Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Next Class Offerings - Please Pray

Students and pastors from across Venezuela are preparing to travel, some as much as 24 hours by bus, to attend the December session of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela at our campus in La Piedad, Venezuela.  Normally about 50 students will be engaged in what has proven to be a life changing experience.  The transformation (or formation) of their ministry is resulting in hundreds and thousands of Venezuelans discovering the joy of following Christ and serving him in their very secular country.

December 6-10, 2010:
David will teach The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit, 1 and 2, entire week, 2 credits
Wilmer Perez will teach Inductive Bible Study 2, ½ night class, 1 credit

January 17-21 y 24 - 28, 2011: 
Warren will teach Preaching for Response I , January 17-21.2  credits
David Thompson will teach Church History 1, January 24-28: 2 credits
Dr Alberto Mendoza will teach Auto-Confrontation I at night, January 17-28, 2 credits 

Of course, any of this is subject to change, but is confirmed at this time. Occasionally flight arrangements or other issues force a last minute change.  However, normally the classes occur as planned.  The students are excited to be coming back to the campus, Dan and Nancy are excited to be hosting the classes and God is being glorified in all that happens there.

You can help by sending your gift to Venezuela Now, Inc., PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA  30096.  Help us make an eternal difference in countless lives in this generation and for generations to come.  Through your support the church in Venezuela is experiencing growth like it has never seen before.  Please give generously and sacrificially.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Great Results

I asked Dean Dan to share a couple of recent reports from Venezuela.  What you see below are a few examples of how your prayers and contributions are making a real Kingdom difference in Venezuela.  Please send gifts to Venezuela Now, Inc.  PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA 30096.
This week Wilmer Perez, pastor of a congregation in Nirgua, Venezuela, is finishing the installation of equipment and finishing of interior walls in the kitchen/dining room behind their sanctuary. It will be used for a ministry of feeding 30 senior citizens once per day, Monday - Friday.  When I preached there a few weeks ago and Wilmer shared this vision with me, I mentioned words of congratulations and thanks for addressing community needs.  His reply to me was "I was taught and inspired to do this kind of ministry through the Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela." Pastor Wilmer was in the first graduating class of the Seminary and now teaches the Inductive Bible Courses at the Seminary and serves on the Advisory Group.
Bishop Juvenal Perez preached at Ondas de Paz United Methodist Church on October 17, and 14 people gave their lives to Christ.  Among those 14 was a young man who was a drug addict.  He owed money to his supplier, and that week he went to his supplier and paid his debit, and told him he wouldn't be coming back, because he was a new man in Christ.  The dealer offered him some free drugs, but he continued to repeat "I'm a new man in Christ."  He also burned over 300 CD's that had inappropriate lyrics in them. Bishop Perez is a gradate of the Seminary and the first Bishop of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.
Also on October 17, Franklin and Hilde Perez were welcomed into the United Methodist Church family in Venezuela, as Bishop Juvenal consecrated them as pastors in the UMC.  Franklin and Hilde have taught two workshops now for a local church in Barquisimeto on cell group ministry.  The first workshop was so well-received that the pastor of the church invited 3 pastoral friends from out of town to come to the second workshop, which they did.  Franklin and Hilde are extremely thankful for this and other material they are learning through the Seminary. Both are currently enrolled in the Seminary and through their association with United Methodists at the Seminary made the very prayerful and significant decision to become a part of the work of the UMC in Venezuela.  They are also extremely supportive of the work of the seminary and are giving excellent leadership among the student body.

Dan shares these prayer concerns: 1. financial provision for completing the security fence around the property.  2.God to raise up mission teams to come work at the Seminary. 3, (We add) The needed $30,000 due December 31 for the annual mortgage payment on the property.  If we pay this amount on time, it is interest free (We owe $140,000 on a facility worth over $500,000 and have an interest free loan as long as we make the annual $30,000 payment.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Global Focus Class At Work

 Pray for the Students and Faculty and Staff of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela. Three classes are currently being taught.  See the previous blog post.

Pictured here are students in the Global Focus class discussing how the Gospel first came to their communities/people group. Our Dean, Dan, is teaching this course and handling all the administration of the seminary along with help from Nancy, Sam, Laura, Ana, Marcia and others.  Pray for all involved as these student and pastoral leaders learn to take the whole Gospel to the whole world!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Seminary Expands

After 8 years of operation and significant impact on the pastors and churches of Venezuela, the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela expanded this week offering not just two classes, but three. Rev. Carey Akin, Mission Pastor at Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta, begins teaching today: "Prayer and Devotional Life of the Pastor."  Yesterday Professor and SEMWESVEN graduate, Wilmer Perez, began teaching "Inductive Bible Study I," the first half of a prerequisite course for all subsequent Bible courses in the Seminary.  25 students attended that first class. Additionally, our Dean, Dan began teaching "Global Outreach I," the first half of a powerful mission course. 27 Students attended the first day of the Global Focus course. 

In December Dan will be teaching the "Gospel of Mark" and Professor Perez will be teaching "Inductive Bible Study II." This will be tough week for Dan as he will be teaching a 2 credit course in one week, or essentially teaching all day, every day . Pastor Perez's course will be at night as is the case this week.

This step up to three courses in one week is the precursor to even further expansion of the program. In 2011 we plan to offer courses in back-to-back weeks with a third period of teaching during the middle weekend. For example, the Students would arrive on Campus on Sunday night and begin classes Monday afternoon of the first week.  I would teach Preaching for Response I, and Dan would teach Global Focus II.  On  the weekend Jesus Rivera, a student in the seminary with an advanced degree, would teach Self-Confrontation. The next week Professor David Thompson would teach The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.  (These courses are still being determined, but this is an example). This would allow the students to save a lot of travel time as some are coming from all across the nation and travel as much as 24 hours each way to attend the classes. It will also allow us to offer more courses, and hopefully reduce the amount of time it takes to earn a degree.

Other improvements are in the works and we will share them as they become more definite.  Keep up with what God is doing and pray for the work.

Specifically please pray for:
1. Protection by the Lord of Hosts against the constant attacks of Satan on this work.
2. Safety and security of all the students, staff and faculty as well as the campus and materials of the Seminary.
3. Financial resources.  These expansions come at a price.  However, after much prayer, study and exploration with students, pastors and alumni, this clearly appears to be the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Pray that God will raise up new and generous donors and that our current givers will be most generous.

You can send your gifts to:
Venezuela Now, Inc.
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dan Reports Fom Venezuela

42 Young Adults from Venezuela, Chile, and El Salvador

This week the Seminary has been the host site for a History Makers Conference with 42 young adult Christian leaders.  They have been focusing on 8 core issues related to Christian leadership, with a strong immersion in Biblical foundations.  The eight core issues include Passion for the Harvest, Multiplication, Vision, and Leadership.  In addition to teaching times, the participants have benefited from worship experiences, focused prayer time, and intentional periods of silence to help them listen to God's voice.  The students have been deeply impacted through their participation in this conference.  They have spoken of renewed vision, strong encouragement, fresh insight, increased capacity to lead ministry teams, and closer relationships with Jesus and with one another. 

An exciting facet of this Conference from our perspective is that the leadership of the Venezuelan organizational team is made up entirely of pastors who are either currently attending the Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela, or have already graduated.  This is a testament to the commitment and effectiveness and the pastors who participate in the Seminary training, and we are thankful that the Seminary has played a part in developing these strong leaders.  Thank you for your prayer support and your financial support of the work in Venezuela.  This week, YOU have made a difference in Venezuela, in Chile, and in El Salvador. (The pictures: Leadership Training, History Makers, Leaders of the Event, Skit Portraying Giving a New Heart Through Jesus Christ).

Sunday, September 05, 2010

What Do We Believe at Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela?

Statement of Faith

We Believe:

In the one God, Creator and Sustainer of all things, infinite in love, perfect in judgments and unchanging in mercy.  God exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;

In the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both the Old and New Testaments, the only written Word of God.  The Scriptures are the only infallible and sufficient rule of both faith and practice.  The Holy Spirit enlivens the truth of God’s Word to all people of every age;

That human beings were created in the image of God.  This image was marred in every part through the disobedience of our first parents, and fellowship with God was broken by sin.  God, through prevenient grace, restores moral sensibility to all humankind and enable all to respond to His redemptive love and accept his saving grace, if they will;

Jesus Christ
That Jesus Christ is God’s incarnate Son, born of the virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  He died for the sins of all, taking on Himself God’s judgment upon sin.  He died and three days later bodily rose from  the grave and ascended Heaven where He intercedes for us;

Holy Spirit
That the Holy Spirit is God present and active in the world.  The Holy Spirit was given to believers in the Church in His fullness at Pentecost.  By the Spirit, Christ lives in His church, the Gospel is proclaimed and the Kingdom of God is manifested in the world;

That God graciously justifies and regenerates all who trust in Jesus Christ.  Saved by grace through faith children of God begin to live in holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit;

Entire Sanctification
That God calls all believers to entire sanctification through full surrender and faith. Through sanctifying grace believers overcome sin and live in perfect love for God and neighbor;

Assurance of Believers
That believers are assured that they are children of God through the inward witness of the Holy Spirit with their spirit, receive the gracious promises of the Word to believers and are enabled to bear the fruit of the Spirit;

Witness of Believers 
That Christians are called to live in daily witness to the grace of God in Christ through both faith and action, word and deed.  Believers witness to the will of God for justice, righteousness and mercy in all structures and relationships of human society; 

The Church
That the church is the people of God redeemed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord sharing corporately in the proclamation of the Word and celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.  The church is the Body of Christ visible and present in the world. Its primary mission is to make disciples of all the peoples of the world;

The Second Coming of Christ
In the personal return of Jesus Christ, in the bodily resurrection of all persons, in final judgment and in eternal reward and punishment, the reign of Christ in the ultimate victory over Satan and all evil.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Spiritual Warfare

"You armed me with strength for the battle (Ps 18:39)." We have learned in our work of ministry
for nearly 40 years the enemy will attack when we start to "tear down
the strongholds of the devil." Sometimes the attack is subtle, sometimes
vicious. But the "battle belongs to the Lord."

Many Christians do not get this.  Why?  Because we have ceased to engage in spiritual warfare by so compromising the gospel that it has no power to transform or by simply failing to take on the bastions of evil in culture or individuals or even our own lives. So we wander blissfully from Sunday to Sunday unmolested by the devil.  Why does he not fight against us?  Because we have already surrendered.  This is one of the reasons church fights are usually about insignificant things.  I have seen so called Cristian church leaders almost come to blows over the color of the carpet, the placement of the pulpit, the change in the bulletin, the mural on the wall of the nursery, the setting for the thermostat, the layout of the parking lot, the contract for the insurance, and the list is interinable. This is not spiritual warefare. This is just bickering in the family. War is war!  Bunker Buster Booms dropped into the middle of our lives and ministries make it clear this is not just a family squabble.  An enemy has attacked and seeks to destroy us, our lives, our marriages, our children, or effectiveness, our witness and our ministries. The Bible speaks of this as the "shipwreck of faith."  See more of this at

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August Report

August was a busy month for the work of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela.  We hosted the National International Leadership Institute in which over 30 Venezuelan leaders received this excellent training authored by Wes and Joy Griffin.  We hosted the 3rd Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela at which they reelected Juvenal Perez their Bishop for the next three years.  We held the August classes which involved about 45 students.  The Seminary celebrated its second graduation as 11 students received their Bachelor of Theology (equivalent) Degree after six years of study in this rigorous program. We completed several improvement projects on the campus including air conditioning for the second Men's Dorm Room, air conditioning of the Cafeteria, Roof repairs, new ceiling and lights in the cafeteria and a lot of painting as well as minor repairs.  

David and Carol moved out of the Mission House as they return to the US for a year of deputation work with their supporters and are reassigned by OMS to head the field in Mexico City. We are greatly indebted to them for their years of work in Venezuela..  As they moved out, God called Dan and Nancy to move into the house and take over the management of the Seminary for the next year as Dan writes his PhD. Dissertation.

When we returned from Venezuela we had a great Disciples in Song Reunion Concert at Alpharetta First UMC to benefit the Seminary.  About $6500 was given for this ministry and we hope this can become an annual event.  We are grateful for the 700-800 people who attended, most of whom have been friends and supporters for  many years.

Now we have another great opportunity for you to support the work of the Seminary.  THE HOPE STORE is a ministry selling slightly used items to benefit various missions here and abroad.  We are the recipients of the December net sales.The HOPE STORE collects and sells used clothing and home furnishings, books, baby items, etc. with the financial benefit each month going to a different mission or ministry.

You can help.
Here is what we need you to do:
  1. Organize your local church or community to make a collection of used clothing and furnishings. 
    Deliver the collected items to the HOPE STORE on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 24, 25, 27, 10am - 6pm (arrangements can be made to deliver the items at times other than above). The HOPE STORE will receive, price and store the items until they are put on sale December 1. Unsold items after December 31 will remain in the store for inventory to benefit other ministries.
  3. Publicize the sale in your local church and community encouraging people to shop at the HOPE STORE in December.
The HOPE STORE is located in the Roswell/Alpharetta/Johns Creek community in the Nesbit Ferry Crossing Shopping Center (near Mount Pisgah UMC) at 9850 Nesbit Ferry Road, Suite 10, Alpharetta, GA 30022, at the intersection of Old Alabama and Nesbit Ferry Roads. Learn more about the HOPE STORE at or call Cathy Bailey, THE HOPE STORE at 678-777-2786 or
Help your church become more directly involved in the global mission by supporting these two great opportunities.Please continue to pray for the work of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela. Pray specifically about you or your church or church group sponsoring a student (currently $2500/yr.).  Send your gifts to  
Venezuela Now, Inc. 
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Graduation, August 14, 2010, LaPiedad, Venezuela

Seminario Wesleyano de Venzuela celebrated its second graduation today after its founding in October, 2002.  Eleven students received the "Bachelor" of Theology degree after 6 or more years of rigorous study and work.  Pictured to the left is our oldest graduate: Luis Beltran Figueroa Rojas, "Abuello" to the other students.

These eleven graduates include pastors and Christian lay leaders who are working effectively to reach the lost of Venezuela.  Some of pastors of very large churches and some have recently started new congregations in their own homes.  Others are pastors of multiple congregations scattered as much as 5 hours apart.  Some have endured significant hardship for the sake of the ministry.  All have sacrificed financial gain in order to reach others with the gospel of Christ.

Additionally, the Officers of the Seminary conferred its first Honorary Doctor of Theology and Sacred Letters Degree to Dean David Cosby.  Dr. Cosby has served a lifetime as a missionary, leading others to Christ and equipping the indigenous leaders in Colombia, Hungary, Mexico and Venezuela.  He and his wife Carol finish their work as residents in Venezuela after they are being reassigned to Mexico where he will be the Field Director of the OMS work in Mexico City.

This is a time of transition as the Cosby's leave Venezuela and Dan and Nancy Dunn take over the leadership of the Seminary.  They will be traveling between the US and Venezuela frequently during the next twelve months. Pictured here:  Jane Lathem, Warren Lathem, Dan Dunn, Nancy Dunn, Carol Cosby, David Cosby.  Warren Lathem will continue to serve as President of the Seminary until a new Venezuelan President can be named at a later date.  This is a part of an intentional process of gradually creating indigenous Christian leaders.  Lathem will continue to serve the Seminary in a capacity to his current one, but with more sharing of leadership with the Venezuelans.

The Seminaro Wesleyano de Venezuela has served as the incubator for the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.  This church recently held its 3rd Annual Conference on the campus of the Seminary.  The conference re-elected Juvenal Perez to his second three year term as Bishop of the Church.  This seminal relationship is celebrated by both the Seminary and the Church.

Here the Bishop meets with Drs. David Cosby and Warren Lathem to consult on matters facing the church. This meeting took place immediately  following the graduation celebration.

You can support this ministry by giving to:

Venezuela Now, Inc.
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096.

August at the Seminaro Wesleyano de Venezuela

Wow, what a busy and great month in the Seminary.  It began with an International Leadership Institute national conference in which 32 national leaders were trained to share the learning and wisdom of the ILI here in Venezuela. That was followed by a day-long pastor's conference then the 3rd Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.  Then we had 45 students taking two courses, one taught by Daivd Cosby and the other by me, Warren Lathem. 

Last night we had the Graduation Dinner where we not only had a great meal and were blessed by the music of the Ondas de Paz MC Worship Team, but hear the moving testimonies of all 11 graduates. Today we will have our second graduation and celebrate the great work God has done in the lives of these graduates through the ministry of the Seminaro.

One example was the testimony of Pastor Antonio Toloza, pastor a great church in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He said, "My church talks about my ministry as 'before and after' attending seminary. It has changed the way I do ministry and it has changed the effectiveness of our entire church."

More will follow, but just wanted to give a quick update.  You can send gifts to:
Venezuela Now, Inc.
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Today we were privileged to participate in a joyful and powerful worship experience at Ondas de Paz UMC. Musical worship helped us focus on celebrating God's love in our lives and giving Him thanks and glory, with an exuberant spirit of gratitude and glee. The preaching was strongly based in Biblical truth, with an emphasis upon the full life which God intends for each of us, in conjunction with an emphasis upon honoring God as God rather than attempting to use God for our own ends. Several people made first-time decisions to become Christ-followers (pictured on the left), and there was also a 20-minute time of prayer for married couples focusing on restoration, reconciliation, or renewed commitment. This was a special work of the Spirit for many couples (some of whom are pictured at the right). This local congregation has just recently moved the setting of its worship experiences because it outgrew the former facilities. It is exciting to see how the pastors and lay ministers of this congregation have been impacted by some of the training they have shared in the Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela. God is amazing! Please continue to pray for the UMC of Venezuela (and for all other churches too). There is a great need here for a strong move of the Spirit.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

3rd Annual Conference of the UMC de Venezuela

Bishop Juvenal Perez called to order the 3rd annual conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela at about 3:00 on Friday, August 6, 2010 on the Campus of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela in LaPiedad, Venezuela.  Pastors and laity came from all across the country to be a part of this time of reunion, reporting, worship, celebration and business. As the afternoon session adjourned for dinner, pastors were still arriving by bus from 20-24 hours away.

Pastor Toby Victor Ramirez led the opening devotional time followed by typical spirited Venezuelan singing and worship (Oh, how I long for the Church in the US to experience such vital worship). This was followed by a few words from the Bishop and then I taught/preached on Paul's call to the church at Philippi to "Shine like the Stars in the Universe." Dean Dan Dunn translated for me and did his usual excellent work.  A short break followed (with VZ coffee!) and then pastor Carlos Pirona preached from Exodus and defined the difference between selfish dreams or visions and God's vision and the necessity of the church holding on to the vision of God for the church.  Needless to say, he preached circles around the gringo.

There followed a break for dinner and then the Conference gathered for a time of high worship at the Ondas de Pas UMC in Cabudare.  This church has outgrown its former meeting place and is now renting space in the community of Aqua Viva  Unfortunately, my intestinal bug returned and I was unable to attend.  Hopefully we can get a later report from others who were there.

Today (Saturday) the conference will worship, hear some reports about conversions and new churches, elect their second bishop and close with Holy Communion and commissioning of the pastors.  The Bishop has asked me to take the gavel for the election since he feels to preside at what  may be his own election would be inappropriate.  He has also asked me to Celebrate Holy Communion at the end of the day.

Please keep this conference in  your thoughts and prayers.  God is blessing the UMC de Venezuela with reaching a lot of lost people.  Pray for faithfulness, integrity and strength.

The Seminario Wesleano de Venezuela was the birthing room for this Conference of the United Methodist  Church and continues to provide a critical link for the connection here among the United Methodist churches and pastors across all regions of this large country.

You can help in this work by sending a gift to;
Venezuela Now, Inc.
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096  USA

Monday, August 02, 2010

Article from

Inward or Outward Focus?

I just finished teaching for a day in a State-wide pastor's conference in Venezuela.  I was asked to teach on the Mission Church.  The invitation came from a pastor who was the Valedictorian of the first graduating class of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela ( Pastor Wilmer Perez had taken my course on the Mission of the Church and wanted to introduce his fellow pastors to both the concept and the seminary. He stated to them that going to the Seminary had changed his life and ministry, particularly the course on the Mission of the Church.

One of the primary differences between effective and ineffective churches is the primary direction of their focus.  Ineffective churches are inwardly focused - almost exclusively. Effective churches are primarily outwardly focused.  Ineffective churches consume all given to them (leadership resources, finances, location, facilities, etc.) with centripetal power.  Effective churches multiply resources given through the release of centrifugal energy into the world. Effective churches are about "them," those outside the church.  Ineffective churches are about "us." those inside the church.

This simple comparison and contrast is worth much more examination and something I do in the Seminary course.  However, it is enough of a thumbnail sketch for one to begin to understand the basic difference between the Mission Church and the Traditional or "Chapel" Church.

The pastors in the conference in Venezuela demonstrated this simple, but profound truth in an exercise depicted in the following pictures.  I asked for volunteers and 10-12 people quickly stepped to the front. Then I asked them to form a circle and join hands.  They did what I have seen in every case where I have scores of times asked this to be done.

Then I asked them if they could still hold hands and form a different kind of circle. After some discomfort and confusion they eventually moved to the form of a circle pictured here in which they were facing outward. These contrasting ways to be in community (holding hands) are powerfully demonstrative of the difference between the inward focus or outward focus of ineffective and effective churches.

There are many ways illustrate this and/or examine objectively which one best describes our church.  However, simply asking this question is a great beginning:  "Are we primarily an inwardly or outwardly focused church?"  The answers may help us change the focus and move from ineffective, irrelevant church life to transformational ministry in a lost and broken world.

Friday, July 30, 2010

ILI National Conference in Full Swing

Thirty national church leaders have been meeting this week on the campus of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela for the 6 day National International Leadership Institute conference.  Pictured to the left is Dr. Warren Lathem, President of the Seminary, and translator and Seminary student, Pastor Chris Cisneros as Lathem teaches on the importance of mentoring in the work of raising up the next generation of leadership for the mission of the church.

Several of the Conference participants are students in the Seminary, but many are not currently enrolled and this was their first exposure to the work of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezela.  Many of them expressed to Lathem their appreciation for the opportunity to attend the Conference at the Seminary Campus.  The work of ILI in Venezuela was birthed in the Seminary and is completely in the hands of the national church leaders.

For more on the work and ministry of ILI be sure to visit their website.  Founders Wes and Joy Griffin have provided a critical ministry to the church where people want to share the Good News of the Gospel of Christ,  We are honored to be a partner in this work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ILI at the Seminary

International Leadership Institute - Venezuela

Over 25 pastors are gathered at the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela for an intensive week of training trough the International Leadership Institute (  This leadership training is being conducted almost exclusively by Venezuelans who have been sponsored by the Seminary to receive their own training in ILI at other South and Central American countries. The first Venezuelans to receive this training were Carlos Pirona (the leader of this training event), Victor Ramirez and (now) Bishop Juvenal Perez.

One of the great benefits and multiplied impact of the Seminary is the operation of the Campus during times when the Seminary is not in session.  During its "off" weeks, the Seminary hosts events like this weeklong training for Venezuelan pastoral leaders from various denominations, Marriage Renewal Retreats, Vacation Bible Schools, Bible Camps, Youth Retreats, Retreats for inner city kids, Men's and Women's retreats, Local Church Council Retreats, etc.

Through its Conference and Retreats ministry the Seminary provides a resource for indigenous leaders that was previously unavailable in the central part of the country.  Barquisimeto is the ground transportation hub of Venezuela (similar to Atlanta as the air transportation hub in the US) and as such provides an easily accessible location for nationwide events.  But it is also a city of increasing importance to the entire country and within which is a rapidly growing evangelical Christian community.  The Seminary Campus offers an accessible, comfortable, affordable site for local and national events, a site not otherwise available in the area.

I look forward to being an instructor in the Leadership Institute on Friday and visiting with old friends and making new ones in the evangelical community of Venezuela. Then next Friday the Seminary Campus will host the 4th Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela.  I have been honored to be invited to preach at this conference.  The UMC of Venezuela was organized primarily as a result of the ministry of the Seminary and has had a great part in reaching this nation for Christ.

Please pray for these two national conferences meeting on the Campus of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela and for the August Seminary Class and Graduation which will meet immediately after the Annual Conference.  Send your financial gifts for this ministry to:
Venezuela Now, Inc.
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Celebrating True Freedom

"The one that the Son makes free is free indeed."

July 5 is Independence Day in Venezuela.  It is normally a celebration of that country's independence from Colonial Spain and has the same significance in Venezuela as July 4 in the US. However, this July 5 was a day of even greater celebration for the congregation of the Ondas de Paz UMC in Cabudare, Venezuela.  25 new followers of Jesus celebrated their deliverance from sin and freedom in Christ by taking the vows of Baptism and receiving the holy sacrament.  

This congregation was founded by Efrain and Bethsaida Morales (seen here with daughter, Lim), graduates of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela (now pastors at the Snellville UMC in Georgia). It met in their home in Cabudare until recently when the growth of the congregation required them to relocate to a rented facility for weekly worship. 

Pastors Alexander and Amaryllis Comacho were converted in this congregation and when the Morales' moved to the US, they were given responsibility for the congregation.  What wonderful leadership they have given!  The church is known for its ministry to children and their families. They have a strong missional orientation that causes them to reach out to the community.  This was almost unknown before the Seminary began teaching the necessity of becoming a Mission Church.  They have learned the lesson well and are applying it in culturally appropriate ways and the result is remarkable growth of the Kingdom.

In the last month the Ondas de Paz UMC and the Lugar Altissimo UMC cooperated together in the best of the Wesleyan connectional spirit and conducted joint Men's retreats (19 in attendance) and Women's Retreats (50). (Shown here: Pastor Yolanda Caceido and husband Mariano at a recent Annual Conference)This cooperative spirit is seen throughout the UMC of Venezuela and a large part of this attitude and conduct is fostered by their experience together at the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela.  The pastors at Ondas de Paz are currently  students in the Seminary and the pastor at Lugar Altissimo UMC is a graduate of the Seminary.

The experience of Seminary is of such great importance the pastors and congregations are taking greater ownership in supporting the work (see previous article). For example, pastor Alexander has given days and days of construction labor to the improvement of the campus.  Additionally, when  we were there in March, while he and his wife and their pre-school age son attended class, each day at the lunch break he was laboring as a volunteer in the kitchen.

You can be a part of this great move of the Spirit in Venezuela and see the fruit of your labor bearing everlasting fruit for the Kingdom of God.  How can you do this?  1. Pray for the pastors and churches of Venezuela.  2.  Pray for the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela.  3.  Pray for the leaders of the Seminary. 4.  Give for the work of the Seminary (see below). 4. Help with the Hope Store sale in Roswell in December - more details to come  later.

(Warren Lathem teaching and Dan Dunn translating for a recent Seminary class.)

Please send your gifts for the Seminary to:
Venezuela for Christ, Inc,.
PO Box 1655
Duluth, GA  30096

Thank you for your prayerful and generous support for this work.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July at Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela

Renovation projects continue (See Previous Post) and new projects commence.  Preparing the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela on Campus in August, a week of Seminary classes and Graduation activities.

In the meantime, the Seminary Campus and staff are not idle. A church group of 60 used the campus on Monday, July 5, National Independence Day in Venezuela.  This weekend Ondas de Paz United Methodist Church is using it for a retreat.  Then there are 2 more retreats scheduled this month before International Leadership Institute and the Seminary jointly host a national conference on the campus for the week of July 24 - 31. Pray for Dr. Wes Griffin, the staff of ILI and this Leadership Training ministry in Venezuela and around the world.  We are grateful for the many years of association with Wes and Joy Griffin and ILI.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Campus Improvements Continue After a Great Week of Class

The Seminario Wesleyano leadership continues to invest resources in improving the campus and its function as the primary Wesleyan Theological Seminary in Venezuela and as a retreat center for church groups, annual conferences, etc.  Below are some of the pictures of the work being done before and after the recent class.  Here is what is reported by the Academic Dean, David, about the student body and their shared commitment to this ministry:

"On Monday several students asked David to come outside to their car.  They presented to him an air conditioner to be installed in one of the men's dorm rooms.  The other dorm room has an a/c that was given by two other students in April. The students continue to give to the seminary which now includes these two a/c, sheets for the dorms, Internet router large enough to cover the campus, labor to lay tile in the men's bathroom, and labor to weld the security gate and build the security wall.  David has been involved in training national leaders for over 30 years and in four countries and has never seen this kind of support by students for the institution."
This report is indicative of the unique ministry being done by the Seminary.  The reason students are so involved in it is they understand better than anyone how very effective and important this work is for the Kingdom and their own country. 
Here is the most recently donated air conditioner.
Here work progresses on replacing some of the roof, the broken, stained and dirty tile and installing a higher, better ceiling in the dining hall.  Due to this construction, June students ate their meals under an outside awning.  But this will be complete in time for the August Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela and the August session of the Seminary.  It will be the location of the Friday night Graduation Dinner in August as well.

Also shown here are the new sinks installed in the kitchen and the old kitchen sink that was moved outside the kitchen for various uses.  Can you imagine washing dishes three times a day for over 50 people in that old sink?  Our volunteers and employees did that and never complained.  Someone from the US saw the situation and said, this has to be fixed, bought the sinks and they are now installed.  This is such an improvement.  Other improvements continue as well such as construction of the security fence on the front and back of the property, new airconditioners for the dining hall and the installation of the new units in the men's dorms and other timely improvements. We just finished improving the large staff house on campus where Samuel lives and on August will live with his new wife, Laura after their wedding on Sunday after graduation.

We continue to need your prayers and support.  We also need your financial help and we need ministry teams to come to the Seminary.  For more information contact Warren Lathem at or send gifts to Venezuela Now, Inc. 
PO Box 1655, 
Norcross, GA  30096