10th Anniversary of 4×4 All Terrain

The program known as 4×4 All Terrain was designed for youth that, having participated in a Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO), would be able to have a missions experience and confirm their call to missions during the best time of the year: the last week of December, between Christmas and New Year’s. It is typically a time when families come together to share in harmony, and exchange gifts and warm embraces.  Festive music is essential, much food is eaten, and relatives visit from far-off places.  The earnest desires of love and peace fill the hearts of all involved.  Through the years 4×4 All Terrain has become an event that also brings urban homes hope, peace, love, and salvation through the sharing of Jesus Christ as the best gift that anyone could receive all year long.

From December 26, 2019 to January 1, 2020 we held the 10th Anniversary of 4×4 All Terrain, and it took place in the city of Monterrey, Mexico in support of the missionaries with the Genesis ministry, Daniel and Andrea Santiago.  An extremely talented and great-looking group of 22 teens and young adults from the South, East, West, Northeast, and South Border Districts arrived impassioned to be used by God in the Fomerrey 23 and Oak Valley colonies.  Participants were organized into teams and, after being trained in various ministries, they evangelized house-to-house, held Vacation Bible Schools, prayed for the sick and for families in general, cleaned homes, made friends with community members, and presented Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, which was the greatest need of the people.  After meeting in prayer groups and sharing a Bible story, each person was invited to identify with a character in the story, and during that time many came to know Jesus Christ.  The morning devotionals and the feedback during the debriefing times every night were key in order to consistently get better and minister more intentionally the following day.

We could continue telling much more; however, I’d just like to glorify the Lord God Almighty for his love and protection over this group.  I am also thankful that he has given me the privilege during these ten years to lead many youth in this ministry, and to see them develop and grow in favor with God and men.  In the coming entries, you will read their testimonies of victory.  Let’s keep praying, giving, and going.  Let’s obey His call and participate in his reconciling of the world to Himself.

January, 2020

María Eugenia Rodríguez Urrutia.

 

 

“And God Made The Missionary”

My name is Victoria Natividad Trujillo Ríos. I am a member of the First Church of the Nazarene in Ocozocoautla, Chiapas, in the South District of Mexico.

As I started this project, I longed to hear God’s voice. I decided to surrender all to him and say, “Yes, Lord, may your purpose be done in me.”

When we arrived in Comitán, what we saw surprised us. We had the opportunity to visit a maternity hospital where the local church prepared and gave out food.  We shared testimonies, sang some songs, and listened to a short devotional reflection.  I had never in my life seen such enthusiasm: most of the women came running when they saw us, begging us to pray for them.  We ended up compiling a list of prayer requests and were amazed at their faith.

We continued on to La Trinitaria, and specifically to a colony named Michoacán.  At the house of one of the Nazarene sisters, Ayda, we learned that she had been a church planter most of her life.  In Trinitaria I learned to get past certain limits that I had not even realized that I had.  I also took time to contemplate the greatness of God as many nights I gazed at the sky and sensed his peace.  I was comforted that one day we will be in heaven, and in fact it already is our home; we are part of that reality right now!

In Unión Juárez and Lázaro Cardenas we met church members with beautiful hearts and an incredible willingness to serve.  We visited homes and evangelized there, and we also held evangelistic campaigns.

To finish up our trip we celebrated with a worship service in which the majority of the churches with whom we had ministered were present. There was a testimony time when each brother or sister shared what they had received from God during the three weeks.  It was surprising to see how God had moved in different contexts and through different means, but always with the same objective.

I love God!  During that closing service, he touched my heart.  I could hear that phrase that I had longed to hear, and it filled me completely: “And God created the missionary!”

I know there is still a lot for me to learn.  I am convinced that every day God will guide me and fulfill his promise in me according to his purpose.  For me to be a part of this trip, God had to orchestrate every detail: my schooling, my finances, my family.  Without a doubt, this experience has been a huge blessing in my life.

“Serving Is Gratifying”

In our previous entry, we published the testimony of a young volunteer missionary after his experiences in Missional Advance on the Mexico South District.  Today we will get to know another participant in that missions trip.  She wants other youth to know what God has done in her life and ministry during those weeks.  If you would like to get involved in missions, leave us a comment in the section below!

My name is Alejandra Morales.  I’m a member of the Jesus of Nazareth Church of the Nazarene in the Jobo colony of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico.

Being able to participate in the Missional Advance trip was a blessing for me.  I thank God foremost for the privilege he gave me to be a part of this project.  I’m also full of gratitude for my local church and the other Nazarenes that supported me through their prayers.  This has been a beautiful experience because I’ve been able to share about Jesus and how he works in everyone’s life and loves us as we are.  In this trip I developed a longing for the world to know God, just as much as I desire that my own family would seek him and be saved.

God manifested himself immensely in each one of the places we shared his Word.  We met people who sheltered us and gave us encouragement and even financial help for the clown ministry and other expenses we had.  God blessed us with an offering that allowed us to evangelize in La Trinitaria, the one town where we lacked resources and church presence.  God prepared the place we would work in, and he also prepared the people’s hearts.

We saw each family’s needs and their longing to seek God.  Being part of that filled me with joy and I was impressed at what God can do through his Word.  We heard great testimonies of how God raises us up from the lowest valleys in order to make us new creatures in him.  Serving is so gratifying; whether it was house-to-house evangelism or with the children in a clown show, we were blessed and noticed that the people we had met were as well.

I want to encourage any youth like us to participate in missions.  I understand that sometimes there are fears of the unknown or what we will lack when we follow God`s call.  However, I can assure you that God is with you at each step, taking care of you and making a way. He is love, and the essence of this ministry, as with any other, is completely described in that one word: love.

Our Missionary Brother

Last week we published the report of a missions trip in South Mexico Five Stops, Hundreds of Changed Lives. Today we will share the testimony of one of the teens that served as a volunteer missionary during that cross-cultural experience. If you are interested in this type of activity or in missions in general, let us know in the comment section below!

I’m Abner Gutiérrez Rivera, and I am part of the “Door of Faith” Church of the Nazarene in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, in the Ribera Zone of the Mexico South District.

I want to testify to the fact that my experience thus far in missions has been incredible.  Everything started when I decided to enroll in the Cross-Cultural Missions course, and one of its assignments was to participate in a missions trip in which we would visit five towns in the state of Chiapas during 23 days.

After our Director of Missions and leader of the event, Freivy López, prayed and commissioned us, we started our adventure November 23, 2019.  Up until that moment I had felt quite a bit of uncertainty regarding my missions call.  I got to know the other group members on the trip, and I knew that we were placing ourselves at the service of the Lord during the coming weeks.  Being able to testify to what He has done in my life is incredible!

The first place we visited was Soyatitán, and seeing the excitement that the brothers and sisters of the church had when they received us was amazing.  For the first time, I heard them call me “our missionary brother,” and I wanted to clarify that this was my first experience and that we were all just learning.  I smiled nervously, but inside I was filled with joy because I love serving God like that. However, I was worried that the church members had set their expectations too high upon seeing that they were so eager to meet us.

Something that touched my heart was getting to know some church members that work as Christian clowns in that area and are called: “The Pancholines.”  As they watched us evangelize, they came up to us, invited us to their homes, and donated many materials that they work with in their ministry. The Lord had impressed on them to give us a complete clown costume, make-up, and a lot of games that could be played with the kids.  I learned a big lesson: our God is alive, and he makes all things possible.  All we had up until that point was a little make-up to put on for our kids’ program.  It was incredible to hear the voice of God through the people that received Christ and through the clown ministry.

The second town we came to was Comitán, where we came up against some opposition to our ministry.  The city is predominantly Catholic and tied to tradition, and there was even one Catholic group that had created specific literature designed to contradict evangelicals.  But God was there, giving us his words for every conversation, based on the Scriptures.  Freivy and Pastor David gave us some advice, and we witnessed the fact that the Word of the Lord never returns void.  It was a nice challenge for me, to be sure.

I truly felt the presence of the Lord touching my life and making me understand the entire world’s need to know Him; it was an unforgettable experience. Each night I went up to the roof of the church building to pray and look at the sky, recognizing that he is always present in our lives.

The next area we ministered in was a rural town called Michoacán Colony. It was there that I had to confront several personal discomforts and even fears mainly, for example, due to the large amounts of spiders and cockroaches.  Nevertheless, I learned another lesson: we must depend fully on God and give even those fears to Him.

I was taught a lot in the city of La Trinitaria, because Freivy helped me correct a lot of the ways I had been taught to evangelize.  I am definitely still learning, and I got better going forward. That was certainly a challenge, but God and my teammates helped me in my weakness, making me feel part of a family.

The fourth place we went to was Union Juárez, which was also an incredible experience.  We had the full support of the local church as we ministered through the clown show, and we saw an excellent response from the children as we shared the gospel with them.  We ended up traveling to a community close-by named San Marcos Jalal, where we were able to perceive how God used us in ministry.  For the majority of the children there, it was the first time they had ever seen a clown, and even the first time they had ever heard about Jesus Christ.  There we learned one more tremendous lesson: according to the gifting that you have, God gives you favor before the people you come in contact with and works in your life in incredible ways if you are willing.

The final place we visited was Lázaro Cárdenas. How wonderful to be able to evangelize a person who started out arguing with me but ended up crying and asking the Lord to change his life.  That moment was undeniably transformational in my life as a Christian.

With every new day of the missions trip I felt more and more strengthened by God in my life, and I know that this is my call, my ministry.  I will keep working in order to seek entire sanctification and total dependence on Him.  The neatest thing was remembering that at the start of the trip I had said, “Here am I, send me,” and was open to all that God would call me to do.  And here I am, serving Him.  I can only give thanks to God for protecting us and using us in that time.

Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

By: Emily Armstrong

International living has it’s ups and downs, that’s for sure. One question that has fascinated me for a while is when people ask me if I’m afraid to live in another country. And this week, a few things have happened to provoke deeper thinking on that topic – so I’m writing about it.

Scott and I were 26 years old when we first moved to the foreign mission field – Guatemala City to be exact. I’ve often said that God BLESSED us with a naive spirit and allowed us to continually think, “I guess that’s just the way it is on the mission field!” whenever something that should have made us anxious happened. I remember when we went to a town known for it’s kite festival, to see all the kites and experience a bit of kitesGuatemalan culture. What we didn’t know, is that about 10,000 people were PACKED into one main street of the small town, making it a great place for pick pockets to wander around unnoticed. We were there for about an hour and during that time had our camera stolen (out of a backpack that I was wearing on my front!) and Scott had a slit in his front jeans pocket, where someone had tried to slice open his jeans to allow his wallet to fall out. These were PROFESSIONALS. And we walked right into it – pretty naive. Thankfully, the wallet stayed put – and the camera…well, we mourned that loss for a little while.

Fast forward 16 years and there are still things around us that could or some would even say should frighten us. Like the email that I got yesterday from the US Embassy in Santo Domingo which was titled – Alert: Security Alert which proceeded to warn me:

Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (January 7, 2020)

Location: Dominican Republic

Event: Heightened Middle East Tensions

There is heightened tension in the Middle East that may result in security risks to U.S. citizens abroad.

The Embassy will continue to review the security situation and will provide additional information as needed.

Actions to Take:

  • Keep a low profile.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists
  • Review your personal security plans.
  • Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.

Or the phone call that we got last night from Regional leadership asking about Scott’s trip to Puerto Rico this weekend. The Caribbean islands have been talking for months, if not years, about “The Big One” referring to a huge earthquake that should come someday because of the dozen fault lines that run through the islands. The most recent large earthquakes in Puerto Rico have increased the chatter, as well as our newspapers putting out advice on “What to do in the event of an earthquake”.

These are just a few things that have made me think about WHY my family serves the Church of the Nazarene as international missionaries. And the reason I come back to is because PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR. John wasn’t just writing that sentence in his first letter to the Church because he thought it would look good on a print, or embroidered on a pillow. He wrote it, because he believed it. John, the same John that was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel, tells us that perfect love casts out fear.

My spirit is quiet and at peace, because God has called me to this work of international living, working and serving and I trust that He is in control. I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. So when these events happen – and assuredly they will continue to happen – I find my strength coming from loving Him. He really does cast out all fear – and my family and I are living testimonies of that fact.

If you find yourself anxious for my family, or any missionary family living abroad, I would ask you to pray for us. Pray that we stand firm in the faith. Pray that we love God with everything in us and we love the people around us. Pray that we have courage to take light into dark places. God hears and answers these prayers and we are grateful that you join with us in ministry in this special way.

 

Five Stops, Hundreds of Changed Lives

SAM_0208Five Stops, Hundreds of Changed Lives

Lake Zone Missions Trip – Mexico South District

For 23 days, from November 23 to December 15, 2019, three young people: Victoria Trujillo, Lizeth Morales, and Abner Gutiérrez, traveled to different places on the Lake Zone (Venustiano Carranza, Comitán and La Trinitaria) of the South District of Mexico.  Impassioned to share the love of Jesus, they engaged in door-to-door and personal evangelism together with members from the local churches of that zone.

Our first stop was Soyatitán in Venustiano Carranza, where we already have a Church of the Nazarene.  For four days the three volunteer missionaries evangelized, organized a circus with clowns, and participated in weekly church services.Alejandra y Victoria

At the second stop, Comitán de Domínguez, we evangelized in the neighborhoods surrounding the local church, and Pastor David Cabrera helped us immensely by participating in every activity during the five days we spent there.

When we arrived in La Trinitaria, where we had been invited to spend four days evangelizing, our third stop proved to be a great teaching tool.  Up until then, we had not had any presence of a church in this county seat. Besides, this municipality is known for its huge Roman Catholic influence, which was challenging since the typical reaction of the people there was to reject the gospel. We dedicated seven hours every day to evangelism, and as a result we saw three people accept Christ as their Savior.

Our fourth stop led us to Unión Juárez in La Trinitaria. During the course of three days we visited a large number of families, always evangelizing. We saw few measurable results there due to the community dynamic which did not allow us to enter homes if only women were present.  Thus, we held the clown circus in the church building, and 50 children ended up attending.  Afterwards Pastor Carlos Cancino took us to the town of Jalal, located near the summit of a mountain.  In cold temperatures of 48º Fahrenheit, we put on the clown circus again where 17 children received Christ in their hearts.El equipo completo

Our final stop was Lázaro Cárdenas in La Trinitaria. The work there was intense: we evangelized every morning, and the local church prepared evangelistic campaigns in the open air every afternoon for four days straight.  These activities were accompanied by groups of Nazarene brothers and sisters willing to walk for hours as the sun beat down, all in order to reach more people with the love of Christ.

I give thanks to God for every opportunity to serve him, and also for the life of my wife, Ana Rosales, and her dedication to the ministry that we are now able to invest in together.

The total number of people that accepted Christ as their Savior was:

  • Children (through the clown circus and personal evangelism) 238
  • Younger teens 3
  • Older youth 4
  • Adults 27

Freivy Heberto López Juárez

Director of Missional Zones and Missional Advance

Mexico South District

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Show me Your Hands

By Leonard Sweet
(European Nazarene College, January 18, 2011)

I was reading Psalm 51:10 to my mother when she died: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a right spirit within me.”

Now the key to the holiness movement is a clean heart.  So give me an image for a clean heart.  What does a clean heart go with? Now the holiest person that has ever lived is named Jesus.  Pure holiness.

And what happens here with Jesus is that God comes down to earth.  How far down? How far down does the Incarnation go? Well, from the very beginning how far down does it go?  Where was Jesus born? In a royal palace? In a bassinet? How far down does the Incarnation go? Where does the Incarnation happen? It happens in a smelly stable, where the first thing Jesus experiences as an infant is what? Straw ticks. Little lice that live in straw. They bite your flesh.  And the smell of dung and animals.

But Jesus in the Incarnation went further than that because it not only went down to the very lowest of the human, but Jesus did something that no other Rabbi in history had done or allowed to happen.  In fact, it really bothered the disciples that he did this.  How far down did the Incarnation go? Jesus was the first Rabbi in history to do what? Wash his disciples feet.  That’s how far Jesus went.  All the way down.

And let me tell you, sisters and brothers, you don’t wash anybody’s feet without getting your hands dirty and wet.

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This is holiness!  You want an image of holiness? You have a clean heart? OK, here’s what goes with a clean heart – dirty hands.  You say you have a clean heart? I say, “What? Show me your hands.”

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Leonard Sweet

You are keeping your hands clean? “Oh, I wouldn’t want to get dirty.  We are supposed to be in the world and not of it…” What?! So your hands are too clean to get in the dirt? Oh, we need cleansing rituals all the time to clean us up.  But the whole purpose of cleaning us up is so that we can get dirty…

…Matthew 25 tells us what the question at judgment day will be.  “In as much as you did it to the least of these…”  In other words, here is the question at judgment day – Show me your hands.  You got clean hands? Go someplace else.  Because a clean heart means dirty hands.  Now this is an image of holiness.