Spent last week on a strategic island nation near Florida that rhymes with ‘tuba’. And it’s changed me. Hope it will infect us all.
You may have heard God’s at work there. It’s true in the Los Pinos Nuevos (LPN) denomination. Thousands are turning to Christ through the faithful witness of this formerly inward, legalistic denomination that is now gospel-driven, missional, fruitful in evangelism and reproducing like crazy.
Big picture data from LPN. In 1978, according to their government reports, there were only 120,000 evangelical Christians on an island of 11 million. That doubled by 1993 then doubled again by 2001. By 2011, the number had more doubled again. Now if you are good with math (I’m not) then you’d realize there are over 1 million ‘evangelicals’ now. Wow.
Church is different there. Resources more difficult to find. Hostility toward Christianity has slackened but there is still much government control. With no permission to build new church facilities, LPN took reproduction into ‘casa cultos’ (legally recognized house churches) and cell groups. It’s all legal and out in the open. In fact, switching to house churches and cell groups out of necessity has accelerated evangelism. It’s opened the door for many spiritually seeking neighbors (who would never be seen at a church for fear of losing their jobs) to just come over, be welcomed and investigate Christ. Is there something for us to learn here?
The LPN denomination has been working hard in the power of the Spirit and the truth of the gospel. In 2007 there were 187 churches. Same as before the troubles. Now there are 27 training centers, 3000 pastoral leaders learning the doctrines of grace in over 30,000 different house churches and cells. LPN can count over 300,000 people in their denomination now. Wow!
How did this happen? The need for and power of the gospel is spreading deep and wide in this movement.
Though pastor/leaders there have been raised in a culture of suspicion and mistrust, a small group of wise leaders there and stateside have been implementing a God-sized strategy of evangelism and training leaders in trust-building, gospel-centered workshops like CMM’s Gospel Coach. They transformed their seminary into a training center and have pushed out and pressed down training to indigenous leaders who are using tech tools like ThirdMill (Biblical education. For the world. For free.) for training in systematic biblical grace-focused theology.
Most importantly, the key leaders, from the president of LPN on down, have been blown away by God’s grace personally. I was honored to lead the top 13 key leaders from LPN through an adapted and extended Gospel Coach workshop to help them coach the hundreds of leaders they work with in the gospel. Then participated in another two days of strategic planning that was so clearly dependent upon God’s Spirit and His provision that it brought tears to our eyes. There God has to work and they have to depend on Him.
How I long for more of us to feel our need for the gospel, for more dependence on Christ and more urgency in our mission like these brothers and sisters!
That is a dangerous desire and prayer, but the opportunities are too big not to pray.