God is at work in Central America! The Nicaraguan Free Methodist Church is on the cusp of a great move of God! After nine years of fervent prayer and leadership development, the Nicaraguan church is healthy, thriving, and ready to explode. They have a powerful Holy Spirit-anointed vision to reach their country and a church multiplication strategy to match. Under the leadership of the Latin American Area Director, Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver and the District Leader of Nicaragua, Pastor Hiuberth Zapata, Nicaraguan church leaders are being identified, equipped, and empowered to do the work of ministry.
Recently, Pastor Jada, our children, and I had the tremendous honor to spend a few days in Nicaragua. We were particularly honored to attend a Sunday morning united worship service, where all the Managua Free Methodist churches gathered and worshipped together as one body. During this service, Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver formally appointed four Nicaraguan pastors as Conference Ministerial Candidates (CMCs).
Not only did our family have the opportunity to interact with many pastors and provide some leadership development sessions, Pastor Jada and Dr. Paul Olver led a spiritual renewal retreat for the teachers of the Nicaraguan Free Methodist schools. We are so proud of Pastor Jenny Orozco who not only effectively pastors a church, but also gives leadership to the El Mesías FM School in Rene Polanco. Pastor Jenny oversees 425 students. The El Mesias School graduated their first class of eleventh graders this past year. Many of the graduating students made such high scores on their college entrance exams that university professors wanted to know more about this school (El Mesias) of which they had not previously been aware.
As you can imagine, we came back from Nicaragua thinking a bit differently about life, ministry, and our role in the global world. Personally, I was inspired as a leader by Dr.Hiuberth’s vision for the church in Nicaragua. In addition, I was moved by the deep sense of community among the people and overwhelmed by their generosity. After sharing our experiences with CrossView’s Leadership Board and congregation, as well as spending time in earnest prayer and discussion, we feel led by the Holy Spirit to partner over the next five years with the Nicaraguan Free Methodist Churches.
Do we have it figured out? Nope! But we are committed to the journey. We are committed to send teams, raise church planting funds, and gather support from other churches to fuel an apostolic movement in Nicaragua. What about you? What about Nicaragua? Would you join us? Would you consider coming alongside us? What role might your faith community have in helping Nicaragua become a hub for spiritual renewal and Kingdom outreach that extends throughout Central America? I trust that if you prayerfully ask these questions, God will provide answers. And I would welcome the opportunity to share more with you about how we can collectively work together to encourage and support our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua.
written by Jon Swanson
That Latin American Leadership Summit was my first opportunity to see the region’s leadership first hand. I sat in the back next to JR Crouse, who was translating for me. My vantage point offered a prime position for observing the goings-on discreetly, and what I saw overwhelmed me with hope and possibility.
Remember the Burger King commercial from decades ago? Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun! These days my favorite drink at Starbucks is a grande, sweetened, shaken, iced, black tea lemonade. In each case, there is a particular order in which to place your order!
What we’re ordering up in Latin America is a healthy, autonomous, indigenous, reproducing, Free Methodist Church in each country.
That’s a mouthful and quite a string of adjectives. In English, adjectives come before the object; you start with the modifiers and wind up with the most important thing. Spanish grammar puts the most important thing first and the modifiers come after. Let me explain it in the order of Spanish grammar.
Church. Our primary goal is to establish local groups of believers who are committed to following Jesus and living out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission together. Church is not just one local group but also an organic interrelated network of groups and congregations. This is the most important thing: we are the Church, not an NGO.
Free Methodist. Although we partner with others and understand that the Kingdom of God is broader, we have a particular theology, heritage, and connection. We work with and through recognized leadership and submit to authority/accountability. While we may appreciate and borrow from other groups, our theology and polity determine our identity.
Reproducing. We multiply disciples, leaders, groups and churches. Every “mission field” also shares the responsibility to send missionaries and reach other people groups or regions with the Gospel. Reproduction is in our DNA.
Indigenous. Our communication of the gospel and the way we do church must be contextualized -- or tropicalized – to take root in local culture. Our message and our structures must be translated into each country and into the different ethnic groups, social classes, and geographic regions that make up each country.
Autonomous. We believe that decision-making should be moved to the lowest possible level so that church leadership comes from within. With appropriate training, coaching and guidance local leaders need to determine their own destiny.
Healthy. We do not want to foster dependency on outside resources or perpetuate dysfunctional patterns of relating. Our goal is to see churches and networks that are spiritually and emotionally clear and vibrant, whole and holy.
For years we’ve been saying our mission is to fuel and sustain a biblical movement to reach Latin America for Christ by developing leaders, planting churches, and creating healthy sustainable systems. That will result in a healthy, autonomous, indigenous, reproducing, Free Methodist Church in each country in Latin America. Others can debate which states our mission and which is our vision. However you slice it, this is what we are about.
This means whatever we do -- including sending missionaries or VISA groups, sponsoring ICCM children and giving to Extra Mile Projects – should contribute to fueling and sustaining a biblical movement to reach Latin America for Christ and should ultimately result in a healthy, autonomous, indigenous, reproducing, Free Methodist Church in each country.
Now would you like a grande, sweetened, shaken, iced, black tea lemonade to go with your two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun?
written by Paul Olver
The youth from the Carmen de Areco FMC in Argentina worked all year to raise funds for a youth camp. They made and sold empanadas in the town square. They served meals at Annual Conference and the tips went towards the youth camp. So many signed up to serve that they had to set up a rotation to accommodate everyone. They had so much fun serving they were disappointed they couldn’t do it at more meals.
Eunice dreamed of becoming a nurse one day — until the sight of blood made her want to become a flight attendant instead! As one of eight daughters in a pastor’s family, resources were few, and it was difficult for her parents to make ends meet. International Child Care Ministries, a children’s ministry of the Free Methodist Church, offered Eunice new
A severe earthquake struck the northwest coast of Ecuador on April 16, 2016. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, it was followed by 700 aftershocks, some measuring 6.7 or 7.2. It was the worst natural disaster to hit that country since 1949. Over 600 people lost their lives, almost 30,000 people were injured, and damage to property is estimated to be $3 billion.
A small crowd gathered around the newly constructed children’s room that had been added onto the Chémere Free Methodist Church in coastal Ecuador. The 30 children who come to the children’s program there every weekend were excited because they would no longer have to meet in a small, rustic wood building with a leaky tin roof.
How can we reach the children in our neighborhood? That was the question and prayer of Maria Elena Salas de Guerrero, pastor of the Carmen de Areco FMC in Argentina. The church has a 10 year history of effectively adopting boys who were troubled -- and troubling their larger community. Over 50 have been loved to wholeness in the last decade. The church has housed,
clothed, and fed them. They have taught them to read and write, and helped them catch up in school. But that’s a different story.