As we sat on the back of our pickup truck after a night in our tent in a First Nations community, we reflected on the day before. Mike had asked a member of a community where there had been an Evangelical church for nearly 40 years, “Out of all the families you know in this community, who would you say lives a life above reproach and of integrity?” He quickly answered,
There is no one here like that!
Earlier, the same issue came up in a conversation with one of the newly appointed church leaders. He said, “The community doesn’t trust their leaders. They don’t have any financial accountability, and money is always disappearing.” Mike thought quietly to himself, “Surely this is an opportunity for the followers of Jesus Christ to make a real difference!” Mike’s hopes were dashed at what came next, “The members of our church don’t put much money in the offering plate, because they don’t trust the Pastors.”
We are overwhelmed with concern for the health of the First Nations churches in Paraguay. Many church planting agencies speak of leaving behind “mature” churches, but few have produced a solid and sustainable model of what that looks like in Paraguay.
Recently we drove past a very, very old tree, one that Mike remembers from his childhood. It is a “Lapacho” tree, a very exotic hard wood native to Paraguay and worth a mint on today’s market. For a tree like this to weather the storms, deforestation, forest fires, drought, floods, etc. it must be deeply rooted and firmly established in good soil.
We long to see First Nations men and women firmly established in the truth of God’s Word and walking in integrity in every area of their lives and committed to leading their people in truth, honesty, service, loyalty and justice.
The vision statement of the organization we lead in Paraguay states: “Communities holistically transformed through sustainable development”. In our Biblical terms, that means men and women of God are empowered to live out their faith and glorify God through visible action in the community where they live.
Men and women of God are needed. Men and women of integrity. People willing to place their own personal needs and desires aside for the life and livelihood of the community.
Transformation has to begin with each person, and then, and only then, will we see communities transformed.
Please pray for the First Nations of Paraguay to be firmly planted in the Word of God and for those who are still lost, that they will see their need of a Savior and a personal relationship with God Himself.