March Heartbeat

Surprised by the Spirit

By Rev. Raúl Araña, National Leader for Spain

There is a “go” in the gospel; there is a call to the church to go and take what we have received and pass it on to all people of every age and every nation. “Be my witnesses” — declare what you have seen, heard and experienced. Tell everyone everywhere what the Lord has done. Go and invite all people to come, taste and see that the Lord is good. He can indeed make a real and eternal difference in every person’s life.

“Go” has been our story. Twenty years ago, we left the shores of Gran Canaria, Spain, and arrived in the U.K., not knowing the Lord’s plans for us. We quickly fell in love with the Free Methodist Church and its work in the U.K. and Ireland. We became part of a beautiful global family that has taught us so much. Outstanding leaders have shaped our lives in many ways and given us a deeper love for the church of Jesus and global missions.

In August 2021, we were once again surprised by the Spirit as He called us to return to our motherland, Spain. We have been called to be His hands and feet by ministering in the local church in Madrid and overseeing the national work in Spain, serving as the national leader.

The beauty of it all is we don’t do this on our own but in partnership with our sending church, Helston Light & Life Centre in Cornwall, England. It has honored and supported us by affirming and confirming this call, sending us out with a blessing and the commitment to stand alongside us in this incredible work the Lord has given us. We are thankful for the U.K. and Ireland Conference leadership, who released us to become international missionaries to Spain. We are particularly grateful for Pastor Michael Bretton, whose heart for missions radiates in everything he does.

We can’t do the work on our own. That is why partnerships are so important; they are a lifeline to the mission on the ground. Wouldn’t you like to be part of it?

More than ever, our Father in heaven is mobilizing His church to the ends of the earth. He calls the church to stand up; be His mouthpiece locally, regionally and worldwide; and become the channel by which heaven will touch the earth. Will you join us in answering the call to “go”?

 

 

 

Faithfulness and Blessing

By Gerry McNamara, Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe

After years of faithfulness in Hungary, we now see the Lord’s blessing. For many years, the Free Methodist Church (FMC) in Hungary has faithfully served congregations in both Budapest and Győr. The church has also been instrumental in bringing awareness of the dangers of human trafficking to the Hungarian public. Now we see the Lord blessing the work of missionaries (past and present) and our national leaders. Two new church plants, one in the city of Veszprém (near Lake Balaton) and the potential for a new group in Szigetvár (in the south of Hungary), are part of this blessing from God.

In Veszprém, a group of international students (mainly African) were searching for a group to join in worship. International missionary Gerry McNamara learned of their need and began a conversation with a local evangelical church. After months of communication, the church kindly offered the free use of its building. This new group, composed of students, met together in worship for the first time in October. In November, the group gathered again for prayer, and then for lunch and Christmas worship in December.

These students from various backgrounds and countries are lonely and need the love of Christ. Some recently experienced the loss of family members; others struggle with living in a different culture and with a language they do not understand. For others, there exists the stress of coursework and exams. Now they have an opportunity to come together in a safe space and worship the Lord. We even have students of Muslim background hearing the gospel of peace for the first time. The Free Methodist Church provides these students with the opportunity to worship God and draw closer to Him even though they are far from family.

We thank the Lord for the connectedness of the body of Christ. Because of our connection and the space we are using in another local evangelical church, the students are welcomed into their services, and translation is provided. The hospitality of this church means the students have the opportunity to worship with the FMC on Saturday afternoons and a local church on Sundays. They are beginning to meet more local believers, start friendships and become more accepted in their new community. We praise God for allowing us to share His love and blessing in Hungary!

Amazing, Isn’t It!

By Eric Casteel, Regional Director of Northern Europe

The Free Methodist Church now has work in Sweden! In 2021, the Rev. Valentin Sikitoka launched the church and became the country leader of the Free Methodist Church in Sweden. Rev. Sikitoka is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Amazing, isn’t it  ̶  a church in Sweden planted by Congolese!

In August 2021, Area Director Josue Fajardo and I responded to an invitation from Rev. Sikitoka to come to Sweden to see how God is using the Free Methodist Church. We spent the first evening connecting with him and his family. We heard of his work in the Congo and throughout the region of East Africa. Rev. Sikitoka also shared about his time in Nyarugusu in Tanzania. Nyarugusu is one of the world’s largest refugee camps, with a population of about 132,000 (according to UNHCR). His talk of Nyarugusu caught me off guard. About six years ago, I visited Nyarugusu and found many Free Methodist churches meeting in the camp. Everyone had a heartbreaking story. But their stories demonstrated a faith rarely seen  ̶  one the Western church desperately needs.

The following day we met with the leadership team of the church in Sweden. We asked, “What is your biggest surprise about your move to Stockholm?” They responded, “We were taught that Europe as a whole was a Christian continent. Where are all of the churches?”

Together we discussed the history of the church in Europe and the realities of a post-Christian Europe. We talked a great deal about how God can lead a generation back to Him and how, throughout the Bible, God used the movement of His people to build His church. They proceeded to share their plans to raise leaders in Sweden and neighboring Norway and Denmark. They are committed to a ministry plan.

On Sunday, we joined their worship service attended by about 60 people and led by a team on fire for the gospel. Rev. Sikitoka is following his call  ̶  a call directed by God and driven by a heart for the people in his new home country. Join them in praying for people in Sweden to find purpose and meaning through a relationship with Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Missions Prayer Calendar: March

01 Tuesday | Ukraine

Pray for our missionaries and national leaders in Ukraine. Ask the Father to help them be voices of hope and peace in a time of conflict.

02 Wednesday | Mexico

Like many countries, Mexico suffers from crime, violence, unemployment and poverty. Pray for spiritual renewal and revival within the FM Church and the transformation of lives within communities.

03 Monday | France

Praise the Lord for families who are hearing about the God Who loves, comforts and offers them peace! Pray they will have a growing love and confidence in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

04 Friday | Ivory Coast

Join Past Maho, our leader in Ivory Coast, as he prays to establish a ministry in two new cities in 2022 — Daloa and Yamoussoukro.

05 Saturday | Costa Rica

Pray for Glenn Lorenz and the team editing the Ministerial Formation curriculum. Ask the Lord to give wisdom as they try to integrate knowledge, skills and spirituality in ways that will benefit students.

Birthday: Glenn Lorenz

06 Sunday | Japan

Pray for more church-planting opportunities as believers reach out to neighbors and friends with Christ’s love.

07 Monday | SEED

Pray for Mujeres Jireh, a network of women in Free Methodist churches throughout Peru. They support one another by helping to earn a fair livelihood by making earrings, alpaca scarves and hand-dyed woven purses.

08 Tuesday | Burundi

Hope Africa University is an FM institution providing liberal-arts education and preparing Christian scholars and professionals. Pray for the staff and students and their transforming impact on African society.

09 Wednesday | Creative Access Asia-NP

In 2021, this country experienced more than 300 new believers. Give thanks and pray for our 75 faithful leaders as they continue to share the gospel in this difficult context.

10 Thursday | Asia / Bulgaria

Asia: This month Eric will defend his dissertation, which has direct implications for the work in Asia.

Pray for discernment, clear thinking and a mind set on things above (Colossians 3.2).

Birthday: Eric

Bulgaria: Chance Galloway regularly assists with training events for pastors and leaders. Pray for new opportunities to gather in 2022 and for wisdom as the church continues to grow.

Birthday: Chance Galloway

11 Friday | Thailand

Give thanks to the Father for new life in Thailand! The FM Church reported more than 200 new believers in 2021.  Pray for increasing openness to the gospel in this primarily Buddhist nation.

Birthday: Wendi

12 Saturday | ICCM

ICCM work in Togo began in 2012. Pray for the students and staff of the two schools, one in Lome and the other in Tchore.

13 Sunday | Middle East

Female leaders in this region have unique opportunities to share the good news. Pray for powerful impact as they share their testimonies of how the gospel message is available to all people, genders and classes.

14 Monday | Liberia

Free Methodists in Liberia are working toward expansion into all 15 counties in the nation. Pray they will reach at least one additional county in 2022.

15 Tuesday | Chile

Pray for the continued health of pastoral families and relief from the many stresses they have faced during the last two years of the pandemic.

16 Wednesday | Cambodia

Thank the Lord for new church plants in Cambodia. Pray the Lord will provide healing, wisdom and resources to meet the needs of church members.

17 Thursday | Set Free Movement

Praise the Lord! At least 500 youth in Kenya were protected from trafficking because of training and retreats done by our local leaders in 2021. Pray for the vibrant and bold Set Free leaders in Kenya.

18 Friday | Dominican Republic

There have been several new church plants and at least 18 students in pastoral formation classes in the past two years. Pray all church members will have a growing passion for the lost, motivating further church planting.

19 Saturday | Middle East

Children who gather at house churches have a safe place to learn the Scriptures, receive medical care and connect with other believers. Pray these children will commit their lives to Jesus.

20 Sunday | Democratic Republic of
Congo

Despite the ongoing conflicts and displacement of people, Bishop Lubunga reports many have received Christ as Lord and Savior. Pray for the strength and perseverance of the church as its people continue to share the hope and peace of Christ.

21 Monday | Hungary

Pray for the expanding FMC work in Hungary. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers!

Birthday: Gerry McNamara (International Missionary)

 

22 Tuesday | Philippines

In late December, super typhoon Rai devastated parts of the Philippines. Churches suffered damages, members lost their homes and fishing boats, and agricultural land was severely damaged – coconuts, rice, corn and fruits. Pray for the efforts of restoration and reconstruction.

23 Wednesday | Paraguay

The pandemic left Paraguay with even fewer resources. Many people are hurting. Pray for Superintendent Ceferino Ramirez as he serves and encourages pastors. Pray churches will continue to spread much-needed hope.

24 Thursday | Albania

Pray for the Lord’s provision of resources for the new ministry being established and for the process of registration with the Albanian government.

Birthday: Erjona Bregu (International Missionary)

25 Friday | Middle East

Pray underserved groups throughout the Middle East will experience the love of God and the truth of the gospel through our leaders and churches

26 Saturday | Australia

Different people groups from Africa and the Middle East are coming to Australia as refugees, migrant workers, students and immigrants. Pray they will come to know Jesus. Pray our workers will have open hearts to connect with these groups.

27 Sunday | São Tomé and Príncipe

An extension of the Free Methodist seminary in Portugal opened here in September 2021. More than20 students are enrolled and receiving training and a deeper understanding of Scripture. Pray for these students and leaders in training.

28 Monday | 360 Mission District

Pray for the holistic ministries of this mission district — an organic garden, a tutoring center for children, a computer center for adults and the Polito (chicken)

Project. These contacts are opening doors for church planting.

29 Tuesday | Taiwan

Pray for Superintendent Tsai and all the FM pastors and leaders in Taiwan. Ask God to grant them wisdom and courage as they serve and lead in a challenging time.

30 Wednesday | Greece

Ask the Lord to provide resources and personnel to assist the church with the increasing need to disciple new and young believers.

31 Thursday | Mozambique

Thank the Lord for the 154 churches in Mozambique. Pray for the ongoing ministries of the general conference, including a hospital, schools and seminary, as well as their missionary efforts into Swaziland and Angola.