Spotlight: Alfredo Forhans & Iglesia Evangélica Los Pinos Nuevos, Holguin

Alfredo Forhans

Alfredo Forhans

The Forhans Family

The Forhans Family

We are excited to partner with Alfredo Forhans and support Iglesia Evangélica Los Pinos Nuevos in Holguin, Cuba. Please keep Alfredo and his family in your prayers.

What are the names of your family members?

Dainel Pifferrer is my wife and we have three children, Juan, Rebecca and Laritza. We have one son-in-law, Hennyer and a grandson, Allen.

What is the name of your church and roughly how many attendees do you currently have?

Iglesia Evangélica Los Pinos Nuevos

Where are you originally from and where is your current church located?

I was born in the city of Holguin, Cuba. The church is in the center of the city of Holguin.

Tell us the story of how God called you to plant churches and why you chose the current location for your church plant.

In fact it was a process, as such I found myself pastoring in a very traditional and legalistic church. It was after a crisis in the ministry in that church, mainly due to legalism, that we requested to leave. We were encouraged to move to the city of Holguin to do church planting work. To tell the truth, we had no idea what we were going to do, since we had never worked in church planting before. Being in the city of Holguin, God began to move our hearts towards the work of planting, and with it, the vision and philosophy of how we were going to do it started to show up. The current location of the church was decided after a first attempt in the outskirts of the city. We realized that if we wanted to impact the city with the gospel we should move to strategic areas where we had a greater reach to the community.

What is the spiritual temperature in your community/country? How does this reflect your church’s mission and focus?

Cuba is a very syncretistic country both culturally and religiously. It can be said that the Cuban people now live in a kind of pragmatism mixed with much uncertainty and search for answers to their many concerns. It is a culture open to teaching and willing to learn. The most common gospel alternative in the Cuban context is heavily influenced by neo-Pentecostal movements with a strong legalistic emphasis. There are hardly any churches preaching the gospel of the grace of God. That is why our church focuses on preaching and extending the gospel of God's grace, opening a dialogue with the culture that allows us to interact with their concerns and present the gospel alternative, in fact this is our core value.

Tell us one of the most difficult situations you have faced during your years as a church planter. How did God work through that particular situation?

The most difficult situation was in the beginning of the work. Among the greatest difficulties was that I had never had previous experience in planting. On the other hand, we did not have formed leadership. We arrived alone to the city of Holguín, so we had to start from scratch. Another difficulty was the economy. We did not have any financial resources to do much. Then God began to reach out to friends, to whom we presented the gospel, and these came eventually to be the leading leaders we have today. Also during economic scarcity, God opened doors, one of them being the beloved church of SRC, who generously supported us and made strategic investments for the development of the work in Holguin.

Tell us about how you have seen God working.

God has being at work wonderfully by giving us friends, very special people whom his grace brought to salvation. Then we trained them, and they became the main leaders in the work of Holguin. Interestingly these friends, not only have a wonderful job in their leadership in Holguin, many of them have a very important leadership role in the movement of the gospel that God has raised in Cuba.

If there are any other stories or information you would like to share, please do so here.

Something interesting in this planting process, which I call it the story of God's love and faithfulness: When we started planting, we had no idea what God would be doing in the future. No one can say that this was a human strategy, rather it always was and still is a good plan of God. He has given the vision and the passion. God has provided friends, changed hearts, provided the necessary resources. In short, I can only say humbly, that we have followed the call of God, and he has been doing everything for us. We ask for humility and strength to follow. God bless all of you friends. A big hug from Cuba.

Please list any prayer requests we can share with our SRC family.

  • We ask for renewed wisdom and new strengths to move forward.
  • For the new generation of leaders we are working with right now.
  • Also pray for the advance of the gospel on in our nation.

If you would like to reach out to Alfredo, you can visit the church's website at http://lospinos.cubava.cu/.

Ron On The Road: Australia

We took the long trip to Australia to celebrate our partnership with City on Hill.

IMG_1612.jpg

Guy and Vanessa Mason planted City on a Hill Melbourne ten years ago. In that period of time they have grown to a network of five churches. Spanish River Church has partnered on two of these plants with hopes of continuing the planting partnership to start many other churches throughout Australia.

Our first stop in Australia was to Brisbane. We were visiting with Dave and Rowena Meirs.

They are celebrating their first year planting City on a Hill Brisbane. This church has already experienced amazing growth, their attendance is at 150 for their Sunday morning worship service. They also have eight gospel communities meeting weekly.

City on a Hill Brisbane is blessed to have some amazing lay leaders in their church. We had the privilege to meet with many of them during our time in Brisbane. On our first night in the city we attended a  meeting called “Introducing Jesus”. This is a gathering for church members to bring their unsaved friends to hear a short message and to ask questions. The meeting was held in a Italian restaurant close to downtown Brisbane, and there were about 30 people in attendance. The next day we visited a gospel community (small group) in downtown Brisbane. Dave’s vision is to start as many of these groups as he is able to raise up leaders.

Our next stop in Australia was in Melbourne.

Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia, but quickly catching up to Sydney. City on a Hill Melbourne is trying to keep pace by planting several churches in the Melbourne area. We arrived on a Saturday morning and went directly to a local park, where the church was celebrating with a family picnic. It was very encouraging to see all the young families and more seasoned members as well.

IMG_1599.jpg

The celebration service on Sunday was held at the historic Melbourne Town Hall. The Hall was built in 1870 and is located downtown Melbourne. The service opened with several testimonies and the opportunity to celebrate what God has done in the the lives of hundreds of people in the church. Guy Mason preached a powerful message that not only celebrated the last ten years, but gave a great vision for the future of City on a Hill. The service ended with about 25 people getting baptized, including one young lady whose story you can read here.

IMG_1620.JPG

The rest of the time in Melbourne was spent meeting with the lead pastors of all the congregations, and visiting the location of the newest church plant in East Melbourne.

We are excited to see all that God is doing through City on a Hill. It’s a great privilege to partner with them in their church planting ministry. To learn more about City on a Hill, watch a video of the celebration service here.

Ron On The road: Los Angeles, California

Emmanuel Reformed church, located in Paramount, California, has made a huge impact in their community in the past decade.

What began as a small ministry to paint a few homes has multiplied into an event (taking place 4 times a year) that brings together over 2000 volunteers on a mission to improve homes, relationships and community. 

On October 21st a few of us from Spanish River Church made the trip to Los Angeles to observe and learn from Pastor Ken Korver and his team of 2000 painters.

They are making a huge impact in their community by painting the homes (and schools) of their neighbors. This ministry has resulted in lowering both the unemployment and crime rates while raising pride of their community. But, even more important is the opportunity for the church and its members to share the gospel with their neighbors.

The day began with a huge rally at the Compton Courthouse. The speakers included a City Council member, the Mayor of Compton, and a Grammy-winning recording artist. 

After the rally we visited several of the sites. One location was an elementary school in which several hundred volunteer painters were painting the entire public school

IMG_1452.JPG

It was exciting to witness such an infectious ministry that can serve as an example to other churches as we seek ways to meet community needs and establish relationships.

Emmanuel Reformed Church is also very committed to planting new churches in the east Los Angeles communities. On Sunday we were able to attend the launch of a new church in Lynwood. Rudy Rubio and Chris Marquez are planting the Reformed Church of Los Angeles.

IMG_1457.JPG

RCLA is being planted in a very depressed part of the city, They had about 75 people show up for the first service in their new building.

We are very excited for the partnership we have with Emmanuel Reformed Church. You can find additional information on their painting ministry here.

Spotlight: Dave Miers & City On A Hill, Brisbane

WE ARE EXCITED TO PARTNER WITH DAVE MIERS AND SUPPORT CITY ON A HILL IN BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA. PLEASE KEEP DAVE AND HIS FAMILY IN YOUR PRAYERS.

What are the names of you and your family members (wife, children)?

My wife, Rowena, and I have three kids: Samaul (8 years old), Thomas (6 years old) and Beth (3 years old).

What is the name of your church and roughly how many attendees do you currently have?

Our church, City on a Hill: Brisbane, has approximately 150+ in attendance each week, with a community size of 200+.

Where are you originally from and where is your current church located?

We are originally from Sydney, and our church is located in Brisbane. Both cities are on the east coast of Australia, Brisbane is 1000km (650miles) north of Sydney.

Tell us the story of how God called you to plant churches and why you chose the current location for your church plant.

I grew up in a Christian family and have always professed faith in Jesus Christ. However, at the age of 17 I had a significant turning point in my Christian life when I joined a one year old church plant. This church plant was the place where I truly understood the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection and was given a vision for gospel ministry. I served in that church plant for 10 years, both as a volunteer and as a staff member. It was during this time that my wife and I first begun praying about whether God might send us to plant a new church to reach new people.

We first begun praying for Brisbane 10 years ago. Both Rowena and I had grown up (independently of each other) visiting extended family in Brisbane. The more we prayed, the more we had a heart to join the mission of making Jesus known in that city. We were also convinced that the needs were greater in Brisbane than where we were previously serving in Sydney.

Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city. With urban renewal; cosmopolitan lifestyle; subtropical climate; art galleries; live music scene; cafes; sports stadiums… it’s easy to see why Brisbane is a fast growing city with on average 1,000 people packing their bags each week to move here. The population is tipped to increase from 2.4 million people to 3 million people in the next five years… the Brisbane skyline is currently dominated by cranes!

Brisbane is also rapidly emerging as a global city: a third of the population born overseas; a young demographic; a booming economy; it’s a gateway to Asia. Brisbane desperately needs more healthy churches planted, to keep up with the population growth and to reach the millions of people who haven’t yet put their trust in Christ!

By God’s grace, we were able to connect with City on a Hill in Melbourne, who were keen to keep planting churches around Australia. Being part of the team in Melbourne confirmed our calling, fuelled our desire to know Jesus better, and further equipped us to make Jesus known through planting a new church in Brisbane.

What is the spiritual temperature in your community/country? How does this reflect your church’s mission and focus?

Australia is increasingly post-Christian and the latest census data has again indicated a significant increase in those who identify with ‘no religion’. This is certainly true of the city of Brisbane as well.

Our state - Queensland - is portrayed as heaven on earth in all the tourism advertisements. The rest of Australia comes here for their holidays. And Brisbane is defined by the lifestyle that we enjoy with warm temperatures all year and the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast beach strips within and hour to the north and south of our city.

This means we need to work hard to show that while Queensland is a great place to live and a gift from God to be enjoyed, it’s not heaven, and Jesus is better. Even among Christians, we need to encourage believers to be present in our church and community and not just enjoying the beach each weekend. For unbelievers we want to affirm the goodness of the creation, but urge people to give worship the Creator rather than creation.

Brisbane has the youngest age demographic of capital cities in Australia, with the highest proportion of 15-39 year old in our city. However, 15-39 year olds have a smaller representation in Brisbane churches compared to other cities in Australia. This means the average age of church attenders in Brisbane is increasing at a higher rate than the rest of Australia.

While we are seeking to be an intergenerational church, and we have all ages in our service, we are seeking to deliberately do church in a way that is accessible for 15-39 years olds knowing that not many churches are reaching this demographic. Our use of design, video, music, illustrations in sermons, are some of the ways we are trying to communicate the timeless message of Christ crucified and risen for sinners in a timely way while speaking the language of young people in our city.

Tell us one of the most difficult situations you have faced during your years as a church planter. How did God work through that particular situation?

I’ve been involved in church ministry for 17 years, and so have faced many difficult situations in that time! However, now that I’m the Lead Pastor of a new church, it means I have a front-row seat to all of the brokenness in our church. It’s heart breaking to know the details of broken relationships, abuse, sickness, sin, and other types of suffering of people in our church.

This can be overwhelming, but it has lead me to pray all the more for God to be at work bringing hope in hopeless situations. I’m more convinced than ever that the gospel continues to be the answer as the only lasting hope in the midst of darkness and brokenness.

Tell us about how you have seen God working - maybe share a particular story.

I recently spent time with one young woman from our church. She joined us four months ago and professes to have become a Christian three months ago! She grew up in a Christian family in Singapore, but has since realized that she never understood the gospel of grace. She was trusting both in her own religiosity and had also put her hopes in her idols, and when they let her down, she had a bout of severe depression.

Through the preaching of the gospel of grace, she has understood that she’s saved by what Christ has done and not her performance. She has realized the failure of idols to do anything but disappoint and point us away from the true and living God.

At City on a Hill we talk about "Knowing Jesus and Making Jesus Known"… a lot! I love in her story how she shared that now that she knows Jesus she wants to make him known!! The change was tangible! Please pray she would see many friends and family come to know Jesus through her witness.

If there are any other stories or information you would like to share, please do so here.

We are so thankful for the ongoing partnership of Spanish River Church! I’m personally inspired and refreshed through attending the Church Planters Retreat, and we know that we couldn’t do this work without the prayer and partnership of our brothers and sisters in Boca Raton! We give thanks to God for you, and pray that you would continue to see fruit through Spanish River ministry locally and around the globe. Keep trusting Jesus.

Please list any prayer requests we can share with our SRC family.

  • Give thanks for new believers
  • Give thanks for gospel awakenings
  • Give thanks for a growing staff team
  • Please pray that we will be able to launch a second service next year
  • Please pray for our next round of our Christianity course - Introducing Jesus - that many unbelievers will put their trust in Christ
  • Please pray for God to sustain our marriage and family life

If you would like to reach out to Dave, you can visit the church's website at https://cityonahill.com.au/brisbane.

Celebrating Five Years in Munich, Germany!

We are honored to partner with Steffen Mueller and Gospel Church in Munich, Germany. They are celebrating their fifth anniversary!

Dear Prayer Partners,

At the end of this month we will celebrate the 500 year anniversary of the protestant reformation!

Tomorrow, October 8, we will celebrate the 5 year anniversary of Gospel Church München. In God’s providence He placed Gospel Church in the very neighborhood (“Grünwald” in South Munich) where in February 1522 as a result of the “Grünwald conference” the world-wide, counter-reformation began (by Dr. Johann Eck and other leaders of the catholic church). God has a good sense of humor, and so we rejoice that the very Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has been under attack by the counter-reformation, has now been strongly and boldly proclaimed these five past years in Grünwald/South Munich, Germany - to the glory of Jesus Christ!

Please pray for our 5 year anniversary service tomorrow:

  • That God will be glorified and that the focus will be on Him!
  • That God will speak powerfully through the sermon (John 1:35-51)
  • For much spiritual fruit and several conversions, and for growth in maturity for those who are in Christ
  • For strong attendance and for many new people who will return and come to faith in Christ according to God’s timetable
  • For the Holy Spirit to be mightily present with His love and holiness
  • For our choir and musicians and singers - that God will be pleased with our worship
  • For the children’s ministry and all the volunteers
  • For the video projector and the sound system to work well
  • For our lunch and fellowship time afterwards
  • That God will grant a strong Gospel movement that is changing Munich, Germany and the world

On a personal note, we have found a small apartment south of Munich (about 15 minutes to “Grünwald” and about 35 minutes to the university/downtown area (where we want to begin an evening service in the second half of 2018) that we are seriously considering to buy. Please pray for the following:

  • That God will confirm it in our hearts and minds if this is indeed the apartment that we should buy (we need to let them know by Wednesday or Thursday).
  • If we should indeed buy it that God will grant us favor with the right bank and a very low interest rate that is fixed for the next 25 years (we will need a loan/mortgage for over $ 600,000).
  • Praise God that we found this apartment (nearly every other apartment in Munich or within a 30-minute radius from South Munich is considerably more expensive than this one)
  • That we will glorify God as we walk by faith. 

Below are some pictures from five years of Gospel Church - Thanks be to God!

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Church, you can visit the church website at http://www.gospelchurchmuenchen.de/.