By Jim Mazurek
Back in 1995, my wife Ester founded a children’s outreach clown ministry in Chile, known in Spanish as El Mundo del Amigo Invisible. Since then, the ministry has grown in many ways, developing music, television, hot lunches, remedial education, rescue from trafficking, and foster care programs. Today we operate mainly in the commune of Maipú, on the southwest side of Santiago, ministering to children at risk.
A local assembly was born as a fruit of this ministry in 2004. The church provides nurture to the kids and families that we reach. The membership forms the staff of the children’s ministry. Our philosophy and goal is to reach and maintain 100% participation of the church membership in the ministry, status we achieve most of the time.
This of course, implies much discipleship and training, above and beyond what usually takes place in most local churches. In fact, of the usual four Sundays per month, on two we conduct typical services with preaching, and on the other two, we set up tables and chairs and have ministry training. Whenever there is a fifth Sunday, we hold an exclusive praise and worship service. Sunday afternoons are devoted to the children from the “poblaciones.” All this to say we are working “out of the box” in many ways, and the Lord is blessing our efforts.
This year we are complementing those efforts with a special program of study of the Book of Acts for the entire ministry and congregation. We are teaching through the book, verse by verse, from March through August, 2014. We offer the same classes on Sunday mornings, Wednesday and Saturday evenings, so everyone can attend. We are very close to the goal of seeing 100% of our membership enrolled in this program of study, happy and proud owners of their own copies of the textbook.
Our text is the Faith&Action self-guiding textbook, Acts of the Holy Spirit (Hechos del Espíritu Santo), written by Dr. George Wood and Dr. Quentin McGhee. This is a wonderful tool that everyone should consider using. The content is thoroughly Pentecostal, the exegesis is solid and clear, and many practical illustrations and applications illuminate the reader as well.
Here in Chile, the indigenous Pentecostal movement has a very strong influence, and many of our members have had some level of earlier contact or connection with the Methodist Pentecostals or other indigenous groups. We love and respect our indigenous Pentecostal brethren, but their belief is that the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues, but dancing. Such dancing usually takes place during any church service, when the congregation sings. Dr. Wood’s arguments on the initial evidence issue, are extremely well presented in this text. This study is both challenging and changing the thinking of several of our people who have come to us with some degree of confusion about this matter.
As we celebrate our 100th anniversary in the Assemblies of God, USA, it is a good time to reflect on how close we are to the doctrinal stance of our founders. Speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit played a huge role in the definition of our DNA. Nevertheless, many churches and ministries have greatly diminished their emphasis of this truth. This Faith&Action course can be an excellent tool to use in restoring and reaffirming this distinctive where needed.
This course of study has become a common bond that is uniting our membership in a new way. Table talk and informal conversations among our people tend to lead to the book of Acts. We are delighted with the results so far, and are trusting God for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit among us.
I could go on, sharing examples of the insights into the Acts text found in this book, which I had never known before. A better idea is to simply encourage you to get a copy and have your own moments of joyful discovery.
The Faith&Action textbooks have been adopted by SEC as the official textbooks of the Plan Básico – Ministerial Level. A number of LAC countries are already printing them on site and using them in their Bible Schools. For more information about Faith&Action books, visit http://faithandactionseries.org/.