November Heartbeat

Celebrating Transformation in Argentina

It was standing room only in the municipal theatre. Even the rain outside couldn’t dampen the mood! Local government officials joined people from eight nations along with Argentinians from various locations, and hundreds of community residents. They all gathered to celebrate the 25th  anniversary of the Free Methodist Church in Argentina on March 16, 2019. The atmosphere was electric! Lights were pulsing! The smoke machine was spewing! The speakers were at full throttle! And the children were energetic!

Twenty-five years prior, Pastors Ricardo and Maria Elena Guerrero and their three young children, immigrated from Chile to the town of Carmen de Areco. Upon arrival, a struggling pastor suggested that they move on because, as he said, “A lot of people have come and tried to plant churches here, but they have all failed.” As a result, Pastor Ricardo decided that Carmen de Areco needed a church.

The Guerrero’s arrived with nothing but a strong call from God. Sometimes the loaf of bread that neighbors brought was the only food their family had to eat, but God was faithful.

The fruit of 25 years of love was on display in the theater. Young and old (including the church’s original worship team) praised God with passion and talent. Youth and children recounted the mission and story of the church through dance and drama.

Throughout their ministry, the Guerrero family enfolded countless children from the streets and loved them into a personal relationship with God. Adults who had been rescued as children came with their children and grandchildren. The testimonies of lives and generations transformed by God’s saving grace could have extended for hours! Everyone celebrated a family who had followed the leading of the Holy Spirit, sacrificed the comfort of their home country, and invested in the lives of others.

The mayor presented the church with a small check to cover the paperwork for the construction of a new center for children. The money was a token of the town’s appreciation for the transformation the Free Methodist Church has made in their local community. It was also a vote of confidence for the future impact on children and families.

Today, the Carmen de Areco church has 600+ members, but the story doesn’t end there. Eight churches have been planted out of that church. Today there are approximately 1,500 Free Methodist members throughout Argentina, and they support a small but growing church in Uruguay. We celebrate the faithful ministry of the Guerrero family and give God the glory.

by Beth Gómez

PLANTING AND HARVESTING IN NEW EDEN

One of the little girls from the Ferroviaria (Quito, Ecuador) neighborhood tentatively reached down, put her small fingers firmly around the base of the stem, and gently lifted the red radish from the ground. By the delighted look on her face, I sensed that this was the first time she had ever harvested something from a garden. I’m not sure who was thrilled more, she or I. But we both were rejoicing in the satisfaction of harvesting something beautiful from the place where we had previously sown a small seed.

For me, the seed was planted a little over two years ago. The seed was an idea to convert a vacant lot into a garden. Some saw that place as nothing more than a large, empty lot overgrown with weeds. Others of us envisioned a colorful, productive garden with beds of vegetables and terraces of fruit trees — a sort of new Eden — a refuge of peace, fulfillment, and blessing.

It has been hard work to pull out persistent weeds, prepare fertile planting spaces, and keep vegetables protected from the effects of hail, flooding rains, and pests. But the seed is growing. Our New Eden Garden gradually has grown in size and has provided nutritious food for the pastoral family, as well as neighbors in the community and strangers in need.

This year, with the partnership of International Child Care Ministries, we began a garden project for the children in the Saturday morning kids’ club. The idea is to provide a loving and safe space that contributes to the spiritual, physical, cognitive, and social development of the children of the Ferroviaria neighborhood. The children take turns preparing the soil, planting, tending, and harvesting. As they learn about gardening, they learn about the wonders of God’s creation, how to work together, and how to take care of their bodies. They enjoy eating nutritious, safe food which they have cultivated themselves.

For me, the most fulfilling time with the children each week is sharing something from the Bible that has a direct spiritual application to something going on in the garden. Lately, we’ve been talking about seeds and harvest.

We, like the sower (Mark 4:26-29) put seeds in the ground and trust God for the growth and the harvest. Each Saturday, the kids’ club staff sows spiritual seeds in the lives of the children. Like the sower in the parable Jesus told, the harvest is yet to be seen. But we continue to care for their lives and wait for an amazing harvest of righteousness and transformation.

By Dennis “J.R.” Crouse

 

EMPOWERING THE NEXT GENERATION

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, and the second poorest country in the Americas. Nicaraguans have faced severe political and economic crises for years. This has affected the income in most households. People find themselves working more hours for the same salary, and unemployment is skyrocketing. The problem has been going on for many years and continues yet today. As parents work, the children are neglected and left to fend for themselves, becoming prone to drug use and gang involvement.

In light of this reality, Jenny Orozco and her husband began praying for ways to respond to these needs and support Nicaraguan families. God gave them the vision of a Christian school. They started by offering programs to reinforce academic courses and teach Christian values knowing that only the Word of God can root out poverty and transform society. In 2004, with the help of the district leader, Dr. Hiuberth Zapata, VISA teams, and International Child Care Ministries, they opened a neighborhood elementary school with 150 children. In 2008, they began to offer secondary education, with a total of 425 children and adolescents being educated and discipled.

Jenny has worked with the students and their families, and God has blessed the ministry with much fruit. In fact, a church has been planted out of the school. Today, Jenny works with the students and their families, developing leaders and serving as the lead pastor of the 200-member Free Methodist Church of the Messiah.

In 2019, Jenny became the first ordained elder in the Nicaraguan Mission District. Pastora Jenny is committed to her calling, to the multiplication of leaders, groups, and churches. She is currently mentoring five ministerial candidates. We are grateful for Pastora Jenny’s commitment to the next generation and to developing healthy leaders. She is committed to making disciples and planting transformational churches to bring biblical restoration to Latin America.

By Luis Fernando Pérez

 

World Missions Prayer Calendar: November

01 Friday | Bulgaria:

Missionaries David and Jill Sweet are in the U.S. for partnership building this fall. Pray for good connections with supporters as they share about work in Bulgaria. Also, pray for their one-year-old twin sons as they adapt to new places and people during this time.

Birthday: Jill Sweet

02 Saturday | Honduras

This church-in-formation is meeting together for their annual meeting today. Pray for them to experience unity and a shared vision for reaching Honduras for Christ.

03 Sunday | Middle East

Pray for Hany and for a house church that has recently been planted in the northern area of his country. Pray specifically that this church will be able to stand against fierce spiritual warfare.

04 Monday | BThailand, Myanmar

Pray for Seth and Hlwan Hlawn Van Tifflin as they continue their language studies. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide them as they seek to minister effectively in Thailand and Myanmar through the ministry of In Better Hands. Pray more doors will be opened to establish Free Methodist churches in both countries.

Birthday: Hlawn Hlawn Van Tifflin

05 Tuesday | Japan

Chris and Yuko Wilkins (Japan) lead English chat groups and English classes for moms and young children. Pray that as they connect with these groups, the Holy Spirit will give increased opportunities for conversations about Jesus and how He can transform their lives.

Birthday: Yuko Wilkins

06 Wednesday | Ethiopia

Pray for the outreach ministries of the Ethiopian Free Methodist Church including the ministries of ICCM schools, and a feeding and study program at the church in Addis Ababa.

 

07 Thursday | SEED

As the Christmas season approaches, pray individuals will consider gifts that will assist in empowering economic development for our Free Methodist sisters and brothers around the world.

08 Friday|Ivory Coast

Pray for many in this country who are still recovering from significant losses suffered during the civil war that erupted in 2010. Pray the message of the gospel will give new life to many in Ivory Coast.

09 Saturday | Latin America

The majority of our Latin American missionary team are currently on home assignment. Pray their time with ministry partners will be encouraging for them and for those they visit. Ask God to supply all they need as they transition back to their field of service.

Birthday: Betsy Crawford

10 Sunday | Spain

Camilo and Magaly Mora began ministry in Spain in September. Pray they can connect well with the ministry team in Europe. Pray for sensitivity to God’s voice and instruction as they seek to find those in Spain and Greece who are crying out for hope and salvation.

Birthday: Magaly Mora

11 Monday | Middle East

Pray for Impact Middle East leaders that are going into new and sometimes dangerous areas to plant new house churches and train leaders.

12 Tuesday | Asia

The Bible for Every Believer program provides new believers with a copy of the Scriptures in their language. Pray that the Lord will provide resources to supply Bibles for believers across Asia and allow for their discipleship through the Word of God.

13 Wednesday | Guinea Conakry

The Free Methodist work here opened in 2013. There are currently five churches. Ask God to give wisdom to leaders as they continue to nurture these five churches and the nearly two dozen church plants.

14 Thursday | Ecuador

Pray for the children of the Ferroviaria Kid’s Club as they continue to learn about gardening as well as learning from the Word of God. Pray that all would come to follow Jesus with their whole heart.

15 Friday | Spain

Phil and Debra Gilmore are transitioning from pastoral ministry in the U.S. to serve in Madrid, Spain. They previously served in the Dominican Republic. Pray that they would quickly return to Spanish language fluency. Also, pray for wisdom in all areas as they complete this transition.

Birthday: Debra Gilmore

16 Saturday | FMWM

Jon Fajardo is part of the FMWM resource team working with mission finances. Praise the Lord for his skills and his heart for the world. Ask the Lord to bring him continued encouragement in his day to day work. Birthday: Jon Fajardo

17 Sunday | Creative Access-I

Pray for the College of Nursing and the College of Leadership in this country. Ask the Lord to prepare leaders who will transform communities through excellence in their work and the strength of their testimonies.

18 Monday | Middle East

Pray for Area Director Dale and his wife Dawn as they travel throughout this region encouraging and training leaders. Ask God to give wisdom, discernment, and safety as they go.

19 Tuesday | Creative Access-X

Pray for the pastors and leaders in this country to be fruitful amid the oppressive circumstances. Also, pray for leaders who have emigrated to other countries in Latin America to make disciples and groups wherever they go.

20 Wednesday | Hungary

Pray for the missionary team in Hungary: Larry and Katie Winckles, Gerry and Kati McNamara, and Chadwick and Sarah Anderson. Ask the Lord to provide all the wisdom and resources needed to reach Hungarians with the good news of Jesus.

21 Thursday | Asia:

Pray for Eric (Asia Area Director) and Virginia to, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your [their] conversation be gracious and attractive so that you [they] will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6, NLT).

Birthday: Virginia (Asia), Kyle Leon (Costa Rica)

22 Friday | Chile

Pray that the Lord will encourage and give wisdom to Superintendent Patricio Alvial Probeste, and to the pastors and lay leaders who meet together for their annual meeting November 22-24.

23 Saturday | Set Free

Pray for the growing work of Set Free in countries around the world including: Bulgaria, Hungary, Kenya, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and Creative Access Country-I.

24 Sunday | Greece

At the end of August, news agencies and European relief agencies reported that around 7,000 refugees arrived in Greece in one month. The refugee crisis is not going away. Many are open to hearing about Jesus. Ask the Lord to send more workers for this harvest field.

25 Monday | Argentina

Pray for formerly abandoned children who are now serving as leaders in the church and studying at the Bible institute. Pray they will mature in their faith and reach new communities across Argentina.

26 Tuesday | Middle East

Pray for leaders to find encouragement from one another, rest for their bodies and souls, and time to invest in the spiritual development and discipleship of their families.

27 Wednesday | Angola

Pray for lasting peace in this country. Pray for the FM churches  as they care for the physical and spiritual needs of those who are suffering.

28 Thursday | Global

On this Thanksgiving Day, give thanks for the global Free Methodist Church. Pray for continued open doors into places where there is still no gospel witness.

Birthday: Camilo Mora

29 Friday | Africa

Praise the Lord for the Tumiani Women Kenya organization that is helping provide financial opportunity and teaching stewardship to individuals and communities across Kenya. Pray for increased resources and opportunities to provide economic empowerment for many others.

Birthday: Vickie Reynen (Africa), Sandra Veronese (International Missionary-Japan)

30 Saturday | Creative Access-N

Pray for wisdom and guidance for Abraham, the country leader. He and his family and their church need to relocate. Ask the Lord to provide a reasonably priced place for his family to live and their church to meet.