My wife, Kelly, and I knew God wanted us to plant a new church. We just didn’t know it would be in a nation where only 12 Foursquare churches existed.
Early one morning, while traveling in Nicaragua, I heard the Lord whisper, “Prepare to go to Central America.” I asked the Lord to show me the place that we would call home, where I could establish our family of four and see the ministry flourish.
The Lord brought Isaiah 33:21 to my attention while I was flying over the Gulf of Fonseca, a sheltered tropical inlet of the Pacific Ocean bordered by El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras: “There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them” (NIV).
Admittedly an obscure passage, Isaiah 33:21 described beautifully the beaches and tiny fishing villages dotting the Gulf coast. Although no real navigable passage exists from the Gulf to the inland people, this is where God said He would be “our Mighty One.”
We could have stayed home where it was more comfortable. But God wouldn’t let us. He wanted us in El Salvador to make disciples of this nation.
God had been speaking to Kelly back at home while I traveled, and when I got home, she too knew we were headed to Central America. We began training and raising support. We partnered with Hope Chapel (Huntington Beach Foursquare Church) in Huntington Beach, Calif., our home church, pastored by Paul and Ainsley Harmon, who graciously released us to explore what it looked like to plant a church in another country.
After much prayer, El Salvador came into focus, a nation of 6.5 million where the people have been evangelized by the church, but many have not been sustainably discipled.
One of our early success stories is Mario, a young man who committed to serve with us and soon after was robbed at gunpoint in front of his home. Then, he lost his job on Christmas Day. We invested in Mario and helped him complete school. After graduation, he landed a great job and today is a solid addition to our ministry team, helping us disciple other young leaders to commit their lives to Christ.
Like church planters in the U.S., we held down “day jobs” before we conducted a public worship service. We also discovered, as most church planters do, the value of a “mother church,” an established congregation that supports and encourages the growth we envision. A unique blessing for us is that we have two mother churches: our home church in Southern California, and an English-speaking congregation right here in San Salvador that shares their facility with us and is excited about helping our Spanish-speaking church gain traction.
Going to the field put Kelly and me in a position to fully hear God about His plan for our future. It took a few years to confirm all the details, but today we are seeing the fruit of God’s planting.
We could have stayed home where it was more comfortable. But God wouldn’t let us. He wanted us in El Salvador to make disciples of this nation. We discovered that the people are willing. They just need someone to bring them the gospel and then show them how to live out their faith for the long haul.
This article was written with Rod Light, a Foursquare minister living in Waco, Texas.