The Free Methodist Church in Carmen de Areco, Argentina celebrated its 25th anniversary in March. The mother church for today’s Argentina Mission District, this church was started by Pastors Ricardo and Maria Elena Guerrero’s family in May of 1994. In the first ten years, the church grew from 5 to 50 members; in the last 15 years it has grown to 600 members and has planted a dozen other churches. Along the way they have welcomed and cared for 60 boys from the streets, taking them into their home and loving them to wholeness in Jesus. At the last annual meeting, the district reported 1,500 members in 14 churches with eight ordained elders and 34 Conference Ministerial Candidates. The DNA of this vibrant, contagious, loving community of the Carmen de Areco Church – now called La Gran Familia (the Great Family) — permeates the whole network.
While we celebrate Pastors Ricardo and Maria Elena for their vision, faith, and persistence in following God’s call, we are also keenly aware of key partners who have invested in and guided their leadership at crucial points. Clancy Thompson, who was the Latin America Area Director for Free Methodist World Missions from 1990 to 1997, was the person God used to bring them into the Free Methodist Church, and his legacy is revered. He coached them during the lean and difficult years when growth was slow. In retirement, Pastor Clancy involved his home church in Clarkston, Michigan – now called Waypoint – to financially support the growing work in Argentina.
For more than ten years Waypoint Church has faithfully supported the Argentina Country Share Account (now called Church Planting and Development fund or CPD). In December 2017, Pastor Chris Horvath and Kurt Haney from Waypoint finally got to visit Carmen de Areco and attend the Annual Meeting of the Argentina District to see what God has done through their investment. New Life Ministries in Endicott, New York is also a significant partner for the work in Argentina. Pastor Sebastian Prospero has visited Argentina, and a group of young adult interns from Carmen de Areco visited New Life last summer.
For many years the leaders in Carmen de Areco have dreamed of somehow filling the spiritual and educational gaps in the Argentina school system. They are now developing plans and raising funds to construct a building and start a center for academic enrichment to provide food, spiritual instruction and supplemental education in partnership with International Child Care Ministries (ICCM). It has already been named Centro Thompson to honor Clancy and Doris Thompson.
By Paul Olver
Montevideo is the capital city and cultural center of the small and proudly non-religious country of Uruguay. More than half of the country’s population live in greater Montevideo, known as the most secular city in Latin America.
Into this context, Mike and Andrea Green set out from Michigan and New York as pioneering church planters. They ministered in Argentina and Uruguay for three years, learning the language and culture, before moving to Montevideo two years ago. They went with only a few tenuous contacts, believing Jesus weeps over the city of Montevideo as He wept over Jerusalem.
The Greens have studied Community Church Planting (CCP) materials in Spanish and English. They participated in a training seminar with CCP founder Bruce Bennett as well as a week-long CCP Summit with 40 other church planters from 12 Latin American countries. After the CCP Summit, Andrea wrote: “I am convinced the upper room was not a one-time event in history but that the Spirit of Jesus desires to empower over and over and over again. This week will be written in our history books as the impulse of the Spirit sending out His church to Latin America.”
Building upon the CCP principals, Mike and Andrea began seeking ways to engage people and get involved in the community. They discovered people with a hunger for spiritual things but disillusionment with the man-made structures of the Church. Despite the barriers, Andrea has developed contacts through an exercise club; Mike has made friends through his passion for American football – an oddity in a culture where soccer is king! As Andrea sat in the stands watching Mike play, she met the coach’s wife, a medical doctor, who invited them to their home. They have begun discipling this couple along with some of their other contacts. They are also sharing the CCP vision with existing believers and training a core team for the work of planting churches and transforming society.
Mike says, “Our goal is to start a grassroots movement to multiply new disciples, leaders, and groups to reach this urban area for Christ. We believe God has a harvest of new disciples in Uruguay. We are not content with less than a quarter of Uruguayans knowing who Jesus is and what He did to redeem them. Uruguayans need healthy churches, so they can know Jesus.”
By Paul Olver
Learning to Live in the Liminal
The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word limens meaning threshold. Yet when we are in the liminal space it never feels like a threshold. It feels more like a shut door, a wall, or an unmovable obstacle.
Almost 10 years ago our local congregation, Cucamonga Christian Fellowship, went on the great adventure of moving from our rented facility to becoming owners. What I didn’t realize in this adventure would be the remarkable heart shift from raising dollars for a building project to becoming a welcoming place for greater ethnic diversity.
I was surprised when I began to pray this prayer, “God, I believe you want us to locate in an area that will bring greater opportunity for our congregation to be diverse and to reach those who want to worship you in multiple languages.” I was equally surprised that our congregation was so willing. God provided a space. Then all we needed was for the right leader to partner with us. Enter the liminal space. Between the promise of diversity and reaching other ethnic groups and the reality that it was not yet happening.
We went through searches, strategies and startups, all ending up without viable fruitfulness. We spent eight years believing. It was frustrating – the pace of the promise spoken, and the promise fulfilled. So, we stood on the threshold of the in-between and declared, prayed and listened. In 2017, we found the right partners and with a few faithful bi-lingual families we began. We gathered, prayed, reached out and launched. The result, beyond many coming to Christ and being baptized, has been the dramatic shift in the whole church that I now affectionately call God’s best Crayola box ever!
We are one church with two languages. This has allowed us to achieve a new level of ministry. It allows us to love, respect and learn mutually about church – multicultural, multiracial, and with much more “flavor.” Second generation Hispanics are taking the lead to help train and empower those of the first generation. This interaction is easing the culture shock and the language barrier in their lives and allowing them to overcome those barriers and thrive quickly, while helping them grow in their faith.
We have crossed the threshold and are experiencing all that God had planned for us during the liminal space. The in-between has been the grace that enabled us to steward the promise into greater fruitfulness.
By Fraser Venter
World Missions Prayer Calendar: May
01 Wednesday | Sierra Leone
The Free Methodist Church in Liberia has spread its work into Sierra Leone. A delegation from Sierra Leone joined the church in Liberia for their annual meeting. Praise the Lord and join in prayer for this new work in Sierra Leone and the leader, Pastor Mbawa.
02 Thursday | FMWM
Pray for members of the FMWM staff as they prepare to share about the global church at the 2019 General Conference. Birthday: Deb Miller FMWM, Director of Operations
Birthday: Deb Miller FMWM, Director of Operations
03 Friday | Creative Access – C
Pray for Mark and Lena as they spend the next few months in the U.S. for partnership building. Pray for the Lord’s wisdom for their son Shalom who graduates from college this month.
04 Saturday | Nicaragua
Praise the Lord for Jenny Orozco, ICCM National Coordinator of Nicaragua, who was recently ordained. Pray for Jenny in her roles as pastor, school director and national coordinator.
05 Sunday | Europe
Mitch Pierce serves as the Regional Director for Northern Europe. Pray for him and his wife Lynn Sue as they seek to encourage and give guidance to Free Methodist leaders in this area.
Birthday: Mitch Pierce
06 Monday | Middle East
Praise the Lord for the Kingdom growth in this region. Pray for the 471 new leaders that were trained in 2018.
07 Tuesday | Togo
Praise the Lord for the “Free to Proceed” clearance which came in late February for the Wesley Missionary Institute. Pray for steady progress for the construction of multiple buildings on the property — the first two being classrooms and dormitory. Also, pray for the protection of all the workers.
08 Wednesday | Colombia
Pray for missionary Beth Gómez as she works to develop effective and innovative communication for Latin America. Pray that her efforts will further unite and motivate Latin American leaders to serve Christ with excellence for the expansion of His kingdom.
Birthday: Beth Gómez
09 Thursday | Thailand
Pray for wisdom for Pastor Joshua and On, his wife, as they lead the work in Thailand. Ask the Lord for spiritual breakthrough in this country and for new young leaders to answer the call to ministry.
10 Friday | Latin America
Free Methodist churches throughout Latin America are gearing up for special mid-year ministry to children and teens through camps, VBS, and retreats. Pray for effective outreach and spiritual growth among all the participants.
Birthday: Kay Stotts Godoy
11 Saturday | Africa
Pray for Art and Sylvia Brown who serve the Africa missionary team by providing pastoral care to the missionaries and their families. Pray for them as they work to form a cohort of intercessors who will undergird the work and workers in Africa.
Birthday: Sylvia Brown
12 Sunday | Belgium
Pray for the development of leaders in this country, particularly native Belgians and for new church-planting opportunities.
13 Monday | Asia
Pray for wisdom and open doors regarding potential work in several new creative access countries this year.
Birthday: Keith Battleson
14 Tuesday | Cambodia
Praise the Lord for the four new conference ministerial candidates received at the Cambodia Annual Conference. Pray for these four individuals as they continue to be trained and to seek the Lord’s direction for ministry.
15 Wednesday | Greece
United Nations reports show that more than 5,000 refugees entered Greece within the first two months of 2019. There are now more than 70,000 refugees living in Greece. Pray for the church as they seek to demonstrate the love of Christ amid a desperate situation.
16 Thursday | Rwanda
Kibogora Hospital Maternity and Neonatology wards operated at a 140% occupancy rate in 2018, meaning that often two women were sharing a bed. Pray for the staff at the hospital as they serve under these complicated conditions. Pray for the Lord to provide the added space needed for patient care.
17 Friday | Colombia
Thadd and Nikki Roller have been appointed to the capital city of Bogotá. Their work will include facilitating the ministry of the Colombian FMC, providing support to leaders, and championing the Beehive Girl’s Home. Pray for their efforts to build a powerful prayer and support team.
18 Saturday | Middle East
Praise the Lord for the way He is continuing to appear in dreams to those who do not know Him. Pray that more people will find their way to Christ through dreams and visions.
19 Sunday | Hungary
Pray for Chadwick and Sarah Anderson and their four daughters who leave the U.S. today to begin their two-year VISA assignment in Győr, Hungary. Pray for their travel and the many adjustments their family will face as they begin life in Hungary.
20 Monday | Creative Access – C
Matt and Kat and their teammates have seen many of their close friends forced to leave and return to their home countries. Pray that the Lord will be their strength and encouragement through this time of loss and uncertainty.
21 Tuesday | Middle East
Pray for leaders who are using sports outreach as an opening to introduce youth to Jesus. Pray for the spiritual development of those young people who have become believers.
Birthday: Chris Wilkins
22 Wednesday | Cameroon
In the western and northern regions of Cameroon there are unresolved conflicts. Pray for Free Methodist families in these areas who are suffering loss. Pray for continued encouragement through the Holy Spirit.
23 Thursday | Philippines
Pray for missionary Roger Stone as he works with a group to complete translation of the New Testament into Ayta Mag- Indi and Ayta Abellen. Pray for discernment and wisdom for each decision made as the text is finalized.
Birthday: Roger Stone
24 Friday | Bulgaria
Pray for the Bulgarian country leaders and the Bulgarian missionary team as they continue to train and work with leaders who are planting churches in northern Macedonia.
25 Saturday | SEED
Pray for SEED Director Rose Brewer to have the wisdom of the Father as she works with churches around the world to reach out in their communities through holistic small business ministries.
Birthday: Rose Brewer
26 Sunday | Haiti
Continue to pray for the nation of Haiti. Pray for God’s peace during days of uncertainty. Pray that the church will see God’s hand of care, protection and provision.
27 Monday | Set Free
Pray for Kevin Austin, Director of the Set Free Movement, as he travels in the U.S. and internationally. Pray for wisdom, spiritual strength, and physical and spiritual protection.
Birthday: Kevin Austin
28 Tuesday | Spain
Pray for the successful translation, contextualization and utilization of Community Church Planting materials for use in Spain.
29 Wednesday | Creative Access – N
There are now more than 280 Free Methodist churches in this country. Pray for pastors and their families as they often face difficulties because of their faithfulness to spread the gospel.
30 Thursday | Brazil
Pray for the wise and courageous leadership of both the Brazilian and Nikkei Conferences as they navigate the increasingly secular and liberal political situations in Brazil.
31 Friday|Middle East
Pray that the power of the Word of God will speak words of peace, joy and hope to believers and unbelievers in this region.