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!

Missionary Trip to Linden Zone

A sixteen-person team from the Guyana Demerara/Essequibo District, led by NMI President Augustus Andres and District Superintendent Rev. Dr. R. Alphonso Porter, traveled to the Linden Zone, Guyana, for a mission trip from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17. They sought to serve both the physical and spiritual needs in the area.

They had the opportunity to minister in all four churches on the Linden Zone at their Sunday morning service. They also attended evening services at Wismar, Lower Omai and Christianburg Churches of the Nazarene. “The services were well attended and God moved mightily,” observed Andrews. Many recommitted or gave their lives to Christ. The team was amazed to see the people traveling by boat, the only means of transportation, to attend the serve at the Lower Omai Church of the Nazarene. The team also had a chance to hold early-morning prayer meetings at three of the four churches. “(The prayer services) were very refreshing and God’s hand was at work in extraordinary ways,” wrote Andrews.

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Members of the team assisted in conducting Vacation Bible School at the Wismar and Christianburg Churches of the Nazarene. The children had a grand time “Discovering the Mystery of God’s Plan.” An average of 60 children attended the event at the Wismar Church of the Nazarene, and 14 children gave their lives to God. The VBS at the Christianburg Church of the Nazarene had an average attendance of 45 children daily. Four children gave their lives to Christ. In the evening service, 37 people recommitted their lives to God and 18 accepted Christ as their Savior.

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The team made house-to-house visits in Christianburg during which they prayed for people and invited them to the services. They also aided in repairing the bridge for one person they visited. The District Women’s Ministry President, Allison Porter, along with other members of the team attended the McKenzie Church of the Nazarene Women’s Ministry session on Tuesday evening. In addition, on Wednesday evening, another group from the team shared information a Mission’s Conference in Barbados.

The district focused on physical needs as well as spiritual ones, and so they distributed food baskets to 44 homes, painted the fence at the Wismar Church of the Nazarene, and poured the floor of a shed at the Christianburg Church of the Nazarene.

“The team was welcomed and their hard work well-appreciated by the churches on the Linden Zone. They are truly grateful to God for moving in miraculous ways as they availed themselves to be used by Him,” concluded Andrews.

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

Making Progress in the Panama Genesis Site

Forty-eight Panamanians and 21 people from the Kansas District, USA, joined July 27-29 for an urban Maximum Mission in Panama City. The purpose was to impact the sites where Genesis missionaries are serving.

On the first day they served in the Carrasquilla community, which is the area of responsibility for Genesis missionaries Keila Molina and Joselyn Garcia. They worked in the community school painting, cleaning, cutting grass, doing classroom maintenance and sharing an anti-bullying training. The volunteers also delivered bags of food to needy families in the same community. Others held an “Evangelistic Beauty Salon” where, in addition to offering their services, they shared the message of the gospel. Still others held a Vacation Bible School. They closed with a Jesus Film presentation where 17 people accepted Christ as their Lord.

On the second day, they focused on the Los Libertadores community, which is the area of responsibility for Genesis missionaries Marleidy Sanchez and Ingrid Jochola. In this community there are 8 high rises, each with 15 floors. Along with 35 volunteers from the Interamerican University of Panama, they cleaned and evangelized on each floor of all 8 buildings and the nearby areas. They offered their services in the “Evangelistic Beauty Salon” and played soccer with the youth in the community. A national television channel came to hold interviews about what was happening. Later, they held a Bible School with the children and closed with a Jesus Film presentation in which 15 people accepted Jesus as their Savior.

On the third day, the group met in the Rio Abajo Church of the Nazarene to praise the Lord and hear a message from Pastor Jim Bond, who serves as the Kansas District Superintendent. There was a special moment in which Panama Central District Superintendent Carlos de la Cruz presented a recognition to the Slingerland family on behalf of the district for their help during the 7 years in which they lived in Panama. Abby Slingerland received a present from the district NYI.

In the afternoon the volunteers went to the Juan Demosthenes community where they cleaned, evangelized, and held a Bible School. In that community, 28 people accepted Christ as their Savior.

“…We ask for your prayers for these three Genesis sites, which are places that need the Lord, and for our four Genesis missionaries: Keila, Ingrid, Joselyn and Marleidy. Pray that the Lord uses them and gives them great strength every day. We would like to thank all of the volunteers from Panama and Kansas for being instruments of the Lord,” said Joel Bermudez, Panama Central District NYI President.

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

4 Ways to Involve Everyone in Evangelism

By Ed Stetzer

Many people have slipped into the mindset that evangelism is a gift that some believers have and others do not. The reality is that when someone becomes reconciled to God, He sends them out to reconcile others. That’s not a gift—we all have the responsibility to take Christ to others.

Pastoral leadership can go a long way in shifting those mindsets. Pastors can and should equip the church body to understand their role in evangelization. Among other things, a church can do four things to encourage the spirit and practice of evangelism.

  1. Build Relationships

Only a very few hear the gospel or show up at church without first being in relationship. Most people who come to Christ are invited by a person they know.

God calls us to evangelize, including our family, friends, and neighbors. He invites us to invite others. Personal relationships are the best way to reach out.

Your friends trust you when you talk about restaurants, plumbers, and baby sitters. That same trust gives each believer an open door to introduce their friends to Jesus.

  1. Encourage Engagement

Sometimes the world gets the wrong idea that being a Christian means our lives are perfect. They feel disconnected and unworthy. So whenever we can remind our people and those looking in that we are all in need of a Savior, it breaks down walls that keep people from Christ and the Church.

The church and its people must understand that no one gets through a broken world unbroken. So as they go back out throughout the week, they should connect with broken people as broken people who have met the One who restores. They should offer restoration through Christ. That is evangelism.

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  1. Inclusive Events

Some parts of church are more exclusive. The Lord’s Supper, baptism, even some small groups are just for believers. But a church has the freedom, and really a responsibility, to have gatherings where seekers feel welcome—places where they are ready for company.

One of those low-threshold events is an annual Easter egg hunt. You ramp up by involving the whole church. They bring their friends, neighbors, and families.

Do these events where everyone can be involved. Why? Events can show love for our community and increase visibility to invite people to our church. Multiple relationships can form in these open and inclusive events. These relationships can ultimately lead back to Christ.

  1. Teach Well

The Easter egg event mentioned above is an inroad. But the greater thing happens when we actually preach on the resurrection—we want to bridge relationships from something as simple as a children’s event, to something as important as the gospel.

And, we don’t just preach about the resurrection on one Sunday.

Our people understand that after they bring their friends to the church community event, there will be an intense Gospel thrust in the following weeks. We call each other, and the Life Group leaders make calls. Everyone knows that everyone should invite their friends to hear about Jesus.

We teach the gospel well and over and over.

Holistic Approach

It’s a full-court press. We do all of these things in waves at the same time, but we don’t do them all the time. Spring and fall, summer and winter, on mission to share Jesus.

Everyone is on board. Everyone understands that our church leadership will provide opportunities for their friends to hear the Gospel, but their friends are their responsibility.

I don’t know their friends. They do. I can’t invite their friends. They can. And they must. Evangelism is everyone’s responsibility.

We can complain about the lack of evangelistic activity in our churches, but this goes back to leadership. We as leaders create the culture of evangelism. When the church sees we are intentional and serious about creating a pathway, they will be more likely to engage their friends and invite them on the pathway.

What has your church done to make sure everyone participates in evangelism? Why do you think people often drop the ball in the area of evangelism?

*This article was originally published at: Edstetzer.com

Transform: Change, Evolve

From March 9 to 11, 53 youth from Dominican Republic and Haiti joined together to serve in the first Maximum Mission organized in the D.R. East District.  During the weekend, the visiting participants joined two Nazarene churches in the city of Higuey, using their gifts and talents to impact the specific community of Juan Pablo Duarte in 5 areas: Fellowship, Service, Evangelism, Discipleship and Compassion.

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MMHiguey1.pngLeaders of the East district, including Global Mission coordinator Elba Duson and NYI president Ramon Joseph, worked together with dedication and effort to hold this big event. The name of the Maximum Mission was “Transform: Change, Evolve,” which arose from Acts 17:6 and the desire to see an entire nation renewed by the Holy Spirit and transformed by the message of salvation.

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Participants shared devotions together, cleaned the city’s streets, raised awareness of creation care through workshops, and engaged in door-to-door and street evangelism. They also used artistic presentations during an evangelistic campaign, held a Vacation Bible School for children, taught a conference entitled “You are special” for teenagers and a separate workshop for parents, and even donated toys, clothes and shoes to the children and families in the community.

MMHiguey5.pngOne of the participants, Lioni Taveras, said: “My life was changed during this Maximum Mission.  I was able to share with different people who left an impact on my heart: we went out to preach, serve the community, and even cleaned houses…I realized that it’s not only about preaching God’s Word verbally; it’s also about showing compassion. So I have a challenge ahead: listening to God’s voice and being obedient to Him!”

 

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Elba Duson shared: “By the end of the weekend I realized that transformation doesn’t happen spontaneously; it’s a process that starts in our own lives until it gets to the lives of others. I saw God working in each participant, how they confessed their own sin and need for God in the midst of this experience.  Not only the community received the call to transformation, but this had already begun in our own lives.”

 

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Global Mission, East District Dominican Republic

 

Training Workshop Leads to Salvation for Unintentional Participant

Project Paul leaders in Mexico recently organized a training seminar for volunteer missionaries interested in serving at the event. As the workshop started, the organizers assumed that the attendees were all there to participate in the project, but one man arrived for the first time without knowing what the activity was about.

At the end of the session, the teacher invited the attendees to the altar to pray, committing themselves to the Lord and the project. While the people walked to the front, the visitor raised his hand and said to the teacher “Pray for me; I want to give myself to God.” Before praying for the missionaries, the leader guided the visitor in prayer and he gave his life to Jesus Christ.

The next day, the workshop continued and the man was there again. The church members congratulated him for his decision to follow Christ and for returning to join the missionaries.

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After the workshop, the man told organizers he came from another city where he had lived a life of violence, vices, and bad business that led him to endanger his life and abandon his wife and children. The day he found the church, he felt a great need for God but thought he did not deserve forgiveness because he had done many bad things. He said that during the workshop, he heard many times that “God is looking for the sinner,” which convicted him and led him to surrender to Christ.

The pastor invited the man to a discipleship class and the missionaries invited him to share the gospel in the streets. He has not stopped testifying of his new faith to his colleagues, neighbors, and friends. He has also shared his testimony by telephone with his wife, asked her for forgiveness, and hopes to recover his marriage. He continues to be discipled and has recently been baptized. The pastor and the missionaries are very surprised since everything happened in a period of three weeks.

This testimony was originally published at: nazarene.org