“Lord, I am Here to Serve you With What you Have Given me”

Guatemala and Costa Rica hosted Encuentro June 30 – July 14. It impacted the lives of hundreds of people, from the communities where the teams ministered to the volunteers. Linda Alguera, 26, a doctor from Nicaragua, shared her experience in Guatemala.

“ …My friend and I spoke with our pastor and received help from the church. Even though the situation in our country threatened the possibility of us going, we remained positive…We arrived to the seminary excited. Four of us traveled together, and so began the adventure of the unknown. I only knew that I was going to serve, but I did not know how. The next day I found brother Milton and he said, ‘Hey doctor, you did not tell me you were coming. You would help us with a medical clinic, right?’ I excitedly agreed. I had brought my tools with me in order to do just that. That same day all the participants met for a welcome time and an explanation of what we were going to do. They told us that we should do everything possible to win one person for the Lord, and I said, ‘Wow. How do I that?’ In my heart I said, ‘Lord, I am here to serve you with what you have given me.’

The next day we met with the medical team. We had trouble with the medicine and with the dental equipment, but we served with what we had because, even more than human medicine, we wanted to bring spiritual medicine. We began the medical clinic the first week and every day we attended approximately 60-80 people, including adults and children. One day we attended 110 people and I remember the faces of the whole team with expressions of satisfaction and happiness for having seen all those people.

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We not only attended to the patients, but we also prayed for them and shared the plan of salvation with them. God gave me the chance to talk to a person who did not need human medicine, but only wanted someone who would listen. Every word of thanks we heard was as if it came from God himself. Many accepted God in the medical clinics.

I thought that I would only be there a week, but God allowed me to serve for 2 weeks. The Lord had great things prepared for me.

The second week I had the best experience I have ever had. I had problems at home and in a devotional I cried and cried. I had an internal battle all day because I had to go to a church and serve. At night I realized that even more than the problem it was God speaking into my life through this experience. That night I went to my room and prayed. I told the Lord that if He told me what He wanted, I would do it. In the last prayer when we were saying goodbye, I asked God to confirm his call to missions, and in that prayer the person who was leading said, ‘Your call is confirmed.’ That has been my best experience. The greatest blessing was to serve God with the gifts that He has given me.”

This testimony was originally published at: mesoamericaregion.org

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

Coffee and Wine

“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Cor. 8:13)

When my father was pastoring several years ago, there was a woman who wanted to become a member in the church.  However, she disagreed with the fact that our denomination encouraged abstinence from alcohol.  “Why can’t I have a little sip of wine every now and then? Lots of Christians drink coffee, and that has caffeine in it.  What’s the difference?”

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My father thoughtfully replied.  “Alcohol has caused so much more societal damage than caffeine.  But so you know how important I believe this to be, I will never knowingly drink anything with caffeine again, if you will decide to never drink alcohol again.”

Although the woman has not lived up to her end of the bargain, my dad has only drunk decaffeinated coffee since that conversation.

It’s been 13 years.

Do you care so much about your testimony that you would be willing to give up something you love if it would help someone else in their Christian walk?

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

Stumbling Block

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9)

As a new youth pastor, I invited one of the sophomores in the youth group to grab some ice cream after school.  As he climbed into my car and I turned the key, the radio blasted out the words of a popular rock song.  A song everyone knew.  A song I liked.  But not a song with a…ahem…biblical message.

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Can Christians only listen to hymns all day long? Nah.  Was it a sin to listen to a secular song on the radio? Probably not.

But the way he looked at me I knew it could cause him to justify his own questionable music selections.  His Christian walk was affected even if my eternity wasn’t.

“Sorry,” I said, turning off the radio.  “Neither of us should be listening to that.  It won’t happen again.”

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

Loving, Knowing, and Being Known

“The man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Cor. 8:3)

On my wedding day, I was head-over-heels enamored with my wife. I thought I could never be more in love.

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However, eighteen years later the love is even deeper.  We’ve shared many tears and countless belly-splitting times of laughter.  Just one look can speak more than a 1,000-word soliloquy.  We still surprise ourselves from time to time, but more often, we are able to express what the other is thinking or feeling better than they can.

This type of love comes out of knowing each other, faults and failures included. Our whispered doubts and shouted struggles have found safety in the trust built between us.

You see, loving is vitally connected to knowing.  The more I know Emily, the more I adore her.  But it is also true that the more I am known by her, the more my love grows.

What is more powerful: to know God or to be known by God? Both are astonishingly beautiful!  And both result in loving Him more and more each day.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

The More You Know

“The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Cor. 8:2)

In college, I was given a topic for a research paper.  I spent a good part of the semester reading, investigating, checking sources, and taking notes.  Every article cited another 20 journals and papers.  When I finally sat down to write the paper, I had so much new knowledge, but I was also convinced of something else: I was nowhere near understanding this subject completely!

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Has that happened to you? Have you ever had a moment where you read or researched a topic extensively, only to find that all the knowledge you had newly acquired was only .01% of the vast information on that subject?

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

In this world of bravado and braggadocio, both Aristotle and Paul were onto something.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

The Famous Know-it-All

“We know that we all possess knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1)

Have you ever met a know-it-all? He (or she) justifiably has a lot of information in his brain, and he wants to let the world know every bit of it.  You’ll know when you’ve met one if they cut off your story or exciting piece of news with a “Well, of course, but did you also hear that…”

There’s no better way to bring a conversation down than with a know-it-all.

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Through social media today we all seem to want the world to know our thoughts and opinions.  We work hard to graduate and get a diploma that verifies that we possess the expertise necessary in a certain area.  Knowledge is vital, and we should strive for more knowledge every day.  However, if all that knowledge is used to bring attention to ourselves or –even worse– to disrespect someone, we have missed the boat.  Knowledge very often puffs us up.  But love? Love builds both you and others up.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.