Adapting and Advancing
In March, the coronavirus pandemic hit much of the world. Many governments in Latin America declared quarantines. One by one, countries began taking steps to slow down the spread of this dangerous virus. Among those measures, church closures were decreed, and home meetings were prohibited. Many saw this as a trick of the enemy to paralyze the church. But the church did not stop; we just changed our strategy. Believers began to meet virtually through video calls and Facebook. We asked ourselves, “How can we mobilize the church to continue showing and speaking of God’s love during the current circumstances?”
This question prompted a strategic team of the Free Methodist leaders in Latin America to begin implementing immediate response plans: Holy Week Without Borders (a united celebration of the entire FMC in Latin America), and creative ways to care for vulnerable people, and encourage believers. The team also was looking for longer-term solutions, and as always, the Lord was faithful, and His response came! Through collaboration with a partner ministry, we learned how to promptly adapt our strategy and virtually train the laypeople to continue multiplying the disciples. In this way, we hoped to mobilize the body of Christ for the fulfillment of the mission. The plan consisted of using online platforms to help disciples develop skills in using easy and reproducible biblical tools that help them prepare the ground, sow the seed of the gospel, disciple those who respond in faith, and gather those who bear fruit.
In mid-June, a pilot project plan began with 15 Community Church Planting (CCP) leaders in Ecuador. They joyfully received the training and demonstrated the project would work. We then started training people in several other mission districts: Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, 360 (Costa Rica), Peru and the Paraguay Conference. In July, around 200 people were receiving training. We plan to train 300 more in August* ̶ from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Creative Access Country-X. There are weekly reports of how ordinary people show and speak the gospel to their family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. The pilot team in Ecuador is preparing to replicate the training to 100 people. Between the beginning of the pandemic and the first of July, 201 new Houses of Peace were opened in Latin America, mostly online. We thank God many workers are going to the fields and the harvest continues to be harvested even amid ongoing quarantines! To Him be the Glory!
*Due to publishing deadlines, this article was written in July.
by John Jairo Leal, Community Church Planting Coordinator for Latin America
Chickens and Church Planting
What do chickens have to do with church planting? Little did we know. Over the past few years, the Latin America area initiated the implementation of Community Church Planting (CCP) principles. The CCP model has prepared us for the challenges presented by the global pandemic. With an emphasis on discipleship and Houses of Peace (house churches), the transition from gathering together weekly to gathering in small groups or via the internet has been a challenge, but not as difficult as it could have been without CCP preparation.
One of the greatest challenges has been how to continue evangelism during this time. CCP training uses the illustration of the farmer who prepares the soil to plant the seed as the first step in evangelism or the “Field 1/entry strategy” of the CCP system. In response to the current worldwide crisis, the 360 Mission District here in Costa Rica has been preparing the soil through the “Pollito (Po-yi-to) Project” ̶ chicken project.
With many unemployed people, the church wanted to provide families with food and something resourceful to do to provide for themselves and their families. We work closely with community leaders in several neighborhoods to assess the needs and organize people.
Paulino is one of those community leaders. Within weeks of the border closing, his tour business went under, and the bank reclaimed his tour van. Because he has only one leg, many other employment options were closed to him, and he was worried about how to feed his family. Paulino’s family received 10 broiler chicks through the “Pollito Project.” After eight weeks, they prepared eight for their consumption and sold two. With the money from the sale, they bought 10 more chicks. Paulino’s family is just one example of how the “Pollito Project” has helped families become more self-sustaining and able to provide for themselves amid the pandemic. The project has distributed over 1,400 laying hens and 5,914 broiler chicks, benefiting 935 families. These families have been given food security and the restoration of their dignity.
We pray these relationships will grow and anticipate many will become people of peace in their communities who can bring others to know God’s love. Truly, we are witnesses ̶ when we do the practical, God does the supernatural! Chickens can help plant churches!
by Kyle Leon, FM Missionary to Costa Rica 360 Mission District
One of the primary tools used by professional fishermen is a net. One of the tools used to expand the kingdom of God in Latin America is a network. The Community Church Planting (CCP) movement spreads Christ’s love through natural relationships or networks of families, neighborhoods and communities. Within this network, leaders are naturally detected and developed.
Four years in a row, Pastor Sebastian Carballo listened as the CCP model was introduced and taught during Argentina-Uruguay Mission District’s annual meetings. Soon, he and his wife, Vanessa, were exploring the movement further with missionaries Mike and Andrea Green. Eventually, Sebastian became the CCP coordinator for Uruguay, with Pastor John Jairo Leal serving as his mentor. When the pandemic hit, Sebastian and Vanessa realized the economic toll it was taking on their community. Together their church began making and delivering lunches on Saturdays, first to a few and eventually feeding up to 100 people per day. Actually, as a response to the strict quarantine measures imposed as a result of COVID-19, almost all churches throughout the Argentina-Uruguay mission district began feeding people, some daily. An estimated 1,500 people are now served in this integral way through the church’s existing networks.
The results in Uruguay extend beyond providing for people’s physical needs. Pastor Sebastian employed a Muslim taxi driver to assist with food delivery. This man is now helping some families on his own and began volunteering his taxi service for the project free of charge. Now he is also a Christ-seeker and has been attending the church’s online services. Additionally, 10 new house churches, or Houses of Peace in the CCP model, have grown out of this feeding ministry. Some are beneficiaries of the help offered; others are people in the community who made donations to the feeding ministry. Each is an example of how the good news of Christ spreads through natural networks developed as God’s love is spread in tangible ways.
Pastor Sebastian says, “CCP training complements, strengthens and greatly expands the work already done in Durazno and for the future in Uruguay. It has helped us in ordering and visioning the work of Christ.”
by Beth Gómez, missionary to Latin America
World Missions Prayer Calendar: November
01 Sunday |Bulgaria
Pray for missionaries David and Jill Sweet as construction on the St. John’s Home wraps up and they enter a new phase of ministry. Also, pray for the balance of ministry and family as they parent two young sons.
Birthday: Jill Sweet
02 Monday | Mozambique
Despite the difficulties and suffering in this nation, the church has a vision for a theological institute and an agricultural school as well as continuing outreach in Swaziland and Angola. Pray the Lord will bless them as they seek to expand His kingdom.
03 Tuesday | Haiti
Haiti continues to suffer from political turmoil, violence, poverty and disease. Join in praying for lasting peace, stability and economic development.
04 Wednesday | Thailand and Myanmar
Pray for the Van Tifflin family as they seek to finalize Hlawn Hlawn’s U.S. citizenship and obtain visas for the entire family to return to Thailand. Also, pray for travel preparations, continued good health and safety in their return to the field.
Birthday: Hlawn Hlawn Van Tifflin
05 Thursday | Japan
Pray for the effectiveness of the “Train and Multiply” discipleship training program. Using Zoom, Chris and Yuko Wilkins are training about 100 people from all over Japan. Pray these leaders will also be encouraged to use creativity in their approach to God’s work and not be limited to a traditional pastoral ministry model.
Birthday: Yuko Wilkins
06 Friday | Middle East
Join leaders in the Middle East, giving thanks that COVID-19 has provided time for people to sit, to listen, and to hear and understand about Jesus.
07 Saturday | Nigeria
Three ICCM schools serve the children of Fulani herdsmen in the north. Pray for the staff and students of the schools and for the gospel to permeate this region.
08 Sunday | Creative Access-VN
God is speaking to many in this country. During the past few months, there have regular reports of people coming to Christ. Pray for our pastors to have continued courage and boldness in sharing the gospel.
09 Monday | Latin America
Pray for Guy and Betsy Crawford’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as they continue to lead small pastoral care groups, ministering to the Latin American missionary team.
Birthday: Betsy Crawford
10 Tuesday | Spain
Magaly Mora teaches at the seminary in Madrid, encourages and trains group leaders and the community church, and leads worship at Communidad Cristiana Luz y Vida in Rivas. Ask the Father to give her wisdom and fruitfulness in all these roles.
Birthday: Magaly Mora
11 Wednesday | SEED
Pray for SEED staff and champions as they plan and prepare creative ways to share the message of SEED as we approach the Christmas season.
12 Thursday | South Africa
The nation has been hit hard by the pandemic. Pray for the Free Methodist believers in South Africa to seize this time to offer the hope and love of Jesus to all.
13 Friday | Middle East
Pray the words of Psalms 27:14 for all our leaders in the Middle East. Pray they will hope in the Lord, be strong and let their hearts take courage!
14 Saturday | Chile
Through various forms of technology, the church in Chile has continued Community Church Planting training and online discipleship training. Give thanks and pray for these efforts and ongoing efforts to give emergency assistance to families in need.
Birthday: Leo Godoy
15 Sunday | Spain
Pray for missionary Debra Gilmore. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide her and to give her wisdom and creative opportunities to share Jesus’ love with her atheist neighbors.
Birthday: Debra Gilmore
16 Monday | FMWM
Ask the Father to give Jon Fajardo attentiveness, perseverance and clear focus as he cares for financial details related to the missionary team and country support.
Birthday: Jon Fajardo (FMWM Finance)
17 Tuesday | Colombia
Pray for Shane and Katie Jewell as they begin to build their prayer and financial supporters in preparation for work in Bogota, Colombia. Also, pray for their young family as they prepare for a cultural transition.
Birthday: Katie Jewell
18 Wednesday | Creative Access-BG
Praise the Lord for ongoing reports of new believers in this country. Pray for Pastor “D” and other leaders as they disciple the growing number of believers. Ask the Father to give open doors into new communities.
19 Thursday | Democratic Republic of Congo
Please join Dr. Marx, the medical director at Deaconess Nundu Hospital, in praying for the spiritual growth of the staff and the spiritual ministry of the hospital as they offer healing in Jesus’ name.
20 Friday | France
Our one church is in Cergy and is primarily composed of Haitian immigrants. Pray for this congregation seeking to evangelize in the community and reach more African and Haitian immigrants.
21 Saturday | Asia
Asia: Pray for Asia Area Director Eric and Virginia to have Christ-centered vision, deep faith, dangerous love and uncontainable hope.
360 Mission District: Pray, the church will continue to adapt to the current situation and find creative ways to spread God’s love to those who are desperately hurting.
Birthday: Kyle Leon
22 Sunday | Middle East
Ask the Father to strengthen and bring renewed health to several Middle East leaders who have suffered from COVID this year.
23 Monday |Tanzania
Praise the Lord for the completion of a new church building and the drilling of a well in the Nyamahuna village. As new believers have witnessed God’s provision, pray they will grow in their faith.
24 Tuesday | Philippines
Pray for Vangie Stone as she manages a transition of their household from one location to another. They will relocate due to a rail project that will pass through their current residence.
Birthday: Vangie Stone
25 Wednesday | Argentina
Pray for community impact as churches in Argentina continue to feed the hungry and minister to people amid crisis. Ask God to give wisdom and open doors to reach the lost.
26 Thursday | Middle East
Praise the Lord for the many ways technology has been used as a tool for the discipleship of majority-background believers. Pray especially for the young people who are coming to Christ.
27 Friday | Set Free Movement
In Hungary, an estimated 70% of children living in state-run children’s homes age out and become sexually exploited in prostitution or pornography. Pray for Zsuzsa Mecséri-McNamara and the Hungarian Set Free Movement as they seek to prevent these children from being trafficked by educating them and demonstrating Christ’s love.
28 Saturday | Europe
Ask the Father to guide Camilo Mora as he cares for and encourages national leaders in Spain, Greece and Portugal. Pray particularly for the members of the community church in Madrid to have a deepened commitment to Jesus.
Birthday: Camilo Mora
29 Sunday | Africa
Pray for Vickie Reynen to effectively connect and communicate with U.S. partners regarding opportunities to serve and support the churches in Africa. Pray she will also be an effective minister of the gospel in her own backyard.
Birthday: Vickie Reynen
30 Monday | Middle East
Continue to pray for ministry partners, Christian organizations and Christ-followers to boldly proclaim hope in Christ as they serve and love those still in need after the August explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.