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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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In Guatemala, in the midst of a pandemic, God is stirring revival in the hearts of the men and women at Calvary Chapel La Esperanza. Here’s what Pastor Jeff Stone shared . . .
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have swept the world’s normalcy away like an unexpected storm on a sunny day and dropped it upside down. Embracing hugs have converted into distant nods and the cold fear of infection has blotted out the warm community of social gatherings and confined many to their homes. La Esperanza, Guatemala, just like most of the world, has suffered the devastating economic and social effects that have accompanied this global health crisis. In many ways, the devastation has been much further reaching in third world countries such as Guatemala due to the substantial preexisting poverty and political unrest. In the midst of widespread fear and uncertainty, I stepped back as a pastor in prayer and asked God for guidance. From that prayer, God opened my eyes to see the great need for spiritual leadership in the home, and along with it a lens to see this upside down world right side up. Perhaps this abrupt loss of “normal” is God’s way of getting our attention and an opportunity to focus on what’s really important.
Following Jesus Daily, Not Just on Sunday
The immediate halt of all church services revealed a spiritually malnourished church that was overdependent upon the pastor and the building instead of being dependent upon the Good Shepherd Himself, Jesus Christ. Tragically, somewhere along the way we’ve concluded that following Jesus is something only done at church publicly instead of something that stems from a personal relationship and worship of Jesus privately. In 1 John 2:6 (NKJV) it wonderfully and simply expresses what it means to follow Jesus: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
Imagine literally following Jesus on the beach. Wherever He walks you walk, just like a child strategically placing his tiny feet in the larger than life footsteps of his loving Father. Now this brings us to a very important point: In order to walk like Jesus, we must know Jesus personally and intimately, which comes through the reading of His word, prayer, and worship. Jesus calls us to follow Him daily, not just on Sunday.
This leads us to conclude that the real majority of our relationship with Jesus takes place throughout the week in our hearts and homes, making spiritual leadership in the home vitally necessary. If you want to be a part of truly changing the world, start in your home. True revival begins when we come back into rhythm with God’s heart to have a vibrant and raw relationship with Him.
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to subcontract the spiritual care of our children and families to pastors and Sunday school teachers, while neglecting our God-given responsibility to lead through the practical worship of God in our homes. We justify pouring our lives into work all in the name of providing, when in reality the greatest thing we can provide for our families is spiritual leadership—taking them by the hand so they can follow Jesus with us. God designed the family unit to be a microcosm of His Church with authority, community, and loving devotion to Him. God did not call us to know and follow Him at appointed times throughout the week, but to know and experience Him personally in our daily lives.
Return to Comfort or Respond to Change?
Returning to the present situation, we find ourselves challenged with a “new normal,” but we must not fail to see God’s gracious hand at work. Where many see a challenge to return to the way things used to be, we see a challenge to change and an opportunity to refocus on discipleship where it matters most, in the home. We believe that God is forging a new path and calling us to go where we have never gone before and has given us everything we need to get there. Utilizing a network of small groups, we’ve launched a movement that centers around daily Bible readings and church at home emphasizing the family unity and devotion to God. Another vital part of this initiative is EquipU, which is a weekly small group aimed at raising up leaders in homes and teaching them the inductive Bible study method. The countless testimonies about how men and women are stepping up to shepherd their families spiritually are awe-inspiring.
One man, Juan, after doing a Sunday Bible study with his family said, “I can hardly believe what just happened, it seems like for the first time I was spiritually leading my family. My mother-in-law, who is Catholic, even came to listen and thanked me afterward for sharing God’s Word.” Another woman, Liz, made this comment about her husband Jonatan, “My husband and I have been going to church for 14 years and recently for the first time I can really see him teaching and leading our family into a more intimate relationship with Jesus through His Word.”
Following Jesus First
Juan and Jonatan are only two of many brave men and women who have stepped forward to make God the center of their home and family. Now, not only are we seeing Jesus-centered families, but we’re seeing a greater desire being birthed in these households to go out and be the hands and feet of Christ in the community. With the help of numerous families, we were able to pass out hundreds of bags of food to impoverished families and share the message of hope in Jesus. This is undoubtedly a challenging season, but with every challenge comes an even greater opportunity. In John 10:27 (NKJV) Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Can you hear Jesus’ voice in the midst of this challenge? He is saying “Follow me—not just at church on Sunday or by listening to a teaching online, but every day, with every step and every breath in your homes and hearts.
There is a revival taking place here in La Esperanza to make Jesus the center of our lives and homes, and we want to ask you to stand up and be a part of it. Take your families by the hand and show them what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Sit them down today, open the Bible, bow your heads in prayer and say “It’s time to make a change.” The revival starts with you.