“Moving Christians from the pew to the harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38
August 6, 2020
Look up from where you are, Friends.
I’ve always loved that verse in Genesis 13 where God says to Abram, “”Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are. (Genesis 13:14).” July was that time for me. When we started the “lockdown” in March, my calendar was full, and life was busy. We were awash in plans to expand in Mexico and other places. In the beginning, like most of you, I assumed this season would be a few weeks and then back to the race. It hasn’t turned out that way.
This last month, I have sensed the Lord prompting me to look more aggressively at how we could fulfill our calling right now, from home if need be. Part of my calling is to write stuff, so I have been busy at that. (Check out pastorvirgil.com) Another part is to make our bible training program, Instituto de Entrenamiento Ministerial de Fe, widely available in Latin America, moving people out of their pew and into God’s harvest. Finally, in this latter season of life, I feel a real responsibility to be a support, a resource, and an encouragement to pastors and leaders who need a gray head to talk to. We seem to have things to impart.
For me, looking up from where we are has meant:
- Finding an online connection with non-Christians. I use Facebook and its evil spawn to communicate with people I know, and to meet new “friends” who are friends of my friends. One impact of this is that when I write my holy opinions, nearly everyone is a Christian. Writing on my social media is basically yelling into a barrel. This is fine for fellowship and encouragement, but it doesn’t win the lost.
- With that in mind, I established a Twitter account for the express purpose of following people I don’t agree with and who are mostly non-Christians. That way, I can check in on my usual haunts without being irritated by horrible language and unseemly pictures. Then I can switch to this account, where I follow Black Lives Matter, the Democratic members of the House and Senate, and the mullahs in Iran. They provide a frightening insight into the way many people think today. It’s like a window into an alternate universe. Many of them are bright, talented people who are so damaged and deluded that they can’t see past their pain and anger.
- My goal is to let them know that Jesus is real, that He loves them and so do I. When I see a post that lends itself to a response, I reply. In my reply, I express my appreciation for them as a human being. If appropriate, I let them know I don’t agree with them, but that Jesus still died for them. I also make it a point to let them know I am praying for them. People read this stuff. At least they will hear the simple Gospel Message one time. (Consider joining me in this endeavor. It’s easy and it’s free. Tweet on!)
- Seeing ways to expand from where we are. We have gone from doing online meetings as a stopgap alternative to using them as a primary vehicle to expand our tent. Current online activities include:
- Líderes en crecimiento: A bi-weekly Zoom meeting with pastors and ministry leaders. We are learning the great principles of building teams of leaders and growing our ministries together. Using the Zoom platform we can do Power-point presentations, have interpretation, and do questions and testimonies. We average about 15 in attendance from Sonora, Mexico City, Peru, and Panama.
- IEMFe equipo Ejecutivo:I meet weekly by Zoom with 4 team members in Hermosillo to plan and execute the next phase of IEMFe there. Pastor Alberto is meeting weekly with a team of involved pastors laying the groundwork to finish the first level classes that had to be suspended in March. We will soon have a plan in place for the permanent establishment of IEMFe in Hermosillo, ad a plan for propagation throughout Mexico and beyond.
- Internet productions:We are producing several new ways for people to access our content and also have some form of personal interactions and feed back
- Panama:I’m working with Doug Dolan from Recovery in the Pines to produce a four hour video seminar on addiction and Christian recovery. It will be used on the Vida Ministries radio station in Darien as well as on their website and our Facebook page. The need is great. We don’t want to wait any longer.
- Church Government: This month we will also begin recording the “Church Government” class to be used in all the same outlets as the addictions course. This teaching is much needed. I believe it will help many pastors and church leaders in our circle of independent churches. (The book, “How to run a Sheep Shed” is available here.)
- IEMFe Facebook classes: This week we are doing a pilot project in preparation to teach some of our upper level materials as Facebook Watch Parties. My experience with the “Líderes en crecimiento” Zoom meetings has led me to believe we can use that platform to record and disseminate materials for broader consumption. Church Government will be followed by “Life in the Spirit,” a primer on how to live guided by the Holy Ghost within.
- For our nation. This is God’s country, and He will deliver.
- For our Latin American friends. The virus is beginning to wane, but there is still a great deal to be done to recover.
- Pray especially for our pastors as they seek to survive economically as well as physically.
- Agree with us for a reliable vehicle for use in Mexico. When the lockdown ends, we have several places waiting to start classes. Our team and teachers need to have a way to move about. It’s time to multiply!
- Agree with us for the wisdom to do what we need to do technologically to get the wonderful Word to people in efficient ways.
Financial support can be sent to Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson at the address below, or given online at www.fcftucson.org. Make checks payable to FCFT, you can designate for missions or pastorvirgil and it will get where it needs to go. Thanks again.
Don’t forget to visit www.pastorvirgil.com. The Healing Help series is front burner at the moment. You don’t want to miss it. Share it with your friends. You can help by looking at the Pastorvirgil.com Facebook page and hitting follow. Whenever you see a post, share it. This stuff will help people.
As always, Judy and I are grateful for you and to you. We strive to be worthy of your prayers and support. If we can serve you in any way, please let us know.
Yours in His service,
Virgil and Judy Stokes