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 .

I Learned to Listen to His Voice

I am Marvin Ac, I received Jesus Christ in 2008, after leaders of the church shared with me the Good News. I was baptized as a witness of my new life in Christ and by a public statement of my new faith in Jesus.

I was one of the first to receive a diploma in Youth Ministry offered by the Church of the Nazarene in 2010. It was during this time I received the tools necessary to encourage me to have a more effective ministry and provided me the understanding and need to go into all the nations and make Christ-like disciples.

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To accomplish this, I made the decision to serve as a volunteer missionary with the Genesis Initiative in Veracruz, Mexico from 2014 – 2016. This was a wonderful experience where I saw the glory of God manifested in my life and in the lives of others when they recognized Him as their Lord and Savior. It was during this time, I recognized that I was not only would give, but  receive as well. Genesis helped me to rely completely on God in all areas of my life.

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While with Genesis, I also learned to listen to His voice and to understand more of His faithfulness. I learned to see His presence glow on the faces of those who praised and sought Him in prayer. I can say with certainty today, that being a part of Genesis was the most important decision I’ve made in my life. I will never regret having the opportunity to serve and be a blessing to the people in Veracruz.

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The Lord took what I learned from Genesis and led me to where I am today, serving as missionary pastor in Mission “La Loma.” This is a mission we’ve started from what was once just a concept. We currently have a children’s ministry and a small group of adult teachers and leaders.

The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. Psalm 2:7-8

“Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities. Isaiah 54:2-3

Mission Briefing: Culture Shock

By Howard Culbertson

People often think the feelings arising in encounters with strange foods or customs constitute “culture shock.” In reality, those brief moments of discomfort are not what anthropologists mean by culture shock.

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Anthropologists and psychologists use “culture shock” to describe the confusion, doubt and nervousness common to people who have recently begun living cross-culturally and who are also experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Exaggerated homesickness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Loss of sense of humor
  • Avoiding contact with local people by spending hours on email, the Internet and social media
  • Suffering psychosomatic illnesses
  • Frequent feelings of boredom or apathy
  • Inexplicable bouts of weeping
  • Eating compulsively
  • Diminished ability to work effectively
  • High level of irritability
  • Hostility towards people of host culture
  • Jingoism or super patriotism
  • Stereotyping of people of host culture
  • Exaggerated attention to cleanliness

Real culture shock is thus more deep-seated than the momentary discomfort felt when confronting strange things to eat or unfamiliar social norms. What anthropologists call culture shock grows out of a long period of coping with unfamiliar ways of doing, organizing, perceiving and valuing things. Indeed, because people experience culture shock symptoms over a period of time rather than in one isolated event, some anthropologists say “cycle of adjustment” rather than “culture shock.”

Culture shock symptoms appear quite prominent in some people and less so in others. Nonetheless, the cycle of adjustment (or culture shock) –– honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, and acceptance –– is inevitable.  Though culture shock is not a medical condition, the psychological disorientation, the withdrawal and excessive sleeping can be compared to organisms going into physical shock after a trauma.

Culture shock symptoms may come and go over a period of time. Describing her experiences in Senegal, missionary Linda Louw said, “I thought culture shock was something that you got through and it was done, but it just keeps coming.”

The sense of unease and heightened irritability common in the frustration stage can be triggered by small things. The adjustment stage usually does not kick in until a person has become familiar with and increasingly comfortable in a new culture.

Fortunately, the effects of culture shock can be somewhat mitigated. Here are half a dozen coping suggestions:

  • Realize what is happening to you and why.
  • Remind yourself that this happens to every expatriate to one degree or another and that people do regularly survive it.
  • Refuse to succumb to the desire to withdraw from people. Choose instead to engage with those of your host culture.
  • Get involved in a hobby that involves in some way the place where you serve.
  • Be bold about reaching out to people in your host culture to build a support network of confidants, including enlisting individuals to help in improving your language and cultural acquisition.
  • Consciously cultivate your curiosity about the wildlife, geography, plant life, history, literature, foods, social norms, folk tales, children’s stories, proverbs, legends and fables of the place where you serve.

This article was originally published at: Engage Magazine

 

Trickle-Down Evangelism

By Jeff Christopherson

Are disciples becoming disciple-makers?

Does trickle-down evangelism work? If we feed the disciple enough, will he or she become a powerhouse warrior for the Kingdom of God?

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Here’s the version you’re most likely to hear: “We have to focus on our people. So many of them are immature and in desperate need of spiritual instruction. If we prioritize the growth and maturity of our people then that will have a trickle-down impact on their passion and ability to live on mission and share the gospel.” And so we design our churches for growth, consciously or unconsciously, through this filter.

This rationale at first seems prudent, but far too often the stated goal never comes to fruition. Rather than passionate, mobilized, mature believers, the church’s efforts end up fostering an inwardly-focused people who are increasingly isolated from the world they are commissioned to reach. Instead of a kingdom warrior, our trickle-down efforts seem only to muster an isolated, insulated, and evangelistically impotent churchman.

In reality, the longer it takes for new disciples to become disciple-makers, the more unlikely it is they will prioritize this work. Over time, the gravitational pull of their new relationships in the church will extract them from their relationships with others who are far from God and his church. The stronger the signal that church sends of ‘come and see’ over ‘go and tell,’ the less likely personal evangelism will ever take place. What’s worse, the more the pastor is observed as a ‘teller’ rather than ‘doer,’ the less likely the flock will be personally engaged in the work of evangelism.

So the trickle-down evangelism theory suffers from two fatal flaws: it creates a busy leadership that in their busyness become largely evangelistically unengaged; and, in our unending efforts to ‘equip,’ we have unintentionally isolated the mission force from the mission field.

New Believers and Evangelism

That’s why it’s vital that we create structures to unleash new believers into the harvest immediately after conversion. Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds believers that all those who have been reconciled to God through Christ have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16–21). This work isn’t for those who have crossed a certain threshold of sanctification; it is a mission given to all those who’ve trusted in Jesus for their salvation. “God saves and sends” isn’t a trite cliché; rather, it is the two-fold pattern God uses throughout Scripture and history to foster his missionary work in the world.

The temporal link between saving and sending maximizes the potential evangelistic impact and builds life rhythms that foster evangelistic intentionality throughout the new believer’s maturation process.

First, those who have recently come to faith are far more likely to live, learn, work, and play with those who are far from God and his church. Their previous patterns of life were likely infused with those in need of seeing and hearing the gospel. Not only are they in relationship with the lost, but these relationships are the prime context to model the transformation that the gospel brings.

Who better to notice the change of thought and practice that follows conversion than those friends who have seen the fruit of unrighteousness that once defined a person’s life? Since the relational bridge to these relationships is already in place, it is wise to immediately leverage them for the sake of the gospel.

Second, this level of evangelistic intentionality creates rhythms that should define the life of anyone seeking to walk faithfully with Christ. The malaise and apathy toward evangelism that far too often characterizes God’s church is likely attributable to the fact that many new believers internalized their church’s priorities which failed to engage them in evangelism early in their Christian walks.

As a result, in order for evangelistic fervor to mark God’s church once again, they must unlearn all sorts of habits that seem to imply that evangelism is an arbitrary add-on to an otherwise sufficient Christian life. Linking saving and sending allows the church to build healthy practices from the outset, rather than expecting healthy rhythms to mystically emerge after long contradictory patterns have already been forged.

This mindset need not imply that it’s unnecessary to equip and train believers to maturity. What’s at issue isn’t this laudable goal, but the pursuit of discipleship in a way that is disconnected from the work of evangelism. We can’t expect that an extracted disciple’s growth in maturity will trickle-down to a waiting harvest no matter the quality and quantity of the sacred buffet that we offer.

After all, if disciple-making is the assignment that Jesus gave his church, then evangelism really isn’t finished until the evangelized find themselves as evangelists and disciplers.

This article was originally published at: Christianity Today

No Hands, No Feet but Yours

Christmas Day, and now Christmas season, have come and gone.  In this blog, in our podcast, and hopefully in your local church, you have focused on the Incarnation: God with us.  He came to bring joy and hope!  The God of the entire universe has taken on flesh and “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Is. 53:4).  This is great news!

Yet, as we move into a new year, the Incarnation not only comforts us, but also calls to us.  It calls for a deeper commitment on our part. The God who became like us now asks us to become like those around us in order to more effectively share this good news. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world.

Is that concept uncomfortable to you? I heard an author once who said we should retire that phrase.  “We cannot be the hands and feet of Christ to anyone,” he maintained.  “Only Jesus can be Christ to the world and it is heretical to assume we are in his place!” He does have a good point: only Jesus can save, and any language that begins to allude to us as doing any part of that is pretty risky.

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However, I believe the phrase is valuable and theologically sound.  The primary manner that God uses to reach this desperate world is through the Church!  We are his extension.  As the Father sent him, so He sends us (Jn. 20:21)!  In fact, the idea of us being his hands and feet comes not from some modern preacher or writer attempting to creatively inspire us in mission.  Remember 1 Corinthians 12:27? “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” This is pretty biblical, then, agreed?!

Perhaps the most eloquent expression of this reality was written nearly 500 years ago by a Carmelite nun, St. Teresa of Avila.  As you read it, be thankful not only that God became man for us, but that we, too, have been given the privilege to be his active presence in this world!

“Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

–St. Teresa of Avila

 

First Cross-Cultural Orientation in Haiti

With 21 participants and a leadership team from three different countries, a Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO) was held in Montrouis, Haiti from December 7 to 9, 2017.

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During each activity and workshop, there was an atmosphere of expectation; those who attended were eager to learn more about missions. Our Haitian brothers and sisters were enthusiastic to learn more about missionary service and how they, too, can be part of what God is doing through the Church of the Nazarene around the world.IMG_2920.JPG

Although this is the first CCO that has been held in this country, it will assuredly not be the last. It is undoubtedly exciting to see that God is calling people from everywhere to everywhere!

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Marc Versil, Global Mission Coordinator of the Haiti Field, said: “Thank you all for your prayers.  The CCO in Haiti was a very interesting and productive event, and we give all glory to God!”

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One participant shared: “The CCO made me know how I can be an effective missionary, and how to help people to know Christ and to be his disciples.”

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Finally, Scott Armstrong, Global Mission Regional Coordinator, said: “This was a historic event.  For the first-time ever the CCO was able to be held in Haiti, a country that has for many decades received missionaries.  It was encouraging to see, however, that God is calling missionaries from Haiti and they are responding!  It will be exciting to see how this country rises up as a sending and sustaining missionary force in the years ahead.”

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First Global Mission Coordinators’ Retreat Held in Barbados

Inform. Strengthen. Expand.

These were the general objectives set for the coming year by the leaders who met December 1-3, 2017 in St. Phillips, Barbados for the first Global Mission Coordinators’ retreat in the Caribbean Field.  Led by Revs. Dario & Lynda Richards (from Barbados and Guyana), Global Mission refers to the ministry in the Mesoamerica Region that seeks to discover, develop and deploy new missionaries to the nations.

After Regional Coordinator Rev. Scott Armstrong outlined the history of Global Mission in the denomination and the region, Lynda Richards highlighted the history and dynamics of this ministry specifically in the Caribbean context.  Statistics tell us that 106 people have participated in three-week “Called to Serve” missions trips since 2013, and a multitude of Youth in Mission and Work and Witness teams have also been sent within the field during that time.  Lynda also offered potential cultural challenges in the Caribbean and cultural resources that can help combat or address those challenges.

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Dario Richards then led the group in a valuable time of dreaming, brainstorming, and charting the vision and strategy for the upcoming years.

Attendees included Kayann Walker (Jamaica), Talesha Plumber (Jamaica), Danielle Miller (Barbados), Rev. Shawn Parris (Barbados), Sheena Small (Barbados), and Jonette Williams (Antigua & Barbuda).  Each of these individuals is passionate about developing missions and missionaries from the Caribbean, and together they will form a field team that agreed on accomplishing the following goals in 2018:

  1. Discover 150 Nazarenes interested in missions, in part by conducting 2 Cross-Cultural Orientations in St. Lucia and Bahamas.
  2. Develop 10 coordinators who will promote the sending and supporting of volunteer missionaries in their districts, including potential longer-term candidates to the regional GENESIS initiative.
  3. Deploy 50 missionaries through Called to Serve trips to Turks & Caicos and St. Lucia, as well as 4 GENESIS missionaries to other cities of the region.

It was also a great privilege for this team to be a part of the installation of the Richards as Co-Pastors in the Hope Road Church of the Nazarene.  Many pastors and leaders from the Barbados District attended and prayed for this couple as they continue their field ministry and begin their local church pastorate in this congregation.

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Please pray for these leaders and this ministry in the coming months.  Pray that each one of these goals would be met and surpassed! Pray also that Caribbean Nazarenes would continue to cultivate an environment where the call to missions is heard, accepted, and supported overwhelming by a Church that is passionate about reaching a broken and hurting world.

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