Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mexico City Earthquake Hits Seconds Ago

Just seconds ago, our third story apartment began to sway back and forth. My two roommates and I looked at each other curiously before realizing that we were in the throes of an earthquake. We hurriedly made our way downstairs before the tremor finally subsided.

Reports should appear soon regarding magnitude and location. No damage to report yet.

Opening High School Movements

We officially opened our high school ministry this past week. A few weeks ago I met with José Nolasco (a student finishing his college studies soon) and asked him to join our staff as a missional team leader. I asked him to raise up a team of volunteers to help launch movements in the northern part of the city. He has taken me up on the challenge.

I went with him this past week to help start a ministry on an influential high school campus of La UNAM (largest university in the world that also has several high school branches). I expected to help coach a handful of students in how they could reach their campus. Instead, I walked into a room of 13 committed students. José also brought along a student from another high school to help - genius.

Of course, this pales in comparison to his visit to another high school the next day. There he met with over 30 students, some coming from other nearby high schools to learn how to start movements on their campuses.

I'm convinced that this generation coming through the high schools right now will be the generation that radically impacts Latin America. Dubbed the NAFTA generation, they have grown up under the influence of the free trade agreement. These hip youngsters have seen an influx of commercial goods and prosperity and have been exposed to a bastion of ideas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Price of Paying Bribes

As I look around Mexico City, I see some great improvement in economic conditions...more construction, more jobs, less pirating, anti-corruption campaigns, even an anti-corruption hotline. But this report comes as a sobering reminder of the need for a cultural transformation. In 2007, Mexicans spent $2.6 billion in bribes (that's right...billion).

The nonprofit group Transparency Mexico conducted the study, which showed that 197 million bribes were paid during the year. It seems that an honesty hotline doesn't do much good when it's not the officials who are demanding bribes but the citizens who are offering them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Get Ready

A few gems springing up around the blog world right now. Ed Stetzer has just posted some new research from LifeWay on his blog. Alan Hirsch is opening up a big 'ol can of good discussion about apostolic environment on his blog. And, well...I'm just talking about their blogs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Enlace to Broadcast Enfoque México Events

Maybe I shouldn't post this before it all becomes set in stone, but I can't resist. It also allows me to ask you all to pray for us, as this opportunity could help millions of people across this country and throughout Latin America experience Christ.

As of two days ago, Enlace, the largest Christian broadcasting company in Latin America, has agreed to cover our event with Rick Warren on August 8th and our student event on September 20th. Moreover, after a Mexican pastor explained our vision to them, they expressed their desire to cover every event Enfoque México has in the future!

Beside being really cool, I believe this partnership will move us closer to the day when believers everywhere will understand a few simple Biblical principles that through the power of the Holy Spirit will enable them to start missional Christ-centered movements all over Latin America.

Please pray for our follow up appointment on May 8th. May God give us wisdom as we help carry the Gospel to millions.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Prosperity Gospel Poison

Does God want you to be rich? Or maybe not rich, just really "well off"?

Recently a friend of mine here in Mexico City positively remarked how his church is helping people believe that God wants them to experience financial blessings and rise up out of meager living. Indeed, this church targets some of the most influential people in the city and draws many who would like to follow in their footsteps.

Is this focus biblically accurate and beneficial to the Church?

Far from new, this paradigm finds its roots in the era before Christ. The Jews came to believe that material wealth signified God's blessing, and poverty or disability meant a curse. When Jesus appeared on the scene, he shattered this paradigm and forcefully taught against it. Now, at the height of a consumerist culture, "name it, claim it" preachers have reverted back to this faulty understanding of material blessing.

Those who understand the dangerous ramifications of this poor theology speak boldly against it. And they must, as the rest of the world is learning a extremely destructive model that flies in the face of the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. (My friend had learned this model from some churches in Dallas, TX.)

In this TIME article, Rick Warren states, "This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth."

Alan Hirsch, in The Forgotten Ways, writes, "Offered 'heaven now,' we give up the ultimate quest in pursuit of that which can be immediately consumed, be it a service, product, or pseudo-religious experience. Consumerism has all the distinguishing traits of outright paganism - we need to see it for what it really is."

The cost of discipleship is high when following Jesus Christ, which is why the road to life is narrow and wide is the gate that leads to destruction. It makes me nauseous to think of the tens of thousands being deceived by the golden calf of health, wealth, and prosperity. We need the great teachers of Christianity to speak against this self-centered doctrine of consumption and wealth as John Piper does so eloquently in this video:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Movement Launching in the Yucatan Peninsula

Flew to Mérida, Mexico (on the Yucutan Peninsula) on Saturday to meet with some students who have just launched a movement on their university campus. They came all the way across the country to Acapulco a few weeks ago to participate in our evangelism and movement-launching conference. Now they have taken the principles back to their campus and started their own group with the encouragement on some Athletes in Action staff in their city.

Paty and Lauren are incredible young women on fire for Christ and crazy enough to believe Him for their university. They are exactly the kind of students we want to work with. They have wonderful stories about coming to Christ just a few years ago. Like many people, they were part of the Catholic church but had never understood how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Now they are multiplying their lives for His glory.

My co-director, Craig Jorhing, and I have landed in Cancun today for some much needed rest. Here are a few of the amazing sights we have taken in over the past few days around Mérida.

See a lot more pictures here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mysterious Girl Helps Initiate Movement

This is just one example of the incredible things God did through our amazing staff over the past month. This story comes from the famous Emily Bastine, pictured here to the right of Miss Andrea Byl:
It is the biggest week of Spring Breakers in the city. I am once again exploring the city and searching for a university in a neighborhood that I haven’t visited before, but this time I am accompanied by six staff and students from Montana State, Appalachian State and Denver Metro. I keep thinking "How am I going to get seven people on a small private university?".

After reaching the entrance, the girls and I “distract” the security guard so the four guys could access campus. As we enter the office with the security guard, I see the guys walk onto campus out of the corner of my eye. We build trust with an administrator, and she allows us to stick around for a little while as well.

Before I know it Jenny (student at Colorado School of Mines), Katie (staff at Montana State) and I are sitting down with a girl named Gaby. After introducing myself, I ask her if she knows of anyone on campus that loves God and wants to make an impact on their campus. She stares at me blankly, and then says she knows a guy who talks about Jesus a lot and gives me his name and phone number. A few hours later I decide to call Pablo—not even sure if it’s a real number. He answers in class and says that he is a Christian and wants to meet us the next morning.

All seven of us arrive the next morning to meet with Pablo. As I begin to explain what we are doing in the city (believing God to raise up a movement of students on every university) he is engaged and excited. Pablo texts his friend Yanneth to come out of class to meet us as well. As he explains to her what we are doing, she inquires, “How do we start our own group?”. So I begin to describe what ministry looks like and we plan to be in touch the next couple of weeks.

I meet with Pablo and his other Christian friend Juan on Monday with a group of staff visiting us from our international headquarters. We talk more about their passion for reaching their campus. They agree to start a prayer movement on campus next week.

As we wrap up the meeting, Pablo tells me that Jesus had given him a heart for reaching his peers just weeks before meeting me and he had begun to talk to his pastor about how he could be a missionary to young people. His pastor told him to start at his university, and the very next day I called him. He says that he knows the Lord wants us to work together because God had specifically answered his prayers. He didn’t know how to reach his campus.

The best part of the story is that none of these students know a Gaby on campus! Pray for Pablo, Yanneth and Juan as they begin to seek the Lord for direction for their campus.