November Heartbeat

Following God’s Plan

By Jardy Castro and Beth Gómez 

Like many before and after him, José Carrasquel left Venezuela in search of a better life. He planned to travel to Chile, where his brother-in-law had already settled but only had enough money to reach the first town across the border in Brazil. He soon realized God had a different plan.

On the first bus in Brazil, God used a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian woman (José spoke only Spanish) to tell him to go to Manaus instead. She paid his passage (the equivalent of two months’ wages) and said, “Don’t thank me, thank God.” Later, a man gave him food to eat, and another gave him information about a shelter and repeated the same message. Through miracles of communication, provision and opening the doors to a shelter designated only for Brazilians, God made His presence known. José began to serve alongside a church ministering in the shelter. Soon God called José to full-time ministry. The church helped him get established in an apartment and gave him money, enabling his family to join him in Brazil.

For four years, he served, assisting the church with its humanitarian initiatives and starting a church in the homeless shelter. He was comfortable and doing good work, but then a pastor friend challenged him to extend the gospel using the Community Church Planting model the Free Methodist Church in Latin America has implemented.

Six people attended the first “House of Peace” (a church plant started in the home of a non-believer) meeting. In the second “House of Peace,” the family invited its extended family, who, in turn, invited many of their friends. When José arrived, there wasn’t enough space in the living room to contain everyone.

God continues to add new people and families to the fold, both Venezuelan and Brazilian. Two young couples have joined the leadership team, and new believers are learning to obey the commands of Jesus. José currently oversees a network of six “Houses of Peace” and a sports outreach project. The goal is to have 15 “Houses of Peace” in Manaus by the end of 2021.

José is still moved when he remembers the miracles God used to lead him to deeper waters and challenged him to “let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Five year ago, his plan was to make a better life for his family. God’s plan was to extend His kingdom and offer eternal life to the residents of Manaus, Brazil. Today, José cheerfully declares, “Manaus will be for Christ!”

Jardy Castro is the prayer coordinator for Latin America, and Beth Gómez, is the administrative assistant to her husband, Ricardo, the area director.

Raising Resilient Leaders

By Dr. Glenn Lorenz

Developing a multiplying movement of transformational churches requires a robust system to form leaders. Four years ago, the Latin America area developed a curriculum designed to be offered in various formats and by a wide range of church leaders.

Accelerated by the pandemic, the Latin America area developed an online Center for Ministerial Formation (CenForME) within the last year and a half. Students from nine countries, including the United States, have taken advantage of the opportunity to use the ministerial formation curriculum, learning from experienced instructors and participating in international cohorts.

Brett Schroeder, from Mission District 360 in Costa Rica, shared the impact of one particular course. Part of his apprenticeship included the “Theology of Mission” course. Brett said,   “[When] we got to the final project of this course, I realized the Great Commission is not a suggestion, but a mandate for all of us to make disciples. During our project, we introduced unbelievers to the Word of God.” This involved learning about the community and how to look for a “person of peace” (Luke 10). Students created a prayer team, walked through the community praying and, finally, read the Bible with unbelievers who showed openness. Though the process was slow, Brett realized the Holy Spirit was on their team, and God had a great plan for this community.

Another student, Mariela Lesmo, from Venezuela, reports the impact of a course highlighting the life and theology of John Wesley. As a person born and raised in a Christian family, Mariela identified with Wesley. She was particularly impressed by John’s mother, Susana Wesley. She learned how Susana used the Bible as a text to teach her children to read and how she spent time with each child, having conversations about faith. These stories were relevant to Mariela as a children’s teacher. She recognized John Wesley’s success as a leader was greatly impacted by the opportunity he had as a child to hear the Word of God and see the love of the Lord in his own home. She said, “When I think about how to stop the drug trafficking, robbery, assaults and murders, and how to build a more just society, I think we must raise up resilient leaders, a new generation that loves God with all their heart and learns the Word of the Lord as children together with their families. Only then can we make a difference.”

We praise the Lord for these two students and —- others currently in the Pastoral Formation program!

Dr. Glenn Lorenz is the coordinator for ministerial foundation in the Latin American Area. He and his family are missionaries based in Costa Rica. The pastoral formation curriculum is free and downloadable at iml-latinoamerica.org.

 

 

From the Front Lines of the Fight to the Front Lines of Transformation

 

By Eddy Johanna Ramírez

Colombia is a country of great diversity – diverse landscapes, climates, fruits and people.
This diversity is also reflected in generational differences. Many in the younger generation are discontent. In 2021, young people were on the frontlines of protests and marches against the government. Willing to do whatever it takes, they are very aware that on many occasions, these protests change from an intended peaceful tone to one of violence, often resulting in the death of civilians and police officers. The lack of clear and effective opportunities to improve their lives and see hope for a better future often causes protests to evolve into a wake of desolation, rage and destruction.

Several years ago, our Free Methodist church in Bogotá began the Foundation for Investment and Child Social Development (FINDSIN). At FINDESIN, we are committed to achieving transformation in the lives of young people and impacting communities in a way that contributes to the true transformation of our country.

We have explored several possibilities in order to know and connect with the young people in our community. One of our most successful strategies has been participating in the protest coordination meetings. Through these meetings, we have direct contact with the groups actively participating in the protests. These young adults are also the managers of other subgroups called “collectives.” The “collectives” focus on helping youth through artistic activities; they teach kids about music such as rap, dance and painting/graffiti art. We have been allowed to join them in their initiatives based on our knowledge and experience working with youth and children in emotional, psychological and spiritual areas. The first activity we participated in was painting a mural. The objective was to remove graffiti carrying messages of hate and war and exchange them for something more artistic, having a call for peace.

We are now involved in multiple activities with these youth. Through our interactions, we have earned the right to conversations that have begun relationships. We now offer workshops to help them develop a plan for their lives, manage biblical sexuality and seek social reconciliation, forgiveness and love. We also present them with the message of salvation. Our desire is to provide alternatives for their lives that will bring about transformation from God. We will continue working on these initiatives until we have achieved all God has placed in our hearts.

Eddy Johanna Ramirez serves FINDESIN (also known as the Beehive), a ministry of the FMC in Bogotá, Colombia.

World Missions Prayer Calendar: November

01 Monday | Bulgaria

Pray for the St. John’s Home, the director and the house parents. Ask the Father to use this ministry home and its staff to transform the lives of the young women who will live there.

Birthday: Jill Sweet

02 Tuesday | Togo

In early September, Togo became a provisional annual conference. We praise the Lord for this milestone and invite you to pray for the ongoing church-planting efforts throughout Togo.

03 Wednesday | Haiti

Pray for Haiti as they continue recovery efforts following a major earthquake in August. Reports indicate more than 137,000 homes were destroyed.

04 Thursday | Thailand

Seth and Hlawn Hlawn Van Tifflin are expecting a baby girl in February 2022. Pray for the health of Hlawn Hlawn and the baby.

Birthday: Hlawn Hlawn Van Tifflin

05 Friday | Japan

Chris and Yuko Wilkins are involved in discipleshiptraining efforts in Japan. Pray for faithful disciples who will stand for Jesus and persevere in breaking the wall of unbelief in Japan. Ask the Father to prepare them to disciple future generations.

Birthday: Yuko Wilkins

06 Saturday | Middle East

Pray the love and compassion of Christ will be evident as workers and churches in this region receive and care for refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

07 Sunday | Democratic Republic of Congo

There is a growing need for leadership development in the DRC. Because of political unrest, both inside and outside the church, and the nation’s economic realities, Bible schools have not been functioning. Pray for the resources and leadership needed to reopen these schools.

08 Monday | Creative Access Asia-HK

Praise the Lord for the baptism of 16 young adults in recent months. Pray for their growing love of Jesus, passion for the lost and hearts obedient to God’s direction.

09 Tuesday | Latin America

Pray the missionary team in Latin America will be encouraged as they continue to navigate the challenges associated with the pandemic. Ask God to give Guy and Betsy Crawford wisdom and grace as they walk alongside them, providing pastoral care.

Birthday: Betsy Crawford

10 Wednesday | Spain

Magaly Mora teaches at Seminario Teologico de Espana Juan Wesley. Pray her students will be trained, equipped and challenged to expand the kingdom of God. Ask God also to give Magaly wisdom as she disciples and encourages new Christians in Madrid.

Birthday: Magaly Mora

11 Thursday | SEED

Pray for the SEED team as they prepare to share opportunities for individuals and churches to support SEED livelihood groups through their gift giving at Christmas.

12 Friday | Ivory Coast

Praise the Lord for the first ordination in Ivory Coast. National leader Pastor Maho Olivier was ordained in late August. Pray for Pastor Maho as he continues to identify and train other leaders.

13 Saturday | Middle East

Pray the love and forgiveness of Jesus will heal bitterness in the hearts of those who have experienced violence and abuse.

14 Sunday | Chile

Pray the Lord will give Kay and Leo Godoy strength and wisdom in balancing work, ministry and the homeschooling of their children.

Birthday: Leo Godoy (Spouse of Missionary Kay Stotts Godoy)

15 Monday | Spain

Ask the Lord to give Debra Gilmore direction as she plans to further her training as a coach with Support Raising Solutions (SRS) to better serve our FM missionary team.

Birthday: Debra Gilmore

16 Tuesday | FMWM

Thank the Lord for the faithful service of Jonathan Fajardo as he works with donors, churches and missionaries, caring for financial details and supporting God’s work around the world.

Birthday: Jonathan Fajardo

17 Wednesday | Colombia

The Jewell family continues preparation and partnership building with plans to move to Colombia in 2022. Pray God will give Katie grace and wisdom as she helps her children prepare for this transition.

Birthday: Katie Jewell

18 Thursday | Creative Access Asia-MR

The situation in this nation remains volatile following the coup earlier this year. The coup and the ongoing restrictions from the pandemic have limited access to necessities like food and medical care. Pray God will provide food for the hungry and healing for the sick.

19 Friday | ICCM

International Child Care Ministries in Nigeria began in 1990 and now serves nearly 1,000 children. Pray for the sponsored children, those waiting to be sponsored and the ICCM staff serving the children.

20 Saturday | Ukraine

Praise the Lord for expanding ministry in Ukraine. Pray for the three men who are the first residents of the House of Mercy, a new building to provide care for the elderly in need of help.

21 Sunday | Asia/360 Mission District

Asia: Virginia works alongside her husband, Asia Area Director Eric, to support ministries, missionaries and leaders throughout Asia. Pray she will continue to know the Lord more, keep her eyes on Jesus and walk in step with the Spirit.

Birthday: Virginia

360 Mission District: Join missionary Kyle Leon in praying she can keep her eyes on Jesus and not be distracted from His call on her life.

Birthday: Kyle Leon

 

22 Monday | Egypt

Ask God to give wisdom to Adel Haroun, who was consecrated as the new bishop in August 2021. Pray for a spirit of unity and cooperation between existing FM churches and the house-church initiatives.

23 Tuesday | Kenya

Pray for the women who are part of Tumaini Women Kenya and Thrive. Use 2 Corinthians 9:8, asking God to provide all these women need, at all times, in all things, so they may abound in the good work to which God has called them.

24 Wednesday | Philippines

Praise the Lord for the launch of the Ayta Abellen New Testament earlier this year. Pray for Roger and Vangie Stone and the translation team as they continue translating the Old Testament.

Birthday: Vangie Stone (Spouse of Affiliate Missionary Roger Stone)

25 Thursday | Global FMC

On this day of Thanksgiving in the U.S., thank the Father for our Free Methodist brothers and sisters worldwide. Pray for increasing partnerships with them as we reach the world for Jesus.

26 Friday | Ethiopia

Pray a durable and reliable vehicle can be secured for the superintendent to use in visiting village churches

27 Saturday | Set Free Movement

The Set Free team in Youngtown, Ohio, has partnered with several other churches and groups, including Rehab Ministries, Shared Hope International and Moab House. Pray these partnerships will bring an end to trafficking in their county

28 Sunday | Spain

Camilo and Magaly Mora have a new fellowship currently meeting in the park or a nearby Burger King. Join them in praying the group can find a place for regular services.

Birthday: Camilo Mora

29 Monday | Africa

Thank the Lord for missionary Vickie Reynen. Pray the Lord will give her many more years to invest in His kingdom work.

Birthday: Vickie Reynen

30 Tuesday | Middle East

Pray believers will be immersed in the Word of God so they will have a deeper understanding of what it means to follow Jesus and be able to think deeply about His purposes for their lives.