Instituto Biblico Bethel

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Changing with the Seasons

Change. The seasons remind us that change is one of the few constants in our lives. And with the change of the season comes another edition of our missionary newsletter!

Of course missionaries need no reminder of the need to change. Take a look inside this edition our newsletter to find:

  • Updates on our big move.
  • How were teaming up with Instituto Bíblico Bethel
  • The latest from our family

Remember, our newsletter in PDF format viewable in Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed, you can download it free here:

https://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

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We feel that we are on the edge of a breakthrough in the Yucatan!

Standing with our partners (from right to left) Leo May and Felipe Sabido.

Standing with our partners (from left to right) Felipe Sabido and Leo May.

In our past term we’ve seen great strides made in ministry among the Maya:

  • Their dignity as a people group has been raised.
  • Their access to faith-building resources in their own language has increased.
  • Leadership has been named to conserve and extend these advances.

We’re thankful for what has been accomplished, but we’re even more excited about the future, especially now that we see some key pieces falling into place regarding our vision of filling the Yucatan with churches.

Partnering with then missions director, Felipe Sabido, we understood that carrying this vision to its fulfillment would require the establishment of training centers that would effectively mentor church planters through the process. To that end, we put in place a curriculum and outlined its basic structure prior to our departure from the field. What had escaped us, however, was a means by which our students could be awarded Bible school credit toward their credentialing process and diploma. We felt that this piece was essential. That enigma was solved last month as Felipe was named Bible school director for the next four years, streamlining our approval process greatly. We now see the potential to accelerate our start-up phase for training and more easily recruit workers to impact their communities.

Still, this positive development has not come without consequences. Felipe’s movement into this new role leaves behind a missions department, the department charged with the carrying out of church planting, with a lack of experienced leadership. Leonardo May, the present director is a capable minister, but this appointment has thrust him into leadership of a department in which he has served less than a year, first as a regional representative, then as secretary-treasurer, and now as director.

We hope that you can appreciate, then, the sense of excitement as we prime ourselves to take advantage of these opportunities, but, at the same time, urgency to return to serve as a support for those who are at the vanguard of bringing this vision to fruition. We desperately need to return on time and fully funded as soon as possible in order to stand with our ministry partners on the field.

That’s where we need you.

  • We need you to pray for us in this time of itineration that we would successfully increase our prayer support and meet our financial goals.
  • We also ask that you would explore the ways that you could partner with us in the fulfillment of this year-long mission:
    • If you’re not regularly praying for us, could you set aside a time in your week to lift up our lives and ministry?
    • If you’re not a current financial partner, could you join our team?
    • If you’re financially supporting us, could you share our vision with others that share your passion for reaching the lost?

The clock is ticking. The deadline of July 2015 has been set. We know we must meet it. We know we cannot do it without you. Will you choose to strongly support us today?

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What if…

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When it comes to progress in evangelism, I like to celebrate as much as any other believer. I’m not one to criticize any effort especially when, looking at current trends, so little is being done. Still, I’m not content to simply celebrate, I want to evaluate as well. I want to ask the questions of myself and my students that will help us maximize our effectiveness as we share God’s story, the gospel, with our families, friends, and neighbors.

A case in point is what happened just yesterday. One of my students, who hasn’t been able to visit his home church for a while due to distance, was happy to see that five new families had started attending the church since his last visit. One of them had been attracted to the service by the sermons that they could hear broadcast through the loud speakers attached to the church building. We celebrated with him, but afterwards I asked, “What if we knew our neighbors and had assessed their spiritual needs so that the messages that they heard were not only touching but truly touched them?”

I feel there is a tendency to assume certain conditions are present as we address nonbelievers, but although those conditions may be felt generally throughout the society, each individual’s needs may be radically different. That’s why, when we share God’s story with individuals, it’s so much better to know where they are coming from before we try to direct them in the way that they should go.

That same class, I had the pleasure of directing my students to the Engel Scale of Receptivity. This tool will enable them to quickly assess the spiritual need and accommodate their message so that this who receive it can understand and take positive steps toward discipleship. I hope you find it useful as well.

Its my prayer that these steps of evaluation, combined with useful tools, will encourage all of us to continue to share the gospel in an increasingly effective manner.

How about you?

  • Have you taken time to evaluate your involvement in the work of evangelism? What have you found?
  • Are there any tool that you have found to be helpful in sharing your faith? Let us know where to find them!

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Evangelistic Campaign in Oxcum, 2011

Evangelistic Campaign in Oxcum, 2011

I love a great adventure. As a youth, I remember traveling off to distant lands with the aid of the latest edition of National Geographic. As a missionary, I’ve been blessed to visit some of those places that I had once only read about. I’ve marveled at the volcanoes of Costa Rica, and navigated through the waters of the “Cañon del Sumidero” in the Mexican State of Chiapas. I’ve entered the ruins of the ancient Maya civilization and slept in the thatched homes of their descendants. Still, to tell the truth, although travel remains a highlight of what we do, I gain much more satisfaction from being able to identify with a group of people, establish credibility with them, and enable them to reach their God-given vision.

We have been privileged to have these types of relationships in the town of Muna, where we worked for three years in our previous term, in the town of Ochil, where we have been able to track with the people from the very beginning of their fellowship, and, next week, we get an opportunity to continue another long-standing relationship in the town of Oxcum.

Pastor Ruben (right) prays along with Dr. Andrés Perez

Pastor Ruben (right) prays along with Dr. Andrés Perez

Oxcum, a forgotten little town just a half hour outside of Merida, is a place that was supposedly established as a haven for the unsavory types that transported smuggled goods over the back-roads of Yucatan. Even today, the signs of its difficult beginnings show through: low levels of education, elevated unemployment, the prevalence of single parent families, wide-spread alcoholism and rising levels of drug abuse. It’s a place so down on its luck that it has prompted some to ask the question reminiscent of Nathanael’s in John 1:46, “Oxcum! Can anything good come from there?”

Still in the middle of this hopelessness, a light is beginning to shine. Since 2010, Pastor Ruben Sanguino has been ministering from his mission in Oxcum. We’ve worked with him, first coordinating an outreach in 2011, and later giving a conference on the Holy Spirit. We’ve tracked with him as his congregation has grown, carving out a place and an identity in that town. And while he has seen his share of difficult times, his perseverance is bearing fruit.

Ministry in Oxcum, 2012

Ministry in Oxcum, 2012

This October 18th, we have the opportunity to work with him again, this time in coordination with the students from my evangelism class at “Instituto Bíblico Bethel.” On that Friday afternoon, we will coordinate with his mission to speak of the God who sees their situation. We’ll be coming near through social outreach to children and adults alike, providing spiritual counseling throughout the event and a message from God’s Word in the closing rally. Our desire for this event is to raise awareness within the village of who the God of the Bible really is, and highlight the mission in Oxcum as a resource for establishing a relationship with Him.

Would you pray for us as the event draws near?

  • Pray for a favorable response from the authorities who would grant us the public space for the event.
  • Pray for all of the details that go into the organization of such an event, from the supplies, personal, and equipment, to the message that will be delivered in word and in deed.
  • Pray for favorable weather so that all may be able to hear the message that we are sharing.
  • Pray for an enthusiastic coordination between the local mission members and the students of “Instituto Bíblico Bethel” as they work for the common goal of sharing God’s love with the people of Oxcum.

Blessings on you as you continue to stand with us in the work here in the Yucatan, and beyond!

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As missionaries, we need to communicate. We’re away from many of our supporters for up to four years.  Without newsletters, project updates, and prayer bulletins, the majority of our sponsors would be in the dark about the advances being made and the challenges that we face.

Still our need to communicate about what we are doing can leave the wrong impression. If we’re not careful about what we do, we can paint a misleading picture of how we are desperately needed and how the work couldn’t possibly go on without us.

While it’s certain that we serve to fill a need, the truth of the matter is that God has been working in the Yucatan far before the Godzwas came, and we believe He’ll still be at work long after we’re nothing more than a memory. What’s more, in the time that he has been at work, He’s raised up some amazing individuals with whom we not only have the chance to work but also from whom we have the privilege to learn.

A case in point was this week during our continuing education workshop for Bible school professors. During our sessions, I was constantly remind of the competence, concern, and spirituality of those who taught and those who participated. I was glad to be among them.

Over the past few days I’ve been working through the book, The Meeting of the Waters, by Fritz Kling. It speaks about the trends that  shape the future of the church on a global scale. One of the 7 that he investigates is the trend of mutuality. Mutuality is basically empowering those traditionally marginalized because of ethnic or economic biases. It gives everyone a seat at the table and both voice and vote in the moment of decision. Certainly, it can be threatening to those of us in the Western World who have become accustomed to having the final say, but mutuality offers us a multicultural richness from which to borrow as we seek to guide the church, and it offers us creative solutions to difficult problems that we encounter along the way.

I’d hate to portray myself as having a handle on this concept. Even as I write these words I am reminded of the times that I have failed to offer my partners their due share in our decision making processes and times when I have been absent when I have had the ability to affirm the value and validity of their efforts. Still, this week, I feel as though I’m making progress.

My prayer then is that, as we operate more and more on the basis of mutuality, God will be able to more fully declare his manifold wisdom, the joining of many cultures into one functioning body, the church, through the church in Yucatan.

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Summit 2013

Not this group! (Proverbs 27:17)

If there was any doubt that we belonged to a vanguard mission organization, that was dispelled last week during our Association of Caribbean and Latin American Missionary Educators’ (ACLAME) Summit.  As part of the ACLAME Leadership team, I was called upon to help organize this biennial event which brought together 52 individuals from 7 different countries.

PKazim Summit 2013

During our time together, we received a word from our Executive Director, Greg Mundis, who cast vision for what he sees as a bright future for world evangelism, a task in which he sees educators playing a key role.  Still, that was only one of several sessions that have left an indelible mark on those who attended. Paul Kazim, Mexico Area Director (photo left) spoke from Leviticus 19, reminding us that holiness is essentially taking on the characteristics of God. Assemblies of God Theological Seminary Professor, DeLonn Rance, challenged us to “live at the edge,” responding to God’s call to reach all nations.

DGodzwa Summit 2013

These and several others blended their voices to encourage us and to strengthen the calling that each of us carries to pass on what we have received. (2 Timothy 2:2) What happened during those critical days is the essence of Proverbs 27:17–men and women, joining together so that each one might be improved or “perfected” into a more useful tool in the Master’s hands. This same blessing we desire to pass on to our Mexican colleagues. 

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In the month of August, we will be holding the first ever Mexican Education Summit (bottom graphic), an international effort that seeks to raise the bar in ministerial formation. Plans are coming into shape to host over 400 Bible School directors and professors from across the country. We’re praying that the event serves to motivate all who attend to dedicate themselves to the task of raising up leaders for this crucial time.

Also, this month, we are looking forward to graduation ceremonies at Instituto Biblico Bethel. In all, eleven students will be participating in the commencement activities, looking forward to launch out into the ministries for which they have been trained.

Can you pray with us for these events?

  1. For the Mexican Education Summit, that it would be well attended, and that those who attend would be challenged to dedicate themselves even more fully to the task of discipleship and ministerial formation.
  2. For our recent graduates, that they would launch out into service around the state, reaching the lost, discipling those who believe and encouraging others to do the same

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When it comes to accomplishing our goals on the mission field, we realize more and more that partnerships are crucial. Hit the link here or click on the picture to find out how those partnerships came into play during our Spring Impact construction and outreach project! While you’re there, don’t miss the rest of our latest quarterly update from the field, and be sure to follow the links for more content!

Our online newsletter is viewable as a PDF document. If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed, you may download it here.


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It was Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting in the hospital trying to take it all in. We had planned the most ambitious Chi Alpha Spring Break Missions Trip we had ever undertaken: two teams from American University and the University of Virginia, construction, community outreach, and evangelism, Mexicans and Americans working together. But at that moment, everything seemed to be unraveling. Six of the 20 team members were sick, 5 had received antibiotics and one was hospitalized. Instead of working to meet our goals, I seemed to be scrambling to avert disaster.

But God, who makes all things work together for our good, never stopped working, not even on that Tuesday afternoon. The work never stopped. The Chi Alpha teams, working together with students from the Bible Institute, raised six columns of the second story structure of the Institute’s new multipurpose building and painted the entire first floor. They also collaborated to beautify the communities of Sierra Papacal and San Bernardo, painting the walls that lined the main streets of the villages. It was beautiful to watch how those who might not otherwise had asserted themselves rose to the occasion to keep things on track. We were deeply moved as even local pastors who had heard of our situation arrived to help us to achieve our goals.

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Not only was the work done, but our planned outreaches took place as well. By Thursday, our teams, including those who had been sidelined by sickness were up and active, coordinating a social outreach that saw dozens of kids deloused and taught dental hygiene while moms were able to select from new articles of clothing for their families. Following the social outreach, evangelistic services took place, where children and adults alike were able to hear and respond to the message of salvation.

Reflecting upon the trip, it became clear that it was through the adversities that we faced that the work became a group effort. Those of us who had arrived looking to put forth our best efforts found, through our weakness, a new found interdependence within the international Body of Christ and a renewed reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain, to heal, and to accomplish His will. Spiritual gifts were utilized that would have otherwise remained dormant. Friendships were formed which otherwise would never have been possible, and our celebration of the work was correctly shifted from what we had accomplished to what God had done in our midst.

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On the Saturday before the teams arrived, the song, “He makes Beautiful Things” had been playing in my head. The chorus of the song repeats, “He makes beautiful things out of the dust. He makes beautiful things out of us.” Although it was difficult to see on that Tuesday afternoon, God indeed worked our adversities together for our greater good. He created something beautiful even out of us.

Have you enjoyed this Spring Break Report? Be sure to check out our photos as well!

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Expanding the vision

Be it with new students or on new soil, God has called us to expand our vision so that all may be reached. Click on the image or follow the link to read about how we’re responding.

Our online newsletter is viewable as a PDF document. If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed, you may download it here.


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A New Generation

Evangelism is important to me. Since 2006, it’s been one of the principle classes that I’ve taught at the Bible School. So, for me, evangelistically related themes take on a special interest.

This past month, as I wrapped up my Missions class, I discovered some interesting information about world evangelism. First of all, the need is immense. The Joshua Project, a site which reports the state of the gospel among unreached people groups, declares that 2 out of every 5 people do not have an adequate witness of the gospel. Nevertheless, Evangelical Christianity has never been so prevalent as it is today. According to Ryun Chan, author of the “Manual de Misiones”, at our current numbers, there is one evangelical believer for every nine non-believers in the world.

What does this mean? It means that although the task is great, if each of us does his or her part, the goal of finishing the Great Commission is within reach. Still, with the promotion of tolerance as the most prized virtue, pressure is mounting for us to keep our faith to ourselves. In other words, if the trends continue, we may be experiencing the high water mark of Evangelical Christianity even as our goal is within reach.

How do we combat these trends? Only by keeping our stated purpose in focus. Our denomination, the Assemblies of God, in its statement of faith has declared that “the Church has a Mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin.” It is therefore an imperative to engage in and promote evangelism, and that is just what we’re doing here in Merida.

On November 13th, I began teaching a new generation of Bible Institute students in my sixth installment of “Evangelismo Práctico I.” This new group of eight students are walking through a set of lessons and assignments to help them make evangelism, not just a task but a way of life. Already, we’re seeing fruit as these students are putting themselves in contact with seekers. Stay tuned for updates as we continue through the semester!

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