Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exciting Year End Celebration

P. O. Box 1655
Duluth. GA  30096

Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela

Our Mission is to reach the lost of Venezuela. 

Venezuela Now, Inc and the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela were birthed out of the passion for mission at the Mount Pisgah UMC in Johns Creek, GA.  The work in Venezuela began in 1996 and the Seminary was founded in 2002. Eventually, due to circumstances at Mount Pisgah, the Non-Profit and the Seminary had to seek sustenance from other sources, even though many individuals associated or formerly associated with the mission have continued to  
encourage and support the work. Currently many churches support this ministry.

We fulfill our mission primarily through equipping and training pastors, evangelists, teachers, doctors, etc. to reach their nation for Christ. We believe the ROI for the US mission dollar is far better when the actual ministry is done by indigenous leaders, not foreigners.  We desire to develop long term partnerships between congregations in the US and the church in Venezuela. However, the best investment is for the churches here to partner with the Seminary rather than simply build a house or a church. The leaders we train can do those things far more efficiently and more cost effectively than can US mission teams.  We are investing in the future, training pastors and ministers, some of which will continue to provide ROI for 50 years or more.  And if one applies the principle of multiplication that exists in the Book of Acts, the impact is exponential growth.

However, our impact is not only solely in Venezuela.  We also spend a great deal of time teaching and modeling missional service on a global scale, making an impact for Christ across states, nations and continents.  Hence, our students and graduates are actively serving in a variety of capacities in Europe, Columbia, Peru, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and the US.  

One of the by-products of this mission was the formation of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela, organized in August, 2007 and birthed out of the association of pastors attending the Seminary. 

Our goal is to deliver to the Methodist Church in Venezuela a Campus which is fully developed and paid for, and a Seminary which is self-sustaining, led by Venezuelans. In 2008 we purchased our current campus after renting space for the first 6 years of operation.  We bought the abandoned Christian Literature Campus in La Piedad Norte, a suburb of Cabudare, Venezuela close to the state capital city of Barquisimeto. The purchase price was approximately $350,000 US equivalent.  We currently have a mortgage of $80,000 ($20,000 due by December 31, 2012).  We will then have a remaining mortgage of $60,000 left on the original $180,000 interest free loan (as long as the annual $30,000  payment is paid by the end of the year by Venezuela Now, Inc. So far we have been able to make each annual payment). The campus now has a value of well over $500,000 and one local real estate specialist has set the value at just over $1million.

While we have no specific time-line to make the complete transfer, we are making progress. We now have 6 Venezuelan professors (all graduates) and will develop more each year.  We have a Venezuelan administrative team in place and working.  We have a team of Venezuelan advisors (students and graduates) who serve as an unofficial board helping us design a program that is effective in their cultural setting.  We have a Master’s Admission Committee made up solely of students and graduates of the Seminary. They have determined the admission requirements into the Master’s Degree program and will determine which applications to accept and what an applicant will need to do in some prerequisite Wesleyan Seminary Undergraduate courses before admission. (Such as all must have taken the Inductive Bible Study Method only taught in our Seminary in Venezuela, The Mission of the Church course, and others. The maintenance and construction on the campus, including the new Medical Clinic, is all under the direction of Venezuelans.  The Retreat Ministry is also completely in the control of Venezuelans.

The Seminary is the highest quality and most effective theological training currently available in Venezuela. There are many reasons for the effectiveness and high quality of the education in the Seminary.

We offer most of our courses in week-long settings.  Students are often serving as full-time pastors or are bi-vocational.  They are able to devote individual weeks or two weeks at the time to take courses.

We also offer the finest theological faculty in the nation of Venezuela.  Since each course lasts a week, we are able bring in the finest professors and practitioners in the world to teach for a week or two. No professors (foreign or Venezuelan) are paid a salary or honorarium. Most pay their own travel expenses. They understand this is a mission and they gladly give their time and often their money to the seminary to be able to teach.  Therefore, we have faculty regularly coming to Venezuela from the US, Columbia, Mexico and Costa Rica, Ireland, etc.

Since no professor, foreign or indigenous, receives compensation, we are able to provide a very inexpensive education.  The students pay a portion of the room and board and the materials costs and a small tuition cost.  Even this is a real hardship in the Venezuelan economy (the cumulative inflation rate for the last four years in Venezuela is 389%!). Yet if this were a traditional seminary, most of our students could not attend due to cost, time commitment and time away from their ministry. Our undergraduate degree takes at least 6 years to complete and the Masters takes 2 years, minimum.  And our students are already asking when we will start a Phd. Program.  We have no plans to do that, but this is indicative of the value they place on what they call the finest theological education in Venezuela.

YTD Financial Summary

Our 2012 Fiscal Year is not yet complete, but this is the data as of January 1, 2012-December 15, 2012.

Funds received for Operations

Sustaining                      $65,000
Other                                 18,000
Capital                                6,000

Sub total                          $89,000

Special Projects given in 2012

Motor for Ministry Car      $7,000
Urban Farming Project         5,000
Medical Clinic                    80,500
Radio, Puerto Ordaz                500
Bishop's Car                       11,500

Subtotal                           $104,500

Total given YTD 2012:      $193,500

Projected Designated Cash Balances to be carried into 2013
Clinic                                $55,000
Urban Farm Project              5,000
Sustaining                             5,000

Mortgage Due 12/31/12   $20.000   - Currently not in hand, but in prayer

Venezuelan Income:

Additionally, in 2012 we received income in Venezuelan Bolivares at the Seminary which was used for local operations, in addition to our US contributed dollars in the following amounts (USD exchange rates vary, but averages 10/$1 in 2012)
Tuition, Room and Board, Materials, etc.:
 77,618Bs or approximately                                  $7,762.00
Rental Income;
85,357Bs or approximately                                     $8,536.00
Total Received in Venezuela                                 $16,298.00
Enrollment Data

The Seminary currently enrolls approximately 100 students during any given year. Our individual classes on the main campus average an  attendance of 30 and our extension program in Nirgua averages 12 students per class.

In the first 10 years of operation the Seminary has provided 128 individual classes for course credit.

In 2013 the Seminary will provide 24 courses for credit in both the Bachelor and Master Degree programs.

As we add the Masters degree program in  February, 2013,  We expect 20 students to enroll in the Masters of Pastoral Leadership degree.

What is the story of the ministry of our students and graduates? 

Here follows some statistical data.  The story is one only Heaven fully knows because of the scope of their ministry is beyond the ability to capture in statistical data.

This falls into four categories:

Churches served by graduates

We have had 42 graduates.  38 are serving as lead pastors or staff.  They are serving approximately 75 churches, 110 missions and innumerable preaching places such as small groups.

Churches served by existing students

Of the 100 existing students, 60 are serving churches, some multiple churches and missions.

Churches planted by graduates
50 churches

Churches planted by existing students
35 Churches

Missions and Preaching Places Started and Served by Existing Students
75 missions or preaching places

Missional Focus of the Seminary

One of the emphases of the Seminary is to offer effective and practical training to pastors and mission leaders.  We do this in several missional areas:

Church Planting – this is a major emphasis of the program and the expectation is that every pastor plant additional churches. For example one pastor has planted 10 churches. The Bishop not only leads the denomination, but is also a pastor and has personally planted and oversees three congregations.

Discipleship Groups/Cell Ministry – Some of the churches have started as many as 20 small groups or more.  Many of these will eventually become churches. These groups generally meet in homes in surrounding communities, often as far as 20 miles away.

Serving/Justice ministries – in the past, the evangelical church in Venezuela had very little involvement in our Wesleyan tradition of inward and outward holiness, holiness of heart and life. Therefore, they did little to reach out to the community in service.  Now Seminary students and graduates regularly create service ministries such as, Ministry in the prisons (horrible conditions in Venezuelan prisons).  

For example: One student recently did Discipleship Training in a Men’s Prison and 134 inmates were won to Christ, completed the program and received their first Bible. Another example is ministry with families waiting at the local hospital.  A student does this and on one Saturday recently led 150 people to Christ. Students and graduates have started orphanages, ministries with unwed mothers, food ministries, children’s ministries in the poorest communities, medical ministries, educational ministries (For example two of our students who are not Methodist lead their denomination’s Bible training program in three states with over 100 students.   Their material comes right out of their education in the Seminary.)

Specifics on giving opportunities to the Seminary

You can sponsor a student: $1,200 per Year
A week of class: $7,000
Food for a week of Seminary: $500
Provide books for a seminary class: $500
We have 24 classes scheduled next year.
Give to pay off the existing Mortgage: $80,000
Endow an Academic Chair:  $100,000 (this amount designated in our Endowment fund for a specific Academic Chair such as Evangelism, Church Planting, Missions, etc. would provide the expenses for a professor to teach in the designated subject area each year.)

Additionally, we are constantly having to raise money for special projects, like the medical clinic, Ministry Vehicles, Capital improvements like adding classrooms, dorms, furnishings, Security wall construction, Water Plant, etc.

We have just this month (December) formally organized an Endowment Fund and have our first commitments to that fund.  We hope it will provide ongoing funding.  Several donors are looking at “end of life” giving or estate giving. We expect this to help secure the future of this ministry.

Historic Ties to Mount Pisgah

The connection to Venezuela began in 1994 when Mount Pisgah began its Hispanic Ministry under the leadership of Carlos Gonzalez, a Venezuelan native. After conversations with the North Georgia Presiding Bishop, Lloyd Knox, and subsequently with Bishop Paulo Lockman of Brazil, Carlos was recruited to finish his theological education in Atlanta and then return to Venezuela to formally start the work of the UMC in Venezuela.  He traveled there in May, 1996 to make the first exploratory contacts with evangelical Christian leaders in Venezuela. His purpose was to explore possible partnerships for the work.  Traveling with him were Ray Lathem, son of Warren and Jane Lathem, and Roger and Dana Lane.  Ray was preparing for ministry and serving in the Hispanic Worship Service at Mount Pisgah.  Roger and Dana were teachers who felt called to give at least a year to teaching in Venezuela.  They were all killed on May 11, 1996 in the ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades.  The mission and all the contact information died with them. Or so we all at Mount Pisgah thought.

However, the next year, Bishop Palomo of Costa Rica made contact in Venezuela with some of the same Christian leaders the Mount Pisgah team had met. He asked Dr. Lathem if Mount Pisgah would fund a Venezuelan missionary he wanted to send to Venezuela to start the Methodist work there.  Mount Pisgah did fund that individual for a number of years.  However, it became clear the most productive way to advance the mission was in training pastors in Venezuela and the focus shifted to the Seminary.

The Seminary was founded in 2002 by Bishop Luis Palomo, Dr. Warren Lathem, current President, and Dr. Dan Dunn, current Academic Dean, and Dr. David Cosby, Dean of Students. 

The North Georgia Conference, the Kentucky Conference and the Red Bird Missionary Conference have been significant in their support of the work in Venezuela.  Additionally many United Methodist Churches and individuals have given ongoing support to the work.

Our provision has been by the grace of God. Our trust remains sure.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

For An Evening of Celebration and Appreciation

For An Evening of Celebration and Appreciation

the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of the founding of the
and to say THANK YOU to the supporters
who have made this WORK OF GOD possible.

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 6:30 P.M.
Alpharetta First United Methodist Church
63 Highway 9, Alpharetta, GA 30009

Please respond by November 15 to Oliver Porter at

This Dinner Event is Sponsored by Family Private Care
Providing Personalized Assisted Living at Home
We hope you will join us for this event! The meal will be delicious Venezuelan food including Arepas! And it is FREE, thanks to our sponsor Family Private Care. Would you be willing to fill a table of 8 by bringing some friends who may not already be supporters of the work of the Seminary?
The program will include some Venezuelan praise music, great food, an inspiring report from Academic Dean Dr. Dan Dunn, and a report from President Dr. Warren Lathem on some upcoming events, current progress and some future opportunities. Of course we will solicit your prayer support, your gifts, and your participation in this great work.
Children as young as 6 using drugs to assuage hunger? Ever wonder why a Seminary in Venezuela? Click HERE for some facts about the reasons.

Want to "heal the sick?" HERE is a Link to give you the most current information on how our new Medical Clinic is progressing at the Seminary:

Is there really a battle for the souls if the people of Venezuela? READ THIS.

Would you like to help with this great work? HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP.

How can you give?
You can send a check to Venezuela Niw, Inc. PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA. 30096
Or you can Donate Now via PayPal by clicking on the following:

We hope to see you November 30 as we celebrate 10 years of ministry with Eternal Significance!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Medical Clinic Construction Begins at the Seminary

The Medical Clinic Construction at the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela is moving rapidly, given readabilities of life here. All the foundations for the columns (over a dozen) are about 4'x4'x4' and all dug by hand. Moving utilities since
there is no, "call before you dig." Rebar on site, (a big deal here right now). Pray for all the children, homeless, sick, old, needy people who will receive healing through this clinic and discover the joy of following Christ. Remember, the community of LaPiedad has no available medical care. It will, by God's grace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

6 Year Old Drug Addicts?

I came home to my wife and told her about an event at the Seminary today.  We both cried.  She has not stopped weeping over the following.

This week of Seminary the class is led by Edwin and Sonia from Costa Rica, practitioners of a remarkable ministry to poor children, youth and at-risk families. As they were talking today about ministry with poor children in Venezuela, they inquired of our students as to the current situation in their communities.  One of our students and a UMC pastor reported that some children as young as 6 years old are using drugs because they are hungry and have no money for food, but drugs are easily accessible and blunt the pain of hunger.   

This is in a country where at least 60% of the population lives in poverty, much of it abject poverty.  For example, this week I bought a large watermelon and 12 bananas.  The cost in US equivalent currency for a Venezuelan: $20.00USD.  That is about one day’s pay, if one can find any work. 

Do you need another reason to support the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela which is equipping young, enthusiastic Christian leaders to reach this nation for Christ, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to heal the sick and so much more?  We are blessed beyond imagination. We get to work with these amazing emerging leaders in ministry to the “least of these.”

Monday, October 08, 2012

Seminary Brochure


Thursday, August 23, 2012

 On August 18, 2012 we celebrated the Graduation of 17 students who invested 5-6 years of hard academic work to earn a Licenciatura en Thologia (Bachelors of Theology in the US).  Most of these graduates are involved in remarkable ministries, from church planting to prison ministry, to food ministries to healing ministries to evangelism, to cell group ministries, to teaching ministries and more.

What a joy it is for our faculty and staff to see the progress made in their spiritual growth and development and to see them applying their education to the real task of Making Disciples in Venezuela.  These good people labor in very difficult circumstances, some in extreme poverty for the sake of the Gospel.  We are humbled by their example and their faithful service.  They are reaching a nation for Christ and we are grateful for the partnership we have with them in ministry.

Thank you for your giving and your support.  You read in our previous post about our immediate need for money to finish the Master's Classroom needed for class to begin there in January.  Praise God, He has supplied that need and the construction is scheduled to begin next week.

Thank you for your prayers and your faithful giving.  God is blessing the work here in Venezuela with great fruit of your labors. Glory be to God!

See our Seminary Website in Spanish:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

An Immediate Open Door of Opportunity

We have a very specific need at the Seminary Wesleyano de Venezuela this week.

God has provided one of our graduates, Julio, a pastor and general contractor who lives 24 hours away by bus, to come and work on the property.  He and his team of five will construct more needed security walls around the perimeter of the property – something that is becoming more and more critical due to the life situation for so many in Venezuela.

Julio will also be able to bring two additional workers with him to finish the Master’s Classroom/Library which we have to provide for our Master’s classes beginning in January.  These men work for simply a small honorarium, plus meals, travel, and housing.  This is a great opportunity for us to get this space finished at a very low cost.  However, we have not budgeted this additional money and we need it now.

For just $3,000 we can finish this space and have it ready for the Master’s Classes.  Can you help today? Please pray about this and if God is laying it on your heart, send a check to Venezuela Now, Inc. at PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA  30096 or give via PayPal by clicking on the following:

Why is this so important?  Here is a report we received last week from one of our students who will be in this Master’s Degree program:
Pastor Guillermo is the pastor of a large church in Barquisimeto. He told me they started a new congregation 4 Sundays ago north of town. They have already acquired about 2.5 acres, large by Venezuelan standards. This past Sunday 156 attended and over the last 2 weeks 18 have become followers of Jesus. He said God laid this effort on his heart in a course I taught not long ago. WOW! Thank you for your prayers and financial support for this work. Lives are being transformed.

Help us if you can.  Saturday (later today) I will perform the wedding for one of our graduates and preach in a great evangelistic service on Sunday afternoon in the church of a graduate.  Then Monday I begin teaching Evangelism in the Book of Acts.  Friday and Saturday of next week we will see 17 students graduate with a Bachelors of Theology degree, celebrate our 10 year anniversary of the Seminary and break ground for the new Medical Clinic on the Campus.  Please pray for all this.

Thank you for all your help and prayers in the past. Your support is bearing fruit, “fruit that will remain.” Help us keep this ministry growing as these passionate followers of Christ are equipped to reach this nation and the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

In Christ,
Warren Lathem

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Worship in Venezuela Today - Bishop Asbury Would Approve!

We engaged in a remarkable worship service today at Restauracion UMC in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Ten years ago this was a congregation meeting on this corner behind a partially completed perimeter wall and a gravel floor.  Now it is the largest UMC in Venezuela.

As we worshiped, there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I could not help but think: "This is what made Methodism so contagious in Great Britain and the US in the 18th and 19th centuries." We heard the spontaneous testimony of a young mother whose 2 year old son was healed of a terminal kidney disease.  This was confirmed by a medical doctor.  Several people came to faith in Christ.

The entire congregation was overwhelmed by the tangible presence of the Spirit as there was weeping and praying and singing and shouting and some folks so overcome by the power of the Spirit, they fell to the floor.  Some were overtaken with shaking.  Most, if not all, were visibly moved including this preacher. I am not a scholar of Methodist History, but this reminds me of my Methodist roots. 

It also makes me weep for the church in the US to experience this outpouring of the Holy Spirit again in my lifetime. Further, it makes me wonder if I should spend the time I have left in the kind of worship we experienced today! While this church is the largest UMC in Venezuela, this kind of worship is not unique to this congregation. It is indicative of what we experience in most of the worship services here. No wonder these congregations have such a powerful witness in a pagan culture and lives are being transformed.  Oh, how God must smile upon the vitality of the church here!  What a blessing it is for this old man to be a part of what God is doing in this country. 

Is this the only place in the world this is happening? Praise God, no.  But it is happening here.  Pray for more laborers in the harvest field here, especially with the Seminary. The preacher today, an associate, while a student in the Seminary, heard God's call to plant a new congregation. It is one of ten currently started by this church. The pastor and his wife are returning tomorrow from a mission trip to a neighboring country - another answer to prayer.  So blessed today!!!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

150 Accept Christ in One Day at a Venezuelan Hospital

Dear Friend of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela,

The primary objective of this letter is to say “Thank you, and may God bless you” for your past support. The secondary reason is to give you an update on some of the wonderful things God is doing in Venezuela. Thank you again for your support of this vision!

I want to invite you to watch a video of the Mission Service of the Kentucky Annual Conference this past June. I was privileged to preach this service and invite people to engage in the work of mission in the world. Bishop Lindsey Davis, our host and friend, said it was the first time in his experience that an invitation to missionary service has ever been given at an Annual Conference Session. God graciously moved on the congregation, and several answered God’s call to mission in that service. Simply “click” on this link to celebrate with us God’s blessing on that event:

Additionally, the Conference received an offering for the construction of a Medical Clinic on the Campus. Approximately $40,000 was given for this cause which will allow us to break ground on this new addition to the ministry of the Seminary. We will do that as a part of our Graduation and 10th Anniversary Celebration Weekend later this month. We are praying this will be the seed of the first Methodist Hospital in Venezuela!

Please consider giving a gift for this work. We stretch every charitable dollar as much as possible to provide an excellent, accessible, affordable theological education to equip pastors and lay leaders to reach the lost of Venezuela. These students are engaged in remarkably effective ministries resulting in countless people coming to know Christ. This nation, and indeed the whole region, is being eternally transformed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Secondly, we are building a great team of Prayer Partners for this ministry. The Students, Faculty and Staff are engaged in true Spiritual Warfare, and we/they desperately need your prayer support. Dr. Gayle Arnold, Director of Prayer Ministries, is building this remarkable team. Please consider becoming a participant in this ministry. To volunteer, go to

We have a very full August ahead of us. Here is an abbreviated list of the major events in the life of the Seminary in August:

Dr. Dan Dunn, Academic Dean, teaching the Gospel John, Main Campus.
Warren Lathem teaching Preaching for Response II, Nirgua Extension.
The Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Main Campus.
Warren Lathem teaching Acts of the Apostles, Main Campus.
Graduation of 15 new graduates, Main Campus.
Celebration of the 10 Year Anniversary, Main Campus.
Groundbreaking for the Medical Campus, Main Campus.

Last month we received a great testimony from one of the students in the Seminary. Francisco Ramon Gonzalez. This month he will receive his Bachelor of Theology Degree after 6 years of study. He will then enroll in our first Masters of Church Leadership degree program starting in January. Francisco serves in the city of Valera. He was a lay person when he started in the Seminary, but had struggled with a call to plant a new church. It was during one of the Seminary classes in 2010 that he finally surrendered to that call. This was primarily due to the support of his fellow students. He has since been most happy and is active in ministry in the new congregation he planted.

Here is his testimony:
“Hello, my brothers & sisters in Christ. Peace and blessings and greetings to your beloved families. I thank God for his goodness and rich blessings, and for placing in your hearts to do mission in our country, and give us those teachings that we needed so much to put into practice to try to change the face of this nation and reach the lost for Christ.
“I thank God for your purpose to offer the Master's program. We ask that the All-Powerful would fill you all to the brim with his infinite blessings.
“Concerning my experience with the subject of sanctification, I had many erroneous concepts, some of which I was trying to handle but others of which were unknown. John Wesley's point of view is important. He refers to sanctification as a particular state of sanctification, moral purity, fidelity and transparency before God and men. This is something that must be taken seriously and we should be concerned a great deal about entering into it (sanctification). This dimension guarantees us a quality of life both natural and supernatural in this life and in the life to come.”

Thank you for providing the opportunity for students like Francisco to be both transformed by the Gospel and to have a transforming ministry in his country. Just imagine all the children and adults we will see in Heaven because of your faithfulness!

Last night Dan shared with me this testimony: After a recent Evangelism Class taught by Dan, one of the students and an associate pastor, took seriously the material, taught his lay team an effective method of evangelism, and took them to the local hospital. The hospitals in Venezuela typically have no waiting area for families of patients, so the area around the hospital is full of concerned loved ones. They shared with these distressed and tired families the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ and that day 150+/- people became followers of Jesus Christ. God is doing amazing things in Venezuela. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Do you want your congregation to develop an excitement for missions and make a difference in the world? Consider recruiting a team to come help with this amazing work. Partner with what God is doing here and make an eternal as well as temporal difference for Christ and the people God loves, some of whom are the poorest of the poor.

Simply make your check to Venezuela Now, Inc. and mail to PO Box 1655, Duluth, GA 30096 or give through Pay Pal using the following link:

Thank you for all your help!

In Christ,
Warren Lathem