It's been the most amazing couple of years of our lives. It all started at Liberty Baptist Church in Las Vegas. We didn't know what to expect, but we couldn't have had a better church to start deputation than Liberty. It was a busy week and we had to travel a long way to get there, but hey, it was Pastor Dave Teis and an amazing story of an extremely successful church plant that began in a city widely known for its godless society and rampant life style. It was awesome! We knew then that God was preparing us to partner with some of the most healthy and thriving churches that America has ever seen. We visited 104 churches over a period of 22 months. We flew 11 different times and traveled over 60,000 miles, not counting the miles that we flew!
More importantly than the travel are the churches that we visited. We are honored to be partners with our supporting churches. We have learned much from each one, and we have acquired an extraordinary "board of directors" that not only are there for counsel and advise, but also for friendship and encouragement. Their churches are healthy, balanced, and Bible-centered. While they are all obviously different in their sizes, cultures, and personality, their DNA is the same: let the Gospel run freely in our communities. We have learned so much by seeing their staff at work.
Unity is a huge deal in our supporting churches and the staff embodies a perfect balance between excellence and true friendship among themselves.
Outreach is central in these churches. They understand perfectly that the purpose of the church is not to have a center for healthy people but rather a location where sick ones are brought by those who have been healed already. The congregations then are not only committed to outreach for just a few hours on Saturday, but it is part of who they are all week long!
The Bible is the foundation in our supporting churches. By visiting their churches, being a part in their conferences, or just speaking with pastors, we realized that they have a profound obsession with ONLY preaching the Bible. They are committed to expository preaching and an accurate interpretation of Scripture. We have learned that a church that is healthy is a church where the pastor not only preaches out of the Bible, but rather he interprets the Bible to his congregation- big difference!
Balance is a common word among our supporting churches. I don't mean that they use Christian liberty to become like the world. Rather, they understand that God is bigger than fundamentalism, that the Bible is better than any big-name preacher, that preferences are just preferences, that evangelism is more than just numbers, that music is a ministry, not a tool that measures our spirituality, and that preaching accurately is more important than just preaching out of the KJV.
We are thankful for and humbled by our supporting churches. They have spent thousands of dollars to promote, invest, and maintain their missions programs. They give sacrificially and beyond. We do not take it for granted. Please know that we are so touched and thankful for your support.
A few words to our supporting church, Emmanuel Baptist. Thank you. You guys are awesome. We love you and miss you. You have inspired us. You have renewed our passion for outreach and love for the lost. Your story reminds us of the power of the Gospel when it runs freely. Anyone still thinking that New Englanders are cold towards the Gospel?
Pastor Cary, thank you so very much. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for always making me feel that I am important to you. Thank you for always saying that I am such a great man even though you know, and I know that you know ;) that it is not entirely true. Thank you for the countless hours that you spent with me talking about ministry, life, and churches. Thank you for making me feel part of your staff. Thank you for letting me preach several times even though your people only want to hear you. Thank you for loving us and partnering with us. You mean a lot to me, and your main strength is not that you are a great lecturer, but that you live what you believe. You are an amazing rol model.
And now, this is it. We close our deputation process at Coastline Baptist in California. This church means a lot to us because, well, it is the last one! It closes a time that was profitable and necessary, but opens a more important door, planting churches in Mexico. Coastline Baptist is an awesome way to end deputation because in many ways we want to build our church in Mexico after Coastline's example. Their pastor, staff, preaching, music and personality, in my opinion, best embodies the New Testament church in the 21st century. We love Coastline and we would be members of this church in a heartbeat!
Monday, November 2, 2015 is our departure date. Many amazing things before us are awaiting. Please pray for our church and its expected grand opening in August of 2016. Please come to visit us.
So...from Las Vegas, to California, to Mexico. Here we go!