I am an avid sports fan and attending live sporting events is one thing, but sitting on the front row of a great game is an altogether different experience. The sights and sounds when the athletes are just feet away provide a view into the game that not many get to experience.

From time to time, by God’s grace, I get the honor to have a front-row seat to the life, work, and ministry of Haggai leaders. During the height of the pandemic, I was not able to travel due to restrictions, but I was recently afforded the incredible experience of being on the ground in Ecuador and Costa Rica for five days with Dr. Cruz Paniagua, a Haggai leader in Latin America.

I learned a lifetime of lessons during my five days, but I want to share with you just three that I discovered from my front-row seat.

One

WE MAKE DISCIPLES, JESUS BUILDS THE CHURCH

Dr. Paniagua is responsible for leading a network that has started over 2,400 churches since 2019 and yet he told me that “the goal is not to start new churches but to make disciples. If we seek to start new churches, we will fail, but if we pursue to make disciples then healthy new churches will start without fail.” Dr. Paniagua pointed me to the fact that Matthew 16:18 says that Jesus will build His church and then to Matthew 28:18, which calls us to make disciples. In other words, we make disciples with the Holy Spirit’s lead and Jesus builds His church.

Two

ONE-ON-ONE IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT

Disciples are being made; therefore, new churches are starting with new believers. These churches are baptizing people daily — not weekly — daily! From the front row of the ocean shore, I was able to observe the pastors baptizing those wearing white, as they displayed their surrender to follow Jesus. But I could not help but notice there was a third person in the waters with them wearing blue. I learned from Dr. Paniagua that those wearing blue were Christians who were committing at that moment to disciple the new believer one-on-one for the rest of their lives.

Three

MOVEMENTS CANNOT BE MANUFACTURED

Dr. Paniagua has created a simple, but brilliant process for making disciples that can be replicated in almost any culture. But he is quick to point out that there is an uncontrollable movement taking place across Latin America and that movement cannot be manufactured. As I watched person after person being baptized, he looked at me with a smile of humble confidence and said, “Only the Holy Spirit can do that.” From the front row, it was humbling to see a place where I can sincerely say, “The harvest is here!”

My prayer is that through publications like this one, you will get a seat, as well, to see the work of all that God is doing through Kingdom partnerships.

Together, we can end Gospel poverty,

Dustin Willis
Chief Marketing Officer

This article comes from the 2021 Fall edition of Impact magazine.

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