Sunday, May 20, 2007

What About Bob?

(Below is an edited version of a letter we will share with the Southwest church next Sunday. I hope it serves to answer questions my blog friends might also have. Thanks for checking in!)

So . . . What About Bob?

A lot of people have asked similar questions since the announcement was made that we would be moving out of paid ministry at Southwest. The confusion is understandable—our plans at that time of last month’s announcement were undefined—but the Lord’s been answering our prayers for clarity and direction. We’d like to share where we believe he’s leading us.

First, let us briefly explain again why Bob will be transitioning out of his staff position by the end of the summer after more than a decade in fulltime ministry, nearly seven of them here. Our hearts have always been for the harvest. As students of culture, we’ve observed a shift in how and where people seek answers to their spiritual questions. Because of this, we’ve developed some core values for the ministry to which we’ve been called. Three of them are as follows:
· We must be missional. We are compelled to discover fresh ways to communicate the gospel to those outside of our traditional church culture, much like a foreign missionary must learn how to communicate the good news in ways that make sense to those in his mission field. We must go where not-yet-Christians are.
· We must be incarnational. We must fully enter culture as Christ’s representatives. It’s critical that we are a legitimate part of culture, doing our best to remove all barriers to the gospel other than the gospel itself.
· We must become church-planters. We must plant churches among people groups who are not currently being reached. Specifically, we are passionate about reaching people who might never consider walking through the doors of a traditional church.

That said, we are excited to see how the Lord is orchestrating this transition for us. We’re prayerfully pursuing Bob's entrance into the nursing program at West Texas A & M University in order to become self-supporting. He is already enrolled in summer classes, and we expect it to take just over two years to earn this second bachelor’s degree which is very much in line with his lifelong interests and background. It will also give us greater flexibility to move wherever God leads in the future. Caron will be working fulltime in order to support us during this transition, and we are thankful that she’s already been hired to teach math at the middle school next year where she previously taught social studies. Our home is on the market, and we're downsizing as fast as we can.

In the meantime, we hope to begin planting churches wherever the fields are ripe. We envision starting simple, easily reproducible churches in homes, for instance. We trust that God will show us how and when and where—we will follow His lead.

We appreciate the love and support we’ve received from so many of you. Thank you in advance for your continued prayers and friendship. We are also immensely grateful to the elders, ministers, and staff at Southwest for their love and shepherding. It is an honor to be their friends. And mostly, we are thankful to the Lord for His transforming work in us and in His church.

With the Love and Affection of Christ, the Guillos

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Risky Business

Risks are not to be evaluated in terms of the probability of success, but in terms of the value of the goal. – Ralph Winter

At this moment I’m sitting in my favorite local coffee shop listening to music by artists I’m unfamiliar with, sipping on a Cape Town Red Tea, and surrounded by young people working on their laptops, studying, iPods plugged in, or hands moving in expressive American Sign Language. Meanwhile our exceptionally pristine home with its freshly washed windows, cleaned out closets, uncluttered shelves, and gleaming faucets is entertaining potential buyers.

But I’m not here because the house is being shown. It’s Wednesday night, and I intended on coming here anyway. Selling our home and going to places where people hang out are just two aspects of this phase of my journey. Organic (natural, simple, reproducible) church planter Neil Cole points out that most Christians are trying hard to figure out how to bring lost people to Jesus, but instead we should be bringing Jesus to lost people. I’m still learning what that looks like, but am pretty sure it means less time in a comfortable church environment and more time in culture.

But that’s only the intro to where I’m going with this particular post. This whole journey God’s leading me on feels dadgum risky. I mean, honestly, I’m about as traditional as a middle aged mom/school teacher/Okie born and raised in the Bible-belt can be. For crying out loud, I say “dadgum.” And “for crying out loud.”

To make matters worse, Bob’s giving up his ministry job to go back to school fulltime in order to re-enter the general workforce where people who don’t know Jesus are. We’re downsizing as fast as we can, but my human eyes still can’t see how our finances are going to work out.

And we know nothing but traditional church culture. Sundays at 9:30. Potlucks. Sermons. Roll the Gospel Chariot Along.

Frankly, this whole deal is absolutely crazy. We’re likely to fail. Miserably. Go down in a firey, bankrupt, spiritually-isolated crash.

But that’s only the human me talking. The part that walks by sight.

The part that walks by faith knows it doesn’t matter. The goal is worth it. God’s called us to reach people for the cause of Christ. For salvation. For the best way to live. Because he loves them. Because he knows we love them, too.

So while my mind sometimes thinks too much, my heart leaps at the thought of what God’s called us to do. All the learning, and failures, and lifestyle changes, and painful personal transformation ahead of us are nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and sharing in his mission to the world.

Honestly, I'm fairly sure everything we think he's going to do will look completely different than what we're thinking right now. People may very well say with a great deal of head-shaking, "Oh, those foolish Guillo's. They went off half-cocked, jumping into something they knew nothing about. And look at them now."

And that's okay, too. Because the goal is worth every bit of the risk.

Friday, May 04, 2007

How to Vote

Concerning the Dos Santos family, please go to Click on "Assignment America" on the left sidebar. Choose story #2, "Old-school Cobbler." You may vote only once, so please send these instructions to folks who will help. Votes must be registered by midnight (Eastern time) Saturday night, May 5.

Thanks, friends!

Please help the Dos Santos family with your vote

Loved Ones,

Alvaro Dos Santos is the man who began the orphan feeding centers in Zimbabwe that I visited last fall. As you may recall, I'm establishing an overseeing board to monitor the collection of funds here in the US and distribution in Zimbabwe, as well as writing to help raise awareness and support of the feeding network Alvaro funded from his own pocket for many years. I know Alvaro and his family personally. He is trying to obtain a US Green Card/Visa and will be featured briefly on the CBS evening news tonight, Friday May 4th. Please read below for more information and instructions on how to "vote" for his story to receive more national news.
Thanks! Caron

From Alvaro:
Please forward to all the people you know and ask them to please watch vote for us.--Alvaro and Debbie Dos Santos

The following was written by another friend of the Dos Santos family:
Alvaro Lima Dos Santos is currently trying to get a visa/Green Card so that he can stay in the United States. He was forced to leave his adopted home country of Zimbabwe by the current government there. Since he is a white person who owned property and a successful shoe making business he is no longer allowed to live in Zimbabwe. With help from members of a church in Amarillo Texas, Alvaro was able to come to the United States on a temporary work visa. Currently he and his family are living in Abilene Texas. He has been able to put his skills a custom shoemaker to good use making custom shoes for people who cannot find shoes to fit their uniquely shaped feet. He is one of a very few making medical grade custom shoes in Texas. Friday May 4th on the CBS evening news (5.30pm CSDT) there will be a short clip about Alvaro and his problems with obtaining a visa. It will be one of three human interest type clips. The audience will be given a chance to vote on which of the three clips they would like to know more about and have a national reporter interview. Please watch the evening news Friday May 4th 2007 and then vote for Alvaro.