From my most recent trip to Quito alone I can tell you stories of 8 people that placed their faith in Christ at just one service of 325 people at the Cumbayá Church. Or I could share about the 32 to that trusted Christ that same Sunday in one service at the República Church. I could mention the continuing growth of the Norte Church (now approaching 600 people in attendance after just 1 year of ministry) or the more than 6,000 now in attendance in the six Encounter Churches throughout the city. I could talk about the vibrant discipleship ministry of the Chillos Church, the evangelistic impact of the Puembo Church’s marriage retreat ministry, or the top-notch small group/bible study resources the Batán Church is developing that intersect with a five year plan to preach through the entire Bible.
If you had been with me you would have heard the stories of business leaders ignited by the gospel to provide livable wages for their employees or launch ministries aimed at expanding church multiplication efforts through local resources. You would have heard from Christian architects and builders creatively dreaming of how they could use their talents and resources to accelerate the development of churches.
And if you traveled to Lima in March with others on our team you would have joined 3,000 leaders from throughout Latin America for the annual “Leaders Encounter” Conference at the Lince Church (the founding church of the Encounter Movement). You would have seen the ongoing fruit of this 40-year gospel movement that has produced 63 churches in Lima and sparked more than 658,000 decisions for Christ in Peru alone.
We could easily boast in such outcomes if it were because of us. Instead, we boast in Jesus Christ––by whom, through whom and for whom all of this is accomplished. Just as He once did with five loaves and two fish, so today He takes our limited offerings and multiplies them beyond what we could ever imagine.
So, thank you. Thank you for the “loaves and fish” of prayers and support you entrust into His hands through CMI. It is our great blessing to partner with you. Together we are equipping dynamic urban churches to disciple their nations.
What’s in a name? Last month, as Christmas approached, I was re-reading Matthew’s account of the Christmas story and was drawn to the significance of the names the angel instructed Joseph to give to Christ.
In naming our kids, Laura and I gave far more emphasis to whether we liked the sound of a particular name than its specific meaning. My own name means “dweller on a crag.” Having never dwelled on a crag, nor possessing any aspirations to do so, I am pretty sure that my parents picked my name for largely aesthetic reasons as well.
But in the Bible names have far greater significance. They tell a story or portend a future. Matthew takes care to draw the reader’s attention to two names for Our Lord – Jesus and Emmanuel. Literally they mean “Yahweh Saves” and “God with us.”
There is significant connection between these two names. Our Lord is the God that saves by being with us. Think of that truth. God is not a distant sovereign waving His hand to forestall impending disaster. No, our sin was too grievous and His nature too loving to permit such a plan.
We needed a champion to do for us what we could not – a champion from among us to stand in our place. No mere human champion would be sufficient, so in order to save us God became one of us. The very names of our Lord describe the miracle of the Incarnation. He embodied our frailty and received the death we deserved so that we might receive His never-ending Life and perfect fellowship with God.
More than that, He invites us to be with Him in His work of salvation by sharing with others this Good News. As we incarnate our lives and ministry among others, we imitate Jesus. As we walk among the hurting, the hopeless and lost we have the privilege of sharing that “Yahweh Saves.”
This is what CMI is all about. With the help of friends like you we equip and “incarnate” dynamic local churches into the strategic hearts of these cities – churches that are permanently with their people and continually proclaiming the Good News that God saves!
Thank you for partnering with us to see nations discipled for Jesus Christ.