Heavenly Mango Manna

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Photo credit: Hamza B

We arrived at our new house in Miami in the middle of mango season. All the ducks on our little lake had congregated in our backyard to feast from this heavenly honey fruit. After shooing them away, we began to collect about 8 mangos a day.  We had mangos for breakfast, mangos for lunch, and mangos for dinner. Mary devoured mangos as she read book after book. The best part, we got to share our mangos with our new neighbors: a three generation Cuban family to the right and a Colombian family to the left. It was like God had given us mango-manna from heaven not only to live off of but to share with our new friends.

It’s been said that only God can plant the church. Arriving at our new home ladened with mangos showed us that God had already gone ahead of us. Yes, I’ll have to plant and water the seed, but only God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7). I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of harvest God might have in store for us in Miami!

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Finishing at Perimeter

It is true that God only causes the growth, but it is also true that God trains the farmer. I feel so blessed to have sharpened my ax at Perimeter these last two years. Bob Cargo and my cohort have been perfect for my preparation. It was amazing to do life with Sam Kang (2nd Gen Korean), Jorge Romero (Colombian), and Dereko Robinson (African- American). I learned so much from each person’s cultural perspective. I will truly miss our times together!

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Starting with Crossbridge Church

It has been a dream to come on board with Crossbridge Church in Miami. Lead Pastor Felipe Assis and his team have been very welcoming to our family. They have given me a year to transition to Miami and learn the city. I’ve been partnered with Carter Brown and his Crossbridge campus in downtown Brickell to learn the Crossbridge and the dynamics in Miami church planting. Brickell is like the Manhatten of Miami; the financial district filled with millennials. In the meantime, I’ll continue to investigate strategic areas of the city to see where God wants us to plant a new church.

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Fourth of July Crossbridge Staff Party (Pinecrest & Key Biscayne)

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for allowing us to reach our moving goal! All of the money came in just as we were literally pulling away from Atlanta to cover our moving expenses. Thank you very much for responding. We would not be here if it were not for you!
  • A good start with Crossbridge Church.  In his helpful book, The First 90 DaysMichael Watkins says, “the actions you take during your first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you will succeed or fail.” Please pray that I would make a good first impression with our new team, learn their working culture, and become a trusted worker and asset.
  • Gospel conversions. A Cuban friend told me recently, “Miami is a very spiritual city, it just has the wrong spirituality.” I’m finding that people are very open to discuss spiritual matters and are very honest about believing in God but not being in church. As I talk to people, please pray that God would open doors to talk about the gospel. Pray that God would direct my steps and I would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. And join me in prayer that I would see an early harvest of 3 to 5 disciples within the first few months of living in Miami.
  • New friends. Our family at every level had vibrant relationships in Atlanta. Now, we know no one where we live. This has been the hardest part of moving to Miami by far! There have been moments where several in our family have felt an intense sense of isolation and sadness. It reminds us that we were not made to be alone and that we are pilgrims on this earth longing for our true home. Please pray that God would allow us to form a new community of friends and that we would be patient in the process.
  • God’s leading in learning the city. As I drive through Miami, I have noticed how few church buildings there are. It is overwhelming how much need is here, and it is daunting to narrow down our focus to a section of town. I have researched Doral this past year, and I plan on continuing to do so. I also see a huge need in West Kendall, where we presently live. And I’ve been told that there is an opportunity in Miami Shores. My prayer is that God would lead us to where He wants us to plant by the end of this year.

We truly need your prayers.

Thank you for joining us to Miami!

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Seldom Early, Never Late

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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!

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Mountain Climbing

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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:

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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!

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Big News!

We are excited to announce that we have formally accepted an invitation from Crossbridge Church (PCA) and Redeemer City-To-City to plant a church in Miami.

I apologize that our communications have gone “dark” since April. The process of figuring out Miami has taken longer than expected. The past few months City-To-City has been making the transition of decentralizing from NYC, and Miami is now their hub for Latin America. We praise God that we now have clarity!

In the past few years when people asked us, “Where would you like to plant a church?” and many times we said: “Miami.” However, we didn’t have the connections from Peru to make a direct move to South Florida. So it took God moving us to Perimeter Church in Atlanta to get connected. About a year ago, my boss, Bob Cargo, convoked a meeting of key Latino leaders in the United States. It was there that I was connected to the Crossbridge team. The rest is now history.

We will stay in ATL one more year as I continue to be equipped by some of the best in church planting. Miami is a very hard city to plant a church and we will need many partners to survive. I’ll be in touch soon with more details.

We appreciate your past support amidst the many twists and turns from Peru until now. We could not have made it this far without you! 

If you’d like to keep up with us, subscribe to our newsletter.

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Smith Family Update: Moving to Atlanta!

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I’m excited to announce that I have accepted a call from Perimeter Church (PCA) to be a Church Planting Intern for the next two-years!! We are now in full gear to move to Atlanta in early July. 

Though we are no longer in Peru, we are still missionaries. We believe that God has called us to plant a church in the third largest mission field in the world – the good ole US of A. Our denomination fully recommended us to pursue church planting last fall, but we feel that we need more time to adjust back to the States as well as receive more training. We’ve been gone for nearly a decade and America is definitely not the same! We are missionaries transitioning between two cultures.

Perimeter Church has one of the best church planting training programs in America. They have over two decades of experience, having successfully planted 26 churches around the Metro-Atlanta as well as helped plant over 40 churches internationally. Although we are taking two more years to prepare, we’ll be light years ahead when we begin a church. After the two years, I’ll be free to plant anywhere in America. So one of the first items on the agenda this next year is to identify a target area in which to plant. Who knows, maybe we will plant a church near you!

KEEP UP WITH US!

We’d love for you to join us on our new church planting adventure. I cannot ethically add your email address to our new database without your permission. So if you’d like to continue to follow us, please go to the following link below and sign up:

http://eepurl.com/bllbtL

Grace and peace,

Allen & Sandi Smith

One-Year Furlough Annoucement

Welcome to 2014! 

As many of you experience record low temperatures, we are enjoying sunny summer days in Peru. With the start to a new year, we’ve put together a photo review of the last few months in 2013. So click on the video above to see a three minute slideshow.

Our biggest news is that this April 2014 we will be traveling back to the States for our one-year furlough. My dad is graciously letting us live next door to him in his rent house in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Not only are our girls super excited about living next door to Dadeo (their granddad), but they are also looking forward to living in front of Lake Hamilton. I can’t wait to teach my girls how to water ski and go camping in the Ozark Mountains.

We plan on visiting each of our 30 supporting churches as well as seeing our 30 supporting individuals. If any of you travel close to Hot Springs this year, please let us know. We will be only one hour from Little Rock, AR.

Prayer Notes

  • Please pray that we would finish our second term well. Allen is stepping back from many ministries he has been leading. Pray that the Peruvian leadership will step up and do an even better job at Iglesia Cristo Rey, the missional cell groups, and the Apprenticeship Program.
  • Also pray for our girls as they get ready for their entrance exam for Lakeside School in Hot Springs. Several months ago, we pulled our girls out of their Peruvian private school to focus on studying in English. Although they were doing well studying in Spanish, they needed to catch-up in order to get into their appropriate grades in the U.S.

Support the Smiths

Life as a missionary is constant fund raising.  God always provide for our needs, but it is my responsibility to let you know our need. We are presently behind budget $18,000. One of the reasons why we need to come back to the States, is to raise money. 

If you would like to ease my burden of traveling from coast to coast to raise funds, you can can help! Here are two ways you can give:

  • You can give online by going here:
  • You can send a check to the following address, with a memo note saying “Smith Family Support”:

Christian Missionary Society
P.O. Box 14563
Greenville, SC, 29610-4563

Thank you for your many prayers & ongoing support!

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Smiths in Peru November Update! (new video & family needs included)

Dear Faithful Friends:
With only several weeks left in 2013, we are finishing up our first year with the Apprenticeship Program. The goal of the Apprenticeship Program is to form a church planting team to be sent out in a few years. All three apprentices have grown in their knowledge of the Bible, deepened their walk with Jesus, and developed better leadership skills. Esdras told me that the program has really deepened his love for God and the church. I am very excited to see what God has done in such little time! 

  • To see an introduction video to the Apprenticeship Program, click on the You Tube video above or go here . 
  • Also, check out how this year has gone so far, check out this recent interview.
Prayer Notes

  • Please pray that the future church planting team would continue to take form, deepen friendships,  expand their vision, and development a more robust theology.
  • Our family is behind on financial support. Our prayer is that God would raise $14,000 by the end of this year to meet our annual budget. In the past, God has provided for our needs through unexpected gifts from many of you. We still depend on your support in order to be able to minister the gospel in Peru. 
Support the Smiths
A one-time gift of $30 or $50 can go a long way! If you would like to contribute to our family, here are the ways you can give:
  • You can send a check to the following address, with a memo note saying “Smith Family Support”:
Christian Missionary Society
P.O. Box 14563
Greenville, SC, 29610-4563
Thank you for your ongoing support!
Allen & Sandi Smith
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Happy 6th Birthday Mary Allen!

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Mary Allen turns 6 today!  Yesterday we celebrated with a fun party with her  friends getting  “make-overs” (Latin American style) at Edith Cordova Salon.  Edith Cordova owns the most prestigious salon in our city and she also happens to be a member of our church and missional cell group.  She so generously offered to throw a party for Mary Allen, all we did was show up!

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Our friend Edith, beautiful inside and out!

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