Did you miss me at all? You got to Graceway last Sunday and I wasn’t there. Kent Liles did a fabulous job in my absence, though. So, what was I doing and why wasn’t I there? I’m not really gone that often, but the past couple of months have been crazy.
Well, I was in San Salvador, El Salvador. I rarely accept an invitation to be gone on a Sunday, but in this case I made an exception. Why? I was pastor of the Iglesia Bautista Miramonte from the mid 70′s until 1984 during that nation’s horrible civil war. It was also a time that saw explosive growth of the Gospel in general and that church in particular. Last weekend was the 42nd anniversary of the church and they invited me to speak. I found it very hard to turn down that invitation and hope you understand.
Contrary to what some might think, I was not sitting by the pool sipping piña coladas and working on my tan. No! Here’s a brief summary of how that time broke down. I left KC at 0600 Wednesday, November 28th and returned home last Monday evening, December 3rd, averaging 4-5 hours sleep a night.
- I spoke 15 times from Wednesday night to Sunday and filled much of the remaining waking hours with consulting and conferencing with leaders.
- Wednesday though Friday evenings I had two hours each night to teach on making disciples.
- On Thursday morning I went to the city of Santa Ana and taught two hours on making disciples and God’s global mission to a group of pastoral and mission leaders.
- On Friday morning I had another two hours with yet another group of pastors and leaders to teach about God’s global mission.
- Saturday morning I spoke and did a Q&A with key leaders, while on Saturday afternoon late I spoke to the youth.
- Sunday morning I spoke to both services.
- Sunday evening I spoke to a meeting of the family of churches that have been spawned from the main church – about 30. The auditorium was filled with people from various locations around the country.
Oh! And I did some very fine eating while I was gone. You might have suspected that. In addition, I stayed in the World Trade Center complex where there is a coffee shop run by the guy who is the current world champion barista. Of course I had to check him out just to be sure his coffee was really up to par. No problems! It was a bit of a sacrifice, but I’m happy to report he checks out OK.
Some of the things for which I am most thankful:
- When Cheryl and I arrived in the early 70′s, El Salvador was classified among the least-reached with around 2% of the population professing faith in the Gospel. Today, that percentage is above 30%. The Miramonte church is a large, mature church that has given birth to many others representing thousands of people all over the country and around the world.
- The church has sent out missionaries to the least-reached in many different places, supported primarily by the local church. Here are some places where they serve and have served: Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, India, Morocco, Albania, Romania, Macedonia, Iraq, Australia and the United States. In the process the church has become a model for other Latin American churches and their leaders have served in important international positions of leadership.
- When our girls were little, we hired a young 17-year-old from the countryside to work in our home. Today, she is faithfully serving in the church alongside her husband who has been a police executive and they have a couple of wonderful young men as their sons. Great story, and it was great to see them!
- The Miramonte church and her leaders deeply want a growing relationship with Graceway. We are exploring what that might look like in the future. I find this very satisfying and fulfilling.
Now you know why I have been trying to catch up this week. Sunday I’m back in the pulpit at Graceway and the Luke study. Really excited about that!!!!