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.

 

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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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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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!

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

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

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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. 

 

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!

 

 

Disciple-Making

November has been another busy month of traveling, but an encouraging one! At our fifth and final missions conference in Huntsville, Alabama, we heard Pastor Tim Potter speak on becoming a disciple-making church. The two sessions that we heard him were so encouraging that we made plans to attend a full two-day ARCH Ministries conference on the subject. The Lord provided the time and finances for both of us to go, and it was a tremendous blessing. The emphasis on all the members of the church taking ownership of their biblical responsibility to make disciples is precisely the next step of the church planting process in Pilar. Praise the Lord for this biblical wisdom at just the perfect time! Pray for us as we begin to teach this and implement some changes in Pilar in 2017.

Our hearts are overflowing with joy at all the good reports from the folks back in Pilar! Men’s and ladies’ discipleship continues to go strong, five men just went on a construction missions trip to another province, the missionary intern is teach several music classes and there seems to be a good spirit among the people. To God be the glory!

Update from Lauren

“I had an amazing experience in the jungles of Peru, where I learned so much about clinical terms and procedures, medical missions, the power of prayer and, most importantly, about God and His redeeming love and power! On this trip I was given opportunities to work alongside different doctors and nurses who were so patient to teach me. This experience certainly confirmed my call to medical missions and has lit a fire in me to achieve that goal, in God’s strength. In May of next year I am praying to be able to return to Peru, this time to the Cuzco area, with Operation Renewed Hope and participate in another medical missions trip. I was definitely left with a great burden for Peru! I am now more excited than ever about going to Maranatha Baptist University in 2018 to begin my training in the field of nursing so that I may be fully equipped to reach people physically, in order to be able to then reach their more important spiritual need. Please pray that I would stay moldable to His perfect will.” — Lauren Greenwood

Breaking down and building up

A time to break down, and a time to build up

Sixteen teens and six sponsors from Faith Baptist (Taylors, SC) left a remarkable and lasting impression during their ten days in Buenos Aires. They stayed busy tirelessly helping with our teen leadership retreat, passing out over 7,000 tracts and VBS flyers, working our winter VBS and demolishing most of what was left of the old building. While they did some tearing down, they also built up our community, church body and us personally. We thank the Lord for their very encouraging visit. Please come back anytime!

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Winter VBS

Despite the rain and cold at the beginning of the week, the Lord brought more and more kids each day of VBS. One of our ladies brought up to 30 kids all by herself on the city bus! (Praise the Lord, the bus driver only charged her for two fares each time!) Six children made professions of faith during the week. The ladies also had a craft table to encourage the mothers to stay. One of those ladies trusted Christ on Sunday morning!

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Going out with a splash

On the last Sunday of this term, we had the incredible blessing of baptizing 11 new believers and adding 11 new members to the church body! It was a glimpse of what our heavenly reward will be like as we  heard each one’s testimony, how they were saved and discipled through the faithfulness of our church folks.

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But continue thou…

We thank the Lord for the capable leadership God has blessed us with three deacons, as well as missionary intern, Adriano dos Santos Silva, to preach and serve in our absence. Please pray for the spiritual protection of the leadership team and the flock in their charge during our time away.

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What time is it?

“It’s Bible Time!” shouted all the kids in response to the Neighborhood Bible Time evangelist’s question.

For five days, between 33 and 46 children, along with many of their parents, heard a clear presentation of the Gospel at our Bible Time rallies. Seven of those children responded by making a salvation decision. While in the evening, between 15 and 25 teens heard solid preaching, and four of them trusted Christ as Savior.

Since the church is under construction, we held the rallies at an events center in a shopping complex nearby and saw many visitors.   Please pray as we follow-up with these new contacts.

Future Church Plant

For several months now, James has been holding home Bible studies in Duggan (a rural town about an hour north of Pilar) on a weekday afternoon. Some have trusted Christ through these meetings, while others are still attending and listening. We sense God’s leading to move these meetings to every other Sunday evening, one step closer to a church plant. areco study copy There are several men from the church in Pilar who will be going out and helping with the Sunday meetings. So, actually, the reason for the move to Sundays is two-fold: hold the meeting at a time more conducive for people’s work schedules and give our men opportunities to minister.  Please pray the Lord would give much fruit in the town of Duggan and this would help our men to develop their preaching abilities.

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Evangelistic Outreach

Praise the Lord for 90 ladies, 31 of them visitors, at our ladies’ tea! These visitors, many of whom we have prayed for their salvation for years, heard the Gospel three different times during the tea. Please pray for God to work in their hearts and that they would put their trust in Christ.

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Growing Together

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Opportunities to learn and grow abound! Thursday night Bible Institute classes are going strong, with 10 students in the Bible Doctrines class.  After a Sunday service, a young man approached James, indicating he would like to learn how to witness more effectively. So, a few of the teen boys are going to start evangelism training every Thursday morning!

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One of the most exciting times of the week is early Sunday morning discipleship classes. James is taking the men through a discipleship workbook, and Amy is teaching the ladies an inductive Bible study on the book of Philippians.

Our goal is not only to equip the believers for their own spiritual growth, but also for them “to teach others also.”  As we ultimately “work our way out of a job” at this church plant, we want to see the church continue to thrive by reproducing themselves.

 

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What a joy to see folks saved and follow the Lord in steps of obedience! Victor and Rosa each trusted the Lord and then shortly later were convicted about their need to get married. They wanted to marry in the church so that all their friends and family would come and hear the Gospel, which they did! A few weeks later, three of those wedding guests each trusted Christ!

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Yet another challenge (No ice buckets required!)

ice-bucket-challengeNo doubt you are aware of the Ice Bucket Challenge videos spreading through the internet like wildfire. The purpose of these videos is to raise awareness and funds for a disease called ALS.  Before this social media phenomenon began, many of the participants and viewers of the videos probably never even knew what this cruel disease is all about. I did, because my own sister passed away four years ago from ALS. That’s why I am glad my husband and children responded to their challenges, though they realize the momentary discomfort of being deluged with ice water is nothing compared to suffering from the disease.

As Christians, however, we need to raise awareness for another disease that is even worse than ALS. It’s an infirmity that attacks your heart, then your mind, and finally your body. It causes you to do things that hurt yourself and others. Lastly, it causes an awful, drawn-out death where you feel like you are burning with a fever you’ve never felt before. This horrific disease is called sin.  Sadly, I must tell you that I have this disease. Thankfully, when I was a teenager someone told me about the cure found in Jesus Christ and I no longer have to fear dying from this malady!  My husband and I are so grateful for what Jesus did to save us from this eternal death, that we can’t help but share His cure with others.  That is precisely why we are in Argentina.

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Those who support us on the mission field don’t need to make a video of themselves throwing ice water on their head, nor do they need to be publicly challenged on social media. They respond to the Lord’s leading in their life, praying for us and quietly write out their check and place it in the offering plate or the mail box. For you, we are grateful.

Faith Promise (1)

There may be others out there who do not give to missions and do not share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. I challenge you, Christian, to start doing both!

go ye

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

I could tell you that you have 24 hours to complete this challenge, but instead I will say that this ought to be a part of your 24/7 daily life.  Every day, ask God for a divine appointment [God bringing someone into your life who needs to hear this news] to share His cure for this disease called sin. As you begin to share Christ either through giving out a tract, sharing your personal testimony or giving the Gospel with those who are dying and going to Hell, you will begin to have a burden to do more.  You will want to give to missions and even go on mission trips because you love your Savior, Jesus Christ.

make-disciples

By His grace alone,

~Amy 

Future Ministries

areco study

2014-07-17 Silva 029In July, we had the privilege of hosting Adriano y Josi Silva, future missionaries to Argentina from Brazil. They accompanied James to the home Bible study in San Antonio de Areco (above), where there were several unsaved who heard the Gospel. When James went back the next week, two ladies trusted Christ as Savior! The Bible study hosts and church members, Raul and Lydia, are beginning new believer’s discipleship with them.

champlin

We are very excited that another missionary couple, Seth and Lauren Champlin (with Baptist World Mission and based out of South Carolina), has begun deputation and is planning to work with us their first term.  Their goal is to finish deputation and go to language school in two years. We are praying to that end as well!

June update

unity_hands“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

After a tumultuous year of ministry, it certainly was pleasant to have an important business meeting last week with all the members in one accord! God is good!

One of the major issues discussed was how to proceed with the purchase of the property. After weighing the pros and cons of all our options, we unanimously agreed it would be wise to wait until we have all the money in hand. We only need $50,000 more in order to make the purchase! Thank you to all the churches and individuals who have already given to this need.

James finished up his Hermeneutics class at our Bible institute with three men, and has now begun Bible Doctrines.

2013-05-11 036

Our church co-sponsored a youth rally (a mini version of Farm Fest) for eight other Baptist churches in Buenos Aires. We were thrilled with the eagerness of the adult volunteers who worked all the games. Even better, our teens placed second in Bible quizzing!

We continue our monthly evangelistic outreach of taking religious surveys in the city center. This exercise is not just to plant the seeds of the Gospel, but also to help us all to be bold witnesses to the unsaved contacts in our personal lives. The Lord has blessed with fruit for our labor, and we pray He will continue to do so.

Just yesterday, two members have made great sacrifice to witness to contacts in need. One couple went to visit a former co-worker who had been in an accident and led him to Christ!  Another church member learned of a friend in Paraguay who had a medical emergency and might not make it. He immediately got on a long distance bus so he can go visit the man and tell him about Christ.  God is working!

As we have the opportunity, we also organize other outreaches. Last month, we had a baby shower for a church member. It was held in her home, so she could invite her unsaved family and neighbors. Amy gave a devotional with a gospel message and later had a good conversation with a Jewish lady about her need for a Savior.

By His Grace alone,

James & Amy

A Biblical Philosophy of Church Planting

Every subject has a philosophy. It may not be spelled out, but it is there just the same — whether good or bad, right or wrong. Church planting has its own philosophy — godly or worldly. Of course, the true philosophy of church planting is to be Biblical. But what is the Biblical philosophy of church planting? (O. Holmes)

Dr. Otis Holmes wrote an article in May/June 2000 edition of Frontline Magazine, which recently appeared in the online version, http://www.ProclaimandDefend.org. You can find the full article here.

Before we began our first church, we wrote out our own philosophy of church planting, along with a timeline and methods tailored to the culture of Argentina.  We have had to go back and make adjustments regarding the specifics, but the Biblical part does not change!

Dr. Holmes’ article was an encouragement and affirmation for us to keep doing right, following the clearly established pattern in God’s Word. As we read his summary, we sort-of gave ourselves a check-up on how we’re doing in the various areas mentioned:

  • The Great Commission  
  • Holy Spirit Control
  • United Leadership
  • Teaching and Preaching
  • Independence
  • Fundamentalism
  • Discipline

Of course, there is always room for improvement!  However, by God’s grace, we will continue to evangelize the lost, disciple the saved, walk in the Spirit, follow Christ’s leading, teach and preach the whole counsel of God, allow the church body to make its own decisions, contend for the faith, and confront sin.  

We thank God for our spiritual heritage through a solid Bible education, an excellent sending agency (mission board), and a strong, missions-minded home/sending church.  Each of these institutions has played a vital part in who and where we are today.  Above all else, anything good we do, say, or think is a blessing from our Heavenly Father!  (The rest is all our fault!)  Thank you for your continued prayers.

Serving the King of Kings,
James & Amy

 

 

 

Happy 2nd Anniversary IBIP!

Happy 2nd anniversary to Iglesia Bautista Independiente del Pilar!

Our hearts are overwhelmed as we reflect on God’s goodness in the life of this church body.  Every face you see here represents a life that has been changed in some way by God’s amazing grace.  Watch a video summary here.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/39603017]

The Lord blessed our special anniversary services with about 25 visitors among the three days.  Our people invited friends, family, and co-workers.  They made phone calls, passed out invitations to strangers, and certainly did their part.  Though we saw no immediate fruit in the way of salvation decisions, we did see God work through the preaching of His Word.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the two new believers James baptized.  Delia was saved in our church just over a year ago, while Jaime was saved a few years ago while still living in Peru. They were both discipled and then married in our church as well.  They finished the new members’ class last week and then followed the Lord in believer’s baptism.

Three things to take with you soul winning

Every soul winner’s “survival kit” should contain three essential items:

1. Prayer

2. God’s Word

3. Passion for souls

Saturday afternoon was our first official church-wide soul winning effort for 2012. We are excited to report that 32 folks enthusiastically showed up, ready to sow the seeds of God’s Word in the hearts of the lost souls in Pilar.

First and foremost, we prayed together for those with whom we would come in contact.

Secondly, we armed ourselves with our Swords, God’s Word. Each group actually took a religious survey to help initiate a conversation that would lead into sharing the Gospel. Each person who participated in the survey received a John/Romans as well as other church literature. Everyone has gone through an intensive soul winner’s course called Netcasters, where we memorized key verses to share in witnessing.

That leads to the third crucial ingredient: passion for souls. As you are reading this on your computer screen, I wish there was a way for you to feel the energy and enthusiasm of every believer who came back from soul winning, sharing the contacts they made and even the folks they led to Christ on the street! As the people answered the questions on the religious survey, we realized that every individual has a story and each one is important to our Heavenly Father.

As we regroup after the summer and begin the 2012 cycle of the school year (March – December) with all the church events that includes, we are praying that this Saturday afternoon would be an indicator of what’s to come the rest of the year. Please pray for God to bring forth the increase as we continue to sow the seeds of the Gospel.

To our supporters, we want to say “thank you” for supporting us with your prayers and finances that allow us to be a part of the great work God is doing here in Pilar. Please don’t stop praying!!

By His grace alone,

James & Amy Greenwood

2011 Ministry Summary

Summary of 2011

Stateside: We wrapped up a short furlough in February with basically a zero net support gain, maintaining approximately a 91% support average. We held 23 meetings in those 20 weeks, 4 of which were for new support.

Evangelism: We held special evangelistic meetings throughout the year for the church’s one year anniversary, a sacred music concert, monthly ladies’ meetings, monthly youth meetings, and our first missions conference. For evangelism training, we taught the Netcasters course on Wednesday nights. Several folks have made salvation decisions in these meetings and on visitation. Everyone who shows interest receives follow-up by either the pastor or a church member, but only a handful have shown lasting fruit so far.

Discipleship: Our discipleship program continues to be the church’s primary strength. We held two semesters of Sunday discipleship and Saturday youth discipleship as well as 10 weeks of one-on-one with various new believers. The church body has faced several difficulties from within and without. Praise God for wisdom and patience in dealing with these situations.

Training Nationals: There are three men in James’ Thursday night deacons’ training. They have studied three leadership books and have been involved in visitation and new believers’ discipleship. The church will vote on the deacon candidates in January. We are still praying for a pastoral candidate.

Church Building: In September we began a second service to accommodate for growth. Between the two services, the church is averaging 85 in attendance. The Argentines have given almost 50% of the total $20,000 raised for the purchase of property. We continue to search for land in the city center and are also talking with the owners of our current location about the possibility of buying.

Goals for 2012

Following God’s leading, our goals for 2012 are:

· Begin Saturday morning evangelism door-to-door within a 3 mile radius of the church

· Continue small group and one-on-one discipleship

· After the deacons are voted in, continue leadership training as well as visitation times

· Continue to raise funds for the purchase of church property.

Prayer Requests

· A national pastor to take over this church plant

· Wisdom and funds to purchase church property – our rental contract expires in June!

· Spiritual growth and unity within the church body

· Spiritual and physical protection of and provision for our family

Another FIRST…

It seems we’ve been passing so many milestones of “firsts” lately – first anniversary, first deacons in training, and first church wedding, just to name a few. We celebrated another first this weekend – the first quinceñera in our church. In case you are wondering, a quinceñera is a type of “coming out” party for 15 year-old girls in the Latin culture. Traditionally, the party involves much dancing, alcohol, and the father spending way more money than he can afford for the sake of impressing his friends.

This was the first Christian quinceñera for most of our church people to attend and certainly the first to plan for the family of the birthday girl. So, we talked through each aspect of the event to evaluate how it can glorify God in every way. We are thrilled to say that the music, program, dress, and general atmosphere did honor the Lord and glorify His name. Instead of the birthday girl being focused on herself and her wishes, she was more concerned that her unsaved guests hear the Gospel and accept Him as Savior! That is God’s working in her life and the godly influence of her parents! We were also glad to see so many church folks pitch in to help out the family with the preparations and clean-up so the parents could actually enjoy the party too!

James giving a challenge to the birthday girl and the Gospel to the unsaved

Church update:

· Praise the Lord for continued growth. We’ve maintained an average of 85 since November. Anyone who’s had to go to two services to accommodate growth knows it’s not any fun, but certainly worth it! There is no way 85 could fit comfortably in our building.

· Yesterday there were 30 children in children’s church. No, we don’t have a bus ministry and there aren’t even kids who live nearby since we’re in a commercial district. There are just a lot of families bringing their kids, nephews, and nieces. Lauren brought her neighbor friend too. Later, the mom told Lauren that the girl really enjoyed church and that “Lauren’s daddy is a really good singer!”