Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Bend without breaking

Last week I had the privilege of visiting one of our missionaries, Chris Gardner, in Arequipa, Peru.  I was invited to preach at their annual “Youth Congress”.  Their ministry in Peru has been going on for about 20 years.  Chris’ dad, Austin Gardner, began the ministry and Chris has taken it over about 5 years ago.  During this time they have been able to start 78 churches around Peru and in other countries.  They run a Bible College in Arequipa where they train future leaders to take the gospel to new places.  I was very impressed with this ministry.

Chris is associated with Macedonia World Baptist Missions, which is an ultra-conservative Baptist mission board.  The style of music and dress is different than what we are used to, or even prefer, and reminds me of the kinds of churches that I used to attend many, many years ago.  I don’t mind that they have different styles or preferences and am more than willing to adapt to their culture when I visit their ministry.  I hope that they would have the same opinion should they choose to visit our ministry.

Chris invited me down there because he wants to help his people move from their ultra-conservative position to a more balanced one.  I am proud of him for wanting to make that move.  It will undoubtedly meet some opposition.  He will risk losing a significant amount of support.  I have experienced first hand that God will eventually test a man’s character – often by challenging him to take a stand for what he believes is right, at the expense of personal, financial support.  I believe this is what Chris is now facing.  He has some wonderful, God-fearing people in his ministry and given time, I am sure that the Lord will gently lead them to the proper balance that they need to effectively reach many more people.  That balance does not need to look anything like what we do here in Ohio.

As a result, Chris is needing to raise additional support from churches that understand his struggle and desire to help them through it.  If any of you reading this are in a position to help, and would like to partner with a missionary that absolutely has proven himself to be a “100 fold” fruit-bearer, I would highly recommend the Gardners in Peru.  You can reply to this blog (below), or contact Chris at chrisandandria@gmail.com.  He is planning on being in the US in October and will be traveling to visit churches into early 2011.  You can read his blog here.

John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

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