Earthquake in Ecuador: Crisis Response

Following a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador on April 16, 2016, ReachGlobal Crisis Response evaluated the need and sprung into action.

From Crisis Response:

child with bible“Kids frequently have the most difficult time processing trauma, so our response to the Ecuadorian earthquake is making kids and their families the primary focus. We have a team in Ecuador this week equipping kids’ ministry workers and church leaders with the basics of trauma mitigation. Those workers will then be going out to reproduce this equipping in the context of child friendly spaces.

“Our initial plan is to set up 40-60 of these outreaches that will impact 20-30 families at each location. We’ve set a goal of $25,000, which would allow us to prayerfully see as many as 500 of these outreaches across the affected region.”

For more information about the response and to give online, please visit the Ecuador Earthquake Response page on the EFCA website.

In Nicaragua, Bible Training Strengthens Churches

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Inside a sweltering, one-room church, fans blow, children wander, and English and Spanish blend together. At the front of the room, Chris Moore, a pastor from Fort Smith, Ark.,  passionately teaches on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. By his side, Nicaraguan Chico Avendaño translates the words into Spanish.

This gathering in Chinandega, a city of 120,000, is one of eight Bible Institutes happening throughout Nicaragua twice a year. Most of the attending 80 pastors and leaders from rural churches don’t have the resources to attend a formal institution for biblical education. These four-day gatherings address that need, and the accompanying problem of incorrect doctrine being taught to congregations.

“So, what are people teaching?” asks Bible Institute professor Stefan Feliz-Kent. “Basically what they hear on the radio or TV, which is a lot of prosperity gospel and garbage doctrine.”

Jim Wilson, missionary with ReachGlobal and the general overseer of the Bible Institutes, seeks to fulfill the need for formal theological education in rural Nicaragua.

“Our primary objective is to provide Latin American pastors with biblical, theological, and pastoral training that they otherwise don’t have access to,” Wilson says. “We have 15 courses; it takes about seven years to complete the program.”

In 1998, when he was pastoring a church in Huntsville, Ala., Wilson got a call from a friend asking if his church would be interested in doing long-term ministry in Nicaragua. After his first trip there, Wilson saw the need for pastoral training and his church decided to begin meeting that need.

“We began in 2000 with our first institute in Chinandega and God has blessed that,” Wilson says. “Now, we have eight different Bible Institutes in eight different cities in Nicaragua. We also have three in Costa Rica and we have one in Panama.”

As a result of the growth, Wilson says, more U.S. churches have begun partnering with the Bible Institutes and adopting specific locations. Churches who adopt an institute are responsible for bringing a team to teach, providing lunch for the pastors who attend and paying their daily transportation costs.

On day one, Moore and his team hand out copies of “For Your Joy” (“Para Tu Gozo” in Spanish) by John Piper. Many pastors ask for multiple copies to take back to their congregations. Giving out resources like Piper’s book is another role that churches like Moore’s — Fellowship Bible Church of Fort Smith — take on when adopting an institute.

“I believe that there is a lack of resources that are available to the pastors,” Moore says. “What we are able to provide in the Bible Institute is resources for the pastors and the church leaders so that they can get equipped and trained so that they can turn around and equip and train their people.”

Avendaño, a former Bible Institute student, followed this model.  After attending the Bible Institute, he changed his approach toward reading the Bible.

“When I am reading the scriptures, I apply the message that they’ve given us: how to read the Bible and how to interpret it,”  Avendaño says.  “I used to go to the Bible like any other book and I didn’t know how to do it in the right way. Now, I read it, meditate on it and then I interpret it and apply it.”

One of the key beliefs in the Bible Institute ministry is that training locals like Avendaño will give their ministries a lasting impact.

“[In missions] we don’t have a good history of transferring the authority to the local leaders,” Feliz-Kent says. “This ministry is doing that pretty well. Our idea is teach the local pastors and church leaders these fundamentals so that they in turn, continue teaching them to others.”

Feliz-Kent believes that equipping local church leaders with correct doctrine and principles for interpreting the Bible will help the church in Central America as a whole prosper.

“The church is not what it’s supposed to be because of bad teaching. That’s what motivates me and that’s what moves me. That’s why I do this. There is great need for theological education,” Feliz-Kent says.

Leaders of the institute agree that they are seeing God move in their ministry.

“They’re hungry, they want to learn, they’re picking up what you’re saying and are able to respond and ask good questions and explain it in their own words,” Feliz-Kent says.

Wilson also finds the growth of the institute and the testimonies of the pastors to be an encouragement.

“So many of them have come back and told me the blessing they have seen in their church,” Wilson says. “As they have turned around and reproduced and multiplied what we have brought them, they’ve taught it to their people.”

After the final session, despite the humid heat that fills the room and the six hours of intensive teaching and worship they’ve just experienced, the local pastors form a line behind Wilson and the team of teachers from Fort Smith. Some come up with their Bibles and ask probing questions about what they’ve learned. Many kiss the teachers on the cheek and bless them for their work.

“Thanks a lot for this kind of job that you are all doing here because you are a great instrument from the Lord,” Avendaño tells some of the leaders. “Just by coming here from a long distance to train pastors, I can see you have a love for the Lord.”

Transforming ‘Small Worlds’

Jobs for Life, ReachGlobal partner on Costa Rica extension

Karina Carmona has been a Christian for more than 25 years, but she never knew how deeply her faith connected to her work – until Jobs for Life came along.

Thanks to a partnership with Reachglobal’s team in San José, Costa Rica, Jobs for Life is being taught in Spanish for the first time.

At Vida Abundante del Este, a non-denominational church in San José, Carmona and her classmates are being challenged to recognize their value in Christ and the unique qualities they can bring to their jobs.

A 36-year-old businesswoman with a high-school education, Carmona has nearly completed her first Jobs for Life program. For the past three years, she has worked beside her mother, making desserts and special orders at Fresh Market, an upscale market and bakery in San José. However, she longs to attend one of Costa Rica’s universities, too.

“This course was part of my plan to be able to be sure of my abilities, of my talents, that God has given me in order to decide [on a career focus],” she says. “I have a few months left before I have to decide exactly what I want to study. I am sure that my job will almost always be directed towards [working with people].”

Viewing work as a calling

The idea of Jobs for Life was born in Raleigh, N.C., in 1996. The organization’s goal is to help build lives, one job at a time. It now has more than 316 active sites in the United States.

Dan Jenkins, a ReachGlobal missionary in Costa Rica, recognized a need to expand Jobs for Life to Latin America. He partners with local churches to develop, equip and encourage people to honor God in their work.

One of the greatest barriers we face here is that few Christians view their work as a calling,” Jenkins says. “But we’ve found several pastors and lay leaders who are eager to see this change.”

So about a year ago, Jenkins talked with David Spickard, president and CEO of Jobs for Life. The two decided to launch the program in Fall 2011. And so began the time-consuming process of translating the materials from English to “tropicalized” Spanish.

“The work being done by the leaders at Vida Abundante to translate the JFL curriculum will have an impact on the entire Spanish speaking world, not just Latin America,” Spickard says. “It really is the start of something extraordinary.”

A transformed world

When the leaders of the church asked Guiselle Quesada, a member and local psychologist, to teach Jobs for Life, she was not initially eager to accept. Flipping through the weekly lessons, though, she found herself identifying with the intended audience.

“When I was reviewing the lessons of this course, I said to God, ‘This is my life!’ … What I give here, I speak with ownership because it’s my life experience. So maybe for this [reason] I put so much passion in it.”

In the final weeks of the class, Quesada hopes that students, like Carmona, will be living catalysts for Jobs for Life to expand outside the boundaries of San José.

“I can’t change the world,” she says. “But I can change my small world. If there are small worlds that change and change and change, we are going to have a better society.”

Spreading the work

Spickard recently spent two weeks in Costa Rica to see the work that is being done through Jobs for Life in San José.

“My visit helped me see how it is working firsthand, connect directly with their leaders and understand how the Lord is raising up men and women to embrace Jobs for Life’s mission—transform lives for His glory—and be used to spread this work across Latin America.”

Carmona has found the course to be a much-needed reminder to live out her Christian values in every area of life, especially her job.

“This part of our profile is something really important, right? For any person that wants to hire us, I think that knowing we are honest, good collaborators, [and] loyal is really important.”

What You Can Do

Pray

  • That God would bring more people to the Jobs for Life program in San José and La Carpio.
  • That the students would be challenged to grow as they learn how to apply biblical values in their everyday lives, especially at work.
  • That another generation of Jobs for Life leaders would emerge as they continue to expand.
  • For direction and passion as Karina makes plans to attend university.

Learn More

Write to latinamerica@efca.org for more information on this new partnership.

Read about ReachGlobal’s work at a health clinic in Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2012 EFCA. All rights reserved. 

Compassion for the Destitute in San Jose

ReachGlobal reaches poor through clinic partnership

Some people in Costa Rica can easily afford health care. Others, like Maria*, can only hope and pray for it.

Temporarily without her usual domestic-help jobs, Maria, a sweet middle-aged Nicaraguan woman, lives with 16 other family members under the same roof in the La Carpio slum of San Jose, Costa Rica.

On the main street, run-down houses are crammed together and look as though they could fall apart at any moment. You can smell the pollution in the air congesting your lungs. The garbage that lies on the streets and sidewalks is embedded in the cracks.

Responding to the influx of war refugees from Nicaragua, Christ for the City International founded Clínica Cristiana more than 15 years ago. They seek to provide basic medical and dental services to people like Maria who struggle to thrive day-to-day.

“I feel good about the way they have attended me here,” Maria says. “They always attend me well when I come. It is a way of surviving around here. If this clinic wasn’t around I don’t know what we’d do.”

Volunteers at the clinic also realize the greater need for spiritual healing of the heart: ReachGlobal missionaries Cathi and Melanie pray for a distraught patient whose newly discovered medical problem may go untreated because of family lack of funds for basic care.

Maria’s world

Without the security of a monthly paycheck and legal documents, basic health care is very difficult to find.

This specific clinic, however, is helpful to the people of La Carpio because those without insurance can see a dentist or a nurse without paying a price that’s probably too expensive. Even the seemingly affordable $8 Pap test, for example, proves too steep for many patients. In such cases, it is not unusual for one of the volunteers to cover the cost.

Their overarching goal is compassion: to extend a helping hand while meeting people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

“They try to give back a little love through the medical appointments,” Maria says. “They don’t just give us this, though, as they also give us occasional talks about the Word of God.”

Cathi’s passion

Cathi, a registered nurse who partners with Clínica Cristiana, has been volunteering on Tuesdays and Fridays for the past four years.

After the initial adjustment in moving to Costa Rica, Cathi struggled to find her purpose—outside of caring for her family. In the midst of frustrated tears one day, she begged God for direction. The very next day a doctor from the clinic called, asking Cathi if she would be interested in joining their ministry.

Although shock gripped her heart as she entered the slum that first day, the women’s need for accurate information and good health care has drawn her back week after week.

“I’d say that I have a deeper appreciation for the plight of women everywhere. Just seeing how we can meet their needs—their spiritual needs as well as their emotional needs, just by being here for women who have no social support of any sort.”

Serving women in the clinic has revived Cathi’s passion for ministering to the sick and brokenhearted.

“I think there’s always room for some kind of holistic health care,” Cathi says. “I think wherever any mission agency goes, we need to address the whole person—not just the physical but the spiritual and emotional aspect. That can be done anywhere in the world, but it takes people.”

*Name has been changed to protect patient’s confidentiality.

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CONNECT
PRAY
  • For Cathi and staff as they serve the community of La Carpio, an area of occasional tension and unrest.
  • That the clinic will find a gynecologist experienced with colposcopy and other gynecological procedures.
GIVE

The clinic is always in need of receiving blankets for newborns. It also has continual demand for 0-3 month t-shirts and hats for newborns. Contact Cathi to donate these items.

SHARE

 

Training Pastors in Haiti

For the first time that day, Don Smith, a retired EFCA pastor, was met with silence from the young Haitian pastors and leaders he was teaching.

“I asked them, ‘Why do you think Jesus taught in parables?’” Don says. “They didn’t offer any answers. It was quiet. I didn’t understand their silence. Then I asked, ‘What is a parable?’ They didn’t know.”

When Don went to train pastors in Haiti with ReachGlobal for a week in January, he quickly discovered how great the need for solid biblical training is in a country where evangelicalism is growing.

The young men — most in their early 20s — who attended the training at Jesus in Haiti Ministries (a ReachGlobal partner ministry in Haiti) eagerly devoured the teaching. Their discussions often grew lively. Their attention stayed directed towards Don and his co-trainer, Steve Spellman (interim leader of ReachGlobal’s ministry in Haiti).

“They asked great questions that demonstrated a sincere, honest desire to learn and understand who Jesus is,” Don says. While the questions were good, they were also surprising — questions such as:

  • Is Jesus fully God and fully man?
  • Why are Jesus’ sayings so hard to understand?
  • Was Jesus tempted to have sex with Mary?

“I wondered how they could be pastors, or be this far in training, and yet know so little about basic essential doctrine,” Don says. “Many Haitian pastors have not enjoyed the same opportunities to learn that pastors in the U.S. have had.”

“Few schools give spiritual education,” one of the Haitian pastors shared. “And most families don’t take responsibility for the spiritual education of their children.”

Once Don realized their need for a basic biblical foundation, he changed his training tactic.

“I decided to address their questions without presuming anything. I began with the most basic truth and then expanded from there,” Don says. “They do learn quickly if taught clearly, biblically, systematically and patiently.

“The biggest challenge is to know where to begin teaching a concept and then build from there. The challenge will be to teach and encourage them with a long-term, intentional, systematic, consistent, progressive curriculum so they have a firm foundation of faith.”

The pastors’ need for training wasn’t the only apparent thing — they also have a passion to learn so that they can better pastor, shepherd and disciple their fellow Haitians.

They also want to learn how to meet the challenge of voodoo, which permeates the culture of Haiti and keeps many Haitians from receiving Christ.

“The greatest need of the Haitian is Jesus,” Derson, a 20-year-old pastor in training, explains. “To be a pastor… that wasn’t my plan, because being a pastor is really hard. But I really care about people following God and Jesus. I really care about people’s souls. I don’t want anyone to burn in hell. That’s why I want to be a pastor — to preach the gospel to the world, to make disciples who make more disciples.”

One of the other young pastors approached Don after the two-day training.

“He told me, ‘Thanks for teaching me so I can love Christ more. I want to grow in faith,’” Don says. Then the young man added, “Don’t forget me. Please help us!”

What motivates Don to go back to Haiti is the need of the pastors coupled with their passion.

“This is the greatest opportunity to present Jesus as more amazing than they’ve ever been taught,” he explains. “I will not forget what I have been blessed to receive [in terms of my biblical education], and neither will I forget those who cry out for help. I owe these men the opportunity to learn about their faith as I did.”

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CONNECT

haitiresponse@efca.org or haititeams@efca.org

SERVE

ReachGlobal is praying for more workers for the harvest in Haiti. Join Don, Steve, and others to provide ongoing training and teaching for Haitian pastors seeking a solid biblical foundation. Email haititeams@efca.org for more information.

PRAY
  • For the Haitian pastors who hunger for the Word of God — that they would be fed, receiving the training needed to shepherd and lead their people.
  • That God would raise up additional workers to go and serve in Haiti. The harvest is plentiful.
GIVE

Make an online donation to Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

SHARE

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.

* * * * *

“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.

SHARE