A Church Of The Young
“Prepare yourself,” said Dani Gava, the pastor’s wife, “because I received a word from God that our church plant would be a young church.” She shared this with her church plant team in Antofagasta, Chile soon after arriving to the field. It’s incredibly exciting when God speaks into our lives, and even more so when He speaks into our dreams like this church plant. Like God’s prophetic promises given to His champions of yore (Abraham, Moses, Gideon, etc.), these words give the missionaries something to remember as they walk into the unknown. It’s not hard to see this prophetic word coming into realization already, and they are only a few months into their mission. “Antofagasta is a lot like Southern California,’ explains Shekinah, ‘It’s a beach town.” Palm trees, sun-kissed skin, ocean views, farmer's markets, beautiful Victorian and Georgian buildings. It sounds like an Instagram Star’s dream come true! With a city like Antofagasta, it makes sense that there would be a lot of young people. And that’s what the 40/40 Church Planters have been seeing in their work.
One of the team’s first events In Antofagasta was the Kickstart Short-Term Mission Team that came one week after the church plant team landed in the city. They went out to the mall and did a photo booth event, taking pictures with people at the mall. It was a huge success and they got to meet and connect with a lot of people. The majority of the people they met were between the ages 16-25 years old, continuing the confirmation of this church’s promise of being a young community.
Surprisingly, even though it’s a young city, it’s not a very big party town. Considering the other places Extreme has served, that’s a big praise. The difficulty with bridging that gap between missionary and party-goer is a rough ordeal. What do you do as a missionary with someone who only wants to go out and drink? Though the missionaries may not have to fight against a partying culture, there is another culture they are facing; education.
The people of Antofagasta are well-educated. At first glance, one might think that’s not really a challenge for a missionary; however, with education can come a system of judgment. The more one is introduced to reason and to science, the more that person is encouraged to depend on their experience and education to navigate through life. That’s not to say education is evil, rather when it is not tempered with faith, it can become its own religion. It becomes a problem when the supernatural tries to make an appearance. Miracles are explained away with logic; belief in a higher being becomes superstition; a tension between reason and trusting in God is heightened. This is one of the challenges for the Antofagasta Team.
Pastor Cristiano Gava is an incredible guide for the team as they begin to navigate through these conversations with those who are well-educated. He is able to lead his team through his strong dependence on Divine Revelation. God has been revealing His will and ways to humanity since creation: through Scripture, the prophets, Jesus, the Apostles, ordained elders and laymen and women. God is speaking to people! As an ordained elder, Pastor Cristiano has been anointed by God and affirmed by the Church of the Nazarene to be a mouthpiece for God. He’ll often approach the team members and share a word that God has given him about them. His wife, Dani, also leads the team in this example. The best way to reach out to a people who are shrouded in unbelief, is with a dose of the supernatural, whether it be a word from God, a perfectly timed visit, or a healing miracle. With leaders like the Gavas, there’s no question this team has what it needs to face its challenges.
We are so excited for the way that the Lord is already using this team. Come alongside us as we pray for His Kingdom to grow and flourish in the city of Antofagasta through the younger generation. Pray that young leaders will rise up, and that mature leaders can come alongside to mentor and disciple them. Pray for discernment and great wisdom as this team confronts the challenge of speaking with the well-educated, and that fear will be broken as they speak God’s word.