by: Allen Domelle
I arrived at the airport late Friday night, and Pastor Brent Lenentine and myself were picked up by Bro. Rodrigo Contreras, his wife and daughter. Bro. Contreras is a church planter in Panama, and was gracious enough to drive us to the hotel so we could get some rest. The next morning we were taken to the domestic airport to fly into David, Panama, to hold an Old Paths conference for Missionary/Church planter, Byron Willis.
He picked us up, and immediately we hit the soul winning trail with he and Juan Medina, a new convert who had recently learned to be a soul winner. Bro. Lenentine went soul winning with Bro. Medina, and God used them to see four people accept Christ as Saviour. I went with Bro. Willis and was able to see one person saved. After our soul winning time, we checked into the hotel, and then got back into the vehicle to drive up into the mountains for Bro. Lenentine to preach to the youth at a gym outing. He preached a great sermon from Proverbs 3:5-6 about leaning on God and His Word. After a long two days of traveling, we went back to the hotel to get some rest for Sunday morning.
I woke up early, as the pastor was scheduled to pick us up at 7:45 in the morning so that we could get to church for the first service. It wasn’t long after we arrived at the church, that the first of many busses filled with people started arriving. It was truly an amazing sight to see that the bus ministry is truly the only way some will ever hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I preached in the first service to a packed out auditorium, and God blessed with the altars filled and souls saved.
What happened next was truly what moved my heart to write this article. Sunday school began, and I walked around looking at Sunday school classes in every place you can imagine. The pastor’s wife held a ladies Sunday school class under a tarp in the hot muggy weather. I continued to walk and saw Sunday school classes being held in between buildings, on the public sidewalk right next to a busy street, in the bus parking lot and yes, even in normal rooms. Bro. Willis does not have a lot of space in his building for Sunday school, so he has improvised to find any place possible to hold Sunday school. Why would he do something like this? Because Sunday school is that hour where people are taught the Bible so that they can go back out and reproduce themselves by seeing people saved and discipling their converts.
After the Sunday school hour, another crowd gathered for the second service of the morning. No, these were
not the same people who came for the earlier hour, but these were a completely different set of people. The Gospel was preached, the altars were filled and souls were saved and baptized. What an amazing few hours Bro. Lenentine and I were able to enjoy watching a church in another country practice the old paths just like we practice them in the United States.
Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls…” You will notice that the old paths are not a cultural practice or something that is only good for a certain generation, but the old paths are for every person. Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” These verses were a reality to me the past couple of days as I have seen the old paths at work reaching people who are of a different people, nation, kindred and tongue than I speak. Yet, the old paths that I have practiced is still good for these people. There are several thoughts that come to mind after this day.
1. The old paths are alive and well.
It was very evident to me this past weekend that Bro. Willis has not compromised the old paths to get a crowd. It is amazing that the old paths work if you will work them. He is not rattling around in a building that is too large for him; instead, he is in need of space to house more people.
The old paths work to reach all types of people. We often hear that you will never reach the middle class if you focus on the bus ministry. Well, I wouldn’t tell Bro. Willis that. In his services there were people from all walks of life. There was a coffee farmer who distributes his coffee worldwide. His youth director holds an executive level job in the power company. He had a doctor and his wife, who is a nurse, as members of his church. Older retired people attended the services. Yet, there were many riding the busses who live a life of poverty. The old paths work very well if you will work them.
It was also very evident that the old paths of holiness, separation and good Christian music don’t have to be thrown out the back door to get a crowd. The ladies of the church were decently dressed, the youth sat respectfully and listened and the music was still old paths music that didn’t sound like it came from a bar.
Furthermore, the people loved the old paths preaching. While many would like to say old paths preaching is out-of-date and too confrontational, these people walked, rode busses and some drove over an hour just to hear an old paths sermon. Friend, the old paths work today just like they did yesterday.
2. Soul winning still works.
Many today are looking for different ways to attract people, but one thing that was very evident is that soul winning still works. Pastor Lenentine and Bro. Medina, his soul winning partner from the day before, had one of their converts to church that morning. Isn’t that amazing how a new convert was used to help lead someone else to Jesus Christ, and that person came to church.
Soul winning will work if you will simply go. No, people won’t get saved if you don’t go out and spread the Gospel. The greatest thing about soul winning is that it is not my job to save the lost, it is my job to get the Gospel to the lost so Jesus Christ can save them. Soul winning will work in your town as well. Churches need to stop looking for other ways to bring people in and simply follow the method found in Mark 6:7 where Jesus sent His disciple out two by two. Soul winning truly works.
3. Bus ministry and Sunday school is still the answer.
As I watched the busses roll in and Sunday school classes being taught everywhere, I was reminded that these are the two greatest tools to build the old paths, independent Baptist church. While others are doing away with their Sunday school for home groups, the churches that still run busses and run their Sunday school in an organized manner are still growing and reaching the lost. Stop looking for other methods and just keep practicing what those before practiced.
4. Starting churches is still the greatest need.
Bro. Willis is a church planter. At 16 years of age he started his first church, and then later started the church he currently pastors. His vision for church planting has not stopped. He has had several churches started out of his church because he is more interested in reaching the lost than he is in building an empire. His vision is not an inward vision, but an outward vision. A vision that is trying to send people out instead of keeping them in.
It is a sad day when church planters are no longer considered missionaries or churches drop them because they don’t fit in their “missions criteria.” My good friend and church planter, Nathan Owens, recently moved his ministry to the States because of the health of his wife. What has saddened me is the reports he gave me how churches are dropping his support because he is a church planter in the United States. Hold on! Since when is missions only off our continent. If we stop planting churches in our own continent, then the missionaries going overseas will not have enough churches to support them. The Great Commission is very clear that we need to start churches in “Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Let’s not be so narrow minded that missions is only abroad. Missions starts outside your church doors.
5. The old paths were accomplished because someone gave.
The whole reason the old paths were able to be spread to the people of Panama and other parts of the world is because God touched the hearts of people to support missionaries. Friend, don’t ever underestimate the influence of your monies given towards missions. Every dollar is used to help spread the old paths abroad. If you are not giving towards missions, then you are part of the problem of spreading the old paths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every Sunday school class I saw was there because someone helped give towards missions in their church. Every bus was able to run because there was money to put gas in it to pick up people to bring to church. Where did this money come from? It came from a child who gave 5¢ towards missions or some dedicated Christian who obediently gave to missions so that the old paths could be spread beyond their borders.
The old paths are not just for the American culture or a specific time frame, but the old paths are for every Christian internationally. Don’t let the naysayers who criticize the old paths say they don’t work. If the naysayers travelled with me, they would see that the old paths are alive and well, not only in the United States, but also internationally.
Allen Domelle is the editor of the Old Paths Journal which is more than just a Christian’s publication. It is an excellent place to learn how today’s headlines will forge tomorrow’s laws and statutes. Keep yourself in tune with what is happening around the world, as well as in your own backyard with our daily updates and devotionals.