By Pedro Luis Espinales with Ken Zacharias, Director of Global Outreach
Pedro Luis Espinales, a pastor in the FIEMN, our sister conference, and member of the Anabaptist Emergency Committee, updated us on the pandemic’s effects on Nicaragua and FIEMN within it. Here’s his report with additional thoughts.
Nicaragua is vulnerable in health, economy, and environment. Since 2018 we have been in an economic recession because of the socio-political crisis. Many companies have closed and there are many unemployed people. Then COVID-19 arrived and it spread rapidly through Central America, affecting us with illnesses, deaths, and more unemployment. Continue reading What is Happening Now in Nicaragua? →
What? EMC Missions Wants to Change the Missionary Support Model?
Yes, you read that correctly. The Board of Missions will be presenting a proposal to Conference Council in November for some missionaries. The proposal will be to move from 100% support of ministry to a blended model. The missionary family will raise 40% with the other 60% to come from the EMC General Budget. The change described here only applies to EMC-administered missionaries serving in Guadalajara (Mexico), Bolivia, and Paraguay at this time.
Note: EMC Missions also supports Associate Missionaries who serve with partner agencies. The number of Associate Missionaries has remained about the same since the 1980s and they already operate on a blended model, receiving a subsidy from the General Budget.
Why is the Change Necessary?
The current model has been in place since EMC Missions was founded as a Missions Committee in 1953. At that time, the suggested donation from every congregation was one cent per member per day. Amazingly, this was almost enough to pay the entire cost of the missionaries at that time!
Since then, the number of EMC-administered missionaries grew steadily, along with the finances needed to support them, reaching a high point in the 1980s. This was followed by a period of gradual decline in the numbers of missionaries serving directly under EMC administration. The amount of funding for EMC missions is also declining, especially in the past number of years, while inflation increases the costs of supporting missionaries.
The board recognizes that if the current trends continue, there will eventually be too few missionaries and too little funding available to continue to have a vibrant missions program. In keeping with our EMC Vision statement to be a movement of people advancing Christ’s Kingdom culture as we live, reach, gather and teach, the board wants to see growth in both numbers of missionaries and finances to support them.
How Will this Change Promote Growth?
The Missions sub-committee that developed this proposal researched the current trends and interacted with many other churches and agencies. They also sent out a survey to ask EMCers their opinions about the proposed change.
One of the trends that they observed is that while EMCers continue to be very generous towards missions, they also want to be able to direct their giving to specific projects. They want to have a strong connection to the ministries that they are giving towards. The blended support model promotes this strong connection and allows missionaries the opportunity to develop a larger network of friends, prayer and financial supporters.
To assist missionaries in raising support, the EMC Missions Administration will oversee the development of Home Teams to work alongside existing missions committees and to advocate for the missionaries. The Home Team will provide encouragement, prayer, logistical support, connections, and will generally assist the missionaries in connecting with supporters.
When Will the Changes Happen?
The Board is currently working out the details in the EMC Missions Handbook. The plan is to begin the transition to Home Teams in 2019, and then gradually phase in the blended support over the following three years. Current EMC missionaries are fully aware of the timeline and the changes.
How Can I Help?
We would love to have many people engaged with our EMC missionaries as part of Home Teams and as people who are interested, praying, and giving to these ministries. Please contact the EMC office (email@example.com) and also speak to your local missions committee and/or your church delegates to share your thoughts. Thanks for your support of EMC missionaries!
Did you know that your local church is a Missionary Search Committee?
Pastoral search committee members often find the process to hire a pastor to be a difficult responsibility. It is a time of celebration when the local church has processed a candidate and has hired a pastor for their congregation.
EMC Missions does not form a search committee as we “search for and engage” missionaries. Yet, in a broader sense, we have sixty-four search committees, each one of the churches in our conference.
Churches are encouraged to actively search for potential missionaries in their congregation who have the spiritual character, witness, and preparation to serve cross-culturally.
But what might be improved is how intentionally some churches look for missionary candidates. Church mission committees should see that one of their primary responsibilities to be to look for missionary candidates within their congregation?
How does it work? Well, it works similarly to our Pastoral Search Committees. Each congregation looks for people who could effectively serve. The job description and position are advertised and the search committee begins to discern who is the right applicant for their local church.
Although churches may vary as to specific job descriptions, search committees are united in that the chosen candidate one who is strong in their spiritual character and Christian witness. This is the first requirement, stated or unstated, for all candidates. Standards are high! This requirement is the same for both pastor and missionary.
One mission agency says, “If you are not convinced that the (missionary) candidates exhibit the level of spiritual character that would qualify them to join your own church staff, then don’t recommend them for missions!”
EMC Missions is looking for gifted people with spiritual character to serve in one of more than twenty countries in which the EMC is ministering. The job descriptions vary, but include those who are qualified to serve in both ministerial and professional disciplines and who are gifted to serve, among others, in one of the following professions:
Radio/Media Business for Mission
In 2018 the EMC Board of Missions is praying and discerning for a new destination point for EMC missionaries to enter under its full administration. With an emphasis in church planting, a four- to six-person team is being recruited. We are inviting each one of the 64 church search committees to ask who in your congregation is gifted to be a part of this new team.
The EMC has been blessed as a conference. Within our churches we have ministerial, professionals, and blue collar workers who love the Lord and who are gifted to serve.
Although most positions require a Bible college background, there are positions where this is not a necessity. For some mission opportunities, the candidate will need to work cross-culturally in a language and setting unfamiliar to them.
Search committee work is hard work, but it is rewarding when the church selects and engages both pastoral staff and its missionaries. A Missionary Search Committee can help us do this well.
Northern Mexico: $800 to assist eleven youth to attend a national youth conference in Designation: MW – Camp Ministry
Guadalajara Mexico: $1,500 for a Guadalajara Outreach event. Designation: M1 – Guadalajara Outreach
Paraguay: $500 Assist Chris and Revita Kroeker in receiving training at “Caring for the Heart” ministries in Colorado Springs Designation: P1 – Caring for the Heart
Paraguay: $2,500 Radio Mensajero Daily Program Support (please read the article below describing this project.) Designation: P1 – MBN
To donate to a project, please send it to:
440 Main St.
Radio Mensajero: Daily Program Support
by Friedbert Siemens, director, Radio Mensajero
Radio Mensajero, located in Tres Palmas, Paraguay, has broadcast the Good News of salvation for more than 18 years. When we think of people who have heard this marvelous message, we are filled with joy and thankfulness. Our audience is thankful for a helpful Christian radio station.
God has been faithful and he has put in our path many people ready to pray, encouraging us and giving of their finances.
We have a special project called Daily Program Support available for listeners and supporters to assist with daily costs in running a radio staion. The request is 350,000 Guaranies or about $85/day. Although this isn’t the complete amount to run the station, it assists greatly. Each year we are need more donors, and it would be a great blessing to have donors for each day of the year. I invite you to be part of this project, and be assured that your donation would help us a lot. Thank you and may the Lord bless you!
A total of 33 churches and outreaches—that’s only part of what a half-century of our EMC ministry in Nicaragua has contributed toward! And that’s why the EMC is planning to join the celebration and a learning tour (April 4 to 11, 2017).
EMC Missions began ministry in Nicaragua in 1966 with the efforts of Fred and Doris Friesen. Our sister FIEMN conference, which developed, celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 8, 2017.
Doris Friesen writes, “Can it be that it was 50 years ago that Fred and I did that long trek to Nicaragua, over 5,000 miles by land in our white camper truck, with our two little girls, to a land unknown with only a map and the Holy Spirit as our guide!”
There was “no one at the other end to meet us!” she says. “We were either courageous or fools! But we are never fools when we obey the Lord. And how the Lord blessed us so richly in spite of many difficulties!”
The FIEMN churches and EMC guests will hold a one-day celebration at Camp Maranatha with at least two services and additional prayer services through the night.As part of the event, the FIEMN and the EMC Board of Missions have approved a special project for Camp Maranatha to help replace 80 bunk beds and 160 mattresses. (This will greatly assist the FIEMN and its retreat ministry.
You are invited to attend this anniversary! It will be inspirational and educational. You will be encouraged in your faith.
The story of the FIEMN is one of planting, political revolution, and growth within one of the poorest countries in Latin America—yet you will hear from believers how Christ has blessed them.
Lester and Darlene Olfert, former missionaries to Nicaragua, will lead the Learning Tour as it visits FIEMN churches and ministries (April 4-11). You will meet FIEMN committee leaders and pastors, and appreciate the strong faith clearly evident in believers’ lives and in church life.
You will meet Pastor Gerardo Chavarría, FIEMN’s president, and be challenged by his faith story and ministry example. Gerardo pastors the Diriomito congregation. He is one of two Pastoral Supervisors who visits, every three months, the churches for which he is responsible. These churches are located in the mountaineous region east of Managua, Boaco province, where there are bad roads or no roads. No roads means walking or riding a mule. Ever ridden a mule?
Local pastors, visited in different regions, will share how the Lord has blessed them. You will encounter cultural interests—perhaps the Masaya volcano or a coffee plantation. Do you prefer lava or caffeine?
The trip will cost about $1,800, including flights (more exact pricing will follow). For information on the celebration and tour, please contact Diana Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself (email@example.com).
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference