“May I invite you to my church on Sunday?” That was Rosa Loayza’s simple but silent invitation to her friend, Felix Sam. She wanted Felix to encounter Jesus. Rosa, like Felix, is deaf and mute, so she understands firsthand the importance of social integration and the barriers deaf people often experience. Before relocating to Lima, Peru, Rosa was part of the Free Methodist Church “Dios de lo Imposible” (God of the Impossible) in Venezuela, a church for people with all kinds of physical limitations. Without a doubt, her experience there continues to drive more people along the path to faith.
Full of God’s grace, Rosa is passionate about helping people experience the joy of salvation, intentional about inviting them to Jesus and persistent in extending the kingdom of God. Her invitations aren’t made casually. She prays for the people, encourages them, shares her faith and, guided by the Holy Spirit, invites them into a transformed life. She recognizes transformed lives will, in turn, transform society.
When Rosa first met Felix, she probably never imagined the eternal implications of their friendship. Felix is the son of Chinese immigrants to Peru and was raised in the Buddhist faith. Yet, the God of the Impossible used Rosa’s obedience to introduce Felix to Jesus. Felix knew he was living far from God in a life of sin. Despite restrictions and obstacles caused by the pandemic, Rosa led him to faith and participated in his baptism at the end of 2020.
During the pandemic, Rosa helped Felix overcome the communication barriers and integrated him into the fellowship of the Christian Community of Lima (a Free Methodist Church). Felix is now part of God’s family. Through the church’s virtual ministry, Felix advanced in his spiritual growth, and Rosa was right there with him.
God is cultivating the friendship between Felix and Rosa, and together they endeavor daily to be committed disciples who share their love for God with others. Today they can be found encouraging other deaf people. Felix, together with Rosa, has introduced at least 10 more people to Jesus. They even have begun a new community church plant. Rosa and Felix are persistent in multiplying disciples and transforming society, one person at a time.
Jardy Castro lives in Chile and is part of the Community Church Planting communications team.
(A video of Felix’s baptism can be found at photos.app.goo.gl/MZ6RHavUEU5ThijHA.)
By Jardy Castro
Soul Care Amid a Pandemic
Psalm 42 is a precious portion of God’s Word. Here the psalmist opens his soul and allows us to see his reality and emotions: exhaustion, sadness, anguish, loneliness and a crisis of faith. What a contrast to our expectations from a servant of the Lord! Amid the pandemic, many of our Latin American leaders have experienced similar circumstances and deep emotions.
Self-care is a critical area of a pastor or church leader’s life (See 1 Timothy 4:16, Acts 20:28 NIV). Yet, it is often underdeveloped. The leader’s passion for Christ and dedication to ministry can easily cause imbalance. As pastors care for others daily, they and their families often are depleted and sometimes neglected. In many cases, the pandemic has accelerated unhealthy rhythms and established instability as a norm. As a result, our leaders face increasing stress, fatigue, fear, exhaustion, discouragement and illnesses of body, mind and soul.
In response to this reality, the Pastoral Care team in Latin America organized a four-hour seminar on self-care for pastors throughout the region. In February, 284 pastors and 93 church leaders connected to receive practical tips from professional pastors and counselors. Participants acknowledged their personal and familial needs are often the second or third priority. Many admitted they don’t have deep relationships with people who can walk with them in difficult times.
As a result, mission-district leaders and conference superintendents realized the need to serve their pastors more intentionally. Today, more people are enrolling in pastoral care groups, allowing us to walk alongside and support one another on this ministerial journey. Within two hours after the seminar, I received calls from two pastoral couples asking for help in delicate situations. Both recognized they had neglected their personal lives for the “good of the ministry.”
Many have thanked us for prioritizing this event. The seminar leaders provided practical tips such as implementing short rest times and active breaks, eating a well-balanced diet, incorporating recreation into our routines, and more. These simple strategies often are overlooked, but our follow-up shows that many pastors are now incorporating these things into their daily life. Seminars such as this and our biweekly Pastoral Care Groups (similar to Wesleyan Bands) are key components as we participate with God in the restoration of Latin America by developing healthy leaders, multiplying committed disciples and empowering transformational churches.
Pastor Susana Castro serves the Camino de Vida Church in Medellín, Colombia, and leads the Latin American Pastoral Care Team. She also is a ministry mentor serving Costa Rica, Honduras and Puerto Rico.
By Susana Castro
In early February 2021, the Costa Rica Free Methodist Church received Pastora Naya Sucre, her husband and her son from Venezuela. Several years ago, responding to the Community Church Planting (CCP) movement’s invitation, Naya and her husband opened their home to share Christ with their neighbors. Their small group outgrew even the large tent in their backyard.
God grew within Naya’s heart a call to the pastorate. Together with her family, she pastored the Iglesia Metodista Libre Aposento Alto (The Upper Room Free Methodist Church) for many years and even planted new churches. Recently, God called her again. This time the call was to go as an international missionary and serve the church in Costa Rica.
The family’s arrival was like a balm for our mission district. The FMC in Costa Rica found itself in a difficult situation and urgently needed to find leaders willing to serve God with all their hearts and willing to help revive the existing church expand while expanding the kingdom of God in Costa Rica.
The Bible teaches us that the church of Christ has many members, “but all its many parts form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12). We are grateful to God and to the FMC leadership in Latin America for moving an important part of the body of Christ from Venezuela to Costa Rica. Pastora Naya is a woman of faith and courage. She came willing to give her all for the growth of the Free Methodist Church of Costa Rica.
And so, when Pastora Naya’s family arrived, we were pleased. Pastors, leaders and members of the FMC in Costa Rica gave them a warm welcome! We took the opportunity to get to know them and share a precious time. Through Pastora Naya, we see the living reflection of God’s restoration of Latin America through the Free Methodist Church. The FMC is developing healthy leaders and multiplying committed disciples even on an international level. Through Pastor Naya and the mobilization of many other leaders and pastors, we see firsthand how people are increasingly committed to empowering Christian churches worldwide to carry out the message of salvation.
We have been honored to receive Pastor Naya. Like her, we desire to awaken within our country leaders and disciples who actively participate in God’s mission of supporting sister churches and seeing their communities transformed for Christ!
Pastor Pedro Flores is the mission district leader in Costa Rica.
By Pedro Flores
World Missions Prayer Calendar: May
01 Saturday | Angola
The work in this mission district is under the Brazilian General Conference. Pray for expanding churchplanting efforts throughout Angola.
02 Sunday | FMWM
Pray for the FMWM resource staff in Indianapolis. Ask the Father to encourage them as they give support to our missions team around the world.
Birthday: Deb Miller (Director of Operations and Innovative Initiatives)
03 Monday | ASIA
Ask the Father to give wisdom, guidance and good health to Mark and Lena so they can effectively serve our FM national ministry leaders in Asia.
04 Tuesday | 360 Mission District
Pray for personal and ministerial growth for 20 students currently in the pastoral formation process.
05 Wednesday | Europe
Pray these words from 1 Corinthians 15:58 for all our missionaries and ministry leaders in Europe: “my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Birthday: Mitch Pierce
06 Thursday | Iraq
Pray for the preparations and launching of the Whole Woman Initiative at the Noor Center. This project focuses on the holistic needs of women in the region.
07 Friday | Creative Access-VN
Pray for the children in this country, especially tribal children who lack access to clean water, food and education. Pray for our gospel outreach in mountain villages.
08 Saturday | Latin America
Ask the Father to give Beth Gómez wisdom and grace as she leads the communications team in Latin America. Pray God will be glorified and His purposes fulfilled in every form of communication.
Birthday: Beth Gómez
09 Sunday | Set Free Movement
Pray Ginger Coakley will have increasing wisdom and spiritual maturity. Ask the Lord to use the gifts He has placed within her to bring glory and honor to Him through her current roles and responsibilities. Birthday: Ginger Coakley
10 Monday | Chile
Pray for Kay Stotts Godoy as she serves in coordinating ICCM work throughout the Latin America area and works with a team translating The Roots children’s curriculum for the Latin American context.
Birthday: Kay Stotts Godoy
11 Tuesday | Africa
Pray for members of the Africa missionary team. Ask the Lord to give strength, encouragement, perseverance and good health to meet the challenges God has placed before them.
Birthday: Sylvia Brown
12 Wednesday | Bulgaria
Pray for the agricultural project in Bulgaria. Ask the Father to provide a favorable growing season and a bountiful harvest this year.
13 Thurday | Thailand
The Free Methodist Church in Thailand doubled in 2020. Give praise to the Lord and pray for the many new believers.
Birthday: Keith Battleson
14 Friday | Middle East
Use Isaiah 61:1 as you pray for majority-background believers in this region. Ask the Lord to anoint workers in this region to proclaim the good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom to those who are captive and release from darkness to those imprisoned.
15 Saturday | Guatemala
Pray for the strengthening of relationships and ongoing training opportunities with a wonderful network of leaders in Guatemala as work toward affiliation continues.
16 Sunday | Liberia
Praise the Lord for four pastors recently trained in Community Church Planting. Pray the kingdom will expand in Liberia as these pastors train others.
17 Monday | Creative Access-MR
Despite the turmoil in this country, we praise the Lord for more than 70 new believers this year. Continue to pray for peace and stability. Ask the Father to give increased gospel opportunities during this time of conflict, fear and struggle.
18 Tuesday | Hungary
Pray for new missionary Erin Kingsley as she continues to establish partnerships with the hope of deployment to Hungary later this year.
19 Wednesday | Paraguay
Pray for health and financial stability for pastors and churches as they emerge from the global pandemic.
20 Thursday | Middle East
Pray for the restraining of spiritual and political forces that oppress kingdom work.
21 Friday | Ivory Coast
Praise the Lord for two new churches planted in Ivory Coast this year – one in Bazra and one in Daloa. Pray many in these communities will come to Christ.
22 Saturday | ICCM
ICCM sponsorship in Brazil began in 1980. ICCM operates in many areas across the country, including Ibrite, Cuiabá, Monte Santo and São Paolo. Pray for the children in each of these areas.
23 Sunday | Philippines
Pray that the Ayta Abellen and Ayta Mag-Indi people will choose to read or listen to the Scriptures newly available in their languages.
Birthday: Roger Stone (Affiliate Missionary)
24 Monday | Middle East
Thank the Lord for those coming to faith in Christ and giving witness through baptism. Pray for the family members of these new believers to know the love of Jesus.
25 Tuesday | Southeast Asia / SEED
Pray the God of unfailing love will empower the Free Methodist Church to influence 1 million people to follow Jesus and raise up 10,000 leaders across Asia.
Birthday: Roger Haskins
Pray for wisdom, guidance and empowerment for Rose Brewer as she directs SEED, working with an amazing team, incredible livelihood group leaders and SEED champions.
Birthday: Rose Brewer
26 Wednesday | Latin America
Pray for Susanna Castro and her work to promote pastoral care groups and help Latin American leaders toward wholeness.
Birthday: Susana Castro (International Missionary)
27 Thursday | Set Free Movement
Pray for the ongoing work of at least 47 Set Free teams in 11 countries. Ask the Lord to use these teams to end modern-day slavery through community-based action and partnership with others.
Birthday: Kevin Austin
28 Friday | Guinea
Pray for workers who are called, committed and bold in sharing the gospel. Pray the body of Christ in Guinea will remain faithful and unwavering in these difficult times.
29 Saturday | Creative Access-IN
Many of our pastors serve in poor urban or rural communities and find their livelihood a challenge. Pray for “tent-making” opportunities allowing churches to become self-sustaining and mission-sending.
30 Sunday | Romania
Pray for spiritual receptiveness as leaders work to begin churches and develop new ministries across Romania.
31 Monday | Middle East
Ask God to reveal Himself to those in the majority religious background and allow them to see Jesus is real.