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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Venezuelans Ministering Beyond Their Borders

In a rented house in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, three women met with the desire to create a new ministry for the 15 to 20 women in their church.

Monica, Ivonne and Emérita (Ivonne’s mother), members of a small Evangelical Free Church, struggled to orchestrate monthly meetings. There was an overall lack of commitment and unity among the women, and few attended.

“We didn’t have anyone to guide us to be good leaders,” Monica says. “We didn’t know how to lead or guide Bible studies. We didn’t have many resource materials. We didn’t have anyone to help us [the leadership team] to grow spiritually or disciple us.”

That is when they heard about Women without Borders (Ministerio Mujeres Sin Fronteras) through a missionary couple serving in Honduras. WWB is a sub-ministry of the National Women’s Ministry (La Unión de Damas) of the Evangelical Free Church of Venezuela which is comprised of more than 60 churches.

“Within Venezuela, the National Women’s Ministry is great,” says Rebecca, an EFCA ReachGlobal missionary working with WWB. “They have awesome resources and equip women around their country. Realizing how much God has taught them, they now share that with others outside their borders.”

That realization led the National Women’s Ministry to create WWB to train and mentor women leaders outside of Venezuela, like the women in Honduras.

In the spring of 2010, Rebecca visited Monica, Ivonne and Emérita in Honduras to explain more about WWB.

“It impressed me how these women [of WWB] have organized their time and ministry,” Monica says. “They are women who are busy, they work and have families, but they can still serve the Lord in their churches and through this special ministry.”

In July 2011, WWB sent Rebecca and three Venezuelan women on a five-day trip to Honduras to build a partnership with the Honduran women. Throughout the week, the WWB team taught workshop classes on how to organize and structure a women’s ministry.

The Honduran leadership team was very responsive to the teaching, and they plan to apply what they learned to create new structures for ministry.

“I will need to organize myself and my time better,” Monica says. “In order for this ministry to grow, I will need to spend more time with the women, caring for them and visiting them. As a team, we will need to work together to do a better job of planning events, Bible studies and activities.”

The WWB team had the chance to meet with all the women of the church in Honduras, to learn of their needs and to encourage them. They had times of prayer, worship, fellowship and meals together. The team also had the opportunity to teach from God’s word on the idea of Christian unity and community.

Monica, Ivonne and Emérita all desire spiritual mentorship and encouragement as they move forward in their renewed women’s ministry. WWB is providing three Venezuelan mentors for these leaders. Each Honduran woman will have bi-weekly Skype calls with her mentor to discuss her Bible study, gain resources and receive encouragement.

“This partnership has and will affect our women’s ministry by strengthening us as a team and equipping us as women leaders, so that we can accomplish the goal of developing a healthy, effective women’s ministry,” Monica says.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

PRAY
  • For Monica, Ivonne, Emérita, and their church in Tegucigalpa — that God would bless the women’s ministry and would use these women leaders to serve their fellow women in Honduras.
  • That Women without Borders would continue to have God-ordained opportunities to minister to women in other countries throughout Latin America.
GIVE

Make an online donation to Women without Borders.

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Seven Principles for Holistic Ministry

Would you approach ministry with Honduran street kids differently than with chronically unemployed men from inner-city St. Louis? Naturally the language, culture, and tactics would differ… but are there certain principles that could be applied to any holistic ministry?

That was one of the challenges explored by leaders representing six ministries from three different countries during a recent Holistic Ministry Summit in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

“Our ministries are diverse, from business discipleship to technical schools to social businesses,” said Roberto P., EFCA ReachGlobal missionary in Honduras. “But during our time together a set of principles emerged that apply to virtually any situation.”

Seven of these principles are:

1. A problem well-defined is a problem half-solved. Sometimes a task seems overwhelming because we have not sharply defined what it is we hope to achieve. Once we have a clear picture of success, we can begin to develop the right strategy to reach our goals.

2. Dream big, start small. “We need to learn to ‘fail cheaply’,” said Drew Smith, a volunteer/consultant for Opportunity International and Jubilee Community Church in Missouri. “Often this means quickly and cheaply testing out a concept before investing major time and resources. If the idea works, we can build it up into something huge. If it fails, we can learn from the experience and move on. Success is perfected through mistakes.”

3. Compassion lifts, pity oppresses. God has created each of us in His image, and each of us can help others understand this truth. Yet sometimes in our attempts to help others, we leave them feeling worthless. We may not extract a financial price, but we take their dignity. As Olvin Funez, who works in Honduras with Building a Future, said, “When you receive pity, it makes you feel angry. Compassion causes a different reaction — it makes you want to share this compassion with others.”

4. Don’t let grace become enabling. “In our technical school, we’ve found that while grace can restore, too much grace can crush,” said Brian Wiggs, who works with The Micah Project in Honduras. “If we let one of our students repeatedly flout our attendance or performance requirements, it lowers the standard for the entire program. It is only when we set high standards that these young men begin to see who God created them to be.”

5. The bus is coming: Be prepared. It’s inevitable — today’s leader will someday get hit by the proverbial bus and will no longer be leading the ministry. We need to be pouring our time into the next generation of leaders who can multiply our impact, regardless of whether or not we are personally involved. When indigenous leaders take on responsibility for a project, it gives the project value — and it gives those leaders value.

6. Resources exist: Find them. We need to let God, not finances, drive our vision. We should look for creative ways to bless others by inviting them to participate in our ministry. While cash donations from North American churches and individuals play a key role in many programs, additional sources may include:

  • local donations (for example, from Hondurans or Costa Ricans);
  • in-kind gifts (building materials, consulting services);
  • learn and earn (technical school that covers costs by selling automotive services to the community);
  • business as ministry (church-owned business that provides funds for ministry programs while providing jobs and an additional point of contact with the community);
  • creative partnerships (technical school borrowing the facilities of neighboring auto shop; auto shop receiving pipeline of well-trained mechanics);
  • a working capital fund (a cash donation that will be used for a specific need, repaid over time, and then used and repaid again as needs arise).

7. Transformation: Accept nothing less. People can give. Organizations can develop. But only the gospel has the power to transform.

If our ministries are not rooted in the gospel and connected with the local church, we are missing the mark. We must be focused on actions that will change a life not only for this day, not only for this year, but for eternity — that’s transformation.

“The Holistic Ministry Summit enabled me to experience these principles and a problem-solving discipline that can be applied in many settings — from academics to business to ministry,” said Ryan Petter, a business major at Anderson University who serves as an intern with ReachGlobal in Costa Rica. “Regardless of age, experience or role, we found that we each have something to learn from one another.”

Story by Dan J., ReachGlobal missionary in San José, Costa Rica.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Contact us for opportunities to serve in holistic ministry with ReachGlobal Latin America.

PRAY
For the ongoing development of healthy holistic ministries throughout Latin America.
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Lighting a Different Fire

IRM brings gospel, counseling to emergency responders

December 29, 2001: The Mesa Redonda shopping district in the center of Lima, Peru, was packed with people.

Vendors lined the pathways with every kind of merchandise imaginable. Crowds of shoppers, mostly poor, made navigating the streets a challenge. Then, chaos.

It took one firework and just minutes to turn Mesa Redonda into an inferno. Shoppers and salespeople were trapped in the horrific fire, and firefighters from every station in the greater Lima area rushed to the disaster.

Sharon Garcia, a volunteer firefighter, worked tirelessly alongside her colleagues for seven hours. “There were fireworks still exploding at our feet as we were walking to the heart of the fire,” she says, remembering the first couple of hours. “I saw eight to ten bodies lying on the floor… and although it was shocking to see that, I was still concentrated on my job.”

In the end, the dead numbered almost 300. But witnessing the destruction and loss of life devastated survivors, too.

What about the aftermath?

Mark Allen, founder of the International Relief Mission (IRM), remembers when Sharon (now fire captain at the fire station in Miraflores, Peru) shared her memories of that day with him.

“As she remembered it, you could see how it affected her. You could see the post-traumatic stress coming back [even in 2010, nine years later],” Mark recalls.

In Peru, the disorder we know in the United States as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doesn’t have a name – it isn’t recognized. Following traumatic and stressful events, emergency responders receive no counseling or help in dealing with the anxiety and stress that follows.

For weeks after the fire, Sharon couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

“After that fire, I realized how easy life can be taken from you in a second, and I felt lonely thinking that no one could understand what I was feeling,” Sharon says.

After working for 30 years as a paramedic in Minnesota, Mark knows firsthand the effects of PTSD on the men and women who regularly witness gruesome scenes and often expose themselves to danger on the job. Firefighters and emergency responders need a lot of support, but they often have nowhere to turn.

“You’re used to being ‘in control’ all the time. It’s expected by the public,” he says. “A lot turn to alcohol, and domestic violence is very common in the homes of firefighters.”

A gospel approach

Mark (with his wife, Chris) founded IRM in 2007 to meet the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of a group largely unreached by the gospel – emergency service personnel around the world. Former EFCA ReachGlobal missionaries, Mark and Chris now partner with ReachGlobal/TouchGlobal in Peru and Honduras.

Since 2009, Mark and Chris have made several trips to both locations. A main goal of the IRM ministry is to establish chaplaincy programs to reach out to the firefighters.

Chaplains will be part of a partnering local evangelical church and trained in helping firefighters cope with the stresses of their work. They will provide spiritual guidance, basic marriage and family counseling, and tools for managing stress.

Mark and Chris see fire stations as a critical mission field. In Peru, firefighter ranks as one of the most respected jobs – and it is a volunteer position.

“Everyone trusts a firefighter,” Mark says. “They listen to what firefighters tell them.”

Mark and Chris must first build relationships and grow trust with the firefighters — especially the fire chiefs, who can say yes or no to the chaplaincy program. With his background, though, Mark feels that he can bond with them over shared experiences and gain credibility with the emergency responders.

“They are emergency personnel that know exactly what we feel,” Sharon says. “We’re comfortable speaking with Mark as we recognize him as one of us.”

In addition to building the chaplaincy ministry, IRM is helping provide some much-needed equipment for the under-resourced fire stations in Peru and Honduras.

“We like to bring a few things, like automatic defibrillators, when we have the opportunity,” Mark says. “We’ve even recently been able to secure an ambulance for the San Martin de Porres station [in Peru].”

When Mark and Chris return to Peru this summer, they will spend part of their time assisting TouchGlobal in the rebuilding of homes lost in the 2007 earthquake in Chincha. They also will continue to build on relationships established during previous visits, form new partnerships and chaplaincy programs, and deliver much-needed training to the chaplains and emergency responders.

In addition, Chris is developing a Community Health Program focusing on hygiene and basic preventative health care which they hope to implement sometime this summer, too.

All of it points back to the same desire, though – to see the gospel of Jesus Christ work in the lives of emergency response personnel like Sharon, giving them the freedom and peace that only comes from Him.

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CONNECT
SERVE

Find out how you can help rebuild the Chincha, Peru, fire station which was destroyed in the 2007 earthquakes.

PRAY
  • For continued growth in relationships between IRM and the fire chiefs and other emergency response personnel in Peru and Honduras.
  • That the emergency reponders in Peru and Honduras would not only receive needed counseling for post-traumatic stress, but that they would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
GIVE

Make an online donation to support IRM.

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Develop, Empower, Release

The release — giving 100% of a ministry to the national leaders — happened in May 2010, but it had been on the horizon for the Iglesia Evangelica Libre de Honduras (IELH, Evangelical Free Church of Honduras) for much longer.

“We cast the vision for disengagement very early,” says Bob, former EFCA ReachGlobal missionary to Honduras. “From the first meeting [in 2001], we explained to the Hondurans that our goal was to one day leave the work in the hands of their leadership.” After all, release is the third action in ReachGlobal’s strategy, following develop and empower.

But how do you go about an effective release of ministry? A natural question Bob and his wife, Joyce, faced: “Have we spent enough time in the develop and empower stages to be successful in the release?”

Church roots

Bob and Joyce were working with another mission organization in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa in the late 1990s, leading short-term medical teams. Thousands of Hondurans accepted Christ through the ministry of those teams — but there was a disconnect. “The local churches that were hosting the medical/evangelism clinics weren’t growing,” Bob says.

Recognizing a need for discipleship and development, Bob and Joyce felt drawn to church planting. They called on their EFCA contacts in the United States, and began planting a church in 2001 with a small team of ReachGlobal missionaries.

While overall church growth was slow — the church was committed to growing through the discipleship of leaders and members from within, as opposed to “robbing” people from other local churches — spiritual growth was robust.

From the start, Oscar, a talented Honduran teacher and leader, joined them in their efforts and provided important counsel regarding the Honduras culture. Over the years, as Bob guided and mentored Oscar and the other leaders who joined the fold, he was careful to also release aspects of the ministry to them.

‘We believe in you’

Despite making their intentions clear from the start, when Bob and Joyce put a firm date on the release, a year in advance, the Hondurans struggled with the news, wondering if they were ready.

“Relationships are so important there,” Bob says of the Honduran culture. “Having us physically leave them was really difficult emotionally.” In the year leading up to their departure, Bob and Joyce had to continually assure the church leaders and members that it was not abandonment.

“We were telling them: ‘We believe in you. We believe this is the right thing to do,'” Bob says.

To help show these brothers and sisters in Christ that they were serious about staying in contact when they left the field, Bob and Joyce created a Honduran “Sending Team” to support them in their move back to the U.S. Leading up to the move, the team prayed regularly and took responsibility for helping send these missionaries on to their next ministry assignment.

Forming this Sending Team reinforced that the departure of Bob and Joyce was part of a greater kingdom strategy. “The Hondurans started seeing that they are part of a bigger movement,” says Bob. They still keep in touch regularly with prayer updates and personal notes for the team.

By the time they departed from the field, they were confident that the Honduran leaders were prepared to take the reins. “They had the full intention and desire to move forward as a church,” Bob says.

On their own

In late 2010, several months after Bob and Joyce left Honduras, another ReachGlobal missionary couple, Roberto and Robin, began attending IELH with their family. Careful not to take a leadership role, Roberto and Robin have been participating as church attendees and encouraging and supporting the leadership in their work.

They have found the church, in the wake of the ministry release, to be healthy and growth-minded — spiritually and numerically. Like many Latin churches, they face challenges to their vision for growth, but they are persevering and showing signs of progress.

Roberto reports, “There are several people taking a weekly theology class [led by Oscar and Enrique, another key leader.] There is monthly fasting and a steady prayer group meeting. There are four men training for leadership. The women are meeting on a monthly basis now, with 8-12 in attendance each time.”

Roberto also notes that the leadership is strong. Enrique has assumed the primary leadership role, and Roberto says, “He is concerned about good theology and encourages people to backup what he tells them and what others may be telling them. He takes time to research and meditate on issues. Enrique also is a good teacher and explains things well.” And there is a vision and plan for outreach to the community.

Church today

Almost a year after releasing the ministry to the Hondurans, Bob and Joyce returned to visit the IELH in March 2011. The reunion was joyful. Relationships were intact. “They were really proud to display their church to us,” Bob says.

And, yes, it was their church — a true Honduran church released into the hands of the Hondurans.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

PRAY
  • That the IELH continues to move forward under the Honduran leadership, growing spiritually and numerically.
  • For the church as they seek a new location for their services and programs that will be more centrally located and convenient for current members as well as visitors and seekers.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the Honduras Field Ministry fund.

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