Why do so many Christians long to see lost friends and neighbors come to Christ but rarely talk to those people about Him? Why do so many churches long for numerical and spiritual groth but rarely make evangelism or evangelism training a priority?
Perhaps the whys aren’t as important as the hows: How can we change? How can we start reaching those who are lost and without Christ?
Perhaps one way to start is to help church members learn how to reach out in ways that will help them present the Gospel in a natural and caring way. In Latin America and in a growing number of other countries around the world, BGEA’s My Hope project (called Mi Esperanza in Latin America) is doing just that.
In Mi Esperanza, pastors and church leaders are trained–and they in turn train their members–in an evangelistic approach called Operation Matthew. The approach is named after the Apostle Matthew, who, after he became a follower of Christ, invited his friends to his home for a banquet so they could meet Jesus. In a similar way, Operation Matthew helps Christians to invite friends and neighbors to share a meal or a snack and then to view an evangelistic television broadcast featuring Billy Graham, Franklin Graham or a film from World Wide Pictures, Inc.
The project came to Ecuador Sept. 9-12. As in other Mi Esperanza broadcasts over the past two years, the results were astounding.
Out of about 3,300 evangelical churches in Ecuador, BGEA trained 3,177. Most of these celebrated a special Operation Matthew mobilization Sunday, received materials and trained 52,000 Operation Matthew homes. The primary language was Spanish, but nearly 1,000 Quichua churches also participated. A 30-minute evangelistic program was broadcast on national television in the Quichua language, the first evangelistic broadcast ever in Quichua.
As this issue of Decision went to press time, with 30 percent of churches reporting, BGEA already had received documented cases of more than 34,000 people accepting Christ and of nearly 10,000 rededicating their lives to Christ. In some churches, attendance more than doubled as new believers began attending after the broadcasts.
Here are some early reports from around Ecuador:
- In Quito, Josue Church, a congregation of 1,500 members, had 590 homes participate, resulting in 2,130 conversions and 204 people rededicating their lives to Christ. Following the broadcasts on Sept. 12, the church held a series of evangelistic services, in which 500 more made decisions for Christ.
- Pastor Danny Delgado reported that the 220-member Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in La Peninsula, Guayas province, opened 98 Operation Matthew homes. From these homes, 350 people made decisions for Christ.
- A 30-member church in Charapato, on the northern coast, opened 18 homes. The Sunday following the broadcasts, they welcomed 150 new people.
- One young woman in the southern part of Quito received 125 guests into her home during the three nights of TV broadcasts. Of these, 45 young people prayed for salvation.
- Pastor Richard Mendoza has been planting a church in Valle de los Chillos, a few miles from Quito. The church had been seeing regular attendance of 40. Mendoza trained between 15 and 20 people to open their homes for the broadcasts. Then he organized a welcome service and lunch for the Sunday following the broadcasts. He expected 15-20 people, but 60 attended, and during that meeting another 14 prayed for salvation.