Are you nervous? are you excited? are you scared?-someone just asked me today. Yes, yes, and yes! Our grand opening is just two and half weeks away, and we are looking forward to what God will do in this new ministry.
As we plan and prepare for the church opening and in essence for the next years of our life, we obviously have several goals that we hope to accomplish. However, there are two foundational tasks that keep on surfacing as the platform upon which everything else must be built if we want to encounter biblical success.
First, the Preaching of the Word. It may sound simplistic and perhaps too obvious, but it is exceptionally important. You see, in our baptist world, not every sermon is a biblical sermon and not every preacher preaches the Word. Sadly, in battling many doctrinal fronts we have forsaken the faithful preaching of God's Word. One of my seminary professors recently said, "in many cases, most of the content of our 'preaching' is not different from what other religions may also agree with: good families, conservative citizens, faithful husbands, stand against divorce, abortion, homosexuality, etc." I want my sermons to be Bible-based, not principle-based. In contrast with all other world religions, we preach Christ and His words. I must carefully examine whether my sermon is mine, or the detailed interpretation of the text. I must not preach morals, principles, religious tenets or conservative stands, I must preach the Word. I must not take a verse out of context. I must not be lazy in my sermon preparation. I must not lack the anointing of the Holy Spirit that only comes through prayer before I preach.
I believe that salvation of lost souls, social transformation, church growth, and missional endeavors can only be accomplished successfully through the accurate interpretation of the Bible. I believe that the success of our church plant is based on the careful exposition of the Word of God. In other words, as we expose our people to what the Bible really means, the Holy Spirit then will do the rest in ways that we cannot even fathom.
Second, the Training of Men. I like investing my money. Every month we set aside a certain amount to save and invest. The nice thing about investing is that throughout the years it does not only add the monthly payment, but even better, it creates capital gain and compounds along with dividends! At the end of my ministry I don't want to only see "my years in the ministry," but rather a multiplication of men. I strongly believe that the training needs to be both practical and academic. We want to train men in doctrine so that they can teach other men. It is only when faithful men are teaching sound dcotrine that God raises up men for ministry. Our church plant cannot be a one-man show. Of course at the beginning of the church, things will work in a unique manner. However, our aim is to never be comfortable with the status-quo. We want more. We want to train more. We want to produce more. We want to sow more. We want to help more. We want to teach more, and then some.
Please pray for the grand opening. Please pray for the people to show up! But above all, please pray that at Abundant Grace Church the preaching of the Word is central, and the multiplication of men is accomplished. For the sake of the Gospel, and to the glory of God.
After prayer and logistics analysis, a few months ago we decided to set August 14 as the grand-opening date for Abundant Grace Baptist. The next task was to go out and look for possible sites to rent. We quickly found out that finding a place that is suitable for a church is more complex than what we initially thought. Some places are great auditoriums, but no room for classrooms. Some have awesome classroom space but not enough space for an auditorium.
However, last week we saw an answer of prayer to this request, and once again we saw God do a miracle in a way that only a loving, caring Father can perform one. Let me briefly tell you about it.
A few months ago we came acquainted with Brian and Dany. They are a wonderful couple who recently accepted Christ, got baptized, and are growing in grace and maturity. He has openly expressed a sincere and serious desire to serve in ministry in the future and is currently looking to enroll in a local Bible institute. Brian is an Uber driver and a couple weeks ago God used him for this miracle. It is awesome! He and I talk constantly and send info about places we see for possible church sites. He called me two weeks ago to let me know that a couple of guys called for an Uber. He answered the call and when they got in the vehicle they told him that they wanted to go to a number of places that were vacant to see if they could find a good site to rent for a business they were starting. Brian took them to several places. They would get off, visit the place , look around, get in the car again, and go on to the next one. One of those places was too big for their needs so they weren't too interested, but it was located in an awesome area, where lots of cars go by, several apartment complexes around, and a brand-new open-air mall. Immediately Brian wrote out the number and called the owner who told him that the rent was $800 a month. Brian and I talked and decided to go and take a look at the place. Rebekah, the kids, Brian and I went to see the location. We loved it. There are already a couple classrooms, an auditorium, and space to grow to up to 90 people if we need it in the near future. It was awesome! I went outside to talk to the owner and I asked about rent again. He then said that rent was $682 a month. We are not sure why he had said a much higher price to Brian but we know God was involved in the discount!
Today, I called the owner one more time to let him know that we felt that God was leading us to rent his property. As if it was not enough, he proceeded to apply another discount to the rent. He said he wanted $650 a month, which is awesome because when we started praying for a place we asked God to provide a place that was no more than $700 a month. God answers prayers! Additionally, the owner said that as part of the contract he would freeze the rent for two years so that we didn't have to pay more after one year! Finally, he said that he would give us the keys to the place immediately so that we could start remodeling it, but that he would wait to get the rent until June. We praise our God for his goodness.
Now, we understand that the church is not a building. So now we ask you to joins us to pray for souls. The need is urgent. You know what? Just a few days ago we went back to see the site one more time this time with my parents. After that, we went to eat at Carl's Junior which is right in front of our location. We gave a tract to the waiter, but the family eating right by us heard us talking about the church. They approached me and asked me if the church was near because they had been looking for one. I said, almost. In a few months you will have a church in this area.
Please pray for us. Pray for the birth of the church. Pray for the preparations of planting the church. But above all, pray that many come to Christ in this church. What else would we be planting a church for?
Thank you for your interest in our ministry and stay tune for more awesome news!
Josué & Rebekah Ortiz.
We just concluded our conference on church planting here in Mexico City. Our special speaker was Jonathan Blankenship, pastor of Laurel Baptist Church. We had been eagerly awaiting this time and were looking forward to see what the results of the conference would be. I can't really describe the spirit that we enjoyed during our time together. However, I can say this. We planned a conference, but it ended up being a revival. As I reflect on the last few days, here are some takeaways from our time together with Pastor Blankenship.
The emphasis of the church must be prayer. The last sermon preached on Sunday night was an outstanding reminder directly from God's Word that His house must be called a house of prayer. The church was moved by this sermon, and the Holy Spirit worked intensely in our people's heart. Personally, I was convicted in the fact that as I spend much time in planning for our upcoming church plant, I don't spend enough time praying for the opening of His church. I am committing to spend time in prayer and experience God's presence and God's power in my life, family, and ministry.
The foundation of the church must be the Scriptures. In our baptist circles, no one would argue the authority of the Scriptures in the church. However, as we may believe that, many don't put it into practice. On Sunday, pastor Blankenship gave an excellent session on Biblical preaching. Really, the issue is not whether expository preaching is the only way of preaching or not, the issue is that Biblical preaching is vitally necessary for the well-being of our souls and spiritual growth. I am committed to continue learning how to preach expositionally, accurately, and most importantly, biblically.
The future of the church is based on our faith in God. Pastor Blankenship spoke on Israel crossing the Red Sea. Frankly, it was such an encouragement to me and our church family to be reminded that the future is bright, secure, safe, and successful as long as we keep on going forward by faith. His plan is best. His route is best. His design is best. Just march on and go forward.
It was awesome to spend time with Jonathan Blankenship. The church was encouraged and challenged, and I am personally grateful for his support and friendship. We can't wait to have him back again in Mexico City. Once again, thank you so much for coming to Mexico!