Lima, Peru; Montevideo, Uruguay; Managua, Nicaragua. These three Latin American capitals are targets for pioneering church planting projects. Over the past year, families have moved to each of these cities to identify neighborhoods and networks where God is moving and to find persons of peace whose hearts God is preparing.
David and Yeya Lopez moved their family from a creative access country in Latin America to Lima in January 2017. In spite of the adjustment, they have started three house churches in the first year of their ministry, and they are training leaders to start other home groups.
Michael and Andrea Green are VISA missionaries from the U.S. who have served in Argentina and Uruguay for the last three years. Last January, they and their toddler son moved to Montevideo. They have been doing prayer walks, following up on contacts, and seeking to engage their neighbors in one of the most secular cities in Latin America.
Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Hiuberth and Sandra Zapata moved from Costa Rica to Managua. They fled from Nicaragua 30 years ago escaping the civil war and were well established in Costa Rica, where Hiuberth was a pastor and district leader. It took a clear call from God for them to move back to Nicaragua at this stage in their lives.
It takes creativity and faith to start new things outside of existing budgets and structures. Churches and individuals in Washington, Illinois, Michigan, New York and other places have partnered with each of these projects through giving to Country Share Accounts and Extra Mile Projects.
In each case, these new international missionaries are seeking to multiply disciples who will disciple others, train pastors who will be reliable and train others (2 Timothy 2:2), and start groups that will have reproduction in their spiritual DNA. This is the model of Community Church Planting that God has used effectively in many other areas. We are praying and believing that God will use it to fuel and sustain a biblical movement to reach these cities/countries — and all of Latin America — for Christ.
Some 10 years ago, Christ Community Church in Columbus, Georgia, entered into a strategic partnership with a conference in Latin America to plant a church in the capital city. Christ Community Church contributed funding and prayer support, and Pastor Keith Cowart personally mentored the church planter. (Because of security issues, we cannot publicly name the country.)
A church was established, but after several years, the church planter got into difficulty and had to leave. Nevertheless, Christ Community Church continued its support. A new pastor was appointed, and the church continued to thrive.
The new pastor, Simon, was saved out of a background of rock music. God not only redeemed him but his music also. The church has a worship band that has become well-known, and through Christian rock, the band members have reached many musicians — and music fans — for Christ.
Several years ago, the conference officially adopted Community Church Planting (CCP) as its ministry model.
Pastor Simon voiced his sense that CCP would not work in the city where people are more sophisticated and busy — and where people are afraid to open their homes because of a context of violence and fear. The superintendent told Pastor Simon that if he tried it and it didn’t work, they could have a further conversation, but he couldn’t say it wouldn’t work unless/until he tried it.
So Pastor Simon and his leadership team went back to the drawing board, studied the material, prayed and sought God’s direction for where they should go to find persons of peace. In a matter of two years, they have started more than 35 house churches.
Other church plants in the central and western parts of the country have also started through Free Methodist contacts using CCP. At their recent annual conference, a new mission district was officially formed with this network of new churches in the capital and beyond. Pastor Simon was designated as the mission district leader.
Many of the leaders of the new district voiced their gratitude to God and to the members of Christ Community Church. All that we are seeing today is a direct result of their faithful prayers, guidance, and financial investment over a 10-year period. From a distance, they not only mothered a new church but a whole new district!
Last September, forecasters were placing a scary Category 4-5 storm named Irma on a direct collision path with our city of Tampa. Highways and airports flooded with would-be storm refugees. Our church sprang into action. We fanned out as volunteers at a number of city-run shelters — mostly schools turned into makeshift dormitories — and that’s where I saw them.
I saw a young couple with a baby, a borrowed air mattress, and a few grocery bags full of meager belongings. More nervous than most, they seemed genuinely relieved to hear someone greet them in their native Spanish. Their names were Fernando and Carolina, and the friendship we would build would become the best silver lining from the storm that thankfully never really came our way.
Two weeks later, I was thrilled to see Carolina and Fernando walk through the doors of our church. They were completely new to church but loved it! Over the next two months, they became fixtures at church. Life groups, Bible studies, worship services — they showed up for everything! Then one day, their housing abruptly fell through, but instead of landing on the street, another couple from church generously opened their home until Fernando and Carolina could get a place of their own.
One Sunday morning, Carolina tearfully knelt at the altar and, surrounded by her new church family, asked Jesus into her heart! Over the last months, she had been on a journey that began with a hurricane and was ending in new life found at the cross. “I am so happy,” she later told me, “to discover God’s love through this church. In fact, I think, that storm may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to us!”
World Missions Prayer Calendar: May
Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
Pray for this young work started by individuals from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Pray for those recovering from war and still displaced. Pray that this nation would find hope in Christ.
Free Methodist World Missions staff are preparing now for new missionary training which will take place in June. Pray for those doing the training as well as those being trained.
Birthday: Deb Miller FMWM – Operations and Innovations
Creative Access – C
Government regulations limiting religious freedoms have gone into effect increasing persecution of Christians and making some pre- Christians fearful for their jobs if they continue to study the Bible. Pray for wisdom and discernment for those sharing the gospel and that the Holy Spirit would continue to draw people to Christ.
Pray for the many beach communities being ministered to in the Shoreline Mission District under the leadership of missionaries Dennis and Kyle Leon. Several leaders in this district are surfers and they desire to evangelize surfers and provide a bridge from the beach to the local church.
Pray for Regional Director Mitch Pierce and his wife, Lynn Sue, as they seek to support the work in Belgium, France, Hungary, and Ukraine. Pray for capable mentors to work with ministerial candidates and newly ordained leaders.
Birthday: Mitch Pierce
Pray for the physical safety of FM church planters and those who gather in house churches in an area ripe for terrorism and political unrest.
The language of Angola is Portuguese which is also spoken in Brazil. Pray for church planting efforts to expand throughout the region and for good working relationships as the church in Brazil provides oversight and training.
Pray for Ricardo and Beth Gomez as they give attention to pastoral formation. They are part of a team that is synthesizing information to create 20 different course manuals for training pastors. They are responsible for reviewing the theological content and graphic design.
Birthday: Beth Gomez
Free Methodist ministries include work among the Chinese and the Chin tribal people. Pray for the outreach of the Chinese church plant in Yangon as it offers ministry to youth who come to the city for education.
Pray for missionary Kay Stotts Godoy as she gives leadership to International Child Care Ministries in Latin America and works throughout Latin America to share the good news of Jesus with children.
Birthday: Kay Stotts Godoy
Art and Sylvia Brown provide pastoral care and support to FM missionaries in Africa. They seek to raise a cohort of intercessors who through their prayers and support will surround and undergird God’s work in Africa. Please join them in praying for the continued spiritual and physical health of the missionaries and good working relationships with the national leaders.
Birthday: Sylvia Brown
Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia):
Pray for a newly established church plant in a majority culture that isn’t friendly towards Christians.
Pray for Pastor Hiuberth Zapata and his wife, Sandra, as they moved from Costa Rica back to Managua, Nicaragua in January to start a Community Church Planting project. Pray for their adjustment and that God would lead them to persons of peace to start a network of new churches.
It is common in some cultures for widespread abuse. Pray for a new ministry among abused girls and young women.
Pray for Bishop Samuel Kayinamura as he leads the church and navigates new government regulations that could have a negative impact on smaller churches.
Pray for adequate discipleship training programs for the thousands of new believers coming to faith.
The immigration crisis in Europe is presenting opportunities for the church at large. Please pray for wisdom, endurance and resourcing for those who are working on the front lines with refugees and immigrants.
Pray for stamina and health for Mercedes Reynoso as she pastors the largest church and serves as superintendent. Also pray for the many ministry opportunities following hurricane Maria, last September.
Pray for the multiplication of leaders to reach thousands of towns and villages in northern Iraq (Kurdistan) without a gospel witness.
Creative Access – C
Pray for the English teachers working at various universities as an avenue to share Christ through their relationships with students and faculty. Pray for their discernment and the Holy Spirit’s leading as they navigate conversations.
Pray for Pastor Dosseh Takpale as he gives leadership to new ministries in West Africa and is involved with the new Togo Wesley Missionary Institute which is training workers for cross-cultural ministry in French.
Creative Access Country T
Pray for the Christians who face government harassment, discrimination, and persecution.
Pray for Roger Stone as he gives input in translating the Bible into three different languages and helps facilitate Bible quizzing for Free Methodist youth.
Birthday: Roger Stone
Pray for Eduardo and Cindi Angelo as they nurture leaders and seek to establish new Free Methodist church plants.
Pray for wisdom and direction for Rose Brewer as she directs the SEED team. Pray that the SEED team will continue to learn and grow in serving their livelihood group partners.
Birthday: Rose Brewer
Pray for Russ and Sherrie Cole as they work with the national church, help facilitate short-term ministry teams, manage administration and care for facilities and equipment.
Pray for Set Free initiatives designed to create new futures and end modern-day slavery through community-based action in partnership with others.
Birthday: Kevin Austin
Pray for Dr. Dale and his wife, Dawn, as they seek to navigate language and cultural learning.
Pray for training opportunities for lay leaders and for biblical values and a clear understanding of Jesus to be developed among the people.
Pray for mutually beneficial partnerships to form between the church in the USA and the church in Asia to support pastors, leaders, churches, and ministries. Pray for God to provide Bibles for pastors and new believers.
Pray for the ongoing ministry of the John Wesley Bible Institute in Madrid which helps train and equip pastors, church planters, and lay leaders.