent a team of basketball players to Pilar, Argentina to hold basketball clinics for the purpose of evangelism. Through that outreach, we made numerous contacts in the community, and some of those even led to evangelistic Bible studies.

Hoops for Hope sent a second team this week, which built on the contacts made the previous year. Those relationships are now turning into friendships!

During the clinics, the team went to three different basketball clubs, reaching at least 200 families with whom we would not otherwise have contact.

A huge answer to prayer is that our church people who participated were able to form friendships with the kids and their parents. Many exchanged phone numbers, with the goal of inviting them to study the Bible together.  Please pray for the follow-up with each one!

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Perpetual goodbyes. That is one part of a description of missionary life. Yet, if you are saying goodbye, it’s because you first said, “hello”.  We are so thankful that this group of 11 Texans said “hello” one week ago!

They chose to invest in building relationships. They invested their vacation time, family time, and work time.  They invested their resources so that they could minister not just to kids on the basketball court, but to the missionaries…to us. They poured into us, including our MK at home, Josiah.  They co-labored with us to help with the ministry here. They sought to serve with the skill of basketball. They respected our cultural and social norms. They were flexible with whatever circumstance was thrown their way. They were generous with their time, talents, praise, and patience.

Even though we were sad to say goodbye, it was a blessing to say hello! We are so thankful for their investment in building relationships in Pilar.

 

2019 Disciple-Makers Conference

THANK YOU so much for praying for and giving to the 2019 South American Disciple-Makers Conference! Approximately 27 pastors and 70 lay people received biblical instruction on God-centered relational evangelism using the Exchange materials. We thank the Lord for these tools to help us all fulfill the Great Commission and pray that God will give much fruit as a result of this conference.

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Plans are already being made for next year’s Disciple-Makers Conference! Together with Arch Ministries, our goal is to see pastors from each of the 12 South American countries represented. If you know of a national pastor or missionary in one of these countries who would want to be a part of an interdependent network of like-minded churches, please send us their e-mail address so we can contact them.

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Counting the Wins in Baby Steps

As a preacher of the Gospel, how do I measure “success”? How do I know if I am actually fulfilling my calling?

I have heard some say that you should not talk about numbers because God just wants us to be faithful. Yes, that is true to a degree. Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). If we are faithful to abide in Christ, He will give fruit in due season. At some point, there will be some fruit (which cannot always be counted in numbers) if we are being faithful to do God’s work, God’s way.

I used to think that a salvation “decision” was a way to measure success. And then, I witnessed so many walk away after they prayed a prayer. Then, I decided that someone making a public commitment of baptism was a win. Yes, it is a tremendous step of obedience, but it is not the end of the journey; it’s only the beginning.

next stepsToday, I would say that a win is taking the next step. When someone trusts Christ as Savior, we celebrate that. When someone gets baptized, we celebrate that. When someone commits to studying the Bible with a mentor, we celebrate that. When someone decides to join the church, we celebrate that. When someone gets to the point in their spiritual growth to begin mentoring a believer younger in the faith, we celebrate that. When someone commits to greater training and leadership, we celebrate that.

During the month of April, we set aside time for a “Celebration of Service” to recognize all those who are actively serving in worship, evangelism, and discipleship. We used the opportunity to encourage everyone to take the “next step” in their own spiritual journey.

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Preaching to the masses

Many lovers of art and history around the world mourned the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral. “We lost a teacher,” is their cry. I heard someone fittingly point out that today we construct church buildings to house our teachers, but the Notre Dame was the teacher. This is true in the sense that during the Dark Ages when the Cathedral was built, the majority of the public was illiterate. People had to learn with pictures or with the spoken word. Art was often used to teach those who could not read.

Today we are dealing with a different kind of illiteracy, ignorance of Who is God. Yes, people do and can read books, but what are they reading the most? Their social media.

So, how do we reach them? Do we continue the same methods we have used for the past 50 years, and then scratch our heads and wonder why it’s not as effective as it used to be?  Well, if the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, are we insane?

From Genesis to Revelation we observe that God is always coming down from Heaven to the people. From coming down to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 2), to Jesus coming to earth to die for our sins, and even in the future when the new heaven and the new earth descend (Rev. 21). Therefore, as His instruments with the mission of making disciples, what are we to do? Do we continue to expect them to come to us looking for Jesus, inviting the unsaved to a worship service that they won’t even understand because they don’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them? Or, should we go to them?

Yes, first and foremost, we go to the unsaved by building one-on-one redemptive relationships with our unsaved neighbors, coworkers, and classmates.

When Jesus came to earth He was able to personally interact with some. We thank the Lord for the friendships we have formed with our neighbors and others in the community. A few even agreed to study the Bible together with us!

However, Jesus also preached to the masses. How can we preach to the masses in today’s context? Maybe inviting people to church or special meetings worked in the past, but is that the most effective method today?

At our church, we do continue to canvas once a month with the goal of reaching every house in our municipality of Pilar with an invitation flyer once every five years. We still hand out tracts, but it has its limits.

One method to reach beyond our personal circles of influence that is actually working is social media. We know social media can reach the masses, and so we are using it to preach to the masses. Taking advantage of the algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, we publish “micro” sermons throughout the week. Our goal is to point people’s thoughts to God through His Word, presented in a modern way. The message has not changed, but the method has.   

Social media is often the first contact someone will have with our church, whether they are searching for something or one of their contacts shared one of our posts. We present God’s Word in a variety of ways – Bible verses, quotes, clips from sermons, and links to articles. (We try to stick with the 80/20 rule – 80% teaching/encouragement and only 20% church announcements.) Through our interaction, they feel like they “know” us before they ever decide to visit our church. We see anywhere from one to five visitors each service because they follow us on social media.

They walked through the front door. Now, what happens? This is the vital point that cannot be missed:

If our visitors do not experience a welcoming, friendly atmosphere of a disciple-making culture that cares about people’s souls, they will not come back.

In other words, I can sit in my office all week long and create amazing content for social media, but if we are not discipling our people during the 167 hours per week that they are outside of the worship service, they will not minister to the visitors during the one hour they show up on Sunday morning. And it must come from the church people, not just the pastor and his wife. Believe me, we know.

Following Jesus’ example, here’s how we try to invest our time in making disciples:

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2019 Disciple-Making Conference

One of our Acts 1:8 church-planting goals is to encourage and equip other missionaries and national pastors in disciple-making in South America. In June we will offer another pastors’ disciple-making seminar, with a focus on personal evangelism. Pastor Jeff Musgrave will be here to teach the Exchange Bible study and we will have times of disciple-making testimonies as well as prayer in small groups.

Praise the Lord, there are currently 73 people registered for the disciple-making conference in June! Twenty-eight are from our church and forty-five are from Buenos Aires, other provinces in Argentina, as well as Uruguay.

Our goal in the conference is two-fold: 1.) to teach a God-centered method of personal evangelism and 2.) to continue to create an interdependent network of like-minded churches in South America who agree to pray for one another, strengthen one another, and work together to plant churches for the glory of God.

This is no small task! Please pray for wisdom for us and for a teachable spirit in the mind of each one present.2019 conf ENG copy

Thank you for your support for this important step of personal growth for so many. We have surpassed our goal for funding this year’s conference and will use any additional funds for the 2020 conference when we hope to have representatives from every country in South America present!

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Winning more battles than we’re losing

One way we like to measure spiritual growth is to ask the question,

“Are you winning more battles than you were losing at this time last year?”

This question helps to put the sanctification process in perspective for the leader/mentor and his disciple.

For many years we struggled with getting our church people to do more than just say “hello” to our new people. We taught and showed them over and over that they need to engage in conversation and show interest in them as people. This was a frustration for us at worship services as well as at church events.

Finally, something clicked.

During the past several months the church has seen more and more visitors who found us on the internet. Literally, every week total strangers show up at our services. Normally, they would walk in the front door, receive a customary kiss on the cheek with a “Hello, how are you?” from a handful of church folks, and then sit down. Alone.

However, that is not happening anymore! Our people are stepping out of their comfort zone to engage with visitors and new people. Ladies are going with the moms to take their children to their classes. The youth are inviting the new youth to go play ping-pong after the service. They are exchanging phone numbers and then communicating during the week.

On Friday we had our second “annual” Good Friday church picnic. (I’m not sure how many consecutive years you need to do something for it to be called an “annual” event.)

Last year, most of the church youth made an effort to reach out to the visitors… until they didn’t. Many got tired or bored of the attempt and decided to play games, to the exclusion of everyone else.

This year was a totally different story. All day long the youth included the new kids, the shy ones, the introverts, the not-so-athletic ones… The adults, as well, stepped out of their comfort zones to get to know the new people. They were ministering to others with an eternal perspective. They demonstrated that they have a better grasp of how to shepherd someone’s soul much better than they did last year.

So, is this Disciple-Making church winning more battles than they were losing at this time last year? Are they engaging with new folks better than they were at this time last year?  Are they growing to become more like Christ? From the evidence, it would be safe to say, “Yes!”

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Small Groups

Two years ago we began to implement a culture of disciple-making in our personal lives and in the church in Pilar. Since that process began, we have seen growth in the Word and growth in numbers. It’s now time for the ministry to take the next step to add another dimension to our evangelism and discipleship.

In order to reach those who are not yet in a one-on-one mentoring relationship, we are launching four new small groups. Each group has a leader who we have been training as well as an apprentice who, Lord willing, will begin and lead his own small group in 12 months. One of the groups is strategically located in the home of a faithful deacon who lives about 20 minutes away, with the hopes that a church plant would grow out of that Bible study one day. We are excited about how God will work through this next phase of ministry!

There are a myriad of definitions of small groups as well as the way they are structured and implemented in a church, but here is what we are doing in Pilar.

SMALL GROUPS copy.jpgThe purpose of small groups is to Glorify God.

The mission:

  • Evangelize unbelievers – inviting new people to the group to study the Bible
  • Disciple the saved – studying the Bible with believers, encouraging them to greater commitment to the Lord
  • Train leaders – equipping them to be leaders of their own future group

→ This is NOT a substitute for one-on-one discipleship; It is another layer in the process of discipleship.

Objectives:

  • Establish small groups that increase spiritual growth in the following activities:
    • study of the Word
    • biblical fellowship
    • prayer
  • Train believers to be leaders of their own small group while ministering to unbelievers and/or other believers.

Healthy small groups combine all the elements necessary to grow healthy and reproduce disciples. They offer food and spiritual support, development of skills for ministry, responsibility, training to reach others, long-term relationships, and worship. They develop the skills for leadership and they are the best instrument the church has to bring people together. (Bill Hull, The Complete Book of Discipleship)

Small Group Principles:

  • Be intentional in maintaining your own commitment and surrender to the sanctification process of deepening your relationship with Christ
  • Provide structure in attending, participating and being punctual
  • Promote intimacy by establishing relationships and bonds with others, showing love and support that provides the strongest form of mutual responsibility
  • Insist on growth (open groups) by having a mission outside of oneself (evangelizing)
  • Make a commitment to multiply each year (train leaders to start their own groups)

Requirements for leaders: Each leader must

  • Be an example in their character (1 Cor 11: 1, Mark 3: 13-14, Acts 6: 1-7, 1 Tim 3: 1-16, Titus 1)
  • be faithful in his service (1 Cor 4: 2; 2 Tim 2: 2)
  • be an active member of the Independent Baptist Church of Pilar
  • follow a more mature believer in the faith (each one follow one)
  • guide a newer believer in the faith (each one lead one)
  • take a Bible Institute class or inductive study per year (each one take one)
  • go through a previous training time with the Pastor to share the philosophy and purpose of the small groups and be able to continue growing during the time of their leadership
  • Be fit to lead
  • Be available to devote the necessary time to the project

If you want to be the kind of leader that others follow, you must pass the simple spiritual test of being teachable, humble and always progressing.

Materials to study: We follow the church’s established “Recommended Resources” list. Each member of the group must obtain a copy of the study book in order to read and meditate on it during the month, before arriving at the small group meeting. Not only is it more profitable for learning, but it also protects the group from the risk of shared ignorance and false teachings.

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Encouraging Like-Minded Pastors

Arch Ministries Pastors’ Fellowship

When we left the States late October, we thought we would not be back until our next furlough. However, the Lord graciously provided for us to attend the 2019 Arch Ministries Pastors’ Fellowship in Bradenton, Florida. It was an exceptional time of instruction from God’s Word, reconnecting with long-time friends, and forging new friendships. Although we were able to help out a little, it was nothing in comparison to all the blessings we received!

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Encouraging Like-Minded Pastors and Churches

Just as our minds were instructed and our hearts were encouraged at the pastors’ fellowship in Florida, we desire to continue to encourage and equip other missionaries and national pastors in disciple-making in South America. This year, we will offer another pastors’ seminar, with a focus on personal evangelism. Pastor Jeff Musgrave will be here to teach the Exchange Bible study.

In order to make this conference accessible to national pastors all over Argentina, we are offering assistance with transportation, lodging, and meals. An individual has already given half of the $5,000 we need to raise for this need. If you would like to contribute toward this project, you may do so by mail or online by simply noting “Greenwood 2019 Conference.” Any additional funds given beyond the $5,000 needed for the 2019 conference will be designated toward the 2020 Disciple-Making Conference.

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Reaching our Jerusalem through basketball

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

During 2018 and through the next four years, our church’s goal is to prioritize reaching our “Jerusalem,” the city of Pilar. In all sincerity, it is rather overwhelming to imagine reaching 300,000 souls with the Gospel in only five years. At the same time, we have the assurance that Christ has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to do what He has called us to do!

Praise the Lord for the Hoops for Hope mission team that helped us reach approximately 1,500 souls in Pilar through contact with four sports clubs and six schools. Please pray for the new contacts made. Praise the Lord that we have already been able to follow up with several!

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Stateside Ministry

10-bwmIt is often difficult to share the effectiveness of one’s ministry when your time with a supporting church or church where you are presenting for new support is very brief. We thank the Lord that our visits have been met with overwhelming encouragement and support for what the Lord is doing in and through His church in Pilar, Argentina. Many leaders and lay people alike expressed a desire that their local church would have a renewed focus on evangelism and discipleship. Our prayer is that this desire be accompanied by a work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals as they begin to look beyond themselves to the opportunity to minister to “one another” in ways that will result in reaching our generation for Christ and His glory.

We were privileged to attend Baptist World Mission’s annual meeting at our sending church this year. About every six years, we have the opportunity to catch up with missionary friends and meet with members of the mission board to report on ministry progress. The reports from the missionaries were encouraging and the opportunity to see new missionaries appointed to the board filled our hearts with joy as we see fellow laborers prepare to enter the harvest fields of the world.

Church Anniversary

Just as a mother never tires of bragging on her child or reminiscing on her child’s formative years, so we never tire of doing the same with our now eight-year-old church plant. We marvel at how God has worked in, through and all around us since even before we moved to Pilar. What began as a Bible study in 2008, developed into a church in 2010, and is now a maturing body of believers. The Lord continues to work to grow His people in His Word to transform them (us!) into disciple-making disciples of Christ.

We came to Argentina with the goal of planting independent, self-supporting, self-reproducing national Baptist churches. Praise the Lord, we are getting closer and closer to this church plant becoming the first one!

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Happy Resurrection Sunday from the Greenwood family!

You can see more pictures of our anniversary/Easter celebration here.

 

Disciple-Making Pastor’s Seminar

In March, James was privileged to travel to Monterrey, Mexico, to participate in a pastor’s seminar on disciple making. He was able to encourage other pastors in Latin America on how to implement a culture of disciple making in their churches. During the same trip, he traveled to Ohio to observe disciple making in action at a large, established church  (Grace Church of Mentor). Both of these destinations were profitable in helping us to grow as church-planting missionaries.

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2017 Ministry Report

The Need

We began 2017 in the States, at the end of our six-month furlough. As soon as we returned to the field in February, we eagerly commenced teaching, by word and example, how to implement a culture of disciple-making in our church. We saw the need to do this because there was little evangelistic vision and urgency in our life and ministry, our members were not being properly equipped as godly disciple-makers and we lacked the skill to plan and grow ministries around disciple-making.

The Plan

For the first time in our Christian walk, we began to sift every aspect of our lives and ministry through the filter of the Great Commission. Our theme for 2017 was, “Each one win one. Each one lead one. Each one follow one. Each one take one.” This simple plan reiterates our church’s purpose statement in a way that every member is challenged to accomplish his part. God’s chosen method for both conversion and growth of the saints is not just the responsibility of the pastor or missionary, but of all God’s people as they are trained and equipped to prayerfully speak God’s Word to others. This is now the central priority of our ministry.

Creating a New Culture

After teaching and preaching these concepts to our leaders and then to our people, many were excited and ready to begin a mentoring relationship with a more mature believer and/or mentor a believer newer in the faith. The shift in mindset toward each one shepherding the soul of another is phenomenal!  By God’s grace, there are currently 23 men and 39 women actively being discipled one-on-one.

After “preparing the nursery,” or equipping each willing disciple to be a disciple-maker, we began to encourage each one to intentionally evangelize at least one unsaved contact. Several folks are befriending their coworkers and neighbors for the purpose of evangelism and a few have begun reading the Bible together!

Both attendance and offerings have increased substantially this year, which is an indication of the growth of the Word taking place in each heart, mind and life.

Resounding Example

As the believers in Pilar became examples (1 Thessalonians 1:7), other pastors wanted to know how they could implement a similar disciple-making culture in their own church. The Lord enabled us to offer a Disciple-Making Conference in September, and we continue to provide ongoing support and teaching to those pastors. Other missionaries and national pastors are gradually embracing this Bible-centered, disciple-making vision, and expressing their commitment in both their personal lives and ministries. Our prayer is that we may be able to help plant new churches and to revitalize and grow existing churches through these efforts.

Vision for 2018

To God be the glory for all that He has done in 2017! Much has been accomplished, yet there is still much to be done. Although our church is bigger than most independent Baptist churches in this country, it still only represents .04% of the population of Pilar. This city needs at least five more churches planted (one church for every 50,000 inhabitants), and Argentina even more (740 churches)!

We long to continue to see the fruit of the Great Commission in our personal life, home and ministry. We desire to see our church folks intentionally and lovingly reach their neighbors and coworkers with  urgency, for the purpose of making disciples and then teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded.

This is our vision because we believe it is God’s vision.

Missions Trip

2017 Viaje Misionero - Santiago del Estero

2017 Viaje Misionero – Santiago del Estero

Reaching beyond our Jerusalem and into our Judea and Samaria, 14 men from our church, along with a significant offering, went to Santiago del Estero, a province 12 hours away, to help with the construction for two church plants. God gave them safety, the Lord was glorified in every aspect of the project and worked in and through the men.

Last May, James was at a local pastors’ fellowship and met Pastor José Luis who told the other pastors at this meeting how he is ministering in an extremely poor area of the province of Santiago del Estero, how their building has a dirt floor with only three walls and some tin held down with blocks for a roof, but how his family loves this city and her people. After a strong wind storm, they have had to go gather the tin that blew away. However, James was so impressed with this man’s servant’s heart, that he assured him that our church in Pilar would come and help in some way. Unbeknownst to us, José Luis was dubious of this promise because Santiago del Estero hardly ever gets outside help and, according to its residents, “No one ever wants to come visit here!

Shortly thereafter, the Lord gifted one of our church men with a large reticulated metal structure. A company paid him to tear down a virtually new building and they said he could do whatever he wanted with the materials! We all knew right away that the Lord wanted to give us this building so that our church could be a channel of blessing to Pastor José Luis!

The Lord provided free transportation to take the materials up to the church as well as over $5,000 for other supplies. In just four days, 15 men were able to install a new roof, backfill and pour the floor, pour a second-story floor, stucco the inside of the building, install lighting and build a second bathroom.  See more pictures here.

With some of the surplus materials from the demolished metal structure, we were able to help a second church plant (about 50 miles from the first church) get the initial structure going for their new building. An 82-year-old church member had prayed that God would allow her to live to see their church have a building on their property. Her pastor teased her that she might get to see Jesus before the end of this year!

Praise God that we were able to give back part of all that we have been given and that our people were able to get a glimpse of missions in other areas of the country.

Disciple-Making Q & A

How often do we attend a class, camp or a conference and come away blessed, but there is no lasting change? After last month’s Disciple-Making Conference, many pastors went away nourished with biblical teaching and renewed with hope for the future, and several are already beginning to implement changes in their homes and ministries.

As each ministry is unique, the manner and timing in which they will practically implement changes will vary according to each pastor and his church. For example, one church is studying the Foundations Bible study in small groups during their mid-week service, while another is doing the same study, but only with their leaders for now. Another more established ministry is teaching the concepts to the leaders and making changes slowly and methodically. All the reports from the pastors are very encouraging as they seek to obey the Great Commission in this way.

You may view the videos of the Disciple-Making Conference (in English and Spanish!) here.

Q&AOver the past several months, and especially during the Disciple-Making Conference last month, many ministry leaders have asked questions regarding creating a disciple-making culture in one’s church. Maybe some of you have similar questions lingering in your minds, so we are laying out a few of the questions and their answers here for you!

 

Q: Isn’t this just another church program?

A: Our goal is not to create another program that must be maintained or it will die. Creating a disciple-making culture means that we are equipping the believers to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12), who will in turn win others to Christ through intentional disciple-making relationships and then mentor them, hence repeating the cycle for generations.

 

Q: We already do discipleship in our church. What makes this different?

A: The idea of disciple-making encompasses obeying both aspects of the Great Commission—evangelizing the lost (“teach all nations” in Matthew 28:19) and discipling believers (“teaching them to observe all things” in Matthew 28:20).

 

Q: “Discipleship” seems to be a trendy term these days. Is this a new fad?

A: We believe that creating a culture of disciple-making may be a break away from modern church tradition, but only to go back to a first century, New Testament model.

 

Q: In the States, only those churches that compromise in their music and other standards see the type of “success” you report. Are you compromising?

A: Definitely not. By God’s grace, we have not changed our standards nor are we on the path to compromise.

 

If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask!

Disciple-Making Seminar

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The Lord blessed exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think in and through the Disciple-Making Seminar last week. All together, there were 83 pastors and their wives who attended. The purpose of the seminar was two-fold: 1.) to encourage pastors to follow a biblical model of disciple-making in their churches and 2.) to encourage like-minded pastors to work together in fulfilling the Great Commission to reach South America with the Gospel.

The pastors represented churches in the countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and the United States. 

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The last day of the conference – many of the pastors, pastors’ wives and a few from our church who served
(See more pictures here.)

Our church family generously provided all of the meals for the conference. Our daughter Lauren planned the menu and organized the purchases, volunteers, cooking, serving and cleaning. Our church people worked together as a true team, and we are so very proud of their servant’s hearts throughout the event! The pastors left feeling loved and appreciated, which was one of our goals as a church body.

View videos of the conference in English and Spanish here:

The Disciple-Making Christian

3 Types of Evangelism

My Primary Disciples: The Father and his Family

Discipleship Quiz

  A Biblical View of Discipleship

Historical Views of Discipleship

New Testament Reality of Discipleship

Historic Views of Santification

Preparing the Nursery

Missional Budget

My County for Christ

Vision 20/30

Eternal Results: Fruit that Remains

Discipleship Strategy Suggestion

Unexpected, God-intended consequences

God has done some pretty amazing things since we have begun to implement changes in order to create a disciple-making culture in our church! As believers realize the implications of being a true follower of Jesus Christ, they have begun to take their Christian walk seriously, to pray earnestly for and witness to their unsaved contacts, to practice love and good works and to mentor believers less mature in the faith. In the past seven months, 16 adults have trusted Christ as Savior and almost all of them are being discipled. Last week, L., the adult son of one of our church members, as well as R., the father of a church member, both trusted Christ!

Creation Conference

On July 19-21, our church hosted a Creation Conference with Missionary Jonathan Rehfeldt as an evangelistic outreach. This conference was originally planned to take place at a another church here in Buenos Aires, but the church had to cancel. We (James and Amy) were already scheduled to be a part of a conference in Brazil during that time, but our church leaders agreed to go ahead and host it. Just a few hours before it was to begin, there was no electricity in the church building! It’s winter here, so that meant no heat either. The business next-door had power, so they allowed us to run an extension cord so that we could at least have basic lights and run the audio and PowerPoint.

Our church people had to overcome several other major obstacles during the week, but at the end of it all, the Lord was glorified. There were about 40 visitors each of the three nights and one lady, M., got saved. Because of the event promotion, people who had been looking for a church found us and started attending.

As a side note, the power company fixed the problem ten days and four official complaints later! 

Disciple-Making Seminar

Please pray for the preparations for our first South American Disciple-Making Seminar this September 11-13 for missionaries and national pastors. Our church in Pilar is generously preparing the meals for this three-day conference. As of today, 95 missionaries, national pastors and their wives from 6 different provinces in Argentina, as well as the countries of Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico, United States and even Australia are registered to attend. Please pray for the Lord to work in the many, many details of this important event—transportation, meals, lodging, logistics, etc.

 Our prayer is that this conference will challenge each attendee to be a disciple maker and that we would be able to create a network of like-minded churches that can help one another start more churches.

Family Matters

In July, we were privileged to go to Curitiba, Brazil, for James to speak at a missionary training conference for Brazilian missionaries. It was such a blessing to observe how God is working in our neighboring Brazil and to be able to minister to fellow missionaries who are serving in the cities and jungles of Brazil, as well as Mozambique, Africa.  We also spent time learning from our hosts and veteran missionaries, Ed and Jan Alexander, about ministry in Brazil.

By His grace alone,

the Greenwoods

Disciple-Making Seminar

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We are privileged to be able to host the first South American Disciple-Making Seminar this September for national pastors and missionaries. Pastor Tim Potter, from Mentor, Ohio, will be the main speaker. In order to make this conference possible for many of the national pastors and missionaries, ARCH ministries has graciously agreed to cover the lodging, and our church in Pilar is providing the meals for this 3-day conference. We anticipate about 100 national pastors, missionaries and their wives to attend.

Our goal is to encourage these ministers to implement a culture of disciple-making in their churches through this conference and by making available to them the same resources that have been invaluable to us (i.e. discipleship materials). Here are the books we would like to provide for each pastor:

Foundations (Los Fundamentos) – We can get them printed here for $2.50 each.

The Trellis and the Vine (El Enrejado y La Vid)

 

Please pray for the Lord to continue to provide the funds and volunteer labor for this conference and for the Lord to give much fruit for these efforts. 

 

 

Gospel Growth

“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied… greatly…”

(Acts 6:7)

Thank the Lord for not only the increase in church attendance, but even more so for the increase of the Word of God in believers, drawing them into mutually edifying fellowship with one another. How does that play out? Every day, all over the city of Pilar, believers from our church are meeting to study the Bible and exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13). Men, women and teens are getting together one-on-one and in small groups—mature believers leading less mature Christians, new Christians and/or unbelievers. That’s Gospel growth!

One of the Bible study groups consists of men at all different levels of spiritual growth. They are able to share problems and receive biblical counsel as well as pray with and for one another.

#HacedDiscípulos Discipulado 2017 Los Fundamentos @IBIPilar

Gospel Growth through small group Bible studies

One of the beautiful things about creating a culture of disciple-making is that people are receiving the mentoring they need to grow spiritually, and those who are mentoring are growing through the challenge of being an example to others.

In March, Amy and Lauren began leading a Bible study in a Peruvian immigrant neighborhood, because two ladies were willing to host it but did not feel capable of leading it. Amy will tell you that she felt extremely inadequate to minister to these folks because of the cultural differences. The Lord used each of the ladies in their weakness! As a direct result of these Bible studies, Daisy and Belén have come to know Christ, and are now being mentored by mature believers (Rosa and Martha, the hosts of the Bible study)!

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Amy, Belén (on the day of her new birth!), Rosa and Martha

Gospel Growth 3

Amy, Daisy (new believer), Rosa, Martha and Lauren

 

7 years old!

2016 Inauguración #buildingtogether

What started out as a small Bible study in 2008, grew into a church in 2010, and seven years later we marvel at how God continues to work in and through this body of believers to reach Pilar for Christ. Members are growing spiritually and going out and witnessing to their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and there are unsaved visitors every week at church. In the past month, three folks have trusted Christ and are now being discipled. Sunday morning attendance has been at an all-time high. Those numbers are a mere reflection of what the LORD is doing in this church.

Our theme for this year is, “Each one Reach one. Each one Lead one. Each one Follow one. Each one Take one.” The idea is that every believer is actively involved evangelizing, mentoring, being mentored and taking at least one Bible institute class per year. The response has been amazing! Men, women and teens are doing just that! One of the beautiful things about this is how God is taking broken people and using them for His honor and glory in ways none of us ever imagined.

One way we are equipping our people to disciple others is by going through the Foundations book all together in our Sunday morning discipleship hour.  In 12 weeks, the 60 people taking this class will be familiar with the material enough to be prepared to teach it to someone else. Please pray as we “prepare the nursery,” so to speak, to receive new converts. 

 

Missionary in the Making

This trip has a high level of difficulty. The heat will be intense and bus rides on narrow mountainous roads. We will be eight to ten hours on these roads. There are very sharp curves and steep grades up and down. Many places on the road are one-lane gravel with a rock wall on one side and a 1000 foot drop off on the other. If you have any tendency for motion sickness or have trouble with heights, this trip is not for you. Two days of clinic will be conducted in each village with the possibility of large crowds. Bathrooms are primitive and there will be no hot water or air conditioning. This trip is not for the faint of heart or those who need modern comforts.

…and so reads the description of the second medical missions trip the Lord is leading our daughter, Lauren, to serve on this coming May. Below is a letter from her personally about this wonderful opportunity.

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Dear Prayer Supporters,

Please accept my deepest thanks for everything you have done for my family and me throughout the years. I especially want to thank you for your prayers and support last October as I traveled to Peru with Operation Renewed Hope to assist as a translator.  During that trip I was praying that God would confirm in my heart if medical missions is His will for my life.  He clearly answered that prayer and I am now positive that the field of medical missions is God’s calling for my life.  However, none of this would have been remotely possible without your help, financially and with your prayers.

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Before I left Peru last October, Mr. Jan Milton, the director of Operation Renewed Hope, personally invited me to return to work with them in Peru in May of this year.  Also, I received an invitation from the Whatley family in Cuzco, Peru and the Fitzgerald family in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, to return with the purpose of actually doing an internship with these two families in their respective cities.  After a few months of seeking godly counsel and the Lord’s will through prayer and Bible reading, I am confident the this is God’s will for me to do an internship with these two missionary families and also help out again with ORH. I am planning on spending one week in the “high jungle” of Pillcopata with the Whatleys, one week in that same area with ORH, one week in Cuzco with the Whatleys, and then finally two weeks with the Fitzgeralds in Puerto Maldonado.

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cusco-to-puerto

I cannot do this by myself, so now I humbly come before you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, asking if you would prayerfully consider giving toward this trip. If you can’t give financially, would you please pray?  This is going to be a trip where I hope to learn even more than before. As I begin nursing school at Maranatha Baptist University next year I hope to go in with a good viewpoint.  Knowing more about medical missions will help me gain a better perspective since I will know what differences there are between the traditional field of nursing and nursing on the mission field.

I calculate a total need of $1,200 for lodging, travel expenses, meals and airfare.  I have $300 saved toward the trip, so I will need $900. The easiest way to give is through my parents’ Paypal account. You could also send the funds through our sending church, marked “Lauren Greenwood, Peru trip.” Thank you for considering helping me with this huge opportunity.

In Christ,

Lauren Greenwood

MK in Argentina

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Home again!

Here is a breakdown of this past furlough in numbers: six months, 18 churches, 20,000 miles by car, 18,000 miles by air, 90 nights on the road and 300 Chick-fil-A nuggets (guesstimating on that one).

What we can’t put a value on, numerical or otherwise, is the much-needed spiritual and physical refreshment, precious friendships forged, significant opportunities to preach and teach and, maybe the most important, the biblical teaching we heard on disciple-making that will forever transform our ministry.

In Our Absence

We are encouraged to return to the ministry in Pilar and see the progress made in our absence—on the building and in the lives of the believers. The folks made significant progress on the downstairs bathrooms, the auditorium and the exterior parking area.

Benjamin, the deacon in charge the past six months, and Adriano, our missionary intern from Brazil, have been taking turns preaching. Also, three teens have been able to teach and preach a few times, and are chomping at the bit for more! One of our newest members, Cesar, has been helping to lead the music.  It hasn’t been perfect, but the Lord is obviously at work to get this church ready for us to transition out. Please pray for wisdom as we work toward that end over the next year.

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2016 Year in Review

Deadline

2016 began in a pressure cooker! Working long hours in the scorching South American summer heat, we were pressured to get the new church building ready in time for the April 1 deadline. God continued to provide the health, strength, labor and funds necessary to make that goal in just 13 months, with only volunteers laboring Saturdays, holidays and days off! To God be the glory! See pictures here.

Dedication

The men in our church who work in the construction trade observed that our volunteer crew would accomplish more on a given Saturday than most eight-man crews on a job site get done in a five-day work week!

Before the building could be dedicated on April 1, we saw the dedication of many Argentine church folks and Stateside supporters with the donation of their time, labor and offerings. Thank you, once again, to all those who gave toward this project.  See pictures here.

Departure

One of the men dedicated to the completion of the project also proved to be dedicated to the Lord for ministry. We were able to leave Benjamin in charge of the church plant, along with the other two deacons and a missionary intern, while we began a six-month furlough. We departed Argentina on August 4 and look forward to returning January 31 of next year. We have visited 17 churches so far, including five missions conferences. See our furlough video here.

Disciple-Making

With a renewed burden for biblical disciple making, we head back to the field eager for the next phase of ministry. During this next term, we will go through the process of handing over this church to national leadership while preparing a detailed plan for the next church plant, which should include a Christian preschool. Please pray for wisdom!