Lambs in Manta: The Start of a Church Plant
It is hard to call a place home in transient seasons. It’s easier to invest in relationships, to settle into a new house, and put down some roots without having a moving date looming in the near future. That is basically the sentiment of each of the church planting teams as they circulate in through Quito, Ecuador to do their training. They are excited to be there living in the excitement of the new as they learn firsthand about the culture and take classes to learn about the ministry, but all the while they know it is a temporary landing place. Their hearts long to be in the center of the mission field.On the 1st of July, the Manta church plant team is heading to the center of their mission field! They are packing their bags, loading up a truck full of furniture and other belongings, and are officially ending their time of training in Quito to start planting a Church of the Nazarene in Manta. The whole team is eager to get started in Manta. Tim Montgomery, part of the Cluster Support pair, shares the enthusiasm of the rest of the team, “Everyone is just super, super excited. When the Lord calls, it’s clear that the Lord is leading. It gets anyone excited about doing ministry. The Lord’s doing a neat thing. I can see it.”
In the six months that they’ve spent in Quito, they not only have done many hours of training in the classroom, but have also become united in spirit. It is easy to see that the team, like many others before it, has bonded very well. The different team members often share pictures on social medias of them either spending time in worship, hanging out, or on city excursions. The Lord has blessed this team with the opportunity to grow deep in relationship before getting to their service city.
The week leading up to their departure is packed full of meetings to make sure all loose ends are tied up, and everything gets packed up for the haul across the country. And in the middle of the week, the leadership will reveal the team working partnerships and work responsibilities. Each of the young adults on the team will be paired up with another member on the team. Each of the 40/40s is also assigned a specific piece of ministry work they are responsible for in the church plant, ie., youth ministry, evangelism, worship, discipleship, etc. Up to this point, these pieces have remained unknown. The team’s leaders have been assessing the team throughout the training process to see who would work well together in partnership as well as what ministry responsibilities their giftings best fit.
On Friday morning the team will leave the training center and drive a half day to get to Manta. Waiting for them in the city is the house they found on one of their trips to Manta during training. Finding a home in the church plant service city is one of the team’s major challenges before arriving to officially start work. Each team experiences the challenge of finding a home that can house the whole team and also doesn’t break the bank. So, at the end of May, Tim and his wife Rebekah, along with the team pastor and some Extreme leaders, traveled to Manta in search of the perfect home. Tim shares briefly about the experience:
“There was one place that was okay, but still not what we were looking for. We were all tired and Pastor Luis said, ‘There’s one more place that I want to check out and I just found out that they’ll let us see it.’ So we went to check it out. We weren’t super excited, but we went anyway and as soon as we walked in, Brian, Pastor Yoan, Luis, Rebekah and I were all amazed. It’s the perfect place. They weren’t asking a whole lot for it and it’s perfect. We have rooms for everyone. Rebekah and I have a room that’s pretty well separated from everyone so we have our privacy. [There are three separate bathrooms, one for the girls, one for the guys and one for Rebekah and I]. And the church will be on the property. There’s an awesome piece of land to the side, that’s like a huge patio space that we can start the church in. It’s perfect!
Oh, and it’s about a ten minute walk from the beach... so, yeah it is perfect! On top of that, the house is in Tarqui, the part of the city that was hit hardest by the earthquake on April 16th. This is a huge blessing because it’s the same area the team has been ministering to when they have visited the city after the earthquake. After each of their visits, the people asked the missionaries to come back and plant the church in their section of the city. The Lord has heard the cry of the people! And yet, another piece that makes this house a godsend is the fact that it has no structural damage! “It’s crazy,” shares Tim, “Because everywhere that we have looked has had at least some kind of structural damage.”
The blessings for the team don’t stop there. Because of the multiple trips the team took into Manta to minister after the earthquake, the team already has a solid base of people with whom they’ve established relationships. So, the Monday after arriving, the Manta team is able to leap directly into working with people with whom they already have established relationships. Armed with a 100 Day Plan that was put together a few weeks ago, they have a road map guiding them toward their goal. Only a few weeks after arriving in Manta the team will be joined by a group of young adults participating in Extreme’s 40 Day Experience. And then a short time after, they will be joined with an even bigger group of people as a short-term missions team arrives to help the church plant team evangelize to the city and establish more relationships.
We, Extreme Nazarene as a whole, are so blessed to see this team have the opportunity to have such a strong start in their service city. The doors that the Lord has given this team access to are swinging wide open. There is a confidence that the Lord has given us to say that the battle for the people in Manta is already won! We are standing on the precipice of something new that is coming over the city of Manta. We are sending out not just a team of humans, but a team of ambassadors, a team of sons and daughters, who will change the trajectory of the city of Manta! There is a harvest that is greater than our eyes can see that this team will reap.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” - Luke 10:2-3
There is a hidden promise in Luke 10:2. But first, recognize that our part is to ask the Lord to send out the workers to go out into the harvest. Thank you for praying with us that God would send his workers! They are going out! Now, the promise is in the title given to God in the verse. He is called “The Lord of the harvest.” He owns the harvest, and sees the plenty that it is. The promise is that the harvest will be reaped when the workers are sent! This is the faith that we have, that as workers are sent into Manta, there will be a harvest collected. In fact, we are not even told to pray for the harvest! It is already there! We are told to pray for the workers, that they be sent. The rest God will provide!
Well, the workers are sent. The lambs have been sent out amongst the wolves. Pray for our lambs as we send them into Manta. They are going out amongst wolves because the work is urgent. With courage and boldness they will speak the truth and hope of the gospel. With grace they will show their meekness. Through their obedience, we will see thousands be marked and touched by the hand of God. Signs and wonders will follow! Let’s celebrate the victories and even the struggles to come, because Manta will be a changed city!!! Yes! This is the Manta Team! Fresh out of the training school, they are ready to rock the city of Manta and bringing the Kingdom to God's beloved people. You can meet the individual missionaries on the team by clicking here. Or, if you would like to read more stories from the Manta team, click here!