Who is the LACRET Team?

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if a mission had an elite squad, their own “think tank”, their own group of veteran missionaries to call upon in unique and specific situations where experience and wisdom would be really helpful for knowing next steps to take?  Let it not be a surprise then– the Latin America/Caribbean Regional Equipping Team is just such a group.

They are made up of a group of veteran missionaries, many beginning their years of service in Venezuela decades ago.  They are highly educated, with almost as many doctorates as team members. However, they are not just a bunch of lofty, brilliant minds from the academic world. In fact, they are some of the most humble servants that can be found, with their hearts in grassroots ministry, in equipping people and helping them along in their various ministries throughout Latin America.  These are men and women who have a heart and much experience in mentoring, in team leadership, in pastoral training, Christian education for both children and adults, virtual ministry, and seminary training. They may just be our greatest untapped resource in the Latin America/Caribbean Division.

Ernest Dyck, the team leader of LACRET, says that the heart of the team is to be right in the thick of ministry on the field, and not simply be in academic settings. Ernest became the team leader just this January, and says it is a joy to work alongside his longtime colleagues and peers in this new role. Ernest and his wife Effie work as regional specialists in church planting and training teachers in Christian education.

ReachGlobal also has the wonderful resource of a Global Equipping Team, that functions much in the same way as this regional team.  However, the added strength of the LACRET team is that in their combined years of service on the mission field and years living in Latin America, there is a profound cultural awareness–they can pick up on many of the nuances of language and culture that many of us newer and younger workers would miss. They understand contextualization on a different level, whether that is in urban church planting, rural ministries, or in the educating of church leaders.  Every person on the team brings a different field of specialty and knowledge to the table– Rebecca Rodriguez with international women’s ministries, Jim Panaggio with spiritual formation, Ross Hunter with equipping for indigenous ministries, Carlos Tejada with pastoral networking, and the list goes on.

Ernest Dyck speaks for his entire team when he says that they greatly desire to be used as a resource to the other teams in the Latin America Division as well as to their national partners. They would be honored and delighted to come alongside you, whether it is in a consulting role, or to help facilitate training of some sort. For more information, please email LACRET1@efca.org

This video was made for the 2018 Latin America/Caribbean Conference. Team leadership has changed since then, but the heart of the team remains the same. Enjoy!

Video: Latin America: “Ministry at Street Level”

What’s your perspective on the Latin world? It may depend on how close you are to it. ReachGlobal Latin America/Caribbean has the privilege to work on the street level — to see the vibrance, beauty and hope as well as the great needs. We have the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to the Latin and Caribbean people.

Cross-cultural missions will change your perspective and your heart as you experience the people and the ministry on the street level. How will you engage in God’s work among all people?

Having trouble viewing the video? See it on YouTube or Vimeo.

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“Ministry at Street Level” is part of the Moving Latin America Pictures project. It is the fifth of five videos produced by a short-term mission team of videographers to capture the essence of the ministry and the needs on the field. Please take the time to check out the other four videos featuring our ministry in Brazil, Costa Rica, Haiti and Mexico.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

View a few of our service opportunities online. However, the needs are much greater, and God can use YOUR gifting and passions to serve the nations. Contact us to inquire about serving in Latin America or the Caribbean.

PRAY
  • For the millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • For the leaders in the Church, that they would receive the equipping and training needed to help impact their people with the transformational power of the gospel.
  • That God would raise up workers for the harvest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Pray to see how He might be calling you.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the ministry in Latin America.

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Hearing God Call

It was one of the quickest answers to prayer Elisa had ever seen.

As lay leaders in the church, Elisa and her husband, Ramón, were expected to attend the first-ever missions’ conference hosted by Ministerios Bendición in April. They went to the conference, but they didn’t anticipate where God might take them next.

Ministerios Bendición, based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is the umbrella under which a network of churches and compassion ministries resides. As part of the 25th anniversary celebration of their first church, the pastoral staff of Ministerios Bendición (with the help of EFCA ReachGlobal Latin America missionaries Clyde and Rebecca) put together a three-day church planting seminar and missions’ conference.

Evidence of God

Sunday morning, the last day, keynote speaker Rick Lowe (Wayside Chapel, Texas) preached a sermon on missions.

“God called us all to be the light of the world,” Rick says. “I wanted to encourage the congregation to think beyond themselves.”

Elisa and Ramón had already been part of the previous two evenings’ activities, and Elisa kept feeling that God was tugging at her heart. Towards the end of the Sunday morning service, she began silently praying to God, asking Him if they should serve outside of their country. She knew she felt called by God — but did Ramón feel the same way?

“It wasn’t until the end of the service that Rick approached my husband and [told him] that he had felt God speak to him about the possibility of [Ramón] accompanying them to Guatemala,” Elisa says. “And hearing this was when it confirmed to me that what I had been praying moments before was from God.”

Ramón, a dental surgeon, would be a great addition to the dental ministry team Wayside Chapel is preparing to send to Guatemala for a week in November. Although Ramón has used his profession to minister to others in the Dominican Republic, this trip would be his first international mission trip.

Elisa, an accomplished architect, is eager to travel, fascinated by cities and their varying architecture.

“We had always asked God to use us,” she says. Like Ramón, Elisa has often used her professional skills to serve the local community. “I believe that it wasn’t until now that we thought of going outside of our home country. [The teachings] challenged us to be light to others.”

A previous life-changing miracle

Elisa received her quickest answer to prayer that Sunday morning when she saw God work in Ramón’s heart just minutes after she prayed. However, it wasn’t the most miraculous answer to prayer she and Ramón had ever experienced.

After graduating from high school, Elisa was given the opportunity — through a private loan program — to study architecture in a private university in the Dominican Republic. After graduation, paying back the loan seemed daunting, almost impossible.

“The salaries in this country, even if you are a professional, are very, very low,” Elisa explains. “With my first job I only earned 3,000 RD ($80) a month and I had to pay 5,000 RD ($130) just from the university loan.”

God provided a second side job which allowed Elisa to make ends meet for a few months. However, the earnings from that contract job would not take care of the entire debt, and Elisa soon would face the same shortage of funds as before.

At the time, she and Ramón were just dating. Though Ramón was not yet a Christian, he occasionally attended church with Elisa. One Sunday, as the church collected a special offering, Elisa knew God was telling her to give her tithe to the church.

“[Ramón] couldn’t believe that I was going to give that money,” Elisa says. “He knew what my situation was. But in that same moment, the plate passed and I obediently and painlessly put [the money] in… He literally wanted to kill me.”

Thursday of that same week, Elisa received a call that changed her life — and Ramón’s. She was one of two students chosen at random to have her full debt (350,000 RD) forgiven by the institution that had loaned her the money.

“I just cried and cried,” she says.

In response to that miracle, Ramón put his faith in Christ — as did her parents and two younger sisters.

“[Ramón] learned to tithe in the most genuine way,” Elisa says. “And for me, it’s impossible not to serve God. Since then, I have asked God that He give me the privilege of using the profession He gave me to do His work.”

Faith for the future

Now, 18 years later, their lives really may be changing again.

As they consider short-term missions opportunities and even the possibility of long-term service, finances remain a bit of a concern. However, they have seen God work miracles before.

“God is moving us and we are ready,” Elisa says. “And we are confident that He that began the good work will be faithful to complete it.”

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Bring a short-term team to the Dominican Republic. Contact us to discuss options!

PRAY
  • For Elisa and Ramón as they continue to pursue missions and seek the call of God for their lives.
  • For Ministerios Bendición as it looks to instill missions as a value in its churches. May the church members catch the vision for serving their community and the world.
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Grace and Healing

There is often the temptation to hide our past, burying our pain deep within us. Maybe it’s embarrassment or shame. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it seems too difficult to ever face. Yet, God desires healing and wholeness for His children — not pain and brokenness.

Enter Corazones Abiertos (Open Hearts). The grace groups of Corazones Abiertos focus on bringing grace and healing to the wounded hearts in Latin America who, in turn, are empowered to lead others through the same healing process.

Keren recently participated in a grace group in the Dominican Republic. She shares her testimony of pain and anger as well as taking steps towards healing with Christ through Corazones Abiertos:

ReachGlobal: Please, tell us your story.
Keren: I was not born in a Christian home. I lived with my parents and two siblings until my parents divorced when I was 9-years-old.

My childhood memories are of a screaming alcoholic father (who was sometimes at home, other times not) and of a mother who sacrificed a lot, working all the time to provide for our needs. 

After the divorce, our economic situation worsened as my father withdrew what little financial support he had given to us. My sister and I went to live with an aunt, while my younger brother and my mother went to live with my grandparents. Our family was separated for a year before we all could move back together again with my mother.

The abandonment of my father and seeing the heavy load on my mother filled me with resentment towards my father. Later, the death of my little brother and the lack of interest on the part of my father made me question the existence of God.

By 17-years-old, I hated my father, but I began to repeat many of the patterns I had seen in him. I began drinking and moved from one relationship to another looking for affection and value in the eyes of men, but never wanting a serious commitment.

At 23 I was filled with pride, hate and frustration, and I saw God as one who could never resolve my problems. I thought my work, my profession and everything I had built with my own hands was sufficient, but I had come to a place where I had lost myself.

My father died of cancer and we never had reconciliation. My relationship with my boyfriend of four years fell apart and it smashed my heart into a million pieces. I lost the job I thought was secure and realized that I really did not have a relationship with my family. It was then that I felt like I had fallen into a deep pit and had nowhere to turn.

A friend who had been observing my life took advantage of the opportunity to invite me to church. I went filled with pain, exhaustion and a deep emptiness and decided to accept the Lord as my Savior. I entrusted Him with all the garbage that filled my life.

It has been six years since I made that decision. I have had highs and lows, but God has been faithful and has helped me to stand firm. My family is being restored and I have recovered my dignity and value as a woman. Although the battle is constant between flesh and spirit, I have decided to serve the Lord and put Him before anything else.

RG: How did you find out about Corazones Abiertos and get started in the ministry?
K: My pastor invited me to participate in the grace groups.

RG: What has been the single most impactful thing you’ve experienced throughout the 12-week session?
K: I was able to share openly about an incident that has been difficult for me to talk about. It was very liberating and for the first time I was able to cry over the pain that surrounded that event.

RG: What has been the hardest thing or greatest struggle you have had during these 12 weeks?
K: The most difficult thing for me was to take a serious look at a past filled with pain and frustration. Listening to the stories of others in my grace group helped me to discover things in my own story. There were a lot of sleepless nights and, at times, pain that was overwhelming.

RG: What kind of support have you received? What type of support do you have in place for continuing your journey?
K: I had the opportunity to be with a leader [in the grace group] who was willing to listen to me, and I am counting on my friends in the church who have experienced a grace group. My pastor was very understanding to allow me to step down from my worship responsibilities to concentrate on my healing journey.

The manual for the grace group was excellent. We had assignments each week that made such a difference in helping me to recognize a truth about God that touched me deeply.

My group plans to continue meeting once a week to continue our journeys. Part of my discipline is to put into practice the things I have learned. Breaking patterns that I have established to survive in my life and recognizing when I am choosing to take the role of the victim are two areas that I want to change.

RG: What are the benefits of working through this with others who need healing?
K: It was of great benefit to be in a group with others who have their own stories of pain and betrayal. Knowing that I was accepted because I have value and not being judged for decisions I have made in the past were things that made me feel loved and affirmed. 

I also recognized that opening up and sharing my story gave others the encouragement to be vulnerable and receive healing from my experience.

RG: Are there certain verses in the Bible that you have found especially encouraging?
K: Yes, there were stories from the Bible that helped me process my pain and distorted thinking. The story of the rape of King David’s daughter, Tamar; the story of Joseph and the abuse he suffered in his life; and David’s constant failures and yet God received him with open arms when he repented.

The verse in Genesis 50 regarding the abuse that Joseph suffered at the hands of family members where [Joseph] says that his brothers meant it for evil but God meant it for good.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Bring a short-term team to the Dominican Republic. Contact us to discuss options!

PRAY
  • That Keren continues to experience healing and God’s grace in her life.
  • For the multiplication of Corazones Abiertos as it equips past grace group participants to serve as leaders in the ministry.
GIVE

Make an online donation to Corazones Abiertos.

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