Thursday, May 19, 2011

Exciting Developments with the Seminary

Nurys, Dr. Alberto, Professor Wilmer and Dean Dan
We arrived in Barquisimeto late Tuesday.  Wednesday morning Dan received a call from Dr. Alberto Mendoza.. He and Professor Wilmer Perez are teaching an extension class of the Seminary in Nirgua, with 10 students taking Inductive Bible Study I. Inductive Bible Study is the prerequisite course for all the Bible courses taught in the Seminary. Seven of the students are new students and have to have this course to be able to attend future courses in the Seminary.. They needed manuals, Bibles and other materials, which we gladly transported to them. 

Dan and I drove the hour to Nirgua and met with Dr. and Mrs.(Nurys) Mendoza and had a wonderful lunch at their house along with Professor Perez. We discussed some exciting possibilities for the Seminary, especially regarding some extension courses. These two effective pastors and professors believe they can have an extension of the Seminary in Nirgua in the future with a minimum of 20 and probably 30 students attending each class.  We discussed location, housing and possible schedule.  While nothing was finally decided, the conversation was a holy one with considerable possibilities for impacting the Kingdom in Venezuela. Of course, greater ministry requires greater resources, but God will provide.  Remember:  God provides what the mission needs as the mission is able to use it for God's purpose.

They told us the "Methodist Seminary" has the reputation now for being the best seminary in all of Venezuela. They attributed this to the excellent quality of the professors, the high academic standards at the Seminary, the quality of the materials,and the theological integrity of the program. That was great to hear from two pastors, alumni and, now, professors.  One reason this is possible is our schedule of teaching courses in modules of 16 hours per credit hour, 2 credits per week.  This makes the classes accessible and affordable to the students.  Perhaps more importantly, it allows us to recruit the very best professors from all of Latin America and the United States, all of who come as volunteers to teach for a week or two in the Seminary, often at their own expense!
The Beginning of the New Church
Part of the large lot in the Center of Nirgua

Then we visited the new site of Dr. Mendoza's 7 year old church and saw his son and another seminary student working on their new church. God has provided them a generous lot in the center of town and they are working on building a new Worship Center that will be 3 or 4 times the size of their current facility which they have outgrown, They are averaging 120 each week. The new church will also house a medical clinic to service the poor of Nirgua.  The United Methodist Bishop, Juvenal Perez, has begun preliminary discussions with Dr. Mendoza about the possibility of starting a United Methodist University on that site as well.  Dr. Mendoza is a medical doctor and used to be the administrator at the local hospital. But God called him to ministry and he left his full-time practice and started seminary and then planted a church. Both his wife, Nurys and his son, Josue, are currently students in the Seminary.

The Stove and Ovens that will feed the hungry!
Then we went to Wilmer's church and saw all the construction underway there. He went there 8 years ago with 20 people, now averaging 200. Since I had last visited them, they had completed the sanctuary, added a two story building behind the sanctuary housing classrooms, a children's assembly area and a beautifully modern kitchen.  They are almost finished with the construction on the additions.  However, they are negotiating to buy an adjoining piece of property. If they can acquire it they will move their sanctuary to the top floor and more than triple their worship space. 

Cooperatively, these two churches led by these Seminary graduates are developing a "meals on wheels" ministry to shut-in non-members and will be feeding 30 homes later this summer. Both churches and their ministry have been greatly impacted by the Seminary. This is resulting in several young pastors being trained and hundreds coming to Christ. None of this was happening 9 years ago before the Seminary began. Now these pastors and churches are evidencing the very best of the Wesleyan spirit and theology in demonstrating both inward and outward holiness. They preach and live a gospel that transforms the soul and life of the individual and thrusts that individual into making a tangible difference in their world. And they learned this for the first tine in the Seminary. And that education is beginning to impact the whole Protestant (Evangelical) Church in Venezuela.

After these meetings we drove home rejoicing in the goodness of God and the joy of being a little part of what God is doing in Venezuela. Oh, we did buy some oranges, tangerines and avocados, all native to Nirgua.That made our wives smile!