PRAISE and prayer for:
- Nigeria - Team Report: "God is faithful. Despite the challenges of no permanent place to worship, the church is increasing in number. We have created awareness about COVID-19 in combination with showing the JESUS film, and distributed food to people in need." “I met a woman named Christiana who was upset because she didn’t have 500 nairas to buy food. I gave her 1,000 naira and tears flowed from her eyes. I visited her family and told them Jesus speaks in Hausa, the language they understand. After watching the JESUS film, she said Jesus was born in a manger, and to poor parents. Jesus didn't look down on anyone for their class, tribe, or status. She decided to follow Christ! The Lord added to His church.”
- Israel - Indiscriminate rocket fire is unconscionable, and Hamas is responsible. Both Gazans and Israelis are suffering from this escalation of violence. Of the 1,300+ rockets fired at Israel, 200 mistakenly landed in Gaza, hurting innocent Gazan civilians, with one misfired rocket killing three children. Hamas’s vendetta against Israel hurts both Israelis and Palestinians, and Hamas must be held responsible for its acts of terror. As watchmen on the walls, it is our duty and privilege to both pray for and speak out in support of Israel and her people as she defends herself from attack. The Jewish state, like every other country, has a right to defend her people. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Lift up both Israelis and Palestinians in prayer, and may the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob keep watch over His People and fight against those bent on her destruction
EMPHASIS - Countries of Focus
Guatemala—work established in 1904; 685 organized churches; 97 not yet organized churches; 96,721 members.
Honduras—work established in 1970; 129 organized churches; 7 not yet organized churches; 8,521 members.
The majority religion in both countries is Christianity (more than 87%). Guatemala is the third-oldest Spanish mission of the Church of the Nazarene in the Western Hemisphere, after Cuba and Mexico. It is estimated 60% of the population of both Guatemala and Honduras live below the poverty line, making them the two poorest nations in Central America. The literacy rate in Guatemala is 82%, and in Honduras, 87%. It is estimated that over 50% of the population of both Guatemala and Honduras is under the age of 25. Gainful and long-term employment is a significant challenge in these countries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the number of cases in Guatemala has reached 193,834 with 6,823 reported deaths; in Honduras, total cases stand at 188,514, with 4,599 reported deaths.
Churches in Guatemala and Honduras have been challenged to keep ministries moving forward, including the resourcing of pastors and members, and encouragement of congregations during COVID-19. However, several urban churches have not been able to open during the pandemic. Add to this the impact of 2 significant hurricanes (Eta and Iota, within a two-week period) that left devastation and further compromised infrastructures needed to maintain connection between church leaders, pastors and congregations. However, rural churches have managed to continue to meet within the protocols of health authorities.
Ministry Approaches - Creativity in approaches to preaching, leadership development, service, and connecting through virtual media has provided encouragement to pastors and church members. Social media has helped churches and leadership to remain connected, and various initiatives in leadership development, like “Impact Mentorship” have been delivered in efforts to grow next-generation leaders for the churches in Guatemala. Churches in both countries have been able to support victims of the two hurricanes through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries at the field level, with distribution of aid to the most affected communities. The Lord inspired creative approaches that have continued to keep churches connected, and love growing - among Nazarene superintendents, pastors, and congregants.
We give praise and thanks:
- praise for missionaries in Guatemala, like Milton and Olga Gay, who have recovered from COVID-19 and are continuing their ministries in evangelism and youth, and in planting new churches.
- give thanks, with Roger and Deysi Lemus, to God for His faithfulness, protection and provision throughout the pandemic.
- give thanks that during the pandemic, the churches in Guatemala have remained united in prayer and focused on both church and leadership development.
- give thanks that despite the financial challenges of COVID-19, churches have continued to give faithfully to the World Evangelism Fund
- give praise to God that even during this pandemic, churches have been planted, new believers baptized, and ministries have grown in creative ways. Teresa de Cuesta praises God for all the new opportunities to meet families in need through creative means.
- give thanks, with Ulises and Micaela Solis that during the pandemic theological education has been able to continue
- give thanks for pastors and leaders in Honduras, like Angel Antonio Vela Nuñez, who have been able to continue to carry out the ministries of the church in the face of many difficulties during the pandemic, and for the love of the Body of Christ that has become so evident among pastors in these challenging times.
We continue to Pray for:
- continued growth through new church planting, and in the training of next-generation leaders for the churches in Guatemala.
- a revival of holiness, for spiritual and numerical growth, and for pastoral unity, as leaders and people share Jesus with others in the days ahead, that they will understand He is the Light and Hope.
- the family of Any Crocker de Diaz, whose family has seen 16 members infected with COVID-19, with 3 dying from the disease.
- the “Impact Mentorship” initiative - seeking to prepare next-generation pastors and leaders across the Mesoamerica Region.
- the 17 decentralized education centers across Guatemala to be able to continue working with students for next-generation ministries.
- the two new Genesis churches in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and for those who will follow as pastors and leaders in these and other church plants as requested by Diana Gonzalez
- the continued growth of the churches in Honduras, as God inspires those in ministry with extraordinary blessing and creativity
Nazarenes in Timor-Leste respond to catastrophic flooding by Grace Tia for Asia-Pacific Church of the Nazarene | 07 May 2021 On Easter weekend, the island nation of Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) experienced heavy rainfall resulting in historic flash floods and landslides throughout the country. It severely affected the capital city of Dili, where the streets turned into streams and floodwaters submerged entire city blocks, businesses, and neighborhoods. Over 30,000 households were affected, 15,800 people were displaced, and 41 lost their lives. Crops and food stores were destroyed, creating food insecurity and economic hardship for many families. As a developing country also battling COVID-19 cases, this kind of disaster only created greater need and anxiety. But it was exactly these needs that Nazarenes in Timor-Leste stepped forward to answer. Sam Soares, the pastor of Dili Church of the Nazarene, rallied his congregation together to meet the needs of their neighbors. After assessing the needs of the congregation and the surrounding neighborhoods, the church began to pull its resources together. The church’s initial response was to provide hot meals to more than 150 displaced families. Then, they got to work cleaning mud and debris out from neighboring homes, yards, and streets. They also began to put together and deliver care packages containing rice, oil, non-perishable goods, and cleaning supplies. As the church continued to respond to the needs around them using their own resources, donations started to come from other organizations and individuals. Pastor Sam and Dili Nazarenes have distributed over 200 care packages to families and 25 university students in five neighborhoods. This also allowed them to meet their neighbors' spiritual and emotional needs by praying, counseling, and encouraging them during this difficult time. “I am thankful to God we had the opportunity to help people experience God’s love,” Soares said. “Thank you to our team for working so hard and taking risks, and thank you also to those who spent time praying for Timor-Leste and giving toward relief efforts. I really appreciate it.”