40 DAYS OF REACHING CITIES & COMMUNITIES FOR CHRIST
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“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28
(Ed’s story continues from yesterday)
Ed challenged the pastors to establish a perimeter of godliness in the city. The original group of pastors responded. They did this by meeting regularly for prayer, intercession and accountability. This was a positive beginning in a city where were 68 of the 70 existing congregations were the result of church splits. As the pastors met, God met with them. The Holy Spirit began to work in their lives and soon a deep bond of love had enveloped them completely. At one of those meetings, one of the pastors said, “I want you to know that I love you, guys. You have become an integral part of my life. I don’t think I can do it alone as I used to. I need you! I wonder if we could have the Lord’s Supper today?” Never before had the Lord’s Supper been celebrated outside of a local church, and it had always been for the benefit of the members of that church. Radical new ground was being broken.
Another pastor responded by saying, “If we are going to have the Lord’s Supper, I need to wash your feet. I have been so aloof and so proud in the past. I must wash your feet.” This act of sincere humility was quickly reciprocated by others in the group. Everyone seemed to be saying, “I want to do it first.”
Lacking the elements—since it was a totally unexpected idea—they used crackers and orange juice, which one of them bought at the small market next door. It didn’t matter. Never before had the cleansing blood of Jesus flowed in a more palpable way, nor was His body ever more tangible than when those sincere pastors passed around the cup with the orange juice and broke the crackers after having washed each others’ feet. Read the Rest…
But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:16-18 (NKJV)
(Ed’s story continues from yesterday)
The day they met with the pastors to officially suggest the outline for “Plan Resistencia.” The presence of God was there. Intense and extensive prayer had preceded our gathering.
Ed spoke from 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (NIV). He reached the pinnacle of my message when he described my dream about an entire city hearing the gospel. He spoke about 500 neighborhood prayer cells interceding for each section of the city; about celebrations of unity when different congregations in the city would come together to minister to the needs of the lost; about the day when every home in the city would be visited and every inhabitant would hear God’s voice; about thousands of sinners saved by, and washed in, the blood of Jesus; of angels celebrating nonstop because sinners, lots of them, were coming to Christ day after day.
At that moment, the pastors—all of them—stood up and began to clap enthusiastically. A spontaneous explosion of joy, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, had occurred. They were clapping for the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. In typical Acts 2:17 fashion, the old pastors saw it through the lens of their dreams, and the young ones through their visions. All of a sudden, God had spoken and everybody knew that He was ready to pour out His Spirit upon Resistencia. It was a sacred time. That was the day “Plan Resistencia” was born.
Actually, “Plan Resistencia” is an acknowledgment of God’s love for the lost in the city and the Church’s commitment to the biblical principles of unity, holiness and prayer. It was appropriate that the pastors responded through such a spontaneous outburst of joy in the Spirit. Like young couples on their wedding day, they knew nothing about the details of the future, but they were committed to God and to each other for the sake of His Church and the lost in the city. (Read more about Ed’s story on tomorrow’s devotion.) Read the Rest…
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV)
(Ed’s story continues from yesterday)
They chose Resistencia for a number of reasons. First, they were invited by several pastors who had been meeting regularly. Second, the city had an unusually low percentage of believers (1.5 percent of the total population), which made it an excellent testing ground for their principles. Third, Resistencia is a key city in northern Argentina. Like Ephesus in the book of Acts, Resistencia is a “mother of cities” all over the Argentine Chaco. Fourth, the city was under the spell of a satanic principality called “San La Muerte” (Spanish for “Saint Death”). Its roots go back to the founding of the city.
Resistencia was designed to be a military outpost on the western bank of the Parana River to defend the wealthy city of Corrientes across the river. Most soldiers at the time were recruited from among the prison population of Argentina and many “agreed” to serve in the army because it was the only way out of that miserable life. The military outpost was no match for the large Indian population, and the soldiers’ greatest fear was death by torture at the hands of the Indians. This fear, along with local fetishism and African/Brazilian voodoo, gave birth to the cult of San La Muerte. Those who made a pact with San La Muerte were promised a painless death, which met the deepest felt need of the desperate soldiers. As a city grew around the military outpost, these beliefs and practices were passed on to its inhabitants. Even though the people of Resistencia are well educated and there is a prosperous middle class, in 1988 the entire population was touched in one way or another by this local cult. Read the Rest…
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” 2 Peter 3:9
Ed Silvoso shared the story of how they began to implement the plan to reach the city of Resistencia in Argentina for Christ. Chuck Starnes and his wife, Sandy joined their ministry team in 1987, just in time to direct the logistical aspects of Dr. David Yonggi Cho’s visit to Argentina. Dr. Cho asked them to organize his seminar. Seven thousand pastors and leaders from all over Argentina and neighboring countries attended the four-day seminar. They worked very hard to make it a truly interdenominational event. It was a resounding success with all denominations benefiting from it. Everybody was there and went away blessed. Dr. Cho’s visit catapulted Ed and his team to national prominence. They received immediate visibility all over the nation. Their dreams began to materialize on a national scale. Requests for help came from all over the nation.
Following Dr. Cho’s seminar, Chuck felt led to visit Resistencia which had a population of 400,000, in northern Argentina, to assess the potential for a citywide outreach. Chuck also had a passion for seeing an entire city evangelized. His passion for the lost and his love for the Church were contagious. He was determined to follow God at any cost. He was instrumental in discerning that Resistencia was the place where they should try their ideas and spiritual insights on “city taking.” Chuck is the one who laid down the foundation for “Plan Resistencia.” (Read more about Ed’s story on tomorrow’s devotion.) Read the Rest…
This fall, our church will be participating in a 40 Days of Reaching Cities and Communities for Christ Campaign, which will run for seven weekends beginning on Sunday, October 1, 2017 and ending on Sunday, November 12, 2017. This spiritual growth campaign which includes 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting is designed to focus on two of God’s most important commission to His people: “Prayer and Evangelism.” The events of the Campaign will give us opportunities to commit to habits of spiritual growth, memorize scripture, fellowship with other believers, serve in ministry, share our faith, and learn to live a lifestyle of worship to the glory of God. We are excited as we envision our entire congregation living in alignment with God’s purposes for their lives, and the impact this could have on our church and our communities! Read the Rest…