July 23, 2013

A weekly communication for:

WDC Churches and Pastors

WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members

 Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and forwarded to congregational leaders and members.

WDC Sprouts is also available at:  www.mennowdc.org (Publications)


*Church Planter Dreamers

Church Planter Dreamers

by Gilberto Flores, WDC Associate Conference Minister

In December 1978, my family and I returned to Guatemala City after two years of ministry with Central Mennonite Church in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Our decision to leave was related to a sense of urgency to go back to Guatemala to start a new congregation. My wife and I talked for hours about this dream. Our dream was simple and clear.  There is a space for a church grounded in the Anabaptist theology and ecclesiology in our home city.

As soon as we confirmed in our hearts that the Lord was leading us, preparations were made to move back.  We had three things in our hands to use as starting resources for the project: the assurance that God was leading us, $7,000 in our savings account, and a lot of connections with the community. According to our dream or vision, these three things were enough.

During three months we visited 30 families, prayed with them and shared our vision and purpose. I invited ten friends to pray for us until we saw what God was doing. I spoke with students on the university campus, and accepted invitations to do motivational speeches in the Rotary Club, Lions Club and other associations in the city. At the end of those three months, our savings was gone. No more money. We were plain broke.

It was early Monday, when I received an unusual phone call. The person invited me to come to his business place to get reconnected after years of no contact. I had to be at his place at 9:00 AM. I was intrigued by this call and the purpose of this meeting. Because I had only five cents in my pocket and my wife expected that I would eat lunch at home with the family, I had to walk 10 miles to this man’s place and use the five cents to come back home by public transportation. And that is what I did.

Jose was waiting for me in the foyer.  We entered a conference room and there, to my surprise, were eight more people waiting for me.  At least five of these seven men and two women were people I already knew. They explained the purpose of the meeting.  First, they wanted to know about my plans to plant a new church in Guatemala City, and secondly, they wanted to share what God was doing among them in that regard. Because I had never shared with them about this project before, and because I never imagined they would have interest in such a thing, I had to take some time to recompose myself and do my best to open my heart and share what was at the center of my mind and soul.

This meeting helped me to learn about how the Holy Spirit is at work without one’s knowledge. I became aware how the Lord moves things according to his will. The fact that God is at work is always something that amazes me.  This group talked about a dream they had as a group. All of them were successful entrepreneurs. They were Catholics, evangelicals, and few of them had a little bit of Anabaptist connection because of a previous relationship with me.  I worked with some of them in social projects and human development initiatives back in the early seventies.  They had been part of other Christian initiatives as well.

Two years earlier, they decided to meet to discern about their Christian commitment. Twice a month they met to pray, read the Bible and listen to God. Since the very beginning of these meetings, they began to evaluate the need for a different kind of church in a very saturated religious market. They had no clue about what church could make a difference, but they imagined and dreamed that there could be in God’s heart something different. The idea was for a church open to see the social context with ethical Christian responsibility. For them this church was to be a voice of hope in the midst of distress and suffering.  This group was interested in supporting a church planting work that some, if not all, envisioned as core components of  their dream.

At the end of this meeting, the group stated that they would not be physically part of that initiative because they already were part of their own congregations. However, they were committed to support the project by different means.

This story reflects very well what we in WDC are looking for. As you can see, the group in this story had a dream about church planting, they had different kinds of resources, and they were open to sharing some of those resources. Financial support for this new church was established. Connections were made with people ready to open their homes for Bible studies. I received a car for transportation.  There was prayer for the projected outcomes and for me and my family. They invited other people to share resources. For two years they met with me, allowing a space for friendship, emotional support, spiritual companionship, and delicious meals.

Those dreamers marked my life.  Not one of them is a part of the Mennonite Church.  They are still active members in their own congregations, but they helped to build a new church for the sake of the testimony of Jesus Christ. The dream about church planting put them in the right place to become a source of blessing for a lot of people to receive Jesus in their hearts. And it helped me to see that God always has chosen people to be a blessing and sojourners in the mission to announce the reign of heaven to the world.

We will have a lunch during WDC assembly to meet with Church Planting Dreamers wanting to share, support, pray and plant new churches for the glory of God. See you there!

WDC Announcements

1.  How are you being Shaped by God’s Story?  Explore this theme at the Annual Western District Conference Assembly.  Worship starts at 7 pm on Aug 2 and 3 in Memorial Hall at Bethel College and is open to all!

2.  Thank you to the churches who have sent their WDC Annual Assembly Delegate List Form.  If you have not done this, please do it today!  English and Spanish versions of this document are attached.

3.  Empty (But Oh So Full)!  Camp Mennoscah has one more week of camp–our Senior High Camp.  We found enough counselors for an extra cabin of girls/young women, so our Wait List is empty.  If anything is going to be empty, we want it to be our Wait List!  Thank you to the many people who helped us search and search and find our counselors for Senior High Camp and for all of our youth camps!

4.  A Sad Day in Murdock.  Camp Mennoscah’s intergenerational Family Camp has been cancelled.  But only for this year, so don’t fret and don’t furrow those brows.  We’ll be back next summer!

5.  Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah–Get ready, folks.  Our Mental Health retreat is September 1-2, 2013.  Our theme is Create Yourself Anew and we’ll be looking at ourselves in new ways, worshiping, doing some recreation and having some free time.  All are invited to this retreat for individuals affected by mental illness, including family, friends, and any others with the desire to be part of this group.  The brochure can be found at www.campmennoscah.org under Retreats or by calling 620-297-3290.

6.  The WDC Office and Conference Resource Library will close at noon on Thursday, August 1 and remain closed through Monday August 5.

Western District Conference

2517 North Main, PO Box 306

North Newton KS  67117

316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org

Website:  www.mennowdc.org