Rebirth is in the Air

The billboard shown here says, "Medellín is reborn, spring is coming." When you consider that Medellín is known as the city of eternal spring this supposedly "post-pandemic" statement is even more poignant! (Colombia started giving vaccines about a month ago and life is pretty much "back-to-the-new-normal" which includes masks, social distancing and hand sanitizer, of course.)

During the pandemic winter (or at least what felt like a long hibernation) a lot of great things have happened. God used this time to help us all reinvent ourselves in one way or another. He united the Free Methodist Church in Latin America more than ever before and we consider ourselves especially privileged to serve alongside this wonderful team of people that He has established. He helped us secure new structures to help support the exponential growth we are expecting. And each day He gives us new opportunities to participate with Him in the restoration of Latin America by developing healthy leaders, multiplying committed disciples and empowering transformational churches.

And so, as a new kind of spring approaches, we are enjoying the rebirth of new ministry opportunities - some of them even face-to-face. While the pandemic may not be over, rebirth is on the horizon. To God be the glory!
Preaching In-Person, Finally
Ricardo had the privilege of and in-person...on Sunday for the first time in a year! His sermon title, borrowed from The Chosen (see more in our closing paragraph), "Get Used to Different" seemed especially relevant as this was only our second week back at church in the theater. It feels so good to worship together again, even if at a social distance! That social distancing made it difficult to get a good live picture of Ricardo at work and so I chose this one from the online broadcast.

An unexpected benefit of the pandemic is that churches who adapted to online formats also extended their reach...and yesterday people tuned in from several cities in Colombia as well as in other countries.
New Beginnings for Couples
Last month we got a call from our dear friend, and former seminary student, Shirley. She wanted to tell that she is getting married and July. She asked if we would do her premarital counseling and so, we have met once in person and twice via zoom with Shirley and Jorge.

A few weeks later, we learned of another friend who is getting married...and guess who they asked to do their premarital counseling? The exciting thing is that this second couple will be our next door neighbors after their wedding in November.

We are thankful for these opportunities to re-start our ministry to couples, something we've enjoyed doing throughout our own marriage. Please join us in in praying for Shirley & Jorge as well as Camila & Jose in this new and exciting season!
Finding a New look for a Relaunch
Since December we've been working with a consultant to help us improve our communications to our various audiences. Several members of our team have submitted ideas for new logos..and tomorrow we look forward to receiving a complete proposal for our "new look". We hope to be ready for a relaunch of our website, facebook pages, and other communication pieces in mid-May.
Holy Week Metamorphasis
We've decided to continue the tradition started last year by hosting Semana Santa sin fronteras (Holy Week without borders) online again. This year we will be offering evening devotions from Palm Sunday through Holy Friday. On Saturday we will have an area wide prayer call and on Resurrection Sunday we will once again gather together on-line for a united service of celebration and praise. Those churches who are already meeting together will have the option to watch it all together as a community.

Our theme this year is transformation...using as our metaphor the caterpillar, cocoon & butterfly. Once again, we have a great team of people working together to make this a meaningful, transformational time! Your prayers would be appreciated.
A lot of things are still operating only online. Since our last newsletter, Ricardo presided over the annual meeting in he is scheduled do the same for Puerto Rico (March 27) and Vz (April 17). Likewise, he will be virtually attending area directors meetings and Asbury Seminary Board of Trustees meetings in the coming months.

But, something new is also in the air. It is like a rebirth...and maybe that is why Episode 7 of The Chosen was so touching. Even if you haven't seen the series, you know the story. Nicodemus is asking Jesus, "How can someone be born when they are old?" Jesus' response is, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."

As the Coronavirus pandemic hopefully winds down, there is a sense expectation and excitement in the air. What better time to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Because of Him and His sacrifices, rebirth is possible for each and every one of us! We know that even when the world seemed to be hibernating, really just in the last 6 months, over 1,115 new people came to faith in Christ and over 250 were baptized through the Community Church Planting movement in Latin America. Our prayer is that God will continue to use everyone on our team in that birthing process. May we all be committed disciples who multiply committed disciples!

We are so thankful for each of you and our great, great God who brought us together! Your prayers and financial support enable us to continue participating with God in the restoration of Latin America.

Many blessings,
Ricardo, Beth, Juliana & Jonathan

PS. One of my long-time friends recommended The Chosen to us. If you haven't already watched it, we are recommending it to you now. And, if you start now, you won't have to wait too long for season 2.