How the word YES is changing Mesoamerica

By Emily Armstrong

I got a text from Alejandra a few days ago saying she wanted to talk to me for a few minutes.

And a Facebook message from Merit asking me for prayer.

And an email from Daniela, updating me on what has happened in her life in the past few months.

3 women that we have had the privilege of training in missions, all 3 of them having participated in the past in Genesis ministry as missionaries for 2 years.  

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Alejandra, who is from Guatemala, has been serving for the past 10 months with a compassionate ministry in the USA.  A little over a year ago, we asked her if she would be willing to take a step of faith and submerge herself into US culture for a year to learn from their compassionate ministry strategy and help us contextualize that for our region.  As I spoke with her a few days ago, she was a bit torn – leaders of the ministry had asked her to consider staying for 1 more year in ministry, and although she thought she would be stepping all over our “plans”, I couldn’t help but smile.  I felt like a proud parent when she told me that she really just wanted to do God’s will – whatever that was.  It made me feel good to know that she was chosen.  She was noticed. I told her that we wanted whatever God wanted – our missionary position has always been to connect called people to international needs and knowing that her attitude has been that of Christ, taking the very nature of a servant, could not make us feel more proud.  

Alejandra is still praying about where God wants her to LIVE, but she continues to say YES to his call on her life, sure that a lifestyle of mission is where she needs to be.

Merit wrote in her facebook message that God has been tugging on her heart again, to serve in another city.  She asked for prayer regarding an open door with her district leadership as well as her family responsibilities.  In Spanish we would say that she has become “inquieto” or unsettled.  She is back in her home country and her home district, however the pull to international mission and serving the big city is ringing in her head and heart VERY LOUDLY.  I again swelled up with parental pride, knowing that Merit was ready to plunge into the waters of faith once again, ready to fundraise thousands of dollars and leave her family in God’s hands – all because He called.

Merit is still praying about God’s timing, but she has said YES to his call.  She’s ready to go when He creates the opportunity.

Daniela wrote to me and told me that she is presenting her final exam to obtain her license to practice law.  When she said yes to Genesis missionary ministry, she put her legal career on hold – all because she knew that God was asking her to be obedient.  She served faithfully and wrote to tell me that God is still kindling the fires of service in her heart, sharing with me how the earthquakes that have recently taken place in Mexico have caused her difficult days, but how she knew that God’s call on her life was to serve the city.  The “holy pride” as I like to call it came up again, as I exhorted her to consider her profession as VOCATION.  Doing EVERYTHING for the Lord.  Helping her to see that God had given her the gifts of legal understanding – something that we NEED in the city.

Daniela has said YES to God’s call, allowing him to guide her path, asking him to use her gifts and talents to impact the city by being the church. 

Every YES is changing Mesoamerica.  We are becoming the missional church that God desires us to be.  We are so honored to be a part of HIS story. 

 

Mission Briefing: ‘Missionary’

By Howard Culbertson

People today use the word “missionary” in at least four ways:

– As a description for all Christians;

– As a label for people doing any kind of ministry anywhere;

– As a specialized category for anyone with cross-cultural ministry experience, whether that be long-term or for only a few days;

— As a title for those specifically called and gifted for long-term cross-cultural ministry.

So, which option is better? And, is there a reason to prefer one option over another?

I favor the last option. To me, that usage fits best with how believers are described in Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12. Those three passages compare the Church to a living organism.  Like a flesh-and-blood body, Christ’s Church is composed of many different members, each of whom has an important role to play for the organism.

Noting that a body could not function if it were made up only of eyes or ears, Paul wrote that the Church will likewise be dysfunctional if all believers try to do the same job. In this regard, Paul asked some rhetorical questions: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?”  Paul obviously expected a “no” to those three questions asked in 1 Corinthians 12.

At_SKC_0.jpgTo be sure, the word “missionary” is not found in that passage. One reason is that “missionary” is rooted in Latin, a language that only came to be widely used years and years after New Testament times. Notwithstanding, Paul’s metaphor of a body is very relevant to how we use “missionary.” Beginning with Paul and Barnabas, the Church has recognized that God calls and equips specific people to give their lives crossing geographic, cultural, and language divides in order to foster church-planting movements, people such as Milly and Agnes Ibanda and their family (left), who recently were sent out from the church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to serve in Madagascar. Those go-ers are the people for whom the word “missionary” was coined in the 1600s.

Broadening the meaning of “missionary” from its original usage is done with good intentions. However, I do not sense it has infused lukewarm believers with urgency and a sense of purpose. On the other hand, staying with the original narrow usage of “missionary” does aid the Church by:

– Reminding us of the need to be intentional about taking the church to “where it is not yet” (as opposed to having people to say, “We’re doing all God expects of us if we are ‘missionaries’ in our own neighborhoods”).

– Embracing the image of the church as a body made up of members with different functions, one of which is following a divine call to take the Gospel across cultural, language and geographic boundaries to “where the church is not yet.”

– Recognizing that God doesn’t expect everyone to pack their bags and grab an international flight. Some will be “go-ers.” Others will be their “senders.” That represents the meaning of the word “missionary” as it was originally coined.

Postscript: Reserving the title “missionary” for those doing a specific kind of ministry rather than applying it more broadly does not excuse any believer from being passionately involved through prayer, giving, mobilizing or going in BOTH near-neighbor outreach AND ends-of-the-earth evangelism.

This article was originally published at: Engage Magazine

Pray for the City

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Did you know today is the last day of our 40 Days of Prayer for the cities of Mesoamerica? In Genesis, we start every year by dedicating ourselves in intercession for the urban populations in our region.  We have prayed that God would give us his vision for the city.  We have prayed that God would raise up missionaries for the city.  We have prayed that God would use us to transform our cities!  It is happening, too.  He is changing our cities in Mexico and Martinique, Honduras and Haiti, Grenada and Guatemala.  And as we have prayed for others, God has begun a transformation in us as well!

I hope you have joined us in this journey.  If you have not, or did not even know about it, why not challenge yourself or your church to dedicate 40 days to prayer? We even have resources to help you! 

Two years ago, Gary and Naomi Faucett, our Genesis Member Care Facilitators (that big title basically means they love our missionaries bigtime!), provided a much-needed retreat for our missionaries ministering in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  Eunice Zaragoza, Freivy López, and Merit Córdova gazed out from the fifth story of their hotel on the sprawling city below them. Freivy began to introduce Gary to all of the neighborhoods of San Pedro Sula:

“Gary, that section of the city is so dangerous.  We’re not supposed to go there at night.  But we still do anyway because we have started a cell group there.”

“Over there is known as the center of gang activity.  But there are kids there, too.  We play in the park with them every Saturday.”

“Hey, most of the drugs that pass through Honduras come through that barrio over there.  But see that apartment? That’s where we have started to see a lot of youth come to know the Lord.  God’s really up to something in that place.”

Gary elbowed Freivy and half-joked, “Sounds like San Pedro Sula is pretty unsafe, brother.  Are you gonna be alright?!”

Freivy nodded.  “Definitely.  But I love this city.”

Do you love your city? Do you love the high-risk places, or just the comfortable ones? When was the last time you truly prayed for your city?

Now it’s a tradition.  In every retreat, we find a room where we can look out on the city.  And we pray.  The photo up top is of the Global Mission Coordinators in New York this last October praying for that great metropolis, but also for all of our cities.  The photo you see below is of the Guadalajara team praying over their city with over 6 million inhabitants.

Are you committed? Will you join us in praying for the city? It’s not over after 40 days.  Find a rooftop somewhere or a fifth-story window and take a picture of your family or church praying.

The city has gotten into us; it’s now under our skin.  It is hectic and noisy and oftentimes dangerous.

And like Freivy, we love it.

“Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.” (Jer. 29:7 NET)

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Project Paul Changing the Border

In the Global Mission Regional Office, we recently received the annual report from the “Border Initiative” ministry in Mexico, and we are praising the Lord for the results! We’d love to share some highlights of that report, written by the coordinator, Rev. Manuel Molina.

The northern border of Mexico has a population of 24,800,000 people in 8 states, where there are 148 churches and missions made up of 6,600 Nazarenes. In light of that reality, the Border Initiative seeks to plant new churches in the cities and towns with no Nazarene presence, along with reactivating the churches that have closed and equipping the local leadership of the existent church.

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The main strategy that is being implemented in order to achieve these goals is Project Paul, a program that has been used in the south of Mexico for 10 years.  During a period of three weeks, Project Paul focuses on planting new congregations by using evangelism and discipleship tools. This strategy is now being implemented in the north of the country, producing excellent results in 2017:

  • Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. May 27-June 18 – 439 new believers
  • Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. July 15-August 6 – 438 new believers
  • Monclova y Ciudad Frontera, Coahuila. October 4-22 – 56 new believers
  • Zona Carbonifera, Coahuila. October 10-31 – 227 new believers
  • Comarca Lagunera. November 25-December 17 – 372 new believers

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Statistics of the five projects:

  • Missionaries involved: 120
  • Churches involved: 30
  • New missions started: 23
  • Churches “restarted”: 4
  • Church planters and leaders equipped: 23
  • New believers: 1,534

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God is definitely doing something BIG on the border! May God continue to bless this initiative and the Project Paul strategy. Remember that you can be a part of this too, by praying for the new believers, the new missions and the reactivated churches!

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Also, may God continue to call more and more people to engage in this church planting movement! If you are interested or would like to participate in Project Paul this year, visit the Facebook page of Border Initiative or contact Freivy Lopez (freivy.lopez@gmail.com).  They have a Project Paul scheduled for each month in 2018 – so there are plenty of opportunities for you to be involved!

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4×4: A Cold and Rainy Terrain – Part 2 of 2

*This is part two of the article published in the previous post.

Each young person, upon arriving at the event, shared the obstacles they had to overcome in order to be part of this evangelistic experience. In each activity God showed them that He was with them and His Spirit encouraged them to be intentional about the time to evangelize. The Word of God reached the hearts of many people in this neighborhood and although some remained undecided, others gave their lives to the Lord. There was tears and smiles alike. Even though the children’s attendance dropped due to the intense cold, there were always children present to share the gospel. At night during the movie, when they thought no one would show up, God surprised them. There is a need, people thirst for God. Even though some got sick we still sang the hymn,

“In Him there is joy without an alloy;
’Tis Heaven to trust Him and rest on His words;
It pays to serve Jesus each day.

It pays to serve Jesus, it pays every day,
It pays every step of the way,
Though the pathway to glory may sometimes be drear,
You’ll be happy each step of the way.”

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To the glory of God, we can report that 33 people accepted Christ through the door to door evangelism, 22 kids also accepted salvation at Vacation Bible School and 5 kids accepted Christ thanks to the Project Goal sport event, and 3 accepted Christ through evangelistic movies. A total of 63 souls won for Christ! The Sanchez family and the hosting church have a lot of work now to do.

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Let us pray for these new souls and for those who have to believe by the word that will be given in the following days.

“God has called us to be bearers of His love, to share joy, to give hope to those who do not have it, to comfort the afflicted, He has called us to be light. No matter what you have to leave or if you have to make some sacrifice to be there, the best you can receive is the satisfaction of crying with someone in need, wiping a tear, giving a hug and looking at a smile on a child’s face and the satisfaction of being able to share with others the Good News and hope in JESUS!”–Lupita Calderón.

“I still marvel at how God uses us despite all our shortcomings. His love continues to mold us. It was not necessary to try to convince anyone, simply to just proclaim, serve and love. God took care of all involved because His grace covers everything. We have lived through difficult things before, during and after our travels; The enemy wanted to attack, but we were safe in the rock of our faith, Jesus Christ. The Father takes care of us and the Holy Spirit guides us. This experience made me grow in faith, humility and in love. I was very happy that people could meet their Savior and surrender their lives to Him.”–Mitzi Villegas

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” I met Mrs. Silvia, who is one of the people we evangelized. When we finished sharing the message, she was engulfed in tears, then calmed down and told us the following, ‘I’ve had days of great despair and I don’t know why. It’s an anxiety that does not go away. All of a sudden I cry, I get sad. Last night I was full of anxiousness, I had despair and nothing calmed me, so I asked God to help me and to show me what I should do, and now you are here! I know God heard my cry.’ This tells us a lot about the need that exists in the world, and the responsibility that we have as a church. Thank God, Silvia accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. “–Adriana L. Barraza 

We give thanks to God for the life of these young people, if you are interested in missions or would like to participate in a 4×4, contact us at misionglobal@mesoamericaregion.org or on our Facebook page .

This article was written by Maru Rodriguez, coordinator of Global Mission for the Mexico Field.

4×4: A Cold and Rainy Terrain – Part 1 of 2

With frigid temperatures and under a mist of rainy conditions the 4×4 All Terrain 2017 event was held in the Espino sector. This area is one of more than 15 sectors in the Valle del Roble neighborhood of Nuevo León, Mexico. The Sanchez family, originally from the southern part of Mexico, recently moved to this area. They searched for a church of the Nazarene in the area and could not find one, so they made the decision to rent a vacant house in the area and start a mission church. Given the urgent need to evangelize this area and knowing that someone could follow up on the work done, volunteer missionaries from 4×4 All Terrain offered their gifts and talents to advance the kingdom of heaven. Fourteen young people from Southern, Central, West, North and Northeast districts gathered, regardless of weather conditions that awaited them.

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During the last week of 2017, the 4×4 All Terrain team performed two simultaneous events in the mornings: the first was, The Goal Project, which was hosting many soccer teams in a field nearby. The second event was going door to door evangelizing the nearby neighborhoods. To help them with the evangelism they used the evangecube and distributed pamphlets to interested families.

Each day began with breakfast and participating in devotional, where testimonies were shared. After breakfast, the team began the day’s activities. The team also held night VBS where there were clowns dressed in awesome costumes, games, songs, and biblical stories. Each night ended with chairs set up in the park to watch an evangelistic movie and an invitation to follow Christ.

Read the testimonies of those who participated:

26232393_10155752777226351_3913626031354020134_o.jpg“Many times, I had asked myself if at some point what I experience and what I go through in life could be useful in the kingdom of God. After this event, I now understand that all the things that happen help us when we least expect it. During the activities with the children, several of the older teens helped us take care of the younger kids. I especially admired Mariel, a teenager who even shared her blankets to cover some of the kids. I was surprised at how much she resembled me when I was that age, and how we are similar. God used that incident to talk to me about how Jesus Christ transforms and changes lives. She felt validated, understood and accepted. The last day of activities Mariel accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior, knowing now that He loves her, He will transform her life and He will take her to places she never imagined.”–Ana Constantino.

“The Valle del Roble neighborhood, where we held the 4×4 All Terrain, is as needed as any other place. It was amazing to see how people took time to listen. God touched the hearts of those people, God made the right call. He was with us at every moment and gave us the strength to talk about Him, even with rain, God was listening to our prayers. He is great and I am very grateful and very blessed! I cry, but I cry with happiness, because I know that God made this possible and I thank Him. He is good to me, and I am ready for wherever he sends me.”–Waris Dirie Sánchez.

“By participating for the first time in an 4×4 All Terrain event, God showed me the need that exists outside our local churches. Every house that I visited with my partner, made me realize that people are waiting to receive the love of God.”– Valeria Rodríguez.

“I give thanks to God because He allowed me to participate again in this missionary program and to share the love He poured out on the cross. I love being a participant in this type of event and being able to share the message of salvation to other people. I love obeying the mission and commission that the Lord entrusted to us through His Word, “Go and make disciples.” This does not imply that we only share the gospel when we go to another city or participate in these events, but wherever we are, in all times and places we must speak of Him who called us. “– Abraham Barboza.

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*This article will continue in the next post.

If you are interested in missions or would like to participate in a 4×4 All Terrain event, contact us at misionglobal@mesoamericaregion.org or on our Facebook page .

I Learned to Listen to His Voice

I am Marvin Ac, I received Jesus Christ in 2008, after leaders of the church shared with me the Good News. I was baptized as a witness of my new life in Christ and by a public statement of my new faith in Jesus.

I was one of the first to receive a diploma in Youth Ministry offered by the Church of the Nazarene in 2010. It was during this time I received the tools necessary to encourage me to have a more effective ministry and provided me the understanding and need to go into all the nations and make Christ-like disciples.

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To accomplish this, I made the decision to serve as a volunteer missionary with the Genesis Initiative in Veracruz, Mexico from 2014 – 2016. This was a wonderful experience where I saw the glory of God manifested in my life and in the lives of others when they recognized Him as their Lord and Savior. It was during this time, I recognized that I was not only would give, but  receive as well. Genesis helped me to rely completely on God in all areas of my life.

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While with Genesis, I also learned to listen to His voice and to understand more of His faithfulness. I learned to see His presence glow on the faces of those who praised and sought Him in prayer. I can say with certainty today, that being a part of Genesis was the most important decision I’ve made in my life. I will never regret having the opportunity to serve and be a blessing to the people in Veracruz.

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The Lord took what I learned from Genesis and led me to where I am today, serving as missionary pastor in Mission “La Loma.” This is a mission we’ve started from what was once just a concept. We currently have a children’s ministry and a small group of adult teachers and leaders.

The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. Psalm 2:7-8

“Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities. Isaiah 54:2-3