Teachers and Church Planters

By Scott Armstrong

On several occasions I’ve had the privilege of speaking with someone interested in Genesis, our ministry designed to make an impact in large cities within our region.  Sometimes these candidates have studied to be elementary or high school teachers.  “How can God use my career to plant churches in an urban context?” they ask me.

Recently I published an article that I wrote for the NYI Online Magazine that highlighted how God has used volunteer missionaries from all kinds of “secular” careers for his glory in the Genesis Initiative. In a previous entry, I shared a few more stories that didn’t fit in the limited space of the original article. Today I want to share the stories of three young teachers who are incredibly grateful for their “secular” careers, because they have opened the doors of ministry in surprising ways.

“One of the most important decisions a young person makes is what they will study when they go to college.  It will define them for the rest of their lives.  When I was 18, I had questions about what I should study, and I prayed that God would direct my decision.  I chose to be a teacher.

27797589_1799412403426391_3124110093619712361_o.jpgMy mother told me since I was six years old that I said I wanted to be a teacher, but I had forgotten.  I think that to be a teacher was in God’s plan for me.  It was through my profession that God prepared me for the mission field when I was sent to work far from home.  Now that I am serving in missions, God has used my education, work with children and teaching to open doors.  I know that we cannot separate the secular from ministry; everything that we know and everything we do should honor God.  Only through our work will God open new paths to expand his kingdom.” – Marleidy Sanchez (sent from Mexico to Panama)

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“I am a teacher, and I believe it is one of the careers that can get you most involved in the community.  A teacher knows different techniques to help with kids’ homework.  Through that contact, you can meet with parents and share the message of salvation.”
– Ingrid Jochola (sent from Guatemala to Panama)

 

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“My career as a high school social studies teacher goes beyond simply teaching in a classroom.  I believe that within this ministry I have had the chance to develop, plan, improve, and involve people in a different kind of environment, especially children.  Now I am working with the material we use in our Kids’ Club, but I am also available to share what I know with everyone involved in this new stage of service and love in order to share God with our neighbors.” – Maria de los Angeles Romero (sent from Peten, Guatemala to Queretaro, Mexico)

*For more information about Genesis, visit our website and let us know by leaving a comment in the space below.

God Can Use Every Career in Missions

By Scott Armstrong

Recently I published an article that I wrote for the NYI Online Magazine that highlighted how God has used volunteer missionaries from all kinds of “secular” careers for his glory in the Genesis Initiative.   There wasn’t enough space to share all of the testimonies I received when I asked for help from the 32 missionaries we’ve sent over the years.  That’s why today and in our next entry I want to share more of these powerful stories:

44733965_573786599724861_8443162038938632192_n.jpg“Being a doctor meant that many people were willing to get to know us when they needed some kind of medical attention.  It also allowed us to open a clinic in the community, and in that way the community got to know the church.   The local people knew us well and knew that there was a doctor in the church. They came for help at all hours. We could hold medical outreaches from the church and in other parts of the community where we worked.  I am grateful to God for the opening that my career has given me. Though sometimes it is exhausting, it brings me great joy to know that in some way it helps me to serve God.” – Eunice Zaragoza (sent from Tampico, Mexico to San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-17 at 10.22.20.jpeg“I am a social worker. The goal of my profession is to design and implement projects and strategies that assist individuals, groups, communities and societies inpreventing or solving societal needs and problems. The Church is called to show love and compassion in the midst of a vulnerable society. We created a program for teenagers to meet twice a week to play, spend time together, laugh and meditate on Scripture and what God wants from them. We’ve also developed strategies to work with women and children, such as a women’s conference and a Kids’ Club.  My career has helped me to focus on doing what God has called me to: preach his Word through actions and with compassion.” – Jhoselyn Barrios (sent from Guatemala to Queretaro, Mexico)

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“I have an Associates degree in Psychology.  My education has helped me a lot in family counseling.  When I mention that I have a degree in Psychology in a meeting out in the community, it opens doors for people to find me and open their hearts in search of help.  I also have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management, which has helped in general organization and in the planning for activities that we hold.”
 – Maritza Mendoza (sent from Miami, USA to Queretaro, Mexico)

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“I have a degree in Tourism Management that helped a lot in the ministry when I was in Genesis. I used to be very quiet and shy, but my career helped me to lose my fears and be able to talk with people. That is why during my time in Genesis, I always felt confident to talk to people, start a relationship with them, and then be able to share the love of Christ.” – Zabdi Jessica Delgado (sent from Tuxtla-Gutierrez, Mexico to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)

* For more information about Genesis, visit our website and let us know by leaving a comment in the space below.

Recommendations from a Caribbean Missionary

In our previous entry, Cleon Cadogan shared his testimony from his time spent in Grenada as a volunteer missionary as part of GENESIS.  The primary objective of his time there was to plant and organize a new Nazarene church in the community of Content.  Within the first year of his arrival, God had done the work and this goal was met.  Now there is a thriving congregation in that community that is preparing to start another church in order to reach their island.

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As Cleon concluded his time in GENESIS, he shared several pieces of advice that he would give to anyone saying yes to a missions’ call. Here are his 15 recommendations:

1: Be sure that God has called you to the people you are going to.

2: Learn and love the people you are going to live among; be willing to drop your preconceived ideas of them.

3: Prayer support is vital to your physical and spiritual health.

4: Fasting and spending personal time with God is necessary to keep your sanity.

5: Do not let money be the factor for you not being able to accomplish your task.

6: Remember: God provides for the mission in every way.

7: Be creative in the methods you use to partner with persons who will be giving to the mission.

8: Demonstrate a level of transparency and accountability with your partners.

9: Communicate the vision clearly to your prayer partners and donors.

10: Do not fail to use varying mediums to communicate and keep in contact with your partners.

11: Listen to the needs of the people with whom you are working.

12: Let the creative juices flow within you at all times.

13: Rest when Jesus says to rest.

14: Do not forsake your friends and family for the sake of the mission.

15: Nothing should be done without consultation with God.

I am Here to Serve

Recently I received a testimony from our Genesis missionary from Trinidad and Tobago, Crystalla Williams.  She wrote these words in her final days serving in Grenada. Wow!  I knew at once that her reflection needed to be shared with a wider audience.  May God stir your heart as you hear her heart come through loud and clear.

As I reflect on the two years of ministry in Genesis, I am almost brought to tears as I wonder at my God: His love, compassion, patience, grace, mercy, peace, power and provision. 

I would not – definitely could not – make it without Him. Truthfully, there were many who didn’t think I would finish; some even said it to my face. Honestly, there were times that I believed them: times when things were so hard that I couldn’t see my way through. But God made a way!

There is no doubt in my mind that certain breakthroughs I have had would not have been possible without this assignment. I now have a better understanding of what it means to be patient. God has somehow increased my capacity to love, to be understanding, to be compassionate and to be forgiving. This assignment has taught me how to pray deeper, and fast more intently and strategically. 36268094_10160602430915118_1541711199895289856_o.jpg

As I look forward I am excited. I am excited to go back to my district, home country and home church to work and minister. What that will look like I am not entirely sure.  One thing I know: I am here to serve. 

Before leaving for Grenada I already had my exit plan. I had a job waiting, an apartment that would be ready when I got back, and projects that I would be working on. Over the last two years, I have seen every plan of mine fly out the window. 

But as I have seen my plans turn to dust, I have also seen God work things out in ways I am still in awe of.  Because of this ‘crazy faith’ journey I have been on, I am assured that my God, who has done so much more than I could ever imagine or think, will take care of me. 

These two years in Grenada have been great. Great joys, great hurts, great support, great breakthroughs, great tears (of happiness and sorrow), great laughs, great love, great triumphs, great purpose being realized, great new friends, great spiritual healing and growth…a true representation of how great my God is and will always be to me.

I am eagerly awaiting what God will do next. There is no one like me and there is no one like my God.  Oh, what awesomeness He will do!!!!

I am honored to be a part of an organization, a church, and a family that wraps around the world. I am honored to have the support that can never be quantified by human standards. And it’s all afforded to me because of what Jesus did so long ago on a ‘tree.’ Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for your prayers.

Thank you for your continued service and care to others called by God.

Yours in Christ,

Min. Crystalla J. Williams

Genesis Missionary

Grenada

Cross Cultural Orientation in Costa Rica, 2018

Costa Rican districts unite to equip dozens of people in their call to missions

Thirty-seven participants from both districts in Costa Rica attended a Cross-Cultural Orientation Sept. 7-9 at the Poas Church of the Nazarene. 

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Sixteen volunteers, including district and field leaders as well as missionaries, helped make the event possible.  Regional Coordinator of Nazarene Missions International, Ana Maria Crocker, shared in several sessions.  Pastor Felipe Flores, Costa Rica North District Superintendent Rev. Johnny Calvo, and Costa Rica Central District Superintendent Rev. Sirlene Bustos all shared the word of God.

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Nazarene Global Mission coordinators at the district and field levels organized the event.  Nelson Vega serves through Global Mission in the Central District, Estefania Amador in the North District, and Freya Galindo serves in the Mesoamerica Central Field. 

“To see happy faces and people believing that they can do a little more, to see them wanting to answer a call with conviction – it’s priceless.  I feel very satisfied with what we achieved. I know that God used me as part of his plan, and that’s the most comforting thing a person can feel.  Even though he does not need me, He decided to let me be a part, and that’s an indescribable feeling,” said Nelson Vega about the CCO.

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Below are a few snippets of testimonies that the participants shared.  You can read the full testimonies on the Costa Rica Global Mission Facebook page: 

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Christopher Quinto, Los Ángeles Church of the Nazarene: It was an experience where I rediscovered my call and got excited again like the first time. I rediscovered that “The sky is the limit,” and now I believe in my abilities and virtues. The event challenged me to not stay still; it was the impulse that I was lacking to move forward and not give up when obstacles come my way.

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Xavier Yadir Diaz Chavez, Cañas Dulces Church of the Nazarene: A lot of things happened during this camp, but the one that impacted me the most was that God clarified a thousand doubts that I had. I never thought that I could be so sure of where I am, and from where God has brought me. My life is sealed with God’s name and that will never change; the best is just beginning, so let’s prepare ourselves for unimaginable things in our lives. 

DSC_0295.jpgDaniela Solano, Tibas Church of the Nazarene: As a pastor’s kid, for a long time I took on responsibilities in the church only because “there was no one else to do it,” but it was not something that I ever saw as a calling. A few months ago I began to ask God to take control of my life and to show me what He wanted me to do. During the CCO I was able to see how God for a long time had been working in my life. I could see how I had missed a lot of details and that my call to missions had been there the whole time. To see the full picture of the little confirmations that God had been planting in my life was what made me finally state during this camp, “Here I am, send me.” 

DSC_0299.jpgDanah Webb Leandro, Desamparados Church of the Nazarene: I can say that every workshop, every activity, every devotion, every word I heard and hug I received during these three days marked my life and created in me a Christian reality totally different from the one I had when I came. This camp gave me a new vision and a new purpose, and it filled me with strength and hope. The CCO gave me a new calling and a new direction to work with my NYI, my church, my community, my country, and even to other far-away places! I don’t have words to describe these three days; what I can say is that this has been one of God’s greatest gifts for my life.

Written by Ana Hernandez in collaboration with Estefanía Amador and Nelson Vega,  Global Mission Costa Rica.

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God Calling, Sending and Using Youth in His Mission

What a joy to know that God continues to invite youth to respond to His missionary call!  In the past weeks we have been amazed at the stories of many teens who God is guiding and using powerfully. In this post, we share three testimonies of young volunteers who participated in Encuentro, held in Guatemala and Costa Rica during June and July of this year.  This event impacted the lives of hundreds of people from the communities where the teams and volunteers ministered:

 “I served as a translator during the time of Encuentro and Project Timothy, and one of the most treasured moments in my heart was the day when we went out to evangelize. The majority of the people we started to meet asked for prayer for healing. The most powerful instance was a lady that we met while we were on the road walking. She was going to buy tortillas when Pastor Cesar Robleto from the Gethsemane Church stopped her and asked if she had a prayer request. She said yes and even invited us to her house. She asked us to pray for her daughter, Andrea, who has cancer. We told Andrea that her mother had requested we pray for her. She was surprised, but also happy.

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That moment of prayer was beautiful. We could not hold back the tears. Only God knew the need, the pain, and the anguish that they were living through. After the prayer, we could see that Andrea’s face was filled with hope and gratitude. We too were grateful to God for that moment. It was a great privilege to pray with them. One of our North American sisters shared words of encouragement, and we could feel how the Holy Spirit was moving in that place bringing peace and tranquility. It was one of the most difficult times I have ever had to translate, because I did so with tears in my eyes, but it was also one of the most beautiful things that I have been able to experience.” – Valeria Narvaez (Nicaragua)

 Foto-2-Andrea-testimonio.jpgWhen I was little, I dreamed of being a doctor.  Later, like all children, I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to be a teacher.  Even though I changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was sure that in some way, whatever my job, I would help people. When I wanted to be a doctor, I imagined working somewhere in the mountains, helping people with limited resources.  When I wanted to be a teacher, I imagined being a teacher for needy kids.  A while ago, God began to also put in my heart the idea of being a missionary, but I ignored him because it scared me.

My parents are missionaries, and that means that I know how difficult it is to move to a different country, move to a different house, change schools and make new friends. That’s why every time I thought about being a missionary, it scared me.  But I began to pray (which is the best thing we can do when we are scared).  I prayed for a long time and in these two weeks serving in Encuentro, God answered my prayers and spoke to me through the testimonies, sermons and even the songs. In these weeks he confirmed what I already knew.  That’s why I decided to accept the call that God has given me and to stop being afraid.” – Andrea Salazar (Guatemala)

 “In the first week of Encuentro and Project Timothy, I served in the New Vision Church of the Nazarene along with a group from Kentucky. A large part of our work was a Bible School where we ministered to approximately 70 children. In one of our devotionals, someone said that stories connect people, and that it is important to know someone’s story to truly appreciate them. That happened with some of the kids. They were restless and it was impossible to keep them quiet and attentive. They always wanted to socialize and distract everyone else. We found out that many of them were being raised by their grandmothers because their mothers had abandoned them, often going to other countries. Others had fathers who had died for one reason or another.

Diana-González-testimonio-800x440.jpgDuring the week, we worked a lot with them: teaching Bible lessons, memorizing verses, and having fun with games and snacks.  Still, to be honest, I didn’t feel like I was having a great impact on the emotional life of these kids. But on the last day one of the children came up to me sobbing and so sad because we had to go. He told me, ‘You are like my sister.’ It broke my heart and I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted the chance to continue being a part of his life because his need for love was so great. I pray that he and all the children we ministered to would be held by Jesus, and that they would feel his love and protection.” – Diana Gonzalez (El Salvador)

These testimonies were originally published at: Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica

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.