Letter From ABWE President Dr. Michael Loftis
This Is What I've Been Waiting For!
Nicaraguan pastor and architect Jose Travillo had a compelling vision?to reach the towns around Santo Tomas in eastern Nicaragua for Jesus Christ. But how could one person do such a big job alone?
Meanwhile, Mark and Diane Henzler, ABWE missionaries in Nicaragua, were praying along with the rest of the Nicaragua team about a vision of their own?to start an Institute of Church Planters (ICP).
When Pastor Jose Travillo heard the Henzlers? plans, he said, ?This is what I?ve been waiting for!?
And Pastor Travillo was not the only pastor excited about the new Institute. When Mark explained the Institute plans to the group of Nicaraguan pastors he works with, their first question was, ?How many participants can we have?? Mark describes what happened next: I suggested (optimistically) twenty. They were crestfallen. ?Could it be forty?? they asked. That really took me aback?could we manage such a large group? I thought about it and listened to their reasons, then committed it to prayer.
After stressing the necessity of active involvement on the part of every participant, as well as help from the pastors themselves with the mentoring and accountability responsibilities, Mark agreed.
The Institute Begins
In early September, the Henzlers held the first of five week-long, intensive training seminars on church planting. These seminars will stretch over the next two years, during which time each student will be actively involved in starting a new church plant.
Pastor Travillo brought a group of eight young men to the Institute as students, even though it meant they had to leave at 3:00 a.m. to arrive for 9:00 a.m. registration. Many other students came, too. Mark writes, We cut this first group off at forty, simply because logistically we cannot handle more; but there are many more ready to be trained. Ironically, even though it's a time of great difficulty, with daily blackouts and other things related to the government that I can't share, it's harvest time here!
As Regional Professor of Biblical Studies for ABWE Central America and the Caribbean, Mark will do most of the Institute teaching initially, but he will use special speakers, including Nicaraguan pastors. Two new missionaries, Bruce Edgar and Richard Woughter, will teach more as they further hone their language skills.
Mentoring is a vital component of the Institute, with national pastors and missionaries partnering to provide field oversight of each church planter. Every one of our ABWE missionaries on the field has offered to help by going out across Nicaragua to the church-planting sites to encourage and mentor these men, Mark writes.
The Nicaraguan pastors had a goal of planting 50 churches in the next 10 years; the ABWE team there had been praying since May that God would help them start 12 churches in the next 2 years. Now, Mark writes, Do you realize we could be starting something like 30 new works in the next 2 years? We need a massive amount of prayer, for:
? Students who will be chosen to participate in the program
? God?s direction in selecting ?campos? (places where new churches will be started)
? Lost souls who will be reached through these new works
Thank you for your faithful prayer support for ABWE missionaries in Nicaragua and around the world, and for sharing the resources that help make their ministries possible.
Grateful for your partnership in the gospel,
Michael G. Loftis