Wednesday, March 26, 2008
How Long Will We Stay?
Traveling from church to church over many months we are often asked about the future of El Oasis de Esperanza, our middle/upper class church plant in Lima. Part of the inquiry includes the desire to know how long we will be pastoring the church. This is a difficult question to answer, especially when there are so many aspects to address.First we are very committed to indigenous church principles in our missionary endeavors. We want to see El Oasis as a Peruvian church in every aspect; self-governing, self-financing, self-duplicating, self-expressing, self-theologizing, etc. Obviously then, the future of El Oasis will include a Peruvian pastor. All missionaries should plant churches with an exit strategy. Still it is difficult to predict a timetable for our departure. We are committed to seeing this church flurish and make an impact on the Peruvian culture. We are committed to seeing this church be strong enough to begin planting other churches among this strata of society. When this assignment is complete, we will gladly step aside.Second God continues to surprise us as we move forward with this project. This is because He is leading the way. We have a general idea of where He is going, but we have rediscovered that our role in all of this is to be faithful and obedient. The Lord must win the lost and build the church. And He certainly does this His way and not ours. At this point we sense that the Lord is going to move us to a place where 500 people can gather together. This is why we have initiated with a formal building project. There is coming a day when El Oasis will have 3 full services. From this strength other churches will be planted. We want to release enough people and finances so that the new church can function on its own.Two more great needs lay before us. Our part of Lima has 5 university campuses. As far as we know, there are no evangelical ministries on any of them. These represent thousands of students who are at a very critical moment in their lives. They are searching for truth. We must take advantage of this window of opportunity. The other need is spiritual renewal among already existing churches. The Peruvian Pentecostal movement is now in its 3rd and 4th generations. The passage of time has some how "watered down" the experience and fervor of the first converts who responded to message of Pentecost. It is time to see another generation embrace the power of the Holy Spirit. It would be presumptous to assume that God would even use El Oasis to help lead the way in this renewal. All we can do is continue to seek Him and know Him better, responding in faith when He speaks. And yet, the within the depths of our own spirits we feel that the Lord is starting to respond to these 2 needs.