Some exciting things are happening with the Church of the Nazarene on the island of Curacao. This work was begun a few years back, but has just recently been officially recognized by the denomination, which is an important milestone. We realized that readers of this blog may have not heard of the origins of the Church’s ministry in this Dutch-speaking country in the Caribbean. So, without further ado, we present to you an article that was originally published in NCN News:
Nazarene presence officially recognized in Curaçao
Jonathan and Lissett Petrus moved from the Netherlands to the island of Curaçao for work. It was during this time that they felt God leading them to Christian ministry. A couple years later they began partnering with Nazarene churches from the United States to minister to the people of Curaçao.
Curaçao, one of the “ABC islands” —Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao—on the north coast of Venezuela, is being introduced to the Church of the Nazarene. This is a story of new beginnings, for a country, for a young pastor and his team of church planters, and for an American pastor and his local church.
In 2010, the leadership of the newly-constructed Mesoamerica Region—formed out of the Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean Regions—took a hard look at itself. What they learned presented a challenge: the witness of the Church of the Nazarene was the weakest in the areas with the most population. Fifty-eight percent of the population of the region lives in 169 large cities and islands, but only 28 percent of the church membership is in those areas. This called for fresh thinking and a new strategy.
Hope springs from another factor. Across the region, a revival is occurring, with youth and young adults experiencing a call to missions. “We don’t need to rely only upon missionaries coming from North America,” they are saying. “Let us carry the gospel into these new areas.”
The Genesis Project is the region’s response. Twenty-eight large population centers are targeted to receive teams of four missionaries each by 2020. Missionaries Scott and Emily Armstrong in the Dominican Republic was named to develop the strategy and a training program.
The Dutch island of Curaçao presents its own challenge. The high cost of living makes it difficult for missionaries from Mexico or other parts of the region to live there. Yet, its diverse population of 150,000 needs the gospel. There are some 80 Protestant churches on the island, nearly all of them with memberships below 50. No Dutch-speaking evangelical church is proclaiming the message of heart holiness.
An international team is responding to this challenge with a strategy for planting a new Nazarene church on the island. Through divine orchestration, a team has come together to open the Church of the Nazarene in Curaçao: Kevin Hardy, pastor of Crossroads Church of the Nazarene in Ellicot City, Maryland Larry Orwig, Nazarene Missions International president at Crossroads Richard and Karen Brash, members at Crossroads, and sensing a call to full-time ministry Jonathan and Lissett Petrus: Young Dutch immigrants with a calling Scott Armstrong, missionary responsible for development and implementing Genesis in Mesoamerica Region.
To find out more about this extraordinary story go to nazarene.org/generosity, and let’s keep praying that God continue to open doors where the church is not yet.