Seldom Early, Never Late

MiamiFamilyPics-20

God is seldom early, but never late” (Mother Teresa).

This has been our experience this past month! We would like to rejoice with you by sharing how God has answered our prayers in three big ways:

Sold

1. Selling our House  

When we moved to Atlanta two years ago, Sandi and I had zero equity – a common reality of missionary life. We knew it would be risky to buy a home for just two years. With the counsel of our incredible realtor, Steve Ostenson, he helped us find a great house in the perfect location. [A neat fact about Steve is that he grew up in Miami; his father was the former pastor of Grenada Presbyterian Church, Coral Gabels.] I told Steve to find us a house he could sell in two years. And I asked God, “May we simply break even.” But God had other plans.

The day after we put our house on the market, it went into a bidding war. It was under contract in just 48 hours! The market value of our house had increased by 20%. God went far beyond our expectations! Now we have enough money for a down payment on a future house in Miami.

FCSCampus

2. Finding a School

In moving to Miami, a big stressor has been trying to figure out schooling. The mere logistics felt overwhelming of trying to figure out the car pool situation for a high schooler, a middle schooler, and two in elementary. On top of that, trying to find three schools in the same district with decent ratings was extremely complicated.

So we prayed, as did many of you. Jesse Carbo, one of the Crossbridge pastors, told us about Florida Christian School (FCS) – a great K-12 school in the heart of Miami. A highly esteemed Perimeter School teacher had also recommended FCS to us. Jesse mentioned that FCS loved helping pastors’ families and that we should check it out. So we did.

Sandi began the application process. We drove the girls down for testing and paid a large enrollment fee with no guarantee that our girls would be accepted. But in God’s grace, just a few days before we flew to Miami to house hunt, we received good news: all four girls had been accepted AND offered very generous financial aid. God had provided! We flew to Miami without having to worry about school zones as we looked for a house. God is seldom early, but never late.

Version 2

3. Finding a New Home 

A final big answer to prayer was finding a house to rent. Before we went house hunting, I asked each daughter what they wanted in a house. One said she wanted a pink house and another wanted a mango tree. And in vintage God fashion, He not only provides us our needs but gives us more than we need or ask. Although we didn’t lease a pink house (we saw several in Miami!), we did land a great house with a mango tree in the backyard. God loves providing superabundantly!

For those who know Miami, our house is in West Kendall. And if you come visit us, we’ll be sure to serve you some fresh mangos 🍊 🙂

PRAYER POINTS

Here are some ways you can pray for us in the next few weeks.

  • Moving. Right after we close on our house in Atlanta on June 23, we’ll jump in our car and move to Miami. Please pray that we would extend grace to one other as we pack our house. My prayer is that though we will be sad saying goodbye to our Atlanta friends, that we would also laugh and have fun as we move.
  • Fundraising. Since our last update, we have inched up two percentage points. We are now at 94% of our moving budget. We only lack $23K! Our move alone will cost around $10K. Please pray that we would be able to raise 100% before our move date. If you’d like to give, go to the “donate now” page above.☝🏻
  • Open Doors. I am so excited to explore Miami and make new friends. Please pray Colossians 4:3 for us, “that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.”

Thank you very much for praying for us!

BiscayneBay

Things Are Getting Real!

Moving!Things are getting real! This week we put our house on the market. Sandi and I will fly to Miami in two weeks to go house hunting. We have begun the official transition to Miami. We have stepped onto the transitional bridge and moved from being settled
to unsettled –  chaos is coming very soon (see former post)!!

92%I’m in my last months with Perimeter Church’s church planting program. My supervisor, Bob Cargo, has graciously allowed me a large portion of my time to focus on fundraising. Our original prayer was to raise 80% of our moving budget by this May. God has answered our prayer by bringing in 92%!! We are so thankful for His provision! We only have $32K left to raise before we leave.

Family Front

Abbie and Addi have just finished a great track & field season. The amazing thing is their team won first overall in the State of Georgia! This is the first time in the history of their school that any sport has won State. I’m so proud of my girls for their hard work and persevering through a grueling season.

PCSTrack&Field2017-38

Mary has blossomed in leading kids in worship at Perimeter’s KidsQuest. Brent, Adrienne, Cheryl, and the Impact Arts staff have inspired and invested in Mary to bring out her singing potential. Not many can sing in front of others and worship God at the same time. Mary’s expressive and calm confidence is contagious.

Germany 2010

Eva is ready to start packing! She is such the planner, that she has already mapped out the rest of her life and ours too (at least she would like to!).

Miami-3

Prayer Points

  • Selling our home in Atlanta. The housing market in Miami is almost twice as expensive as Atlanta. Please pray that we will have a good return on our house, so we might have a good down payment on our future home in Miami.
  • Finding a new home. As I mentioned above, Sandi and I are looking for houses in two weeks. Since we are not 100% sure where we will plant a church, we will first rent. Our challenge is not only to find the right house that meets certain specs but also to find the right area to plant. The Crossbridge team has helped us narrow down to two potential areas of the city (Doral & West Kendall). Please pray that God would lead us not only to the right house but also to the right area of Miami where He wants us to begin a new work.
  • Raising the remaining 8% of our moving budget. We only have $32K left to raise! Several churches and individuals have expressed interest in joining us to Miami. Please pray that God would provide our remaining need and prompt many to begin giving before we move this summer.
We’re so thankful that you are following us to Miami!

Miami-19

 

One Principle That Will Help You Make A Big Decision

60-clarity

Making big decisions is very stressful! Being uncertain about your future is especially tough if you are without a job or have an end date in your present job. We received some great advice that has helped us a ton on when to pull the trigger on important life decisions. Honestly, I don’t remember from whom I heard this principle, (a friend? a podcast? a book?) – if you are reading this now and you gave me this advice, please let me know so I can give you props and properly thank you.

Here’s the principle on making big life decisions:

God usually gives 60% clarity.

This “60% Rule” is an application of Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.”

God gets you over the 50% mark so that you are not constantly waffling back and forth between several options. However, He typically doesn’t give you too much clarity. Now, there are exceptions when the Holy Spirit gives exceptional clarity to someone with an exceptional calling (75% and above). For most of us, though, God gives about 60% clarity.

Why does God do this? Think about it. Greater clarity means greater control. God is in control of our future, and He wants us to trust Him with it all. If I’m honest I really I love control. Because we are made in the image of God, we are responsible for controlling many things as we trust Him for all things. My problem is that I frequently grip too tightly to my future plans with closed fists, demanding God to give me 100% clarity. That’s why Proverbs 3:5-6 hangs in our living room.

In His kindness, God only brings 60% into focus so that I would remain focused on Him. He is the Good Shepherd. He will open doors in His timing. “I may not know my way well, but well do I know my Guide” (Martin Luther). Sandi and I are quick movers and usually get ahead of God. I once shared this struggle to one of my mentors and he told me, “God is seldom early but is always on time” (Clint Wilcke).  Only God holds our future, so we need to loosen our grip and hold our decisions with open hands.

I usually get anxious when I don’t know what details will result from my decision. I begin to play out hypothetical worst case scenarios. In those moments, I have to stop and ask myself, “Has God given me 60% clarity on which road to take?” If He has, then I can confidently trust Him with all the unforeseen details and repent of acting as God by trying to control all scenarios of my life. It’s so liberating to trust God! 

Listen to this stirring quote by the German philosopher, Goethe, as he offers what happens when we step out in faith with 60% clarity:

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy. There is one elementary truth, and if you ignore this truth it will kill countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself,  then God’s Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events come from the decision, a whole host of favorable incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” (adapted from Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, p. 126)

I’d love to hear from you! Is the 60% rule helpful to you? What big decisions are you making in life right now? I’d love to hear and pray for you.

img_3806

8 Reasons Why We Are Planting a Church in Miami

churh
The question is often asked: Why start a new church if there are already many churches in the area? Why not just revitalize existing churches? Those are very good questions. I thought it might be helpful to share 8 reasons why I’m planting a church in Miami.

8. Miami is one of the most unreached cities in America. In the area which we are considering starting a new church, 85% of its residents have zero religious affiliations – including the Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslims or any other religious group. Only 2.5% are evangelical Christians. The field is white for harvest!

7. New churches need to be planted in Miami to simply keep up with the population growth rate. According to the 2010 census, there are a little over 1,000 evangelical churches in Miami making up about 13% of the total population (this is a very generous estimate!). Miami’s population is growing much faster than the national average. From 2010-2015, Miami-Dade county grew by 7.8% (about 250,000 people/year). The bottom line: the evangelical church needs to plant about 26 churches a year just to maintain 13% of the population. In reality, for the evangelical church to grow in Miami, many more churches need to be planted – 40-50 churches a year is probably a more accurate figure.

6. It takes many different kinds of churches to reach an entire city. No single church tradition has a monopoly on the harvest. No one denomination or network can plant 50 churches a year! A positive way to put it is that each church reaches certain types of people. And since Miami is the most international city in America, there are many types of people to be reached!  I like how David Olson puts it: “New churches are historically the best method for reaching each emerging generation… [and] the only truly effective means to reach the growing ethnic populations coming to America. Every people group needs to hear the gospel in a way that makes sense to their culture” (The American Church in Crisis, 156). To the degree that evangelical churches link arms and work together, is the degree to which we will we reach Miami. All evangelical traditions need each other if we are going to change the spiritual tide in Miami.

5. New churches best reach the unchurched – period” (Tim Keller). It is essential to revitalize existing churches for kingdom impact in Miami, yet that alone will not turn the tide. New churches less than 3 years old average 10 new disciples per one hundred members compared to older churches: 10-year-old churches average 3 new disciples per hundred members and churches 50 years or older average 1.5 new disciples. As the late Peter Wagner famously said: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”

4. New churches often bring renewal to older churches. When older and newer churches work together, the new churches bring new disciples with new ideas and models for new situations that result in new leaders for both the older and newer churches. The older churches provide the emotional, financial, and spiritual support that is critical for the long-term health of a newly established church.

3. God has called me and my family to plant a church in Miami. God has given me a strong desire to seek the lost sheep, preach the gospel, make disciples, and organize a church not just anywhere, but in Miami. It really bothers me that there are so many lost sheep without a shepherd. We especially have a unique burden for those who find themselves in cultural transition. We know what it’s like to live as a minority. We understand the unique struggles, like the fatigue of always thinking in a second language or the stress of frequently feeling misunderstood. In many ways, our daughters are more comfortable as the only white girls in a sea of Latinos. In short, our family feels uniquely fitted to live in the international city of Miami.

2. My wife, Sandi, also feels called to follow me to Miami. This is HUGE! I’m continually amazed by God’s grace in Sandi. I’m amazed that she is still following me joyfully after all these years of transition!  We know that our family has a call to Miami when former Southern Floridians warn us about the culture, and yet we still feel a strong pull to move there. Yes, we know that Miami is a superficial, flashy, and decadent city. Yes, we know that Miami has been hard soil for many church plants. Yes, we know that ministry in Miami is a marathon that will take longer than most areas in the States. Yet, we are strangely drawn to all its beauty and brokenness. We see more potential than danger. All though we have our fears about living in Miami, I can honestly say that Sandi is just as excited about moving to Miami as I am.

1. Starting new churches not only follows the Biblical pattern but is essential to fulfilling the Great Commission. It might surprise you to know that the there is zero commands in the New Testament to plant a church. However, as many have pointed out, the outcome of making disciples and baptizing them (Matthew 28:19-20) is to bring them into a new covenant community  – a new expression of the Church in that specific context. That’s what we see Paul doing all through Acts: everywhere the gospel is preached, disciples are made and a local church is established. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) and church planting is the normal way He builds his church. I would go further to say that the church is God’s plan for the world. I like the way Ott & Wilson puts it:”Because the church itself is central to God’s mission, church planting must be central to that mission.”

line2
Many of you have joined us to Miami – thank you!! If you haven’t joined us yet, there are 3 ways you can do so:

  1. Join our Launch Team by moving with us to Miami. I’m dead serious. If you don’t know Spanish yet, I know of some great language schools that can get you conversant in just one month. If you are already in Miami, hit me up. I’ll be in the Magic City every month now until the summer. Even if this is a remote dream, let’s talk!
  2. Join our Financial Team. One-time or recurring donations are greatly needed. We are presently at 40% of our budget, and our goal is to be at 80% before we move. You can donate here.
  3. Join our Prayer Team by subscribing to our newsletter. Prayer is the number one factor for success in church planting! Any spiritual, lasting fruit is a direct result of your prayers. And we need them!!

We Did It Together!

oh-my

With your help, we reached our $10K End of Year Goal! Since City to City Miami will double all of our donations, we in effect raised $20K.

Thank you very much!! 

30Overall, we have raised 30% of our total church planting budget. With your financial gifts, you have propelled us into 2017 with a strong support base to help us move to Miami. Please pray that we will be able to raise 75% by this May.

We are excited about our new gospel partners – many of which are receiving this email for the first time. Your investment will enable us to make disciples, plant a church, and train leaders.

Thank you again for helping us get to Miami!

Help Us Meet our End of Year Goal!

As you make your end of year giving, consider financially joining us in what God is doing in Miami.

Sandi and I have set a goal of $10K by December 31. Every dollar donated is doubled by City To City Miami! We are especially looking for those who might partner with us at $30-$50/month – that’s less than a tall coffee at Starbucks a day.

If 4 people committed to $50/month, we would meet our end of year goal!

gift_certificate_-_u_deservea_treat-10-11-40-pm

line3

3Milestones Review

April 13, 2014

After serving in Peru, South America for nearly a decade, we moved back to the United States with a dream to plant a church in America.

September 12, 2014

To help evaluate our desire to plant a church, we went to Mission To North America Church Planter Assessment. And on this date, God confirmed our call and the MNA assessors fully recommended us for church planting. At assessment, we met Danny & Kimberly Iverson, who connected us with Bob Cargo and his church planting training program at Perimeter Church.


April 20, 2015

Bob Cargo formally invited our family to join Perimeter Church’s two-year church planting program, allowing us to re-acclimate to the United States and get some of the best training.

July 5, 2015

Moved to ATL!

October 28-30, 2015

Bob organized a meeting among key Hispanic leaders from all over the country to come to Atlanta to discuss the future of ministry and church planting among Latinos. Two key things happened for me at this meeting:

(1) Allen Thompson said, “If we are going to reach the next generation of Latinos and train its leaders, we must figure it out in Miami.” When he said that, a bolt of lightening with through my body, and I knew at that moment that I had to be part of what God was doing in Miami.

(2) I met several of the leadership from Crossbridge Church Miami (PCA): Felipe Assis, Jesse Carbo, & Henry Rojas.

December 12-16, 2015

The Crossbridge team invited us to explore Miami to see if it might be a good place for us to plant a church. We fell in love with the city and saw the great need for planting gospel-centered churches in one of the most unreached and challenging cities in America.

April 19-22, 2016

We went back to Miami to be assessed for church planting a second time, this time by City To City.

June 29, 2016

Crossbridge Church & City to City invited us to plant a church with them in Miami.

line1

4 2017 Preview

January 21, 2017

Travel to Miami to begin a monthly Incubator Training with City to City Miami.

February 6, 2017

Speak with missions’ committee at Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis.

February 10-12, 2017

Attend mission conference at First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, MS.

February 16-20, 2017

Travel to Miami for our daughters’ school testing.

April/May 2017

Sell our home in Peachtree Corners, NE Atlanta.

June/July 2017

Move to Miami! And begin to meet the people, learn the culture and develop new friendships.


Just reviewing all these events reminds me of how much we have to do before the summer. Yet, we can’t wait to be in the city that  God has been preparing us! With your financial gifts, we will be able to bring the hope of Christ to Miami.

 May 2017 be your best yet as you begin the new year in the Lord!

line1

gift_certificate_-_u_deservea_treat-10-11-40-pm

Should The First Worship Service Be Bilingual?

latino-flagsMiami is the most international city in the United States, which means 61% are foreign born (#2 is Washington D.C. at 53%). This is what makes planting a church in Miami so unique and challenging. One of the complexities is this- How bilingual should your ministries be from the beginning? So, I decided to ask some church planting experts, Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im from NewChurches.com. They graciously answered a question I recently submitted. This is what I asked:

“In planting multicultural churches, do you recommend launching the first service bilingual?”

newchurches

Ed & Daniel graciously answered my question! If you’d like to hear their response, go to Episode 123 on the New Churches Podcast (start at 3:02 min).  In their answer, Ed & Daniel say many helpful things:

  • “The first thing they teach you in missiology is ‘don’t tell people of other cultures what they should do.’” –@edstetzer
  • “There’s a lot of different expressions in terms of how you want to do church in a multi-ethnic context.” –@danielsangi
  • “When we look biblically, there’s not a prescribed form of how to do multi-ethnic ministry.” –@danielsangi

Their bottom-line answer is “depends,” which I translated to mean, “let your core group decide.

If I would ask the question all over again, I would have asked, “Do you know of any churches that launched with a bilingual worship service and then became financially self-sustaining within 3-5 years?” If anyone reading this post has experience planting bilingual or trilingual churches, I’d love to know your thoughts!

Please pray that God would give us wisdom as we investigate to know what would be the most contextually appropriate way to launch a new church in our target area of Miami!

Mountain Climbing

26164212704_1c31c1e65b_o

Prayer is the number-one factor for success in church planting” (Craig Ott& Gene Wilson).

Over these past few months, I have attained exceptional clarity on what it is going to take to plant a church in Miami. By no means do I claim to be an expert on Miami or on church planting per se. However, I do claim to know what needs to been done in the next few years.

For my right-brain friends, let me put it this way: God has brought me up to the base of a very tall Mountain. I can see all the details very well from this angle – all the cracks and crannies and caves, the peaks and valleys – all is laid before my eyes. God then says, “All right, climb up.” The problem with this Mountain is that it is a straight up wall with no trails or graduated slopes. It looks more like a 5-mile high cliff than a mountain. It is literally impossible to climb!

Now for my left-brain friends, this is what I mean: My time at Perimeter Church has afforded me time and resources to do in-depth studies on church planting and  and the development of vision, character, calling and skills. I have researched the city of Miami, done demographic and ethnographic studies, developed a ministry plan, a 5-year budget, along with a working philosophy of ministry. Now I know I need to raise an astronomical amount of money, move my family into a community that is 90% international & 85% unreached (no affiliation with any religious organization), and plant a dynamic and sustainable church within 5 years. The task appears daunting!

At the base of this Mountain, God has been teaching me that prayer is my primary ministry. Church planting is an entirely spiritual venture.Only God can take me up this Mountain! A husband and wife cannot have a baby by simply dreaming  about or planning for a baby; they first must exercise their conjugal rights. The same is true for a church planter who cannot birth a church without prayer. Just as Neil Cole has famously said,

The church must be conceived in heaven before it is born on earth.”

I’m convinced now more than ever that a “successful” church plant will only be because our Father in heaven answers our prayers to bring His kingdom to earth. God alone can take me up the unscalable Mountain through your prayers! For that reason we are looking for several prayer warriors who will covenant to pray for us as we prepare to plant in Miami. If you’d like to join us in prayer, subscribe to our prayer newsletter:

subscribe-here

Here are some ways you can pray for us:

  • Prayer Partners. We are looking for 20 committed intercessors who are gifted in prayer and who long to see the gospel transform Miami and all Latin American. I would rather have 10-20 fully engaged  intercessors than 1,000 people subscribe to our prayer newsletter.
  • Financial Partners. We have just begun the fund raising process and have a few donors. City To City and Crossbridge Church has already pledged to match 1/3 of our support. We still need to raise $140K/year for the next five years. What we need the most is reoccurring financial partners (monthly, quarterly or yearly). My prayer is that half of our support would come from churches and the other half would come from individuals. In order for us to move to Miami by June 2017, we need to raise at least 80% of our support.
  • Right Place to Live in Miami. We have a good idea to where we want to move, but we still have some lingering questions. Starting this January I will begin to travel to Miami once a month for networking and training. I will get to visit our potential target area and do some more “spying out the land.” Please pray that God will give us great clarity on where we should move to in Miami.

No church-planting movement will rise above the prayer ministry of those involved with it.” (Ott & Wilson)

Partner with us in prayer!

miami

 

Emilio’s Surprise, Leaving & Going Home

emilioaleboda

As I left Peru in 2014, one of the last things I promised my good friend, Emilio, “I will be back for your wedding.” At the time, Emilio was not dating anyone. And I made my promise in faith, not knowing exactly how I would make it back to Peru. Months go by. Emilio meets Alejandra. They get engaged. We meet via skype. Then Emilio asked me the big question: “Are you coming to my wedding?

I wanted to say yes with all my heart, however, our financial situation has had zero margin to save for plane tickets. So I had to break my promise to Emilio and declined. Then along came Patrick.

img_5032

Middle: Patrick Woodyard along with Seth Covington & myself in the Nisolo Shop in Peru

 

If you don’t know Patrick, he is quite the friend. While living in Peru in 2011, Patrick co-founded Nisolo, a social impact fashion label that has come alongside many Peruvians offering them friendship and honest work. Emilio and I have been with him from the beginning of Nisolo and watched it grow into a successful international business that today employees over 80 Peruvians. Patrick also has a huge heart for people. So when he caught wind that I could not afford to go to Emilio wedding in Peru, he emailed me with an idea. This is what he said,

Emilio mentioned that you may not be able to come to his wedding… I know it would make his year if you could come, and Sally Ward (Patrick’s wife) and I, if it would help your ability to come, would love to pay for most or potentially all of your plane ticket.”

I wept after reading these words. I could not believe what I was reading. Truly this was an answer to my prayers. God enabled me to keep a promise to Emilio that I could not keep myself! Later, Patrick suggested a twist – “Let’s make it a surprise! Let’s not tell Emilio your coming.” Sounds fun to me. And that’s how we rolled.

So for the next few months, I had to find creative ways to not let Emilio know that I was coming. Thankfully, he didn’t get tipped off. On Thursday morning, October 13 this happened….

It was a dream come true only by the grace of God working through my friend Patrick! His wedding was so much fun, an actual foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.


My trip to Emilio’s wedding afforded me my first trip back to Peru since our family left more than two years ago. It honestly felt like I had never left. Of course the adults were grayer (as I am) and the children were taller (as ours are); but other than that, everyone and everything felt the same. It fed my soul to reconnect with some of our closest friends in the world.

I have to admit, it was odd: going to Peru felt like leaving home and going home all at the same time. As I left my family, I was greeted by family. I was home but not yet home. What a great picture of living in the middle of Christ’s kingdom already but not yet here on earth!

img_6414It was very sad to leave my family behind, but I was glad to hear that Sandi and the girls vicariously lived through my experience. We all feel a greater sense of closure, remembering all of our wonderful friends and experiences our many years in Peru. As I boarded the plane back home, I had this sense that all that God had taught us, all the memories and experiences He gave us, we are now carrying those with us to Miami.

Peru is chapter 5 of our story. Our transition and training in Atlanta is chapter 6. So I guess that makes Miami Chapter 7. Here we come!

Which lead me to one final thought….


1937104_140383289675_3148357_nOur first introduction to Miami was through Emilio and his brother, Jose. We met Emilio and Jose in Peru back in 2009 after they were deported from Miami (that is a whole other fascinating God story that we don’t have space for here). As we became friends, we heard many of their stories growing up in Miami and on “the Key” (Key Biscayne).

Our friendship awoken within Sandi and me a fascination for Miami. In private, Sandi and I would say things to each other like, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to live and do ministry in Miami? I can see our family doing life with people like Emilio and Jose.” It is safe to say that if we had not become friends with Emilio and Jose, we probably would have never considered Miami as a place to plant a church. God works in mysterious and crazy ways!

Here are some pics from the trip…

img_3298

Patti, our friend and empleada along with her family

 

14670736_10154022620882151_2554349092229635451_n

So encouraging to see these men leading Cristo Rey Church so well, along with the other hermanos.

 

14610934_10209598356332906_1328773991148403875_n

Had to get in one game of futbol verdadero.

 

14642145_10210484957099438_5131928043152663024_n

Huanchaco Beach one of our favorite spots in Trujillo.

 

A Hurricane that Changed Miami Forever

6af0432687e040dda83a432cb84b52e6-6af0432687e040dda83a432cb84b52e6-0
Photo Credit: Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today via AP

Miami used to be a sleepy Southern retirement community. In this tropical paradise, life was peaceful and Anglo churches flourished. Everything changed in the year 1980 when President Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro had a show down. The US Government gladly
received many professional Cubans who had fled Cuba to escape the corruptions of communism. Carter puffed up his chest and said, “See how much better America is than Cuba!” Castro called Carter’s bluff and retorted, “If you want to receive my people, let me give you some more.” So, on April 15, 1980, Castro emptied his prisons and insane asylums, put 125,000 Cubans on boats and shipped them to Miami.
2004-363-15

Miami suddenly awoke from her slumber with hungry Latinos looking for work. Most found honest jobs while others found their way into shady business of drug trafficking. At that time cocaine was king and Miami was the pathway into North America. Colombians and Cubans began to fight for control of the drug market and Miami was their battleground. Almost overnight, Miami became the most violent city in the United States – not the ideal place to raise a family. Meanwhile a new Miami was raised up from the laundering of drug money in skyscrapers and high-rises.

Tensions continued to rise until the tempest clouds could be seen from Biscayne Bay. This was no a metaphorical storm; this was the infamous Hurricane Andrew of 1992 that decimated much of Miami. The Anglos that lost their homes had had enough with all the Español and violence. So thousands packed their bags and moved North, telling the last American to bring the flag with him on the way out. And again the city changed overnight.

Since Hurricane Andrew, Miami has become the Capitol of Latin America. It is the only city in North America that is controlled from top to bottom by Latinos. It is a young city with an undetermined future. There is no question that it is the most strategic city for reaching the future generations of Latinos in all the Americas. And this young city is ripe for the gospel of Jesus Christ!

miami-and-vicinity-178286-smalltabletretina