Before I delve into the history of e3 Partners I feel I need to put a little disclaimer out there, so here it goes:
I am an independent missionary, I am not on staff with e3 Partners, nor am I in any way an “official” spokesman for them. I do however volunteer my time serving the needs of “e3 Colombia” while living here, (so forgive me if I refer to them as we at times).
Now that the “lawyerly” stuff is out of the way I can honestly say that e3 Partners has played an enormous roll in changing my life. As I type this post my ears are catching the sweet sound of Spanish coming from the children playing in the street below my third-story window. Sitting in my small apartment located in the quaint barrio of La Arboleda, in Armenia, Quindio Colombia, I can’t help but feel blessed. Nine years ago I had never been on a mission trip before, six years ago I had never given Colombia a second thought. All that has changed now and in earthly terms, I owe 95% of that to e3. Of course, I owe 100% to God, but you know what I mean. They showed me that by using a simple method and by giving me simple tools, I could actually go up to strangers and share my testimony and ultimately the gospel. Something I have always felt I should do but never thought that I would have the courage to do it. But before I go too far into my testimony, which I want to save for a future post, let me introduce you to e3 Partners, from the beginning.
“e3 Partners” has only been operating under that name since 2005, but really their roots began in 1987. Mike Downey, a pastor from Oklahoma, after leading his church on two short-term mission trips to Mexico, planting 5 churches and seeing hundreds saved, decided to leave the pastorate and pursue a new ministry. A church planting ministry he called Global Missions Fellowship. After 16 years of leading successful missions, GMF was merged into Global Partners Ministry, on January 1, 2004. The name was then changed to e3 Partners. Today, e3 Partners leads hundreds of trips a year to over 50 countries around the world. Training thousands of U.S. missionaries to confidently go out and reach the world for Christ and possibly change their own lives along the way. They have developed and use many innovative strategies such as the “Four Fields” training, the “Three Circles” gospel sharing method, outreaches such as “I AM SECOND” and creating the “Evangecube” (a unique and crafty tool that makes sharing the gospel easy), just to name a few.
I AM SECOND is the brainchild of none other than Norm Miller, Interstate Batteries Chairman and long-time friend of e3 partners. In March of 2008 while doing his devotional it dawned on him that he would turn 70 years old that year. Making him think that he may not have a lot of time left on this earth. Wondering, “Have I done enough to lift up Christ in my area?” Thinking, “Sure, I’ve done a lot with different ministries but have I gone for broke! Have I done all that I could do.” The answer came back to him as, No, you haven’t. Wondering what else he could do he thought, “Well if I was trying to sell more batteries what would I do? I would run a media campaign.” Looking for help with this idea he reached out to his friends at e3. He told them what he was thinking and they jumped on it, saying they have been praying for a U.S. ministry. They came up with the name I AM SECOND and the rest, as they say, is history. I AM SECOND started December 3, 2008 as a “local” campaign in the Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas, but thanks to the nature of the internet, within six weeks it was in 56 countries worldwide. Today I AM SECOND has been viewed by more than 18 million people in 220 countries. I have loved the whole concept of I AM SECOND for years now. Their website, their wristbands and merchandise. In fact, I found them in 2010, four years before I ever connected with e3 and have been sporting one of their wristbands ever since. You can imagine my enthusiasm when I discovered they were connected!
The three E’s of the name e3 you may have noticed, if you read the fine print beneath their logo, stands for, Equip. Evangelize. Establish. That can also be found in their mission statement:
EQUIPPING God’s people to
EVANGELIZE His world by
ESTABLISHING healthy, multiplying, transformative churches everywhere.
And that is what I love about this organization, they are committed to that mission. I don’t have a lot of experience with other mission organizations but I have known many people who have been on other evangelical trips to different parts of the world and from what I have learned from them, I see e3 as being far different. How? Their focus is not just on sending a group of North Americans into a foreign country to share the gospel with as many people as possible before they leave. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it has its place, and it’s a great experience to be a part of. But e3’s goal is to go much deeper. On these mission trips we work alongside the locals, helping establish networks and plant churches. We “partner” with the local church in a way that carries on long after the North American leaves and that is where the word “Partners” comes into their name. Investing in individual lives with a strong “country strategy” is foundational for e3 Partners. I know this personally, I have seen it up close and in action. I have witnessed it and I have participated in it. You see, I have worked closely with Alex Lopez, e3’s Regional Coordinator for the Coffee District in Colombia. He and his family have become dear friends of mine. They took me into their home, basically adopted me when I first arrived in Colombia. They have become my “family” in Colombia. Alex also played a big part in why I am here today. He has an amazing testimony, and with his permission, of course, I would like to share a small portion of it with you.
An amazing story of redemption
As a young man, Alex left Colombia and headed to Boston to live with his father, whom he had never met. He attended High School there, learned English and learned he didn’t get along with his father. After High School, he headed down to sunny Miami to try to make it on his own. It didn’t take long for him to discover that life on his own was tough. Making friends with other Colombians living in Miami he began to notice something. They were driving nice cars, they lived in big houses and had plenty of money. Envious and curious he asked them how they were living so well. They told him it was easy and he could do it too. All he had to do was make a few trips to Colombia and bring back some extra luggage. Sounding like a good deal he stepped into the world of drug trafficking. It didn’t take long for that deal to turn into a dud. When returning to Miami, after one of his trips to Colombia, he was stopped by DEA and was found carrying a sizable amount of heroin. Arrested and awaiting trial he learned that he was up for receiving 20 years in prison. As a young man 20 years seemed like forever, he lost all hope and decided he would kill himself that night. While being led back to his cell he passed by a guard who called out to him, “Do you know that God loves you!” Alex told him, “You’re crazy, God can’t love me! I’m a bad person!” “God’s love is greater than all of the bad things you have ever done.” was the reply that came from the guard. And that was enough to keep him from following through with his plan. Alex heard about a “church” gathering being held there in the prison so the next day he decided to attend. When he walked in he saw many inmates, happy, singing, clapping. Thinking that the whole thing seemed a little strange but envious of their joy, he stuck around. Before the end of the meeting God was pulling hard at Alex, then and there he gave his life to Christ. He was given a Bible, he took it back to his cell and began reading it. His whole world had been changed! His trial date arrived and when the evidence was presented they found the amount that was brought to trial was not enough for the full charge. Alex tells this part of the story by saying, “Hey, I know how much I was carrying and it was a lot more than what they presented. I don’t know what happened to the rest of it and I don’t care.” As it turns out the charges were reduced, and long story short, Alex was released after serving only 4 years. Being sent back to Colombia with a heart on fire for God, Alex attended seminary and became a pastor. Six years ago Alex became a trainer for e3 Partners and in his newsletter, he sums it all up like this, “I don’t know where I’d be had I not had that church in prison. Knowing personally the power of starting churches to reach the lost, I have since dedicated my life to spreading the Kingdom of God by multiplying his church.” Planting churches is in Alex’s heart, I guess that’s why he works so hard at it.
I realize that to some people this “church planting” may be a new concept. What is it? How does it work? Well for e3 Partners it’s simple and biblical. When you think of someone or a group of someones starting a new church, what do you think of? First, they need a building, a large place to meet. Next, they will need a trained pastor to lead. Then there are the scores of other necessities as well. All of this, of course, would have to be headed up by a committee. In Colombia and other countries around the world, the need is for churches, many churches, within walking distance of the populous of the cities and towns in which we are working. Following the system above would make it impossible to meet the demand and certainly not in any reasonable time frame. Now, I did say it was biblical, if you search Acts and other new testament books you will not see the fore mentioned method at all. What you will see are churches coming to life in the homes of people, ordinary people who heard the gospel, responded and had a home they could open up for teaching, fellowship and the breaking of bread. Acts 2:46, Acts 5:42, Acts 20:20, Romans 16:5, Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2. All of these passages and more speak of meeting house to house or mention someone with a church in their house. That is the example e3 is committed to following. Biblical church planting. Finding “People of Peace” who hear the gospel, respond and are willing to immediately obey the great commission and begin to disciple the people in their circle of influence. Finding local churches who are willing to be trained in this simple church planting procedure and willing to begin a multiplication strategy in their church. That is the basic mission of e3 Partners, rapid multiplication of churches and to disciple people to go and make disciples who make disciples, to reach the world for Christ. It’s that simple.
Why am I telling you all of this? Why am I taking this much time out of my life to tell you about e3? I’m not on staff, I’m not getting paid. Why do I choose to spend my retirement years in Colombia volunteering my time and effort? Why? Because since the first time I went to Colombia with this organization in 2014 I could tell they had something special. They had a long term strategy and a simple way of making it happen. I saw the way they were approaching missions as fresh and very practical. I could see the long-lasting benefit of investing my time and money on a mission trip. In Colombia alone, the Mentor Network has trained 1,102 leaders and is still growing. We have seen 9,545 decisions made for Christ. There are 62 mentor Networks located in 45 cities throughout Colombia. In 2018 202 new churches were formed as well as 400 new small groups.
I’m also hoping to spark in you an interest in missions, or at least the Great Commission. I’m taking the chance that there may be some of you out there who, like me, were afraid of missions until I gave one a chance. I’m praying I may have sparked in you an interest to look a little deeper into e3 Partners, whether it be with e3 Colombia or another target country. I am praying that God will unlock something inside of you that will set you on your own adventure of changing lives for Christ. And maybe even changing your own life in the process.
Thank you for reading,
To God be the Glory!
As always, please feel free to leave a reply
Please consider watching these other videos: The story of Marcos, Video for Midlothian Bible Church
Reference sources used for this post:
e3 partners.org, I AM SECOND.com, interstatebatteries.com, CBN.com