Hope and Prayer

By: Board of General Superintendents 27 Mar, 2020

Even though these are challenging times, this past weekend was a blessing in the Church of the Nazarene, as worship services from around the world were broadcast through live stream or by video. Many churches reported reaching more people than ever before with the hope of Jesus Christ. People who would not normally feel comfortable entering a church building entered into digital space and encountered grace and peace. We give thanks to the Lord for this!

We are also deeply appreciative of the efforts so many of our churches are making to serve the needs around them in creative ways. We have seen so many examples of creative responses, from a congregation in Maine, USA, stepping up to fill the gap for food deliveries to the elderly to the Cape Verdean Nazarene pastors who were invited to bring a worship service to the country via a national television station, to Sunday school classes meeting by video conferencing, to a drive-in church where people drove to a parking lot and worshiped in their cars as the pastor and worship leaders led from an outdoor platform to a youth group in Ohio, USA, who decided to bring joy to people living in a senior care center through a drama program (from an appropriate distance outside, of course). These are just a few of the many stories we could share. All these are testaments to the faithfulness of God and the creativity of our people. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary means.

Some have asked for suggestions of how to pray during this season of COVID-19. Here are a few ways to focus your intercession:

1. Pray for wisdom for the leaders of your countries, states or provinces, and cities. Ask God to give them good counsel and wise discernment to know what is needed to protect their citizens. Pray for other countries besides your own that may be faced with difficult and complex situations unlike what you are experiencing. Every region of the world is seeking to weather the pandemic.

2. Pray for the protection of medical professionals and health care workers laboring to care for the sickest and those most needy. Pray for divine understanding and supernatural strength from God for their daily tasks. Many are facing a shortage of the most basic medical supplies. Pray for researchers, scientists, and manufacturers who are working to find cures and produce treatment equipment.

3. Pray for healing and comfort for those who are sick, lonely, and afraid, particularly the most vulnerable and endangered. This includes the elderly, those with chronic pre-existing health conditions, those without adequate health care, and those who are isolated due to quarantines.

4. Pray for those most at risk economically. The entire world is confronted with enormous financial implications, but for those who are single-income families, those caring for children and older parents at home, those who are self-employed, those who are in the service industry, and many others, this is an especially devastating time.

5. Pray for your pastors and church board leaders to know how to navigate the ministries and mission of the local church with a balance of caution, courage, and compassion. Pastors are front-line caregivers and “shepherds” of the people of God. If you are able, remember to support your church financially during a time when public meetings are not possible.

6. Pray for the Church around the world, including those of other traditions and denominations. While we ask God to bring an end to the pandemic, we also pray that the Church will find ways to serve, comfort, and love our neighbors for the sake of Christ and the healing of the world.

Phineas Bresee dreamed of a worldwide church when he said, “The sun never sets on the Church of the Nazarene.” Today that dream is a reality. We can literally cover the earth in our prayers, 24 hours a day. Let’s be faithful to that calling.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Grace and peace to you all,

The Board of General Superintendents

Website Church of the Nazarene

Christianity in Times of Calamity: Lessons from Habakkuk


By: Dr. Antonio Carlos Barro

“Calamity” (from the Latin calamitate) or the word “catastrophe” mean public disgrace, or even scourge. Public calamity refers to an abnormal situation provoked by disasters that cause damage and loss on a large scale.  Such tragedies involve a substantial commitment from governments and the society at large to respond quickly in midst of panic and crisis.

At this point in our history, it is almost impossible to think that anyone could not be aware of the calamity that has affected the world. Everyone is being affected. Nothing and nobody can escape this reality.

While reflecting on this, I thought of the prophet Habakkuk and the calamity that plagued his time.  I believe this book can give some answers to the problems we face. The following words are pastoral (another article that covers this topic from a different angle is: https://coletivobereia.com.br/igreja-e-irresponsabilidade-social-os-paradoxos-da-pandemia-de-2020/), and I wrote them thinking only of how we can better face these coming uncertain days.

Habakkuk is little-known in the Scriptures. We know that he lived at the same time as the prophet Jeremiah and that he had extraordinary faith rooted in God’s long-standing relationship with his people. He lived in southern Israel, and his prophecies, like Jeremiah’s, date back to just before Babylon’s invasion of Jerusalem in 597 BC.

Habakkuk discussed with God what seemed to be his unjust way of ruling the world. He was baffled by the fact that wickedness, strife, and oppression were rampant in Judah, but apparently God was doing nothing about it. When they told him that the Lord was preparing to do something through the “cruel” Babylonians (1:6), his perplexity only intensified: how could God, who is “too pure to look at evil” (1:13), instruct such a nation to “execute judgment” (1:12) on a people “more righteous than themselves” (1:13)?

God made it clear, however, that eventually the corrupt destroyer would be destroyed. In the end, Habakkuk learned to rest in the sovereign actions of God and to wait for his work in a spirit of worship. The message: Learn to wait patiently in faith (2:3-4) because the kingdom of God will be expressed globally, even universally (2:14).

The book ends with a note of faith and hope: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (3:17-19).

Here are some lessons for us, although I’m sure others could be brought out, as well.

  1. We are all subject to disasters of all kinds. It can be health-related, economic, political, social, relational, etc. These disasters affect everyone without distinction. There is no such thing as praying and then assuming that nothing will ever happen to me or my family.
  2. Israel was God’s people in the past, but due to disobedience was not saved. In fact, it was God Himself who raised Babylon against His people. Babylon did not act outside of the sovereign will of God.
  3. Habakkuk understood what God was doing and decided to have faith and hope for the future. One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible states that God is working and that people will know His name and that His glory will be seen throughout the world: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2:14).
  4. We must have that same confidence. God has not forgotten his purposes; his mission is not yet over. While Habakkuk was still alive, he wrote. And while we have life, we are to “write,” as well.  Let’s write our hope, let’s write about God acting in us during this time. Could a calamity be strong enough to shake and destroy God’s goals for his people?!
  5. Let’s be realistic and practical. Habakkuk went to see what was happening. He saw the shortage, he saw the lack of food, he saw a distressed situation. He experienced it first-hand and knew it would shake everyone up.
  6. Even so, when he sees the results of the calamity looming, he stands up in a cry of faith and hope: “Though…”. Although everything is as it is, although I cannot see it, although everything is dry and without the possibility of flourishing…Even so I will rejoice.
  7. In the midst of it all, he prophesies: “I will rejoice in the Lord and rejoice in the God of my salvation.” Circumstances should lead us to praise God and not despair; they must lead us to believe and not to a state of unbelief. If circumstances end up determining whether we have faith or not, our relationship with God is finished.
  8. Finally, Habakkuk expresses his complete confidence in the sovereignty of God. That same sovereign God is your strength and will bring you out of this calamity. Perhaps the doctrine that will be most questioned these days by the people of God is his sovereignty. Surely there will be much written in these days about the injustices of God, about the ineffectiveness of God, and about the silence of God.
  9. It is up to us as the people of God to act with faith, courage and bravery.
  10. Let’s be like Habakkuk. He was not out of touch with reality; he knew what was happening and made sure he was familiar with the devastation.
  11. Now it is up to each of us to act in the midst of our calamity. We might question God, but we must finally believe in His sovereignty. We can convey, like Habakkuk, with our words and actions a message of hope to those who are bewildered. We can be a light in the dark. We can be providers. We can be what God wants us to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


It was for this hour that God saved you. He not only saved you so that you could go to heaven, but also so that you would bring heaven to earth.  Bring it now – and soon!

He saved you so that you would shine today and not just in eternity. He saved you so that you would do good today. He saved you in order that you would live through this crisis with faith and boldness.

Believe and obey. Create and act. Today and always remember that God has not yet fulfilled his promise that the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of his glory. Reflecting on these truths will provide great peace of mind about the future.

Dr. Antonio Carlos Barro

General Director, South American Theological Faculty

Londrina, Paraná, Brazil


A Pastoral Letter To Our Global Nazarene Family

So much has changed in such a brief time. Our daily news cycle is filled with reports of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Government leaders, medical professionals, researchers, and scientists are diligently working to stem the tide of the contagion and to protect the citizens of their countries. We have all been impacted in great and small ways.

We have been advised by national, state, and municipal authorities to restrict our public gatherings, maintain social distance, and to observe rigorous health protocols. The threat is serious and real – immediate action is necessary to “flatten the curve” wherever possible. We believe it is essential that the church around the world do our part, even as the mission of the church continues.

We have been in ongoing communication with regional, field, and district leadership. We are hearing wonderful reports of how our churches are responding with compassion and creativity, being careful yet courageous. So many are doing their part to adapt because they understand that Christlike ministry extends much farther than the walls of a building. Crises often reveal our dependence on God and opportunities for ministry we could not see before. Thank you for allowing the light of your witness to shine brightly.

However, we also realize that there are many new challenges, unlike we have faced in our lifetime. Because the Church of the Nazarene is a global church, it is difficult to make comprehensive recommendations that fit in every situation. In our various countries, there are different government health protocols recommending restrictions on gatherings. While we believe in the vital importance of the gathering of the saints, due to the highly contagious nature of this virus and as a way to show our respect for governing authorities and to love our neighbors, we ask every local church to cooperate with and follow the recommendations from your nation, state, and municipality. Further, we are empowering district leadership to offer directives and provide guidelines to local churches in the matter of congregational gatherings in accordance with health department instructions. We will find our way through this time with God’s help and the strength of the Body of Christ.

We want to call the church to prayer. As one of our district superintendents said: “Pray now and often. Pray for peace. Pray for patience. Pray for learning. Pray for the Holy Spirit who is unbound by any of temporary restrictions to come over people in their homes. Pray for His power to flow out of us in Christlike compassion and conviction, so much that even though we aren’t gathering for worship according to our customs, we will experience the presence of Jesus and reflect Him in what we say and do.”

Finally, let us be reminded of God’s Word: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). The people of God do not live in fear and respond in panic. We know God will never leave us or forsake us. Perfect love casts out fear. Moreover, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to respond in love and grace to our neighbor, regardless of our circumstances. We have been given a sound mind to make wise decisions and the fruit of the Spirit to give us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control as we follow Jesus and pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We pray for God’s healing of COVID-19, but we also pray that we will have the grace to be faithful to our mission, “To make Christlike disciples in the nations.” National borders may be temporarily closed, social distancing may be necessary for a time, but the gospel will not be deterred.

Grace and peace to you all,

The Board of General Superintendents

Eugénio R. Duarte

David W. Graves

David A. Busic

Gustavo A. Crocker

Filimão M. Chambo

Carla D. Sunberg

Pastoral Letter Web Site

Declaration From General Superintendents On Coronavirus


Declaration from General Superintendents on Coronavirus:


To our global Nazarene family:

These are unprecedented days in the life of the church and for the citizens of the world. The global pandemic as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led us into new territory. The good news is that all of this is not a surprise to God, and while we may feel unprepared and uncertain, we know that we are able to put our faith and trust in God. We encourage you not to live in a spirit of fear but to allow His peace to lead and direct each and every day. Today, we pray for the peace of Christ to bring us calm in the midst of this storm.

Throughout history, the church has been used by God to reflect Christ in a time of crisis. This is the time for the church to shine. Reach out in holy love to those in our communities who are in need. Do not allow prejudices to form our opinions regarding particular people groups, but instead, “love your neighbor.” Consider those who will be the most affected by restrictions, and be prepared to share resources with those in need.

The Board of General Superintendents and additional Church of the Nazarene leadership continues to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the church and people around the world. We are working closely with districts and churches to provide guidance regarding legislative and jurisdictional questions during this time.

Click here for general guidelines for local churches.

We continue to pray for all those affected by this illness and are believing for the Lord’s wisdom, healing, blessing, and guidance during this difficult time. Let us not stray away from our faith into fear during these hard times, “for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, visit the World Health Organization website.

How To Strengthen The Church Of The Nazarene (USA/CANADA) By 2030 II


In the previous entry, Rob Prince, Lead Pastor of Flint (Michigan) Central Church of the Nazarene, detailed the current reality facing our denomination in the U.S. and Canada and began to offer some suggestions for a brighter future.  His recommendations echo many of the same sentiments we in the Mesoamerica Region have been attempting to address through the ministry of Genesis. Let’s continue this conversation today by reading Rob’s second article, and know that we will also be covering these topics in a future episode of the Worthless Servants podcast.

In my previous blogpost, I posed the question: What if we thought differently about the future church and ministry in the Church of the Nazarene in the USA/Canada region?

I offered a new scenario of normalized ministry, if indeed you can call it new.  Paul, a tent maker (see Acts 18:3), was bi-vocational and still managed to plant a bunch of churches and write a major chunk of the New Testament. Maybe better stated, I asked: what if normalizing bi-vocational ministry and the planting of 5,000 house or in-an-operating-business churches by 2030 in the USA/Canada could happen?

Here are some possible answers to a few questions that might have been raised:

What could happen (through this method)?  Many of these churches could grow beyond their house or business meeting place – to that we’d say, “Hallelujah.” But even if that didn’t happen there would be 5000 new house churches or gatherings meeting in a business place averaging 25 people or more for a total of at least 125,000 new Nazarenes.

What else would happen? We’d see smaller, viable, reproducible, faith communities where non-Christians meet up with theologically trained pastors on a daily basis all over the country.

What else wouldn’t be there? Let’s name them: church buildings to maintain, pastors’ salaries, students’ debt that hinders financial stability of the minister, and other expenses that drain a church budget but have produced little or no results.  Remember: for all the money spent last year in churches around the USA/Canada, the church has been in decline…and for more than the last decade the church has been in decline.

What’s the worst that could happen? The coffee shop, thrift store, business venture/house church goes belly up or the pastor has proved to be a goober.  Well, then you pull up stakes, sell the building, and move to the next small town or to the other side of that same town or urban area and do the same thing.

What’s the next worst thing that could happen?  We burn out our people. Pastoring, running a business or working a job, having a family…there aren’t enough hours in the day. This problem could be helped with more and better delegation of responsibilities in the local gathering, better support from the district, partnering with more established churches, and efficient time management from the pastor.

How could the denomination pay for it? If the USA/Canada church model must be strengthened to keep the global mission of the church operating, then envisioning a way forward to make that happen must be a priority.

The homes/buildings for this new church venture would be purchased from district funds that have been acquired from the sale of other properties.

The college tuition would be covered by an increase in the USA/Canada portion of the WEF funds. Increasing the USA/Canada portion of the WEF funds is necessary if the goal is to strengthen the local churches by providing an educated clergy who are also able to sustain themselves without church budget funds.

If strengthening the USA/Canada church is priority #1 (and it is my contention that it must be for the long-term well-being of the global church) then this should be reflected in the WEF allotment to USA/Canada region. WEF dollars could be spent not only on educating a new horde of pastors at N.T.S. or N.B.C. but also in bringing in missionaries from other world areas to reach the various ethnic groups in the USA/Canada region.

Honestly, what has to happen to start 5000 churches?

More than money or finding pastors—there will need to be some major shifts in thinking.

  1. Church buildings are not necessary for Kingdom growth. This goes against the now-debunked theory: “If we build it, they will come.” No, they won’t. A more accurate moniker is: “If they build it, they will have a huge debt and will be unable to invest in ministry.”
  2. Pastors are not obligated to be compensated by the church. Paul and many more modern tentmakers show that bi-vocational ministry can be done successfully. The fastest-growing church on the district where I serve (Eastern Michigan District), Family Community Church in Goodrich, Michigan, has no paid church staff and averaged 295 people in attendance in 2019.
  3. The USA/Canada must be strengthened now (yesterday, actually). The ship is sinking. If the USA/Canada Church is not strengthened, the whole global church will be impacted negatively. The situation is critical, and the needs are immediate. Taking our collective heads out of the sand is needed.
  4. Who am I kidding (Take 1)? Nazarene churches (and pastors) are too territorial. Too often when an existing Nazarene church is in a town and a church plant is suggested there is major push back. Like it was played out in the old Western slang vernacular that says, “This town ain’t big enough fer the both of us.” But the truth of the matter is that nearly every city could use more churches preaching the message of holiness. We need a more “What’s good for Kingdom” mindset and less worry or contention over territorial boundaries.
  5. Who am I kidding (Take 2)? There are pastors just like me, who have earned our living off the church for 25+ years and are too old to learn a new trick (i.e. “we ain’t changing” and we aren’t about to open a coffee shop anytime soon). This is the biggest hurdle. I get it. The shift to make bi-vocational ministry the norm, not the exception, will take my generation and the generation behind me to retire.

In the meantime, pastors in my bracket need to cheer on those who are stepping out on marc-scaturro-brnf7UfFMXk-unsplashfaith. Applaud the adventurous, worthy millennials and iPhone generation pastors (OK, Boomer) who will do the hard kingdom work of bringing the church back to the center of ministry again. These are the ministers who willingly serve without pay in house churches and build the Kingdom of God in coffee shops, restaurants and public meeting places.

We need a new era of evangelism. Probably the old way of Biblical tracts and four spiritual laws isn’t going to have the same effectiveness in USA/Canada. Instead, the Jesus model of moving in and living among the people, the Paul model of being a tent maker and living off their secular work, and the Stephen model of Kingdom before self are what is needed (and repeated 5,000 times) if the USA/Canada church (and in turn the global church) is going to be strengthened in the coming decade.



How To Strengthen The Church Of The Nazarene (USA/CANADA) By 2030 I


Recently we had the privilege of reading an article by the Lead Pastor of Flint Central Church of the Nazarene, Rob Prince, in which he reflected on changes that will be needed in the coming decade in order to see growth and transformation in the Church of the Nazarene in the U.S. and Canada. Many of the things he proposes are exactly what we are promoting through the ministry of Genesis in Mesoamerica and through our Worthless Servants Podcast.  Rob gave us the permission to reproduce his articles today and in the following entry, and we will also be touching on these issues in some upcoming episodes of the podcast.

What if we thought differently about the future church and ministry in the Church of the Nazarene than the way we currently think?

Here are the facts as I see them (some anecdotal, some not):

Fact 1: A strong USA/Canada church is essential for the good of the global church (currently the USA/Canada funds 94% of the mission of the global church).

Fact 2: The USA/Canada Church has been in decline for over a decade and the coming decade could be worse.

Fact 3: The ONLY way to reverse the trend is to open more churches (5,000 new churches).

Fact 4: Seminary enrollment is down (way down from when I was a student 35 years ago). I haven’t seen the Bible College numbers. If we are opening churches we need trained pastors.

Fact 5: Many of the seminarians/ministry majors who are enrolled aren’t thrilled about reviving a church in small town U.S.A. or planting a church in an urban area. Many don’t want to pastor a church at all.

Fact 6: Getting a job in small town USA can be difficult.

Fact 7: Finding affordable housing in urban areas of the USA is difficult.

Fact 8: Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:37 are still true: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” People in both small town and urban USA need Jesus. We need churches and pastors.

What if we actively tried to change the current reality?

What if the term “bi-vocational pastor” was looked upon as a normal, regular ministry option rather than one inducing sympathy or being viewed as “second-rate?”

What if we thought of the bi-vocational pastor as the most honorable pastoral position and held these sacrificial women and men in high regard? Conversely, what if the idea of a “full-time” clergy role was viewed as a somewhat questionable pursuit?

What if seminarians/Bible college students were taught how to open a coffee shop (don’t people-inside-bar-2159074all ministry students love coffee?) or a thrift store (who doesn’t like a good thrift store/consignment shop?) or some other venture and taught how to play the guitar? Singing has always been a part of Christian worship (Live music > YouTube sing-alongs). And what if simultaneously these bi-vocational ministers were taught how to craft a sermon and be a pastor?

What if Acts 2:42 became our model of these house or inside-a-business-space churches? The followers would devote themselves to Biblical teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and to prayer. That’s it.

What if the district leadership could convince the twenty people or so remaining in a dying church that is on hospice care that they could sell their building and open a coffee shop or thrift store, that instead of the lost folks never stepping in their church, those that don’t know Jesus would regularly walk into a coffee shop or thrift store? (Note: this sales job from the district leader might take an act of God to actually happen).

What if we made the Bible college or seminary tuition FREE for those going into (or already doing) pastoral ministry?

What if districts started buying houses for the pastors to live in and where the house churches could meet?

What if the being-trained, guitar-playing, coffee-making, thrift store-operating, theologically sound seminarian or Bible College student with free education and free housing in the apartment above the coffee shop (with income from the coffee shop and with a steady stream of potential Jesus followers coming to get their coffee or find a bargain) could actually make a difference for Jesus in small town USA? What if all that could happen and…

What if this model was repeated again and again and again all across USA/Canada?

If that model was repeated, say 5000 times in the next decade, then attendance numbers and declining dollars would be dramatically reversed. We would see revival in small town USA and urban areas and everywhere in between.

No doubt, I’ve raised a lot of questions. In the next blog post I will attempt to answer some of those questions.

Encuentro Guatemala 2020


logo ing                      loguito e


“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


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



7 Days

14 Days



$ 90

Transportation on site


$ 70



$ 140



$ 60






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