“Restricted…but not Silent”

By Diana Gonzalez

A few days ago I had the blessing to be a part of Third Wave 2019 in Hyderabad, India.  I will never be the same after this experience.  I found new perspectives –  new ways of seeing life.  I was also challenged to hear the needs that exist, and what the Church of the Nazarene is doing to meet them in the name of Jesus.

People from more than 60 nations met to worship God. We shared our experiences, strategies, and ways of doing youth ministry in different contexts, just to share a few examples.  It was indescribable to be among so many nations, languages, cultures and flavors, but all with the same passion for the Lord.  I experienced a small taste of what it will be like after Jesus’ return.  On top of that, in some way, the world became smaller for me, because now I have friends all the way on the other side!

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50437954_447724335764950_2678421380508155904_n.jpgThe most significant thing for me in all of it was hearing the testimonies of the missionaries that work in Creative Access Areas.  In those areas, patience is part of their strategy, and what we understand in our contexts as “good results” must be reconsidered and valued in a different way.  In countries where they do not have the freedom to meet together for a service or the people are simply not interested in hearing about Jesus, the Word of God is “restricted, but not silenced,” as the Eurasia Regional Director shared.

I have learned about relational evangelism in a Youth Ministry class, and how Jesus established his kingdom through friendship and paying attention to important details. In Creative Access Areas, relational evangelism is crucial.  It is through years of friendship that someone is able to share the Good News.

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It is difficult to express how grateful I am for this experience.  It was a time in which God reminded us that this is our moment, this is our place, but it is also our decision to act!

*Diana Gonzalez is a youth leader and the Global Mission Coordinator in El Salvador.

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Many Ways to Worship One God

By Saraí Ramos

A few weeks ago, God gave me the opportunity to travel to Hyderabad, India where I participated in Third Wave, a global gathering of emerging leaders within the Church of the Nazarene.  The main purpose of the event is to provide a space for youth to connect in a cross-cultural setting through fellowship, training, and group dynamics, in order to develop leaders who will make a global impact.

260 people from 61 countries came together January 8-13, 2019, and you can just imagine all the differences in language, forms of dress, food, and other craziness that we lived through there!

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In fact, one of the most memorable times of the event happened the first day when I was able to meet Olly and Clayton, two young men from Australia that love their Samoan culture and enjoy sharing it with anyone who will listen.  Throughout the week we were delighted to get to know them and admire their Hakas, typical Samoan dances, language, clothing, and many other things.

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Saraí with Olly and Clayton

But the thing that impacted me most was the passion on their faces when they danced during the talent show.  Clayton, Olly, and the Asia-Pacific Region made us all feel like we were part of a Samoan movie.  It was as if we were all in Disney’s Moana!  Can you imagine the excitement in the room when we were all experiencing that dance?!

84181241-c50c-4ec1-bc8b-5397c8b5e32d.JPGWhen they finished their presentation, they told us that the music was a typical Christian song. That was one of the ways they worshipped God in their home countries.

You know what? All of the time spent with them reminded me that there are innumerable ways to praise the Lord and share his love with others.  I believe every one of us should be like Olly and Clayton: proud of our Christian culture and passionately sharing the love and joy we have found in Jesus at every opportunity.

*Saraí Ramos is president of Nazarene Youth International in the Gulf District of Mexico.

An All-Terrain God

In our previous post we published a report of what God did through the 4×4 All-Terrain missions project in Queretaro, Mexico. In the week between Christmas 2018 and New Year’s Day 2019, a group of youth served along with the already deployed Genesis missionaries in Queretaro.

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Now we would like to share a few testimonies from the youth who played an important role in this missions experience:

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“This was an experience that taught me a lot.  I experienced in a palpable way how incredible it is to serve God.  It motivated me to continue working, to continue sharing the Word of God with as many people as I can, and above all to put myself in God’s hands for whatever plan he has for my life.  It was really a blessed week for me and, as the name of the project says, I could see that God is a 4×4 God.  He is without a doubt a God who works in all terrain.” – Teresa de Cuesta.

“Going out to evangelize and see the needs in the community made us more sensitive to the circumstances of the people; to take the message of God’s love to those who need it brings hope to everyone.  “Remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).  4×4 All-Terrain is a platform to teach, participate in missions, love, give hope and practice obedience.” – Gaddiel Antonio.

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“Participating in this project was an answer to my prayer that I would be able to serve God in this place.  I thank God for the chance to spend a week with the Genesis missionaries serving in Queretaro.  Each one taught me great things.  I could see that their passion to share the gospel comes from the head, but above all lives in their hearts.  Their work has impacted me because they consistently showed love to the lost, especially through the hugs and attention they gave to the children.” – Rosa Amaro.

“The decision to participate in 4×4 was a little bit difficult because of time constraints, the cost, and my family.  But thanks to the God who made a way, I ended up in Queretaro! I really liked spending time with the Genesis missionaries and seeing how they had developed their ministry and the joyful way they worship God.  Every day was a great blessing for me.  I was a witness to the way God changes hearts!” – Alejandra Aguilar.

20181228_084154.jpg“I was sick from the moment I arrived and during the entire week of activities.  God had other plans for me because I believe that, in the end, what is important is a willingness to serve and not our ability. The Lord knew my intentions were to help the team, and since my terrible health didn’t allow it, the Lord provided a valuable tool for everybody else that I was able to drive: a car. Even though everything turned out differently than I expected, today I can say that despite physical illness and weakness, the Lord used me for his purposes.” – Ariadna Romero.

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“Participating in 4×4 was a great blessing, because it gave me a chance to serve God through my profession (general medicine). When people asked why we were offering free medications and medical service, it gave us the best opportunity to publicly thank God and remind people that the Lord has a plan for them.  We are only offering back to Him what he gives us, and in that way every one of us can share that we have been changed by his love.” – Navith Ayala

If you would like to be a part of an experience like this, leave a comment or contact us on our Facebook page: Global Mission Mesoamerica.  God can also use you in all terrain!

Kingdom Workers – 4×4 All-Terrain

Written by Ariadna Romero

From Dec. 26, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019, the Mexican city of Queretaro was the site for the 4X4 All Terrain event.  For the last nine years, the event has encouraged Mexican youth to participate in missions in a place far from their homes.  They work in rustic areas, using their abilities and strengths to their limits in order to share the Good News of salvation. 

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Queretaro was no exception.  The Genesis missionaries were waiting for the 16 youth participants when they arrived in order to begin the activities at the ministry site. Some of the activities they planned in the local community were: a Project Gol soccer tournament, vacation Bible school, movies, house-to-house evangelism, and distributing tracts. Through all that, we were not only brothers and sisters in the faith, but also workers together in the Kingdom, roommates, hikers, friends in times of illness and exhaustion, and apprentice cooks.  We even became amateur singers in order to celebrate the end of another year on Earth and the end of 4×4.

Devocionales.jpgThe Lord blessed our efforts for the children and adolescents who were attracted to the different activities throughout the day.  The house-to-house evangelism was not very successful because most people would not open their doors or were not at home.  There were also challenges to handing out the evangelistic tracts.  The local police stopped us several times from handing out fliers.  According to them it was against the law.  Thanks to the tenacity and creativity of Maria Eugenia Rodriguez, who was in charge of 4×4, and the bravery of the participants, things took a different direction.  We ended up at the intersection of a main road passing out brochures, hugging people and wishing people a happy New Year and blessings for their families.  In the end, we accomplished our objective despite the obstacles that always come up when someone tries to share the message of salvation.

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We are thrilled at the achievements we witnessed during the last week of 2018. We know that we were able to help in the missionary work that is beginning in the Queretaro territory, and we know that nothing is impossible in Jesus’ name.

Statistics: Contacts through the VBS, Project Gol, movie showings, and house-to-house evangelism – 108; Number of people who heard the message of salvation – 63; Hugs – 132; Faith decisions – 21; Initial discipleship – 21.

The “Softer” Side of Leadership May Be Stronger Than You Think

By Dan Reiland

It’s true that no one wants to follow an insecure, indecisive, or ineffective leader.

Qualities like confident, decisive and courageous are essential and needed. Great leaders can handle the tough circumstances that come their way.

But tough-minded leaders must also be tender-hearted, or their leadership becomes cold and hard.

The strength and power of Jesus’ leadership was signified by things like a dove, a cross, and a towel. These are clearly symbols of qualities such as humility, sacrifice, love, and obedience to name just a few.

People flocked to Jesus not because of his power, but because of His compassion. He had power, but he never flaunted it.

People listened to Jesus’ teaching not because of his status but because of his wisdom. Yes, Jesus taught with authority, but it was authority under submission. Jesus only did the will of His Father.

This “softer” side of leadership demonstrates true Kingdom strength. This kind of strength is much more challenging to live out over the long run.

We are tempted to adopt “fast” power. It’s easier to declare, command and control, but that kind of strength doesn’t last. People resent it and will leave you at the first sign of difficulty or struggle in ministry.

Kingdom strength is the opposite of worldly strength. It is birthed in submission, thrives by obedience and is sustained through love.

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7 Kingdom demonstrations of authentic spiritual leadership strength:

(Which ones are you good at and which one do you need to work on?)

1) Grace

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation. Our focus is redemption. And we are responsible to not only communicate but also demonstrate grace. Our salvation is based on grace, and therefore our leadership must follow that example.

Grace doesn’t suggest sloppy execution, low standards or avoidance of tough decisions. It means that your heart leans toward mercy, forgiveness and second chances. The disposition of your heart guides your leadership. It takes much more strength to forgive than to condemn.

Grace doesn’t dismiss the law but mediates it to embrace our humanity. Grace does the same for our leadership.

2) Appreciation

Appreciation is oil to the friction of leadership. Leadership causes motion and motion causes friction. Without something to soften the friction in ministry, it can become too much for staff and volunteers to endure.

When leaders are under pressure, the expression of appreciation is one of the first things to go out the window. That’s a big mistake. Clear expectations are important, and genuine appreciation allows you to hold fast to those important expectations.

Appreciation lifts the spirits of the volunteers and staff that you lead!

3) Humility

Even though Jesus was in His very nature God, He did not insist on equality with God for His own advantage. In fact, he emptied himself to serve.

It’s easy for us to get messed up according to where we land on the organization chart. Even though we know that position has almost nothing to do with our real influence, we still care about titles.

Jesus traded his title for a towel and washed people’s feet. He was the King of Kings but lived as a servant to all.

Giving up our “rights” is core to leadership strength and Kingdom based power.

4) Encouragement

One of my favorite leadership traits or skills to teach is encouragement. Probably because it’s so misunderstood. It’s often seen as the “soft” side of leadership, and sometimes even considered a waste of time.

Encouraging leaders have a giving heart, and they are anything but weak. It takes a strong, secure, and mature leader to consistently give credit to others, build people up and inspire them to greater ministry.

Encouragement provides the emotional fuel that enables the people you lead to hold on longer, reach farther and dig deeper than they ever believed possible.

5) Love

In its purest form, the strength of love comes from selflessness. A loving leader is a selfless servant of the people.

It required incredible strength for Jesus to go to the cross and give his life for us. That strength originated in God’s love, and out of obedience, Jesus loved us beyond anything we could ever earn or deserve.

When I reflect on this kind of love, I’m challenged to examine the depth of love I have for those I serve and inspired to love even more deeply.

Love brings great strength, power, and effectiveness to your leadership.

6) Listening

The best leaders listen well. They don’t jump to conclusions, they ask good questions and communicate they care by seeking to understand.

Most of us would rather talk, direct and “make things happen.” But it takes patience and wisdom to know when and how to listen with genuine empathy. That requires the strength of personal discipline.

When people know you care, your influences rises.

Leaders who refuse to listen often get themselves in trouble. When leaders don’t listen, eventually people stop talking to you. The result is that you don’t know where they stand, and you can end up blindsided. The most common phrase I hear from a leader who doesn’t listen is, “I didn’t see that coming.”

7) Kindness

Kindness is a leadership quality that allows trust, connection, and genuine exchange to take place. There is real strength in kindness.•

  • Kindness brings peace and joy into pressure-filled situations.
  • Kindness wins the hearts of those who are far from God.
  • God delights in kindness.

. . . but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:24

You can see the balance. Justice, righteousness, and kindness.

It’s not complicated to be kind, but it can be difficult to practice on a consistent basis at the pace that most leaders run.

Kingdom strength for spiritual leadership doesn’t always look like strength as the world sees it. Learning to blend the two takes intentional effort and practice.

Keeping Your Church Young

By Dan Reiland

Churches age and churches die. But intentional leadership can make that divine journey significantly longer and much more spiritually productive. There are several things you can do to help keep your church young, alive and vibrant even though the chronological aging process continues.

This post isn’t about an ecclesiastical fountain of youth. However, I believe “aging” can pivot to “maturing” by making a few key decisions and commitments towards keeping your church young.

1) Choose young leaders.

Mature staff are extremely valuable on your team. Their experience is needed for successful ministry. However, the absence of young leaders, lots of young leaders, is a decision to allow your church to age unnecessarily.

Some churches don’t like to use young leaders. It’s messy. Young leaders lack experience, I know. But young leaders will keep things alive and fun. Young leaders are also full of energy and great ideas; they help you stay relevant with current culture and vision for the future.

Leadership development for your leaders, and especially for your young leaders is essential. 

2) Place a premium on children’s ministry.

When I say premium, I mean choose great leaders, invest significant time and energy, and be as generous as possible with the budget. Without this you are absolutely capping your ability to reach your community.

Please don’t confuse relevant ministry to children with childcare. They aren’t the same. In order to reach kids you need to keep up with the world they live in. That world is fast-paced and built around technology. When you add to that mix loving adult leaders who truly care about children, you create a winning program that the kids will love.

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3) Design your Sunday morning service with a relevant feel.

What is and isn’t young and relevant is subjective. But the big issues are clear. First, choose your music wisely. If you are still singing and playing the stuff we did in the 90’s, it’s time to freshen up what you do.

Second, involve young leaders on the platform. The young musicians and singers will lead you to younger music and a younger vibe overall.  Again, this attracts young people to your church!  If you are thinking, “What about the older people, don’t they matter?” Of course they do. I am one, and I can still make a difference. But we should be more mature. We know that this is not about us, the mission is to reach the lost, and if you reach the next gen, other generations will follow.

Last, make sure all the components of the service reflect a young culture. As you think about humor, video, illustrations, art and especially technology, think young.

Again, if you focus on a younger crowd, the older generations with join in. If you lean toward older, the young will leave.

4) Invest in the next generation.

Raise up and train young leaders, invest in student ministries, and champion the call to vocational ministry among your young adults. Communicate that you believe in the next generation! They are the future!

The vision of the church must capture the young people, and at the same time be compelling enough that older generations get excited about the vision in such a way that they will invest both time and resources. Let’s face it, middle-aged and older generations have no trouble loving and believing in kids; just watch a grandparent with their grandchildren!

This article was originally published at: DanReiland.com

Harmon Schmelzenbach III remembered

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A week ago I shared about the impact that the nazarene missionary Harmon Schmelzenbach III made in my life and particularly in my call to missions. Today we want to share an article published by NCN News that honors the memory of this great man of God. 

At 12 years old, Harmon Schmelzenbach III spoke to Swazi evangelist Joseph Mkwanazi at a camp meeting in Endingeni, Swaziland. Harmon later shared that this conversation confirmed his call to be a pastor and missionary like his father and grandfather. He would spend the next 13 years preparing for this work.

Harmon Schmelzenbach III was born in Nampa, Idaho, in 1935. His parents, Elmer and Mary, were about to become missionaries in Swaziland, where Elmer was raised. They took Harmon to Africa when he was only a few weeks old.

He spent his early childhood in Swaziland. When he was 11, he and his sister Marilyn began attending boarding school in the Republic of South Africa. Boarding school was a common experience for many missionary kids. In their case, the school was close enough to their parents that they could come home some weekends.

In 1952, Harmon returned to Nampa and enrolled in Northwest Nazarene College. He met Beverly, two years younger, and they married while they were students. After graduation, he served as a pastor in the area until Beverly completed her degree.

They received their assignment as missionaries to the RSA in 1960 and worked at first among the Pedi people of the Northern Transvaal. Harmon later commented that the Pedis spoke “a difficult, guttural language that I had been unable to pick up as a child.”

The next year, they moved to Blouberg, the northernmost Nazarene station in the RSA. The area’s rugged terrain required a jeep for travel. Southern Africa remained their field of labor for a quarter-century.

They stood, to some degree, on the shoulders of two generations of missionary predecessors. His grandfather, the first Harmon Schmelzenbach, opened the original Nazarene missions in Swaziland, South Africa, and Mozambique in the early 20th century. After a half-century in Africa, though, Nazarenes had barely reached beyond their base in the south.

By the late 1970s, there was a growing sense that expansion into West and East Africa was overdue. Implementing these initiatives would call for entrepreneurial leadership, and Harmon had been demonstrating precisely this.

In 1971, he took personal initiative to register the Church of the Nazarene in Botswana. In 1977, he and Beverly moved to Namibia to build a new district there. They remained there until 1984.

At that time, the World Mission Department chose Harmon to guide Nazarene expansion in a new area. He became the East Africa Field’s first director. They moved to Kenya, purchased property in Nairobi, and began directing strategies that led to opening new missions and churches in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Zaire.

In Kenya, Harmon established a school to train preachers but dreamed of something grander — a Christian university for East Africa. His early planning laid the groundwork for others to build Africa Nazarene University, which the General Assembly and the Kenyan government authorized in 1993, which then opened in 1994.

“Dr. Harmon Schmelzenbach personally chose the land on which the university sits, claimed it for God and the Church of the Nazarene by faith in prayer and later arranged for the purchase of the land. Today, the building that houses the university’s administration is named after him — the Harmon Schmelzenbach Building,” said Stanley M. Bhebhe, vice chancellor of Africa Nazarene University.

By then, the Schmelzenbachs had been in Addis Ababa for two years, pioneering Nazarene work in Ethiopia and Eritrea. A Marxist regime had closed Ethiopia to new Protestant work for nearly two decades, but the regime had changed. Ethiopia would prove to be a productive field.

In 1994, Harmon was appointed “Missionary at Large” and began traveling widely, speaking at conventions and assemblies, raising mission awareness among Nazarenes generally by retelling family stories from Africa.

Harmon and Beverly retired in 2001, establishing their home in Clearwater, Florida, but they contributed to missions even in retirement. The Eurasia regional director at the time, Franklin Cook, asked them to train new Nazarene leaders in Hungary, and they lived, without complaint, in a cramped room in Budapest for a season.

Harmon Schmelzenbach III died on 2 January 2019 at age 83. He is survived by his wife, their three children, and their grandchildren.

This article was originally published at: NCN News