Update October. The one about visa issues, praying to not be deported, tough times and the word of God.
Whatever is not eternally useful is eternally useless. -C.S. Lewis.
As we shared previously, our time in the US was a great blessing. A blessing not only as we saw God providing materially and with great encouragement from friends and family, but because we got to see the Lord’s sustaining power in the midst’s of tough situations. It all started towards the last quarter of our trip when I received the news that a young man (that was part of the Bible study that I started years ago in MD) was found dead for a possible overdose. Then as we arrived to Los Angeles, we found out about a tragic event that had happened during our Alma Mater’s “week of welcome”. Then when we returned to Ecuador, we received the news that a beloved brother had gone to be with the Lord. He was our 1st landlord in Quito and had spent the majority of his life in Ecuador. He passed away after a short battle with depression brought on by the return to his homeland after many faithful years of service. Our hearts were and are heavy from these situations and the reminder of the importance and severity of the work we do has been clear in our minds and hearts. We have had nights of praying together and not being able to contain tears as we have thought over the implications of sin not only in the deaths of these people, but also in tough situations around us. It’s an understatement when we say that we can’t wait for the day in which all things will be made new. For now our prayer is that we would live each day with the reminder that “whatever is not eternally useful it’s eternally useless”. May we hang on to Christ.
In the middle of such a sobering time the Lord has been so gracious in allowing us to see that the gospel is changing lives in our baby church plant. We are not big fans of people raising their hand and then being added in this “update email” to prove with numbers that GOD is working through us. It has been so beautiful to see that the unglamorous and many times messy work of discipleship gives fruit eventually when the word of God is being preached. It has been so encouraging to see people turn from their desires and realign their lives based on gospel values. It’s a privilege to have front row seats to see God’s masterpiece unfold as he is transforming hearts and lives through His word. Here are some pictures of brothers and sisters that got baptized last month.
We just started our second year as dorm parents. We are so thankful that our work from last year has given fruit and our returning students are really open and there is a major sense of family with them. Please pray as we try to connect and minister to our newcomers. Please pray for our unbelieving dorm “sons and daughters”, as well.
Busy blessed time.
As I had mentioned on previous letters, I am sharing the majority of the teaching from the pulpit at LaFuente with my great friend Steve. It was such a privilege to teach for 3 weeks on Genesis as soon as we got back from our US trip. I was also blessed to be able to launch our membership series. If you knew me before 2002, you know how crazy it is that a guy that hated the church would end up teaching a membership series. God is good! Please pray for the membership process since we live in a country in which the local church is highly neglected. Please pray for a LOT of discipleship opportunities and new believers that my wife and I get to serve and pour into. Pray specifically for Maris as she has been faithfully meeting with the ladies from the church and has a sweet ministry going!
The Lord has provided a great opportunity to start on something that was a dream of minefor many years. I am officially a seminary student pursuing an MDiv! Please pray for continuing grace as I love learning, but have never been big into schooling (yes, and God in his humor placed me as a teacher) His grace is so evident that I somehow got A in my first Greek Exam. MOREOVER, PRAY that the word of God will go deep into my heart and not just my mind. The last year has been huge in seeing the danger of becoming so enamored with TRUTH that as one of my professors at Master’s said “I see students become the self proclaimed defenders of truth”. Please also pray as my awesome wife received the materials she needed to finish up her NANC (National Association of Neuthetic Counseling) certification. She will be the first NANC counselor in the region! Please pray for both of us, as we want to be faithful to study hard and also faithful of working hard in our marriage. I’d take being a good godly husband over being another guy with an MDiv any day. J
BIG PRAYER REQUESTS.
1. THIS IS A BIG ONE! Please pray for us as we are really struggling getting a renewal of Marissa’ visa! Pray for the Lord’s hand in this process as two teachers have already been denied their visas and are on the line to be deported. PLEASE PRAY as this could change things drastically! (Pray for the school as it has around 20 teachers on the same process and this could take down the school)
2. Pray as we are multiplying our gospel community groups this Tuesday. Pray for the gospel to go deep in the lives of our baby church plant. Pray that each of the 4 new community groups own the vision to live by the values of the church. TRUTH, Community and Mission. Pray as Maris and I get to host a group. Pray for excitement and faithfulness as we start this process for the second time.
3. Pray as I have been asked to launch and speak at spiritual Emphasis Week at the School.
4. Mentoring and discipleship opportunities. Please pray as we spend more time with people from the church plant. Pray as we learn how to manage our schedule and try to meet the needs of growing congregation. Pray for 25 hour days J
5. Continue to pray for our Schooling.
6. Pray as I start my preparation for preaching for 3 weeks straight in November.
7. Pray for support as we are still a little under what we need (especially with the visa and residency processes).
We love you guys and thank you for your love. It means the world to us.
My name is Jonathan Grisanti and this summer I was blessed with the opportunity to spend close to six weeks in Ecuador with five other students from The Master’s College serving along side with Juan and Marissa Moncayo. In our short time in Ecuador, both Juan and Marissa taught me a lot about ministry not only in the way they serve at Church but also in the way they live their daily lives. In this update I am going to talk about the Moncayo’s ministry in Ecuador.
Juan and Marissa both work at the school in Quito, Alliance Academy International. Juan has been working full time in the special needs department while Marissa works in the office. This year was a very busy year for the Moncayos as they were both working at the school and also working with the Church plant, La Fuente. The Moncayos are also dorm parents which has its many challenges but also great opportunities for pointing those kids to Christ. This next year Juan is changing his position at the school so that he will only be working part time which will enable him to be more focused on the Church plant, which is what he is extremely passionate about. Juan is one of the two main teaching elders at the Church plant. They have a cycle where Juan will preach for three consecutive weeks, then one of the other church leaders will preach one week, then Steve will preach three weeks, and then the cycle repeats itself. Our team from The Master’s College was only in Ecuador for six weeks but we were able to see the Moncayo’s heart for the Church. Every Tuesday night they have Community Group where people from the Church come and meet at the Moncayos small apartment and fellowship with one another. I speak for the whole team when I say that the Moncayos greatly impacted us in the way they lived out their ministry. Their ministry is simple but yet profound; pour into people, love people, display Christ, and show them how to daily live out the gospel. This kind of ministry is not the most glamorous type of ministry but it is desperately needed, especially in Ecuador.
Many times, it is challenging to love people and to consistently pour into them because it is a ministry that does not always show its fruit. While we were with the Moncayos we were able to see some fruit from Juan’s ministry. He has been pouring into a young man by the name of Jonathan. Juan has been building his relationship with Jonathan and encouraging him for over a year and a half and even though we were only in Ecuador for six weeks we were able to see significant growth in this young man’s love for the Lord. Jonathan joined us in our trip out to the coast to the little town called Travesia. Jonathan helped us run a VBS for the children from the community, and even though he had never worked with kids he stepped up and put Christ on display in front of these kids. It was a good reminder to me and my team to be intentional in the way we build our relationships with people and to strive to point people to Christ daily.
Please join us in praying for the Moncayos and their ministry in Ecaudor as the ministry I have described is not the common thing in Ecuador.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive the Moncayo’s update emails.
Now that I’m back home in the states, I keep hearing myself saying, “I want to find a church like La Fuente!” And it’s not just because there are awesome people involved…like Jota and Maris. More specifically, one of the things I most value about La Fuente is the core group wants biblical counseling to be part of La Fuente’s foundation as a church. Biblical counseling is pretty much unheard of in Ecuador. Even in the states, it’s rare to find a church committed to God’s Word as sufficient to counsel the deepest issues of the human psyche. With a B.A. in Biblical Counseling from The Master’s College, I was thrilled when I saw these believers’ enthusiasm for bringing God’s Word to bear on the lives of people at La Fuente in a culturally relevant way.
So, What is Biblical Counseling?
Simply put, biblical counseling is doing the “one another’s” in the body of Christ. It’s a hybrid of discipleship and biblical friendship. It’s also fulfilling the Great Commission by teaching “disciples” that is, followers of Christ, to observe all that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:20). Biblical counseling (also known as nouthetic counseling) is committed to the truth of God’s Word as sufficient for everything a believer needs to know for how to live and how to do it successfully in the eyes of God (2 Peter 1:3). Refusing to turn to man-centered, atheistic, humanistic counseling methods, biblical counselors believe God’s Word is the only source of authority to point out error and to lead in the way of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
“Nothing can compare with the counsel and instruction that come from our infinitely wise Creator. God knows us better than anyone, and therefore He knows just what we need to ‘live to be productive for His Glory, He has placed in Scripture every principle we need for godly living.’”
A biblical counselor is someone who knows God’s Word well, knows the “counselee” well and then with skill and love speaks truth in a way that provides real hope and godly direction. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ,” which is to love our neighbor (Galatians 5:14). This is the heart of biblical counseling. Walking alongside another brother or sister in love and bearing the burden of broken relationships, entangling sins, and the reality of living in a fallen, sin-cursed world. You don’t need a special degree or certification to be a biblical counselor – all Christians are called to biblically counsel just as all Christians are called to evangelize or pray. I think Jota and Marissa value biblical counseling because these principles are built into the fabric of Christian community.
While we were in Ecuador myself and two of my team members Jake and Sarah along with Marissa Moncayo were privileged to put on several biblical counseling seminars for the core group of church planters and elders at La Fuente. As you know, Marissa also has her B.A. in Biblical Counseling, but with the move to Ecuador, she was unable to bring her books and notes from the states. With our combined resources and help from the professors at Master’s, we were able to provide power points, packets, pamphlets, and other biblical counseling resources to the leaders. The core group nodded their heads and offered their experiences and questions as we discussed topics such as Introduction to Biblical Counseling, the Sufficiency of Scripture, Methods of Biblical Change, Getting to the Heart of Conflict, Peacemaking, and Biblical Counseling in Community. It is in the heart of the core members to train the leaders in biblical counseling materials so that it can filter down to the lay-people. That way, each member will be equipped in providing godly counsel to issues that most people say you need to see a “professional” for.
It was so cool to see Jota and Marissa and the other church planter’s passion for their church and for the city of Quito. Some of the issues they are faced with in their church, which are paramount to the culture in Ecuador, are the repercussions of neglect, abuse, and absence by fathers in the family and men in society. The leaders of La Fuente are coming alongside their flock and being fathers and brothers and providing spiritual leadership where they can. In these situations and many others, they are providing biblical counseling and “bearing the burdens” of those in need. What most encourages me about these people is they aren’t just saying they love Jesus – they actually live out the kind of love the gospel should inspire within their church community.
Join me in praying for Jota and Marissa and their ministry at La Fuente and AAI specifically in counseling and training the leaders and lay people as they seek to bring the truth of God’s Word to people’s lives in relevant ways and to lead them to the only Source of real joy and satisfaction.
“God, Christ is the ultimate source of joy, of everything and that anything in this world that is away from Christ will never bring total satisfaction”
– Juan Fernando (“Jota”) Moncayo
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