by Glenn Lorenz
January-March 2016 issue Free Methodist World Missions Pulse
I grew up in a Christian environment. A good kid, I wanted to honor God in everything. Assuming it was the best way to please Him, I became a pastor.
The nature of God’s love, unattached to my performance, eventually led me to profound freedom concerning my vocational call. I realized I am free to choose a pastoral vocation as a response to God’s radically inclusive and overwhelmingly generous love.
Working with my students at Central Christian College of Kansas has further solidified this understanding of radical vocational freedom. I try to help students pay attention to God’s preparation in their lives and to indicators of God’s call, like recognizing that God could easily set a bush on fire or have a whale swallow a person (harder in Kansas, for sure, but He is God of the universe …) if He has a specific task for them.
My initial call to ministry came while earning my master’s degree at Asbury Seminary. In 1 Timothy 3:1 (NASB), Paul gives permission to serve in a ministerial role on the basis of personal desire: “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” Personal preparation and desire play a large role in my understanding of vocational call.
So, when Latin America Area Director Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver asked Wendy and me to come to Costa Rica and explore helping prepare leaders for the church in Latin America, excitement resonated in our hearts. We’ve desired this for years.
Throughout our 16 years of marriage, we prayed about long-term foreign missions opportunities. We studied and prepared for service abroad. Before we were married, Wendy earned her master’s degree in World Missions and Evangelism and lived in Latin America for a time. I served on missions exploration teams and completed a language immersion program in Mexico. As a couple, we engaged in short-term trips, often leading groups.
As Dr. Delia described the strategic need of the FMC in Central America, Wendy and I noticed how each element we needed for the mission had a corollary preparation piece in our life journey. We felt confirmation that by God’s grace we could be entering a season of abundant fruitfulness for His kingdom among the Costa Rican people.
The FMC in Latin America demonstrates organizational and spiritual maturity in many ways. Many are coming to faith. In order to fuel and sustain a biblical movement that reaches more people for Christ, new leaders must be developed out of those coming to faith and those within the church sensing a call to ministry. Already, across Latin American mission districts, more than 100 Conference Ministerial Candidates need to be fully trained and prepared to launch new ministries and provide for the expansion of existing churches.
The work is not simply to offer tips and leadership techniques. Rather, Wendy and I are tasked with the development of reflective practitioners, deeply rooted in biblical and theological truth, who can engage their culture and prayerfully rewire (or make wireless!) the effective ministry models of the past as they lead into the future the transformation of communities, groups and people in Jesus’ name and for His sake.
Wendy and I gratefully acknowledge God’s preparatory work in our lives. The desire He has placed in our hearts for service has now led us to the edge of a new ministry opportunity abroad. We remain captivated by the radically inclusive, impartial nature of God’s love, and anticipate watching Him express, in life-transforming ways, His grace throughout Central America. What a privilege to participate with Him as He continues to draw and prepare ministers to service within His kingdom, both at home and abroad.