SEMILA GRADUATION

The Latin American Intercultural Seminary (SEMILA) celebrated its 7th graduation recently. Nestor and Donata Duque are Church of God associate missionaries. Nestor, as president of this excellent institution, is pleased to acknowledge 52 graduates of all degree levels (Bachelor’s and Certificate). The majority of the graduates are Quichua pastors and church leaders, all of whom will return to their communities in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. They have a great passion to continue to build God’s Kingdom among the poor and most needy.

SEMILA graduation ceremony

One of the graduates is Fransisco Asitimbay, a well-known Quichua worship singer in Ecuador. While he was studying at SEMILA, he received a calling to pastor. Francisco finished his education and now is in the transition to pastor a church in the Quichua community of Quisapincha. His wife and son also graduated with him! Kelly Vargas, an Afro-Ecuadorian woman, completed her Bachelor in Pastoral Studies and she planted a new church near the border of Peru. She traveled at least seven hours to attend class. Her husband will continue his pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree at SEMILA.

SEMILA is committed to its mission to equip Christian leaders for Christ-centered and Spirit-filled ministries by providing biblical, theological, missiological, and practical education. In 2015, SEMILA was certified as a Church of God Level III Granting Institution.

Besides running the seminary, the Duques also direct a daycare for the poor in the community. Forty-five children, ages 1-3 are assisted daily at their facilities, and they receive three meals a day. The Duques pastor a multicultural church called Iglesia de Dios, “Voluntad de Dios.” On the weekends they direct a knitting project for Quichua women. The Duques go to their communities and provide Bible studies, knitting courses, and spiritual retreats. They experience true joy seeing women build their self-esteem and seeing them grow into strong women of faith.

As missionary educators, the Duques give God all the glory and honor, and are thankful to be part of this mission story among the Quichua people group and the low-income pastors.

Thank you to those who stand with them in this ministry of changing lives.

Donate to SEMILA: 102-9034
Donate to Nestor & Donata Duque: 065-0495

UNIQUELY CALLED AND UNIQUELY QUALIFIED

Natural disasters produce a variety of ministry opportunities, but the opportunities in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria are unparalleled.

Career Medical Missionaries Silvina Gonzalez Barrera and her husband, Guillermo, are in Puerto Rico to lend medical assistance to those desperately needing attention since the hurricanes nearly demolished the island recently.

PR Damage

International World Missions Director Dr. David M. Griffis states: “The Barreras areuniquely called and uniquely qualified for this endeavor. Their willingness to go to a severely affected area speaks of their dedication and devotion to do God’s work anywhere. God has ordained this opportunity for them to be a blessing in an overwhelming situation.”

The goal of the Barreras is to provide psychological assistance and counseling, especially to pastoral families and leaders, at a time when many are greatly discouraged. Medical assistance will also be administered to the leadership families, along with helping communities where Churches of God are located; specifically, San Juan, Mayaguez, Las Marias, and Ponce (13 districts of the island).

Facing the challenges of no water or power as yet, and roads and routes still complicated in reaching areas in need, the Barreras will also conduct workshops targeting post-traumatic stress. They feel no sacrifice is too great to lend their valuable help for the bleak future ahead for Puerto Rico.

International World Missions Assistant Director Dr. M. Thomas Propes says: “World Missions is grateful to be a part of the restoration process following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Your faithful donations have made it possible for Church of God World Missions to send Drs. Guillermo and Silvina Barrera to Puerto Rico to provide much needed care. May God bless the efforts of this talented couple in Puerto Rico!”

Project #065-0502

HOPE FOR THE DUMP

Hope for the Dump ministry in Asuncion, Paraguay, cares for the children living in the city dump.

Earlier missionaries to Paraguay, Paul and Rhonda Stockard, were deeply moved when they realized no one was trying to alleviate the situation of children living in the dump. The couple set about establishing a relief program to help them. Formally known as “Children of the Dump,” the dump was home to children who were oHope for the Dump Kidsrphaned for various reasons. The children made make-shift shacks and sorted through the dump contents to sustain them. It was a pitiful existence.

Thanks to the efforts of the Stockards, the new administrators Todd and Rhonda Taylor, are continuing the ministry to even greater heights and have given the ministry a new name: “Hope for the Dump.” Along with being fed and clothed, the children are given an education in a private school just for them, and clean water is provided, as well. Hope for the Dump continues to provide care and support to the most at-risk children in the capital city.

Relationships are being built, and lives are being changed. Families are coming to Christ because of the dump ministry. One family of seven recently accepted Christ on a Sunday morning. The entire family came to an altar of repentance.

World Missions’ emphasis “True Love for Children” is an essential part of assisting ministries such as Hope for the Dump. International World Missions Director Dr. David M. Griffis and Assistant Director Dr. M. Thomas Propes are adamant about serving orphans, no matter where they are, because World Missions leadership realizes the church of tomorrow is residing in the children of today.

Give to Project #497-0091

I WAS THERE

I was there! Or, more correctly, we were there. My wife and I had landed on the island of Puerto Rico a few days earlier at the invitation of two churches from the Disciples of Christ. While there, we also had plans to do two more things we normally do when we visit the island: we wanted to be active in some sort of ministry connected with the Church of God, and Ada and I wanted to visit with friends and family.

Victor and Ada Pagan

The first part of the agenda was completed September 16th when VIDA Foundation partnered with the Theological University of the Caribbean to sponsor a seminar on Pastoral Care. The next day, we ministered at one of the aforementioned churches. On Monday and Tuesday (18th and 19th), we visited with relatives. On the 20th, Maria arrived! Yes, we are talking about the Category 4 hurricane which hit the island of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Needless to say, the rest of the agenda seemed gone with the wind. The pastor from the second church called to cancel the scheduled services for Thursday and Saturday. Sunday was put on hold, but by Saturday, it was confirmed that one combined service would be held instead of the two regular services usually conducted at the church.

I was amazed at the courage of the people. A poster on a wall read, “We shall rise stronger.” Some had to drive on flooded roads, around fallen trees, and over electrical lines. A generator gave us some power—not enough for the air conditioner to work—but at least, we could use a microphone. Our praise and worship had no obstruction rising to the heavens, because the roof of the building was, in reality, gone. It was a scene to behold some 500 brothers and sisters hugging, kissing, crying, and comforting each other. The Holy Spirit got involved with His presence, and His peace was felt in a real and quiet manner; in clear contrast to the noisy and intimidating winds brought by Maria.

As I write this, I sadly report that more than five weeks have passed since Maria, and the pace of recovery is extremely slow. The number of casualties is already over 50. Many are now learning of property losses, including Ada’s sister who lost her house. People were dismissed from their jobs, others’ working hours were reduced. Those, who can afford it, are moving to the States, some permanently.

As a Puerto Rican, I am grateful for the impactful response and assistance we have received from Church of God World Missions. The leadership of World Missions has been concerned about the state of the church in Puerto Rico from the onset. Other agencies and ministries, like Operation Compassion, have also assisted. It should be noted that Bishop Angel Marcial from the Southeastern Hispanic Region has led a remarkable effort collecting and sending goods, money, and generators to Puerto Rico.

Finally, a word of caution … we still have among us evil people who would take advantage of the pain of others to help themselves. Don’t become a victim by sending money to people you don’t know or agencies that are not trustworthy. Be a wise and a good steward of your financial resources. World Missions has established a project number, 765-0036, for those interested in helping Puerto Rico or any other of the Caribbean Islands affected by the recent hurricanes.

Dr. Victor Pagan
Former World Missions Assistant Director

 

BABY LIAM MAKES IT BEFORE THE STORM ARRIVES

September was supposed to be such an exciting month for my family.

My youngest sister was having her first baby. She and her husband are pastors of a small church in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. Our flights were booked and we were eager to meet the newest addition to the family at the end of the month.

Then, we got word that Hurricane Maria was headed for Puerto Rico on September 21—that was my sister Natalia’s due date. Due to the threat of the hurricane, her labor was induced to avoid going into labor during the storm. Complications developed after being induced and she began hemorrhaging; an emergency C-section was performed. We received word she was okay and the baby was fine, but then all communication ceased. Hurricane Maria hit on the 21st and tore through the island.

Baby Liam

What a sense of devastation and helplessness! Our family here in the States had no way of knowing if our family in Puerto Rico was all right. We only knew what the media was reporting, and we were extremely worried; a feeling of desperation settled over us. We finally heard through other people that my family was okay and on October 3rd, I was finally able to speak to my sister. She had traveled over an hour to get a signal to contact us and let us know how they were doing.

Today, they are still without electricity and endure very long lines everywhere they go to purchase fuel and food. In the midst of it all, our family has been able to see God moving in their lives and taking care of them. Random people have stopped by their house to drop off water and formula, and just recently a few US Army Soldiers dropped off three cases of water, three packs of diapers, a cooler of canned foods, Lysol, and bug spray.

We are extremely thankful to them and for their generosity. The icing on the cake was that the soldier took a picture and we finally saw a picture of Baby Liam. PTL!

—Yvette Morales
Assistant Manager
World Missions Donor Relations

To give to continued recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean, go to cogwm.org/caribbeanrelief.

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CLEAN WATER FOR FAILED INFRASTRUCTURES

With so many needs, especially for clean water, that have come about from the unprecedented, continuing disasters, have you perhaps asked yourself the question: “What more can I do?”

We have an answer … the Basic Clean Water System, performed though a filtration, microfiltration, and ozone disinfection process. The process time and capacity is 300 gallons per hour at 5 gallons per minute per batch!

Ecuadorians with clean waterTypically, the water systems are installed in churches, orphanages, safe houses, education centers or medical clinics, and can provide sufficient clean drinking water for an entire community at very lost cost (1/2 cent­­—1 cent per gallon)­. An essential part of the installation process is the health and hygiene education program that teaches about germ theory, proper hygiene, proper use of clean water, and most importantly, God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, the True Living Water. ­­­­­­

Just Like God Missions is the ministry of John and Lynnette Garrison who install these wonderful clean water systems … their claim to fame is they’re just “ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God!” They have left impact with the water systems in Iraq, Haiti, Guatemala, with trips now planned for Uganda, Ecuador, and Colombia, as well as locations possibly in other areas of Latin and South America.

The Garrison’s goal is to install these systems in as many orphanages, safe houses, ministry locations, and communities as possible—a tool that can be used to produce life-saving clean water and a tool to share the gospel of the “Living Water” that promises eternal life!

To offer your prayerful and financial support, you may contribute through World Missions, #065-0935.

SUMMERTIME FUN

The children of Project M:25 eagerly anticipated the fun summer programs, including Vacation Bible School, sponsored by the Lynch Family Missions, missionaries of Church of God World Missions.

It’s a thought we likely don’t recognize, but fun convinces kids that you actually like them. The enjoyment helps to reconnect what has been disconnected, fosters resilience, and indicates forgiveness. Fun, over time, even helps friendships go deeper. Now, who would’ve ever thought there was so much attached to just having “fun!”Lynch and child

At VBS this past summer, the plans were sure to include lots of fun. For six days, the children learned about God while making crafts, eating delicious snacks, and, of course, having fun.

One child, Abi, has been attending since preschool. Her mom is actively involved in the Women’s Bible Study group. Eight-years-old now, Abi has become a great little evangelist, witnessing to other children. Her family was also a recipient of one of the water filtration systems (Give Water Project), and the family has seen remarkable improvement in the kids’ health. The entire family has been transformed, spiritually and physically, by their encounter with Christ.

Project M:25 is committed to providing care for preschoolers so their older brothers and sisters can also participate in the nutrition, education, and enrichment activities. The project has far-reaching ramifications, and God is blessing the efforts.

Give to this project, #102-9249

GOD’S LOVE FOR ORPHANS

Church of God World Missions has never been slack concerning providing for the orphans. Some of its earliest endeavors were establishing orphanages and feeding programs for the abandoned.

Some years ago, Tony Lane, Coordinator of Children’s Ministries, made a trip to Poza Rica, Vera Cruz, Mexico, and discovered a situation that left its imprint on his heart. From that time since, Tony has put concerted effort into helping assist the endeavor.

Poza Rica became a city of the oil industry. Men left their families behind to work. Prostitution became prominent and left many unwanted children on the streets. They became survivors and sought shelter wherever they could find it, lived by begging and stealing, and slept wherever they could find a place. Paint thinner and cheap drugs became a way of escape from their despair.

Many children found land beneath a bridge for a temporary home. Pastor Elias and Teresa Herrera saw the great need, and took clothing and food to them, some as young as two years old. One 12-year-old girl had given birth to a baby and was raising the baby under the bridge.

The Herreras opened their home and the church parsonage to give the children a place to live. Difficult to house children in such small quarters, they persevered; children were house for the first six years in two Sunday school classrooms.children at orphanage

But, God had a plan! With the assistance of many donors and the oversight of the project by Tony Lane, land and property were purchased and a building was built with a kitchen, dining hall, and 12 bedrooms, along with a separate bathhouse. Later a new house for the director and his family was built, complete with electricity and a paved concrete road. Since then, a three-story dormitory for girls, and a two-story multi-purpose building provided emphasis on education. A prayer tower has been added, and apartments for orphanage leadership. Expansion has continued to include a ministry program for pastors and leaders, and a multi-purpose auditorium is being finished.

The ministry began as a mission of faith. The Herreras during those first years stretched their pastor’s salary to meet the basic needs of the children. Their ministry grew to minister to various poor communities around Poza Rica, and a new church was established in a mountain community of indigenous people.

All this happened because a couple responded to the call of God to love the orphans. Sponsors are still needed for the children, as well as the orphanage workers.

Ambassador to Casa Hogar, Tony Lane, says: “I have grown in my faith by seeing firsthand faith in action. The Herreras are true spiritual heroes of the faith!”

Give to this project, #715-0130.

 

HEART FOR HONDURAS

In keeping with their vision to help bear the burdens of Western Territory Honduran brothers and sisters, Steven and Candace Day are moving right along helping the pastors and are so grateful for the support that has been given to their projects.Heart for Honduras logo

This month, the Days have purchased some items for the chicken project in Protection—a storage building and a machine that de-feathers the chickens. Other projects include construction on churches, putting roofs on two new plants, and completing groundwork.

Even missionaries experience sorrow, and this time it touched the Days. Candace is working as a teacher’s assistant at a new school. At the end of September, a very heavy rainfall occurred. One of the first graders was in a vehicle with his older sister and brother as they attempted to cross a flooded bridge. The small vehicle was swept away by the current. The two older children made their way to dry land, but little Axel was missing. The community searched for two days, but the dreaded news they did not want to hear finally came. Little Axel’s body had been recovered. The school and community mourn the loss, but they have the hope of seeing Axel again in heaven.

Project #065-0948

DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF VULNERABLE PEOPLE

Having experienced the transformation power of God in her own life, Pastor Rosalba Pérez In Cota, Colombia, obeyed God’s call to bring hope and joy where poverty, violence, and illiteracy reigned. She fully understood how God transforms one to transform!

Rosalba and Girls

What God put into Rosalba’s heart became her missions for the Kingdom … to defend the rights of vulnerable people, such as child victims of sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Eighty-six percent of children recruited in Colombia for armed conflict were victims of family violence.

More than 30 years ago, Rosalba saw the pain of children with economic and nutritional deficiencies, abused in all areas, mistreated, taken as spoils of war to be sexual slaves for the armed groups unleashing ruin, misery, and pain to many generations. Her plan was to show children that the circle of poverty is broken with education, and hearts are healed by the power of God.

The transformational impact began by reaching the neediest corners with professional teams to provide support to those in need. Jireh Provision of Love home has restored more than 85 (girls) victims of abuse and forced displacement. The school has about 300 children of low resources to whom God’s Word is shared daily and they are given an education with Christian values. Soup kitchens also provide meals for children who are hungry because of abandonment.

Lamentations 2:19 reflects the mission of Rosalba … Arise, cry aloud in the night, at the beginning of the night watches; pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones who are faint from hunger at the head of every street.

Project #102-0032
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