What has our goal been since the beginning? To make disciples that make disciples. The goal is to develop leaders who can lead and grow the self-sustaining church. God has been so faithful these past 2 years and has helped our team, through the leadership of our pastors, come up with an exit strategy so that the church is comfortable when we leave.
For those who like knowing the statistics behind everything, the church has:
(Numbers vary due to change and growth – since we are a “church plant”)
- Weekly attendance 80-95 people
- 39 leaders (many of them are youth)
At the beginning of the year, we (the team of missionaries) handed over our personal ministries to the people of the church. So now I’m going to brag about some of them and share stories
Tim Montgomery is the Worship leader and he has started teaching weekly workshops on what it means to be in front leading the congregation in worship and how to do it well. After the workshop portion, we have a jam session! They learn to play as a group and improve on their instruments.
Since we (the missionaries) are still here, we help with the voices, guitars, drums, and whatnot. It is incredible to see this group of people, who just a year ago, didn’t know how to play anything, grow into a band that has the desire to glorify the Lord.
As our time is rapidly coming to a close, we continue to pray for a specific leader to guide this team. We know that God is the main guide and in control of everything.
In February, we held our 8th Encounter.
If you have never heard of an Encounter, it is a 3-day event where the church teaches the attendees what a life living for the Lord looks like biblically. Easily said, it is an encounter with God. There are a lot of people in the city of Manta who are simply unaware of how to live a life that is pleasing to God for lack of knowledge. The Encounter gives them a general, however profound, explanation of what the truth is and how to have a relationship with God. There is a lot of preparation that goes into setting up for these weekends. There is a team that serves and takes care of all of the logistics behind the scenes. This past Encounter was our very first one with a full team of 16 church leaders!
There is also, however, one special person who is overall in charge of the ministry of “Encounters”. Maria Hardeman was the missionary in charge and has successfully trained and passed over the torch. I am happy to say that the Lord has blessed us with Valeria Lopez!
Valeria assisted our very first Encounter in November 2016. She has been with us from the beginning and the Lord has worked in her life in so many ways!
After her Encounter, Valeria became a member of the church, took leadership and discipleship classes and made changes in her life to live in obedience to the Lord.
The hope we have for Encounters is that the same process Valeria went through, more people will go through! We not only want to grow the church, but we want God to impact more lives through the work that we do to glorify HIS name!
There is still a lot to be done as we wrap up our time here at the Manta church plant. Even though we have passed over our ministries, we are still here to support them while observing, watching and helping them out. We will continue praying for God to bring more people to grow as disciples and leaders. I am excited to see how He will work!