Church Leaders in Cuba Farm

After a long day in the sun harvesting beans by hand with five of his friends and helpers, this farmer begins the task of separating the beans from the chaff using an electric fan. Then he and his crew take turns hand digging a new well. (The top of the well is below the beams and a man is 12′ below shoveling dirt into a pail). It was just two years ago that churches (and individuals) were permitted to own farms.

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In a country where the average salary is $25 per month, monthly food budgets run out in a week. But church farms now provide needed basic food – beens, rice, yucca and some pork – to feed many people in the church, jobs for some and help to the most materially poor through ministries to street kids and the elderly.

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By stepping in and helping the poor, church leaders demonstrate great faith and cause skeptical government officials to ask why. We would consider them poor! And many of them do not know where next weeks’ groceries are going to come from, but they share anyway.

Click here for more info on helping us help them.

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Calling or Crushing

…thinking of work mainly as a means to self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person… and undermines society itself.*

Do planters and pastors drink the Kool-aid that says, “I have to plant a successful church or I’m a nobody. I’ll have failed. I can’t fail.” Do I as a coach who wants to succeed at language school and serve in Cuba? Yes.

What do you feel about your job?

Is your job ultimately for you or for others? Is it crushing you?

A calling is something that is from the outside of you. From someone else, for others. Not for yourself. It is a mission. A service to Someone. It’s not for your sake. When you and I think “my job is for me and mine” we miss the freedom and purpose of a calling

Maybe that’s one reason church planters struggle so fiercely when attendance is low, or someone critiques you or you aren’t getting everything done that you think you should.

Maybe we all should consider our jobs as a calling. Look at it in light of this: Jesus answered the call to be crushed in our place and in doing so he grants to us God’s plan for our lives for others’ sake.

*Page 2 of Every Good Endeavor by Keller and Alsdorf, quoting Bellah’s Habits of the Heart.

 

Opportunity for Gospel Coaching a persecuted church

Spent last week on a strategic island nation near Florida that rhymes with ‘tuba’. And it’s changed me. Hope it will infect us all.

You may have heard God’s at work there. It’s true in the Los Pinos Nuevos (LPN) denomination. Thousands are turning to Christ through the faithful witness of this formerly inward, legalistic denomination that is now gospel-driven, missional, fruitful in evangelism and reproducing like crazy.

Big picture data from LPN. In 1978, according to their government reports, there were only 120,000 evangelical Christians on an island of 11 million. That doubled by 1993 then doubled again by 2001. By 2011, the number had more doubled again. Now if you are good with math (I’m not) then you’d realize there are over 1 million ‘evangelicals’ now. Wow.

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Church is different there. Resources more difficult to find. Hostility toward Christianity has slackened but there is still much government control. With no permission to build new church facilities, LPN took reproduction into ‘casa cultos’ (legally recognized house churches) and cell groups. It’s all legal and out in the open. In fact, switching to house churches and cell groups out of necessity has accelerated evangelism. It’s opened the door for many spiritually seeking neighbors (who would never be seen at a church for fear of losing their jobs) to just come over, be welcomed and investigate Christ. Is there something for us to learn here?

The LPN denomination has been working hard in the power of the Spirit and the truth of the gospel. In 2007 there were 187 churches. Same as before the troubles. Now there are 27 training centers, 3000 pastoral leaders learning the doctrines of grace in over 30,000 different house churches and cells. LPN can count over 300,000 people in their denomination now. Wow!

How did this happen? The need for and power of the gospel is spreading deep and wide in this movement.

Though pastor/leaders there have been raised in a culture of suspicion and mistrust, a small group of wise leaders there and stateside have been implementing a God-sized strategy of evangelism and training leaders in trust-building, gospel-centered workshops like CMM’s Gospel Coach. They transformed their seminary into a training center and have pushed out and pressed down training to indigenous leaders who are using tech tools like ThirdMill (Biblical education. For the world. For free.) for  training in systematic biblical grace-focused theology.  

Most importantly, the key leaders, from the president of LPN on down, have been blown away by God’s grace personally. I was honored to lead the top 13 key leaders from LPN through an adapted and extended Gospel Coach workshop to help them coach the hundreds of leaders they work with in the gospel. Then participated in another two days of strategic planning that was so clearly dependent upon God’s Spirit and His provision that it brought tears to our eyes. There God has to work and they have to depend on Him.

How I long for more of us to feel our need for the gospel, for more dependence on Christ and more urgency in our mission like these brothers and sisters!

That is a dangerous desire and prayer, but the opportunities are too big not to pray.