Archive for the 'Latin World' Category

Latin Worship

Monday, May 7th, 2007

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I had the honor this morning of speaking at a joint worship gathering of Rios Auga Viva and the Filadelphia, two churches in Caracas.

The worship prior to the message absolutely rocked! I have rarely if ever experienced anything this expressive in an Anglo context. African-Americans come close but even their genre is different.

The music that’s imported from North or from Europe/Australia, etc., and translated into Spanish doesn’t quite cut it. Even for someone who can’t speak Spanish, the distinction between words/music that are Venezuelan in origin and what’s from outside the culture is obvious. I’ve seen once again that when creativity is unleashed within a culture, it resonates with the soul in a manner that is hard to duplicate through that which is borrowed from without.
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For the Women …

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

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One of the amazing features of this CRM conference in Venezuela was the track that was designed for the women—mostly wives of the pastors and church planters—who attended.

According to most, it was the FIRST time they had ever been in any setting where time, attention, and focus was given specifically to them and their needs. They were used to being mere appendages. In this setting, they were ministered to as individuals and as people of worth for whom God also has a unique calling and plan. It was remarkable to see what emerged in just a few days when given such an opportunity.

From Venezuela

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

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After several weeks of pausing in putting up blog posts—mostly because of being sidelined from the vertigo attack—I’m back at it.

This week, I’m in Caracas, Venezuela for a CRM conference for over 120 pastors and other leaders from throughout the nation. This event marks several important milestones. It celebrates the transition of CRM Venezuela to national leadership. Leonel Portillo (pictured below right) has assumed this responsibility. The conference also moves our contribution to the Church in the Latin world to a new level.

The main presenters for this conference were from CRM’s CoNext partners in Australia, Ian and Verlie Hamilton. Particularly gratifying was the fact that all of this event and subsequent ministry was happening with little to no influence from Americans. Increasingly CRM in this part of the world is morphing into an apostolic movement of and for Venezuelans and others in the region.

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Missionary Types Do Have Fun!

Monday, May 1st, 2006

I gotta confess that life as a missionary can have some great times!

While in Venezuela, I took a day off and with the folks serving with CRM, both North Americans and Venezuelans, experienced some of God’s magnificent creation off the coast. Despite the stereotypes, missionary life is not all dowdy, full of hardship, and self denial.

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From Phoenix to the Barrio

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Ryan Mathis
Ryan Mathis is from Phoenix, Arizona. He’s 23.

He spent last year in Pretoria, South Africa as a NieuCommunities participant. That experience in missional living and spiritual formation was a great foundation for what he believes God wants to do with his life. This year, he began an apprenticeship with CRM’s InnerCHANGE team in the barrios of Caracas where he is committed to a life of incarnational service among the poor of Latin America.

Ryan is a example of where missional rhetoric has been turned into missional reality. May God’s presence and blessing rest on Ryan and may his life be an example of Isaiah 58:10-12

“...and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.”

CRM Venezuela

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

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CRM has had people living and ministering in Venezuela for 13 years. I was together with them yesterday in Caracas.

This team has faithfully and effectively served the church throughout this nation during those years and is now going through a major leadership transition to national leadership. Leonel and Melissa Portillo (far right) will assume responsibility for the team in June and Randy and Doralicia Gonzales (far left) will be moving to Costa Rica to open CRM’s work in Central America.

I wish I could clone this team. The quality of their work and the depth of their contribution to the Christian movement in this part of Latin America has been excellent. And their dynamic as a team – loving and respecting each other and working together harmoniously – has been an exemplary model.

Ministry in a Barrio

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

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The majority of Caracas lives in the barrios that ring the central valley where the business and middle-class is concentrated. Interestingly very little missionary activity occurs in these barrios, at least not by non-Venezuelans.

This means that the CRM InnerCHANGE team are the first, and for many the only, non-Latino people that these residents have ever personally encountered. The team is multi-cultural with North Americans, a German, and one Chinese American.

Such a presence is not easy. And it’s risky. We’ve had several staff held-up in the past several weeks, one at gun-point. But the redemptive effect of their presence is exponentially more powerful than any itinerant workers who drive-in and drive-out.

Right now, the team is focusing on three separate communities within this sprawling barrio where house churches, formed along familial lines, have emerged. As the team told us, the keys to sustainability and the multiplication of a movement are based on such authentic, vibrant groupings of believers taking deep root and appropriate leadership emerging.

And as in any such context, the Gospel of the Kingdom is a far greater, holistic message than personal salvation. The Good News ultimately applies to every aspect of life, which in the barrios of Caracas. has widespread implications.

From a Barrio in Caracas

Monday, April 24th, 2006

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InnerCHANGE is CRM’s Order Among the Poor. I have the privilege of spending today with the InnerCHANGE team (pictured here) who live and minister in one of largest and poorest barrios in Caracas.

I see again the power of lives invested incarnationally. There is no substitute for being, in word and deed, the presence of Christ.