Do you remember some of your firsts?
I remember my first day to play football as a child, I remember my first day in elementary school, I remember my first time I stood up and spoke in my church as a child, I remember my first time to sing a solo at church (yes Craig there were a few times), I remember my first time to drive a car without one of my parents with me, I remember my first Sunday at Liberty Park Baptist speaking to the youth. If I think about it I have had a lot of memorable firsts and could go on and on.
About two weeks ago I had a few more first I would like to share with you. One was the first time for me to travel to Ecuador. Also, some of these firsts came in a soup bowl. Yes, I ate my first chicken neck, chicken foot, and chicken heart. Amazingly they all tasted like chicken. For some reason as "el Pastor" it was a honor to receive and eat these items. Two weeks ago Anne Lucas, Alice Cunningham, Lora and I traveled to this South American country to do medical missions and to help a few churches to plant new churches in the northern region of that country. It was my first time to preach at a church with a translator and I felt your prayers because God gave me a confidence in speaking His Word that I have never felt before.
It was my first time to personally see God work in this way.
I have always heard stories about and wanted to be a part of the harvest of people for God. In total there were 33 North Americans plus translators that spent 5 days in 2 medical clinics and 4 evangelistic teams that went door to door sharing the gospel. In the medical clinic doctors, nurses, pharmacists, eye team, students and other team members saw people that were hurting physically and spiritually. Each clinic worker prayed with and shared the gospel with most of the people that went through the clinic. God healed many of these peoples physical hurts while healing their spiritual needs. I believe God moved more in our lives this week than He moved in the lives of those we came in contact with.
I had the privilege of working with the evangelistic team. It was my first time to spend 5 days going door to door in three towns sharing the gospel. It was my first time to see so many people willing to give their life to Christ. These firsts will be in my mind forever. One thing I will commit is that these first will not be my last. (OK, maybe the chicken parts maybe my last)What I mean is the going and sharing the gospel with others. It won’t be the last time I see God work in this way. God has won the victory over the enemy and the fields of the harvest are still ripe and the workers are still few. So join me in working and let some of these experiences that I experienced be your firsts.
What God did by the number’s - 1798 People were seen in the medical clinic, 1463 People were seen in eye clinic and 1626 Gave their life to Christ for the first time.
To see a visual representation of our trip go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWvEmAWmPAw
This medical mission trip was organized and sponsored by e3 Partners Ministry. For more information go to www.e3partners.org.
Written by Stephen Shelton, Minister of Education, Liberty Park Baptist Church
Though there are many stories to tell of transformed lives, I would like to share just one. On the day where North Americans are matched up with churches, we found ourselves one North American team short. The option was to say “no” to a church or break the group up a little smaller so that we could have one more team of 3. Debbie and I approached Kathy McDaniel about being a team leader which she graciously agreed (all team members are taught to be like Gumby – that is flexible). On the third day I went to visit the site with Pastor Jorge who explained that this was the most dangerous place in Ecuador. You could have someone killed for $1. No one went out at night because of fear for their lives. Instead they sat at home with a weapon nearby just in case someone broke their door down. Speed bumps were put in the road by thieves so that when cars slowed down, they could attack the drivers. I felt a little concerned that I had sent 2 middle-aged moms (Kathy and Susie) and a 19 year old (Travis) into this area, though I trusted the churches to protect them and even Pastor Jorge had quite a past before accepting Christ. (story by Dave Johnson)
Pastor Jorge assured me that not only were the North Americans fine, but that the local gang leader, Luis, was led by Kathy to the Lord the day before and that he and his friends were coming to the evening meetings (though carrying guns) and posed for a picture with Susie! The ladies knew that these were troubled young men, but did not know the extent of their crimes. When told, they lovingly shared how these “boys” were eager to study God’s Word – there was no fear. By the end of the week some of the most dangerous young men of Ecuador had gone through all 3 Bible Study lessons and were assigned the task of helping with the children during the last evening meeting. Picture these guys tying Gospel bracelets on the wrists of little children as their parents looked on in amazement.
Evening meeting attendance at this location was like no other I have seen. First night about 120 (including those standing outside the overflowing tiny church building) and from there it grew larger. To keep it in perspective, attendance of 20 is very good. This is in a neighborhood where nobody would go out at night. Maybe people felt safe to leave their homes empty because the thieves and murderers were at the church!
It wasn’t the big North American men that God chose to use to bring these young men to Himself, it was a couple of moms who could give them a love that they probably never experienced before. There was no question that this was a demonstration of God’s power.
Many thanks to all of our E3 staff and campaigners for a very good year in 2009. We give glory to God for what he has done.
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