What’s it like to plant a church?
Have you ever been to Paraguay?
I’m guessing not. Paraguay isn’t a destination for tourism and isn’t a global center for business or commerce. But let me tell you one important thing about Paraguay; It is our mission field!
Sorry if that didn’t satisfy your geo-political/cross-cultural curiosity about the heart of South America, but that is really the only thing that ultimately matters to me and my family. The climate, the culture, history, politics… of the country are interesting and important, but really, the commitment to a calling from God and in His power is what will bring long-term results.
When I moved to Paraguay in January of 2018 with my wife Ednay and 6mo-old daughter Zoey, we didn’t have a detailed plan, we didn’t know all the trivia about the country, and we didn’t have the long-term plan worked out. But we did have a commissioning to Church-planting missions, the Gospel message, and the very presence of God within us.
Now fast-forward three years. We have learned a lot about the “trivia.” We have two more kids, and we have an even greater sense that this is where God has planted us to bear spiritual fruit. We have a plan.
Our church plant
We see church-planting as a multifaceted endeavor. There is the family life, the evangelism and discipleship, the worship leading, the event planning, the counseling, the community involvement, the social outreach, and the building of informal and genuine friendship.
For us, the whole mission is a family calling. If God has called me and my wife to missions He has also called my children. We understand this to be fundamental to our ministry approach. We minister as a family and invite people into our family to see how God is at work within our family.
So far our best attended ministry venture (as far as programing is concerned) is our kids’ club. Each Saturday children get to pray God’s Word, sing God’s Word, and hear God’s Word taught all the while having a lot of fun.
Once-a-month we have a “big” youth event that has gained momentum. And every Sunday we have a worship service structured around readings and preaching of God’s Word. Each of these things are important but do you want to know what is the most important thing we do?
I was actually recently reminded of this by a mentor. The most important and impactful thing we will ever do in the spiritual and interpersonal building of the church is: … unknown. It cannot be known on this side of eternity. We just aim to be found faithful to God.
We are on mission – everything teaches and the Lord works in mysterious ways such that at any time we may be sowing, watering, or reaping.
What’s it like to plant a church in South America? It’s a lot of faith, family, friends, fun, food, frustration, faithfulness, facing challenges, and fervent prayer.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Cor. 3:6-7
Matthew Abel, AFLC Missionary in Paraguay