I don’t remember a time when I have been more excited about the ministry in Guyana. From our first commitment to serve in Guyana in 1999 we have remained steadfast with a vision for indigenous churches being planted in the remote interior. We are laying the foundation now for what will be a major expansion of that original vision.
Reaching across the neighboring border of Venezuela has always been a thought, but due to multiple factors it has never been a realistic consideration. That is, until now. With the growing chaos in the Venezuelan political structure, and subsequent hard times falling upon the citizens, we are now seeing large numbers of people coming across the border to our location! Just weeks ago, Pastor Norbert, with the help of his Spanish speaking cousin Brian, launched a Spanish service at Faith Baptist Church in White Water Village! Our ministry is now beginning to forge a partnership with Food for The Poor to help distribute relief supplies to those who have been uprooted in recent months. We can remain a gospel centered ministry while at the same time serve the community with much needed material provision. I envision the day coming where we will be identifying, training and deploying Spanish speaking leaders who will be disciple-makers, ready to make other disciple-makers, launching a church movement!
Another part of the foundation that is being laid is evident in our partnership with The Timothy Initiative (TTI). TTI is a disciple-making, church multiplication ministry that has been used to plant more than 50,000 churches and reach over 1,000,000 souls worldwide. I have ministered with TTI in recent months in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and here in the US. I can tell you from first-hand experience that TTI is for real and the ministry is making a huge imprint in a world so in need of Jesus. In May I held our first TTI training school in Guyana with 18 students taking part from throughout our ministry. The TTI philosophy stresses that every Christian is a disciple and every disciple is a disciple-maker. I love that we are attempting to engage every believer in disciple making and create the environment where ministry is the norm in the Christian life, not the exception.
Pastor Paul shared with me recently that he has made a list of 20 unbelievers that he will purposely talk to about Jesus (this is part of the training). In addition, he is taking the 9 lessons I taught from Disciples Making Disciples – Level 1 and creating a sermons series to teach to the entire church! The leader of the Catholic church in one of our villages approached me and asked if he could participate in the classes (often the Catholic Churches in Guyana are led by lay leaders such as this gentlemen). He not only came to the classes, but he came to the evangelistic crusade we held in the evening. On the second night he gave his life to Christ! He not only gave his life to Christ, but he shared with me that he will be teaching the material from the class to his church! I am certain that there will be an interesting discussion about this when the Catholic priest makes a visit to the village!
Our ability to grow the ministry is often challenged because of funding. The financial supporters that remain on board are more important than ever. In addition to the faithful supporters that have been with us through the years, God has done some amazing things with special project funding over the last 60 days. It started when a college student gave a gift of $1,000! A Florida businessman and friend of our ministry stepped up with a gift of over $11,500. One Sunday school class alone donated nearly $600. A church in New Jersey, where I spoke in April, committed $2,000, and another in Florida made a commitment of $450. These funds are a God-send and are targeted to several projects including – outboard motor repairs for a church, replacing a church boat, purchasing farm land for a pastor to become self-supporting, discipleship materials for our churches, a new generator to provide electricity for a church, operating our summer youth camp in July, repairing a ministry bus, etc. The challenge of raising money for projects, as you can see from this list, not every project is “glamorous.” However, without a boat and motor most of our churches cannot get people to church. Without a generator a church cannot have night services. Thank God for these individuals, classes, and churches who see the big picture and invest for the health and growth of the ministry. Ultimately it sets the stage for planting more churches in new villages and reaches more people with the gospel, where we can train disciples who make disciples!
In my last letter I mentioned three prayer requests and I think it would be helpful to review where we are with those. (1) We need prayer for our first-ever summer youth camp in July. We will be bringing in youth from several villages throughout region July 23-27. I cannot begin to explain the logistical challenges of doing this in such a remote area. What I can do is ask you to pray for the prep work still in progress, the spiritual impact of the team that will be ministering, and the long-term impact upon the youth, their families, the churches and the region. (2) The growth and faithfulness of our ministry leaders. In some areas I am greatly encouraged, and in some I am concerned. We are facing some real challenges. I need the patience to keep my hands off where God is at work and the wisdom to know when and where to step in. (3) Identifying, developing, and deploying new leaders. I think we are seeing only the beginning of amazing things God has in store. As an example, on this last trip, I had the privilege to lead a 13-year-old boy to Christ. That very day he came for believer’s baptism at church and asked if he could join our TTI Discipleship training. Once completing the training, he asked for another training book so that he could then begin making a disciple of a 12-year-old friend of his! This is an example of God’s answer to your prayers!
Grace and Peace!