“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.

 

Lift Up Your Eyes

By: Joselyn García, Missionary serving with Genesis in Panama City

“Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).

In order to make the message clear for his Hebrew hearers, Jesus used illustrations from their daily life, including many dealing with agriculture. In John 4, Jesus tries to teach his disciples how to take advantage of opportunities to extend the kingdom.

Discerning that a field was ready for harvest was not the specialty of a few who understood the subject. The golden color of thousands of spikes of grain clearly would have indicated to all who passed by that the harvest time had arrived. But in order to see it, one thing was necessary: the lifting of your eyes.

I want to tell you the story of Judith, a new believer in Carrasquilla, Panama City. Judith is a very helpful and active lady, and we saw her every week when we went through her neighborhood for the kids club we were organizing. Sometimes she wasn’t in a good mood, and we always greeted her, but we hadn’t ever had a deeper conversation with her. Several months passed. Judith3.jpeg

Taking John 4 into account, we might say that we had not yet learned to lift our eyes to see that there was an opportunity in front of us. How many days had we passed by the field and not noticed the harvest?!

One day we were able to have a conversation with her during a difficult time in the community. A great storm had come over the neighborhood, and we decided to visit each family, pray with them, and deliver food and water.

From that point our relationship with Judith grew. We shared Jesus with her, and we began discipleship in her house. She has grown a lot. She constantly tells us how her life has been transformed by Christ and how she has left behind actions and attitudes that did not please God. A few days ago, she took another step of faith. She was baptized!

Judith.jpeg

We thank God for her life, and what he will continue to do in her.

The Holy Spirit is the one who helps and guides us, but many times as a church we have missed countless opportunities to share the gospel. Lifting our eyes is an act of will. Let us decide to look at the world with the eyes of Christ, for He has said in his word that the harvest is ready.

May our prayer be: Lord, give us vision. Count on us. Use our hands to harvest. Lift up our eyes so that we can see beyond the faces of the people we meet. Help us to see their hearts.

Judith2.jpeg

The Two Faces Of The Moon

By: Marleidy Sánchez, Missionary serving with Genesis in Panama

In life, we learn the most in times of difficulties, complicated circumstances, and when life does not go as we would have expected. If we were to receive everything we wanted too easily, we would undoubtedly lose the value of effort, perseverance and, above all, patience.Marleidy selfie niños.jpg

Author Pablo Latapí Sarre writes a reflection where he compares the life of a teacher to the two faces of the moon. On the dark side he mentions all the hardships and problems one faces, and on the bright side the greatest of pleasures: seeing the student learn.

This causes me to think about missionary work. Every missionary faces many things that at the moment seem to make no sense. On the dark side, I could mention the difficulties on the field: the cultural shock of finding ourselves in a country not our own, limited economic resources, the lack of interest of people in responding to our message, or even if they do their lack of growth afterwards in their spiritual lives, etc.  If we focus on all this, we can lose sight of the most beautiful, luminous part of serving.

What can we say about the bright side? Throughout the entire time we have been Niños cajas.jpgserving in Panama, I have seen many lights: children and adults listening to Jesus and inviting him into their lives, the Word transforming minds and hearts, people leaving their pasts and beginning to lead new lives in Christ, and meeting every Sunday morning with a new church to praise God in a place where months ago there was nothing. In ministry we will have to pass through lights and shadows. Trusting in God’s promises makes us believe that, in the midst of difficulty, He has control.

There is a phrase that fits perfectly with this concept: “Do not forget in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” Shadows are part of ministry and also part of our growth. When we do everything with love, we can be assured that (in the words of Latapí Sarre) “the lights outweigh the shadows, and we know that the moon is decidedly bright and beautiful.”

 “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light” (Psalm 36:9).

Niños en fila.jpg

3 Common Misconceptions about Missionaries

*The following article was originally published by Ardeo Global:

https://www.ardeo.org/blog/2019/8/21/3-common-misconceptions-about-missionaries

We believe that to help you gain some clarity in your next steps as it comes to mission work, you should know what misconceptions exist about missionary living. The following are three things our culture tends to get wrong about what it’s like being a missionary.

1.) BEING A MISSIONARY IS A POSITION, NOT A CALLING.

There is a big difference between having a vocation and a calling. One’s vocation is centered on what you do. It’s the job description. It’s the ten thousand foot view of your purpose. But calling is the deep issue, calling is the gift that only you can bring into the world. One’s call is how one dresses their vocation.

For example, one’s vocation might be a teacher. Their calling might be completely different from their vocation, though! They may be drawn to teaching, but their God-given purpose is not just to teach; it’s to give children a safe space where they can grow into who they are meant to be. The calling goes far beyond the position we hold.

adult-baby-care-226618

In the same way, a person serving in missions on the foreign field may hold the title “missionary”, but their purpose is rooted and grounded in something far deeper. Maybe it’s giving local battered women their time so they know they are worthy of love. Maybe it’s praying healing over the sick on the streets, looking them in the eyes and communicating that they are known. Or maybe it’s helping others connect to God through worship. Whatever it is, the reality stands that you have something only you can give the world. Being a missionary isn’t necessarily living out your purpose. Digging down deeper into who you were created to be is how you live driven by purpose.

This doesn’t negate that God “calls” us to the mission field. But, it’s important to recognize that simply being a missionary doesn’t fulfill your call. Abba has something much deeper for you to discover. Are you excited to find out what it is?!

2.) YOU WON’T SEE MIRACLES EVERY DAY.

When people think of what life must be like for a missionary they think of the biggest, grandest, evangelical movement they could imagine. They envision missionaries constantly praying for people, constantly seeing people healed, and watching people accept Jesus as their Savior non-stop. They see tent revivals traveling city to city, demons being cast out left and right. They imagine the book of Acts spelled out in real-time.

Truth be told, being a missionary can feel rather disappointing at times. A lot of people go to the mission field with this high expectation they are going to see people run to Jesus in droves. However, the way it usually turns out is as a battle to simply get people to show up to the coffee dates you’ve set up with them to talk about the Bible.

Don’t get me wrong! Miracles do happen on the mission field. But, why is there a higher expectation to see miracles on the foreign mission field than in your own life where you’re at right now? Let’s just leave that question for you to ponder on your own.

Miracles do happen on the mission field, and they usually happen after a lot of praying and spending time with Abba. Usually after a dry season in their ministry, a missionary really learns the lesson of utter dependence on God. All of the work that we hope to see in people’s lives has been done by Him on the cross all those years ago. It’s up to Him to work his incredible mystery through us on the mission field. The only way we can see Him do what He longs to do is through intimacy with Him.

Which brings us to point 3.

3.) MISSIONARIES ARE, LIKE, REALLY SPECIAL AND HOLY.

This is probably one of the worst lies that we believe about any of the positions in ministry. You might be thinking, “I don’t think missionaries are any more holy than me.” But, it’d be worth the wager to say deep down inside there is something that fears the idea of being a missionary because you don’t feel like you measure up. Why wouldn’t you measure up if we’re all on the same plane before God.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Col 3:11

The same spirit that is in you was in Nate Saint, Mother Teresa, and Paul! Good news, the pressure is off. You have no one to live up to. You have only to live into yourself. No other shoes to fill. Just wear your shoes!

Making the choice to do missions long-term is a big decision. Knowing that there is a deeper calling than simply being a missionary, miracles aren’t a daily occurrence, and that missionaries are not that special can help you see that you really can do this!

 

Children’s Missionary Retreat – 2019

In the midst of the reality our world lives in, where for various reasons people are increasingly moving away from God and his calling, the Church has been concerned with creating an opportunity where children can learn about the importance of love, serving others, and being part of God’s mission.

On July 16 and 17, a “Children’s Missionary Retreat (“COMi” in Spanish) was held for the first time in the Dominican Republic. The country’s five districts were represented, accompanied by national and district leaders of NMI (Nazarene International Missions), SDMI (Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International), NCM (Nazarene Compassionate Ministries) and Global Missions volunteers. Similarly, leaders from Guatemala and Puerto Rico attended, with the special participation of Ana M. Crocker, Regional Coordinator of NMI. They all came together to bless the lives of 47 children who attended this event.

a4f16f95-a028-433a-b0c9-bc9a4f1599a1.JPG

The COMI was created with the purpose of cultivating in children the responsibility of responding to God’s call to make disciples in all nations. Through games and activities, the young participants learned the true meaning of missions and how they can be part of God’s mission. They received lessons on holistic mission, cross-cultural missions, local missions, and much more.

85f89a4e-d21a-46be-97bf-0dab079b711d.JPG

Children toured the past, present and future to meet the missionaries of each era and understand their lives, their calls, and their ministries. The children also meditated on the importance of prayer through a time when they interceded for their communities, families, and missionaries. They also enjoyed songs, a theatrical presentation, and several awards.

To conclude this event, participants reflected on the life and calling of Samuel, followed by a time of prayer and thanksgiving for the life of each of the children. As we concluded the event, we were convinced: if we invest more time in teaching our children to hear the voice of God, they will not only dream of being missionaries, but they will BE our future missionaries. 

 –Elba Duson, Global Missions East District, Dominican Republic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.