Knock Opens Door to Ministry With ‘Infectious Synergy’

Post a Comment » Written on October 13th, 2009     
Filed under: News
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (October 13, 2009) – In early 2007, someone from Iglesia del Verbo en Accion (Church of the Word in Action) knocked on the door of Crosstown Covenant Church and said, “We are a church like Mary and Joseph – we are looking for a room in the inn.”

“In the providence of God, this knock on Crosstown’s door was answered by Deb Laws, who is fluent in Spanish,” says John Jacobi, the congregation’s lead pastor. That led to a conversation about ministry compatibility, and Crosstown invited Verbo en Accion to use their building for weekly meetings.

What has developed in the years since that first meeting is more accurately described as “ministry sharing,” and this relationship between congregations led to Verbo en Accion becoming a Northwest Conference church plant on April 1 this year.

“Our relationship has truly been an organic move of the Spirit between our two congregations,” Jacobi says. “Originally there was no great vision to share ministry together. Instead, the Holy Spirit led us to a friendship that is declared in the Spanish expression ‘Somos Companeros’ (We are Partners). This is the language used to describe our shared ministry in Jesus Christ.”

The two congregations have learned over time to bring their strengths and passions together to create what Jacobi describes as an “infectious synergy.” Crosstown’s facility, established ministry and strong financial stewardship have enabled Verbo en Accion to live out their passion for the lost and extend a profound gift of congregational hospitality.

Every Saturday morning from 8 to 10 a.m., the two congregations host a free breakfast.
“We supply the food, and all we ask is to bring someone you know who would like to come,” explains Juan Ovando, pastor of Verbo en Accion. “Our purpose is to evangelize during the breakfast.”

Members of both congregations invite people to the breakfasts. “Crosstown takes care of the English-speaking, and we take care of the Spanish-speaking,” Ovando says.

In July, Crosstown and Verbo en Accion shared Vacation Bible School together. Verbo en Accion brought strong numbers of children, and Crosstown contributed strong numbers of VBS staff.

“This was the first exposure that Verbo has had with this ministry,” Jacobi says. “It was a glorious week together as a culturally diverse staff and child population shared in this ministry together.”

Focusing much of its energy on evangelism, Verbo en Accion is working hard to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people transitioning from living on the streets.

“Physically, we offer them a way to stop living in the streets and direct them to where they can live,” Ovando says. “We offer clothes, food and the needs of medicine. This way they will not have to worry about anything.”

Members of the church host prayer meetings in their homes three times a day, and Bible study is offered twice a day.

Verbo en Accion also hosts three-day retreats at Covenant Pines Bible Camp for new believers and other people considering conversion. Participants hand over car keys, radios, cell phones, electronic games, and anything else that might be a distraction during the retreat. Throughout the weekend, the group explores themes like regret, forgiveness, media influence, cleansing of the soul and sexuality.

“These humble people come to get released from drugs, alcohol, pornography, homosexuality, lesbianism … lonely souls, rejection, the desire for vengeance, destroyed self-esteem,” Ovando said. “All of this and much more has been broken in the name of Jesus Christ and set free.”

At a recent retreat, Verbo en Accion baptized 18 people. On Sunday during the retreats, the newly baptized gather to create a vision for change and explore the meaning of change.

“We have noticed that the brothers that have been here change a lot,” Ovando says. “They look more for God, they feel free, and they take it upon themselves to reach the goals they have and get closer to God.”

By the end of 2009, Verbo en Accion will have hosted four of these retreats. Their goal for 2010 is to do six retreats.

Ovando praises the Crosstown Covenant congregation for making many of the church plant’s activities and outreach possible. “They are always there to help when in need,” he says. “Not only do they give us advice, they work with us to teach us how to do things.”

This ministry-sharing arrangement has also forged a strong friendship between the two pastors. “We share lunch together on a regular basis, and I find myself endlessly amazed at Pastor Juan’s leadership wisdom and heart for the lost,” Jacobi says. “In fact, most of the times I’m with Juan, I find myself thinking, ‘This is like the book of Acts.’ I can say with strong certainty that the Verbo en Accion congregation has given Crosstown Covenant much more than we have given them!”

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