Still on Mission

I got the text at 11pm three weeks ago.  A fellow missionary had sent me an image printed with the words, “Notice: By instructions from the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, all missionary activity around the world has been canceled.”

I sat up in bed.  I knew this was false.  As the COVID-19 virus began to affect every nation, we had been receiving updates directly from the Director of Global Missions and from the General Superintendents telling us that we should postpone large events or gatherings and stop traveling from country to country for the next few months.  However, they always encouraged us to keep going, keep inspiring, keep seeking creative ways to fulfill the Great Commission.  Yes!  That’s great leadership, and that’s how we feel, too!  My family is even more passionate in this time that God is still on the move, and that we must accompany him – even if it looks different right now.

But the image looked so official.  It had the Nazarene Missions International and the Church of the Nazarene official logos on it.  Where did my fellow missionary get it from? Somebody else who got it from somebody else who got it from…you get the idea.  I sent it to our Regional NMI Coordinator.  We agreed that this was “fake news” for sure, although it became important even at that late hour to debunk such a dangerous misconception.  By the next day, and with the help of other authorities in the region and the denomination, we had effectively squashed any such rumors.  The Church of the Nazarene will most definitely be engaging in missionary endeavors during this time of “staying at home”, and we will ALWAYS do so!  It’s part of our DNA!

Even before that image came across my phone, I had met with our missionaries on the field ministering with Genesis.  I encouraged them but also gave them several ways that they can take advantage of and even advance in their ministries in this weird, quarantined time (In a few days, I will publish those suggestions, as many of you have wondered what they were).  But one thing that we decided to do in the meantime is send out a message to all those who have prayed for, given to, or supported Genesis in any way.  Gary Faucett (together with his wife, Naomi, serving as Member Care Facilitators for the ministry) deserves all the credit for what you’ll see below.  Share it with someone today!  Making this video has encouraged us, and we hope it inspires you as well!

Encuentro Guatemala 2020

 

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ENCUENTRO GUATEMALA 2020

“Serve and experience transformation”

  1. General Description: We seek to offer a two-week missions opportunity in the summer of 2020, where youth from the United States, Canada, and the Mesoamerica Region will minister together, specifically from June 20th to July 4th.

 

  1. Objectives:

General Objective

Expose youth with a missions call to a cross-cultural experience.

Specific Objectives

  1. Provide youth from the Mesoamerica Region a missions opportunity so that they may confirm their call in a cross-cultural missions environment.
  2. Guide participants in responding to God’s call on their lives and allow them to become familiar with several different missions opportunities available in our denomination.
  3. Engage in evangelism using a variety of creative methods.
  4. Minister holistically to the communities of the Central District of Guatemala during the Encuentro event.
  5. Promote volunteer missions trips in our districts and local churches, encouraging the financial support and sending of our own missionaries.

 

  1. Justification: Encuentro Missions provides missions opportunities for any young person with a call. During the past 50 years, EM has facilitated trips to the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Peru, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. More than 250,000 students have participated, which has resulted in more than 2 million children and adults hearing the gospel message through Encuentro events. This year (2020), Encuentro visits Guatemala again, partnering with local Churches of the Nazarene in order to aide in Vacation Bible Schools, church planting, medical clinics, and small-scale construction events, all in the name of impacting the communities where the churches are located. The North Central Field of the Mesoamerica Region has the privilege of hosting Encuentro in Guatemala. We have come alongside the vision of Encuentro Missions and together will show the love and compassion of Jesus, sharing his message to the needy and lost, and provide a cross-cultural missions opportunity for all those youth from our region who testify to a call to ministry.

 

  1. Candidate Selection

Promotion:

Each GM Coordinator in the 5 fields of the region will be in charge of disseminating this information.  The idea is to recruit the highest number of youth possible.

Candidate Requirements

  • Be a member of the Church of the Nazarene
  • Testify to a call to ministry and/or a desire to serve cross-culturally
  • Have participated in a Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO)
  • Have participated in a missions experience of at least 3 days previously
  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Be a leader in the local church or district
  • Possess an intermediate knowledge of the English language
  • Obtain a letter of recommendation from their pastor

Official Registration

After the candidate has received approval from their pastor, he/she should contact their Field Global Missions Coordinator in order to fill out the Exploring Missions Form online.  Registrations will be accepted through May 2020.

 

  1. Financial Timeline

 

Description

7 Days

14 Days

Food

45

$ 90

Transportation on site

35

$ 70

Housing

70

$ 140

Tourism

30

$ 60

     

Total

$180

$360

 

If you would like to download the complete document with Encuentro information, please click on this link

From the City on to Bigger Things

From the City on to Bigger Things?

By: Scott Armstrong

We are nearing the end of our annual 40-day emphasis on praying for the cities of our region. Have you been a part? Thanks for praying and for mobilizing others to do so too! Did you miss out? No problem: although we suggest congregations and individuals start the year by praying in a focused way for the city, you can do it any time. Our document of the requests isn’t dated, and they can be used all year long.  Just visit our website or head over to our Facebook page for the daily images we have produced.

Every February 9, when we get to the end of the 40 days, I get a little worried.  Will churches forget about our cities the other 325 days of the year? Is urban mission a program that gets focused on for a while and then we move on to other things?

I hope not.

I honestly pray not.

For many years as a missionary I lived and ministered with a passion for the entire world to be saved. I still have that same longing, by the way.  But even up until ten years ago, I did not much think about why cities are important theologically, biblically, and strategically.  It wasn’t until I moved to Panama City, Panama in 2011 and I lived on the 19th floor of a high-rise apartment that I started to understand.  As I looked out each night from the balcony on the thousands of lights and buildings and families that they represented, God began to change my heart.  How many of these people in this enormous city did not know Christ as Lord and Savior?

Around that time our region did some research and found out that the majority of the population of our countries in the Caribbean and Mexico and Central America lived in big cities (think 100,000 or more).  But only 29% of our Nazarenes lived in those same places! We had some work to do.

Now we as a family have dedicated the last ten years to learning about city ministry and immersing ourselves in urban mission.  It’s what we talk about every day.  It’s in our blood.  We have actually started to understand more about God as we have comprehended his redemptive plan for the city.  As Pastor Tim Keller, founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York as well as City to City ministries, says, “It’s true that we must bring the gospel to the city.  But we should also recognize how much the city brings the gospel to us.”

Are you there yet? Or is urban ministry just a 40-Day emphasis for you and your church?

In the days following our 40 Days of Prayer, my prayer for you is that you’d get up and get into the city, and that maybe, just maybe, the city would start to get into you.

 

Five Stops, Hundreds of Changed Lives

SAM_0208Five Stops, Hundreds of Changed Lives

Lake Zone Missions Trip – Mexico South District

For 23 days, from November 23 to December 15, 2019, three young people: Victoria Trujillo, Lizeth Morales, and Abner Gutiérrez, traveled to different places on the Lake Zone (Venustiano Carranza, Comitán and La Trinitaria) of the South District of Mexico.  Impassioned to share the love of Jesus, they engaged in door-to-door and personal evangelism together with members from the local churches of that zone.

Our first stop was Soyatitán in Venustiano Carranza, where we already have a Church of the Nazarene.  For four days the three volunteer missionaries evangelized, organized a circus with clowns, and participated in weekly church services.Alejandra y Victoria

At the second stop, Comitán de Domínguez, we evangelized in the neighborhoods surrounding the local church, and Pastor David Cabrera helped us immensely by participating in every activity during the five days we spent there.

When we arrived in La Trinitaria, where we had been invited to spend four days evangelizing, our third stop proved to be a great teaching tool.  Up until then, we had not had any presence of a church in this county seat. Besides, this municipality is known for its huge Roman Catholic influence, which was challenging since the typical reaction of the people there was to reject the gospel. We dedicated seven hours every day to evangelism, and as a result we saw three people accept Christ as their Savior.

Our fourth stop led us to Unión Juárez in La Trinitaria. During the course of three days we visited a large number of families, always evangelizing. We saw few measurable results there due to the community dynamic which did not allow us to enter homes if only women were present.  Thus, we held the clown circus in the church building, and 50 children ended up attending.  Afterwards Pastor Carlos Cancino took us to the town of Jalal, located near the summit of a mountain.  In cold temperatures of 48º Fahrenheit, we put on the clown circus again where 17 children received Christ in their hearts.El equipo completo

Our final stop was Lázaro Cárdenas in La Trinitaria. The work there was intense: we evangelized every morning, and the local church prepared evangelistic campaigns in the open air every afternoon for four days straight.  These activities were accompanied by groups of Nazarene brothers and sisters willing to walk for hours as the sun beat down, all in order to reach more people with the love of Christ.

I give thanks to God for every opportunity to serve him, and also for the life of my wife, Ana Rosales, and her dedication to the ministry that we are now able to invest in together.

The total number of people that accepted Christ as their Savior was:

  • Children (through the clown circus and personal evangelism) 238
  • Younger teens 3
  • Older youth 4
  • Adults 27

Freivy Heberto López Juárez

Director of Missional Zones and Missional Advance

Mexico South District

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Update From Bahamas After Hurricane “Dorian”

As our readers will know, Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas this week. Early this morning I received the following report from one of our Nazarene pastors who also serves as a member of our Mesoamerica Regional Advisory Committee:

Hello Scott,

Greetings in Jesus. I live in Nassau, which did not get the brunt of the hurricane, some rain, winds and flooding with minor damage. This was nothing compared to what the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama experienced: heavy forced winds, rain, storm surges, major flooding and major damage to many homes. Many persons in Abaco and Grand Bahama lost everything, some even lost their lives.  Additionally, there are so many who still need to be rescued, and so many people are not accounted for. Please pray that God will alert the rescuers to the cries of those still needing to be rescued, since many of them have no way of contact at this point. The authorities have reported that some 70,000 persons have been affected by the hurricane and over 60% of the island of Abaco is destroyed.  Attached is a flyer we have created to assist with securing hurricane relief for the victims. We are mobilizing the best we can here in Nassau to secure these items, while we wait on the ‘go ahead’ from authorities to travel to the island to distribute relief.

We are trusting God to save and protect these hurricane victims, and we are doing our best here to assist them with the basic necessities. I will update you as I receive further reports.

We thank you for your prayers and anything that you can do to assist. God bless.

For His Glory,

Antoine St. Louis

I have included the flyer mentioned by Dr. St. Louis above, and please consider also donating through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries at the following link:

https://give.nazarene.org/donate/f/134047.

Our Regional Director, Dr. Luis Carlos Saenz, has notified us that a group from the region will be traveling to Bahamas tomorrow.  They will provide further information and updates as they are able.

UHAB Hurricane Relief Flyer - Made with PosterMyWall.jpg

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.

Querétaro 3

 

Youth in Mission – Mexico 2019

JEM Grupo

Youth in Mission – Mexico 2019

Lohuther René Gutiérrez Méndez

At last the day we had prayed for arrived, and with much excitement we waited in the Mexico City airport for the Youth in Mission (YIM) volunteer missionaries. Mario Josué López Alvarado and Pablo Isaí Parra Jiménez, both from different parts of Mexico, arrived first, followed by Christopher Barreto Maldonado and Gian Carlos Rodríguez Quiñones all the way from Puerto Rico.

We began our summer as a group with focused devotional times, and we participated as leaders and workshop presenters during the Cross-Cultural Orientation in Texcoco.  Our role was mostly to guide those interested in missions in the dynamics and teach concepts of culture and missions.  Above all, the four missionaries shared their testimonies with participants and encouraged them to listen to God’s call on their lives.

COMWe dedicated a big part of our summer to assisting the four missionaries that are planting churches in Queretaro through the Genesis initiative.  It was a powerful time.  In our next entry I will share more about that specific experience.

After being in Queretaro, we traveled to Mezcala, Jalisco, where we shared the Word of God and our testimonies with a Catholic group. Although we didn’t know how they would receive us, it was interesting to see that they were happy to have us there. They loaned us their Catholic Bibles so that we could read the passage they had read, and they asked us to share what we thought.  Upon finishing, we closed by leading circles of prayer. Before we left, we announced that we would be visiting houses in the area to pray for families and read the Bible.  Immediately three families present signed up and enthusiastically received us later that week as we blessed their homes and shared the Word with them.  God was opening doors.Viajando JEM

We had the privilege to teach evangelism strategies and techniques with the local Nazarene church in Mezcala, and we shared with them how the Holy Spirit could use their testimonies to help a friend or co-worker to draw closer to Christ.

We walked nearly all of the streets of Mezcala in order to hand out invitations for the Vacation Bible School: the theme this year was “Summer Harvest Camp.”  We also took time to pray in the streets and parks, and we spoke with many people about the importance of children being brought up with Biblical values and principles as their foundation.

That Sunday we were invited to give our testimony of what God had done that week in order to motivate the Nazarene congregation to participate in missions.

We left Mezcala and traveled to JUNAMEX, which is Mexico’s national youth congress.  We served there as part of the staff and led several activities.  Our primary goal that week was to get to know the highest number of youth possible and share with them about God’s calling on our lives and what He had allowed us to experience.  Every meal we shared with someone different, and during the break times as well.  We were also personally refreshed by the times of corporate worship with 1,000 teens, and we responded to God’s call at the altar along with many of them.Orando JEM

Saying goodbye was very difficult; we had shared everything together for six weeks, and we had become a family! But the moment had arrived, and we thanked God for his protection, his strength, and his love for us.  We praised him in gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of such a special group of youth who proved courageous and passionate for Christ in every moment.

All glory and honor be to Him forever.  Amen.

Lohuther René Gutiérrez Méndez

Youth in Mission Coordinator, Mexico 2019

Orando