Monday, November 16, 2009

Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela

The Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela began its ministry in 2002 offering an accessible, affordable undergraduate theological education to pastors and lay leaders. This is a six-year degree program requiring a minimum participation of 5 weeks per year.  Most pastors in Venezuela are bi-vocational and attending seminary is a very costly endeavor.  Through the efforts of Venezuelans and folks in the US the cost is kept at a bare minimum.  Typically 50 students attend each class on our newly aquired campus outside Barquisemeto, the ground transportation hub of Venezuela.  The cost per student for this excellent Christian education within the best of the Wesleyan tradition is approximately $2400 per year.  Students pay only a small part of this cost and the rest is paid through the generosity of Christians in the US.  Please pray for this work and help us with a generous gift.  Mail to:  Venezuela Now, Inc. , PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA  30096.

Ondas de Paz United Methodist Church Baptizes New Believers

Pastor Alexander and Pastora Amarylis Comacho, Ondas de Paz United Methodist Church (Cabudare, Venezuela) and students in the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela, celebrate the sacrament of Christian Baptism with new believers led to Christ through the ministry of his church.

The founding pastor and pastora of Ondas de Paz, Efrain and Bethsaida Morales, are graduates of the Seminary and mentored pastors Alexander and Amarylis and got them to enroll in the Seminary. Between their influence and the teaching of the Seminary these pastors have led their church to become a very dynamic, growing congregation.

These pictures are from a recent service of Baptism held in the local river.  The candidates are all new believers.  Praise God for this ministry.  Praise God for the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela and its partnership in ministry with this congregation.  Praise God for the Tucker UMC, Tucker GA and their partnership with the church.  Prasie God for Venezuela Now, Inc. a US nonprofit which has helped make this possible.

You can help reach the lost of Venezuela by giving a gift to Venezuela Now, Inc.  Please see the address in the sidebar and mail a check today!

Seminary Class Next Week

The faculty and staff of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela are hard at work preparing for next week's class.  It is not easy!  Gasoline shortages, some food shortages, banking failures and complex banking difficulties combined with an annual inflation rate of about 40% make the preparations more and more difficult. Yet they labor on in faithful obedience to God's call on their lives.

Additionally, students will travel from all across the nation to the seminary near Barquisimeto experiencing long bus rides (some over 20 hours) and bearing great expense to take advantage of the week of classes.  What will they be studying?  One course will be an inductive study of the Book of Acts. The other course be Educating Children God's Way.

Please pray for the students, the faculty and staff as classes begin Monday morning.  Please consider making a gift before year end.  We really need your help.  May God richly bless you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Valle Dorado UMC Gets Started!

Valle Dorado United Methodist Church is one of the 'daughter' churches begun by Carlos and Maria Pirona's church: Iglesia Methodista Restauracion. Pastors Carlos and Maria are both graduates of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela. Smith Useche is the pastor of the ministry in this area. Smith attends classes at the Seminary when he can. He also has another job to provide a living for his family. Currently Smith meets on Tuesday and Thursday nights in homes in the area. They call these 'cell groups' (celulas). On Saturday night they have their worship service, meeting outside, under the stars. Usually they have about 50 in attendance. The people in this area would have to take two buses to attend Iglesia Methodista Restauracion and are grateful to have this church beginning in their area of the city which has no other Protestant or Evangelical church..

The area of the city, or you might say the neighborhood, is called Valle Dorado (Valley of Gold). There are four other neighborhoods surrounding it, with a possibility to reach thousands of people. When the city developed this area they set aside land for a catholic church (this is common in Latin America - that the government would set aside a piece of property in a development for the catholic church) but those who were moving into the area demanded that there also be property set aside for an evangelical church (non-catholic). So when you drive into the area off of the main highway you first pass the catholic church, our property is farther in the development, really in the middle of the homes, ie; closer to the people.

The church property is 97.5 feet by 81 feet (30X25 meters). Currently there is a storage room on the property, about 12 feet by 8 feet. It has a toilet in it and is where they store chairs. There is electricity on the property. There is an area of tin supported by poles that provides some shelter. Carlos already has architect plans for the property. A security wall surrounds the property, a must before any other construction could begin. A mission team from the US is already scheduled to go and help build the church as well as conduct Vacation Bible School each evening. More teams are needed. Contact us for more information.

Long Term Mission Partnerships

Often US churches spread their mission dollars to dozens of worthy projects.  The impact of their giving and service is minimal since it is unfocused.  Churches with effective mission impact focus their financial and human resources on long-term partnerships with indigenous ministries.  Such has been the case with the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela and the churches which have supported this work.  The result is a shared partnership in ministry that outlives the short-term team visit or the few dollars invested.

An example of this is the partnership evidenced by the repairs to the small house on the Seminary property seen in these photos.  The roof was ruined and had to be replaced.  US mission dollars provided the materials and the congregation of a student's church provided the labor.  The Venezuelan students and graduates are taking a greater and greater "ownership" of the seminary.  Through their participation in the educational process of the Seminary they discover the great value of this affordable accessible Theological Education. They see how this education is greatly enhancing their ability to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, make disciples and plant new churches and preaching places.

We welcome your church as a partner in this ministry.  What a difference you can make!  Contact me at for more information.  We need your help.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miracle on Miracle

Last December the Board of Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela met and recognized the harsh reality that we simply did not have the funds to hold seminary classes in January. We had to have $15,000 in order to go forward. So we put out a "fleece" before the Lord and basically asked for the $15,000 to come in in less than 30 days. If we received the money, class would go ahead. If not, we would wait until we had enough money to hold classes.

God so abundantly provided and gave us more than we could ask or think. We received the required $15,000 and over $10,000 more! Classes could go ahead as scheduled. Renovations on the newly purchased seminary property.

Of course, the work required for renovations far exceeded our first appraisals, just like renovating a home. For example, the bunk beds in the dorms were not of a standard size, so the mattresses would not fit. Therefore, we had to buy all new beds. The water pipes in the ground proved to be full of holes and over half had to be replaced. The more we uncovered, the more we had to do.

Again, God supplied. It is an amazing story of God's provision and grace. Look at the list Carol sent listing SOME of the work done on the campus this year:

"The restoration of the campus has been a huge job. I couldn't list on the statement all the things that have been done but they include (and I'm sure I'm forgetting something):
partial construction of security wall; construction and installation of security gate on side street (this gate is tall enough to allow buses to enter the property); installation of automatic gate entry for front gate; tiling of men's bathrooms; install toilet stall doors; install four sinks and mirrors in men's bathroom; air conditioners purchased and installed in main classroom; replace part of roof on smaller house on campus; install a kitchen in larger house (using the least expensive method - poured concrete shelves and counter top); build closets in two rooms of larger house (again, using poured concrete); replace plumbing pipes in men's bathrooms; replace exterior pipes on half of campus; purchase and install two water pumps and pressure tank; built pump house; replaced all electric plugs in dining hall; replaced many ceiling tiles in dining hall and men's dorm rooms; added light fixtures in main classroom, men's dorm rooms, dining hall; purchased for kitchen - 6 burner stove, industrial size refrigerator, freezer, blender; replaced motor in refrigerator and freezer caused by faulty wiring; purchased bunk beds, mattresses, pillows, mattress pads, chairs. When we could not find tables to purchase so we bought doors, a group from the States varnished them, we had metal bases built and made our own tables."

Wow! as we look at all this work and the abundant provision of God, we are encouraged and hopeful. Yes, we are almost completely out of funds. And we have to have additional resources to pay for the December classes, and prepare for the January sessions as well as continue to make required improvements on Campus, and pay our $30,000 mortgage payment due at year end. We are overwhelmed by the need. However we are also overwhelmed by God's supply.

Where will the funds come from? God only knows. We certainly do not. But our years of following Christ have caused us know God is faithful. He will supply. We pray those reading this blog will be sources of that supply. Please, please give a gift for this ministry before the end of the year.

Remember, for over 7 years students of this Seminary have been receiving excellent theological education in the best of the Wesleyan tradition. Because of this, hundreds and hundreds have been reached with the Gospel, dozens and dozens of churches and preaching places have been started, the sick are healed, the hungry fed, the imprisoned are visited, the poor are provided for by the church in Venezuela through pastors and lay leaders being trained by Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela.

This is worthy of your support. Again, please send us a gift for this ministry by the end of the year. Remember, no one receives a salary from these funds except for employees in Venezuela. All Americans affiliated with this ministry rely on other sources of income and are paid nothing by the Seminary.

Send your gifts to Venezuela Now, Inc. PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA 30096. Thank you and God bless you!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Nothing is easy in this ministry

Carol, wife of our Academic Dean David, shared with me the single task of obtaining the food and preparing the meal for a week of seminary. In the US, we would simply make a list of items needed, call Sysco or some other company, and wait for it to be delivered. Not possible for this ministry. Here is her account of the process:

The Saturday before class I went with Marcia, G'ma Ana, Siloth and Amanda to buy the food for seminary week. (I hadn't done this before and wanted to see what they were doing.) We went to the open-air market held in Cabudare on Saturdays. It was dirty, exhausting, and took about 2 hours to find everything on the list. At least it had rained earlier that morning and wasn't very hot. Marcia gets G'ma Ana to decide on a menu for the week. Marcia and Ana figure out how much food that will be (10 Kilos of potatoes, 8 kilos of carrots, etc.) While we shop Marcia has the list, writing down how much we paid for each item. There are boys in the market with 'dollys' who will haul your stuff from food stand to food stand and then to your car. We didn't find one of the boys until we were all carrying huge bags of produce. G'ma Ana and Marcia are VERY careful with the seminary funds. If they don't like the price they move on to another vender. Marcia will negotiate with a vender for a better price since we are buying more than the average shopper. These ladies really put alot of work into providing meals for the students! After the open-air market we went to a local grocery store to get the things not found in the market, flour, butter, salt, etc. It all gets loaded into the Blazer, with Siloth sitting up inside and Samuel handing her things so that it will all fit. We then headed for the seminary where it was all unloaded, again with Siloth sitting up inside handing things out to us. They are very organized and I just tried to stay out of their way. They worked all the rest of Saturday prepping for meals for seminary week. On Samuel's urging they posted a menu in the classroom. The students really liked this. The love offering we give them doesn't begin to cover the work they put into this. Marcia washes all the dishes in a little concrete sink in the kitchen. There aren't any cabinets to put anything in. We couldn't do what they do where they are doing it.

First, we thank God for the faithful servants. Secondly, we pray for God's blessing on them as they give so significantly for the sake of the seminary students. Thirdly, we pray for more giving to the seminary so we can adequately pay our staff and provide for the classes. Please pray about what you can do. Send your gifts to Venezuela Now, Inc. at the address in the sidebar.