CMI’s new evangelistic initiative in Quito, Ecuador reignites a time tested model for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One by one they came. At first two, then four, then a dozen. By the end, nearly 100 people gathered at the front of the República Church in response to the gospel invitation of guest evangelist Ricardo Diaz—CMI’s Latin America Regional Director. Of those that came forward, 20 publicly proclaimed their faith in Christ for the first time.
Among them was a woman at the point of crisis. As she began to pour out her story to her counselors, she confessed a terrible secret—a secret of unimaginable sin spanning 10 years. If it were ever revealed it could destroy her marriage and family. For years she tried to end it, but another person threatened to expose her if she ever did. Trapped by guilt and hopeless of redemption, she was contemplating suicide before being invited by a friend to the first night of a new evangelistic outreach being held at the República Church.
Through Ricardo’s message that night she heard the Good News of God’s grace and forgiveness and for the first time felt a spark of hope. She gave her life to Christ and shared that she was ready to confess her secret to her family, trusting Jesus with the outcome.
The outreach at República was just one part of a new three year evangelistic initiative led by CMI and the Encounter with God Churches of Quito. Launched November 19-22, 2009, the new initiative began with simultaneous evangelistic events in all four Quito Encounter churches led by an international team of evangelists including Diaz, Javier Cortazar (Peru), Eduardo Mercon (Venezuela) and Manuel Zarate (Colombia/USA).
Similar outreaches were held in the Quito churches this past February and March. Many more are scheduled in the coming months. Thus far, more than 250 have placed their faith in Christ through these events. Many more have recommitted their lives to Him.
The vision for the evangelistic initiative sprang from the desire to refresh in Quito the evangelistic fervor that birthed the Encounter with God Movement in Lima, Peru years ago.
To do so, Ricardo Diaz recruited an international “Dream Team” of Latin American evangelists noted for their commitment to God’s Word, richness in teaching and passion for the gospel. With CMI providing for travel expenses and the local Encounter churches providing lodging, meals and honorarium, the international evangelists are scheduled to preach in each Encounter church a minimum of four times a year for three years.
“There is something powerful in the public proclamation of God’s Word,” says Diaz. “It is difficult to describe, but there is a unique holiness when a large number of people hear the gospel message together.”
“The ‘revival’ style outreach may seem to some people to be a bit antiquated,” adds CMI’s Associate Executive Director Craig Murray, “perhaps it is because we have seen many instances where it is driven more by ‘program’ than led by the Holy Spirit. But the public preaching of the gospel is modeled over and over again in Scripture. Jesus described his primary ministry as preaching the Good News—often to thousands at a time. Peter preached the first Pentecost sermon before the people in Jerusalem and three thousand were added to the church in a single day. Paul’s ministry was characterized by going first to preach in the synagogue of each city he visited. What we see in Quito is the first seeds of a similar harvest. More people come to know Christ with each successive event.”
Beyond just those that come forward, there is an added impact on those that are already believers. As they see people respond to Christ’s call on their lives, believers in the churches become excited and more passionate to proclaim the gospel themselves. There is a spirit of festival and celebration to be part of what God is doing to transform lives. It becomes infectious.
The result is momentum evangelism where each outreach builds on the last creating a multiplying effect. People who trust in Christ at one event begin to bring friends and family to the next. Church members that see God at work, likewise begin to invite their friends and family. The result is exponential growth.
This is already evident in Quito. Lord willing, an even greater harvest is yet to come!