A Missionary Adventure

During May and June 2018, Nazarene Missions International (NMI) in the Mexico Gulf District held 4 “Missionary Adventure” events for children ages 4 to 14. More than 100 kids from 4 different areas of the district attended the camps, with the purpose of making them aware of the missionary work of the Church of the Nazarene around the world, and to help them discover their call to missions.

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The children “traveled” to South Africa, Japan, Palestine and the Dominican Republic, where they learned important facts about each of these countries. The district NMI president, Elizabeth Roa, along with NMI council members Judith Galindo and Rebeca Ramirez, were in charge of preparing this great adventure. Missionary Freya Galindo, who serves with regional initiatives Genesis and Global Mission in the Dominican Republic, also helped with the events. Freya visited churches in the Mexico Gulf District during these weeks as part of her home assignment.

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In addition to the Missionary Adventure events, NMI leaders from the different areas of the district, specifically those who work with children, received workshops on how to educate and involve children in missions, using teaching materials and other tools.

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Several kids expressed that they were feeling a call to missions during the activities. This event would not have been possible without the help of local churches that supported the event.

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We praise God because He continues to call children! They are also part of the Church!

This article was originally published at Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica Region.

The Challenge is Urban

By Scott Armstrong

Last week I had the privilege of being in Panama where several leaders were gathered to brainstorm solutions for more effective ministry in three areas:

  • Urban Mission
  • Youth
  • Children

These areas have been declared our regional emphases in Mesoamerica for the upcoming Quadrennial.  And rightly so: although great things are currently taking place in each of these ministries, we have a long way to go before we see an explosion of fruit all across the region among children, youth, and our cities.

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I’m sure you have listened to our Worthless Servants podcast recently (if you haven’t, seriously, what are you doing with your life?), and you know we have addressed all three of these issues in various episodes.  However, for the sake of this article, let’s focus on urban mission.

If you have heard my wife and I speak recently in any service or event, you know that we are banging the drum for urban mission.  Our ministry is GENESIS after all, where the mission is to make Christlike disciples in the urban centers of Mesoamerica.  We are sending missionaries to 28 strategic cities so that they may plant churches and impact communities with little or no Nazarene presence.  And it is happening!

Still, I admit that the influence a team of four workers can have in a city of 1 million+ is limited.  And what about the other cities that have not been identified as the 28 strategic, urgent sites that will receive missionaries? It is clear that our whole region needs a genesis and it will not come solely because of a dedicated volunteer missionary force.

This very week while we were in Panama, we received from Dale Jones in Nazarene Research (love them!) a list of all of the cities in the Mesoamerica Region with 100,000 or more in population.  The findings are intriguing and yet staggering:

  1. General statistics show that 72% of Mesoamerica lives in an urban area (this includes several cities of less than 100,000 that are still considered urban). Nearly 3 out of every four of us is an urbanite! When you think of urban, you may think of New York, Beijing, or Tokyo. But we are the region with the highest percentage of urban dwellers.
  2. In just two years we have grown from 169 cities with 100,000 people or more to 182 fitting that description. All over the world people are moving to the big city in droves, and our region is no exception.
  3. Of these 182 metropolises, 115 are in one country: Mexico. One. Five.  Reaching the cities of our region means especially reaching the cities of Mexico, many of which have no Nazarene church.
  4. After Mexico, the four countries that have the most cities with population of 100,000 or more are: Cuba (16), Dominican Republic (9), Haiti (8), and Nicaragua (7). In other words, 155 of the 182 biggest cities in our region are in FIVE countries. Would you pray specifically for urban impact in those five countries?
  5. The total population in Mesoamerica is 223 million. 42 million of us live in cities with greater than 100,000 people.  That’s 54%More of us live in a huge city than don’t.  Shouldn’t this effect the way we equip our leaders for ministry?

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  6. If the majority of our population lives in a big city, then that’s where all our Nazarenes are, too, right? Wrong. Only 32% of our members live in a city of over 100,000 people.  That’s 129,354 out of 406,000 total Nazarenes.

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  7. #5 and #6 above cause me to reflect: I know that we have many Nazarene members in these cities already and I praise the Lord for their witness. However, there is no doubt that in the great majority of these urban settings, we lack a true presence as a Church of the Nazarene.  Having a church building and holding services every week will not cut it.  In order to impact the city, sacrificial, creative, and missional discipleship will be required in the days ahead.
  8. A significant number of these 182 cities have recently been affected adversely by devastating natural disasters. Could it be that our entryway into these cities would come through comforting those who have lost all in hurricanes or earthquakes? Could it be that – even without natural disasters – acting as agents of compassion would be the healthy way to impact our cities anyway?

My intention is not to overwhelm you with statistics.  I recognize that each observation above must be digested thoughtfully for greatest understanding, and I pray you would do so!  Honestly, I share all of this not just to inform, but also to invite you to be a part of this initiative.

Would you pray?

Would you give?

Would you go and impact an urban context right where you are or even far away?

Comment below if God is turning your focus toward the city.  Communicate with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at MesoamericaGenesis.org.  Listen to our podcast and tell others about it so the conversation about these topics spreads.

We need your help.  The statistics are clear and the call of God is clearer: let’s bring a genesis to the urban centers of Mesoamerica.

 

Play & Witness – A Relevant And Effective Initiative

The first-ever “Play & Witness” Caribbean missions trip took place in Jamaica from July 4 to 29, 2017. This trip was divided into three major components: training, outreach and camp, and it was designed to accomplish two major objectives: to significantly impact Jamaica for Jesus Christ through sport and play, and to significantly impact the participants so that they would be catalysts for the mission at home.

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21 participants and facilitators from the Caribbean Field formed the Play and Witness team and they were from 6 different countries: Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad. Their time in Jamaica began with an intensive training in sports ministry. The purpose of this time was to expose each participant to the power and potential of sport, and to explore ways sports can be used to transform their community, nation and region. Sports were presented as relevant and effective ways to both invite people to Christ and disciple them.

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After this, they moved onto the second phase of the mission: the implementation of the information they had learned. They partnered with the Green Acres Church of the Nazarene in the Old Harbour community to start a new church plant using various forms of ministry (games for children and teens, etc.). Through the sporting activities, they forged a strong bond with the community in a very short time. The team also participated in the launching of the Denbigh Church of the Nazarene’s sports ministry program and, according to the senior pastor of this church, the sports ministry initiative created a new spiritual sensation in Denbigh as the attendance the following week at service had remarkably improved and there were further commitments for Christ.

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The team was also involved in a youth camp and in a children’s camp as well.  They were able to use the knowledge and experiences they had received earlier and transfer it to the campers during this time.

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In total, 40 persons came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through the outreach and participation in camp. This is not only a testimony of the goodness of God, but also of the impact that they were able to make in Jamaica, accomplishing the first goal of the mission trip.

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The second major goal of impacting the team so that they could continue the mission when they return home was also achieved. It has been amazing to see how participants have immediately implemented the information they have learned in their context, and how others are planning to do the same.

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The next step is to see experiences of Play and Witness multiplied across the Caribbean. The intention is to present sports ministry as a relevant and effective tool for evangelism and discipleship within the Caribbean field. From all reports and testimonies, the first Play & Witness trip was a huge success!

–This information has been provided by Dario Richards, Global Mission Caribbean Field