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Empowering Leaders & Expanding Faith: Summer Highlights


 


CANAAN COMMUNITY CHURCH PLANTING OPPORTUNITY


I prayed for God's guidance to start Hispanic churches in Ohio. One day, I received a call for help with an outreach event for a Hispanic community. Multiple church mission groups had been praying for a year to reach this community. It felt like an answer to my prayers.


Pastor Preston of Shilo Mennonite Church said, "We'd been praying for a church plant and reaching different demographics. You were the right person, a missing puzzle piece." Since April, we've held three events, attracting 100+ attendees each time. We provided treats, games, Gospel presentations, and Chulo the Clown's entertainment.


The sense of team unity from five area churches and God's spirit has been felt. We have had several parents interested in helping during upcoming events. People have accepted Christ and shown interest in home Bible studies. We are asking God for a church multiplication movement and are excited to see the body of Christ coming together to accomplish His mission.



 

DNA PLAIN CITY CHURCH PLANTING OPPORTUNITY



Years back, when I was the Missions and Outreach Pastor at Northwest Chapel, I came to know and occasionally partner with DNA (Daily Needs Assistance) to make weekly meals for the poor around Plain City. In 2011, DNA became a nonprofit, partnering with many groups to offer help like summer camps, ESL classes, clothes, groceries, and Saturday breakfasts.


Recently, I began attending these breakfasts, connecting with Hispanics that attend. I've seen God's work in prayer meetings and one-on-one Bible Study and am excited about where God leads next.


In a recent interview with Tamara Reed, the founder and director Tamara Reed said “DNA started in 2009 through a community wide be-the-church event where all of the churches did a day of service and they chose to do a personal needs pantry. After that they started to offer a meal every month. Today we serve 350 families every week, the widow, the orphan, the immigrant and the poor, about half of them are from the Hispanic Community. Through the many volunteers serving from area churches we are building a relationship with them to walk with people towards Christ.


I met Martin while working in collaboration with various area churches to discuss how to reach the Hispanic Community. What I love about what Martin is doing is coming in, building relationships with families, listening and offering to pray for people in that context.


We’ve seen, you know, little prayer meetings happen spontaneously on Saturday mornings. Martin is a part of—working with other churches in Plain City to see where God might lead. Is that to lead a Bible study? Is it to start a Hispanic church? I feel like there is a lot happening here and there is momentum that is happening.”

 

TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS


Mariano visited Cuba in July of this year. His purpose was encouragement and training next generation leaders. Mariano was encouraged to see two new churches recently added to the 150 churches that have been planted in Western Cuba. One visit that was particularly gratifying was with a young pastor, Jose Enrique, who is now 29 years old and married to Annette.



Jose Enrique came to know the Lord at a children’s Bible club in 2005. At the age of 13, Jose Enrique felt a call to ministry and Mariano Azcarate, a missionary with Vision Latin America, has been a significant influence who has mentored and discipled him into the leader he has become today. With Mariano’s encouragement he pursued a career in mathematics (Mariano has a degree in economics) and became a nationally televised professor of mathematics. He also has a two masters in Christian Ministry and is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Evangelism and Missions from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a full academic scholarship through on-line learning.


Jose has started two churches over the years and is currently pastoring a church in Havana, a city known as a center for Santeria which is a syncretism or blend of the African Yoruba witchcraft religion that came to the island with the slave trade in the 1500’s and the Roman Catholic religion.


Jose Enrique’s biggest lesson he has learned is that there were times he was discouraged because certain people seemed beyond the hope of salvation because they were entrenched in Santeria or the prevalent atheistic communism and they would reject and even mock the God of the Bible. Jose Enrique has come to realize that he is just a weak and useless servant who must place his life in God’s hands. He has learned he must allow the life, love, and truth of Jesus to shine through him daily. That is the way to become a useful tool in God’s hands and eventually see lives changed by the power of the Gospel.


Pastor Jose Enrique has grown into a godly leader and is partnering with Vision Latin America. He and his wife Annette want to see a multiplication of churches and lives transformed by the power of the Gospel and discipled and mentored just like Mariano Azcarate and others discipled and mentored Him over the years to become the person he is today. To God be the glory.

 

TWO CONFERENCES AND VISITING MINISTRY TEAM



Kristy and I attended two conferences in July. The first, held from July 11-13 in St. Petersburg, Florida, was the ACCESS national conference for the Charis Fellowship, drawing over 400 leaders nationwide for connection and growth. We joined a group of Hispanic leaders in daily worship and inspirational messages. Reconnecting with old friends who are pastors and missionaries was meaningful as we shared our work with Vision Latin America.


Later, Martin and Kristy attended the MULTIPLY conference for the Rosedale Network of Churches in Castorland, New York. Dr. Tony was invited to speak to the 700 conference attenders about the principles of GSE. Martin was invited to speak a word of encouragement to the leaders of Hispanic churches who came to the conference at a local church in the area called “Luz y Vida” which means “Light and Life.”


We had a great time meeting new friends and exploring a partnership for church planting in the near future While in New York, we visited Vision Latin America friends and staff. Spending time with Kathi Sewak's family and friends, many serving VLA through various roles, was a highlight.


These interactions were invaluable, given the years since our last face-to-face meeting. Their enduring partnership and friendship are cherished.

 

TRIP TO MEXICO


Doug Jones and I recently went to Mexico to visit with VLA partners Jon and Mindy Baker and teammates Pastor Ruben and Gaby who are working closely with Jon and Mindy. We went there to encourage them and put some stories to video about what God is doing in Mexico. It was a short time (four days) but it was special because we have been friends for a long time and we encouraged each other, prayed with one another and dreamed a little about what God might do in the future.


One of our dreams is to see a leadership conference specifically targeting next generation leaders from all over Mexico. We decided to put a date on it, January 12-14, so that we can begin to pray about this visionary conference. We hope to encourage, inspire and train a new generation of leaders to see a harvest of hundreds of churches in the future for the glory of God. Pray with us.


Martin was invited to lead a young adult men’s Bible study at a sister church in nearby Tijuana. It was an honor to spend time studying God’s word and praying together. I could see how God is raising a new generation of young men ready to assault the gates of hell with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray for them as we prepare for the conference of young leaders like these in January 2024.

 

prayer requests


1. Canaan Church Planting Project. Pray for more people to come to know Jesus and for a person who can help us start a church. Pray for the future Bible study that we hope

to see starting soon here at Canaan Community.

2. DNA Church Planting Project. Pray for the relationships that Martin is making with

people over breakfast every Saturday morning. Pray for open hearts to respond to the Gospel and for open doors for a prayer meeting, Bible study and a church planting movement.


3. Pray for an upcoming trip to Cuba in September. We currently have a team of four going. Pray for safety, health and for God to use us to encourage His church and one another.


4. Pray for Jon and Mindy Baker at the border ministry. For the churches that they lead and for the opportunities that they have to see churches started. Pray for protection, good health, energy, and wisdom. Pray against the spirit of discouragement.


5. Pray for Kristy and I, that our focus would always be on Jesus.


6. Thank God that at our last visit to the Cardiologist we were both told that our

hearts are doing well. Kristy has had some issues since Covid. The Dr. gave me (Martin) a green light to travel and doesn’t want to see me for another year.


7. Pray for the church in Cuba, for many of our brothers and sisters are facing sickness, persecution and many other needs. Pray for the churches to be a light in the darkness.


8. Pray for the upcoming "Next Generation Leadership Conference" in Mexico, on January 12-14. Pray that many young leaders would come, be inspired and prepared to reach their generation so that we may see a church multiplication movement.


 

PRAISE THE LORD


We celebrate that Philip Scoles is happily back home in Ohio from his National Guard service in Syria. He is looking forward to attending his sister Rachel’s wedding in October. He asks for prayer transitioning back to life in Ohio.


 

GROWING PAINS

One of the things that the Lord is teaching Kristy and I as we serve Him together is how weak, ignorant, small, and insignificant we truly are.


We are learning how desperately and daily we need God’s presence, strength, wisdom, love, and discipline. We are learning to seek Him more so that we can be more like Him and follow Him wherever He leads.


Psalm 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for the flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirst for the living God.”


We are learning what it means to seek God with all of our hearts, and even though we still have a long way to go, we are growing each day, knowing that “He who began a good work in you (us) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6)

 

If you want to learn more about VLA and support our mission, check out our website. Let's all come together to support this incredible work and make a positive impact on the world!







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