Blog Archives

UPDATE ON OUR GMI MISSIONARIES IN PUERTO RICO:

Due to the complete power outage on the island of Puerto Rico and the lack of cell phone infrastructure, GMI has had no contact with our staff serving on the island.  We do know most of them had planned to evacuate to a location farther inland than the camp property prior to the hurricane hitting the island. Please continue to pray for our missionaries and our believers there. As soon as we have any information or an update available, we will communicate that information with you via another post or Facebook.

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Frosty Hansen, GMI Missionary in Bolivia, shares the following exciting news with us concerning the progress of building the Bolivia Training Center in Santa Cruz. They are 80% of the way towards raising the funds needed to complete this much-needed training center to prepare future generations of church leaders. If after reading this the Lord is working in your heart to join the team of financial donors, you may click HERE for more information. Please pray for this project as they move through the construction phase. Exciting things are happening in Santa Cruz, Bolivia! 

This picture above was taken on August 23 when Frosty and his wife, Cathy, presented a check for half the cost of the new Training Center construction project to the owner of the construction company. On the far right next to Cathy is Pepe Yucra, the president of the MEB (the national denomination), who officially signed the contract with the architect/builders. Future payments will be made and money is being set aside for the costs of equipping the building (seats/desks, teacher desks with lecterns, acrylic boards, video projectors, air conditioning, bookshelves, and office furniture).

In the picture, we are standing in the MEB office, which will continue to be on the first floor of the building with the Training Center occupying the second floor. The Training Center will contain three classrooms (one large and two medium), a library, a restroom, an office for a receptionist, and an office for the director. It will be accessible by an interior stairway and an exterior ramp.

The work will begin this week with the removal of the roof, which was originally designed to be raised for a second floor.

Today I will begin classes for our current pastors who are in the Santa Cruz area in preparation for ordination. Each Friday evening in September and October we will meet for two hours for an overview of the different areas of systematic theology, beginning with the Bible. The classes will include practical application of the truths we are studying. Early next year we will begin studying Dispensational Theology, and then a series on Pastoral Theology as they get ready for the ordination process.

Twice a month I am meeting with students who are currently studying at other theological institutions to answer questions, specifically regarding what they are receiving in their classes as it compares with the doctrine of the Misión Evangélica Bethesda (MEB). They have asked to begin by looking at when the Church, the Body of Christ, began. I started with two weeks (1½ hours each) investigating the difference between the Church and Israel. On September 10 we will discuss various possibilities of when the Church began and look for biblical reasons for/against these options.

We are hoping to begin a broader array of classes for everyone after the first of the year. The construction should be completed by mid-December.

So let’s keep praying for this ministry! Pray for safety for the construction workers, a clear presentation of the lessons, more students, understanding of what is presented, and faithfulness in attendance so much is learned!

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This post is written by Milo and Raquel Seravalli who serve in Nagarote, Nicaragua, with Grace Ministries International. They have started a Bible and Theology training school and a church plant, along with a vast array of other ministries with the goal of reaching into the lives of people in their community. We know you will be inspired and encouraged to pray and partner with Milo and Raquel as you read what they have to share about God’s faithfulness seen in the ministry in Nagarote. Read on!

In a few days Emiliano will turn 29. It is a bit scary to get close to 30 (and just in case you want to congratulate him, I remind you that his birthday is on September 8 – miloseravalli@yahoo.es). We have lived the dream together. By sharing this update, we want to make you a part of our joy by seeing the faithfulness of God. There is no other dream apart from fulfilling Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

It seems to be a dream but we started Arraigados three months ago. Arraigados is the new church plant in Nagarote in which we have greatly seen the hand of God.

We define summertime by many people from the United States desiring to serve God — this year we had two large groups. The first group consisted of two churches from Texas: Eleventh Avenue Church of Mineral Wells and Arlington Community Church of Arlington. The second group was the Berean Bible Church of Spokane, Washington. They were part of the construction of a sports court that serves the children and youth of Nagarote where every week they learn more about Jesus. They also helped to make an irrigation system for the church and they painted some of the facilities. They were an injection of energy for the beginning of this church!

Thanks to contributions from Parkside Bible Church in Holland, MI, we have been able to work on the kitchen that we can now use and for which we have great dreams, especially for using when teams visit us from the United States and Costa Rica. It will be finished soon.

Eleventh Avenue Church contributed to be able to install a sign for the church which will draw the community’s attention to the church. Everything looks beautiful and is very useful.

After hours of work we were exhausted, so receiving Mark and Karen Edwards was very refreshing. They came to invest in our spiritual life and marriage. We thank God for bringing them.

We are praying about our desires for Arraigados. One important thing we desire to see in this church is that as the Body of Christ they are trained so that one day they can work and serve without missionaries. We also pray that they are a multiplying church; sending out new missionaries. That’s why we started the Bible Institute of Grace in Nagarote in which there are already 10 students enrolled and we are teaching four subjects.

We also had Jonathan and Brenda Tuttle who lovingly used their honeymoon to serve in the ministry. They painted the lines of the sports court and helped in each of the ministries.

Your prayers were really necessary during those busy summer days, so thank you! We have more teams coming, two later this year — one from the States and one from Costa Rica — and we already have teams interested in coming in 2018. Please pray for the details of these teams’ trips.

We will also be moving houses. It is sentimental to move from the first house where we started our ministry, but we found a house near the church that is more fitting for us and the ministry. Pray for the logistics of moving, despite our busy schedule.

Never forget, we are always in need of your prayers. Pray especially for wisdom, for our relationship with God, for our testimony in our community, for our marriage, and for missionaries to come full time to partner with us. Also pray for the multiplying of the gospel of Jesus Christ through what God is doing here in Nagarote.

Send us your prayer requests and praises. We also want to be part of the prayers and praises of what God is doing in your life.

   

   

 

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Over 3,500 people living in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, heard the saving gospel of Jesus Christ from August 2-13! The Taekwondo team, BreakThrough, affiliated with Grace Ministries International, shared this message through thirteen 45-minute, high-energy demonstrations performed in schools, parks, and other public areas. The presentations depicted man’s sin and our need for salvation through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection telling the story both through martial arts and the Word of God. In the process the team broke over 230 boards and 200 roof tiles with their hands, feet, elbows, and heads.

Not only did this ministry reach the hearts of many who had never heard the gospel, but it opened several doors and created new contacts for Grace Bible Church which began meeting in its new location just three months ago. In addition to hosting BreakThrough for a week and a half, Grace Bible Church experienced increased attendance with over 30 attending last Thursday night’s Bible study and around 50 attending last Sunday’s church service—and these numbers do not include the team! GMI missionaries Alex and Deltha Gulart and Jerry and Sandi Bomers were so encouraged to see new faces coming through the door in addition to the many consistent attendees of this truly international church in an international city.

Thanks for your prayers, support, and encouragement!

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Thanks to all who have prayed for the taekwando team Breakthrough, given financially, or sent messages of support. After 10 months of planning and preparation, the team is officially in Paraguay!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8 (NIV).

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To see a video of the team doing their presentation in a gym setting, go to this link:

https://www.facebook.com/bautista.edu.py/?hc_ref=ARRSUh_WcqL_QsOFuGYYhPf2Dv6ls-c48tzh5n4Fw9ZVbD8fqo-MXr6sBj4zSS-l3Tc

 

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At the February 2013 board meeting, GMI adopted its 10-year ministry plan. Part of reaching the goals set is having more missionaries join the GMI family on the various mission fields. Below you can see the areas where there are specific opportunities to serve, but note under “General” there are areas we may not have thought of yet. Will you please pray with us for those individuals who God has for those areas of service? Could one of them be you?

General:
  • In addition to the specific needs we have listed below, we would ask you to pray that God would simply raise up missionaries to meet needs or expand works on existing and new fields which we have not even considered or thought of or we may not even know about yet.
Bolivia:
  • Bolivia is an established field with churches located in and around the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz. In recent years, the Bolivian churches have recognized the need to have their own training center to equip men and women for ministry. We are looking for more teammates who will come alongside our current GMI missionaries and the Bolivian leadership to teach the Bible, theology, and ministry skills as we prepare godly pastors, leaders, and missionaries to expand the ministry to other regions of Bolivia and neighboring countries. 
Mozambique:
  • GMI missionaries Kennedy and Sofia Simtowe are returning to Mozambique in 2017 to continue to facilitate the process of church registration and to seek approval of their work permits. There are already a handful of churches in that country associated with the ministry of GMI organizing themselves into a national church structure. Kennedy’s emphasis will be church planting and evangelism. We need missionaries who can come alongside the churches and believers in Mozambique in order to better equip and provide further education for the pastors and church leaders. This would be similar to the ministry in Malawi, where GMI missionary Bill Vinton and GMI Partners Joseph Asong and Eric Mango are providing theological education for pastors and church leaders to edify the churches already established in this field.
Nicaragua:
  • Nicaragua became one of GMI’s fields early in 2014 when GMI missionaries, Jeff and Sally Roth, along with GMI Associate Missionaries, Emiliano and Raquel Seravalli, moved there to begin their ministries. Each week around 100 adults, youth, and children pass through Emiliano and Raquel’s home in the town of Nagarote for various Bible studies, worship services, clubs, and discipleship groups. Jeff and Sally took survey trips to the region in and around Matagalpa and have begun a new ministry in that area with the goal of planting churches. They have been joined by GMI missionaries Brett and Debby Chapman who host weekly Bible studies in their home.With two ministry sites, we need to increase our missionary force. We would like to see additional missionaries or missionary families with a desire to evangelize, disciple, and establish local churches work with our Nicaragua team in Nagarote or Matagalpa.
Paraguay:
  • Paraguay, located between GMI’S field of Bolivia and our affiliated field of Uruguay, is our newest field opened in June 2015, when GMI missionaries Alex and Deltha Gulart moved to Ciudad del Este to begin their evangelism and teaching ministry. We are looking for even more teammates to come alongside and complement them and GMI missionaries Jerry and Sandi Bomers as we strive to plant churches in Paraguay. We are looking for individuals with a heart to disciple new believers and help establish them into local churches. The goal of the ministry in Paraguay is to plant churches in Ciudad del Este, throughout the rest of the country, and even into neighboring Argentina and Brazil.
Puerto Rico:
  • GMI is committed to working with established churches and ministries in Puerto Rico which share our common beliefs and our desire to evangelize, plant churches, and disciple future leaders in the Body of Christ. Because of this commitment, GMI is actively looking for energetic and motivated missionaries to come alongside affiliated churches and ministries on the island to further facilitate ministry efforts in such areas as: evangelism, youth ministry and outreach, theological training, development of methods for effective church planting, and practical training of Puerto Rican workers in the Body of Christ who will serve both in Puerto Rico and in other parts of the world as fellow missionaries. Understanding that finding just one person to meet all of these needs would be difficult, we would enjoy talking to anyone who is interested in any one or more of these areas of ministry.
Zambia:
  • The GMI ministry in Zambia needs missionaries to mentor and encourage pastors both in their practical, day-to-day ministry responsibilities and to help further their understanding of God’s Word and His grace. To help meet this need, GMI’s goal is to implement a regional Bible school program (already under development) which will be run by the Grace Church of Zambia.
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This article, which includes information used in a brochure for those looking to serve as missionaries under Grace Ministries International (GMI) sometime in the future, was written by Jeremy Clark, Executive Director of GMI. Jeremy and his family served as Costa Rica missionaries under GMI from December 2004 until August 2012 when he started as Executive Director. During the years prior to joining GMI, Jeremy worked in the Law Office of Garwood and Clark in Huntington, IN. During that same time he worked 3-1/2 years as a part-time deputy prosecuting attorney for the Huntington County Prosecutor’s Office. While practicing law, he also worked as a part-time youth director.

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Perhaps you are either seriously considering missions as your new vocation or you finally gave in and have made that commitment to pursue missions full-time. Now you may wonder what you can do to get prepared for such a life-changing venture. Once you apply to Grace Ministries International, you will go through different orientations, perhaps specific training geared for your ministry, and probably language studies. However, you are wanting to know what you can do before all that happens to better prepare yourself and your family to serve the Lord around the world. Maybe you have not even contacted us yet, but you still want to get ready for this next chapter in your life. Here is the best piece of advice I can give: live here and now like you will live there and then. Let me explain this by taking you through a few areas of life where you can begin to live now like you will as a missionary then.

Do Ministry Now. Serving the Lord is the Christian norm. It is not a special calling nor is it something you begin doing after you pick up your luggage in customs in your new host country. It is something you do now and forever because you are saved. Not writing to pastors or missionaries, but to everyday believers in the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul writes, “…walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). We were called through Christ’s death and resurrection—the ultimate and only sacrifice available for our sins which had eternally separated us from God. That’s quite a calling! Not only does this implore all of us to live honorably and righteously before God in this world, but if you want to serve the Lord on the mission field, you need to practice now what you hope to do then. Are you discipling others now? Are you teaching or leading Bible studies? If you are inclined to serve or are talented at administration, how are you using these gifts for the Lord now? Do you share the gospel with others or are you waiting until you reach the field before you exercise your “calling” to do so? God desires that all men be saved (2 Timothy 2:4) and He has given us the privilege of sharing the gospel of the grace of God until He returns. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity now!

You may have a full-time job which you believe makes it nearly impossible to give much time to the Lord. Remember, when you are on the field you will be the full-time missionary encouraging people who are working 40, 50, or 60+ hours a week to give of their time to the Lord. Not only do you want to practice good ministry habits now, but it is not a bad idea to put yourself in the shoes of those local believers with whom you will be working on the field.

Practice Self-Motivation. Much of mission work requires initiative and intrinsic motivation. There usually is not going to be someone around telling us what to do or how to do it. While not all of us are leaders of others, we can all practice a degree of independence. What I mean by that is simply getting the job done as if it depends on us alone, doing it well as if no one else is looking, and seeing it through to the end. This is a skill and a work ethic which is learned and refined through practice. Here is a small example. No one told me to create this brochure. I saw the need, began the project, asked others to help, and now you are reading it!

Hand Over Ministries. If you are in ministry or doing ministry, what are you doing to hand over your areas of responsibility to others? In a practical sense, you may very well be leaving your ministry and heading to the mission field soon. So, who is going to carry it on when you leave? On another level, training others to do what you do (and even doing it better) is excellent practice for missionary life. As a missionary, the ability to train others to do a job and turn them loose to see it grow and flourish is a valid measure of success on the mission field.

Relationships. Practice good relationships now. You have all kinds of relationships at the workplace, at church, in your neighborhood, within your extended family, and in the community. When you get to the mission field your world, in a relational sense, will get a lot smaller. You may be working with only one or two other missionary families. You will not have a family network immediately available to you nor will you have that wide circle of friends you have here in the States. So, having healthy relationships is all the more important. You cannot be indifferent to your relationships on the field as we might be more inclined to do here in the States  knowing that we have other people, friends, or family members we can depend on for help or friendship. Practice treating people here as if you depended on them there. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

Family and Marriage. The same is true for your immediate family. The missionary life will draw your family closer together in ways you never imagined. However, if you do not learn how to deal with the stresses of life as a family now, the tensions you experience on the field could also potentially have the power to pull your family apart. One valuable discipline you can practice now is serving together as a family as you would then on the field. You will get to know your spouse’s and children’s strengths and weaknesses and how to set them up for success and avoid failures.

Coming at the subject of relationships from another angle, if you are single and want to be a missionary, why would you ever date someone who has no interest in missions? You are certainly free to change your mind and decide you do not want to serve as a missionary, but if it is important to you and you think it will be for some time to come, do not settle for someone who does not share your same goal. On the flip side, if you are married and you want to be a missionary, but your spouse does not, you cannot force him or her to share your goal. All you can do is share your desire, pray, and wait.

Finances. You are not going to be rich on the mission field so practice living here as you would there. If you have debts, aggressively pay them off. Not only is debt one of the biggest impediments to people serving overseas, but by disciplining yourself to pay off your debt much sooner rather than much later, you will naturally force yourself to live on a reduced income. Even if your debts are paid off, put away as much as you can into savings. Not only is it good to save, but once again you will see just how far you are able to live below your means.

Begin to look at spending in a different light. What do I want and what do I really need? What things must I have and what things are dispensable? You may have never thought about this before. The reality is the options for clothing, food, household items, and electronics will be drastically limited by the lack of availability, different options, or the increased cost of obtaining some of them. Instead of being shocked by what you cannot purchase then, reevaluate your wants now and find out what it is you really do not need.

Health. Living on the mission field typically leads to a healthier lifestyle. You tend to eat better and exercise more if nothing else because people walk to more places than people who live in the States. Start exercising and eating healthier now. Moving, adapting to a new culture, and learning to live in new surroundings are tiring enough. Why not reduce some of the physical stress by getting into better shape now which will certainly help you then? Not to mention, being healthier now will lead to fewer physical problems down the road.

Education. Aside from the requirement to have at least one year of college-level Bible education to become a GMI missionary, you may simply want to further your biblical knowledge. If you are going to teach, you need to learn. If you are going to train, you will want to be equipped. While this applies to your knowledge of the Bible, it also applies to any other area of teaching or training you anticipate doing while on the field. Furthermore, take what you learn now and put it into practice here. You are not automatically going to become a great teacher/discipler/equipper there if you are not doing it here. Ask other mature Christians whom you know well what areas of your ministry you can improve upon or where you need to step up your game so you can serve effectively on the field. This might require additional training or more ministry experiences.

Language Studies. Education also encompasses language learning. You are not going to become fluent or conversant in a language using Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, or poring over grammar primers and vocab cards, but it is a start! If you know the language of the region where you want to serve, start learning it. Sure, you will need to go to language school, but why not make it easier by learning as much as you can now? You will develop a basic understanding of the grammar and some vocabulary which will help you acquire the language that much faster meaning that your meaningful ministry will also begin that much quicker.

Perspective. This might be the hardest thing to do now which will prepare you for life when you are on the field, but it is time to change your perspective about what really matters in life. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is by considering all things in light of your eternity with Jesus Christ and the eternity of the lost around you and around the world who do not know Him. When you do so, most other issues in life will fall into place. Paul often thought through these kinds of issues even as it pertained to his own life. He says in his letter to the Romans, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). Essentially, his passion for his lost Jewish countrymen was such that he wished he were the one separated from Christ, not them! From prison he writes to the Philippian Church, “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-25). Do I want to die to be with Christ or live for the purpose of bringing others to Him or closer to Him? That is an eternal perspective.

When we think this way our possessions, income, comforts, and conveniences do not seem all that significant any more. They are no longer pursuits which drive us day to day, but Christ and His salvation for others takes preeminence in our minds. What begins to happen is that when you think in this manner you declutter your life. In essence, it becomes that much easier to pick up and go. No longer do you have the attachment to so many physical things you do not think you can part with, your routines, habits, and endeavors which might hold you back. Having an eternal perspective frees you to enjoy your heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:19) while moving about the earth He created to share His salvation and His Word with the people He created.

Now get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

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This is the 10th year of Kids Games at Grace Bible Community, San Antonio de Belen, Costa Rica.  Last week 242 kids attended. The church was completely full on Friday night with the kids and their families who attended the closing session–most importantly, the gospel was clearly shared with everyone who came to the event. During the week of Kids Games, Bibles were handed out to kids who didn’t have a Bible and wanted one. In addition to this good report, the church also celebrated 32 years of its existence this month.

 

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The church in Nagarote is called “Arraigados”–the purpose is to remain rooted in Christ. The youth group has 30 young people who are learning every Wednesday about the grace of God and how to live in grace. The children group grows more and more with about 40 children arriving every Saturday to hear how Jesus lived on this earth. In the church, four new families are beginning to attend and seem to be interested in learning more about the Bible. We continue to disciple 12 people with the goal that three of them will become the future leaders of the church.

This month we are building a cement court with the help of two Texas churches and Berean Bible Church Spokane. We continue to repair and improve the kitchen and pavilion, and soon we will have a church sign. Then next month we will have an outreach activity with the opening of the court, and we will probably have a soccer and basketball tournament to reach the community which is very excited about this project.

          

Top left: ready to pour the concrete for the court

Top right: listening to a message in church

Bottom left: children listening during an outreach event

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May 7, 2017, a Bible study meeting in the home of Alex and Deltha Gurlart embarked on a new journey as the established Iglesia Bíblica Gracia (Grace Bible Church) in the inner city of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. It was a night to be celebrated by all. A congregation of three dozen people, old friends and new friends, representing 10 different countries gathered together for this special event. As a church it is our priority to develop a reputation for being a church that is passionate about preaching and teaching the Bible.

We are so grateful that several people have joined us since that first Sunday and continue to come back because they want to the dive deeper into the Word. This same desire carries over into our working toward establishing a presence in the community. We have been so thankful for the assistance from a team of girls from the US, along with Grace Bible College student, Rachel Stevens, as we take these first steps of branching out beyond our neighborhood.

In the months of July and August we will be hosting the EXITE team, as well as the Breakthrough Tae Kwon Do team. We look forward to seeing how God is going to impact Ciudad del Este through their hearts and efforts to serve Him. Thank you so much for your prayers and support for God’s ministry here. Please be in prayer for everyone traveling to minister here over the next few months. Please pray for Iglesia Bíblica Gracia, that we can take advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel and the love of Christ.

Team Paraguay — Alex, Deltha, Jerry and Sandi

     Alex visiting with a couple at church during coffee time.

 

 

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