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Apoluo in South America

Apoluo in South America

Recently it was my privilege to take the APOLUO seminar that BMW provides to North American sending churches to a group of leaders in Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina. (Note: a search in this blog for “Apoluo Workshop” will result in several articles on the content of the Workshop). There were three church leaders in attendance due to conflicting schedules for some of the ones originally scheduled to participate. Two of the men were national missionary pastors and one was an Argentine church leader.

Instruction and challenge in the area of missions to churches in South America has been sorely neglected over the last fifty years or so. More specific to this article, Bible teaching regarding missions has been inadequately addressed in Argentina and Uruguay over the last years. While a number of churches have been established, few have grown to the place where they adequately support their pastors. The populations of the churches are often from disadvantaged segments of society. This does not absolve them from Biblical accountability for the well-being of their pastors and subsequent missionary engagement.

The presence of cell phones in the hands of all but the youngest seems to suggest that disposable income in gradually increasing. When I first went to Uruguay in 2003 many people drove vehicles from the 60’s and 70’s. One memorable car that I rode in was a “57 Chevy Malibu” the fact that it had a nearly new Nissan turbo diesel engine was a little disconcerting. Now the roads are filled with cars from Europe (assembled in Brazil), Japan, Korea and many brands of cars from China.

So, money is not the problem in South American churches regarding their NT responsibility to send out missionaries. They need to be educated, and Apoluo brings out three high points that need to be addressed with the churches in South America.

First, we looked at Acts 1:8 which says; “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The question of “Where is Jerusalem?” is critical to the understanding of God’s plan for the church. The North American church has understood that Jerusalem had moved to their responsibility. The North American missionaries inadvertently gave the impression that, since they had arrived at the “uttermost parts of the earth”, the cycle was completed. This implied that, from the perspective in South America (or any place on the globe), the Great Commission was complete, and there was nothing for churches in South America to do regarding missions.

Is this true? Geographically Jerusalem is in Israel. Philosophically Jerusalem is in our home church. Spiritually, however, Jerusalem is where God dwells, and HE dwells in me. Every Christian becomes Jerusalem and is obligated to be a witness even to the uttermost part of the earth. From the perspective of a Uruguayan or foreign national from some other country,” they must look to direction as to where their “uttermost part of the earth” lies.

Second, Acts 13:1 – 3 is the seed text for the whole concept of APOLUO. The five leaders of the church at Antioch are a mixed group of men from different backgrounds – ranging from a slave to a member of the ruling class as well as highly trained Bible scholar and some business people. From them the Holy Spirit chose two to go as missionaries. The church sent them out (apoluo) with confidence that they could and would do the work of the ministry. This is the model for all NT churches everywhere and is to be completed until His return in glory.

Thirdly, Acts 15:1 – 3 illustrates the reality that the church would provide resources for the men sent out by the church. Verse three has the men sent out (propempo) with resources for the work of the ministry.

The result in my seminar? These three ideas were like a match to kindling wood as the men explored the meaning for them and the churches that they led in Argentina. It can do the same for your church.

Dave Rozelle, BMW Area Director