Declaration From General Superintendents On Coronavirus

 

Declaration from General Superintendents on Coronavirus:

https://nazarene.org/article/board-general-superintendents-statement-coronavirus

To our global Nazarene family:

These are unprecedented days in the life of the church and for the citizens of the world. The global pandemic as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led us into new territory. The good news is that all of this is not a surprise to God, and while we may feel unprepared and uncertain, we know that we are able to put our faith and trust in God. We encourage you not to live in a spirit of fear but to allow His peace to lead and direct each and every day. Today, we pray for the peace of Christ to bring us calm in the midst of this storm.

Throughout history, the church has been used by God to reflect Christ in a time of crisis. This is the time for the church to shine. Reach out in holy love to those in our communities who are in need. Do not allow prejudices to form our opinions regarding particular people groups, but instead, “love your neighbor.” Consider those who will be the most affected by restrictions, and be prepared to share resources with those in need.

The Board of General Superintendents and additional Church of the Nazarene leadership continues to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the church and people around the world. We are working closely with districts and churches to provide guidance regarding legislative and jurisdictional questions during this time.

Click here for general guidelines for local churches.

We continue to pray for all those affected by this illness and are believing for the Lord’s wisdom, healing, blessing, and guidance during this difficult time. Let us not stray away from our faith into fear during these hard times, “for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, visit the World Health Organization website.

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.

 

A Strong Foundation

By: Scott Armstrong

A while ago I had a conversation with a college student who I see a lot of potential in.  I actually see gifts and graces in him to be a fantastic missionary someday.  He is passionate about issues of justice and helping the world to become a better place.

At the same time, he recognizes that his morality is lacking.  He wants to hold on to some habits and practices that are slowly eroding his effectiveness as a student, a leader, and a Christ-follower.  Sadly, it appears that he is willing to change the world, but he is not willing to change himself.

Stevenson Willis wrote a book chock-full of wisdom and called, The Proverbs of Leadership: Principles for Leading Your People to the Pinnacle of Greatness.  In it he reflects on this issue of character (pp. 110-111).  I hope you find it challenging.  I may send it to my university friend:

“As with all the great cities built to stand for the ages Jerusalem is established on a bedrock of stone.  The outer wall which protects it is likewise constructed, for the footings that support it have been set to such a depth that it cannot be moved. ancient-angkor-wat-antique-1531677.jpg

But what would happen if the plans for its foundation called for stones that were cracked? Or were it constructed with a base inadequate to carry its load? And what of the cities which might copy its design, unaware of the flaws concealed within? As sure as the sun will rise, each would collapse.  Maybe not today nor tomorrow, but the downfall of all would be certain and inevitable.

And so shall it be in the building of your character.  You may rise to a position of leadership based upon charisma or personality – and indeed succeed for a season – but such unstable stones are not sufficient to sustain you.  If you are to endure through the challenges which will come and emerge with a character worthy of replication, your life must be established on a foundation that will last. 

Integrity is the bedrock upon which character must be built; honesty with self, the first stone to set in place.

Do not bargain with life by coasting on talent or relying upon charm to reduce the payment required for success.  Though such gifts have value they are often misused by the short-sighted to avoid sacrifice.  If you are blessed with talent in abundance or skilled in the art of charm, do not deceive yourself and others by hiding behind your gifts to conceal your unwillingness to work.  For, as many have discovered too late, the cost of your discount will be great and soon subtracted from your character.

Anything of lasting value requires that the price be paid in full before its benefit can be savored.  Though talent alone may propel you to the summit, you will not be allowed to remain; for your conscience (and others) will quickly remind you that you did not pay the price which was necessary to get there.

Cheat by avoiding sacrifice and you swindle only yourself.

There are no shortcuts in the construction of character.  Though the price for building it may seem expensive today, to correct its flaws tomorrow following a failure will cost even more.  From this day forth be honest with yourself and pay with gladness whatever price is demanded for success in your endeavors”.

 

 

 

 

 

Walking a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” (John 4:5-9)

By Scott Armstrong

Have you ever noticed how good Jesus is at putting himself into other people’s shoes?  In this passage, we see him doing it again.  Jesus is a Jew that is on his way to Galilee, and he decides to travel THROUGH Samaria, instead of going around it, like most other Jews of that time. Jews did everything possible to stay away from Samaria and Samaritans, and the Samaritans felt the same way about the Jews.  Jesus is no common Jew.  Jesus walked into Samaria and sat down in a very common meeting place for women. It’s as if he is inviting a conversation from somebody that was coming to draw water from the well.  And that’s exactly what happened.

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The minute that Jesus stepped foot inside of Samaria’s borders, he became the outcast.  By no small coincidence, Jesus finds the Samaritan woman – an outcast in her own town.

I think this is a lesson that we all need to learn as early in life as possible.  Why is it that popularity is SO important to us when we are in Junior and Senior High? Why do we exclude people, just because they dress differently or talk differently or don’t run in the same social circles we do? Why can’t we try to put ourselves in other people’s situations?

How could you ever effectively minister to somebody that is excluded? In this scripture, we see that Jesus became the outcast in order to minister to the outcast – and it changed her life.  Could Jesus be calling you to find somebody that needs a friend? I think he’s at least calling us all to see the world as He does, and start including the excluded.  Maybe that means looking outside of your normal “clique” and involving some new faces. Maybe that means integrating your youth group, and making sure that Senior Highers know Junior Highers and vice versa.  Whatever the step is, start taking it now.  Change the world – one person at a time.

*This reflection is part of a series of devotionals written for youth by Scott and Emily Armstrong. 

Being Like Them

By Freya Galindo Guevara

“ . . . I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22

When the message of salvation has changed our lives, we become passionate about sharing it.  That implies that we must find better ways to share it, both energetically and effectively. The Apostle Paul had an intense desire to share the Word of God and his own testimony with other people.  He realized something important.  Even though he wanted to share with everyone, when he traveled to different cities and towns he found that each one was different. They looked, thought and behaved in different ways.  Is it possible to share the same message with people who are so very different from one another?

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He gives us the answer to this important question: the answer is yes. Paul mentions that he voluntarily chose to act as a servant and, by doing so, win the most people possible.  The principles don’t change, and neither does his identity rooted in Christ, but he tries to enter the distinct environment of each group of people. His only purpose is to share the message of the gospel, not only with words, but also by living among them. Paul is not toying with his Christian behavior, but he does try to understand the perspective of different groups, not from afar but rather up close, even becoming like them.

We are all surrounded by people who are different but share something in common.  They all need God.  Maybe they don’t look or speak much differently, but they assuredly think differently from us. Are we trying to understand their perspective?  From a safe distance, do we try to share the only message that can change their lives? Or do we make an effort to draw close to those who are in need?

The urgency and importance of speaking the gospel compels us to get close to people.  We must choose voluntarily, without losing our Christian identity, to become like them so that they can hear the salvation of God and also see it through our testimony.

*Freya Galindo serves as a missionary with the Church of the Nazarene and is Global Missions Coordinator in the Central Field: Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Tear Down Every Barrier!

By Luz Jimenez Avendaño

“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.  When they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3 

The Christian church was mature enough to make the biggest of decisions.  They agreed, after deliberation, to take the message of the gospel to the entire world. It was a decision they made under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The men of the early church did not follow their own will, but rather the will of God.

In Acts 13:1-3, the scripture talks about prophets and teachers. These two groups served different functions. The prophets did not belong to a single congregation.  They were itinerant preachers who gave their lives to hear the Word of God and share it with their brothers in the faith. The teachers belonged to an individual local church and their job was to instruct those who had accepted the Christian faith.

This list of prophets symbolizes the universal call of the gospel. Barnabus was a Jew from Cyprus, and Lucius was from Cyrene in North Africa. Simeon was also a Jew, but the passage gives a second name: Niger. Niger is a Roman name meaning black, which indicates that he would have moved in Roman circles. Manean was a man with connections to the aristocracy and at court. Paul himself was a Jewish rabbi from Tarsus in Cilicia. This group is an example of the unifying influence of Christianity.  Men from different lands and with different backgrounds had all discovered the secret of serving together. They discovered unity in Christ.

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God calls all believers to proclaim his word around the world. We are all called to share the good news of salvation. There is much to tell. Nevertheless, our prejudice towards a culture different than our own, along with customs, traditions, legalism and vain excuses, creates a problem.  Anything that inhibits the call of the Lord serves as a barrier to us obeying His command to “go.”

The truth is that we are believers, and in response to a heavenly call, we must share the marvelous love of God so that others can know him. These men accepted the call of the Lord. They were from different cultures, but they joined together in a single team to accomplish a single goal: to preach the message to those who were dead in their sins and needed to be saved.

Now is the time to break down every barrier and preach the good news!

*Luz Jimenez has served for five years as a volunteer missionary.  She is currently serving as the Global Missions and Genesis Coordinator in the Mesoamerica North Central Field, which includes Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Beauty in Diversity

By Freya Galindo Guevara

There is a type of joke that starts more or less like this: “There was a Chinese guy, an American, a Mexican and a Spaniard…“  The point of these jokes is to exaggerate the differences between different nationalities and exploit the impressions and clichés associated with the people from those countries.

In truth, thanks to the phenomenon of globalization, we meet people from distant and different places of the world living even in our own cities and neighborhoods.  A person can guess that someone is a foreigner because of physical appearance or different clothing, or perhaps based on their language or accent.  It is easy to notice the obvious differences between one person and another, primarily because they are from a country different from our own.

In many cases the world emphasizes the differences between races, cultures and nationalities in order to divide, discriminate and ridicule. As always, God shows us that his Kingdom is not like that. He finds beauty in diversity.  Can you imagine if we were all the same? How boring!

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There will come a day when all the diverse groups that have ever existed on earth—all the nationalities, races, languages and people groups—will be together doing one thing.  “…standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9-10)

While we wait for that day, we must learn to appreciate the diversity that God has created, because that has been his plan since the beginning. We recognize that we are different, but that does not separate us. On the contrary, that unites us when we seek to worship the same God.

*Freya Galindo serves as a missionary with the Church of the Nazarene and is Global Missions Coordinator in the Central Field: Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.