United in Christ to Serve – Mesoamerica

Greetings from Panama City and the Mesoamerica Regional Office! We have gathered in these days as ministry coordinators and other elected representatives and leaders from our Church in order to celebrate what is known as Regional Advisory Committee meetings.  The RAC (for short) is an important time where we report on the past year’s challenges and successes as well as look forward to what God’s vision holds for us in the coming year.  It is a time of prayer and camaraderie, but decisions are also made that will direct our ministries in the months and years to come.  Please pray for this time!

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One of the things I love most about these meetings is the representation from so many countries and backgrounds.  In fact, a video has been recently released by our Mesoamerica Communications team that shows quite a panorama of the vibrant cultures prevalent all across our 34 countries. You will see different ages, ethnicities, ministries, and languages represented – but all are serving the same God!  It is truly a privilege to minister in the Mesoamerica Region!  Enjoy!

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.

Prayer Requests – Grenada

As we met recently with Crystalla Williams and Cleon Cadogan, closing out their time in Grenada as missionaries with Genesis, they shared the following prayer requests.  Please accompany them in this transition time as they pray for the people and places they have left and prepare for the new doors God will open for them as they return home:

Prayer Requests

For the Fontenoy Church of the Nazarene

1) For Pastor Alvin Forsyth, Min. Elizabeth Forsyth, Natisha Benjamin (daughter and church board secretary), Alvonn and Kareem Forsyth (not yet Christians).

2) For the Church Board: that there will be commitment to their calls and that they would function in their ministry rolls with excellence and passion.

3) For church members: that they would grow in faith, love and unity and that everyone will rise up to do, be and go.

4) For the youth of the community: that they would find direction amidst a confusing and manipulating world.

5) For evangelism and discipleship to become engrained in the church’s DNA.

6) For greater opportunities to minister in the community.

7) For the new community (Concord) we began working in at the end of May.  Pray that persons will stand up and walk into the graces that God has called them to.

8) For financial stability.

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For the Content Church of the Nazarene, officially organized August 13, 2017

1) For the pastor and his family: Alister Douglas, Lorraine Douglas and their children (one of whom is in medical school).

2) For the work of God to continue to grow in their community.

3) That, as the only church in that neighborhood, God will use them to transform a whole community.

4) For them to become a church-planting church within the next 2-3 years.

5) That land becomes available for the building of a sanctuary.

6) For the youth in the community to find purpose and strength in God.

7) That discipling of the new believers will be thorough and that they will understand who they are in Christ and as Nazarenes.

Personal Prayer Requests of Cleon and Crystalla:

1) That persons ministered to in Grenada will continue to grow in Christ.

2) For an easy transition back into life at home.

3) For their families, who have greatly missed them in their absence.

4) For a job to support housing and living expenses.

5) For all their relationships.

6) For a door to open for them to continue studying other cultures and languages.

7) That God would provide mentors for those that they are leaving behind in Grenada.

8) For their home churches and countries: that the transition back into ministry will be smooth.

I am Here to Serve

Recently I received a testimony from our Genesis missionary from Trinidad and Tobago, Crystalla Williams.  She wrote these words in her final days serving in Grenada. Wow!  I knew at once that her reflection needed to be shared with a wider audience.  May God stir your heart as you hear her heart come through loud and clear.

As I reflect on the two years of ministry in Genesis, I am almost brought to tears as I wonder at my God: His love, compassion, patience, grace, mercy, peace, power and provision. 

I would not – definitely could not – make it without Him. Truthfully, there were many who didn’t think I would finish; some even said it to my face. Honestly, there were times that I believed them: times when things were so hard that I couldn’t see my way through. But God made a way!

There is no doubt in my mind that certain breakthroughs I have had would not have been possible without this assignment. I now have a better understanding of what it means to be patient. God has somehow increased my capacity to love, to be understanding, to be compassionate and to be forgiving. This assignment has taught me how to pray deeper, and fast more intently and strategically. 36268094_10160602430915118_1541711199895289856_o.jpg

As I look forward I am excited. I am excited to go back to my district, home country and home church to work and minister. What that will look like I am not entirely sure.  One thing I know: I am here to serve. 

Before leaving for Grenada I already had my exit plan. I had a job waiting, an apartment that would be ready when I got back, and projects that I would be working on. Over the last two years, I have seen every plan of mine fly out the window. 

But as I have seen my plans turn to dust, I have also seen God work things out in ways I am still in awe of.  Because of this ‘crazy faith’ journey I have been on, I am assured that my God, who has done so much more than I could ever imagine or think, will take care of me. 

These two years in Grenada have been great. Great joys, great hurts, great support, great breakthroughs, great tears (of happiness and sorrow), great laughs, great love, great triumphs, great purpose being realized, great new friends, great spiritual healing and growth…a true representation of how great my God is and will always be to me.

I am eagerly awaiting what God will do next. There is no one like me and there is no one like my God.  Oh, what awesomeness He will do!!!!

I am honored to be a part of an organization, a church, and a family that wraps around the world. I am honored to have the support that can never be quantified by human standards. And it’s all afforded to me because of what Jesus did so long ago on a ‘tree.’ Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for your prayers.

Thank you for your continued service and care to others called by God.

Yours in Christ,

Min. Crystalla J. Williams

Genesis Missionary

Grenada

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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Grenada Site Re-entry Retreat – 2018

From September 5 to 9 of this year, Crystalla Williams and Cleon Cadogan, volunteer missionaries that were sent to the Genesis site of Grenada in August 2016, traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to enjoy a retreat after finishing their 2-year assignment. They participated in workshops addressing reverse culture shock and also prepared for sharing with churches and supporters the message of what God has done in and through them.  Scott and Emily Armstrong, coordinators of this initiative, thanked Crystalla and Cleon for their service and also congratulated them for their effort and commitment to God’s mission.

The Genesis missionaries shared some of the experiences of working with the existing church and planting a new church on the island, and they recognized God’s faithfulness, love, protection and provision during their two years there.

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We thank God for Crystalla and Cleon, and we ask you to join us in prayer for them. Currently they are with their local churches and home districts sharing what God has done in this time and also encouraging others to get involved and continue supporting the missionary work.

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Praise the Lord for the lives of Crystalla and Cleon! And, thanks to every person and church that supported them by encouraging, praying, and giving generously.  May God continue to bless and use them as well!

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Cleon with Laritza (Genesis missionary from Dominican Republic)

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:4, 8-9).

God Calling, Sending and Using Youth in His Mission

What a joy to know that God continues to invite youth to respond to His missionary call!  In the past weeks we have been amazed at the stories of many teens who God is guiding and using powerfully. In this post, we share three testimonies of young volunteers who participated in Encuentro, held in Guatemala and Costa Rica during June and July of this year.  This event impacted the lives of hundreds of people from the communities where the teams and volunteers ministered:

 “I served as a translator during the time of Encuentro and Project Timothy, and one of the most treasured moments in my heart was the day when we went out to evangelize. The majority of the people we started to meet asked for prayer for healing. The most powerful instance was a lady that we met while we were on the road walking. She was going to buy tortillas when Pastor Cesar Robleto from the Gethsemane Church stopped her and asked if she had a prayer request. She said yes and even invited us to her house. She asked us to pray for her daughter, Andrea, who has cancer. We told Andrea that her mother had requested we pray for her. She was surprised, but also happy.

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That moment of prayer was beautiful. We could not hold back the tears. Only God knew the need, the pain, and the anguish that they were living through. After the prayer, we could see that Andrea’s face was filled with hope and gratitude. We too were grateful to God for that moment. It was a great privilege to pray with them. One of our North American sisters shared words of encouragement, and we could feel how the Holy Spirit was moving in that place bringing peace and tranquility. It was one of the most difficult times I have ever had to translate, because I did so with tears in my eyes, but it was also one of the most beautiful things that I have been able to experience.” – Valeria Narvaez (Nicaragua)

 Foto-2-Andrea-testimonio.jpgWhen I was little, I dreamed of being a doctor.  Later, like all children, I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to be a teacher.  Even though I changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was sure that in some way, whatever my job, I would help people. When I wanted to be a doctor, I imagined working somewhere in the mountains, helping people with limited resources.  When I wanted to be a teacher, I imagined being a teacher for needy kids.  A while ago, God began to also put in my heart the idea of being a missionary, but I ignored him because it scared me.

My parents are missionaries, and that means that I know how difficult it is to move to a different country, move to a different house, change schools and make new friends. That’s why every time I thought about being a missionary, it scared me.  But I began to pray (which is the best thing we can do when we are scared).  I prayed for a long time and in these two weeks serving in Encuentro, God answered my prayers and spoke to me through the testimonies, sermons and even the songs. In these weeks he confirmed what I already knew.  That’s why I decided to accept the call that God has given me and to stop being afraid.” – Andrea Salazar (Guatemala)

 “In the first week of Encuentro and Project Timothy, I served in the New Vision Church of the Nazarene along with a group from Kentucky. A large part of our work was a Bible School where we ministered to approximately 70 children. In one of our devotionals, someone said that stories connect people, and that it is important to know someone’s story to truly appreciate them. That happened with some of the kids. They were restless and it was impossible to keep them quiet and attentive. They always wanted to socialize and distract everyone else. We found out that many of them were being raised by their grandmothers because their mothers had abandoned them, often going to other countries. Others had fathers who had died for one reason or another.

Diana-González-testimonio-800x440.jpgDuring the week, we worked a lot with them: teaching Bible lessons, memorizing verses, and having fun with games and snacks.  Still, to be honest, I didn’t feel like I was having a great impact on the emotional life of these kids. But on the last day one of the children came up to me sobbing and so sad because we had to go. He told me, ‘You are like my sister.’ It broke my heart and I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted the chance to continue being a part of his life because his need for love was so great. I pray that he and all the children we ministered to would be held by Jesus, and that they would feel his love and protection.” – Diana Gonzalez (El Salvador)

These testimonies were originally published at: Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica