Sunday, May 11, 2014

Iglesia Bellavista

Bellavista means beautiful view. 
Life on the mission field just got even more exciting. Our main task as missionaries in Chile is to pioneer university ministry. It has taken us all of 6 years to finally feel like the ball is rolling…then God throws us for a loop. More than a year ago God began to fix our eyes upon an area of Santiago called Providencia. The more we talked about it the more we realized that God was calling us to do more than start university ministry in the area…He was calling us to start a church! So we prayed and tried to make sense of this new task. Josh and I have never envisioned ourselves pastoring a church. Not that we were opposed to it, it was just not in "our plans." So after a year of praying and meeting the right people to work with, Iglesia Bellavista was born on April 4, 2014. "Bellavista" means a beautiful view. Our desire is to give people of Providencia a beautiful view of the life God gave each one of us. "Bellavista" is also a very well known area of Providencia. It is known as Santiago's bohemian quarters and home to many universities and heavy night life. An area where you would least expect a church. A great passage that represents our church is found in Acts 3, the story of the lame beggar that is healed outside the temple at the Gate Beautiful. We want to be a body of believers that recognizes and meets the spiritual needs outside of the church and in the community God has placed us in. We currently meet in hotel conference room every Friday night and are averaging about 15 people. We are excited for this part of the journey and see what God does through us to continue to reach the people of Chile.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What things look like after 6 years...

God is good at over exceeding our expectations. Last December marked the end of our first entire school year on Republica (a street with various university campuses). We were so relieved to have constantly met with students once a week. It was a huge milestone for CONEXION. Our hearts were grateful as we looked back at everything that happened during the 2013 school year. We started off with 3 of us prayer walking and praying for God to do something in that place. We were than able to move into a classroom and begin a journey with students, first exploring the question "Does truth exist?" and finally introducing them to Jesus the one who died on the cross and rose on the 3rd day, the basis for what we believe. We were more than pleased at what God had done. By this time we were also able to identify some potential student leaders but only time would tell if they would stick with it since summertime was around the corner. Summer came and went and at the end of February we held our CONEXION Bootcamp. This is a time for people committed to starting CONEXION either in their church or campus to come together for planning and encouragement before the school year. At our last retreat at the beginning of the 2013 school year there were 8 of us and this year there were a total of 80 in attendance!!! Last year we ended with 5 CONEXION groups in the country and this 2014 school year we started with 15!!! During the summer we traveled to the north part of the country to a youth camp to share the vision of CONEXION. At the camp we connected with a handful of students who were excited to start something, so excited that some of them traveled 36hrs on a bus to take part of the bootcamp. God keeps over exceeding our expectations and this is just the beginning. We are excited for what God is doing on campuses and churches up and down the country. Back in Santiago the group that met at Republica decided to divide so that the other half could start a CONEXION group at la Universidad de Santiago de Chile, one of the top 3 universities in the country. Yesterday we met for the 3rd time on this campus known for student's heavy political involvement. God brought us to Chile to pioneer campus ministry 6 years ago and for the first time we feel like it isn't just our burden. One of the  greatest testimonies is the team God is putting together to continue to make this happen.

Leaders Panel at the Bootcamp - "How to start a CONEXION group"

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Campus Ministry is Growing in Latin America

I felt very small being amongst such amazing men and women of God who had gathered in Colombia for the University Ministry Strategic Planning meeting. In attendance were missionaries from all over South America who are working to reach university students, as well as three Chi Alpha missionaries from the States that have committed to bringing students down each year to help reach students.  For four days we shared about the work in each country, and tried our best to identify what strategies, values and principles are working universally across Latin America.  On the last day we spread out in 7 different churches to minister and share about student ministry, with the hopes that this would help the missionaries in Colombia that are starting campus ministry this year.

So, what was the fruit of this trip?  I left both encouraged and challenged to do things with more faith in Chile, but I also realized that we weren't alone in this fight; there are others who have given their lives to the same cause of reaching university students in Latin America. We also were able to form a network for AGWM Missionaries in Latin America called La Red Universitaria de las Asambleas de Dios.  Each country maintains it own name and identity, but we share a common vision, strategy and resources for reaching students all over the Spanish speaking Americas.  We now have a website for pastors, missionaries and workers that want to start campus ministry in this region of the world, check it out at La Red Universitaria

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Transgenerational Discipleship

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timithy 2:2

This verse serves as the basis for a concept known as transgenerational discipleship, the heart and soul of campus ministry and what we believe is the method of Jesus. In this verse we can identify 4 generations of believers: Paul, Timothy, reliable people, and others. Paul is entrusting a responsibility to Timothy, not just that he would make disciples, but that he would make disciples that make disciples.  This is discipleship; not just a class or 45 minute teaching, but a real life following of Jesus, in which more mature Christians take responsibility for the life of others, so at some point they can do the same.  Do I believe that Christ has done a great thing in my life? Do I believe that others are just as valuable to Him? Then now I need to take responisbility for the life of another so that they will be able to do the same. It is the responsibility of every believer in every generation. In the picture above we see a spiritual lineage of 7 generations. If it weren't for the 5 guys before Josh that chose to be obedient and become responsible for the life of another, then Josh and I would not be in Chile. Transgenerational discipleship is at the heart of what we do and the lineage must continue in Chile. 

Javiera, Mayra and Daniela
After 5 years in Chile we can trace a spiritual lineage! Tamara (pictured sitting at the table on the far left) is someone we have invested in and if anyone understands the heart of discipleship it is her. When Daniela (green jacket) got saved, Tamara took her under her wing and helped her to grow spiritually. Daniela was a medical student at a prestigious university and with Tamara they started a small group with Daniela's classmates. One of the beautiful things about Daniela's testimony is that her entire family also got saved, including her younger sister, Javiera (pictured with me on the left). Daniela was a huge influence in her sister's life.

In September I was able to attend one of their small groups
Javiera is now a university student and has a burden to reach her fellow classmates. This past school year she started her own small group. We were able to visit Coquimbo, the city where we started Conexion, and attended a Conexion Coffee House. We were able to meet some of the girls in her small group. For us it was a significant time as we were able to see the fruit of obedience and taking responsibility for one's life. The other wonderful thing about reaching university students is the influence they will have in the workplace. Daniela has graduated medical school and is already working as a doctor. On that same visit to Coquimbo our son got ill and she was able to treat him at the medical center where she works. It was so neat to see her in action being salt and light to those around her.  We really are reaching world changers!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

San Antonio XA Team in Chile


Video by Eddie Fernandez

A City on a Hill

Making progress in the Barrio Universitario

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Mathew 5:14
(sketch done by a group of CONEXION students)

We have been meeting on Calle Republica in the Barrio Universitario for 5 months now. Two Chi Alpha teams from Texas came this summer, helping us accomplish several months worth of work in a few short weeks. They encouraged our key students and were so essential in helping us meet new ones. It has been one of our biggest prayers to meet and establish friendships with students that have never stepped foot in a church. Our prayer is that our CONEXION students can become a "city on a hill", a community that stands out because of the way the students love and honor one another.  

CONEXION across Chile 
Conexion retreat July 2013
Last weekend we had a retreat with CONEXION leaders from across Chile. It was a great time of encouraging and equipping those taking part in reaching students on their campuses and through their local churches. Since arriving and pioneering university ministry we have shared the vision of reaching students with many pastors and churches. CONEXION is now present in 5 cities across the nation. We are grateful for the team God has put together!

celebrating flag day at pre school 
Reasons why we love Chile and Chileans!
In September we will celebrate 5 years of living in Chile. We have fallen in love with the culture and the people. Having had 2 kids here, Chile certainly holds a special place in our hearts. This is the country our children will also grow to love. Just the other day while celebrating the 4th of July (we also teach our children about being American) my daughter proudly waived her American flag shouting "Viva Chile!" A true third culture kid! Anyway here is a list of just a few reasons why we love Chile and Chileans.
1. Any reason is a reason to celebrate. Hence the numerous holidays.
2. They love their soccer. I don't have to turn on the television to realize the Chilean national soccer team is can hear the fans shouting from the streets.
3. They take foreign concepts and ideas and make them better. If you have ever eaten a Chilean hot dog then you know exactly what I am talking about. 
4. They invite you for lunch and you end up staying for dinner. Eating together is a big part of their culture. That's what got me!