This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Showalter: New England gospel

Authentic movements to Jesus happen all over the globe. From North America, though, sometimes it seems they’re all “out there” in Africa, Asia or Latin America. Yet the heart of God is for North Americans, too. Let’s tell each other the stories.

Richard Showalter

In July a brother from New England reported how a crusty Yankee heard the good news and gave his life to Jesus. The witness was a 14-year-old Hispanic lad helping his father do some work around the New Englander’s home.

The young man simply shared the way to God and told him how he could be saved. “Believe and be baptized,” he said, “and Jesus will give you a new life, eternal life.”

The man was so taken with the bold witness of a young teen that he responded, “OK, I’ll do that. Would you baptize me?”

The lad phoned his pastor for further instructions and baptized the homeowner in his jacuzzi.

Of course, there’s a lot more to being a Christian than getting baptized. The most exciting thing about this story was where the 14-year-old came from. His pastor is Alejandro Colindres, founder of Fraternidad Cristiana. Colindres is a Honduran who met Jesus at age 23 through the witness of Mennonite missionary Ed King in his native country. He was discipled there in the movement we now call Amor Viviente (Living Love).

Colindres later moved to the U.S. “I did not think of myself as a missionary to the U.S.,” he said. “Rather, I simply began doing here what we were doing there — leading people to Jesus and carefully discipling them in small fellowships. I discovered that it was easier to preach the gospel in McDonalds and Burger Kings in New York than in Honduras!” Within a short time he gathered fellow immigrants into house fellowships, becoming a church planter.

From New York he moved to New England, the old Puritan homeland that, ironically, now is stereotyped as a graveyard for churches.

“In New England it took two years to experience the growth for which it took one month in New York,” he said.

But he didn’t give up. “We do ourselves an injustice if we only tell our success stories,” Colindres said. “Making disciples is hard. Jesus told us to sow the seed of the good news everywhere, not just on the ‘good soil.’ ” Today Fraternidad Cristiana’s house fellowships are flourishing in New England. The witness is reproducing disciples in the U.S. and around the world — India, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Colindres doesn’t promote fail-safe models. In a seminar at a Conservative Mennonite Conference meeting in Indiana, he and his co-worker Dennis Perdomo told stories of remarkable healings when they prayed for the sick.

“A lot of people have also died in my arms when I prayed for them,” he said. “But Jesus sent us to pray for the sick, so let’s do that!”

Once when he was ministering in rural India and seeing many people healed, he received news that his mother back in Honduras was ill. “I prayed for her over the phone and told my brothers she would be OK. But then a day later she died. I was distraught. ‘Why, God, why?’ Why in India but not in Honduras?

“Yet when I went back home to the mountains of Honduras for her funeral, I found out she had passed away as she worshiped the Lord with her arms lifted up. A thousand people attended the funeral, and I preached the gospel to them. It was wonderful!”

Richard Showalter lives in Irwin, Ohio, and travels in Asia, Africa, the U.S. and beyond as a teacher, preacher, writer and servant.

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