This week I uploaded a compass app onto my cellphone. Calibration was one of the steps of installation. As I went through the process I was struck by the fact that this is what we are doing now in our ministry.

Calibration is the process of setting or correcting a measuring device to match or conform to an unvarying measure. As Christians, and as missionaries, our unvarying measure is the Word of God. As we ended 2017 and begin 2018 we've found it necessary to re-calibrate our ministry in order to ensure that it is aligned with God's will and the vision of the FM mission in Latin America. Really, calibration is something we need to do daily, to make the small but necessary readjustments in our walk with Christ, but as the New Year begins, we're also making the larger adjustments that are necessary.
Calibrating our Connections
We spent a few days of November and all of December visiting supporting churches in the USA, particularly within the Pittsburgh Conference. Just as being faithful to God's call on our lives is important, connecting with our supporting churches is an important part of calibration because it keeps us accountable to those who've sent us into ministry.
Each church and individual supporter blesses us in unique ways. A particular blessing came at Hookstown FMC on December 10. Since Juliana was Ricardo's "technical assistant" while he preached, the church organized a little 14th birthday party for her...complete with a huge cake. (Since we were on the road, it was the only cake she got this year. Thank you one thousand times over!)
When you live overseas, family connections are other calibrations that need to be made from time to time. During our time in the States we saw all four of Beth's siblings and most of their families plus one step-brother and his family. While we weren't all together at the same time, it was a gift to at least see them all within the same month! (The picture at shows a portion of her original family - at it looks today.)
Calibrating our Priorities
As many with whom we spoke heard, the FM Church and particularly, the FM Church in Latin America has adopted the Community Church Planting model as not only the way to expand the reach of the Gospel but also to train and prepare pastors for ministry. This means that we must make adjustments to our specific ministry duties and expectations.
For this reason, Ricardo is meeting with Area Director, Delia Nüesch-Olver, Associate Director, Paul Olver and fellow-missionary, Glenn Lorenz this week to map out the new direction, expectations and responsibilities. Part of this means reducing Ricardo's work load at the Seminario Bíblico de Colombia so that he can focus more on church planting. His request to reduce his assignment from 1/2 time to 1/4 at the seminary in 2018 has been accepted. This means he'll still be teaching the pastoral/practical theology classes but will have less administrative responsibilities.
Calibrating our Purpose
Since we are in Cartagena for the previously mentioned meeting, we had the privilege of representing the seminary as one of our graduates and his family were installed as pastors of a large church here. This is our primary purpose in Latin America and Colombia; to train and prepare people for church leadership.
I must admit that it was a bittersweet moment because Harold and Dorildy have become very good friends in the four years that they have been our neighbors on campus. However it is exciting to see them obey the call of God on their lives! As Ricardo said, "The seminary provided them with the tools for ministry but it is the Holy Spirit who will bring about the fruit." We pray for much fruit in their lives and ministry.
And so, we begin 2018 expectant of change and fruit. We anticipate Kingdom growth even though (as of the writing of this newsletter) we don't exactly know what our role in it will be this year. We are confident of this, "that He who began a good work in [all of us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

As we go through this time of ministry calibration, may I ask you to also help calibrate our records? If you haven't done so already and if you don't have an ongoing pledge with no end date, would you please follow this link to submit your 2018 pledge to our Ministry Support Account? Thanks.

We're calibrating. We're humbled by and thankful for God's call on our lives. We're also humbled by and thankful for your faithful support!

Blessings in this New Year,
Ricardo, Beth, Juliana and Jonathan