2022 June Newsletter
Greetings from The Keystone Project and All Our Disciples in the Nations
“… For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike. So it has been from that day forward, that he [David] made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day” (1 Sam 30:24-25).
These verses show us a law that King David issued, which remained throughout much of Israel’s history. It is called the Law of the Spoil. As King David fled from King Saul, he took refuge among the Philistines, leaving his family and the families of his men unguarded in the city of Ziklag (1 Sam 27:1). The Amalekites, who were descendants of Esau, took the city captive, burned it to the ground, took all the spoil, and kidnapped the women and children (1 Sam 30:1-2). When David and his men returned, they discovered what had happened and pursued the Amalekites. Some of David’s men were too exhausted to continue the pursuit, so David left them to protect the baggage of the warriors. Those who continued on with David caught up with the Amalekites and slaughtered all but 400 of them, recovering all of their families and the spoil. Nothing was lost. When they returned to those left behind with the baggage, David distributed the spoil among all the men, including those who had been left behind. Those who fought the Amalekites were angry, demanding that those who didn’t fight should receive nothing. David rebuked them and gave equal shares to all. He then made it a law in Israel that all will share alike in the spoil. This is the Law of the Spoil.
How does the Law of the Spoil work in the kingdom of God?
Jesus had been teaching His disciples about the cost of discipleship. Peter responded and said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” (Mt 19:27). Jesus told a parable to answer Peter’s question. It is known as the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. In the parable, a landowner went early in the morning to hire some day laborers to work in his vineyard. He found some waiting to be hired, and they agreed on wages of one denarius for the day. A denarius was a typical day’s wage paid in a silver Roman coin. The landowner in the parable appears to be anxious for his vineyard, for he went back to hire more laborers at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, promising to pay them “whatever is right” (Mt 20:4). So, some workers began at 6:00 AM, others at 9:00 AM, still others at 12:00 PM, some at 3:00 PM, and finally some joined as late as 5:00 PM.
When it came time to pay the laborers, the landowner instructed his foreman to pay them in order from the last group to the first. He gave the last group, which had begun work at 5:00 PM, a denarius. It does not say that each group was paid the same, but it appears that might have been the case, for the first group, who had started at 6:00 AM, expected to be paid more and began to grumble when they were paid the same as the others who had worked fewer hours. The landowner reminded them that they had been paid what they agreed to when they were hired. He had not cheated them, but he wished to give to the last men the same he had given to the first men (Mt 20:15). Jesus finished with, “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Mt 20:16).
The Law of the Spoil shows us that no matter what our part is in the work of the kingdom, God will reward us as He chooses. Jesus’ disciples asked about their reward for leaving everything to follow Him. He assured them that they would have a special reward in the kingdom (Mt 19:28) but that everyone who has left all to follow Him will also be rewarded (Mt 19:29). This is the law of how God’s grace works. God’s grace is not measured by our efforts but by His love. Under the Law of Moses, you always got what you deserved. Under grace, we get what we do not deserve. The men hired last did not deserve to be paid the same as the men who were hired first. But grace is not a system of merit and cannot be earned. We do not work to be rewarded but to bring in the fruit of the vineyard before the rains spoil it. Our reward is by God’s grace, but so also is our work! As the landowner was anxious to reap the harvest of his vineyard, so the Lord is eager to reap the harvest of lost souls from all the nations. This is why He is continually “hiring more laborers” for his fields.
This law applies not only to the rewards we expect to receive for our service in the kingdom but also to how we treat others. To say the last shall be first and the first last is not to demean or lessen the first; it is to exalt those who are weakest among us. It is to lift up the lowly and undeserving. It is to share equally in the blessings of God’s grace. It is to remove distinctions between those who are highly gifted and able to work more effectively and bear more fruit, and those who are not. This is what Jesus meant when He said to the people concerning John the Baptist, “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Lk 7:28). The Law of the Spoil teaches us that greatness in the kingdom of God is not measured by what we have done for Him but by what He has done for us. May we treat everyone with this kind of grace. Let us not love others according to what they have done or can do for us, but let us love them unconditionally, being perfect in our love as our heavenly Father is perfect in His love (Mt 5:48). In Jesus’ name!
May Training Update
From May 16-20, we were blessed to conduct a five-day training here in Keystone, SD, which was attended by 69 students. Even though it was a shorter training event, we took the students out on mission twice. They reached out to many homeless people, many of whom had some form of addiction. They gave them sandwiches and blankets with a verse from Psalm 91 on them. The blankets were generously donated by one of our partner churches in Minneapolis.
One of our coaches testified about a woman he and his students approached. “There, a woman stood, cold and staring. ‘Would you like a blanket?’ She squeezed out a whisper, reciting the verse on the blanket: ‘He that dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…’ We gave her water and watched her slowly revive. She welcomed our offer to pray for her, telling us that her family did not want her back because of her alcoholism. This poor woman was desperate to be able to quit drinking but was unable to on her own. A team member related to her, ‘I used to drink heavily too, and Jesus helped me to quit. Jesus can help you too!’
She prayed to receive Christ and even asked Him to fill her with the Holy Spirit, to comfort her, speak to her, and strengthen her. Tears rolled down her face as she listened to how much Jesus loved her. She could not stop weeping even as she said, ‘I never cry.’ We gave her our food, which she gladly received, and as she walked away, she told us she would go to detox and treatment. We prayed for her that she would indeed follow through.” This is the work of the kingdom of God!
- Pray for our disciples around the world, especially those living and working in dangerous areas of persecution or where they are affected by the pandemic.
- Pray for the financial success and growth of the hotel and The Keystone Project.
- Pray for our interns to have a powerful summer. We are enjoying having them here so much!
- Pray for us that we will be able to follow up with those who came to Christ during the April and May training outreaches.
It is through your generous giving and passionate praying that we are able to do what we do. We do so in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we also do it with and through you. Again, your prayers and support are sacred gifts, not only to us, but to our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His life that the world may know of His love and mercy. Thank you, and may God bless you all, in Jesus’ name!
Richard W. Greene
President, The Keystone Project, Inc.
Glorifying God in Ecuador by Making Disciples, Nothing Else by Maria Fernanda Mendoza from Guayaquil, Ecuador
I send you greetings from the city of Houston, TX. Today, I want you to hear from one of our international students. Maria Fernanda Mendoza attended our training in October 2018, and she recently led a team of 10 people through the Online Academy as a training hub. She is running with the vision of making disciples who make disciples, and she and her people are engaged missionally, touching and transforming lives. Here is her story:
Maybe you should not read this, as being crazy for Jesus can be contagious, and if you want to stay sane, compliant, and comfortable, this may not be for you. You’ve been warned! After this line, there is no going back.
I am María Fernanda, your servant in the Lord. Four years ago, my aunt came to my house to tell me there was a ministry in the United States giving scholarships. She said it was a training “to make disciples one by one, to make many disciples” (those were her textual words). The explanation sounded redundant and striking to me. This scholarship included: training, lodging, food, and materials. My question was, “And how much does that cost?” My aunt replied, “They say it’s free.”
“Free! No one gives anything for free nowadays.” I said this with a somewhat “I know it all” attitude. I know that you can perceive the pride coming out of those words. Yes, I’m ashamed of my past disbelief toward people I hadn’t even met. And the lack of perception on my part didn’t end there. Before my trip to Keystone, God had revealed through dreams that I would travel to a place where I would receive instructions, and then I was going to collaborate with them. In my dream, I saw somewhat of a boarding school, and it was not until I was in the middle of Keystone’s training that I understood that this was the place the Lord had shown me in my dream.
I still remember sitting in the front row. I didn’t want to miss anything. I felt God had a very important message through Richard Greene and the entire staff working endlessly. They were on a quest to accomplish something significant, train us and commission us to the nations! What a great honor that God was giving us everything again without merit.
God was saying, “You can do this; yes, if you’re crazy, you are crazy because of me. But just look around you; it is already being done.” Among other messages, that message shook my whole being, and it has given me the impulse to continue with the most beautiful work of making disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Indeed, brothers and sisters, so great, awesome, and splendid is the work that has been entrusted to us.
When I returned to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and told everyone what had happened to me, a synergy of believing and creating began to happen. We started believing that the same God of Keystone was providing for everything they did, and they gave it freely to us as the Lord Jesus gave it to them. The fruit of the Spirit is abundant and remains. I had the assurance that the same fruit would happen here, as it was the same Spirit.
So, we continue with the plans to glorify God by being the movement that brings integral transformation in Christ to the nations by multiplying and transforming disciples. Today, we rent a small place in a slum area of Guayaquil called Suburbio. We began working with the community at the beginning of 2020. We give workshops to children, youth, adults, and seniors. We teach them to sing, play instruments, English as a second language, crafts, and most importantly, we also teach them the word of God. We try to teach what the Bible says, not what we think or imagine, simply the Scriptures.
We tell them that God sent us to that place. I even tell them that I did not want to be there in the beginning, but when God speaks, we should obey Him. We tell them that God loves the Suburbio; he loves his children. We teach them that God has blessed them with unique qualities, and He wants to use those qualities to demonstrate his Glory to those in need.
A few weeks ago, I asked Elisa (she is a woman from one of the women’s groups we’ve ministered to and with whom we read the book of John), “Can you share with us something that God has done in your life in this time of prayer, friendship, and Bible study?” Her response was, “I love this. I came to this place for a fair of entrepreneurs you organized. Then I brought my children to the workshops. I was curious about what you were doing, so I came, and today I can tell you I’m another person. I had such a bad character, and now I am not the same. I know that God loves me and does not like anger; it is so good what I am learning that I brought my dad and my mom because this has to be known by other people.”
At the end of May, ten team members completed The Keystone Project Online Academy, which has been such a blessing. The courses brought conviction, revelation, and encouragement to do what Jesus commanded us to do – to make disciples.
At first, it was God working in me. Then, my husband joined. Then, my children, Karen, my parents, my brothers, my cousins, Karen’s friends, my brother’s girlfriend and current wife, my friend’s friend, the neighbor, the neighbor’s sister-in-law, the husband of the neighbor’s sister-in-law, the young friends we made in the workshops, the children, the sweet children who are always ready to hear from our Heavenly Dad. In summary, we are reaching about 100 people. We are discipling 52 of them, including the team.
I don’t know if our eyes can see everything the Lord has promised us, but I know that we don’t need a platform, a building, equipment, or money. We only need to be within God’s plan, to be doing His will, and to do it today, because tomorrow may be late.
Go crazy today for the Lord.
Director of Global Ministry
2023 Training Calendar!
The Keystone Project Team is excited to announce that our training dates have been scheduled for next year:
- February 13 – 24, 2023 (two weeks) – US and Canadian Leaders’ Training
- March 13 – 17, 2023 (one week) – US and Canadian Leaders’ Training
- April 17 – May 5, 2023 (three weeks) – International Leaders’ Training (Spanish Translation)
- October 2 – 27, 2023 (four weeks) – International Leaders’ Training (Spanish/French Translation)
This will be our first time hosting a three-week training, which will allow us to offer a wider variety of options for students who can come for different lengths of time. All of these trainings will focus on the same essential content of launching movements of disciples who make disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit, especially among unreached people groups. The longer trainings will cover that content in greater detail and provide more tools to equip students for the work of the Great Commission. Each training will also include opportunities for students to go out on missional activities with their coaching groups, allowing them to practice what they are learning as they serve and engage the community around them.
The one- and two-week trainings are only open to residents of the US and Canada; however, both local and international participants are welcome to attend the three- and four-week International Leaders’ Trainings. The US/Canada Trainings will be especially focused on reaching the reservations and Native American people groups across North America. For other students coming from various US cities, they will be equipped to meet the needs around them and make disciples among their neighbors, some of whom may be international refugees, representing a wide variety of unreached people groups from around the world. The international trainings will be focused on helping pastors and leaders reach outside the confines of church buildings and programs and instead make disciples who make disciples among the unreached people groups in their nations. For both local and international students, the harvest truly is plentiful, and we are excited to see how God works through these students to further His mission of the Great Commission.
If you are interested in attending any of these dates, you can fill out the “Training Application Form” on the Training Events page of our website. In addition to the dates listed above, you can still apply for our next International Leaders’ Training coming up later this year over October 3-28, 2022. We would encourage you to begin the application process as early as possible, so that you have plenty of time to secure your visa and airfare, if needed. As we look ahead to our upcoming training events later this year and next year, we are praying and trusting that the Lord will bring us the right students who will go back and reach their neighborhoods, cities, reservations, and nations with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Just as Jesus told His disciples, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Training Event Coordinator|
ABOUT THE KEYSTONE PROJECT
The Keystone Project is a global missions network of churches and leaders committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.