Global Mission Coordinators’ Retreat – Northcentral Field

The second Global Mission coordinators’ retreat for the Northcentral field was held May 17-19. Nine coordinators from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua participated in the retreat, along with several of the young people they are discipling and preparing for missions.

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During the retreat, the participants:

  • Heard testimonies about how God is working in the lives of young people in the field, as well as the progress and current reach of the Global Mission ministry.
  • Learned about their roles and responsibilities as district coordinators.
  • Understood the importance of discipleship and follow-up for young people with a missionary call.
  • Heard testimonies about what God is doing in the Mesoamerica Region through the Genesis ministry.
  • Enjoyed times of fellowship, worship, and the Lord’s Supper.
  • Reflected on and confirmed God’s call on their lives.
  • Shared the gospel with the community of Apastepeque, San Vicente in a creative way, through a mini-circus.

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God really blessed this time together, and we could see the Holy Spirit moving in the life of each participant.

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I thank God for the opportunity He has given me to serve in the Global Mission ministry in the Northcentral field. I also thank God for the lives of our leaders and servants: Scott and Emily Armstrong, and Leonel and Maria Luisa de León.

After the conclusion of the coordinators’ retreat, the young people sat down to share their feelings about the retreat. They decided to fast as a team one day each week and also pray for our field, our vision and ministry, as well as for the Genesis missionaries currently on the field.

–Luz Jimenez, North Central Field Global Mission Coordinator.

A Plea to not Join the Jaded: Resisting the Soul-Withering Cynicism in Ministry

By Scott Armstrong

I was a rookie missionary, new to the field and eager to change the world.  I was chatting with a missionary colleague who had served for nearly a decade about a delicate conflict in the Church both on the field and back home.  At one point I expressed optimism that all would soon work out.  She rolled her eyes and shook her head in an all-knowing manner: “Wait a couple years.  You’ll be just as jaded as the rest of us.”

What!? This happened years ago, and I still remember it vividly.  Were ministry and missions going to gradually become a steady slog through dashed hopes and increasing distrust of leadership? This is not what I signed up for – let alone what I felt called to!

I recently heard Matt Chandler at one of the Exponential Church Planting and Multiplication Conferences.  He shared a story about taking his seven-year-old daughter to a Disney Fairies show.  She was so excited that she dressed up in a fairy costume.  Her dad had bought great tickets and her face beamed as they made their way down to the first row.

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However, from that particular section of the auditorium, Matt realized that they could see backstage where all of the fairies were putting on costumes and where the stage manager was signaling to all the actors when they would enter and exit. Props were being readied and then moved on stage.

Matt’s daughter began to give her attention more to what was happening backstage than to the amazing production right in front of her.  At one point she leaned over to her daddy and said, “Those aren’t the real fairies.  Those are just people dressed up like them.”

There was no more awe in her voice.  She had lost the magic.

Doesn’t this happen to us as we go through life, and ministry specifically? If we have been around for more than a few years, we have seen a lot of guck in the church, and it is not relegated to the average layperson.  Through experience (and some of our own selfishness and poor decisions, too) we see backstage and start to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly in leadership.  We start to use phrases like: “labor of love” and “plugging away” to describe our daily work. The thrill is definitely gone!

We cannot be naïve – there is a lot of life and ministry that is difficult and tiring. This news should not catch any of us off guard.

At the same time, the peek backstage does not have to take the magic of ministry away. Part of maturing in service to Christ and his people should not mean that we eventually by default become jaded!

So how do we resist this slow creep of cynicism? In my next post I will offer some important suggestions that have helped me personally with keeping spiritual fervor and not becoming jaded in ministry.

Genesis Training – 2018

Eight missionaries from Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to receive missionary training during the month of April this year. 

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Genesis Missionaries – 2018

One of the strategies of the Genesis initiative in the Mesoamerica region is to send volunteer missionaries to big cities in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in order to make Christ-like disciples. These volunteers, supported by their local churches and districts, are sent in teams to serve in specific sites.

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Maritza, María de los Ángeles, Marlene and Jhoselyn – Genesis site: Queretaro, Mexico

Ingrid Jocholá, Joselyn García, Keila Molina and Marleidy Sánchez with assignment to Panama City, Panama; and Jhoselyn Barrios, María de los Ángeles Romero, Maritza Mendoza and Marlene Valadez with assignment to Querétaro, Mexico, received trainings, workshops and tools that will serve them on the mission field, specifically with the task of planting new churches. 

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Ingrid, Marleidy, Joselyn and Keila – Genesis site: Panama, Panama

The training included the participation of leaders and missionaries from different places: Erika Chaves (Nazarene Compassionate Ministries – Haiti Field), Óscar García (Evangelism – Dominican Republic), Amable Polanco (Evangelism and Global Mission – Panama), Monte Cyr (Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries – Mesoamerica), Miguel and Irene Garita (Missionary Care – Mesoamerica), Scott and Emily Armstrong (Genesis and Global Mission – Mesoamerica), and Freya Galindo (Global Mission – Central Field). Furthermore, during the entire month, the missionaries received support and encouragement from Gary and Naomi Faucett (United States), who serve as Missionary Care Facilitators for Genesis volunteers. 

The missionaries were able to teach and preach in various Nazarene congregations in the Dominican Republic. They also participated in community activities where they put into practice certain teachings from the training they received.

Even though they have a great challenge ahead of them, these new missionaries are trusting God, for He is the one who accompanies them in this task.  They believe that He is the one who has called them to be part of his mission.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

For more information about how to become a volunteer missionary with Genesis, click on the following link: http://www.mesoamericagenesis.org/service/

 

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.