Marcos Blanco is a church planter for the Assemblies of God in Paraguay. He is currently halfway through the church planter training provided by Multiplication Network Ministries (MNM). Marcos has a discipleship group established in an area where the people have difficult lives and struggle to get ahead every day.
When Marcos learned that a state of emergency had been declared in his country due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, he knew he needed a plan to continue to serve the vulnerable people of the area.
Marcos organized several members of his discipleship group
to make food kits for families who would be affected by not being able to work or leave their homes. In each of these packages he wrote a verse and a note of encouragement for these families.
He also knew he couldn’t stop providing spiritual care for each of them, so Marcos prepared discipleship materials for the days of the quarantine, even providing activities for the children.
“The Word of the Lord teaches us to be light – this does not stop us. May we continue to advance and be strategic in the Work of the Lord,” says Marcos.
This church planter knows the work has not stopped and that this moment is crucial to show the love of God in a time of despair, uncertainty, and fear.
Dear friends and partners of Multiplication Network Ministries (MNM):
May the peace of Christ be with you!
I’m glad to report to you that our global staff, your team, is safe and taking precautions during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Travel has stopped, large gatherings postponed. But everyone is finding ways to minister despite the isolation. Thankfully, the MNM model of national partnership does not require us to repatriate foreigners to their country of origin. Instead, national leaders have been trained and prepared to be “spiritual first responders” in their own contexts, proclaiming a word of hope and encouragement—looking out for the most vulnerable in the name of Jesus.
Some compare the COVID-19 pandemic to a world war. A “war creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it” (CS Lewis, Learning in Wartime). The US Army War College uses the term VUCA when referring to times of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Whether in business, ministry, or family, this describes the disruption we have all experienced in our lives over the last few weeks. Many are asking questions. Many are considering their station in life. The indigenous and national leaders MNM has already trained are now well positioned, on the front line, to share the gospel.
A few days ago, I read Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” The verses that follow list a series of imminent dangers and threats to the psalmist. I love that in the Psalms there is room for the full range of human emotion and I suspect many of us are spending time there.
Recently, we gathered as an MNM team and remembered three principles that are important to us:
Name the pain: It is good to be honest and transparent of how we are feeling. Make room for lament. I like that the Scriptures give us permission to be real and name the pain and acknowledge the sense of loss we experience.
Remember your identity: We are not our own but belong to the Lord. We are children of God. We are rooted in the gospel and anchored in Christ. Circumstances change but our identity stands on solid rock.
Remember your vocation: We are called to walk in the Light and to be missionary agents of hope and reconciliation. Even in this situation we are still servants of the Kingdom: wash hands and keep washing feet!
The last verse of Psalm 27 calls us to patience saying, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” That is what we are attempting to do at MNM.
The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us globally as national leaders in newly planted churches are having to find different ways of ministering in their communities. Much more is now being done through social media and virtual online meetings. As everyone practices “social distancing” to abide by nationwide restrictions to “flatten the curve,” amazingly we are finding people have much more time for sustained meaningful conversations. A time such as this is not being wasted! The MNM National Director in Spain, wrote: “In just the last 24 hours hundreds of people have died in Spain because of the Coronavirus. But in the middle of this sadness, we have opportunities the Lord provides to us.”
We want to thank you for allowing us to partner with you in mission to the world with the truth and peace of the gospel.
The opportunity that we have in God’s ministry of reconciliation in the world is to use both common sense and also be bold in ministering to others. With God’s direction and through the power of His Holy Spirit, MNM (you and us in partnership) can not only survive this global Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic but realize it is possible to thrive as we trust and place our faith firmly in Him.
Alfayo Amisi is a pastor in Horohoro, Tanga, Tanzania, a place where Islam is widespread. He planted his first church there but many years passed without any progress.
“I didn’t realize I was the problem. I was the reason why the church was not moving forward,” says Alfayo. “I was doing everything in my church, even the things my church members could do.”
Unsure of what to do, Alfayo was waiting on the Lord to help him discern what his next step would be. One day, Alfayo bumped into Ibrahim Kapaya who shared with him about what Multiplication Network Ministries (MNM) does and how it could be of help in his ministry. Alfayo was very interested in what MNM offers and made a decision to be part of a training for church planters.
Through the months of receiving the training and applying what he was learning, Alfayo started to see great changes in his church and ministry as well. He taught his members what he was learning and they realized they all had a role to play. “The work has become much easier for me!” says Alfayo.
The training has brought great revival in Alfayo’s church. Before, they were not doing any evangelism. After he took the church planter program, he helped everyone to realize how vital and important evangelism is. They are going to every corner of their village to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and they have witnessed many people give their lives to Jesus. This has caused his church to grow rapidly. “The training brought back the passion I had for church planting. Coming across MNM has brought back to life the zeal that was once dead,” says Alfayo.
“The community in which I live is dominated by Muslims. The church planting program has also improved my relationship with the Muslim community and I was eventually able to share Christ with them,” shares Alfayo. Through his efforts, Alfayo has won many Muslims to Christ. He has also been able to plant two more churches in places where there has never been one. These two newly planted churches have become a great hope for the people living in the community and a good number of them have come to know Christ in their lives.
“I have a heart for church planting. I was not called by God to stay in one place but to go plant churches in places where there is no church so that those who still walk in the darkness may come to know Christ. These two new churches I have planted are the result of what the MNM training has done for me. It has boosted me a lot and brought back what was lost long ago,” says Alfayo.
Alfayo and his wife want to accomplish more in God’s Kingdom through church planting. They look forward to planting more churches in different parts of Tanga.