Grenada Site Re-entry Retreat – 2018

From September 5 to 9 of this year, Crystalla Williams and Cleon Cadogan, volunteer missionaries that were sent to the Genesis site of Grenada in August 2016, traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to enjoy a retreat after finishing their 2-year assignment. They participated in workshops addressing reverse culture shock and also prepared for sharing with churches and supporters the message of what God has done in and through them.  Scott and Emily Armstrong, coordinators of this initiative, thanked Crystalla and Cleon for their service and also congratulated them for their effort and commitment to God’s mission.

The Genesis missionaries shared some of the experiences of working with the existing church and planting a new church on the island, and they recognized God’s faithfulness, love, protection and provision during their two years there.

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We thank God for Crystalla and Cleon, and we ask you to join us in prayer for them. Currently they are with their local churches and home districts sharing what God has done in this time and also encouraging others to get involved and continue supporting the missionary work.

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Praise the Lord for the lives of Crystalla and Cleon! And, thanks to every person and church that supported them by encouraging, praying, and giving generously.  May God continue to bless and use them as well!

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Cleon with Laritza (Genesis missionary from Dominican Republic)

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:4, 8-9).

God Calling, Sending and Using Youth in His Mission

What a joy to know that God continues to invite youth to respond to His missionary call!  In the past weeks we have been amazed at the stories of many teens who God is guiding and using powerfully. In this post, we share three testimonies of young volunteers who participated in Encuentro, held in Guatemala and Costa Rica during June and July of this year.  This event impacted the lives of hundreds of people from the communities where the teams and volunteers ministered:

 “I served as a translator during the time of Encuentro and Project Timothy, and one of the most treasured moments in my heart was the day when we went out to evangelize. The majority of the people we started to meet asked for prayer for healing. The most powerful instance was a lady that we met while we were on the road walking. She was going to buy tortillas when Pastor Cesar Robleto from the Gethsemane Church stopped her and asked if she had a prayer request. She said yes and even invited us to her house. She asked us to pray for her daughter, Andrea, who has cancer. We told Andrea that her mother had requested we pray for her. She was surprised, but also happy.

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That moment of prayer was beautiful. We could not hold back the tears. Only God knew the need, the pain, and the anguish that they were living through. After the prayer, we could see that Andrea’s face was filled with hope and gratitude. We too were grateful to God for that moment. It was a great privilege to pray with them. One of our North American sisters shared words of encouragement, and we could feel how the Holy Spirit was moving in that place bringing peace and tranquility. It was one of the most difficult times I have ever had to translate, because I did so with tears in my eyes, but it was also one of the most beautiful things that I have been able to experience.” – Valeria Narvaez (Nicaragua)

 Foto-2-Andrea-testimonio.jpgWhen I was little, I dreamed of being a doctor.  Later, like all children, I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to be a teacher.  Even though I changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was sure that in some way, whatever my job, I would help people. When I wanted to be a doctor, I imagined working somewhere in the mountains, helping people with limited resources.  When I wanted to be a teacher, I imagined being a teacher for needy kids.  A while ago, God began to also put in my heart the idea of being a missionary, but I ignored him because it scared me.

My parents are missionaries, and that means that I know how difficult it is to move to a different country, move to a different house, change schools and make new friends. That’s why every time I thought about being a missionary, it scared me.  But I began to pray (which is the best thing we can do when we are scared).  I prayed for a long time and in these two weeks serving in Encuentro, God answered my prayers and spoke to me through the testimonies, sermons and even the songs. In these weeks he confirmed what I already knew.  That’s why I decided to accept the call that God has given me and to stop being afraid.” – Andrea Salazar (Guatemala)

 “In the first week of Encuentro and Project Timothy, I served in the New Vision Church of the Nazarene along with a group from Kentucky. A large part of our work was a Bible School where we ministered to approximately 70 children. In one of our devotionals, someone said that stories connect people, and that it is important to know someone’s story to truly appreciate them. That happened with some of the kids. They were restless and it was impossible to keep them quiet and attentive. They always wanted to socialize and distract everyone else. We found out that many of them were being raised by their grandmothers because their mothers had abandoned them, often going to other countries. Others had fathers who had died for one reason or another.

Diana-González-testimonio-800x440.jpgDuring the week, we worked a lot with them: teaching Bible lessons, memorizing verses, and having fun with games and snacks.  Still, to be honest, I didn’t feel like I was having a great impact on the emotional life of these kids. But on the last day one of the children came up to me sobbing and so sad because we had to go. He told me, ‘You are like my sister.’ It broke my heart and I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted the chance to continue being a part of his life because his need for love was so great. I pray that he and all the children we ministered to would be held by Jesus, and that they would feel his love and protection.” – Diana Gonzalez (El Salvador)

These testimonies were originally published at: Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica

Truly Encountering God

The following testimony was written by Ana Perdomo (Mexico), she served as a volunteer missionary in Project Timothy and Encuentro. God continues to call and use the lives of young people who are willing to listen and obey:

My first week in Guatemala I served as a translator for a team that had come from the Church of the Nazarene in Valparaiso, Indiana. We had the opportunity to work with the La Florida Church, serving 55 children in a Vacation Bible School and painting the church building with Pastor Juan and the youth leader, Selena. The last day they took us to a school where the original plan was to work with teenagers. But when the time arrived, they introduced us to more than 150 children!  There were only 22 of us in the open air without a microphone, and only one teen from Indiana spoke Spanish. God certainly gave us strength. I learned a lot and was surprised by the love, humility and sensitivity of the youth from the United States.  Most were between 13 and 15 years old, and they always had a smile and were willing to do whatever was needed.

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The second week arrived, and I served alongside a youth group from Kailua, Hawaii. Undoubtedly, God had planned for us to be a diverse team: one Mexican, one Guatemalan, and a missionary from El Salvador were there with the 9 Hawaiians. We worked in the Center of Family Worship (“CEFA”, for its initials in Spanish) with pastor Carolina, a wonderful servant of God who just two months earlier had tragically seen her second child murdered. She shared with us how God had been with her in those difficult moments. She is a warrior and a woman of faith, and highly respected throughout her neighborhood.

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Ana singing with two little girls.

The church was in one of the most dangerous areas in all of Guatemala. The policemen sometimes needed to accompany us in the activities we held in the streets with the neighbors. Each day we had the opportunity to build friendships with children, youth and their families. We held a Bible school and we offered them medical services. We became so connected that it became very difficult to say goodbye at the end of the week.

There are no words to describe how grateful and blessed I felt during these two weeks.  They were tough: I was sick with a fever for much of the time, had a throat infection, and even another infection in one of my molars that simply appeared in those days. What’s more, I received a call from Mexico where they told me that my dog, who had been with me for 14 years, had died on the last day of the trip. I know that Matthew 16:24 (“take up your cross and follow me”) is not just a nice verse written in the Bible. God needs you to believe and give over everything that is in you. He will do the rest in His time, not yours.

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My original plan during Encounter was to go, serve and talk about God, but I received more than I gave.  In fact, my concept of “pastor” changed radically. Having had the opportunity to live with young pastors for two weeks helped me see things differently. I am no longer afraid to accept that call.  Yes, I want to be a missionary, but I also want to be a pastor.

When you have a call on your life, maybe you feel unprepared to face it or live it out.  And it may seem even more complicated when you face difficulties with your family, work, friends, or even with your own thoughts or doubts. But if God is calling you, He has his strategies for working it all out according to His purpose. 

Enormous Results Seen in Project Timothy

In June and July, the first-ever Project Timothy was held, with volunteers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua serving along with young people from the USA and Canada during Encuentro 2018.

The participants from the USA, Canada, and the Mesoamerica Region donated between 7 and 18 days to serve alongside local churches in activities of evangelism, translation, sports ministries, Vacation Bible Schools, “Disturbing our City”, Work and Witness, hospital visitation, and medical clinics that benefited several communities in Guatemala City.

One of the volunteer missionaries, Billi Mendez (Guatemala), expressed joy at the privilege of serving: “My experience in Project Timothy and Encuentro has been the best thing that has happened to me. The best part of the week that I served as a volunteer occurred on the last day of my missionary service. During the week I had been praying to God, asking that I would be able to win a person for Christ through Nazagol (a soccer outreach). In the middle of the game, God moved me to share my testimony with the participants, and I give glory to God because 29 youth accepted Jesus as their Savior.”

The two weeks of work culminated in a time of evaluation and thanksgiving for what God had done in the life of many children, youth and adults. That same day many young people confirmed their call and desire to continue to serve in God’s mission.

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The leaders of Project Timothy and Encuentro shared the following results:

  • NYI (Nazarene Youth International) and Global Mission worked together in harmony
  • More than 1,472 children heard the message of Christ
  • More than 695 people were treated at the medical clinics
  • More than 104 people accepted Christ as their Savior
  • More than 2,167 people heard about God’s love
  • More than 7 countries came together to serve and impact Guatemala
  • The 42 participants in Project Timothy came from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, and all united in the Great Commission
  • More than 16 youth confirmed their call to missions
  • 21 churches on the Guatemala Central District were encouraged by the presence of the youth from Encuentro and Project Timothy

Praise the Lord for continuing to call and use the lives of young people who are willing to serve Him!

The Church is Praying

Throughout the Mesoamerica region NMI is mobilizing the church in prayer, inside and outside the church building, the place is not important. God is blessing His church through prayer! 

Seventy members from six different churches in the Veracruz Central Zone in the Mexico Gulf District gathered on Sept. 1 at the House of Prayer Mission for a special time of prayer.

They prayed for pastors and leaders in the zone, their district, the Mesoamerica Region, missionaries, Genesis Project participants, safety and their government. They also took time to anoint those who were ill.

The event happened as a result of an invitation from Nazarene Missions International (NMI) in the Veracruz Zone to the local churches to share a time of prayer and breakfast together. Since the space was small, they moved outside to an area that the locals call The Lakes, where they held the prayer meeting in the open air.

Each church brought an assigned dish. The full group closed the activity by eating together and sharing a time of fellowship.

“We thank God for the chance He gave us to hold this event that strengthened the bonds between brothers,” said Carlos G. Quijano, a Global NMI Council member who represents the Mesoamerica Region.

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This article was originally published at: Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica

NMI Training

As a result of the changes in emphases in NMI in the Mesoamerica Region, regional leaders have held training events for NMI leadership in order to better develop the ministry. 

One of these events was on Sept. 1 at the Barrio Mexico Church of the Nazarene in Costa Rica. Costa Rica Central District NMI President Nelly Montero Jara organized the event along with the district NMI council. Regional NMI Coordinator Ana Maria Crocker presented the new information.

District Superintendent Rev. Sirlene Bustos attended along with pastors, missionaries, NMI presidents and local NMI council members. They were challenged to move forward with excellence in ministry and to make Christ-like disciples not only in their communities and country but also to the ends of the earth.   They were also encouraged to help with faith promises and the general vision of the region for the next few years.

“We praise God for a blessed time of challenge,” said Crocker.

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This article was originally published at: Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica

Vacation Bible Schools Amid Economic Crisis

Churches across Venezuela are continuing to reach out to their communities despite the current economic crisis. At least 60 Vacation Bible Schools representing 75 percent of the country’s organized churches have been planned through September.

Many residents have emigrated from the country in search of better work opportunities, resulting in a rapid decline in public school attendance and an estimated 20 percent membership decline in the Church of the Nazarene in Venezuela. 

Despite the economy, the work of Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International has not stopped, and the regional, national, and district coordinators are working on ways to promote and support these VBS camps.

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The Church of the Nazarene in Calabozo has already held two camps, including one at a church plant in Ciudad de Dios for 200 children. The other was held the following week, hosting 179 children and youth. 

In the eastern part of the country, the Renacer church in Punta de Mata held a VBS where 70 children and youth participated. In the Llanos District, which has the largest number of Churches of the Nazarene in Venezuela, the Cambios and Los Pozones churches held their VBS camps, with 70 and 84 children, respectively. Most of the other churches will wait until after the National Youth Camp during the last week of August to host their own VBS camps.

“We thank the Lord for so many workers who have made their time, energy, and resources available to plant the seed of God’s Word in the generations to come,” said Leda DeGouveia, national SDMI coordinator. “We are counting on your support in prayer that our God would revive His work in the midst of times like these.”

This article was originally published at: Church of the Nazarene South America