Six Missionaries Trained to Bring a Genesis to Two Cities

By: Alejandra García

On September 29, 2019 the new missionaries assigned to Genesis arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for training before going to the field. After six weeks of previous online training, these four weeks would be the final step to prepare for their task: planting new churches in Monterrey, Mexico and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.75271515_2430500563712655_1334343848062615552_n.jpg

Oscar Isem Quej (from Guatemala), Elba Duson (from Dominican Republic), Teresa De cuesta García (from Mexico), Diana González (from El Salvador), and Edgar Daniel Santiago and Andrea López (both from Mexico) brought with them an eagerness to bring the good news of salvation to those in need, the desire to see lives transformed through Christ and to be used for his glory, and most of all, the conviction to obey and always say “yes” to the Lord.

Once they finished their classes on Urban Mission, Church Planting, Missionary Anthropology, Personal Care, Teamwork, and much more, they departed on October 25 for Monterrey and Quetzaltenango with many useful tools and a new knowledge of how to serve in their cross-cultural ministries. They learned a great deal and expressed an unwavering commitment to continue serving the Lord. Let’s hear some of their testimonies:

Elba: “During this time of training and living with my fellow missionaries in Genesis, the Lord confirmed even more strongly the special call that he had placed in my heart about 4 years ago. Each of the topics discussed were of great importance to us as we carry out the work ahead. As we reached the last day of training, I was more convinced than ever of what God wants to do through our obedience in the city.”

Oscar: “I thank God for the time of training in the Dominican Republic because it was a great blessing and help. I thank Him for all the facilitators who taught us the courses, the moments of evangelism and the prayers of Scott and Emily Armstrong, and the help and care of Gary and Naomi Faucett and Alejandra García. I feel more prepared after seeing how God is leading me and giving me wisdom for my missionary work. It is a joy to be part of this mission.”

Diana: “The training time was a great blessing and full of challenges. Above all, God spoke to my heart about the love and interest he has for the city. Sometimes, when we think of the city, we focus on material abundance, busy lives, self-centeredness, or people living their lives as they want, but now I thank God for the opportunity to serve in the city by sharing the hope Jesus gives us.”

Teresa: Without a doubt it has been a time of great blessing, full of laughter, learning, tears, but above all challenges. During this month God has touched my heart and has made me see that Genesis begins with me. He has completely demolished some barriers in my life and has now begun to build a new city, a new life, as I am comforted with the vision of preaching the message of salvation.  I am sure that God is already working in the hearts of those I will meet and that these two years will be of blessing to Xela (Quetzaltenango).”

Daniel and Andrea: “From the moment we arrived in the D.R., everything felt different. We began to miss several things from southern Mexico, and God showed us in a surprising way what He wanted for our lives in each of the topics discussed. During several activities in the city, we could see the difference in urban classes, and we were surprised to see the large number of houses and people living in the apartment buildings. Seeing the lack of water and basic sanitation services also impacted us, since the garbage trucks do not pass through the places we were walking. During this month of training, we touched lives, and we are positive that the seed was sown in their hearts and that God will continue to work in them.”

76762622_2398626683713206_4071879294417108992_n.jpgWe thank God for the life of each of these missionaries. Pray for their ministries in the next two years. And may God bring a genesis to Monterrey and Quetzaltenango!

 

Youth in Mission and Genesis Collaborate to Impact Queretaro

Youth in Mission and Genesis Collaborate to Impact Queretaro

Lohuther René Gutiérrez Méndez

Two days ago, I wrote about the incredible things God did this summer through Youth in Mission in Mexico. One thing I omitted (on purpose, in order to share it here) is the following.

After several days of training and house-to-house evangelism, we came alongside the missionaries who are serving with the Genesis initiative in Queretaro.  That state is known for its lack of openness to the gospel, and it forms part of an area that has been named the Circle of Silence.Querétaro 2

The four missionaries there are doing a great job of reaching many people through classes or lessons on literacy, computer programming, football, and even psychological consultations.  It was a privilege for us to listen to them and see the deep desire they possess to be part of God’s mission.

The Lord allowed us to work with many children and adults, giving educational talks to the parents, which was a great blessing.  In the afternoons we presented dramas and free-style rap concerts that proved attractive to the kids and teens.  Our purpose was to make relationships and share the gospel with them, and we were able to do so by emphasizing positive lyrics and topics in our music.

What a wonderful time we had in Queretaro: 25 days in all.  We experienced so many beautiful things and witnessed the presence of God at work in the lives of the people in the community as they were being transformed.

The Lord gave us the opportunity to celebrate the first-ever congregational service in that Genesis site, which also included a marvelous time of prayer for healing.  The people present opened their hearts and, with tears in their eyes, were able to give their burdens to the Lord and receive the peace that only he can give.

Querétaro 1We were able to assist an elderly woman in moving from one house to another, and that opened doors for us to lead her to Christ.  After she was baptized a few days later, we all gave glory to God because his Holy Spirit always goes before us, convincing of sin within and guiding us into the light of his salvation.

During our final days on site, we held an activity in a large park.  We presented a sketch and shared the Word of God with all who were present.  Afterwards we formed groups of two or three and prayed prayers of blessing for all who had gathered.  The missionaries told us that this was the first service they had seen where all of their contacts came together; without a doubt, it impacted all of us.

When Sunday arrived, we were anticipating what would take place.  This morning was important: all the months of the missionaries’ hard work was about to bear fruit. Ten Christians were baptized that day and we rejoiced with them, knowing that there had been parties all over heaven because of their decisions!

We knew that God was backing us up at every step.  Our time in Queretaro was full of culture shock and moments when, as a group, we opened up and shared our concerns and conflicts.  God helped us to become united as a team, and our ministry began to benefit from it.  Out of the entire summer of Youth in Mission, our time in Queretaro was what impacted us the most.

*In our next entries we will share some testimonies that came directly from the young men who served as Youth in Mission missionaries this summer.

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The Story of Christina Begins

Recently, we have been receiving reports from our missionaries who have been planting churches through the Genesis initiative. They have been serving for more than a year in each of their assigned places and they are starting to see a great harvest. Here, we want to share one of the team’s testimonies in Queretaro, Mexico, written by Jhoselyn Barrios.

Christina is a 22-year-old young woman who has four siblings. She and her siblings live with their parents in Los Olvera. They moved to this place last year; previously they had lived in another municipality called Cadereyta. As a family, they have a plant nursery, which is their source of economic income.

We met Christina at the Community’s Center of Human Development, where we are serving as volunteers teaching computer classes and basic literacy. Some time ago, we enrolled in a Zumba class with the purpose of better getting to know the women of the community. Maybe some people will read this and say: That’s crazy! Zumba classes? But the truth is that it is a good place to meet people, to laugh, to empathize with others and to initiate conversations.

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After two days of getting to know her, Christina got in touch with us. We let her know that we were having a special activity for Women’s Day and also a beauty workshop. That’s how Christina began to get involved in our activities.

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After getting to know her more, we were able to schedule a visit to her home. Praise the Lord: that day all her family accepted Christ in their hearts!

A few weeks ago, Christina celebrated her birthday, and everyone was invited to eat at her home. We brought a birthday cake and a present for her. We spent time with her family and we felt at home when we visited them. Now they are one of the families that are receiving discipleship in order to be baptized. God is doing a marvelous thing in Queretaro!

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Isn’t it exciting to see what God is doing in our cities?! Please pray for Christina and her family. Also, pray for our two teams of missionaries working in Panama City and Queretaro.

 

The Dual Dangers of Legalism and “Traditionalism”

Our Mesoamerica Genesis office is working diligently on assisting churches that exist in large urban areas to become healthy and missional.  One of the first steps in doing so is to take a church health survey in order to discover strengths and weaknesses.  It’s a brave task to undergo actually.  No one wants to find out they are sick, or even worse, dying.

One of the biggest reasons we have found for lack of health in congregations is a combination of legalism and worship of tradition.  Having order and obeying the laws of God are quite important to be sure.  But if we allow our adherence to rule-following to get in the way of mission and loving the world around us, we’ve missed the mark. Tradition is a wonderful thing, and celebrating our rich heritage is a must as Christians.  But if we think the methods from decades ago are holy in and of themselves, we are in dangerous territory.

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Jean David Larochelle’s book in Spanish, A Natural Development of Faith, has much to say about legalism and “traditionalism,” as he calls it:

“The message of the gospel is not negotiable. We do not doubt it. Every principle is eternal.  Every principle is immutable.  Every principle is spiritual and every principle is divine.  But strategies are not principles or doctrines. Neither are they eternal.  I say again, one of the greatest sins of the church is to try to win a postmodern generation with primitive strategies.”

The Good News is not good if it is not understandable. When we do not update our methods for different generations or cultures, we can be almost certain they will not understand them, let alone respond positively.  Grace is diluted by the importance we place on rules and tradition.

“Doctrinally, legalism and traditionalism can become positions essentially opposed to grace . . . God has given freedom to his church, but many continue tying it to legalism and traditionalism.”

In reference to the Pharisees in John 9 who questioned the blind man who received his sight, Larochelle continues, “It is sad to note that, for them, the day of rest had been given priority over the person. Things, interests and laws were a priority over the human person.  Nevertheless, Jesus also made them see that he was opposed to the foolish traditions and legalism they had invented in respect to the day of rest . . . They did not rejoice with the man. They saw humanity through eyes of judgment.”

In closing, the author invites us to evaluate ourselves. “Consider if you have legalistic, rigid attitudes or thoughts towards others or towards yourself.  In the story we are analyzing, which role would you like to take – that of the Pharisees or of Jesus? Which role have you played? Which would you like to play from now on?

These are essential questions for the whole church and for each Christian who desires to reflect the love of Christ in their society.

In the Cities

Greetings from Kansas City, Missouri, USA.  I am attending a Regional Leadership Conference and have been invited to be a part of a panel focused on “Mission to the Cities.” It is such an honor to speak about this topic along with many urban mission leaders and General Superintendents as part of the panel.

Each one of us will be giving a short introduction to our ministry context, and I wanted to share with you what I will be saying at the opening of the panel:

Good morning! ¡Buenos días!

I’m a Nazarene missionary in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  My family and I have lived in five different countries in the last 15 years, and now we are coordinating an initiative called Genesis. Genesis seeks to bring a new beginning to the big cities of the Mesoamerica Region, which is ironic, because just 8 years ago, I hardly cared about urban mission.

We began our missionary career by living in Guatemala City, Guatemala and San José, Costa Rica: two huge cities with lots and lots of need.  And, of course, as a missionary, I was passionate about winning the world for Christ!  But during that time if you were to have asked me why cities are important to God, I would have stammered and faltered.  Aren’t all places important to God? What’s the big deal about cities?

It wasn’t until 2011 when my family and I moved to Panama City, Panama, that I started to get it.  You see, we went from living in a house to living on the 19th floor of a high-rise. The view was amazing.  Because of a healthy fear of heights, I did not go out on our balcony often, but one night I did.  I thought about all those lights representing one person, or even one family. And in that moment – I don’t know where it came from, but – for the first time I stretched out my arms and I whispered the prayer that now I have prayed a thousand times: Lord, give us the city!

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About that time, our region was researching where we, as a Nazarene Church, were strongest and where we were weakest, geographically-speaking. We found out that 79% of our region lives in an urban context, but only 29% of our Nazarenes are there! In other words, in the most populated places, we have the fewest Nazarenes. We realized that ministry in our region had to be ministry to the urban core.  We have spent the last eight years training urban missionaries and equipping our existing churches to creatively reach their cities.  Maybe later we will explore how urban ministry needs to look different compared to rural and suburban ministry.

Some of you are wondering: “But that’s your region.  What does that have to do with us?” Well, the statistics in the USA and Canada are a bit different.  This region is actually the most urban of any in the world.  Nearly 9 out of every 10 people in these two countries lives in a city of 100,000 or more!

As a Church of the Nazarene in the USA/Canada, we are not quite as rural and suburban as the Mesoamerica Region.  Still, did you know that Nazarene membership is .17% of the total population in our big cities?  In other words, not even 1 of every 500 urban dwellers in Canada and the USA is a Nazarene.

That may be more statistics than you were bargaining for.  So let’s simplify it.

We have a lot of work to do.

And that work must be in the cities.

As author and pastor in New York, Tim Keller, says, “We don’t need churches only in cities. We need them everywhere there are people.  Therefore, we need them especially in cities.”

An Open Letter to the Churches of Mesoamerica

For the past five weeks we have been traveling through our 40 Days of Prayer for the Cities of Mesoamerica.  We have been so encouraged by the responses of many leaders and local churches as they mobilize their people in prayer!  This campaign has become an annual emphasis, and this year especially we are starting to see the vision take hold.  Thanks to all who have daily interceded for the urban settings in our region – it is truly making a difference!

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There are some exciting things happening in the months ahead.  First, the prayer does not need to stop! Please stay tuned to our updates and prayer requests throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our mobile app (available for Android or iOS) will also start to become more and more useful as our missionaries on the ground provide stories as well as personal prayer requests and praises.  And don’t forget that all around the region we have dedicated Tuesday mornings as a time to pray and fast for a genesis to occur in the cities of Mesoamerica.

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Sugey Barrón

Second, did you know that we are developing many new materials and tools to equip the existing churches that are in urban areas? Sugey Barrón, a former Genesis missionary sent from Mexico to Santiago, Dominican Republic, has decided to continue serving as a missionary in the D.R., now focusing on training the thousands of Nazarenes that live in our cities to be missional.  I am so excited about what she is coming up with (you’ll hear more in the months ahead)!

Third, next month we will be training and sending out a new crop of Genesis missionaries who will impact Monterrey, México and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. These are some really great young people.  Assuredly you will read about them in the coming weeks, but for now I can say that it is a high honor to witness how God keeps calling people to cross-cultural ministry, and how they are still responding in passionate obedience to his voice!

Podcast_English_FinalAll that, and I have not even mentioned the ongoing articles we provide regularly on our website, the “Worthless Servants” podcast episodes we are pumping out biweekly, and much more.  There is a lot going on! The point is: we need you to continue praying for all this. Don’t let the end of a 40-day campaign cause the need for effective urban churches to be “out of sight, out of mind.” In fact, add to that prayer a whole lot of action.  Get involved in some way and help others do the same!

Thanks for your continued collaboration.  God is using you – and thousands of others – to make a difference. What a privilege to be a part of this adventure with you.

Scott Armstrong
Coordinator, Mesoamerica Global Missions and GENESIS
February 8, 2019

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!