Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Report from Dan and Nancy Dunn

The week before Christmas, during the Christmas break from his Doctoral Studies, Dan called several of our international friends to wish them a blessed Christmas and see how their ministries are doing. He talked with Efrain (pictured alone in Venezuela ), Carlos (Costa Rica), Yolanda (pictured wiht children in Venezuela), and Yuni (Venezuela), plus left messages for several others. Pastor Efrain and his church and family are doing well, and they recently celebrated the conversions of 6 adults and 13 children. Pastora Yolanda will be baptizing 20 new believers in January. It was a great joy to talk with so many wonderful Christian friends, and it reminded us once again about the global nature of our evangelistic task. We are so appreciative that God allows us to be a tiny part of that task with you.

(Dan and Nancy's report continues) "For Christmas lunch, James and Sylvia Anderson (pictued below in Wilmore, KY) were with us. James and Sylvia have been in Christian ministry for over 20 years. Currently, they are feeling a call from the Lord to do mission work in Latin America. As part of their discernment process, James will be going to Venezuela with us in January. Please pray for God's guidance for James as he seeks to do God's will."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Orphange Construction Continues

Men from these three dynamic Alpharetta Churches recently traveled to Venezuela to continue the work on the Orphanage at the site of Lugar Altisimo UMC and the future site of Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. Working with men and women from the local community, they poured columns that will support the upper floor and the roof system of the orphanage.

Additionally, they worked with children and took several of their Venezuelan co-workers to a Barquisimeto Cardinales Baseball gave. Venezuelans and Americans love thier baseball!

Dan Dunn, Vice-President of Venezuela Now, Inc. accompanied the team and served as their translator, even though Dan is in the last days of the fall semister of his first year of PhD. studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.

While working with the Team, Dan had time to visit with Yolanda, our pastor at Lugar Altisimo. He heard two wonderful stories from her experience at the Wesley Seminary:
1) Yolanda was in Kay Lindsey's class on Christian Education 2 years ago in the Seminary. Yolanda took that material and taught it in a very in-depth way in her own church for 8 months. Fidalina was in the class at Yolanda's church. Fidalina only finished the 7th grade and didn't feel capable to take the class, but Yolanda encouraged her to do it anyway, telling her that the Lord would water and bring to harvest any seed that she would plant. Long story short: today Fidalina teaches the 11-13 year old Sunday school class at Lugar Altisimo every week, and she also leads a small group of 21 children and 5 adults in Sector de La Fe every Friday afternoon. Go God!
2) Yolanda also mentioned that she heard Warren and me continually hammering the point home in the Seminary - reach out to the lost! reach out to the lost! don't be a closed-in church only taking care of yourselves, but reach out to the lost! One day in Seminary she was sitting there listening to us hammering on this, and that's when the Lord gave her the vision of going to El Pandito to do ministry. They now have a weekly children's activity there. Additionally, Eliana leads a woman's small group there every week. In that group there were 3 old women, who were folk Catholics, meaning they mixed Catholic beliefs with witchcraft beliefs.. Long story short: those 3 women came to Christ in Eliana's small group, and for one of those women, her 2 sisters and a cousin also came to Christ. Go God!

Maybe its time for your church to send a team to Venezuela? Contact us and we will be glad to help you arrange one of the most meaningful trips of your church's life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Marietta First in Venezuela

Marietta First UMC Falls in Love with Venezuela

Forrest Cates, Minister of Programming at Marietta First UMC, leads a team in their first trip to Venezuela. This picture reveals why they fell in love with the people of Venezuela. (More pictures to follow.)

They are now working to develop a 3-year partnership with one of the United Methodist congregations in Venezuela. Missionary Jon Herrin is working with them to select the proper congregation to benefit from their commitment to Venezuela.

Rev. Ken Cross, Associate Minister to Young Adults, taught a couple of classes in Wesleyan History and Theology to classes at the Assembly of God Bible Institute which included some of the students enrolled in the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. He wants to return to teach a class in the Seminary in the near future.

Marietta First's desire to build a long-term partnership is indicative of the way Foreign Missions is developing in the more progressive US churches. Short-term mission trips within the context of long-term partnerships creates the greatest benefit to both the "sending" and the "receiving" churches.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the trip was the relationship built with pastors and youth working with the children of some of the churches and missions of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela. One mission with children is led by a girl of just 12 years of age. Others have teenagers who have created the mission work with children of neighboring communities. These young people reflect the dynamic youthfulness of the Venezuelan evangelical church.
Any church desiring to build a rewarding and transformational mission program is invited to contact Venezuela Now, Inc. at to learn more about the great potential for your church in working with the churches of Venezuela.

Pray for the great people of Venezuela, especially as they face a Presidential Election on December 3, 2006. Pray for God's will to be done in Venezuela for the sake of the lost of that great country.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Conference/National Church Leaders

Pictured here is Lyn Powell, Conference Lay Leader of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and Afonzo Rivera, a young seminary student at the Seminario de Wesleyano de Venezuela and a young adult leader in the emerging Conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela. This picture was taken last year in Barquisimeto when Lyn visited our United Methodist brothers and sisters in Venezuela.

Lyn is one of the most well respected and hardest working Conference Lay Leaders in the United Methodist Church. She is a very influential leader who has a passion for leading our church in at least two very important efforts: lay evangelism and genuine partnership between the laity and clergy of the UMC.

Alfonzo is the son for Mariano and Yolanda Rivera. Yolanda is the pastor of the Lugar Altissimo United Methodist Church and a leader in that emerging church. Alfonzo's grandmother, Chica, is providing the Seminary a 24 acre tract for the construction of the seminary. Alfonzo is engaged to Sandra, a beautiful young student in the seminary and a worship leader in some of the community missions established by Lugar Altissimo UMC.

Affonzo is a talented worship leader and a passionate Christian. He demonstrates the future of the UMC in Venezuela, a church primarily made up of young adults and youth.

The picture of Lyn and Alfonzo demonstrates the great potential of partnerships between churches, institutions, and even conferences in the US and emerging ministries around the world. These partnerships are transformational for both the "Giver" and the "Receiver." Many churches in the US are discovering the great benefit for their own church through the development of a long term partnership with a church in Venezuela or some other country where the UMC is beginning to make a significant impact.

Twenty years ago the US was discovering the great benefit from Short-term Mission Trips. Out of this realization came Volunteers in Mission and other like groups. Today, the church is recognizing the exponentially greater benefit of long term partnerships. In the UMC, this was pioneered by Dr. Eddie Fox and World Methodist Evangelism in the development of the Connecting Congregations ministry with churches in countries of the former Soviet Union. This has been a very successful ministry and is now being copied by the General Board of Global Ministries and others.

We have certainly seen the great benefit for the churches of Venezuela and the churches in the US where such a partnership exists. We pray for more US churches to discover the joy of partnership with brothers and sisters in Venezuela. Please contact us if you want to learn more about this opportunity for your church. Click on the "Comment" button below, leave us a message and we will get back with you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Philip Yancey Reminds Us of Why Venezuela

I received this following from a dear friend and fellow pastor:

Here’s a quote I ran across from Philip Yancey’s on-line journal and I thought about the seminary in Venezuela. Maybe you can use it.

“I read recently that 1.2 billion Christians in the world are led by pastors who have less than two weeks (yes, weeks) of Bible or theological training. (Philip Yancey)”

I appreciate Mike sending this to me since he is such a good friend and has visited the work in Venezuela. He has reminded me of why we continue to labor in creating a respectable theological seminary from very meager visible resources. What a great need for seminaries like the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela to be established all over the world! We continue to pray for God to raise up more laborers in this ripe and rewarding harvest field.

How I wish I could be spending this week with the class in seminary in Venezuela. They teach me so much! Together we learn how to be more faithful and effective in our service for Christ to a lost and dying world. Please join us in praying for the students, faculty and staff of the seminary. Remember, you can support a seminary student by providing a $1200 gift for a full year of education. Contact us through the address in the above masthead.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Seminary Begins Monday with Dr. Burrell Dinkins

Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela holds its 6th week of 2006 classes October 16-20. This is the 10th course taught to the students enrolled in the seminary. Dr. Dinkins is another guest professor who has graciously given his own time to teach our students. We are greatly honored to have Burrell as a part of our faculty. Burrell is recently retired from Asbury Theological Seminary. Prior to going to Asbury he was on the Pastoral Care and Counseling staff of Roswell First UMC in Roswell, GA. We were very blessed to get to work with Burrell for many years in the UMC, Atlanta Roswell District, North Georgia Conference. Below is more biographical information on Burrell. Please pray for the 50-60 students who will be attending his class. The Academic Dean, will lead the week working closely with Burrell.
Dr. Dinkins joined the Florida faculty of Asbury Seminary in the summer of 1999 after serving as the E.A. Seamands professor of pastoral leadership on Asbury’s Kentucky campus since 1992. Prior to coming to Asbury, Dr. Dinkins served as the minister of pastoral care and counseling at Roswell (Ga.) United Methodist Church, professor of pastoral care and counseling at Oral Roberts University School of Theology, and director of pastoral care and counseling of the Atlanta-Emory District of The United Methodist Church. In addition to his extensive experience in the United States, Dr. Dinkins spent several years working in Brazil, South America. While in Brazil, he served as the interim president of Instituto Philadelphia De Londrina in Parana, professor of pastoral care and counseling at Faculdade de Teologia, Universidade Methodist Rudge Ramos in Sao Paulo, and pastored several churches. Dr. Dinkins was also Brazil’s first full-time Protestant hospital chaplain, developing a pioneer program of a clinical team of doctors, nurses and chaplain. He and his wife, Phyllis, have five adult children: Randy, Ruth, Walter, Susana and Paul.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Inductive Bible Study Extra Class

Dean of Wesley Seminary, and his wife went to work immediately. They arrived in Cabudare, a suburb of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, last Wednesday afternoon. They set up house keeping, bought beds, a washing machine and other essentials and purchased a new car for their work there.

Then on Monday, he began teaching 25 students in the Wesley Seminary. The course is Inductive Bible Study and is a prerequisite course for the other Bible courses. The 25 students have come into the seminary since the last time the course was taught and needed this course to take the Bible courses taught in the future classes.

This additional course was made necessary by the growing enrollment. It was made possible by the them moving to Venezuela and the generous support of some Christians here in Georgia. A part of the cost of this course is also being covered by the accumulated tuition fees charged the students. Those not currently on a scholarship, pay about $10US per course.

You can provide the annual cost of educating one of our students for just $1200 a year. This does not include any salaries or facility cost. However, currently the salaries are covered through other sources and the facility construction will be funded through other sources as well. Please prayerfully consider sponsoring a student in the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. Give a scholarship in memory or in honor of a loved one. May God richly bless you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update from Dan and Nancy Dunn

Dear Friend and Ministry Partner,

We want to express our deep appreciation for your compassionate and generous support. Please find below an update of our ministry over the past month. May God continue to bless you richly as together we seek to serve Him in all that we say, think, and do.

Much Love and Many Blessings,

Dan and Nancy Dunn


  • Our search for a church home continues, and we are enjoying visiting different expressions of Christ's body in this area.
  • Nancy has enjoyed some fellowship opportunities with other Seminary spouses, and looks forward to participation in a regular small group.
  • Dan is learning a great deal in his classes, but the work load is far greater than he anticipated.
  • God continues to shower us with the joy of meeting Christians from other countries, including South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, India, Mexico, Brazil, Liberia, and Nigeria.
  • We had the marvelous joy of Chris driving in from St. Louis to spend two days with us over Labor Day Weekend.
  • We also enjoyed a great weekend with our friends Virgil and Jo Allmond, plus a quick 1-day visit with Larry and Valorie Deel. YOU are invited to come see us too.
  • We look forward to being in Alpharetta next weekend for Mount Pisgah's Everywhere Celebration, including morning worship on October 1st.
  • Please pray for our continued support-raising to go well. Your generosity amazes us, and we need more generous folks like you to give to our ministry.
  • David and Carol Cosby fly to Venezuela today (Tuesday) to begin their new ministry in Venezuela. This is a huge plus for the ministry there, and we are thankful for their new call. Please pray for them, and continue to pray for Jon and Jeanne Herrin, Jesse, Megan, and Andrew, who have now been in Venezuela for over a year.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Conversations with Dr. Maxie Dunnam

Yesterday (Saturday, September 23) I was privileged to spend an hour in conversation with Dr. Maxie Dunnam concerning the work in Venezuela, especially the seminary. This was a great privilege. I have known Maxie for many years and he is one of the most well respected leaders, educator, writer, speaker and thinker in Christendom (see a short bio below).

This opportunity occurred as we were both working with the North Georgia Conference United Methodist Men's Retreat at Rock Eagle 4-H Camp.
The conversation was a result of Dr. Dunnam asking me to tell him about our work in Venezuela, particularly our work with the seminary there.

We had a great and candid conversation as I shared our hopes and dreams, accomplishments and disappointments, mistakes and learnings. He was very complimentary of what we are doing in Theological Education in Venezuela and Latin America.

Toward the end of the conversation, Maxie shared that as Chancellor of Asbury Theological Seminary, he would like to build some strategic partnerships with various seminaries in countries in the South and East, the places where the Christian church is experiencing its most dynamic and critical growth. Theological education in these countries is in relative infancy and faces many struggles and difficulties.

Maxie envisions a relationship between Asbury and some of these schools, including the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela.
We discussed possibilities of our (Venezuela Now, Inc. and Wesley Seminary of Venezuela) hosting a gathering of representatives of 4 or 5 carefully chosen seminaries to meet with Maxie to explore the possibilities of this relationship. I will let you know as this develops. Needless to say, I am most excited about the possibilities of a strategic partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary, one of the greatest seminaries in the United States.

Please pray for this as we seek to discover God's will and find our way forward in this effort. Pray especially because of what this could mean to the church in Venezuela and South America, as well as Costa Rica, Africa and Asia.

Biographical information about Dr. Dunnam:

Dr. Maxie Dunnam, has been a minister in the United Methodist Church since 1955, when at the age of 21, he organized Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. In the next several years, he served three more congregations, before becoming Director of the Fellowship Department and then World Editor of The Upper Room, the well-known United Methodist publication. In 1982, Dr. Dunnam returned to parish ministry as Senior Minister of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Then, in 1994, he was elected president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Maxie Dunnam is the author of several dozen books and is widely recognized as an evangelist and a pioneer in small group ministries.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When 32 acres becomes 24

We just got the first stage of the survey completed for the large site for the Seminary. Suddenly we discovered what we had been told was about 32 acres appears now to be closer to 24 acres. While this is still a large tract with some challenging topographical features, it is complimented with the 10 acres across the street that we are trying to purchase through the generosity of one of our donors. Of course, when we get it surveyed, it may also be a different size.

Whatever is the final determination for the total area, the fact remains this site is a great location for the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. It is a beautiful place, convenient to Barquisimeto and transportation, with a moderate climate similar to the high desert around Tucson, AZ.

With the work of surveying, purchasing, titling and designing the building and master plans for the seminary, a lot is happening very fast. Keep up with what is going on. Come to our Information and Celebration event for Venezuela Now, Inc. on September 29 at 7:00 at the North Atlanta Community Church in Roswell. Join us as we give the latest information and celebrate what God is doing through the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.

Monday, September 18, 2006

God Faithfully Provides

The attached aerial photo shows a brand new development in the acquisition of a site for the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. We just received a price for the 10 acres+/- you see indicated on the photo directly across the street from the 32 acres. The good news is that we are acquiring it for a very reasonable price and already have a donor for the full purchase price! Praise God!

Someone asked me why we would want an additional 10 acres when we are already obtaining title to 32 acres and still do not have the money to build even the first dormitory. There are several reasons. First is the fact that the 10 acres is almost comnpletely flat land, land we need for some of our planned uses. We will place at least a baseball field and a soccer field on this site. There are some other uses we are looking at, but are not ready to announce.

To learn more about what God is doing through the United Methodist Church and the Wesley Seminary in Venezuela, come to the Information and Celebration event noted below on September 29, 206, 7:00pm at the North Atlanta Community Church on Holbcomb Bridge Road in Roswell. Over 90 people have made reserrvations representing at least 9 different churches. Come and discover the exciting news of God's activities in Venezuela.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Celebrate Venezuela

You are invited to a Venezula Celebration and Update on Friday, September 29, 2006 at the North Atlanta Community Church on Holcomb Bridge Road 3 miles east of Georgia 400. See the details in the invitation shown here. Email me at to make your reservation.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Forming a New National Church

The United Methodist Church of Venezuela is still in the formative stages after 8 years of work. However, we are moving "poco a poco" (little by little) toward our first formal annual conference, the adoption of a Discipline, the election of a Bishop, and recognition by the secular Venezuelan government.

Pictured here are the United Methodist Pastors and Spouses who attended a two-day conference following the August session of seminary. There are 4 or 5 other UM pastors who could not attend.

The purpose of the conference was to begin to finalize the Discipline of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela. After much disscussion, two major issues emerged. The group self-divided into two task forces to deal with these issues and reconvene in October to hammer out the details.

The hope is to have our first formal annual conference in January when Bishop Lindsey Davis is in Venezuela teaching in the seminary. Please pray that we can complete all the tasks necessary to make this happen, if the Lord wills.

More importantly, pray for the over 25 United Methodist churches and missions and their pastors as they reach the lost of Venezuela. Among these pastors and lay leaders are some of the most spiritually mature, faithful servants of Christ one can ever know.

While it has taken a long time to get to this point (and we are not there, yet) it is in God's timing. This autonomous church will be a blessing to the greater United Methodist family.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wesley Seminary of Venezuela - Future Home

Progress is being made toward the acquisition and development of a campus for the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. Currently housed at the Assembly of God Bible Institute, the Seminary has outgrown its rented space and after four years desperately needs a space of its own.

Toward that end, the officers of Wesley Seminary have negotiated the purchase of the 32 acres, more or less, shown in this post. The land is located 16km west of the landmark Obelisco Monument in Barquisimeto. It is about 8km from the new Bus Terminal currently under construction. This will be the largest bus terminal in South America. The land is being donated to the Lugar Altissimo United Methodist Church and is now the home of the church and the Orphanage under construction (see the photo with the church and orphanage indicated).

Once the land is formally in the name of the church, The Wesley Association of Venezuela, the parent of the seminary, will begin the legal process to purchase the land and obtain the title in the name of the Association.

We are currently in the process of securing the services of a site engineer and architect in Venezuela to provide us with a boundary survey and a topographical survey. This is necessary to get the land properly deeded and titled to the Wesley Association. It is also necessary for the development of a site plan. The aerial photo in this post showing building footprints is just given for illustrative purposes and in no way represents what the actual master plan may detail. (Thanks to Doug Crosby and FlyingFotos of Roswell for the photos).

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wesley Seminary of Venezuela

The future site of the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela already is home to the Lugar Altissimo United Methodist Church, shown here from the Pan American Highway.

The site is also home to an emerging orphanage, the first United Methodist Orphanage in Venezuela. As you can see, the foundation is complete, columns are being poured and the cement block for the walls was delivered during our recent trip.

We believe it is most fitting for Theological Education to occur in concert with local church ministry and ministries of justice and compassion.

Therefore, having these three institutions share the same campus is appropriate for United Methodists. Unfortunately, we have watched as United Methodist Theological Education in the United States has moved further and further from any significant relationship with the local church or commitment to the Global Mission of the church.

At Wesley Seminary, we are committed to training local pastors for the Great Commission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we teach how to be effective in reaching the lost, the unchurched, and the alienated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are also committed to training our pastors to fulfill the Great Commandment. Therefore, the linking of the seminary with the local church and a local ministry of love and compassion provides a tangible, living witness to the students who pass through our halls.

In addition to being committed to be a truly Wesleyan and Orthodox educational institution, we are also committed to excellence. We believe we are providing the finest undergraduate theological education available in Venezuela. Our non-traditional educational format allows us to bring in leading educators who teach for one week. Examples include Dr. Burrell Dinkins, recently retired from Asbury Seminary, who will be teaching in October. Bishop Lindsey Davis, resident bishop of North Georgia, who will be teaching in January. Others include career missionaries, career educators, career pastors. All faculty have a minimum of a Master’s Degree and many possess doctoral degrees.

We are also committed to creating and maintaining a Global Focus in the United Methodist Church of Venezuela through the course content and spirit in the Wesley Seminary. The curriculum includes courses on the Mission of the Church, the Global Mission Outreach of the Church, etc. It is our goal to raise up pastors who are fully committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ, here, there and everywhere, following the Acts 1:8 model. We look forward to the day when the United Methodist Church of Venezuela begins sending long-term missionaries to other countries. Wesley Seminary already has had one of our students leave after three years of training to become an Assembly of God missionary in Paraguay.

Perhaps most importantly, we intend our students to have a thorough understanding of Scripture, respect for the authority of scripture as well as a solid understanding of Systematic Theology in the Wesleyan tradition.

All of this is done at a remarkable cost of only $1200 per student per year (not including cost of land and construction of facilities or missionary support). For just $1200 we can provide a full year of tuition, books, room and board for a student. This will be the focus of a later posting.

However, I mention cost here to simply lift up what a remarkable work is being done through the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. With over 80 students enrolled and with 50-60 students attending each class, we are making an eternal difference in the lives and destinies of people in Venezuela.

About a year ago, a colleague said to me (Warren, President of Wesley Seminary), “Lathem, what do you know about running a seminary in Venezuela?” I replied, “Nothing, but I’m doing it. What are you doing?”

We have had a steep learning curve and still have much to learn. We have made many mistakes and will probably make many more. However, we are also educating pastors and we are seeing new ministries of compassion started by these pastors, new missions and preaching stations being planting by these pastors, a spirit of connection and cooperation developing between the pastors such as they have never known before, and most importantly, lost people are coming to know Christ through the work of the pastors and churches and the impact Wesley Seminary is having on their lives.

Of course, it takes a team of highly dedicated and committed Christians to make this happen. The principle members of that team are David Cosby, Academic Dean of the Seminary and Dan Dunn, Dean of Students. Jon Herrin, missionary to Venezuela serves on the faculty as well. Fortunately, all four of us are blessed with wives who are also fully supportive of the work we are doing in Venezuela and are full partners in the work. Additionally very committed faculty and staff support us from other theological and missionary institutions. Also, the Assembly of God Bible Institute has been our home for the first 4 years and without their support we would have a much more difficult time.

Consider sponsoring a pastor. It only costs $1200 a year. You, your Discipleship Group, Sunday School Class, Congregation, or a couple of friends could provide a full year of education for a pastor in Venezuela for just $1200. Pray about it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Joy of Discovery

We just returned from 16 days in Venezuela. What a great trip! One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the ministry there through the eyes of Doug and Kathleen Crosby (pictured left). Doug and Kathleen spent 11 of the 16 days with us in Barquisimeto, Maracay, Colonia Tovar, Maiquetia, and Punto Fijo. This was their first trip to Venezuela.

The Crosby's have been close friends of the Lathem's for over 15 years. They were members of Warren's last pastorate and spent 2 1/2 years helping plant the Coal Mountain UMC in Forsyth County Georgia. They now split their time between Roswell , GA and Fort Myers, FL.

Doug and Kathleen founded and managed Flying Fotos for many years before retiring and turning the business over to their son, Jason. They now advise Jason and work in the their family business.

What a joy it was for us to see the excitement build in them for the work in Venezuela. They met many of the pastors of over 25 churches and missions we have established there. They participated in conferences, meetings, worship services and fun activities. They met our missionaries, spoke to several of our seminary students, spent time with a number of our lay leaders, made aerial photos of our prospective seminary site, and much more.

On the return flight yesterday, they said, "When are we going back?" I proposed January when Bishop Lindsey Davis will be teaching in the seminary and when we hope to have our organizing annual conference. We'll see...

In the meantime, the work progresses at a remarkable rate inspite of all the difficulties and challenges. God is faithful. The United Methodist of Venezuela is growing, the seminary is making a great difference in the life of the UMC of Venezuela, the pastors are planting new congregations, the construction of several facilities is progressing and much more. Please pray for the work. Pray about how you can help.

We praise God for the opportunity to work with the churches in reaching the lost of Venezuela. It is one of the most meaningful ministry experiences of our lives. Gloria a Dios.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tomorrow we travel to Punto Fijo, the coastal town where McEachern UMC in Marietta, GA has done so much work. In this picture you can see the sanctuary constructed by memebers of the McEachern and the Punta Fijo churches. Pastors Juneval and Nohely Perez serve this congregation located in a very poor are of Venezuela. For several years Juvenal has been inviting Warren to travel to Punta Fijo to preach. Finally we were able to work a trip into our schedule.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights Warren will be leading a preaching crusade in Punta Fijo. On Saturday he will conduct a Pastor's Seminar. On Sunday morning we will attend worship at the Punto Fijo Church.

Please pray for these efforts. Pray that many will come to know Christ through the preaching mission. Pray that the pastors will discover the joy of becoming missional pastors leading their churches into the essential mission of the church: Making Disciples of Jesus Christ. Pray this will be a time of encouragement for Juvenal and Nohely.

When we first got to know the Perez,' they were living on $20 a months serving this congregation. Then they lost their lease on their worship space. But God has been faithful Now they have their own church building, they have an adequate salary and are in their 4th year of studies at the Wesely Seminary of Venezuela. The first baptism in thier new church was their own son. We thank God for his grace to this faithful couple and his provision for them. We are thankful for having a small part in this work.

Juvenal and Nohely have a passion for people to know Christ, especially children. They have built the largest children's ministry in the Venezuelan United Methodist Church. Much of this has been possible thorough the very productive long-term partnership with McEachern. Perhaps your church could benefit as has McEachern through dveloping a partnership with one of our Venezuelan congregations. Email us at if you would like to explore this wonderful opportunity.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We are having a great two weeks in Venezuela. The first week was spent teaching at the Wesley Seminary and preaching, conducting a critical conference for the United Methodist Church of Venezuela as it wrestles with the writing and editing of a Discipline, planning construction steps for the orphanage and seminary and church at Lugar Altissimo.

This week we are traveling to Maracay where Warren taught last night, Colonia Tovar for a day of R&R and then to Punto Fijo for a 3 night crusade and a one day pastor's seminar. Traveling together are Doug and Kathleen Crosby, Efrain and Bethsaida Morales and Warren and Jane Lathem along with our Venezuelan friends and drivers, Samuel Rojas, Adolpho Moron and Gustavo Moron.

Doug is the founder of Flying Photos in Atlanta and he rented a plane and made the photo you see here. The church is the tiny red dot at the bottom of the picture and this is the future site of the Wesley Seminary. Efrain and Bethsaida Morales are students in the seminary, pastors of the Ondas de Paz UMC and parents of the Lathem's daughter-in-law, Lim.

Please pray for the rest of this trip. By the way, several persons have been converted and several pastors have professed renewed faith. Keep praying. More later...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Venezuela in August

Dan and Nancy Dunn left today for Venezuela where Dan will preach in Puerto Ordaz this weekend before going to Barquisimeto on Monday for the August session of Seminary classes. The Dean travels down on Friday when he will meet Jim Ogan. Jim will be teaching the Book of Acts next week in the seminary. Warren and Jane Lathem will travel to Venezuela on Sunday and then to Barquisimeto on Monday where Warren and Dan will team-teach a course on Global Mission. Boake Moore will travel to Barquisimeto on Wednesday to discuss the construction of the Wesley Seminary and make important connections with attorneys, contactors, suppliers, etc.

Our missionary friends have rented a house in Barquisimeto and will move into it in September. He will be the Field Director for Venezuela Now, Inc. in Venezuela as well as the Dean of the Wesley Seminary. She will serve as the treasurer/accountant for Venezuela Now in Venezuela, the Wesley Association of Venezuela and the Wesley Seminary.

Doug and Kathleen will be visiting and praying about their future involvement in the work God is doing through the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.

On Friday and Saturday of next week, after seminary is finished, the United Methodist pastors and families will remain in Barquisimeto for a time of Christian Conferencing. Their primary task will be editing and, hopefully, adopting a Discipline to gove
rn the life of the UMC in Venezuela. The pastors have a draft of the document and are coming to seminary prepared to make necessary changes. Then our hope is that we will have our first official annual conference in January and organize the church in accordance with the approved Discipline.

On Sunday, Warren will preach at Ondas de Paz and Lugar Altissimo United Methodist Churches. Dan and Nancy will fly back to the US on Sunday afternoon. Then on Monday and Tuesday we will be working on construction plans for the seminary and helping our friends secure some of the things they will need to move into the country. We will hold a pastor's conference in Maracay on August 22 then travel to Colonia Tovar for a night of rest. On Friday we will fly to Punto Fijo where we will have another Pastors' Conference on Saturday and Warren will preach on Sunday.

We return to the US on August 29th, exhausted but praising God for all he did before our eyes. In addition to all of the above, there will be several other preaching opportunities, times of holy conversations, the delivery of a sound system to one pastor, shoes for another pastor's children and financial support for a couple of other pastors. Often tears will be shed, both of gratitude for all of God's blessings and sadness over parting.

Please pray for:
Safe traveling mercies;
The good health of all involved;
A great, transformational week of seminary classes with about 65 students;
The "Discipline" discussions and edits;
Blessings for all the preachers as they preach God's word;
The Pastors' Conferences, especially holy unction for Warren's teaching in these sessions;
Doug and Kathleen's first visit to Venezuela to be transformational;
Boake Moore to find the right contacts and information needed to proceed with the seminary construction as soon as funding comes forward.

Most importantly, pray that we will see many people come to faith in Christ, the Church built up in the faith and pastors encouraged.

If you still have time to pray for more, pray for workers in this ripe harvest field. And pray about how you can help with this ministry with a nation at risk, the most secular nation in South America.

Future Site of Wesley Seminary

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Work of Pastor Cheo Gomez

Drive as far as you can go in the Bolivar State in Venezuela before entering the Gran Savanna, stop in Tumeremo and meet pastor Cheo and Monica Gomez. You will be impressed with their passion for Christ, effectiveness in reaching the lost and love for God's people. You will immediately fall in love with this wonderful couple and their children. You will discover one of the great heroes of the faith, Cheo's mother (pictured with her beautiful parrot). You will visit the Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) United Methodist Church and take a tour of the surrounding communites where Pastor Cheo has planted additional mission congregations in Guasipati and Chuponal.

As you talk to Pastor Cheo, you will discover his passion for eduaction as well as the Gospel. He is a student in the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela in Barquisemeto. He travels by overnight bus to the seminary 5 times a year - an 18 hour ride each way. He is also in the process of building a Christian School in Tumeremo. He is praying for a partner US congregation who will work with him in the constrcution of the school and the churches in the surrounding communities.

As you get to know this family, you will discover one of the reasons we are so passionate about the work in Venezuela. They are attractive, intelligent, talented, passionate, faithful people serving in very difficult circumstances. There is no predictable salary. They are isolated in a frontier town. They serve with no expectation of security or pension. Yet they give and serve and sacrifice joyfully. Their faith is contagious.

Not too long ago the Tucker First UMC led by Pastor Dr. Tom Pilgrim, sent a mission team to Tumeremo to work with Pastor Cheo (See previous post). They fell in love with this pastor, his family and the people of Pan de Vida UMC.

Would you like to help? There is plenty of opportunity and you can make a difference. See the face of Christ and follow the will of God. God may just be calling you to Venezuela. Contact us if you desire more information: We welcome your inquiries.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Update from Jon and Jeanne Herrin in Venezuela


It was a time of going, doing, learning and being. We began the month with a week of seminary. Jonathan Morton (presently of Mexico) and Rev. Donna Golf (of McEachern UMC in the Atlanta area) were our professors for the week. We had about 58 pastors and church leaders present for seminary, learning about Christian Ethics and the Historical Books of the Old Testament. Rev. David Cosby (OMS/MSUM missionary) was with us as well for the week. As usual, we all had a wonderful time of fellowshipping together during the week.

We also received THREE mission/work teams during June:

1) Chuck McElroy brought a team of 10 from Mount Pisgah UMC in Alpharetta. They came to work towards finishing the sanctuary at Lugar Altisimo UMC in La Concordia (just outside of Barquisimeto.) They were able to lay the foundation and build the walls for a storage room. Through their generosity and encouragement, Lugar Altisimo will be done this summer!!!

2) Donna Golf and Janet Huffman brought a team of 12 to work with Pastor Juvenal Perez and his congregation in Punto Fijo. Their team worked tirelessly in the heat of that area towards the completion of their sanctuary. Not only did they work in construction, but they also joined the church there in evangelical outreach. They participated in a children's march/crusade during which they shared tracts with the promises of God; provided preaching moments; and presented the Jesus Film (in Spanish!) for children and youth. They were able to celebrate as a number of people--children, youth and adults--gave their lives to Christ.

3) You think only big churches in big cities send mission teams??? Cool Springs UMC near Clarkesville, GA, sent a team of three down to Venezuela the last week of June. Beatrice, Kasey and Isaac came to renovate a day-care center! Not only did this team completely re-paint the outside of a day-care center run by Pastor Yolanda of La Concordia, they also went on to help mix concrete and pour foundations at the Lugar Altisimo church...and spend two mornings at another daycare center just loving on children!! They brought over 500 pairs of glasses (donated by the Lion's Club!!) and some 40 pairs of sandals...and a suitcase full of toys for the children. We can assure you...BIG things CAN come in small packages!!

All three of our June teams did a FANTASTIC job of sharing the love of God with the people of Venezuela!! THANK YOU to these three churches for reaching out to touch Venezuela in this way!
One "school" year, that is!! The children have finished their first year of school in Venezuela, and they have done great! They have surmounted incredible odds, not the least of which was the language situation. All three children can now help us in translation...they read Spanish...speak Spanish...sing Spanish. And, all three have done very well academically!! We are SOOOO proud of them.
Do pray about our school situation for next year. While our children would like to stay in school, recent education laws have forced all private schools to raise their teachers' salaries 40% for the coming year...but have limited their tuition increases to only 15%. You can do the math and see where that puts most of the smaller schools like the one our children attend. A number of private schools have already closed. Please pray that we'll have the best place for our children for the coming year....
Thank you SO very much! We know that if it were not for your support--prayers, financial gifts, notes of encouragement, phone calls--we could not stay here and be a part of what God is doing in Venezuela. Thank you for reaching beyond the world you live in to touch "the ends of the earth."

Jon and Jeanne Herrin, Jesse, Megan, Andrew

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

And More fom Punto Fijo

Rev. Donna Goff, Minister of Missions at McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia, just reeturned from a week of mission work in Punto Fijo, Venezuela. This trip was almost immediately on the heels of a week of teaching "Historical Books" at the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. Here is her short report on her return from her most recent trip to Venezuela:

Well this has been a fast month for sure with 2 trips to Vz and Annual Conference. I wanted to reflect a few thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind.

I really enjoyed the experience though I felt handicapped not being able to speak Spanish. Maybe that is motivation to learn more. Teaching 12 books in one week was a great challenge but I did my best. The students are really open and hungary for their education and that was refreshing. Raul did a great job translating and Samuel was so helpful with the Herrins to us. We enjoyed getting to know the family and taking the kids some American treats. They have a great family. I would be open to doing that again. Even though I was not up to where I wanted to be in my rehab, I hope to continue to strengthen the foot and leg doing physcial therapy.

Punto Fijo.
Warren, I knew when we asked Allen R. to come, it would have the potential to be explosive. He is at heart a iternant evangelist. He and Pastor Juvenal hit it off immediately. Juvenal asked me to bring him back soon. It was good for me to be there because I felt God was able to enlarge my vision of McEachern's role in Punto Fijo. The Jesus film for the children was quite successful. We had probably 25-30 old elementary kids come forward to accept Christ. On Sunday afternoon we had the March. They had a train like part of a circus with probably 100 kids in it, with police escort. We handed out 1500 tracts. We know 5-6 people prayed along the streets and in the crowd to accept Christ. That night we did the Jesus film but it was mostly the congregation there. Allen preached Mon-Wed every night on a platform outside beside the street. We feel grateful at 20-25 adults accepted Christ. We took Bibles and were able to give them to them and Pastor Nohely took names and got followup information. Out team was greatly moved by seeing people come to Christ in this way.

We are processing this week and evaluating how we can support Juvenal and his ministry. He has quite a vision. He had worked a lot on the building since we had been there before. He has proven a very faithful steward of God's resources. We pray that McEachern can also be faithful to what God is calling us to do. I could almost see Allen doing a series of revivals in Vz.

We are again grateful to be a part of what God is doing in Venezuela. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Serving Christ with you.

Donna Goff

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pardon the Personal, But....

A most amazing thing occurred this week. I received a call from a woman (Dayana) in Alpharetta stating that her mother (Doris) and father were visiting from Punto Fijo, Venezuela and that they are members of the UMC in Punto Fijo. Their pastor, Juvenal Perez, had insisted they contact me for a time to get acquainted. (See earlier posts for pictures and stories of the Punta Fijo Church and the pastors.)

We made an appointment for this past Tuesday at 5:30. At the last minute, I invited my daughter in law to go with me to meet these unknown Venezuelans. She agreed. When we arrived at their home a surprise occurred to everyone. It seems the parents know our daughter in law's parents and have even hosted them in their home some 4 or 5 years previously, including our daughter in law, Lim. What a coincidence! But it is not over yet.

The daughter, Dayana, had worked with Lim's sister, Betha, here in Alpharetta. But there is even more. As we discussed the church in Punto Fijo, I discovered that the building the church used to rent was owned by Doris' husband. I had helped with the rent and here, sitting in Alpharetta, was the man who owned the building I was helping the church to rent.

It goes on... Doris was very insistent that I must visit Punto Fijo since I have never personally visited their city in all my trips to Venezuela. I was happy to inform her that since she left Punto Fijo for a month of visiting in Alpharetta, I had formalized plans to visit Punta Fijo in August, conduct a pastors conference and attend worship in her church.

Some will see all of this as simply a series of coincidences. I guess a statistician can calculate the odds of all of the above occurring between a nation of 30 million people and almost 300 million people. However, I choose to believe it was much greater than a coincident. I believe it was a God-Incident! It is indicative of how God has worked in our lives ever since Carlos Gonzalez from Valencia, Venezuela showed up at my office in 1994. This post would be too long and boring to relate how God has continually drawn us to Venezuela and to work with the United Methodists there. However, this most recent experience is further confirmation that we are blessed to join with Christ in the ministry in Venezuela.

If you are still reading this endless post, please consider that God may be calling you to work with our brothers and sisters in Venezuela. If you would like more information please contact me, Warren Lathem, at I welcome the opportunity to discuss what God is doing in Venezuela! We serve the One who came to serve us.
Warren Lathem

Vacation Bible School in Punta Fijo

Friday, June 09, 2006

Update from Dan and Nancy Dunn

Dan and Nancy Dunn finish 12 years as Minister of Missions at Mount Pisgah UMC in Alpharetta and move to Wilmore, KY where Dan will puruse his PhD. at Asbury Theological Seminary while continuing to expand his work in Venezuela and Costa Rica. Below is a partial update from the Dunn's. If you would like to receive his full periodic update, just write to him at the email address at the botttom of this post.

Upcoming Schedule
Dan will be in Athens next week (June 12-15) for Annual Conference. He then flies to Costa Rica on June 16th for a month-long trip.

Nancy continues working through June 30, then flies to Costa Rica July 3 to spend two weeks with Dan. After we both return on July 16th, we will take that week to do final packing. We hope the movers can move us to Wilmore the week of July 24 or the week of July 31.

On August 7th we return to Atlanta, so Dan can teach an evangelism workshop in Marietta. On August 10th we fly to Venezuela to visit Pastor Thoby Ramirez (pictured above), and Dan will preach there on Sunday the 13th. We then fly to Barquisimeto for Seminary classes, where Dan and Warren Lathem will teach a course on Global Mission Outreach. We return to the States August 21, and begin the final process of settling in before beginning the semester begins.

Support Update

We are raising support for a 4-year period, July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2010. Our funding goal for this period is $250,000. This includes salary, housing, pension, insurance, and ministry expenses (travel expenses to Costa Rica and Venezuela, etc.). Due to God’s amazing grace and the generosity of friends like you, we are grateful to report that this goal is currently 25% funded with gifts-in-hand and faithful pledges. Thank you for your support. Please continue to talk about our ministry with other people, and let us know if there is a s mall group, a church, or an individual, who would like to hear about our ministry.

Prayer Points

• Trip to Annual Conference
• Trip to Costa Rica
• Guapiles Mission Team
• Nicoya Mission Teams
• Liberia Mission Team
• San Pedro Mission Team
• Support-Raising
• Chris and Eleanor walking with Christ
• John and Tara’s transition to Wilmore
• Residence visas for Jon Herrin family, VZ
• Transition for David/Carol Cosby to VZ
• Ray/Lidia Zirkel, Sarah, Emma
• Steve/Caroline Gober, Natalia, Fernandito

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

To contact Dan and Nancy - VNI, P. O. Box 1655, Duluth, GA 30096 – - 770.722.8470

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Praying about 2007? Read on...

  • Jon and Jeanne Herrin write from Venezuela about opportunities for you and your church in 2007. Please pray about your involvement is what God is doing in Venezuela through the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.

  • Campus Minister / Youth Minister Alert!!!! For 2007: We would like to receive two youth/young adult teams who can come and present the Gospel through drama/mime (no Spanish required!!!); who can provide “abstinence” education through the same medium; who can develop a passion for sharing the love of God with teens/young adults here. The teams would perform in schools, on street corners, and in town squares. It’ll be a blast!!! What a great Spring Break or Summer Mission Trip, eh??? Please contact Jon or Jeanne if you have an interest:

  • Venezuela Mission 2007 – Does your church, men’s/women’s group, or Sunday School class want to come and work alongside the church here in Venezuela?? Are you sensing God calling you to reach “to the ends of the earth” in person??? We have needs for work teams of all sorts—building structures, renovating existing structures, leading Bible schools for children. Contact us and let us know if your group or congregation is ready for the experience of a life-time—if you’re ready to change lives…and see your own lives changed.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

June Seminary

Pray for June Seminary, June 5-9, 2003 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Wesley Seminary begins its June Class on June 5, 2006, The Academic Dean, presiding. Rev. Donna Goff, Minister of Missions at McEachern UMC in Marietta, GA will be teaching Historical Books, Inductive Study Method. Rev. Jonathan Morton, Missionary to Mexico City, will be teaching Christian Ethics. Donna served for ten years as a teacher in the Highlands Bible College in Kenya, East Africa. Jonathan is a native of Irleland and serves as the OMS Field Director for Mexico City focusing on Church Planting and teaching in the OMS Seminary. Please pray for the dozens of students who will attending this session of seminary. Here is a picture of the March seminary class. What a great opportunity for the Gospel!?!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Facts from the Herrins

Some little known facts…

  • About ½ of the evangelical churches in Venezuela were planted in the last 10 years.
  • A greater percentage of Venezuelans are now attending evangelical churches (4.2%) than are attending a Catholic church on any given weekend (2.8%).
  • Between 1999 and 2005, an average of three new churches were planted each DAY.


  • Over 40% of Venezuelans have NO church in their community.
  • Over 22,000,000 Venezuelans (out of 27,000,000) are unchurched.
  • Venezuela is the most ‘secular’ nation in Latin America.

Because of the HUGE growth and the HUGE need, we now have the HUGE tasks before us of sharing the Good News of God, planting new churches, and providing pastoral education and training. This is part of the work we’re doing here. If you haven’t already, please consider partnering with us through prayer, support or hands-on efforts through a mission team.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Report from the Herrins

Tucker First UMC in Tumeremo!!!

We were thrilled to receive our first mission team, a group with Pastor Tom Pilgrim from the Tucker First UMC in the Atlanta area.

Tucker UMC came to help the wonderful people of the Pan de Vida UMC in Tumeremo with an expansion of their present facility. Pastor Cheo and his congregation received the team with all the grace possible. The team ate well, worked hard…and slept well at the end of the day.

Mortar was mixed, block laid and paint applied. In the end, showers and bathrooms stood where there had been empty space before.

Of course, we’re doing more than building buildings here. We enjoyed a ‘painful’ game of soccer! We loved on children and adults. Best of all, relationships were built and lives changed. What a great week in Tumeremo!! Thank you, Suzanne, for great planning!!!

We give GREAT THANKSGIVING for those who came, and for those who stayed behind in the US and prayed ann supported those who came to be with us. AMEN!!!

Jon and Jeanne Herrin

Missionaries to Venezuela