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

Truly Encountering God

The following testimony was written by Ana Perdomo (Mexico), she served as a volunteer missionary in Project Timothy and Encuentro. God continues to call and use the lives of young people who are willing to listen and obey:

My first week in Guatemala I served as a translator for a team that had come from the Church of the Nazarene in Valparaiso, Indiana. We had the opportunity to work with the La Florida Church, serving 55 children in a Vacation Bible School and painting the church building with Pastor Juan and the youth leader, Selena. The last day they took us to a school where the original plan was to work with teenagers. But when the time arrived, they introduced us to more than 150 children!  There were only 22 of us in the open air without a microphone, and only one teen from Indiana spoke Spanish. God certainly gave us strength. I learned a lot and was surprised by the love, humility and sensitivity of the youth from the United States.  Most were between 13 and 15 years old, and they always had a smile and were willing to do whatever was needed.

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The second week arrived, and I served alongside a youth group from Kailua, Hawaii. Undoubtedly, God had planned for us to be a diverse team: one Mexican, one Guatemalan, and a missionary from El Salvador were there with the 9 Hawaiians. We worked in the Center of Family Worship (“CEFA”, for its initials in Spanish) with pastor Carolina, a wonderful servant of God who just two months earlier had tragically seen her second child murdered. She shared with us how God had been with her in those difficult moments. She is a warrior and a woman of faith, and highly respected throughout her neighborhood.

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Ana singing with two little girls.

The church was in one of the most dangerous areas in all of Guatemala. The policemen sometimes needed to accompany us in the activities we held in the streets with the neighbors. Each day we had the opportunity to build friendships with children, youth and their families. We held a Bible school and we offered them medical services. We became so connected that it became very difficult to say goodbye at the end of the week.

There are no words to describe how grateful and blessed I felt during these two weeks.  They were tough: I was sick with a fever for much of the time, had a throat infection, and even another infection in one of my molars that simply appeared in those days. What’s more, I received a call from Mexico where they told me that my dog, who had been with me for 14 years, had died on the last day of the trip. I know that Matthew 16:24 (“take up your cross and follow me”) is not just a nice verse written in the Bible. God needs you to believe and give over everything that is in you. He will do the rest in His time, not yours.

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My original plan during Encounter was to go, serve and talk about God, but I received more than I gave.  In fact, my concept of “pastor” changed radically. Having had the opportunity to live with young pastors for two weeks helped me see things differently. I am no longer afraid to accept that call.  Yes, I want to be a missionary, but I also want to be a pastor.

When you have a call on your life, maybe you feel unprepared to face it or live it out.  And it may seem even more complicated when you face difficulties with your family, work, friends, or even with your own thoughts or doubts. But if God is calling you, He has his strategies for working it all out according to His purpose. 

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!

“Lord, I am Here to Serve you With What you Have Given me”

Guatemala and Costa Rica hosted Encuentro June 30 – July 14. It impacted the lives of hundreds of people, from the communities where the teams ministered to the volunteers. Linda Alguera, 26, a doctor from Nicaragua, shared her experience in Guatemala.

“ …My friend and I spoke with our pastor and received help from the church. Even though the situation in our country threatened the possibility of us going, we remained positive…We arrived to the seminary excited. Four of us traveled together, and so began the adventure of the unknown. I only knew that I was going to serve, but I did not know how. The next day I found brother Milton and he said, ‘Hey doctor, you did not tell me you were coming. You would help us with a medical clinic, right?’ I excitedly agreed. I had brought my tools with me in order to do just that. That same day all the participants met for a welcome time and an explanation of what we were going to do. They told us that we should do everything possible to win one person for the Lord, and I said, ‘Wow. How do I that?’ In my heart I said, ‘Lord, I am here to serve you with what you have given me.’

The next day we met with the medical team. We had trouble with the medicine and with the dental equipment, but we served with what we had because, even more than human medicine, we wanted to bring spiritual medicine. We began the medical clinic the first week and every day we attended approximately 60-80 people, including adults and children. One day we attended 110 people and I remember the faces of the whole team with expressions of satisfaction and happiness for having seen all those people.

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We not only attended to the patients, but we also prayed for them and shared the plan of salvation with them. God gave me the chance to talk to a person who did not need human medicine, but only wanted someone who would listen. Every word of thanks we heard was as if it came from God himself. Many accepted God in the medical clinics.

I thought that I would only be there a week, but God allowed me to serve for 2 weeks. The Lord had great things prepared for me.

The second week I had the best experience I have ever had. I had problems at home and in a devotional I cried and cried. I had an internal battle all day because I had to go to a church and serve. At night I realized that even more than the problem it was God speaking into my life through this experience. That night I went to my room and prayed. I told the Lord that if He told me what He wanted, I would do it. In the last prayer when we were saying goodbye, I asked God to confirm his call to missions, and in that prayer the person who was leading said, ‘Your call is confirmed.’ That has been my best experience. The greatest blessing was to serve God with the gifts that He has given me.”

This testimony was originally published at: mesoamericaregion.org

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.

Everywhere, With Everyone, All The Time

By Scott Armstrong

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 11:18-19).

(Read Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28)

As a missionary—and sports fan—who lived in Guatemala several years ago, I discovered that Guatemala hasn’t really found out that there are many other sports outside of soccer.  They love their soccer, and players for the national team are heroes after a big win.  After an especially big victory over Costa Rica, I listened to the commentator on the radio excitedly praise the player who had scored both goals.  I can still hear him encourage the listeners in Spanish to “Bring Juan Carlos Plata into your home!  He deserves a place in the kitchen!  In the living room!  Talk about him in the morning, afternoon, and night!  Tell your kids what he just did for Guatemala!” 

Although that seems a little bit ridiculous, our verses for today point us in a similar direction.  This time, however, it is God’s Word that we should think about and talk about during the day.  His words and commands should be “fixed in our hearts and minds,” talked about “when you lie down and when you get up.”  Both parents and kids should live and breathe his Word 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We should all be familiar with what he did for us and how his Word instructs us in our daily life.

Does this mean we can’t talk about anything else but the Bible? Are we just supposed to walk around high school and chant memory verses? Of course not.  But it does mean that we’re not just getting into God’s Word every day; it’s getting into you.  Sometimes we hurry through our two minutes of devotions and ten minutes later can’t remember what we read.  According to today’s passage, that is pretty far from what God wants for our lives!

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Is God’s Word in you or are you barely getting into God’s word each day? Is it a part of you or is it the essence of who you are? With all of the pressures of being a teen, it might be hard to imagine yourself just soaking his word in like a sponge soaks in water.  But it will make a world of difference.  When Jesus experienced the toughest of times, God’s Word was so much inside him that he oozed Scripture (Luke 4:1-13).  What would happen if you took with you today the verses you just read and carried them in your mind and heart throughout all of the activities, stresses, and temptations of the next 24 hours? It might just change your attitudes, conversations, and the way you react to tough situations.  Why don’t we find out? Read those verses again and ask God to help put them under your skin and into your heart and life today.