An Open Letter to the Churches of Mesoamerica

For the past five weeks we have been traveling through our 40 Days of Prayer for the Cities of Mesoamerica.  We have been so encouraged by the responses of many leaders and local churches as they mobilize their people in prayer!  This campaign has become an annual emphasis, and this year especially we are starting to see the vision take hold.  Thanks to all who have daily interceded for the urban settings in our region – it is truly making a difference!

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There are some exciting things happening in the months ahead.  First, the prayer does not need to stop! Please stay tuned to our updates and prayer requests throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our mobile app (available for Android or iOS) will also start to become more and more useful as our missionaries on the ground provide stories as well as personal prayer requests and praises.  And don’t forget that all around the region we have dedicated Tuesday mornings as a time to pray and fast for a genesis to occur in the cities of Mesoamerica.

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Sugey Barrón

Second, did you know that we are developing many new materials and tools to equip the existing churches that are in urban areas? Sugey Barrón, a former Genesis missionary sent from Mexico to Santiago, Dominican Republic, has decided to continue serving as a missionary in the D.R., now focusing on training the thousands of Nazarenes that live in our cities to be missional.  I am so excited about what she is coming up with (you’ll hear more in the months ahead)!

Third, next month we will be training and sending out a new crop of Genesis missionaries who will impact Monterrey, México and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. These are some really great young people.  Assuredly you will read about them in the coming weeks, but for now I can say that it is a high honor to witness how God keeps calling people to cross-cultural ministry, and how they are still responding in passionate obedience to his voice!

Podcast_English_FinalAll that, and I have not even mentioned the ongoing articles we provide regularly on our website, the “Worthless Servants” podcast episodes we are pumping out biweekly, and much more.  There is a lot going on! The point is: we need you to continue praying for all this. Don’t let the end of a 40-day campaign cause the need for effective urban churches to be “out of sight, out of mind.” In fact, add to that prayer a whole lot of action.  Get involved in some way and help others do the same!

Thanks for your continued collaboration.  God is using you – and thousands of others – to make a difference. What a privilege to be a part of this adventure with you.

Scott Armstrong
Coordinator, Mesoamerica Global Missions and GENESIS
February 8, 2019

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Urban Evangelization – Part 1 of 2

By Scott and Emily Armstrong

The city has it all, doesn’t it? Schools and universities, hospitals and doctor’s offices, theatres and shopping malls – the list goes on and on! With more employment opportunities and access to health care and education, it’s obvious why people want to live in the city. Global statistics tell us that the Mesoamerica Region is already URBAN.  Over 80% of our people live in a heavily-populated city, and many of these people are unchurched.

You might be thinking that city evangelization is no different than in the suburbs or rural areas, but you’d be wrong. How do we make Christlike disciples of people that live a fast-paced life and don’t have time for Jesus? How do we create relationship and gain the trust of someone that works 7 days a week? What does hope look like in the midst of substance abuse, gangs and poverty?

First things first: God has a plan for the city.  You have to believe that truth if you ever want to be a successful urban evangelist. Oftentimes when we think about the city, we think about the problems found there – everything from traffic jams to air pollution to stressful schedules to gangs.  However, we must begin seeing the city as God sees it: a place of influence where righteousness and peace can be obtained.  Imagine with me for a minute the vision revealed to us in Revelation 7:9-10,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

That’s the CITY of ZION that we are reading about!  God’s infinite story goes on forever IN A CITY.  We will gather together with every nation, tribe, and language and praise God forever! Isn’t it interesting how our cities are already becoming the home to so many cultures at the same time?  Could we even imagine that maybe, just maybe, God is already giving us an opportunity to experience a glimpse of heaven on earth right in the heart of our cities?

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Jeremiah 29:4-7 is another passage that speaks to us about God and His desire to use His people to impact the city:

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’”

This passage offers us three principles we must keep in mind when we evangelize the city:

We must live in our city to love our city.

We must be a continual presence in our city.

We must pray for our city.

We must live in our city to love our city.

Jeremiah bluntly tells the exiles of Jerusalem (city dwellers by the way!) to “build houses and settle down…”  He didn’t say to enjoy a short respite there or to view it as a temporary tourist destination. He told them to settle down there. 

I recently sat in a workshop listening to urban church planters tell of their experiences and one of them said, “If you are commuting to the city, it means you work there, not that you care for the neighborhood.”  What he was saying was that the city is a hurry up, come-and-go environment for so many people that are only there for 10 hours during a workday. But the people that LIVE in the city? They are always there!  The decisions that are made in local government affect their personal lives, the school systems mold their children, and the lack of public transportation there affects their employment capabilities.

How are you going to care about all of the dynamics of the city if you don’t live there? Often times we see evangelism as a task to accomplish, but this model will not work in the city.  If you are only coming into the city to evangelize every once in a while, the neighbors will begin to see your evangelism as WORK and not as love.  And every neighborhood is different: a single city can be home to hundreds of different communities that all have their own culture and opportunities.  Thus, it’s so important to live where you are evangelizing, because it’s the normal everyday interactions that speak loudest.

Because life moves at such a fast pace, our relationships in the city are typically built around economic activities.  We purchase our groceries every few days, and we go to the same supermarket and get to know the local employees. We go to a sporting event and meet fellow fans that hold similar interests.  We enjoy the community of a local mall and come into contact with others that are enjoying free entertainment as well.  Our interactions with people are numerous every day, but turning it into an intentional meeting is key to evangelism in the city.  One contact – or even a dozen contacts – does not necessarily make a lasting relationship.  We must live in the city, allowing us to live life with our neighbors as well, which then opens up the door to deeper spiritual conversations and continual evangelism through our daily testimony.

*This article will continue in the next post.

Praying for the City – 2019

In a few days we will be starting this prayer movement: 40 Days Praying for the City, would you join us? 

You can download the 40 days complete calendar by clicking HERE!!! 

You can also follow our social media to keep up with the prayer requests for every day: we are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit our website at: MesoamericaGenesis.org.

Don’t forget we start on January 1st, 2019!!

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Help for Migrants in Mexico

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In October more than 7,000 children, women, men and older adults from Honduras started a journey that has taken several weeks.  Recently people from other countries have also joined them as they have traversed from the south border of Mexico to the north in order to eventually arrive in the United States. They have left their countries because of the reality of violence and poverty that confronted them there. 

The Church of the Nazarene has responded to a variety of the caravan’s different needs through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, and have fulfilled the call of God to freely give what we have freely received. 

Click on the video below to see how the Church has mobilized to help in the past  month:

FOCUS ON – Maximum Mission

Once again, the Church of the Nazarene in the Dominican Republic joined together to bless a community and plant a new church – this time in the city of Bonao, located in the Northeast District. This was the first Maximum Mission held in that district and they had the support of 3 other districts who worked a total of 4 days.

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The community of “Los Arroces” in Bonao was impacted September 21-24 through the work of compassion, service, evangelism, discipleship and communion.  Around 40 youth from the Dominican Republic and Haiti contributed their gifts and talents in service to the community.

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The group formed basketball teams and preached the message of salvation to the young people in the community. Eight of them made a decision to follow Christ. There were also activities for children and teens, a conversation with women about their value and God-given beauty, a dominoes tournament, and a great closing worship service on Sunday night with dance presentations and plays.  Three people came to know the Lord during the service.

The project finished on the last day with the celebration of the baptisms of 12 teens from the Church of the Nazarene in Bonao.

Dynamic fellowship and a great desire to serve united the team in this missionary work. During every activity, participants could see how God was working through them in the life of the community.

The name of the event was “FOCUS: Deny yourself, Surrender, and Follow me.” The hope was for every young person to focus on the calling of the Great Commission by going and making disciples.

“I’m 16, and I felt great while participating in this big event. I was in a play, and a man approached me and told me: ‘Don’t be nervous. If you’re shaking it’s because God’s presence is near and you’re feeling it in this moment.’ That was encouraging and filled me with joy; the strategies that I was able to use to evangelize in the houses and streets of that community made me feel that God was with us and was talking to other people through me.” —Angel Manuel Duson

Written by Elba Duson, East District Global Mission coordinator, DR.

Cross Cultural Orientation in Costa Rica, 2018

Costa Rican districts unite to equip dozens of people in their call to missions

Thirty-seven participants from both districts in Costa Rica attended a Cross-Cultural Orientation Sept. 7-9 at the Poas Church of the Nazarene. 

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Sixteen volunteers, including district and field leaders as well as missionaries, helped make the event possible.  Regional Coordinator of Nazarene Missions International, Ana Maria Crocker, shared in several sessions.  Pastor Felipe Flores, Costa Rica North District Superintendent Rev. Johnny Calvo, and Costa Rica Central District Superintendent Rev. Sirlene Bustos all shared the word of God.

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Nazarene Global Mission coordinators at the district and field levels organized the event.  Nelson Vega serves through Global Mission in the Central District, Estefania Amador in the North District, and Freya Galindo serves in the Mesoamerica Central Field. 

“To see happy faces and people believing that they can do a little more, to see them wanting to answer a call with conviction – it’s priceless.  I feel very satisfied with what we achieved. I know that God used me as part of his plan, and that’s the most comforting thing a person can feel.  Even though he does not need me, He decided to let me be a part, and that’s an indescribable feeling,” said Nelson Vega about the CCO.

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Below are a few snippets of testimonies that the participants shared.  You can read the full testimonies on the Costa Rica Global Mission Facebook page: 

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Christopher Quinto, Los Ángeles Church of the Nazarene: It was an experience where I rediscovered my call and got excited again like the first time. I rediscovered that “The sky is the limit,” and now I believe in my abilities and virtues. The event challenged me to not stay still; it was the impulse that I was lacking to move forward and not give up when obstacles come my way.

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Xavier Yadir Diaz Chavez, Cañas Dulces Church of the Nazarene: A lot of things happened during this camp, but the one that impacted me the most was that God clarified a thousand doubts that I had. I never thought that I could be so sure of where I am, and from where God has brought me. My life is sealed with God’s name and that will never change; the best is just beginning, so let’s prepare ourselves for unimaginable things in our lives. 

DSC_0295.jpgDaniela Solano, Tibas Church of the Nazarene: As a pastor’s kid, for a long time I took on responsibilities in the church only because “there was no one else to do it,” but it was not something that I ever saw as a calling. A few months ago I began to ask God to take control of my life and to show me what He wanted me to do. During the CCO I was able to see how God for a long time had been working in my life. I could see how I had missed a lot of details and that my call to missions had been there the whole time. To see the full picture of the little confirmations that God had been planting in my life was what made me finally state during this camp, “Here I am, send me.” 

DSC_0299.jpgDanah Webb Leandro, Desamparados Church of the Nazarene: I can say that every workshop, every activity, every devotion, every word I heard and hug I received during these three days marked my life and created in me a Christian reality totally different from the one I had when I came. This camp gave me a new vision and a new purpose, and it filled me with strength and hope. The CCO gave me a new calling and a new direction to work with my NYI, my church, my community, my country, and even to other far-away places! I don’t have words to describe these three days; what I can say is that this has been one of God’s greatest gifts for my life.

Written by Ana Hernandez in collaboration with Estefanía Amador and Nelson Vega,  Global Mission Costa Rica.

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Enormous Results Seen in Project Timothy

In June and July, the first-ever Project Timothy was held, with volunteers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua serving along with young people from the USA and Canada during Encuentro 2018.

The participants from the USA, Canada, and the Mesoamerica Region donated between 7 and 18 days to serve alongside local churches in activities of evangelism, translation, sports ministries, Vacation Bible Schools, “Disturbing our City”, Work and Witness, hospital visitation, and medical clinics that benefited several communities in Guatemala City.

One of the volunteer missionaries, Billi Mendez (Guatemala), expressed joy at the privilege of serving: “My experience in Project Timothy and Encuentro has been the best thing that has happened to me. The best part of the week that I served as a volunteer occurred on the last day of my missionary service. During the week I had been praying to God, asking that I would be able to win a person for Christ through Nazagol (a soccer outreach). In the middle of the game, God moved me to share my testimony with the participants, and I give glory to God because 29 youth accepted Jesus as their Savior.”

The two weeks of work culminated in a time of evaluation and thanksgiving for what God had done in the life of many children, youth and adults. That same day many young people confirmed their call and desire to continue to serve in God’s mission.

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The leaders of Project Timothy and Encuentro shared the following results:

  • NYI (Nazarene Youth International) and Global Mission worked together in harmony
  • More than 1,472 children heard the message of Christ
  • More than 695 people were treated at the medical clinics
  • More than 104 people accepted Christ as their Savior
  • More than 2,167 people heard about God’s love
  • More than 7 countries came together to serve and impact Guatemala
  • The 42 participants in Project Timothy came from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, and all united in the Great Commission
  • More than 16 youth confirmed their call to missions
  • 21 churches on the Guatemala Central District were encouraged by the presence of the youth from Encuentro and Project Timothy

Praise the Lord for continuing to call and use the lives of young people who are willing to serve Him!