The Point of Pilot Point

By David A. Busic

It has often been said that the union of three different groups to form the Church of the Nazarene at Pilot Point, Texas, USA, was to promote the biblical doctrine of holiness as expressed in the teaching of John Wesley and the American Holiness Movement. While that is certainly true, what is less well-known is that at the very same time, nearly 30 other prominent groups in the U.S. held this same conviction. So why did these three groups merge to form our denomination, but not the many others?
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The three groups that merged at Pilot Point held several common ideas that were essential to their unity:

  • The strong affirmation for the ordination of women
  • A baptismal theology that included infant and believer’s baptism and was not bound by a specific mode for baptism
  • The willingness to allow for freedom of conscience regarding eschatology. The early Church of the Nazarene included post-millennialists, pre-millennialists, and a-millennialists
  • A view of divine healing that did not exclude modern medicine
  • A shared believers’ church ecclesiology

While many other holiness denominations held exclusive and narrow viewpoints on these issues, the Church of the Nazarene chose to unite holiness people around middle-way (via media) practices. We have never been at our best as a church when we live in the extremes.
 
But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Pilot Point was that the Church of the Nazarene was able to do what few other evangelical churches could in the divisive years that followed the American Civil War — overcome issues of regional politics, prejudice, and the lingering hatred that follows horrific conflict.
 
Names like Bresee, Jernigan, and Reynolds came together from north, south, and east U.S. to embrace a transformational idea: Christian holiness can break down any walls of separation. It was a movement of God unprecedented in U.S. church history.
 
Nazarene Historian Stan Ingersol powerfully summarizes the miracle of Pilot Point:

The union of churches at Pilot Point was a shining example of the social reality of Christian holiness. At the heart of the Christian message is a word of reconciliation: first between sinners and Divine Love; and second, among the members of the human family who are estranged from one another. Pilot Point signifies the reality that holiness heals hearts and unites people otherwise driven apart by sin, politics, and conflict. (Stan Ingersol, “Born In Hope, Borne Onward In Love.” A paper delivered 26 June 2017 for the Fraternal Delegates Luncheon in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)

In such a time as this, in a world filled with great political strife and extreme polarities, can the Church of the Nazarene return to the spirit of our founders at Pilot Point? It was unlikely to happen then, but by the will and power of God, a union was formed. Our founders were not able to do everything, but they have given us hope that we can also deal with the issues that divide us today.
 
We serve the same God and have the same purpose. This is our holiness legacy. Let’s get back to the point of Pilot Point. 

*I am indebted to Nazarene Historian Stan Ingersol for these insights.

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. 

 

Fast Facts – Church of the Nazarene (2017)

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  • The Church of the Nazarene ministers in 162 world areas.*
  • In 2017, there were 685 missionaries originating from 59 world areas (including 225 long-term volunteers). Last year, 110 new missionaries were added. Within these missionary families, there are 379 missionary kids.*
  • 9,480 volunteers participated in Global Missions in 2017. In addition to the long-term volunteers, there were 314 short-term volunteers, and 9,166 Work & Witness team members.
  • Churches in global mission areas numbered 30,875 churches (increase of 0.98 percent) with 2.55 million members (increase of 3.19 percent from last year).*
  • 479 districts have been established around the world in 2017 with 28,719 clergy.*
  • 5 graduate seminaries, 30 undergraduate Bible/theological colleges, 14 liberal arts institutions, 2 nurses training colleges, and 1 teacher training college had a 2017 combined enrollment of 50,799 students globally.*
  • People were treated at community-based clinics and health care centers all over the world with concentrated efforts in India, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.*
  • 221 retired missionaries received pensions.*
  • NMI membership was approximately 1 million, and the number of organized local NMIs have risen by 2.33 percent to 17,293.
  • NMI and JESUS Film Harvest Partners, through WEF, helped provide infrastructure for 608 Nazarene JESUS Film teams to share God’s love. In 2016–2017, the teams reported 2.67 million evangelistic contacts. Of these contacts, 638,319 (24 percent of contacts) indicated decisions for Christ with 379,669 (59 percent of decisions) initial discipleship follow-ups. The teams started 7,544 preaching points in 2017.
  • NMI partnered with pastors, church boards, Global Missions, and Stewardship to help churches raise US $37.44 million through the World Evangelism Fund during the 2017 fiscal year (FY).*
  • Churches globally gave US $30.86 million for Approved Mission Specials (up 17 percent from FY 2016).
  • In 2017, 110 districts gave 5.5 percent of their income and beyond to the World Evangelism Fund (up 21 districts). WEF giving beyond 5.5 percent invests in new works in all world areas, including the USA and Canada.
  • Missionary Health Care provided approximately US $472,769 in medical assistance for Nazarene missionaries (up 6.76 percent from FY 2016).
  • NMI partnered with World Mission Broadcast (WMB), giving approximately US $367,327 to provide radio, television, and Internet programs to share the gospel globally.
  • Nazarenes gave US $3.7 million in deputation offerings for missionaries, up 15.9 percent from FY 2016.
  • NMI generated approximately US $253,347 through Links (up 4.94 percent), a vital personalized connection between local churches, districts, and missionaries around the world.
  • Nazarenes gave US $2.46 million for Alabaster (up 0.24 percent) to fund construction projects in 2017. In 2016–2017, Alabaster funds were released for 216 projects for the Church of the Nazarene in all six regions around the world. The Alabaster Offering is used in all six global regions. No Alabaster funds are used for administrative costs.
  • International Student Scholarship Fund (NMI 80th Anniversary project) provided 89 scholarships for students to attend Nazarene theological institutions globally.
  • NMI partnered with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries to give more than US $9.28 million for disaster response and compassion projects around the world and to support approximately 12,000 children through Child Development Centers and Pastor’s Kid programs. Churches sent 52,320 Crisis Care Kits and 9,700 School Pal-Paks.
  • NMI assisted Work & Witness in raising approximately US $1.66 million to deploy 647 teams, an average of 12 teams per week. 9,166 people participated in Work & Witness in 2017, donating the equivalent of 329 years of labor.
  • Nazarene churches around the world operated 1,439 pre-school, primary, and secondary schools with a total enrollment of 166,231 students.

* Supported either directly or indirectly by World Evangelism Fund (WEF).

Denominational statistics for 2017

Nazarene Missions International

A Swift and Radical Change

In one of the neighborhoods in the city, two missionaries were doing door to door evangelism, knocking on doors to present the gospel using the “Wordless Book.” They knocked on the door insistently, but no one would open. When they were about to leave, a woman about 40 years old leaned out of a small window.  They told her why they were there. Even though the weather was not cold, the woman was wearing a coat; she seemed nervous and concerned, and she was walking from one place to another. She told the missionaries she couldn’t receive them because she was waiting for her therapy session with her psychologist. The missionaries asked for ten minutes to share a Bible story, and so she let them.  At the end, they guided her to accept Christ as her Savior.

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During the prayer, the woman broke down weeping. She told the missionaries that when they prayed she started sweating, feeling really hot and restless at the same time. After giving her some advice, they left, promising her that they would return the next day to give her a discipleship lesson. When they came back, she shared with the missionaries how she had wanted to cancel the appointment with them.  Unable to contact them, though, she began to think that it might be important – even exciting – to receive them again.

At the end of the discipleship lesson, once again the missionaries prayed for her.  But this time the Holy Spirit started to minister to her in a beautiful way, performing a miracle of change in her life. When the missionaries returned for the third time, they were astonished: the woman’s appearance had changed, she looked healthy, and her house was cleaned and organized. She shared that for ten years she had dealt with depression and anxiety; in fact, for the past eight years she hadn’t been able to leave her house. She told them that she kept a lot of resentment in her heart against people that had hurt her, and she had even thought about ending her life to stop the suffering. But on that day, when the missionaries talked to her about Jesus and then prayed for her, she felt a strange heat that invaded her body, and it felt like someone had removed a weight from above. She started to feel joy and shared the news with her parents and brothers whom were disconcerted when listening to her.

After reading the Bible, the missionaries prayed for her once again. This time the woman started crying, asking for God’s healing for her life. By the fourth visit the woman was beaming, and she told them that for the first time in eight years she was able to leave the house and go with her husband to the main square of the city. She told them she was amazed by the joy she felt without medication, any therapy sessions, or even consulting with her psychiatrist at all (who, by the way, had never showed up for the appointment).

The missionaries were joyful to see this swift and radical change. When they were about to pray for her, she asked them to wait.  She ran to the house next door to call her parents, husband and brothers so they could also be a part of the prayer. Her family came and told the missionaries that they couldn’t explain what they were seeing in her life. They said they were religious people, members of the main church in town, but they were amazed by the change in her. They asked the missionaries to pray for them, too, and for other family members. The missionaries prayed for everyone and promised them to continue sharing with them about Jesus. The missionaries are members of a local Nazarene Church, and before this encounter, they had never shared their faith with anyone who did not know Jesus.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

This information has been provided by Rev. Manuel Molina, and comes from one of many “Project Paul” church planting trips in the north of Mexico.

 

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

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 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 .