What a year!
2012 was a very busy year for GNIA. So busy in fact, we haven’t sent out a newsletter in 5 months. Time flies when you are busy, but time flies faster when your God is moving to expand his kingdom and transform lives. So many awesome things happened last year. I don’t even know where to begin. We saw over 13,000 professions of faith in our evangelistic outreach trips to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and of course in El Salvador. We are infinitely grateful to the more than 300 people who traveled from the US to do their part in helping GNIA fulfill and live the Great Commission. It’s hard for Pam and I to believe sometimes that in the 27 years we have been in El Salvador, we have had the blessing of seeing over 300,000 people make professions of faith, and have helped start 55 churches, none of which would have been possible without your faithful and loving financial support, and prayers. We know that God has worked in the hearts of those who give, and have blessed GNIA because of the faithfulness of those who support us. God is such an amazing God, that he not only gives us salvation, but allows us to be a part of the expanding of His kingdom.
Since 2010, we have started the year off with our Koinoinia service where we bring all of our campuses together and meet in the same place. It is amazing to see the wonderful hand of God in New Life Baptist Church, and the growth that God has allowed in our home church throughout the years. We now have over 1,100 adults and 300 children attending regularly on Sundays. It was a great service, and a great time of fellowship for our church as Julio presented our vision for the next 7 years, which we have called 20/20 vision. Julio has written an article for our newsletter describing this concept in more detail.
We have also officially welcomed our new campus in Apopa. We have always had a heart for Apopa, which is a bedroom community suburb of 300,000 people just north of San Salvador, and welcome this opportunity with great joy. With Leo Humphrey, we helped plant this church (Good News Baptist Church) over 20 years ago, so this church has always held a special spot in our heart, and we are amazed to see God’s hand as he allows us to welcome it as the newest campus. Lance Grush, a great friend and partner in the ministry, was the pastor of this church until he felt led to move on to different ministries, and so while it is with a heavy heart that Apopa sees him move on, we are encouraged with the future as we know that this is a part of God’s plan for New Life. We already had our first outreach activity there, and in Lourdes the first week of January with Copper Springs Baptist church of Fresno, CA and Valley Baptist Church of Bakersfield, CA. We had the blessing of witnessing over 650 professions of faith, and have already seen 80 people visit us during our follow up activities. As you can see, 2012 was an amazing year for GNIA, and an even more amazing year for Gods Kingdom. Thank you for your support and your prayers, and thank you for being an intricate part of Gods plan for Latin America!
20/20 VISION By: Julio Contreras
On January 27 we had our first KOINONIA of 2013…the four campuses meeting under the same roof: Miralvalle, Crowne Plaza, Lourdes y Apopa. How do I summarize? … Hmmm … full house, enthusiastic praise, overflowing joy, financial reporting, the well-deserved recognition of Lance Grush (for his 14 years of ministry in Apopa) and of five talented youth (Bayron, Fernando, Erick, Samuel and Juan) who work with youth and music at each of our campuses … and finally the beginning of the study of Ezra, which helped us to establish the vision that will guide us over the next 7 years; we call it “20/20 vision”. We have adopted a new and simple Vision statement: “Hagamos que nuestro mundo conozca a Jesucristo (Let’s get our world to know Jesus Christ)”
Over the next eight years we will continue “whole heartedly” doing the things that have worked for us these last two decades, but it is our dream to focus on some new things, we need to “put more energy into our system” … more volunteers, more ministers, more workers. The challenge is clear … in our church, and in every church, you’re either a spectator or a participant. What are the new emphasis?
1. The other half: working with children and youth.
We are a very young country, and region. Half of Salvadorans are under 22 and a half … more than a third haven’t reached 14. A child is much more sensitive to the gospel and the Word than an adult. In the coming years we will invest financial resources, time, talent and interests in developing outreach and discipleship ministries for children and youth. Expect to see, little by little, gradual changes in the way we do ministry among the other half of Salvadorans. We already have some new strategies “in the oven.”
2. The complete whole: the unreached segments of society.
At least, unreached by Vida Nueva. We recognize that we have won many people to Christ through the Judgment House and evangelistic activities in the streets. But there are some who will never know Jesus Christ unless we are creative in our methods and specific in our attempts. Expect more activities with less people and more focused on specific groups in the coming years.
3. Completing Multisite.
Right now, we have four campuses and 10 church services during the week. But the campuses are far from what that will become. Over the next few years, we want to renovate the infrastructure of our campuses in Miralvalle and Apopa (as has we have done in Lourdes) and improve our methods of leadership and pastoral care at all of our campuses. Clearly, we will need more leaders and workers. Also, it is likely that by 2020 we will have added one or two more campuses… why not?!
4. More MetroAmérica 020.
Self-sustainability is the key word … both in our current churches and also in the churches we will start in the future. Bogotá is the next work-in 2014 – if God wills. Then, between 2014 and 2020 the goal is to establish four more churches in the region … we do not know in which cities. But this will require more than 8 missionary couples … that must be won to the Lord, trained, formed, tested, sent and then replaced by others that will take their place in San Salvador. A huge challenge!
Will it be easy? No… I don’t think so.
But I think our God is great and has given us the necessary resources to accomplish what He is asking us to do. We can’t, but God can, and He wants to use us. It’s only necessary, as we saw in Ezra 1, that our spirit be awakening to the vision.
Exciting. Overwhelming. Challenging.
I don’t believe that the Christian life should be less than that.
Let’s get our world to know Jesus Christ. Period
NEW AUDITORIUM IN LOURDES
The week after our Koinoinia service, we dedicated our new auditorium in Lourdes. It was an exciting event, as close to 400 adult’s filled the auditorium to celebrate a brand new chapter in the life of New Life Baptist Church. I had the privilege of preaching, and took advantage of this great opportunity to start my series on the book of Exodus. As I preached Exodus 1, I couldn’t help but see the application for our Lourdes campus as we had an extremely tough year of trials but witnessed the incredible power and faithfulness of God in the midst of them. As you will remember from previous newsletters, a huge black cloud hung over the campus exactly a year ago. Due to huge economic problems, we had to choose between selling our mission’s property or absorb the mission as a campus. After agonizing prayer for months, God showed Alex and Chitty (the pastors of the mission) and Julio and I that the best solution was absorbing the mission.
I’ll never forget the discouragement that everybody felt but also the conviction that we had to follow God’s will. It’s incredible what God has done! No sooner had we made the decision and sent Koky out to Lourdes as the campus pastor and Je Rhoades to help him in evangelism and growth, a man appeared out of nowhere and asked us about the work. We explained what had happened and he loaned us the money for property and 0 % interest and helped us with the church property. Others contributed and pretty soon, we were able to complete a church building that seats 400 for the glory of God. The mission had gone to less than 100 adults in attendance but now has doubled in one year to 200 adults. God has been incredible. In Exodus 1, I pointed out that only God can makes us prosper in the midst of trials. But, we need to be committed, as the nation of Israel was in Egypt, to bearing fruit for the Glory of God. Lourdes is a modern day miracle that testifies to the greatness of God.
2012 was an AWESOME year for MetroAmerica 020, as many of the 13,000 professions of faith we witnessed came from our outreaches in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica. We had a fantastic outreach in November in Guatemala as FBC Gulf Shores in Alabama and Valley Baptist Church in California helped us with our annual VBS outreach. We saw more than 400 professions of faith between the morning VBS activity, a youth soccer clinic with Goran Hunjak, and our nighttime campaigns. I had the opportunity of preaching a follow up service on prophecy, taking advantage of the interest created by the Mayan calendar ending on December 21, 2012, and saw more than 170 adults in attendance, some of which had been reached in the November outreach activity. We also had an awesome trip the second week of January in Guatemala with Faith Baptist Church of Youngsville, NC and saw over 300 people make professions of faith. We targeted a completely different area of Guatemala City during this trip, and the exciting news is that due to the receptiveness we encountered, we are going to be opening up a new campus in this area. We also made a trip to Managua, Nicaragua in December with Richland Creek Baptist Church, and again received the blessing of witnessing over 200 professions of faith.
It was also a great week as we had the opportunity to work with our new missionary in Nicaragua, Rodrigo Diaz and his wife, Miriam who will be starting a new campus in Managua to reach a different part of the population of Managua. We ask for your prayers for this, as we will all be challenged in this process. God is an awesome and faithful God, and we are humbled that he is willing to use us to spread and share his incredible message of salvation. We also have many challenges for 2013, and we ask for your continued prayer support. Specifically, we are trying to move Managua and Costa Rica towards being self-sustaining as the offerings in both churches have been really low, so that we can focus on the starting of new works within Latin America. Our biggest and most exciting news for 2013, is that we will be sending David Guadron and Alex Hernandez to Bogota, Colombia to plant the 5th MetroAmerica church. Bogota has over 8 million people, and is very receptive to the gospel, so we are excited with this opportunity God has given us to reach people in this city. Please pray for this new work, and that God will continue to use us to win people for his kingdom and to continue raising up more workers for the harvest.
We appreciate your faithfulness in prayer and support and your desire to minister with us as we try and reach the lost and start churches in the MetroAmerica 020 area.