Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good News From Venezuela

Our seminary Dean called from Venezuela this morning to give me some great news. Rev. Carlos and Dr. Maria Perona, pastors in Barquisimeto, have announced that they will be joining the newly forming United Methodist Church of Venezuela when it has its first Conference in August. Both of these pastors are recogined leaders in the Protestant church in Barquisimeto, Lara State. They have been students in the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela since its conception. At that time, Carlos was President of the Ministerial Association in Barquisimeto and a well respected leader. His and Maria's enrollment in and endorsement of the seminary was a great step toward the seminary earning legitimacy in Venezuela.

Carlos is a life-long pastor having been converted then serving in the Assembly of God denomination. As with many pastors in Venezuela, he moved to become an independent because of the lack of support within his denomination. As an Independent, he planted several congregations within some of the poorest Barrios in Barquisimeto. He has a global vision of the church which is consistent with the ministry of the seminary and the UMC of Venezuela.

Maria is a pastor alongside Carlos in thier team ministry. This remarkable woman is also a medical doctor, a pediatrician. They have three beautiful children, the youngest of which I was provileged to dedicate when preaching at their church 3 years ago. Their enrollment in the seminary is a testimony to the excellent theological education being provided by the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela.

I have learned to trust Carlos and Maria. They are people of great integrity and the kind of leaders this emerging United Methodist Church needs to effectively reach Venezuela with the Gospel of Christ.

Here is a picture of Carlos and me engaged in conversation on Thursday, June 7, 2007 in our hotel restaurant in Barquisimeto. Carlos requested the meeting to discuss the possibility of becoming United Methodist. We left to return to the US with the mutual commitment to prayer for this momentous decision for him, his family, his churches and the UMC of Venezuela. Thank God for answered prayer.

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