Sunday, May 26, 2013

OneStory Workshop

I had the privilege of helping facilitate a ten-day OneStory training workshop held in Corozal, a Garifuna community near La Ceiba.

Participants came from different Latin American countries, including Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. One Venezuelan is Curripaco, an indigenous group from the Amazon region, and another Yukpa, from the Colombian/Venezuelan savannah region. Roger and Marilyn, Wycliffe missionaries, led the workshop, and two Miskito pastors also helped facilitate. The Miskito people live in eastern Honduras/western Nicaragua, and these two men have finished a OneStory set in their language, which God has used to bring people to Christ. Fernando came for a day, and a Garifuna lady cooked meals, so we had a fun, varied group!

Participants learned how to put together a story set, craft stories, and lead story fellowship groups for evangelism and discipleship. Several are preparing to promote and support OneStory through mobilization and missions training, while others are considering moving to Africa or Asia to start a OneStory project among lesser-reached people groups. The Curripaco and Yukpa participants plan to be involved in OneStory projects in their own languages for their people.

Telling a story to model leading a story fellowship group

 Leading a discussion about the relationship between  a culture
(worldview, values) and preparing effective story sets

 Discussing biblical examples of storying, such as Jesus' parables and the apostles' sermons in Acts
Together on the last day of the workshop
Those who plan to move overseas will now begin two phases of applying what they've learned. First, they will stay in La Ceiba to craft and test stories in Spanish. Then, they will spend several weeks in Sangrelaya to practice language learning and living in a different culture. Please pray that God will use this time to prepare them for serving Him cross-culturally.
During the workshop, I was reminded of how thankful I am for training opportunities and role models God has provided me in different areas of cross-cultural mission work, and I praise God for how He continues to fill me with His love for His people in Latin America. It is a dream come true to be able to serve in a small way here! Along with the participants and other facilitators, we were reminded of the gift of God's Word, as we were immersed in stories throughout our time together. Even if we have heard or read them before, His Word is alive and never returns void! What an encouragement.
Thank you for reading and being a part of our lives and work here!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bible School Classes: Habits of the Heart

Hi friends! I hope you have had a good week. We have had a busy week with BILD classes here in La Ceiba.

As some of you know, the Garifuna Bible school has pastors and church leaders who meet for one week of classes about every three months. Baptist and United Brethren leaders have also been involved. This group began about a year and a half ago, and they first studied a series on Acts. Since September, they have been taking the four-part First Principles series, covering fundamental areas of the gospel and discipleship. Starting this year, some students have begun implementing the First Principles program in their home churches and communities.

This past week we completed the fourth and final part, Habits of the Heart. We studied and discussed Scriptures related to spiritual disciplines, not only in an individual sense (such as personal devotionals), but the biblical basis for habits as families, church families, and members of our communities. A core theme was the biblical motivation behind cultivating disciplines, out of a loving response to all Jesus is and has done for us, and the importance of growing together as families and congregations.

John, originally from Canada and now living in Honduras, facilitated discussions. 

Discussions were held in small groups and also with the whole group. 

Times of prayer are more meaningful now since participants have developed friendships over time.

Participants are encouraged to now begin the second series, which focuses in greater depth on God's plan for households and church families. They will meet for the first session in September and also celebrate the graduation of those who completed the first series during this past year. Sadly, Fernando and I will not be in Honduras at that time, but we look forward to continuing with this group when we return to Honduras later this year.

Please pray for these godly leaders to be diligent in their studies as they prepare for classes in September, and for unity and wisdom as they train leaders through this discipleship program.

I will soon post an update about a OneStory workshop I am helping facilitate. Thank you for your prayers and support; we are thankful for what you do to make all of this possible!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Playing Soccer to Go Fishing

Here is another praise report and big "thank you!" for praying for a new discipleship for teenage girls we started last month.

Teamwork and Pedagogy
Elma and Judith, two women from our church, have stepped up to helping me start a second discipleship group for girls. Kety, another friend, has become the leader of the first group, which I was asked to start two years ago. It has been encouraging to work together, learn from each other, and pray together for these girls we care about.

I am also thankful for what I learned in master's degree program (applied linguistics with an emphasis in pedagogy), as it has greatly helped me in finding interactive ways to do Bible study with teenage girls. It has also been useful for creating mini-workshops for these teachers, or informally preparing lessons together. Last week, Judith and I worked together to plan a lession, and she did a great job leading activities and discussions on Saturday.

"You're Invited!"
Elma lives in a very strategic neighborhood near many Garifuna girls, and we have held three discipleship meetings so far. She is able to stop by and invite those around her, and we have also made contact with girls after church and inviting them to come. We are studying "the basics" of what it means to be a Christian and follow Jesus. Some highlights for me are:
  • Seeing girls understand what grace means and that salvation is a free gift.
  • Helping them find verses in the Bible and encouraging them as they paraphrase verses using their own words.
  • Watching them work together in groups to complete activities and relate truth to their lives.
  • Welcoming girls who do not yet have friends at church.
My heart's cry is for many Garifuna girls to know Jesus personally and live fruitful, abundant lives as they walk with Him.

My Version of Soccer
We organized a soccer event for girls who were interested. Some of you know that my favorite part of soccer is socializing with people around me. :) But the best part of this soccer game was "going fishing" for new girls, and I met four who are interested in coming to discipleship group! One even contacted me today for more information. (But don't ask me how many goals were scored...!)

I deeply value your prayers in "fishing" for girls who Jesus would call to Himself, and for those who are growing in their faith to become "fishers" of others, as well (Matt. 4:19).

Here are a few pictures of the happy soccer players:
The winning team (I was told)

Two New Training Groups

Hi friends!

Thank you to all who have prayed for Fernando as he has helped coordinate new training groups through the Garifuna Bible school, using the BILD International training method. We invite you to praise God with us for what He has done and continue to lift up these new leaders and participants in your prayers:

La Ceiba
Eduardo, who pastors the church where we have served here in La Ceiba, has also begun discipleship classes using this method, and about 20 people are currently participating. We have heard positive feedback from those who have said they are learning new things about the Bible and by engaging in discussions about how it relates to their lives.

Elvis, a young assistant pastor from Río Esteban, has shown great commitment in his studies and has also been an invaluable aid to Fernando. The last weekend of April, Fernando and Elvis launched a training group in Corozal, a community near La Ceiba. Ten pastors and leaders attended the first session of the BILD program, but about 18 total are expected to participate. Elvis will continue leading the group when Fernando and I leave next month.

Last month David, José, and Félix launched a group of 12 participants in the community of Limon. You can watch video clips featuring David and José.

Punta Piedra/Cusuna/Ciriboya/Iriona Viejo 
This past weekend, Fernando took a trip to the more rural communities east of here, near Sangrelaya, where he is from (posts about Sangrelaya: here and here). On Saturday, he and Gabino, Nahum, Lidia, and Emilio launched a training group for these four communities. We praise God that 30 people came and more are interested! You can see pictures of Lidia and Emilio and a video of Gabino.

Fernando said it was encouraging to see how the materials in Garifuna were quite helpful; people enthusiastically participated in readings and discussions. Most people in that region are fluent in Spanish for education and work purposes, but it is much more natural and meaningful to communicate in Garifuna, particularly with respect to spiritual and personal matters. These four communities are home to several churches, but most pastors and leaders have not received theological training, so we look forward to how the Lord will use these studies to help them grow as leaders and train others.

Please pray for each of the leaders who will be leading participants in the content they have already studied. Pray for them to have unity, lead in the truth of God's Word, and have perseverance as they lead this new group.
  • La Ceiba: Eduardo (20 participants)
  • Corozal: Elvis (18 participants)
  • Limon: David, Jose, and Felix (12 participants)
  • Punta Piedra/Cusuna/Ciriboya/Iriona Viejo: Gabino, Nahum, Lidia, and Emilio (30 participants)

Next week we will have the next session of Bible school classes with the group of leaders who have been studying during the past year together. Since our last session in March, we have studied individually and in small groups the material to be covered next week. Please pray for safe travels from their communities, for those who will be facilitating, and for the Lord to work in our hearts and prepare us to disciple others.

Thank you for joining with us through your prayers and support!