God knows how and where to stretch our faith. What was a stretch for one man was an ease for me. But now a responsibility to speak to people at such a high level of leadership, with very little preparation was a bit intimidating. I sent out the itinerary, and I know many of your prayers helped settle my heart. Having many years of study and experience, I just needed to trust the Holy Spirit to bring out through me what HE wanted to share. A true branches and Vine event.
Day One, Thursday
at 7:00 a.m.(after a red-eye flight and settling in bed at 2:30 a.m.)
with Pastor Julio, Director of Spiritual Affairs, Evangelical University
of El Salvador, to discuss his desires, goals and thoughts for my work
during the week. God began to show me how I was to be used for His glory
and for the good of us, his children.
8:00 a.m., I met with the chaplains for the University, under Julio, 5
in all. Starting from Judges 2:10, I began to outline how personal
discipleship had deteriorated in Israel in the matter of one generation.
I carefully delineated the differences between discipleship, Christian
education (and the various models), and informative
lectures/sermons/lessons/books. I ended with a challenge from 2 Timothy
2:2. The meeting lasted til 11:00. We went to lunch and dialoged about
what would be required to embrace this paradigm shift.
met with the library staff in the afternoon and spoke about personal
identity, being complete in Christ and then growing in that
completeness. I started with the focal verse in Colossians 2:10 and then
showed the prayer connection between expectation and application from
1:9-10. The people were blessed by God, and I saw several countenance
3:00 an impromptu opportunity presented itself with my being able to
speak to the students. We focused on the difference between converts and
disciples from Matthew 4:17 and asked for commitments. Several
spent the remaining afternoon sharing with Julio and Victor and
learning what they were doing for discipleship. El Salvador is still a 1st/2nd generation church, and they don’t have all the religious layers/lingo to weed through as we do in the States.
evening with Grace Baptist church was very rewarding. We had a 25-30
minute prayer time before I spoke. I was so encouraged. Then, speaking
from 1 John 3:1-3 we spoke about the identity, belief and
responsibility. This was followed up by Q/A session. We were all
Day Two Friday
morning started off well with a chapel service where I shared a message
from Proverbs 2 relating to Father’s Day. Father’s Day is on Friday in
El Salvador. Afterwards I had the privilege of meeting Missionary Bob
Kendrick. We spent about an hour together, and I hope to work with him
in the future.
spent the afternoon time with one of the chaplains unpacking the one to
one discipleship paradigm and making real application. I took up about
two hours to teach one of them how to learn to make personal application
from bible passages and then to teach others also. She was so excited.
God had a breakthrough!
had supper with my very good friend Rodrigo. We enjoyed a few hours of
reunion. Upon arrival to my house (some new friends who provided housing
for me during my trip, Milton and Martha) I found a party for one of
their friends. They were also housing 4 Cubans who were attending
linguistic training from Wycliffe in El Salvador. We had a great time
and as the evening grew late, I fellowshipped with some men from
Milton’s bible class (Inglesia Bautista Miramonte). We had a wonderful
time sharing what God had been teaching us and working through and
applying Galatians 5:16 and Romans 12:1-2. We retired well after 1:30
a.m. At 3:00 a.m. The Spirit impressed on me an illustration for the
Day Three- Saturday
morning I met with PLP, a professional Christian leadership program
that was developed by Julio. It meets every Saturday for 4 hours. I gave
the background from the book of Titus and Paul’s eminent departure and
launched into why he wrote the book. I emphasized how Titus had
previously spent much time with Paul so the writings would have been
very personal. Titus would have understood all the nuances of how Paul
thought and the writing, being very personal would have tremendous
information beyond just the printed text we received. I wanted to
demonstrate the difference in Christian Education and Discipleship. Thus
we have to read the text as if we are a Titus to Paul. I shared chapter
2:1-8 and then gave the interpretation and then interacted with
It is at this point I used the illustration impressed upon me in the night. WOW,
God was opening eyes. I had never used this illustration and it was one
of those things only God could have brought to my attention since I
never read about it either. But the impact was so plain,
it was like scales were falling from their eyes. The illustration
demonstrated the value of CE but its inability to solely produce
disciples. Then it demonstrated what discipleship does and how it
duplicates. After the session 3 people came forward and asked how to get started. God was moving.
visited a volcano and had lunch with Victor and Julio. Julio invited me
to come back for an extended stay and teach. Perhaps a family affair!!
Later we attempted to go to Vera Paz but we got rained out, so we took a
ride down through Zacatacaluka to get some fresh sweet bread for the
evening. In the process I found the PERFECT chile pepper.
Day Four- Sunday
What a joy to be back with family! This church in Illobasco is indeed that -- family. They love Jesus! The music is PASSIONATE without the pretense, polish and performance. So refreshing!!! So authentic!! I
spoke on 1 John 3:1-3 and really hammered home identity. I used an
adoption illustration and illuminated it from my own life. God was
moving....at lunch, Pastor Yohalmo told me how he was just starting to
address this subject through his preaching (reader remember- NO
PRE_PLANNING). I shared with him at length the reasons for my absence
over the past 2 years. He committed to pray for me. We introduced to him
the need to multiply disciples. I inquired about the absence of a dear friend and was told he was discouraged and that life has been hard on him.
the evening service I spoke from Colossians 1:19-23, The Magnificent
Jesus. There was much freedom and unction from the Spirit. I invited
people to demonstrate their need to be saved and to be open to being
approached one to one at the end of the service. 7-8 people expressed
their desire. The church followed up immediately. Amazing to see about a
dozen groups sharing how one could trust Jesus. I focused on one man
who spoke to me in English. He told me the adoption story from the
morning had really spoken to him and then told me why he could not be
saved. I told him how the cross and Christ’s blood pardons all sin not
just the nice ones and that even his horrible sins could be covered too.
Before we finished our conversation a few ladies grabbed us by the arm
and took us to a Father’s Day celebration they had planned. Imagine,
this man was just a visitor that day and wound up seated at the place of
honor at the table! God has a way of making his point clear. We enjoyed
the time and exchanged contact information. It was getting late and we
needed to travel 1 hour to my house so we prepared to leave.
I left Illobasco I made a point to take a detour to my discouraged
friend’s home. I awakened him from sleep. I recounted all the times God
had used us in the past and that I would not visit El Salvador without
seeing him. He was speechless. I asked if I could pray for him, and he
wept as we embraced. He told the pastor he would see him on Wednesday.
Arriving home late, I went to check my email and Facebook. The man I
told you of earlier was on FB and sent a friend request. I went to his
page and noticed some things inappropriate. As I accepted his friend
request, he started immediately cleaning the page, renamed himself and
IM me telling me God had changed him that night after the service. We
chatted for a while, and it was encouraging to see God work on this man.
Day Five Monday
met with the medical faculty at 8:00 a.m. I shared with them from Col
1:19-23, and we explored the unique union of God and Man, Jesus. I
couched some of the teaching in medical related terminology, and they
were very engaged. It looked as if it was the first time they connected
their profession with their Christianity. That was encouraging, since
some of the professors are not believers.
11:00 I met with the Business staff along with the Dental staff. We
opened up Matthew 28:16-20 and talked of leaving a legacy and the need
to disciple as we are going. I encouraged them to use their occupations
as opportunities for discipleship relationships. One man shared how he
has been in a discipleship church and has multiplied many times, but
never seen his position as an opportunity.
Preparing to go to El Sunza for an outreach, the car blew a water hose. So we missed the chance to go for the afternoon. We arrived just in time for the service. I met Pastor Carlos and some of his lost family who had come to hear the “American”. The
presence of the Lord was present in the sing of the saints. Pastor
Carlos said he expected only 30; I’m sure he was being optimistic at
that. BUT GOD, I love that phrase, had other plans. The building was
packed and there were chairs set up outside on the entry way. Well over
100 people came out. I preached again from Colossians 1:19-23 and gave a
clear call to embrace this magnificent Jesus. Only God know who became
his children that night, but the pastor fully intends to follow up with
the guests. Would have loved to stay longer but I had a 1 hour drive to
my house to shower, finish packing and then make the hour drive to the
airport for the 1:00 a.m. flight. Exhausted and encouraged, I departed
to the U.S.