What Type of People?

In our previous post, we reported on the 10th Anniversary of 4×4 All-Terrain in Monterrey, Mexico, a missions trip that ended January 1, 2020 and brought significant results.  In the following days we will publish various testimonies from several youth who participated, starting today with Valeria Rodríguez.

My name is Valeria Rodríguez Valdéz and I’m from Monterrey, Mexico.  I’m 14 years old, and it was two years ago that God confirmed my call to missions.

During 4×4, my team and I visited a very needy home and offered to clean it.  We met a young woman (Kelly), 19 years old, who cared for her grandmother (Cristina) that was bedridden: she couldn’t move or even speak.  Evidently, we were a huge support for them – they told us they did not know how to thank us.  What impacted me the most was the moment when we prayed for them.  We could not stop crying as we asked God to heal, protect, and give them strength in the days ahead.  We left there rejoicing, and we did the same thing the next three days.  Seven people ended up accepting Christ in their hearts.

When those three days were finished, we were encouraged, and we could answer the question: What type of people pay their way to go to an unknown place with people they’ve never met, so that they can clean houses? The answer: the type of people that don’t care about anything as much as they care about sharing the Word of God with others.

The very first time we walked the streets of Valle del Roble we realized how needy that neighborhood was.  We had the opportunity to pray for a teen on drugs, for some brothers who had consecrated themselves to death, for a married couple that had been using drugs, and for a father and his sons that had formed a prominent gang in that sector.  We also prayed for the daughter of a Christian woman who had been begging God to send someone to share hope with her daughter since she would not listen to her mom.  Her prayer was answered.  It was wonderful to know that we were the ones God had sent to fulfill that request.

What type of people pay their way to go to an unknown place with people they’ve never met, and offer to meet a stranger’s need? The type of youth that are attentive to the guiding of the Holy Spirit and are interested in those who don’t know the Lord.

After speaking with a police officer that had gone through some bad experiences with Christians, we decided to go house-to-house in that community and ask forgiveness for the bad experiences that they may have had with other Christians.  We realized that people started to react to us differently.  They were more interested in listening and sharing what had happened to them, and we saw a greater response there.  It was an extraordinary and surprising day.  We sensed the Holy Spirit guiding us.  I want to feel that guidance every day of my life.

What type of people pay their way to go to an unknown place with people they’ve never met, in order to ask forgiveness on behalf of hypocritical Christians that have come before? The type of Christians that love sinners as Christ loves them and are willing to humble themselves at any moment so that one person might be reconciled to God.

I want to invite the Church to give a good testimony.  Let’s begin with ourselves, and let’s evangelize right where we are.  Let’s allow the Spirit to guide us wherever we may go.  I exhort you to think of evangelism as a lifestyle.  Everyone without exception is called to share the good news.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it before; when God speaks, we must obey.  His Spirit leads us and will give us the words.  Don’t miss a single evangelistic effort of your church anymore.  Be encouraged; God is with us!

 

10th Anniversary of 4×4 All Terrain

The program known as 4×4 All Terrain was designed for youth that, having participated in a Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO), would be able to have a missions experience and confirm their call to missions during the best time of the year: the last week of December, between Christmas and New Year’s. It is typically a time when families come together to share in harmony, and exchange gifts and warm embraces.  Festive music is essential, much food is eaten, and relatives visit from far-off places.  The earnest desires of love and peace fill the hearts of all involved.  Through the years 4×4 All Terrain has become an event that also brings urban homes hope, peace, love, and salvation through the sharing of Jesus Christ as the best gift that anyone could receive all year long.

From December 26, 2019 to January 1, 2020 we held the 10th Anniversary of 4×4 All Terrain, and it took place in the city of Monterrey, Mexico in support of the missionaries with the Genesis ministry, Daniel and Andrea Santiago.  An extremely talented and great-looking group of 22 teens and young adults from the South, East, West, Northeast, and South Border Districts arrived impassioned to be used by God in the Fomerrey 23 and Oak Valley colonies.  Participants were organized into teams and, after being trained in various ministries, they evangelized house-to-house, held Vacation Bible Schools, prayed for the sick and for families in general, cleaned homes, made friends with community members, and presented Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, which was the greatest need of the people.  After meeting in prayer groups and sharing a Bible story, each person was invited to identify with a character in the story, and during that time many came to know Jesus Christ.  The morning devotionals and the feedback during the debriefing times every night were key in order to consistently get better and minister more intentionally the following day.

We could continue telling much more; however, I’d just like to glorify the Lord God Almighty for his love and protection over this group.  I am also thankful that he has given me the privilege during these ten years to lead many youth in this ministry, and to see them develop and grow in favor with God and men.  In the coming entries, you will read their testimonies of victory.  Let’s keep praying, giving, and going.  Let’s obey His call and participate in his reconciling of the world to Himself.

January, 2020

María Eugenia Rodríguez Urrutia.

 

 

“And God Made The Missionary”

My name is Victoria Natividad Trujillo Ríos. I am a member of the First Church of the Nazarene in Ocozocoautla, Chiapas, in the South District of Mexico.

As I started this project, I longed to hear God’s voice. I decided to surrender all to him and say, “Yes, Lord, may your purpose be done in me.”

When we arrived in Comitán, what we saw surprised us. We had the opportunity to visit a maternity hospital where the local church prepared and gave out food.  We shared testimonies, sang some songs, and listened to a short devotional reflection.  I had never in my life seen such enthusiasm: most of the women came running when they saw us, begging us to pray for them.  We ended up compiling a list of prayer requests and were amazed at their faith.

We continued on to La Trinitaria, and specifically to a colony named Michoacán.  At the house of one of the Nazarene sisters, Ayda, we learned that she had been a church planter most of her life.  In Trinitaria I learned to get past certain limits that I had not even realized that I had.  I also took time to contemplate the greatness of God as many nights I gazed at the sky and sensed his peace.  I was comforted that one day we will be in heaven, and in fact it already is our home; we are part of that reality right now!

In Unión Juárez and Lázaro Cardenas we met church members with beautiful hearts and an incredible willingness to serve.  We visited homes and evangelized there, and we also held evangelistic campaigns.

To finish up our trip we celebrated with a worship service in which the majority of the churches with whom we had ministered were present. There was a testimony time when each brother or sister shared what they had received from God during the three weeks.  It was surprising to see how God had moved in different contexts and through different means, but always with the same objective.

I love God!  During that closing service, he touched my heart.  I could hear that phrase that I had longed to hear, and it filled me completely: “And God created the missionary!”

I know there is still a lot for me to learn.  I am convinced that every day God will guide me and fulfill his promise in me according to his purpose.  For me to be a part of this trip, God had to orchestrate every detail: my schooling, my finances, my family.  Without a doubt, this experience has been a huge blessing in my life.

“Serving Is Gratifying”

In our previous entry, we published the testimony of a young volunteer missionary after his experiences in Missional Advance on the Mexico South District.  Today we will get to know another participant in that missions trip.  She wants other youth to know what God has done in her life and ministry during those weeks.  If you would like to get involved in missions, leave us a comment in the section below!

My name is Alejandra Morales.  I’m a member of the Jesus of Nazareth Church of the Nazarene in the Jobo colony of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico.

Being able to participate in the Missional Advance trip was a blessing for me.  I thank God foremost for the privilege he gave me to be a part of this project.  I’m also full of gratitude for my local church and the other Nazarenes that supported me through their prayers.  This has been a beautiful experience because I’ve been able to share about Jesus and how he works in everyone’s life and loves us as we are.  In this trip I developed a longing for the world to know God, just as much as I desire that my own family would seek him and be saved.

God manifested himself immensely in each one of the places we shared his Word.  We met people who sheltered us and gave us encouragement and even financial help for the clown ministry and other expenses we had.  God blessed us with an offering that allowed us to evangelize in La Trinitaria, the one town where we lacked resources and church presence.  God prepared the place we would work in, and he also prepared the people’s hearts.

We saw each family’s needs and their longing to seek God.  Being part of that filled me with joy and I was impressed at what God can do through his Word.  We heard great testimonies of how God raises us up from the lowest valleys in order to make us new creatures in him.  Serving is so gratifying; whether it was house-to-house evangelism or with the children in a clown show, we were blessed and noticed that the people we had met were as well.

I want to encourage any youth like us to participate in missions.  I understand that sometimes there are fears of the unknown or what we will lack when we follow God`s call.  However, I can assure you that God is with you at each step, taking care of you and making a way. He is love, and the essence of this ministry, as with any other, is completely described in that one word: love.

Our Missionary Brother

Last week we published the report of a missions trip in South Mexico Five Stops, Hundreds of Changed Lives. Today we will share the testimony of one of the teens that served as a volunteer missionary during that cross-cultural experience. If you are interested in this type of activity or in missions in general, let us know in the comment section below!

I’m Abner Gutiérrez Rivera, and I am part of the “Door of Faith” Church of the Nazarene in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, in the Ribera Zone of the Mexico South District.

I want to testify to the fact that my experience thus far in missions has been incredible.  Everything started when I decided to enroll in the Cross-Cultural Missions course, and one of its assignments was to participate in a missions trip in which we would visit five towns in the state of Chiapas during 23 days.

After our Director of Missions and leader of the event, Freivy López, prayed and commissioned us, we started our adventure November 23, 2019.  Up until that moment I had felt quite a bit of uncertainty regarding my missions call.  I got to know the other group members on the trip, and I knew that we were placing ourselves at the service of the Lord during the coming weeks.  Being able to testify to what He has done in my life is incredible!

The first place we visited was Soyatitán, and seeing the excitement that the brothers and sisters of the church had when they received us was amazing.  For the first time, I heard them call me “our missionary brother,” and I wanted to clarify that this was my first experience and that we were all just learning.  I smiled nervously, but inside I was filled with joy because I love serving God like that. However, I was worried that the church members had set their expectations too high upon seeing that they were so eager to meet us.

Something that touched my heart was getting to know some church members that work as Christian clowns in that area and are called: “The Pancholines.”  As they watched us evangelize, they came up to us, invited us to their homes, and donated many materials that they work with in their ministry. The Lord had impressed on them to give us a complete clown costume, make-up, and a lot of games that could be played with the kids.  I learned a big lesson: our God is alive, and he makes all things possible.  All we had up until that point was a little make-up to put on for our kids’ program.  It was incredible to hear the voice of God through the people that received Christ and through the clown ministry.

The second town we came to was Comitán, where we came up against some opposition to our ministry.  The city is predominantly Catholic and tied to tradition, and there was even one Catholic group that had created specific literature designed to contradict evangelicals.  But God was there, giving us his words for every conversation, based on the Scriptures.  Freivy and Pastor David gave us some advice, and we witnessed the fact that the Word of the Lord never returns void.  It was a nice challenge for me, to be sure.

I truly felt the presence of the Lord touching my life and making me understand the entire world’s need to know Him; it was an unforgettable experience. Each night I went up to the roof of the church building to pray and look at the sky, recognizing that he is always present in our lives.

The next area we ministered in was a rural town called Michoacán Colony. It was there that I had to confront several personal discomforts and even fears mainly, for example, due to the large amounts of spiders and cockroaches.  Nevertheless, I learned another lesson: we must depend fully on God and give even those fears to Him.

I was taught a lot in the city of La Trinitaria, because Freivy helped me correct a lot of the ways I had been taught to evangelize.  I am definitely still learning, and I got better going forward. That was certainly a challenge, but God and my teammates helped me in my weakness, making me feel part of a family.

The fourth place we went to was Union Juárez, which was also an incredible experience.  We had the full support of the local church as we ministered through the clown show, and we saw an excellent response from the children as we shared the gospel with them.  We ended up traveling to a community close-by named San Marcos Jalal, where we were able to perceive how God used us in ministry.  For the majority of the children there, it was the first time they had ever seen a clown, and even the first time they had ever heard about Jesus Christ.  There we learned one more tremendous lesson: according to the gifting that you have, God gives you favor before the people you come in contact with and works in your life in incredible ways if you are willing.

The final place we visited was Lázaro Cárdenas. How wonderful to be able to evangelize a person who started out arguing with me but ended up crying and asking the Lord to change his life.  That moment was undeniably transformational in my life as a Christian.

With every new day of the missions trip I felt more and more strengthened by God in my life, and I know that this is my call, my ministry.  I will keep working in order to seek entire sanctification and total dependence on Him.  The neatest thing was remembering that at the start of the trip I had said, “Here am I, send me,” and was open to all that God would call me to do.  And here I am, serving Him.  I can only give thanks to God for protecting us and using us in that time.

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.

 

The Superpower You Didn’t Know You Have: Four Benefits of an Active Prayer Life

By Dr. Stan Toler (1950-2017)

If you had a super power, what would you want it to be? I love to ask people that question. The responses are always interesting.

Flying tops the list. Others will say teleportation, invisibility, or x-ray vision. It’s fun to speculate about the good we might do if we had some unusual ability—or the adventures we might have!

That’s all fantasy, of course, but there really is a super power available to you, and to everyone—it isn’t so much a power we possess as it is a way to access the ultimate source of power. I’m talking about prayer.

When we pray, we have access to the presence of God himself, and His incredible power is available to us. As the apostle James put it, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Here are four ways that we can tap into God’s power when we pray:

  1. God’s resources become available.

Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” That’s not a platinum card to take to the shopping mall. It’s a promise that God will respond to provide for those who ask in faith.

When we have a need, we often try everything but prayer to meet it. Begin where the power is. Begin by calling out to God.

  1. You experience a supernatural calm.

The apostle Paul said after you have prayed, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds” (Phil. 4:7). I don’t know about you, but I think freedom from anxiety would be a great super power to have! That can be yours when you pray in faith.

  1. You make the past disappear.

John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). A sincere prayer of confession releases God’s forgiveness, washing away guilt, shame, and regret. While you may live with some consequences of past action, your prayer heard in heaven will make the guilt disappear.

  1. You unleash God’s healing.

God is merciful, and He often releases his healing power to those who humbly ask. James wrote, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (James 5:14). Is that a guarantee that every prayer for healing will be answered in the way we desire? No, but it does indicate the relationship between prayer and healing. We often miss out on God’s power because we simply don’t ask to receive it.

It would be a shame to have the super power of flying yet travel everywhere on foot; or to have super strength but allow yourself to be oppressed by others. And it’s unfortunate that many of us fail to use the truly amazing gift that we have available to us every day—prayer.

How active is your prayer life?

What would you do today, even now, to take advantage of this awesome power?

How have you seen the power of God at work in response to your prayers?