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.
In 1954, Roy LeTourneau began a road building project in the Peruvian jungle for his father–famed industrialist R.G. LeTourneau. Roy and his crew started the project by steaming boats of equipment up the Pachitea River and landing them at a site that they called Tournavista. From there they began the long arduous task of building a road from the middle of nowhere toward civilization.
Yet even in this remote jungle location, Roy found it crucial to be in constant communication with people in Peru’s capital city of Lima. Utilizing a corporate plane, he flew back and forth from Tournavista to Lima continually. He quickly realized the power and influence of that one city on even the remotest parts of the country.
In the fifty years since, the influence of Lima has only grown. Today, one-third of Peru’s population resides in the capital city. It is the center of government, commerce, education and communications. The same is true of the capital cities in virtually every other country in Latin America.
The massive size and influence of these urban centers are the primary reasons why CMI focuses its ministry on the capital city. It has been said that in Latin America, everyone has at least one contact in the capital. It truly is the hub of the nation. While hundreds of people move into the capital each day, change and influence radiate out.
As such, the capital city is a crucial beachhead for discipling the entire nation.
“In Latin America,” notes international evangelist Luis Palau, “it is an absolute fact: if you reach the capital city you can touch the whole nation. It’s amazing. In Latin America the capital city has enormous influence in contrast to the USA where Washington is influential but New York in some ways is more powerful. Not so in Latin America. In every single republic the capital touches the nation.”
“If we reach the cities, then the cities themselves will reach out into other areas of the country,” says C&MA Missionary David Peters. “For years in Latin America we worked in the smaller towns and villages, trying to evangelize the country in that way. As North American missionaries we felt that this was the way to go. But if we can go into the cities, into key cities, and plant strong churches in those cities, then the people in those churches go out and evangelize their family members who live in the small towns and the villages.”
In Jesus’ last words to His disciples, He commanded them to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
In fact, the remainder of the Book of Acts relates how this was precisely the manner in which the gospel went forth—step by step from the epicenter in Jerusalem. It spread to Samaria and other parts of Judea. When persecution began, the church took another step to the city of Antioch. From there Paul and Barnabas carried the message progressively step by step westward through the Roman Empire.
In a similar way, CMI believes that this “small step” approach remains the best way to disciple nations for Jesus Christ. Concentrating missionaries in urban centers is an effective way that this can be done. This does not mean missionaries shouldn’t go to remote places if the Lord calls them there. It does mean that redeploying a substantial number of missionaries into cities may be the most effective way of taking the gospel to that country.
When a missionary is sent from North America to the jungles, a huge step is taken. That step results in a tremendous gap in all areas—including housing, food, transportation, language and culture and in the ability to establish understanding between peoples of such diverse backgrounds. When a missionary from North America is sent to a capital city it is a smaller step. Some adjustments to culture, another language and they’re soon at work.
When the people of the city are won to Christ and challenged properly, they can go to the secondary cities—again a small step. These people in turn can go to the provinces and those of the provinces can go to the jungles.
Each group taking only a small step in systematically reaching their country with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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