Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Unbelievable Story of God Sending Latino Church Planters from Columbia

Okay, this is quite an amazing story.

A couple of months ago, I took a trip with Paul Newhouse, who is our missions coordinator, and Sixto Rivera, the Executive Director of Genesis Alliance over to El Salvador. When I came back, inspired by the trip, I featured the work in El Salvador in my Sunday morning sermon. I also had us sing an El Salvadoran song, Bien Benito (I'm so Happy song) in Spanish.

A young lady named Christian came up to me after the service who was Hispanic. She thanked me for singing this song and for our love for the Latino people. She explained that she was from Columbia and had recently moved here. Her first Sunday was during the run-up to Harvest Sunday, when we were highlighting the work of Genesis Alliance and our Hispanic church plant with Carlos Lopez (Iglesia de Cristo in Plano, TX). On that day, she and her husband, Ober Ochoa, met Sixto Rivera. Sixto talked with them, found out their background, and began to look at them as potential Latino church planters.

On Monday, I met with Ober and Christina and Sixto in my office. Now, let me back up and explain the rest of the story.

Christina and Ober are both from Columbia. While she was still single, Christina applied for a visa to come to the US. She has family in the Houston area. When she and Ober got married, they prayed one day that her visa might be accepted. Three days later, it was accepted! But only Christina could come, as she had applied while she was single. So they wrote a letter to the US Conciliar asking for Ober and their child to be given visas as well. They were approved the very day that the conciliar had received the application. This was nothing short of a miracle. As they said to me, you have to be from El Salvador or Columbia or the like to understand how amazing this was. They took this as a sign from God to come to the US.

A bit more on Ober. Ober was brought to faith in Christ when he went to a house church in Columbia. He served faithfully as a member for 5-6 years, and then was made a pastor. His passion is in outreach and evangelism. In fact, he converted his wife, Christina. I asked him if he only studied with beautiful women. I also said that this was an outreach strategy that could only work once! :) (Only one wife is needed!)

Continuing the story . . . When their visas were accepted, they were seeking direction of where to go in the US. Someone suggested McKinney. They said, "McKinney?" So they got on Google and googled McKinney and up came a picture of Towne Lake. Someone in Columbia had a sister in McKinney, so they moved in with her in her apartment complex.

This apartment complex happened to be managed by Marsha Miller, one of our members and a long time family friend. When the Ochoas needed some furniture, Marsha gave them a couch. (Our clothes closet ministry often helps with these types of things.) The person that they were staying with went to McKinney Bible Fellowship. But Marsha said to them one day, in a way that only she could, "Hey--I gave you a couch. Why don't you come to my church?" And so they did.

When their host family asked why they went to High Pointe and not to her church they said that they just sensed an overwhelming love for the Latino people. If I may also share, Christina also said that she felt that I was leading the church to love all peoples, and that this really touched her. For a Caucasian congregation to devote two services to the Latino was just amazing to her. I was very personally touched by this. It reminded me that this work really does have an impact upon people.

Ober and Christina share our view of baptism and even worship. They are a very talented couple that could make great church planters. They are very interested in working with Genesis Alliance and Sixto, and we are very interested in working with them.

Praise God! Clearly, he is at work in mighty ways, bringing together people to fulfill God's mission.

What do you think of this story?!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Love for Scripture - Something My Mother Taught Me

As mother's day approaches, I am reminded of my mother, of course. One of the things that always stood out to me was the importance of Scripture and following God's word.

The Bible, of course, does not claim to be an ordinary book. As the word of God, the Bible claims and is inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. The Bible is not merely a human product, for “prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).

Scripture’s origination from God is so thorough that it is described as “God-breathed” and is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). For the one whose heart is open, God’s Word points a person unmistakably to Christ, and it is the means for faith.

The Bible also was written by humans (2 Pet. 3:15), and it reflects that human authorship. It is written in the context of human cultures (ancient near eastern, Greco-Roman) in human languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek). Furthermore, even a superficial examination of the Bible reveals that the books of the Bible differ considerably in style, vocabulary, and sentence structure.

This mysterious combination of the divine and the human is a reflection of the incarnation, through which Jesus, who is God, also became human.

I firmly believe in Scripture. I have been blessed to grow up in a home where my mother regularly read Bible stories to me as a child. And in everyday conversation and interaction, biblical truths were regularly worked in.

This is a legacy that Becki and I have sought to pass down to our children. We regularly read to our children Bible stories, memorize Bible verses, draw application from Bible verses, and talk about God's truths. There may be people, ministers, or families out there who do not believe or want to follow Scripture, but this preacher, his mom, and his family is not one of them!

What did your mom teach you about Scripture?