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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All Hands on Deck

Knowing what mission is and being on mission are two very different things. To be on mission requires initiative, but above all you need a ready and willing heart to work in response to the love of God.

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From June 23 to 30, eleven young Nazarenes dedicated their week to support the construction of the Center of Missionary Formation on the campus of the Nazarene Seminary located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We were accompanied by members of Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma, USA, and were led by the coordinators of Work and Witness in the country, AJ and Chelsea Fry. The coordinator of Global Missions in the Dominican Republic, Wendy Rivera, also assisted in the trip.

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In addition to the building projects, we held Vacation Bible Schools in two Nazarene churches located near the seminary. There we had the opportunity to minister to more than 150 children.  Our goal was to serve the Lord, and we understood that by doing so we would need to work with all our hearts to serve others.

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We experienced moments of intense construction work, and other times of great joy while we shared with the children of the churches.  We also enjoyed the time as a team that we were able to spend in communion with God and with each other.  We are grateful for what God did in our lives, as well as what He will continue to do. This was an unforgettable experience and a great blessing! However, I hope that it is not only an experience, but a motivation to, wherever we are, continue working for the Lord.  We willingly declare: all hands on deck!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

 –Yerys Amador, Work and Witness volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

Operation Rescue

 “And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

With this verse in mind, from June 20th to the 23rd, the Church of the Nazarene in the Eastern District of the Dominican Republic held its second Maximum Mission in three low-income communities in the town of Bayaguana. With a willing heart to serve, about 50 participants from four districts of the country met to carry out this missionary work.

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“Operation Rescue” was the title of this great activity, which sought to fulfill what Jesus said in Matthew 20:28: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The participants mobilized to SERVE and share with many people who needed to hear a message of hope.

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More than 60 families were blessed with the Word of God and baskets of food. The group also shared workshops on self-esteem, a Vacation Bible School was held, houses were repaired, a film was shown, a revival service was celebrated, and many other activities impacted the people of Bayaguana.  Four people decided to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives and to start their walk with Him.

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We believe that this is the time for the Church to be mobilized and get out of its comfort zone. The needs are abundant, and many souls wander without direction and without God. Men and women are needed who are ready and willing to say: Here am I, send me!

— Elba Isabel Duson, Global Missions Coordinator, Eastern District, Dominican Republic.

The Story of Christina Begins

Recently, we have been receiving reports from our missionaries who have been planting churches through the Genesis initiative. They have been serving for more than a year in each of their assigned places and they are starting to see a great harvest. Here, we want to share one of the team’s testimonies in Queretaro, Mexico, written by Jhoselyn Barrios.

Christina is a 22-year-old young woman who has four siblings. She and her siblings live with their parents in Los Olvera. They moved to this place last year; previously they had lived in another municipality called Cadereyta. As a family, they have a plant nursery, which is their source of economic income.

We met Christina at the Community’s Center of Human Development, where we are serving as volunteers teaching computer classes and basic literacy. Some time ago, we enrolled in a Zumba class with the purpose of better getting to know the women of the community. Maybe some people will read this and say: That’s crazy! Zumba classes? But the truth is that it is a good place to meet people, to laugh, to empathize with others and to initiate conversations.

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After two days of getting to know her, Christina got in touch with us. We let her know that we were having a special activity for Women’s Day and also a beauty workshop. That’s how Christina began to get involved in our activities.

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After getting to know her more, we were able to schedule a visit to her home. Praise the Lord: that day all her family accepted Christ in their hearts!

A few weeks ago, Christina celebrated her birthday, and everyone was invited to eat at her home. We brought a birthday cake and a present for her. We spent time with her family and we felt at home when we visited them. Now they are one of the families that are receiving discipleship in order to be baptized. God is doing a marvelous thing in Queretaro!

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Isn’t it exciting to see what God is doing in our cities?! Please pray for Christina and her family. Also, pray for our two teams of missionaries working in Panama City and Queretaro.