God’s Place

We are super excited to announce that I have taken a position with Bay Area Community Church!!



Bay Area is located in Annapolis – the capital of Maryland, home of the Naval Academy, and just 30 minutes from D.C. My main role will be equipping and coaching their 60 Missional Communities (like small groups) to become a missionary family of servant disciples. Bay Area has also invited me to help with their School of Biblical Leadership as well as help equip their residents-in-training for vocational ministry. I also get to be involved in their Sent Network that has already planted 17 churches in the Mid-Atlantic region. Honestly, this is my dream job working with amazing people at an amazing church!

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Back Story

I was told that finding a pastoral call might take 9-15 months. Thankfully we had enough money in the bank to be financially stable until the summer of 2019. So there was no pressure to find a job quickly. God, however, wanted to reveal our path quicker than we expected.
 

I was randomly connected to Bay Area through a headhunter. She thought we might be a good match, and connected me to Brian Hopper. I had an incredible phone interview with him. In fact, it felt like I was talking to an old friend. After my second interview, Brian and his team invited Sandi and me to visit Bay Area. So within a few weeks, we were packing our bags for a weekend visit.
 

Sandi and I had never been to Maryland before, so we were curious to see what it was like. From the time we landed, God began to show us his fingerprints everywhere. Sandi and I had prayed that we would be in a community where we felt completely ourselves, and be a family of true friends. That’s what we found at Bay Area! 
 

One of the questions I was asked that weekend was “How do you think God has prepared you for being the Pastor of Missional Communities at Bay Area?” I re-told the story of how I was lifting weights at the gym, listening to the vision talk given by their Senior Pastor, Greg. In the talk, he said that it was Bay Area’s vision for “everyone to be a missionary.” When I heard Pastor Greg say that, I threw up my bench-press, stood up and shouted, “Yes! That’s what God is calling me too: To help Bay Area train their missional communities to be a family of missionaries.” When I told this to the search team, one guy shouted “Yes! I think we need to applaud!”
 

The next morning, I went to breakfast with the chairman of the elders to see if we were theological compatible. I had written down all my questions, ready to talk doctrinal views. The elder looked over his glasses at me and said, “Allen, there is something you need to know about me. For several years, I served as the headmaster of a boarding school for missionary kids in Germany. It’s my understanding that you have moved your daughters several times since you’ve been back from Peru. So I have a question for you: How are your two older girls doing?” I was a puddle of tears before we could even talk about theology. His true shepherd’s heart was for the well-being of my high school missionary kids. Very few people would have that kind of perception for our third culture kids. I knew that I had found elders who would truly shepherd my family.
 

That afternoon, I met with the Senior Pastor, Greg, and his wife. Sandi and I found out that he and his wife had served in Poland for over a decade before moving to Annapolis. Our stories were so similar it was spooky! The craziest part is that I found out that my college pastor, Len Woods, led Greg to Christ years ago. Greg then told me, “the position you are applying for is a mission-critical position at our church. Our mission is ‘to make passionate, maturing followers of Christ’ and we want to do that in the context of Missional Communities. However, we are not doing that very well and we would like you to help us figure that out.” And that’s exactly what I wanted to do!

Here’s one more of God’s fingerprint during our visit. There are only 9 families in the world whose children grew up with our kids in Peru. One of those families now lives in Annapolis.  It’s been said that missionary kids are the only ones who truly get other missionary kids, so knowing that this family lives in Annapolis was an amazing blessing for our family. 


Sandi and I are fully convinced that God is calling our family to serve at Bay Area Community ChurchAnd I haven’t been this excited in a long, long time!

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Bay Area flew my family up to Annapolis to meet the church and look for a house. Our girls truly loved Bay Area Church and Annapolis!
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A must see exploring the city
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Inefficient Evangelism at the Gas Pump

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I don’t know about you, but I often feel like a failure when it comes to evangelism.

I’m all too familiar with Paul’s charge to pastors to “do the work as an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). Sometimes I’ve excused myself saying, “I don’t think evangelism is my spiritual gift.” That’s no excuse. I don’t have to be gifted in evangelism to do the work of an evangelist. So one of my goals this year is to become a better evangelist. In order to prime the pump, I’ve been praying everyday for opportunities, reading books and blogs on evangelism, and listening to other evangelists share their wisdom.

One jewel I’ve found is John Leonard’s little book, Get Real: Sharing Your Everyday Faith Everyday. In chapter 10, he shares a struggle that I relate to: a bent towards efficiency can undermine our work in evangelism. He describes his typical day…

“I’m a person who likes to get things done. People get in my way; they slow me down. I often do everything I can to avoid interacting with people so I can get to work being a pastor. I gas up at a pay outside with my credit card. I get cash from an ATM machine. I even go to the self-checkout lane to avoid slow and inefficient clerks. I zip through my to-do lists so I can get to my office, close my door, and begin strategizing how I can reach my community with the gospel” (p. 113).

Living in Peru has given me a new lens to see Americans better. One thing Peruvians have taught me to see is that Americans love efficiency! It’s not that Peruvians dislike efficiency, it’s just not as high on their priority list. Being on time for a meeting is not as important as talking to a friend on the street.

Perhaps our drive for efficiency has narrowed our view on evangelism as a project to be completed. This project-driven evangelism has a memorized presentation that we must get through to feel like we have actually shared the gospel with someone. To this project approach Leonard says, “We consider it a failure if we do not present the entire gospel, or if the person we are witnessing to doesn’t come to faith in Christ. In a real approach to evangelism, we do not have to take the person from A to Z in a single presentation. All we’re looking to do is to help the person take the next step, or just go from A to B” (p. 108).

What a relief! Sometimes all I can do is take people from A to B. An evangelist does not have to be in a hurry to finish his evangelistic task. Like Peruvians we focus on people rather than projects. Jonathan Dodson is exactly right: project evangelism is very efficient, but love-driven evangelism is inefficient (see his podcast, starting around 41 minutes). How do I make the shift from project evangelism to love-driven evangelism? Again, Leonard offers advise on how to be an inefficient evangelist,

Go out of your way to interact with people. Stop paying for gas at the pump; go inside and pay. if you do this, you could have a worldwide ministry! At the gas stations I frequent there are Moroccans, Pakistanis, Sikhs from India, Mexicans, and Guatemalans, just to name a few cultural backgrounds. I don’t have to go halfway around the world to have an international ministry-all I have to do is walk inside to pay for my gas.

I probably won’t be able to get an entire gospel presentation in before I pay for my gas, but I can plant seeds and get to know the clerk. I can ask questions about their family. I can ask how I might pray for them. Isn’t this is part of what it means to be a “fisher of men” by fishing for opportunities?

I guess I’m going to stop paying for gas at the pump. And who knows, maybe the Holy Spirit will lead me to good soil so I can share the good news with my gas-station friend.

 

Covenant Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR visits us in Peru!!


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We have had an incredible short term team season this year!  One of our highlights was having Covenant Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR here for the first time.  They are one of our amazing supporting churches that faithfully and generously gives financially, prays for us, sends us care packages and keeps up with us throughout the year.  They were such servants and only God knows all the seeds that were planted during their hard working week with us.  They served through word and deed in our new Arevalo hospital on the outskirts of our city.  Here are some  highlights from the week. . .

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An encouraging visit from our church planting partners!

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A couple of weeks ago, we had a very encouraging visit from Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church (Hernando, MS). This church has been partnering with Cristo Rey since it’s beginning and now coming along side as we look to form a church planting team to plant in another city.  They are a new church themselves, planted by Pastor Clint Wilcke (right) five years ago, so they know well the challenges.  Clint has also been one of Allen’s mentors and accountability partners for the past 10 years, so it is great to have him involved in the work here.  Bob Barber (middle) who is vice president of our CMS board is a founding member of Christ Covenant and also knows the ends and outs of church planting and was a huge encouragement to the pastors, apprentices and university ministry.

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Our girls hanging with the “teenage” girls from the Christ Covenant team.

Thanks Christ Covenant!

From the coast to the Andes. . .

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Year after year, we have the privilege of having a team of 30 plus medical staff from First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS come and serve in Peru.  They serve long and hard all week long helping many patients in the Cajamarca  and the outer lying Andes communities.  Allen enjoys joining them each year to translate and offer pastoral  counseling  to the patients. It was a great week, but we are thankful to have him back on the coast with us.

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Allen  prefers to take a 8 hour overnight bus ride up the Andes each year to get the best dental care from Dr. Danny Story.

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Photo credit to Steve Hill (top 4) & Caleb Sutton (bottom pic)  for these pictures