First person: a famous missionary “the sovereign planter”

More than a year ago, we invited you to praise God with us for a new church plant in LisbonPortugal — the blessing that has come from years of prayer and ministry.

Well, it’s time to celebrate again.

Last fall, we had the privilege of celebrating this new church that had become fully self-governing, self-sufficient, and entirely run by pastors and local believers in Lisbon.

This may be a common occurrence in North America, but here in Portugal it’s not every day that we celebrate a new church.

Work is hard and slow, but God is good and faithful.

I was asked to give a short talk at the Sunday celebration service, and I shared a few points there that I believe are of vital importance in the world of missions and planting. churches.

God is lord of the harvest

God planted the church. Full stop.

Often we are tempted as missionaries to do the work around us. “How many churches have you planted? we often ask ourselves. “Who planted the church? we wonder when we hear about a new work. Yet, during the three years it took to plant the church, God taught me this lesson: God plants the church by His Word, by His Spirit, and for His glory.

His people can participate

Although God is the sovereign planter, He uses us all.

When we look at who did the work for this church in Lisbon, what we found was not a single missionary individual or couple who planted the church. Instead, we discovered a collection of hundreds of stories of God’s faithfulness that resulted in the birth of a new church.

As I reflect over the past few years on the ups and downs of church planting, this statement perfectly describes what I want to share as we celebrate a new church and the gospel is proclaimed in a new place. .

I would argue that the main tool God used to plant the new church was our local Portuguese church.

He raised up men and women from our church, Igreja da Lapa (Lapa Church) in Lisbon, Portugal, to continue the work of the Gospel and begin a new work where there was no church or presence. evangelical.

God has placed a burden on our hearts to see church planting as a priority and the urgency to begin, to continue, and to remain faithful, even when we encounter challenges and setbacks. God worked through my brothers and co-pastors, Tiago and Filipe, and God used our deacons to bring the church together in service. He called on families to step up and be part of the core group, to leave what was comfortable and to help start something new. God even brought us a special family, Diego, who would later become the senior pastor, and his wife, Stella.

God has also used His church to raise funds, with 100% of the financial needs coming from within sacrificial gifts and faith.

God has an ultimate plan

Planting a new church was not just a missionary’s crazy idea.

The idea was central to the Word of God and the gathered community of faith we call home. And the advancement of the gospel that God initiates and sustains is always done within the context of His church.

Paul says in Ephesians 3:10, “…through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be revealed to rulers and authorities in heavenly places.” We certainly echo that verse here in Lisbon as we talk about the new church and the privilege we have to proclaim the name of Jesus in a country that is less than 1% evangelical.

It is our belief and our hope that each new church, as it is planted, will continue to reveal the wisdom of God which leads to salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone and by faith alone.

Who planted the new church? God, the church planter, of course!

Let this thunderous affirmation be our story as we give glory to God for all he has done, continues to do, and will do in the future.


EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally written by Mark Bustrum and published by the International Mission Council. Mark Bustrum is a church planter with his wife, Hannah, in Lisbon, Portugal.

Barry F. Howard