Nine days in Venezuela
The trip to beautiful Venezuela went well. There were no unusual “challenges” as there sometimes are. work began with an on-time arrival in Caracas. Before leaving for Camp Carabobo, 150 miles west, I preached Sunday morning at Adam’s church, Grace Community Church where three young people trusted Christ as Savior. There I greeted a few “old friends,” but mostly made “new friends,” because the work is growing with new people being added. Not only is Adam Nathanson an outstanding interpreter, he is a very effective missionary-pastor-leader.
We arrived at Camp Carabobo in the late evening and settled in our rooms at the Baptist Intercultural Missions Training Center, a beautiful facility built by mission money from the states, on the seventy-acre plot of land (one of the most beautiful settings I have witnessed anywhere in the world). There choice young men and women are being prepared to serve either here or in other nations, as church planters. Their degree of commitment, along with their youth and vigor, was something to see and sense. I taught the prayer seminar to second year students—very well received. I was impressed with the quality of the program, excellent materials and excellent teaching.
The “main event” that brought me was the prayer seminar/evangelism clinic—preparing workers to evangelize four western states (Portuguesa, Maridi, Lara, and Zulia) working with local churches. Hundreds are involved in this project—those going and those receiving and caring for them in their areas. The response was beautiful with God’s children receiving the Word with gladness and excitement fueled by the March seminars in twelve cities (1,600 participants, including 140 pastors, from 183 churches). A well-written, comprehensive orientation manual had been prepared for each participant, as well. As an educator, I was impressed with the quality of the preparation.
Over decades, the Baptist work was led by missionaries who followed the missionary mandate given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 to go into all the world preaching the Gospel, making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them. . Several years back, the work was turned over to the people. There are few missionaries left to serve the churches in a supporting role in myriad servant ways. Three were teaching at the missions training center and are doing a great job.
The spiritual need here is all around with the fields white to harvest. Satan’s arsenal includes a variety of weapons including superstition, magic, witchcraft. Sadly, the largest number of people are living in the darkness of Catholicism, which leads them to think they are Christians because they know and “love” Jesus with a personal relationship with Him that begins when one trusts Jesus. Thousands upon thousands are in the latter category, as is true in other Latin nations.
The only solution to the problem is what the Baptist leaders and churches are discovering. Prayer is the work that must come before all other work So, first mobilize prayer warriors and then teach them to purpose and power of prayer. Teach them to pray. They have then adopted for the whole nation Psalm 126 as the rallying call to go forth with the Word of God believing that “they who sow in tears will reap in joy. He that goeth forth weeping shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing the sheaves with him. I look forward to hearing the results of the noble effort of evangelistic sowing and reaping that is scheduled for the new few days in the four western states.
Following the work at Camp Carabobo, Adam and I traveled to Valencia, a large city (two million), in the area. On Saturday, pastors and leaders representing seven church from the region gathered for an all-day prayer seminar. On Sunday, I preached the morning message at the First Baptist Church, Valenica.
It was a memorable, fruitful nine days with souls save, and Christians edified and equipped to evangelize. The unction and the power of the Holy Spirit was very real. Thank you for your financial and prayer support that made this venture possible. 2010 will be remembered as the year when JGHM was able to impact hundreds of churches and hundreds of pastors in one nation over two trips. The only comparable experience was the prayer seminar in Borneo (East Malaysia) when over 500 pastors participated. Adam Nathanson and I have agreed to return in April 2011 to duplicate the work in the eastern section of Venezuela.