NCM Magazine/Winter 2017

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Together, we are the church.


Contents DEPARTMENTS 4 Connection Points 35 Called to Compassion 36 Love in Action 38 Snapshot

NCM Magazine Winter Issue, 2017 NCM Magazine aims to tell the stories of the church living out Christ’s compassion. Our hope is that all of us would hear the call to compassion as a lifestyle. Magazine Design: Paul Kinsman Cover Photo: Sam Malpica




For Girls, By Girls In Sumprecia’s village in Ghana, there were few options for girls. The expectation was to drop out of school and get married. Instead, she found a way to finish school and then started a club to help other girls do the same.


Reciprocal Love Sponsorship changed the trajectory of Benaia’s life, inspiring her to become a teacher. And after years apart, she finally got to meet the woman who sponsored her.


22 Following the example of Jesus, NCM partners with local Nazarene congregations around the world to clothe, shelter, feed, heal, educate, and live in solidarity with those who suffer under oppression, injustice, violence, poverty, hunger, and disease. NCM exists in and through the Church of the Nazarene to proclaim the gospel to all people in word and deed. n

Nazarene Compassionate Ministries 17001 Prairie Star Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66220 (800) 310-6362, n

To sign up for a free subscription, please visit or call (800) 310-6362. For subscription changes, email or write to NCM Magazine, 17001 Prairie Star Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66220.

Saving Grace In Zambia and Haiti, it can be hard to plan—let alone dream—for the future. Savings and loan groups change that, enabling people to turn their dreams into reality.




When Disaster Strikes During the summer months of 2017, earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes affected people around the world. In response, Nazarene churches mobilized to care for people in the immediate aftermath and over the long months of recovery.



Questions? Comments? Email n

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved. nazcompassion nazcompassion nazcompassion

Connection Points.


Grateful for the Church’s Witness by Carla Sunberg

Carla Sunberg (right) is pictured with Pastor Maxine Williams (left) and Rev. Sam Flores, assistant district superintendent for the South Texas District.


everal days after Hurricane Harvey blew through south Texas, USA, I had the privilege to travel to the area and see the response of the local churches. In the days that followed, we saw other areas suffer at the hand of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as major earthquakes in Mexico. I am grateful for the work of the Church of the Nazarene in Texas and beyond. When I arrived in south Texas, the church was already mobilized and responding. I observed teams from Indiana and west Texas doing an outstanding job of caring for others by mucking out damaged homes. I had the privilege of working at the home of Rev. Maxine Williams, pastor of Grace Church of the Nazarene in Port Arthur, Texas. Her home was badly damaged by four feet of floodwater, and she lost nearly everything she owned. She will have to live elsewhere until her home can be rebuilt. While she, herself, was struggling, she made sure the church building was open to serve as a shelter for dozens of others who had been displaced by the floods. At Orange Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Ray McDowell’s family lost most of their belongings in the rising floodwaters. He is currently living in an RV on the property of the church, whose building was also flooded by four feet of water. The church family has suffered with nearly 50 families displaced by the storm. Amazingly, when I joined the Orange church congregation for their worship service that Sunday morning, they were praising God together. Pews, chairs, insulation, and church supplies were in piles around the church building and strewn across the lawn. I found a congregation of nearly 200, seated 4 |

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will

in lawn chairs, gathered under the trees, worshipping the Lord, and supporting one another as a community of faith. That same day I was able to visit North Point Church of the Nazarene in Beaumont, Texas, where they were celebrating their fifth anniversary. This relatively new congregation had many individuals who had experienced devastation from the storms, yet here they were, praising God and baptizing nine individuals. That day I wept. I was overwhelmed by what I saw and experienced. It left me grateful for the witness of these local churches. This magazine is filled with more stories of God’s faithfulness and the faithful witness of God’s people in the wake of disasters. Over the course of just weeks, communities in countries from Puerto Rico to Mexico, and Sierra Leone to Bangladesh and India have been utterly devastated by natural disasters. Yet the Church of the Nazarene is present in these places, offering help and care in the name of Christ. I am grateful for the way our global family of faith comes together during times of adversity. As attention is drawn away from these disasters to focus on the next news stories, may we remember that the families and individuals left behind are not able to move on as quickly. May we continue to be the Body of Christ one to another, and may we continue to provide witness to the love of our Lord. Rev. Carla Sunberg, PhD, serves as a general superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene. She loves to teach and train leaders for the future of the church and has served as president of Nazarene Theological Seminary and as adjunct faculty for a number of institutions. Her heartfelt passion is a life of holiness and service for the Lord. She and her husband, Chuck, are proud parents of two adult daughters, Christa, who along with her husband, Iain Maciver, lives in England; and Cara, who with her husband, Justin Shonamon, and two daughters lives in Kansas.

not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” — Psalm 46:1-3




Photos courtesy of Tracy Yurkunas

racy and Joe Yurkunas’ path to child sponsorship started a little differently than most. Before they even looked into the program, the couple got to meet the child they would end up sponsoring.

On a 2016 mission trip to Panama, the Yurkunases worked with churches their pastor had established relationships with previously. Part of their work was helping complete church buildings and community

centers, but there also happened to be a vacation Bible school in the town where they were working. Many of children attending were still awaiting sponsorship. A 12-yearold girl named Maylin* was in that group. When they discovered Maylin needed a sponsor, Tracy and Joe decided to ask about sponsoring her as soon as they returned home. They spent two days with Maylin, looping arms as they walked around town. “It was so great,” Tracy says. “I have two sons, so I felt like I now had a daughter!” Before they went to Panama, the Yurkunases hadn’t given sponsorship much thought. When they met the children and learned what sponsorship would mean to them, they realized how important it can be. “Sponsorship has changed our lives. … [And] we know that we are making a small difference in a child’s life,” Tracy says. Tracy and Joe weren’t the only new sponsors during the 2016 trip. Through the support of their church, all of the children they met that day were sponsored. Then, in February 2017, Tracy and Joe had the chance to return to Panama on another trip. They were excited to see Maylin again. They got to share lunch with her and other children whose sponsors were present. The Yurkunases pray they get another opportunity to return to Panama and spend more time with Maylin. Until then, they plan to continue correspondence through the letters they send. To their family, part of living compassion is expanding their global family to include Maylin, who calls them Madrina and Padrino, or godmother and godfather. “[Compassion] means loving others even when you don’t know them,” Tracy says. “It means being committed and being a light in the darkness, loving like Jesus loves.” Tracy and Joe live near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and both work for the fire and police departments. Their sons, Carter and Parker, are also learning about compassion through the family’s sponsorship experience. *Sponsored children’s named are changed for their protection.

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Connection Points.


Baskets of Love: Responding to Food Shortages in Venezuela


Baskets of Love helps families like Carmen, Deo, and Daniela’s get the food they need to endure shortages.

Photo courtesy of NCM SAM

Photos courtesy of

t first, Carmen thought of the Saturday church services at the Church of the Nazarene in El Llanito, Venezuela, as an activity for her children. A single mother without a permanent job, she was overwhelmed with looking for work and finding odd jobs to scrape by. With her children out of the house, she had a few hours to do chores and find something to feed them that day. Carmen lives with her children, Deo* and Daniela*, in the Andean region of Venezuela. Not only has work been hard to find, but there is also a food shortage plus rising prices. Recently, the children were eating only one meal a day. Every night, Carmen worried that she wouldn’t be able to find food for the next day. Sometimes she didn’t even want to wake up to the reality she faced: her children were without even the most basic necessity, and she didn’t know what to do. The church’s Saturday service became a safe place where she could take her children as she tried to figure it all out. As Deo and Daniela began to attend church more, Carmen began to notice a difference in them. They began to pray over meals, thanking God for the food they had even when it wasn’t enough. The pastors at the church began to learn about the family’s situation from the children. They began to pray together for food and for Carmen. Then one of the pastors began to visit the family at home. One day, the pastor showed up with a basket full of staple foods for the family. The food had been gathered through

a ministry they simply called Cestas de Amor, or Baskets of Love. Carmen wept for joy at the sight of the basket. Today, Carmen’s prayers for a stable job have been answered. Her children’s prayers have also been answered— now their mother goes with them to church each week. She has even invited some of her neighbors to join them. Baskets of Love is run through local Nazarene churches in Venezuela. So far, churches have been able to care for 60 families. There is a great need for food support in Venezuela, and the churches hope to help even more families in the future. *Children’s names are changed for their protection.


lack of access to food is causing hunger and malnutrition; families are eating less nutritious food or skipping meals. During food shortages, it’s important to provide critical nutrition, and churches are doing just that by distributing staples and hot meals through Baskets of Love. They’re also considering the future by teaching families how to grow their own food and helping them set up community savings groups. To support the church’s work to alleviate hunger in Venezuela, visit

QUOTABLE “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” — Thomas Merton 6 |


The Power of Possibility: Child sponsorship is helping children reach their God-given potential Reporting by Simbarashe Kanenungo (NCM Africa), NCM South America, Jasmine Eugenio (NCM Philippines), and NCM Lanka


overty. We would probably all agree it’s not a good thing for a child to grow up in poverty. But would we all agree on what poverty actually is? Many think of poverty as a lack of money or access to basic necessities. For people living in poverty, though, it’s more than a simple lack of stuff. It’s also about lack of opportunity and choices. Children living in poverty are often stuck with “instead of” lives—finding work instead of going to school, marrying early instead of pursing dreams, enduring pain instead of going to the doctor, or caring for younger siblings instead of playing games. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries child sponsorship addresses the “instead of” in children’s lives. When families no longer have to choose between feeding children or sending them to school, those children gain opportunities for a different future. These are just a handful of stories from sponsored children that highlight the power of possibility.


Photo courtesy of NCM Africa

Deborah is so happy that she graduated from high school. Now a university student studying accounting in Tanzania, she talks to girls about going to school like she did. But education isn’t always easy in her community. It isn’t common for girls to pursue an education there; girls are expected to get married, cook, and have children. Sending daughters to school is thought to be just another route to a husband. Deborah was encouraged to go to school through the NCM child sponsorship program, where the church is instilling education’s value. She learned that if she stayed in school instead of dropping out to marry, she could one day give back to the community and help instigate change. Deborah’s sponsor also encouraged her to study hard. “I don’t know this person physically,” she says. “I just know him through correspondence telling me to work hard. This was a real motivation to me.”

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Connection Points. Deborah’s sister is part of the sponsorship program, too. She also plans to continue her education and is considering a nursing degree so she can give to her community. “This is the best church,” Deborah says. “I can’t live and go to another church. This is my church.”


HEALING AFTER LOSS: ROSHAN’S STORY When Roshan* was just 5 years old, his mother left him and his father. For years, he lived alone with his father in their village in Sri Lanka. While his father was at work, Roshan stayed at a friend’s house, sometimes late into the evening. One day, his father never returned. The friend soon learned that Roshan’s father had been arrested, but no one seemed to know why. He is still in jail, and now Roshan lives with his uncle and three cousins. Even though his uncle doesn’t always have a steady income,

he does his best to take care of the children. He worked to get Roshan enrolled in the child sponsorship program and takes him to the Nazarene child development center on his bicycle every morning. Roshan was in grade 3 when he started classes at the center. After years of traumatic losses, Roshan didn’t want to make friends at first. He didn’t like playing and stayed in the classroom during breaks, but his teachers didn’t let his solitude last long. They encouraged him to play with other children and provided counseling to help give him confidence and trust that his teachers and friends wouldn’t abandon him. Gradually, he began to open up to other children, and now he has many friends. Roshan also loves singing worship choruses and hearing Bible stories at the child development center. Not only is Roshan getting a good education and a chance at a better life in the future, but he is also experiencing health and finding hope in the present.

Photo courtesy of NCM Africa

Right now, Paul Onyango is studying in Kenya, finishing a master’s degree in engineering. He also works as a research assistant, contributing to a project that is helping communities in Africa fight against deadly diseases, including malaria and dengue fever. He credits child sponsorship with getting him to where he is. Because of sponsorship, Paul was able to go to school, something that would have been difficult, if not impossible, on his father’s salary as a pastor. Sponsorship enabled him to concentrate on his studies without fear of being sent home. Paul adds that his sponsor’s support even helped him decide to pursue a career that

would give back to his community. He aims to “endeavor to make it a better place.” Paul suspects that without support to stay in school and study, he may have ended up a completely different person. “I don’t know how my life could have been,” he says. “I think it could have been a struggle, a hurting life, and being nobody in the society. Without education and Jesus, life cannot have value at all.”

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Roshan has found hope through child sponsorship. Now, his teachers and friends help him know he is valued.

Photo courtesy of NCM Lanka

Without child sponsorship, Paul (left) would not have been able to finish school on the salary of his father (right), a pastor.

Photo courtesy of NCM SAM

Photo courtesy of NCM Philippines

THRIVING WITH AUTISM: LUIS’S STORY Luis* is 4 years old and adores the pet cat he calls Baby Cuchito. He likes to learn about trains and enjoys going to Sunday School. He’s also on the autism spectrum. As a sponsored child in Chile, Luis goes to a Nazarene child development center that focuses on caring for children with mental or physical disabilities. Luis’s mother, Carolina, was worried when he was first diagnosed. “It was difficult to accept that our son had autism spectrum disorder,” she says. “But thanks to the support of [the center], everything became easier.” Through sponsorship, Luis has access to a community focused on meeting his specific needs. He receives therapy and participates in activities, such as art and games, that have helped improve his confidence and ability to interact with others. Carolina explains that before the therapy, her son “cried and cried a lot at home … [but] he could not communicate. Today,

Luis is happier and more confident since attending a child development center near his home.

Tala’s experiences at a child development center transformed her entire family.

with the support received … his episodes are diminished. He looks happier and communicates what happens to him.” When asked how he feels when he’s at the center, little Luis answers, “Good, happy.”

her siblings started attending a holistic child development program at the local Nazarene church. Over time, they were like completely different children. At first, her brother bullied the other children, and Tala had no sense of direction. Through the encouragement, hope, and education they received, though, the children began to change. Because of Tala’s strong testimony, her parents eventually got involved in the church, too. Her father quit selling drugs, and her mother stopped abusing her children. God has used child sponsorship to transform the whole family. “Thank you for the hope the church gave to us,” Tala says. “We become good because we learn about Jesus. I am so happy for this change He gave to us.” Her mother, Sheryl, adds, “If the church and the sponsorship program is not here … we do not know what kind of life we [would] have. I think it [would] always be the same bad to worst situation.”

TRANSFORMED: TALA’S STORY Tala*, who lives in an urban slum area in Manila, Philippines, is the fourth of six children in her family. Together with her brothers, sisters, and parents, she lives in a tiny one-room home made of scrap material. In her community, most people don’t finish school, dropping out to work or due to pregnancy. Many are hungry, and parents value their children’s ability to earn bits of money more than their ability to learn from books. Tala’s father earned money for the family in a common community trade: drug pushing. Her mother, oppressed by the burden of poverty and depression, was physically and verbally abusive to her children. Thanks to child sponsorship, Tala and

*Children’s names are changed for their protection.

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Connection Points.



I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those O LORD,

who sit in darkness. I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.

—Isaiah 42:6-8

open my eyes that I may see the needs of others; open my ears that I may hear their cries; open my heart so that they need not be without succor. Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong, nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich. Show me where love and hope and faith are needed, and use me to bring them to those places.

And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee. MAKE US WORTHY, LORD,

to serve others throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger, Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, And by our understanding love, Give peace and joy. AMEN.

Prayers written by Alan Paton and Mother Teresa Winter 2017 | 11

for girls, by girls A Youth-Led Justice Club in Ghana Is Changing the Future for Hundreds

By Callie Stevens, NCM Communications

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Sumprecia (left) and Lucy (right) are president and vice president of the groundbreaking Nazarene Girls Justice Club.

n Sumprecia Yaro’s rural village in northeastern Ghana, educating girls is typically frowned upon. “Right from childhood, the girls are made to believe that higher education makes it difficult or impossible for a girl to have a husband,” Sumprecia says. In fact, there are a lot of things girls and women aren’t allowed to do in her village. They are not considered equal to men and, therefore, can’t make important decisions or inherit property. Those who choose to go to school have to scrape together funding on their own. Girls are expected to marry and devote their entire lives to supporting and serving their husband, children, and extended family. Very often, they have no choice in the matter. “Girls are given out to marriages arranged by parents or as a gift to friends,” Sumprecia explains. “Women are advised to always obey, [and] men are allowed to discipline their wives just like their kids.” Sumprecia grew up in Yapala, a small farming village. She was one of 17 children, including her siblings and half-siblings from her father’s two wives. When she was old enough for grade 1, she started following her friends to school. Although she was not enrolled, the teachers encouraged her to stay. Eventually, she started doing any kind of farming activities and odd jobs she could find to pay the school fees and enroll officially. Her mother helped as much as she could, but by the time Sumprecia was qualified for high school, funds had dried up. In her village, it’s common for men to offer to help girls pay for school, but repayment is expected in the form of sexual favors. Exploitation is prevalent, and so is teen pregnancy. “Only a few brave mothers will try to educate the girl child to the first basic

“I had a lot of encouragement ... to dream of living and doing anything that men could do because I am not a lesser human being. I always find ways to share this same dream with other girls.”

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educational level,” Sumprecia says. “Most girls drop out or become pregnant before grade 9.” Without funding, Sumprecia sat out of school for three years, even though she was qualified for high school. Longing to finish her education, the teenager boldly approached the pastor of the local Nazarene church she attended to ask for help. He directed her to the denomination’s district superintendent, a man who had grown up in a different community and culture and was happy to work with her on ways to finish her education. Sumprecia’s firstyear high school fees were paid by a compassion fund the district had set up, and she also received two pigs to raise. The profits that the pigs and their progeny generated allowed her to finish school without having to turn to men who would exploit her. Through the church’s support, Sumprecia became the first educated girl in her family. She says that the Nazarene superintendent encouraged her to keep up with her classes and never think of quitting. He even suggested that through her efforts, other girls could be empowered to believe they could succeed. “For the first time, I felt like I am capable of doing something good, and could do more,” she says.

Esther (left) and Lucy (right) work on the club’s maize farm, which helps fund education and training for young women.

“Only a few brave mothers will try to educate the girl child to the first basic educational level. Most girls drop out or become pregnant before grade 9.”

A DREAM OF JUSTICE Sumprecia’s feeling that she could do more wasn’t just a passing notion. She went on to found the Nazarene Girls for Justice Club as a way to equip and empower other girls. Sumprecia knew her story wasn’t unique. She also knew that many girls weren’t as fortunate as she was: when they left school, they often didn’t get to go back. She says God began to speak to her about forming a club to support other girls the way she had 14 |

Janet received medical help, plus two pigs to help her earn income for school.

Sophia, a club member, is learning how to sew to support herself.

been supported. “I had a lot of encouragement to dream of living and doing anything that men could do because I am not a lesser human being,” Sumprecia says. “I always find ways to share this same dream with other girls and to encourage them.” In 2009, the dream God gave her for the justice club came to fruition. Since then, young women have been coming together to create tangible solutions for the problems they face. At first, running the club wasn’t smooth. In order to garner the respect and support of the men in the community, leadership of the club was given to a man in the beginning. This generated a lot of tension—how would the young women learn to accomplish things themselves if they weren’t allowed to lead? Still, they didn’t let the awkwardness stop them. Sumprecia, along with 14 other girls who had similar stories, came together to start the first club. “We freely discussed our issues and found ways to respond with biblical teachings and prayers,” Sumprecia says. After about a year, the church leadership helped the club transition its structure. Now, the club functions independently under the leadership of young women. Nazarene district leadership continues to provide support in the form of mentoring and leadership training opportunities, as well as finances for larger project proposals. The church leaders also engage with local police when legal justice is needed for specific situations in the lives of the girls, such as sexual assault. The club hasn’t just continued to function; it has exploded. The original club with 15 members has grown to more than 750 members, plus others who aren’t yet registered officially. The club consists of groups who meet across four zones in 11 different communities. The groups meet on the first Saturday of each month, and the local group leaders also meet together every three months. Once a year, all members are invited to a club-wide

“For the first time, I felt like I am capable of doing something good, and could do more.”

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gathering at a central location. While the Nazarene Girls for Justice Club was born out of a local Nazarene church and still bears its name, girls from other denominations and even other faith traditions are also welcome. Any girl who is facing an injustice herself or wants to help others address injustice can join.

AIMING HIGH The support the club provides is multi-faceted and seemingly endless. Together, members contribute “love offerings” during their meetings and manage a bank account where funds for their ministry are kept. They use these funds to address real-life problems girls are experiencing. One of the most successful activities of the club has been running a piggery to help girls continue their education. The members work together to raise pigs. When a girl receives a pig, she is able to sell the piglets to cover school expenses, in the same way Sumprecia did when she continued her high school education. Recently, the piggery was destroyed by a storm, so they are now working to raise the 5,600 Cedi ($1,265 USD) needed to reestablish their herd. This time, they plan to build a sturdier structure. The club has a farm where peanuts, maize, and rice are grown to earn additional income for club projects. They also buy sewing machines and provide vocational training for girls who want to learn a trade. In addition, they invite women who have found professional success to speak, and they organize specialists to come teach various skills. Sumprecia notes that this approach is working. “The club empowers girls and encourages them to aim high in life,” she says. “Many people have seen the fruits of the club. Girls graduate and are now gainfully employed or learn a trade and are now leading in training others.” Since the club’s inception, more than 450

“I am proud to say, teenage pregnancy and teenage marriages have reduced drastically from 90 percent to 20 percent in the areas we serve.”

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The Nazarene Girls Justice Club helps girls continue their education.

Pigs provide income to pay school fees for girls who want an education.

girls have either completed high school or learned a vocational skill to support themselves. Many have also gone beyond high school, including Sumprecia, who studied medicine and now works as a nurse. In addition to coming up with practical ways to meet tangible needs and helping girls stay out of exploitative situations, the club also works to address emotional and spiritual concerns. They start by making sure members understand and experience the love of God, and they talk a lot about living in a Christian relationship before marriage and when married. “We have helped more than 1,700 girls to have a positive view of themselves and to live a biblical, moral right life,” Sumprecia says. “I am proud to say, teenage pregnancy and teenage marriages have reduced drastically from 90 percent to 20 percent in the areas we serve.”

DOING MORE While the clubs still do not see strong support from men in the community, more women are getting involved. Mothers are changing their ideas about the importance of school for girls, and more often than not, now hope their daughters attend, rather than discouraging it. The girls who are involved in the club are pioneers: no other women have taken on the responsibilities of leadership the way they have. As members graduate, they become community leaders, teachers, wives, mothers, and more. And because of the Nazarene Girls for Justice Club, they will teach their peers and daughters that they can do more, that they can dream more. Esther first learned about the club when its leaders helped a 13-year-old girl in her community avoid an arranged marriage. When Esther learned about the training, support, and justice work they were doing, she decided to join. As part of the club, she was able to continue her own education. “I was thrown out of class because I could not pay my fees,” Esther explains. “The club helped me with two piglets, and now I have been able to take care of my school needs.” Not only did she finish primary school and high school, but Esther is now studying at a teacher training college. “I love this club,” she says. n Winter 2017 | 17

Photos courtesy of Bryan Rich


By Callie Stevens, NCM Communications 18 |


enaia Freire Furtado had already been through a lot when she was first sponsored as a child in Brazil. Her father had recently died, preceded by a close friend only six months before. She had also moved with her mother and brother to a new city, where they didn’t have friends or family. She was only 6 years old. “I would think, ‘OK, Lord, you want to take everyone, is that it?’” she remembers. After her father died, Benaia didn’t speak for four months. They had a close bond, and he was her model for God’s love. His work as a pastor kept him busy, but he played with his children often and prayed with them before bed each night. Benaia’s memories of him have had a deep impact on her life.

Benaia and her former sponsor, Judy, met in person at the Nazarene General Assembly in June.

Photo courtesy of GMC Communications

“My dad was an awesome dad, and I know he’s with the Lord and I’m grateful,” she says. “But at the age of 6, you don’t always understand completely what’s going on.” The gap that Benaia’s father left behind was large. The family struggled emotionally, and they faced financial hardships. It was hard for Benaia’s mother to pay for necessities; it was nearly impossible to pay her children’s school fees. When Benaia and her brother were accepted into the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries child sponsorship program, though, education became possible. “God blessed us,” Benaia says. “We were blessed to receive help from someone we did not know.”

LOVE FROM AFAR Not long after her father’s death, the family moved to the city of Itajaí, Brazil, in response to her mother’s call to ministry. As a child, the move felt like another blow to Benaia. Without friends, she often felt very lonely. Sponsorship enabled her to get an education, which was crucial to ensuring opportunities for a hopeful future, but it also provided an important relational aspect. “It’s something that brings you hope

because you know there is someone caring for you,” Benaia says. “The children that are sponsored today are aware there is someone caring for them, and it brings hope because God will … send other people to help each other. It’s really important.” Benaia’s sponsor was Judy Veigl, who works at at the Nazarene Global Ministry Center in Kansas, USA. Judy says she always had a heart for missions, and it was exciting to be connected with someone in another country.

‘‘It feels like we all could and should do our part— whatever that is— to help someone.’’

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school. Benaia was even able to continue on to get a post-secondary specialization in education afterward. Of course, at the time, Benaia had no intention of studying education. She felt God may be calling her to be a teacher, but she intended to get a degree in communications instead. Then she received an unexpected scholarship from the government. The catch? The scholarship was only for students pursing an education degree. For months, she was devastated. Now, though, she is grateful and says she can’t imagine doing anything else. “I believe everything has a purpose in the kingdom of God, and what I am today—it is a result from my childhood,” Benaia says. “Today, I work with children in order to reciprocate what was done for me, and I love it. I will never be able to return what was done for me, but a simple way [to try] is to work with children.”

Sponsorship inspired Benaia to work as an educator of children.

TWO LIVES COME TOGETHER Benaia and her mother look at a picture of her father.

Benaia and her father, pictured here, were very close.

“God takes something someone else does and makes it huge for someone,” Judy says. “It’s a privilege to be a part of it.” Judy has been sponsoring children for many years. She believes education is vital to the development of children. She tries to remember the excitement she used to feel starting school and hopes to be able to help generate that for children across the world. 14 | 20

‘‘God blessed us. We were blessed to receive help from someone we did not know.’’ “It feels like we all could and should do our part—whatever that is—to help someone,” Judy says. The part Judy played in Benaia’s life ended up being significant. Today, Benaia works as a teacher in part because of her experience as a sponsored child. Through sponsorship, her mother could ensure that her daughter was able to graduate high

Judy and Benaia never met in person, and Judy had no idea what impact her sponsorship had on Benaia’s life into adulthood. Many years had passed since Benaia finished high school and the sponsorship ended, and the two hadn’t kept in touch. Unexpectedly, they reconnected on June 25, 2017. Benaia and Judy were both at the Church of the Nazarene’s quadrennial General Assembly. During the Sunday evening service, Benaia was invited to come on stage. She knew she had been asked to talk about her experience with child sponsorship. What she didn’t know is that Judy would be invited on stage, too. The meeting was a surprise to Benaia, who had just told everyone in attendance that she continues to pray for Judy to this day. “It was unlike any experience I’ve ever had,” Judy says of the meeting. “[It was] very special and rewarding—to see in person someone you were connected with long ago … .” n Judy works as the administrative director of planning and operations at the Nazarene Global Ministry Center in Lenexa, Kansas. Benaia works as an early childhood educator in Itajaí, Brazil, where she lives with her husband, Ademir. Her mother still pastors there.

YOU CAN PUT A CHILD ON A PATH OUT OF POVERTY. Sponsor a child in Jesus’ name. To sponsor a child, go online to or simply cut off and mail this form using the prepaid envelope. l I would like to sponsor a child for $30 a month. I would like to sponsor: l Greatest Need I would like to sponsor a child from:

l Greatest Need l Eastern Europe

l Africa l Asia l Latin America

l Boy

l Asia-Pacific l Middle East

l Girl

l Caribbean

Name / Group____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Contact Person (if different)_______________________________________________________________________________________________ Address / City / State / ZIP_______________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone ________________________________________ Email ____________________________________________________________________ Church to receive 10% giving credit ______________________________________________________________________________________ You can mail this form to: Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Child Sponsorship 17001 Prairie Star Parkway, Lenexa, Kansas 66220 No payment is due now. You will receive information by mail about your sponsored child and payment options.




n Lusaka, Zambia, a group stands in a dusty lot, saying their goodbyes against the backdrop of the setting sun. Each week, the same group of 20 comes together to support one another as a savings and credit association. The group is filled with the kind of energy that comes with a sense of hope for the future. Susan Mwenda, a member of the group, hopes it can help revive her small business. In 2011, she began selling groceries, and business was good. Then, she and her husband could afford to provide for the basic needs of their four sons and a nephew who lives with them, including their school fees. That changed a couple of years ago when her business took a hit during a major downturn in Zambia’s economy. At that point, covering education costs for five children became difficult. With no free government schools in their area, the children would have to drop out of school if Mwenda and her husband couldn’t come up with the money for fees and supplies. “I had a lot of pressure when the business came down,” Mwenda says. “I have been thinking day and night about how to boost my business.” Going to a bank for a loan isn’t an option for Mwenda. “I was thinking about going to the bank [to] borrow some money, but the fees will be too much,” she explains. Like more than 2 billion people around the world, Mwenda doesn’t use formal banking systems. Even in areas where banks exist, such as Lusaka, they aren’t easily accessible because they charge high fees to keep a savings account open and require hefty collateral and high interest on even small loans. Without access to credit, making ends meet is difficult for individuals who don’t have opportunities for employment and must, therefore, rely on small businesses for income. Families who don’t have a savings buffer are

22 | Photo courtesy of NCM Haiti

also especially vulnerable when emergencies strike. Any unexpected costs, such as medical care, can plunge a family deeper into poverty. Parents often have to choose between putting food on the table or sending children to school. There are other informal savings and loan options in Zambia, but Mwenda insists her group is different. The other groups, “don’t care about one another,” she says. “If you go there, they won’t help you.” Mwenda says she has confidence in her savings and credit association, which formed out of the local Nazarene church she attends, “because Jesus is the center of everything.” She adds, “We share together and pray together, and because of that I have courage. With this group, we help each other because we are the church.”

SAVING WITHOUT SHAME Nazarene churches in Zambia have partnered with HOPE International, a Christian microenterprise development organiza-

“We share together and pray together, and because of that I have courage. With this group, we help each other because we are the church.” tion, to create and train savings and credit groups. The partnership now serves more than 700 members in 48 groups through local Nazarene churches across the country.

HOPE’s model is a holistic approach that combines systems for savings and credit, financial and business training, and discipleship through Bible study and prayer. Each week, groups of 15 to 20 individuals come together. The groups are self-selected and self-managed. They elect leaders and determine the minimum they’ll commit to save. In Mwenda’s group, each member adds at least 25 Kwacha (about $2.75 USD) in savings to a collective fund weekly. Once the pot builds up, members can take out loans at reasonable interest rates, also determined by the group. Instead of going to a bank, the interest payments go back to the group, which increases the credit available for additional loans. At the end of each savings cycle, the accumulated interest is distributed to group members,

Photos courtesy of HOPE International

Left: Susan Mwenda says she has confidence in her savings and credit association, which formed out of her local Nazarene church, “because Jesus is the center of everything.” Her hope is that her participation will enable her to expand her small

business so she can send her children to school. Above: Abigail Liche started a small business selling sausages several years ago. Recently, her products were stolen, and she needed credit in order to re-start her business. She was

able to get what she needed through a loan from her savings and credit group. “I have learned how to save,” she says.

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education for six children isn’t easy. Liche says she has trouble paying for clothes and food, let alone school fees. “I struggle and

“The church trained me to give, but I was not taught how to save. This group has showed me a way to save and not feel guilty.” my husband struggles because we get little,” she says. “[But] because of the savings group, I can send my children to school.”

Bernard Kazerbe echoes Liche’s experience. “The church trained me to give, but I was not taught how to save,” he says. “This group has showed me a way to save and not feel guilty.” Kazerbe came to Zambia as a refugee when violence made it impossible to remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He says it was hard to save at home because he felt the need to give what he had to others who had needs. Now, though, he sees how saving can provide greater benefits in the long run. Kazerbe has dreams of growing his business and “making it big.” He wants to meet the needs of his family, including his wife,

Photo courtesy of NCM Haiti

thereby growing each member’s individual savings. Through small loans, group members are able to start or expand small businesses. They are also afforded a safe place to save money. According to member Abigail Liche, saving isn’t something that comes naturally in her culture. “I have learned how to save without having shame to not give when those are in need around me,” she says. “Saving can be biblical, too, but it’s greed that causes harm.” Liche and her husband care for their three children and three other children who live with them. Covering the cost of

Above: Savings and credit associations pool their collective savings in boxes, such as this one, which is used by a group in Haiti. Members elect officers, and at least three have keys to the box.

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Right: Bernard Kazerbe came to Zambia as a refugee when violence forced him from his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As he is able to save more and grow his business, he hopes to help others. “My heart is to help the people in my community,” he says. “I want to start a business to employ the young men in the community to work and pay them.”

Photo courtesy of HOPE International

their son, and six orphaned nieces and nephews; but he doesn’t want to simply focus on improving the lives of his family members. “My heart is to help the people in my community,” Kazerbe says. “I want to start a business to employ the young men in the community to work and pay them. … Now that the savings group came, it gives me hope that I can accomplish this and help my community and the church.”

RAISED UP IN DIGNITY Nazarene churches in Haiti have also been partnering with HOPE International to introduce savings and credit associations in their communities. There are currently

1,500 members in 72 groups from 47 Nazarene churches across the country. “A lot of people around here live in poverty,” member Desir Myrtil says, explaining why he decided to join a group. What he means is more than simply a lack of resources, though. While the groups do help people financially, Myrtil emphasizes the less tangible aspects of poverty. “It’s not only money,” he says. “It’s the whole thinking thing. … The first thing is to help the person understand that he is able to do things.” As groups come together, they discover how much they are capable of doing on their own, from increasing their savings to Left: Mercy Wilbert, a mother of three, says her group has given her courage to face the future. “We put it together, and we are not scared. We are not afraid,” she says. The group has also brought out her leadership abilities and recently elected her as their secretary.

Photo courtesy of NCM Haiti

expanding or starting businesses. And as parents are able to provide for their children, their understanding of their God-given dignity grows as well. Mercy Wilbert, a mother of two daughters and a son, says participating in her group has given her a boost of courage to face the future. “It’s such a good thing,” she says. “The way we put together whatever we have—we put it together, and we are not scared. We are not afraid.” Wilbert is a soft-spoken woman, but the group has affirmed her quiet leadership. She was elected secretary of her group. “For me and my family,” she says, “I would like for God to raise us up in dignity.” n Below: According to Desir Myrtil, the groups are addressing both material and spiritual poverty by affirming members’ God-given dignity. The groups come together to discover how much they are capable of doing on their own. “The first thing is to help the person understand that he is able to do things,” he says.

Photo courtesy of NCM Haiti

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Left: Nazarene volunteers helped with community debris removal after an 8.2 quake in Oaxaca, Mexico. Middle: Cutberto Tenorio, who helped coordinate NCM response efforts in Mexico, prays with a woman after the earthquake in southern Mexico. Right: Nazarene churches in South Asia gave food aid to more than 12,000 families after catastrophic flooding.

WHEN DISASTE Left: This family in India lost their home during historiclevel flooding; millions were left homeless in South Asia. Middle: Denetra Baker, Pastor Maxine Williams’ daughter, helped a team of volunteers clean out her mother’s flooded home in Port Orange, Texas. Right: In September, volunteer medical teams in Mexico cared for more than 3,000 people affected by earthquakes. Photos courtesy of NCM Mexico, Sam Malpica, Jairo Sánchez, Roberto Rodriguez, Vidal Cole, BNM, NCM India, Carla Sunberg, South Texas District, Joel Tooley, NCM Puerto Rico, and Bataca Church of the Nazarene

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t would be hard to think of the late summer months of 2017 without remembering the natural disasters. For those who experienced them, though, forgetting would be impossible. Most natural disasters seem to be over quickly: earthquakes that last just minutes, storms that last the night. To live through them, though, can seem like an eternity, a fact made even truer by the months and years of rebuilding. In impoverished areas without safety nets, recovery can be a distant dream. That’s why it’s so important that the church is there for those living through the lingering aftermath of disasters. During the numerous disasters this year, local churches were—and continue to be—vital. That’s because they’re already there, and they’re ready to show deep compassion. Even before the shaking stops or the water recedes, they’re able to assess the situation and care for those who are vulnerable.



In addition to geography, the church also has systems in place to mobilize members for response. First come the immediate needs: making sure people are fed, housed, and healthy. After that, long-term restoration and rebuilding start. Long after the news stories end and emergency relief teams have gone home, families and individuals affected by disasters are left to put their lives back together. And this is where the church fills the gaps and continues to walk alongside community members on the long road to recovery. What sets church-based disaster response efforts apart is that the church is there before, during, and after disasters. The word mobilized means to bring together and prepare for action. The unique part of churchled disaster response is that it isn’t only coming together, but it is coming together to express the deep, intentional compassion that grows out of God’s love. These are just a few of the countless stories of love that came out of great tragedies. And they are only the beginning. Winter 2017 | 27


When massive earthquakes shook Mexican communities, Nazarene volunteers quickly mobilized to care for thousands of people.


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ate on September 7, 2017, a massive 8.2-magnitude earthquake shook the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. The quake killed at least 96 people, although the true extent of the damage may never be known. Then, 12 days later, a second 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck about 400 miles north, near Mexico City. The second quake killed more than 300 people. Both turned entire neighborhoods into rubble. Almost immediately, local churches mobilized to respond. In Oaxaca’s Juchitán district, the area hardest hit by the earthquake, churches set up 26 feeding points where volunteers cooked and served three hot meals to 8,000 individuals every day—24,000 meals a day. Most people were sleeping outdoors because of strong, ongoing aftershocks, so several churches also set up hospitality areas on their property to provide a safe place for families and individuals. Weeks later, even after many were able to go home, the churches continued to provide 5,000 people with two daily meals—10,000 meals each day.

One of the greatest needs was medical care. Hospitals were destroyed in the quake, and not only did people have needs related to the disaster, such as dust inhalation and high blood pressure related to anxiety, but individuals’ prescription medications were buried under the rubble. In response, dozens of local medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists came together to volunteer their time. Mobile medical teams made of medical professionals as well as dozens of volunteers, primarily from Mexico, traveled from neighborhood to neighborhood to provide medical care. More than 100 youth from Nazarene churches joined each week to provide activities for children and spiritual care. In September, the teams ministered to more than 3,000 patients, and the ministry continued on into the weeks that followed. When a deadly quake struck central Mexico less than two weeks later, churches came together again. Within the same day, churches were mobilizing people to provide water and sandwiches to exhausted first responders and volunteers trying to rescue

people from the rubble. They also collected and distributed food, water, and hygiene items to disaster victims. They provided shelter through large tents and immediately began to remove debris and help repair homes that could be made livable again.

THE MARATHON OF DISASTER RESPONSE At first, reports from leaders in Mexico likened the response to a sprint: scrambling to get food, water, and medical care to those who needed it most, as well as finding places for people to sleep. As that sprint transitioned to a marathon, stories of hope and compassion appeared. One such story came from Oaxaca, where many children were taking refuge at a church. Recognizing the fear and sadness they must be feeling, two women took charge by planning games. One woman, a psychologist, was able to help children begin to work through their fear and trauma. Through food, medical care, and compassion, the church in Mexico mobilized quickly and effectively to care for people who were injured and grieving. A message

Dozens of medical professionals from Mexico volunteered to serve 3,000plus patients.

from a group of responders noted that the events awakened the local church, and that young and old together took action. Perhaps more than anything, what they communicated was this: we are all with you, and God is here. Missionaries Roberto and Rhesa Rodriguez, who direct the Nazarene Border


Initiative and served in Mexico after the quake, shared that they loved “seeing volunteers from all over Mexico pulling together to meet the needs here both physically and spiritually.” In fact, the holistic focus sets church-led disaster response apart. Not only did the medical teams offer quality care for physical conditions, but volunteers also listened to and prayed for those affected. As a result, they reported that many people came to faith in Christ. And because the church is there before, during, and after disasters, local pastors are already there to connect them to a welcoming congregation. Dr. Rene Rivas, a Nazarene doctor from Guatemala who spent time volunteering with the medical teams for several days, observed: “Even though the walls of the temples are broken, the church is strong in Juchitán.” “I thank God for belonging to the Church of the Nazarene, a church whose leaders taught me compassion through the Bible and through practice,” Rivas wrote. “And here we are trying to help people in need and receiving blessing from God.”

Even the youngest were among hundreds who volunteered with Nazarene disaster response efforts.

For many days after the first quake, volunteers cooked and served 24,000 hot meals every day.

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WHEN DISASTER STRIKES that collapsed were part of impoverished, informal settlements built on unstable hills. It’s all the families there could afford. At the time, Pastor Vidal Cole, Nazarene district superintendent in Sierra Leone, said, “We want to share the love and compassion of Christ with our people in any way we possibly can.” Members of nearby Faith Community Church of the Nazarene mobilized quickly, looking for ways to meet both physical and spiritual needs. They met with local government officials to determine needs and gaps in existing resources. In addition to donations of their own clothing as well as prayer and counseling, the church provided rice and cooking oil—which were combined with food from other groups—for 500 families. They also provided bathing soap and laundry soap for the families. Jokomie Metzger is the head woman of Regent Village. “I want to express our gratitude to the church and her leaders,” she said. “Our families were suffering without any hope of help and assistance, but now we are very much grateful to have received these items. I will ensure that the most vulnerable in the community receive their portion.” Zainab Tucker, 55, watched as her house was

On Aug. 14, heavy rains created flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone. Thousands were left homeless when a mountainside collapsed. A nearby Nazarene church gave food to victims and prayed with them.


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n late summer, heavy rains caused a mountainside to partially collapse on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Floodwaters and mudslides carried away entire neighborhoods in the Regent, Kaningo, and Pentagon communities. More than 1,000 men, women, and children died, according to local officials. Thousands lost their homes, all their belongings, and their livelihoods. Many were farmers who lost their land and their homes. A high school student named Ibrahim* lost all eight members of his family. He had been staying the night at a friend’s house in a nearby neighborhood. In the early morning hours when they heard what sounded like an explosion, Ibrahim ran outside and toward the disaster site, where he saw that his own home was completely flattened and covered by mud and debris. “I was so shocked that I collapsed,” he said. “I am encouraged and strengthened by the prayers and the word of God that they [the church volunteers] use to speak to us. I believe that God loves me and He has a plan for my life.” The mudslides poignantly illustrate the way disasters most affect those who were already vulnerable to begin with. Many of the homes


carried away by floodwaters. She is thankful that she and her two children were able to escape. She told a church volunteer that ever since the disaster, she had been crying. “You have brought us hope,” she said. “You have put smiles on our faces again. Because of your help, we know all is not lost and that God loves us and He is still on our side.”

In Bangladesh, Nazarene churches gave food aid to 10,000 of the most vulnerable families in their communities.


he water rose almost to the tops of mango and banana trees. Three weeks later, once the waters finally receded, those trees would not be able to produce fruit. Rice fields, mud-walled homes, roads, and bridges were all destroyed. Over the summer of 2017, more than 1,000 people died in massive flooding across South Asia. The worst flooding in a century was caused when high temperatures caused heavy monsoon rains in the Himalaya Mountains. Melted snow rushed down the mountains, across Nepal and India, causing rivers to overflow. Bangladesh, where the rivers meet, experienced flooding on a massive scale. Fully one-third of the country was under water, causing many thousands of families to lose everything. Tens of millions of people were displaced, and food shortages turned into a long-term crisis as waterlogged crops died. Jacinthe*, 35, and her husband and two children, ages 10 and 4, spent eight days out on a road while waiting for the waters to recede. During that time, they had no shelter or safe drinking water. They had no food either—until they received a relief package

with enough food for a week through Bangladesh Nazarene Mission, the compassionate ministries arm of the Church of the Nazarene in Bangladesh. The family had very little to begin with, but they lost absolutely everything they owned: clothes, food, beds, and 20 hens. The mud walls of their two-room, 100-square foot (9.3-square meter) home, crumbled in the flooding. Although they were able to make small repairs with sheets of tin that floated by, their home would need to be rebuilt. In communities surrounding local Nazarene churches, approximately 63,000 people were affected. Packages of rice, lentils, potatoes, oil, and soap were distributed to families and individuals among the poorest in their communities. Depending on the size of the family, the packages would last five to 14 days. Safina*, a 20-year-old mother of three, was filled with relief when she received a food package. The flood destroyed all of her family’s stored food, and she couldn’t get her children the food they needed. “During the flood, two of my children became sick,” she says. “Now they are underweight and malnourished.” Safina, one of 10,000 who received food aid, called it “a blessing.”

MOBILIZING VOLUNTEERS In India, Nazarene churches also distributed emergency food relief—enough for a month—to 2,200 families in 24 rural areas where people were already living in poverty. Many had lost their crops and livestock, in addition to their homes, in the floods. The churches’ focus was on the most vulnerable families and individuals, both church members and other neighbors. It was important to Nazarene leaders that they also serve people who were not part of their churches, regardless of their faith traditions. Volunteers played a critical role. In fact, much of the work was accomplished by 50 youth from Nazarene churches. They spent two days distributing rice, lentils, salt, oil, and soybeans, plus soap, to flood victims. The churches in the affected areas are also working toward creating shelters so that the next time flooding happens, people can stay inside instead of on the roadside. While the road to recovery will be long, immediate aid sustained people in the beginning days of the crisis. Winter 2017 | 31


After Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, millions were in need of drinking water and food.

In Puerto Rico, as a team of volunteers finished delivering food to those in need, the girl at the door said, “Look, Mom! Now we have something to eat.”

In Texas, a volunteer from Indiana helped clean out homes flooded by Harvey.




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hen a citizen volunteer carried Pastor Maxine Williams away from her south Texas home on a jet ski, it was the first time she had been on one. She said the ride felt like an eternity as floodwaters brought by Hurricane Harvey rose. Eventually, Williams caught another ride on a raised truck and made it to the home of a member of Grace Church of the Nazarene, which she leads in Port Arthur, Texas. Soon, though, the group noticed waters rising there, too. They decided to evacuate by catching another ride with the owner of the truck. As they were leaving, they realized a senior adult nearby needed help. As the waters were rising quickly, they risked going back to rescue their neighbor. They all made it to the church, where they joined 60 other flood victims. Afterward, that neighbor began visiting the church. With a little help from Nacogdoches and Woodland Churches of the Nazarene, the Port Arthur Grace Church became a

fully functional shelter complete with beds, food, and other necessary supplies. The hurricane made landfall on August 25. In the hours following, Nazarene churches across south Texas—from Houston and the Woodlands to Orange and Port Arthur to Beaumont and Pasadena— mobilized to help those in need. Multiple churches served as shelters and points of distribution as supplies flowed in from local sources and other areas of Texas. And hundreds of volunteers have been traveling to serve from Texas and across the U.S.

HELPING HANDS AFTER HARVEY The drive from Tehachapi, California, to Orange, Texas, took 28 hours. For the six members of the Tehachapi Church of the Nazarene, it was an easy trip to make despite its length. They knew the community had seen some of the worst of Harvey’s fierce rain, howling winds, and rising floodwaters. When the team arrived, they found the streets lined with piles of household goods and furniture, all of it molded and ruined. They were there specifically to help the

Spell family. Rebekah Spell, who works as the children’s pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, and her husband, Aaron, have five children. They’ve faced natural disasters before and have always been able to put their lives back together afterward. This time, though, the floods from Harvey destroyed their house and many of their belongings. The family of seven was living in a camper on the church’s property with no idea how they would begin to start over. Together with professional construction workers and a truck full of supplies from California, the group cleaned, hung drywall, and began the process of rebuilding the Spells’ house. In California, the whole Tehachapi church joined the effort by giving enough to cover the costs associated with rebuilding, purchasing new appliances, and replacing cabinets, floors, and furniture. While the house wasn’t quite move-in ready when the team left, the Spells were soon able to move back into their house and begin turning it into a home again.



n September, Hurricane Irma tore a catastrophic path through the Caribbean, devastating many island nations, including St. Martin. The storm hit the island with full force, ripping up trees and leaving piles of debris where once there were houses and buildings. Three Nazarene churches were severely damaged, and news sources reported that most structures were destroyed or damaged. According to Nazarene leaders there, 75 percent of church members lost their homes entirely. It was difficult to get supplies there, but sister churches on the nearby island of Martinique were able to use their status as an official region of France to get a container of supplies to St. Martin, which is a collectivity of France. After hitting the Caribbean, Irma continued north to the U.S. state of Florida. There, churches continued to mobilize. Within hours, a Nazarene response team from Virginia was in New Smyrna, Florida. They stopped at the flooded home of Adrian and Elizabeth Calhoun. A member of the team offered this beautiful observation of what it means to be the mobilized church: “You are not alone.”

TIMING WAS EVERYTHING When Hurricane Irma headed toward Florida, churches in south Texas decided to help. They knew better than anyone what those in the storm’s path would face. Before people could start over, they would have to clear their homes of debris, throwing out the practical and sentimental alike, in heaps of moldy memories. The south Texas churches had received massive support, including a surplus of Crisis Care Kits containing toiletries and other necessities. So they put out the call to see if anyone would be willing to transport kits to Florida. It was a big ask: road closures, fuel shortages, and traffic would make the trip difficult. Pastor Darin Pound and Ed Warwick from the Temple, Texas, First Church of the Nazarene were up for the task. They, along with volunteers from other churches, filled a box truck to capacity with six pallets of water, thousands of care kits, and diapers. What would normally have been a 14hour trip turned into a multi-day trek. God’s timing was evident, though. Several times, they found a gas station with fuel at a crucial moment. At others, they decided Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s power system, leaving millions without power for months on end.

to fill up early only to find their destination had changed, and the extra gas would take them the added distance. Ultimately, they made their way to Cudjoe Key, one of Florida’s lower keys. It bore Irma’s brunt when she first made landfall in the U.S. Then, as they unloaded the truck with the help of pastors and volunteers, a U.S. National Guardsman approached to find out if they had any water. He told them they had just run out, and a group of residents needed water immediately. “God is good,” Pound says. “His timing is perfect!”



ollowing closely behind Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria carved a similar path. In Dominica, at least 15 people died. The island itself was in ruins, and weeks after the storm passed, there was still a severe food shortage. In the small town of Bataca, the Nazarene church had been preparing. A few years earlier, the church turned the lower floor of its two-story building into a compassionate ministry center. When the weather turned, In Dominica, 50 people sheltered safely in the bottom floor of the Nazarene church in Bataca as Maria destroyed the top floor; the storm decimated the island.

After Hurricane Irma, Nazarene volunteers prepared to serve food to community members in St. Augustine, Florida.

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YOUR HELP IS NEEDED Long after the news stories end, families and individuals whose lives were turned upside down by disasters are still walking the road toward recovery. It’s often a lonely path filled with the grief of loss and the pain of starting over. It’s also a path without sufficient resourcesespecially for those who were already living in poverty or who are living in a part of the world without safety nets. To support ongoing disaster response efforts, please visit 50 people headed to the center for shelter. As winds pounded the island, those huddled in the center’s back two rooms listened as the storm tore off the church’s roof and destroyed everything in the sanctuary. It blew off the doors of the shelter, too, but everyone inside remained safe. Thanks to food supplies the center had stored for emergencies like this, those 50 people had food to last for two days. Most homes in the area were demolished. It’s no exaggeration to say many of those gathered would have died if the church had not opened its doors. The Nazarene church in Bioche, on the western side of the island, also had a compassionate ministry center stocked with water filters and Crisis Care Kits. In the days following Maria, volunteers distributed these items to neighbors in need.

PERSISTENCE IN PUERTO RICO Puerto Rico was already without power after Hurricane Irma when the full force of Hurricane Maria ripped through the country on September 20. Tens of thousands were left homeless by the flooding, including many families from Nazarene churches. 34 |

Hundreds of Nazarene volunteers have traveled to south Texas communities to help with the disaster response in the months following Harvey.

Volunteers in Puerto Rico distributed 42,000 pounds of food after the first shipment of aid arrived.

Weeks after the hurricane hit, communication lines were still down, and the whole island was without power, causing life-or-death situations for some with medical conditions requiring power sources for treatment. At the time, 60 percent of people still didn’t have access to potable water, and roads were impassible. For weeks, water and gasoline shortages worsened. Still, churches mobilized quickly to serve those in need after the winds stopped. The Church of the Nazarene in Cataño lost a large chunk of its sanctuary. It wasn’t gone long, though. In the midst of twisted piles of metal roofing and broken lumber, the congregation rebuilt the wall that was destroyed. The town surrounding the church had more than 300 displaced residents, so the church also actively volunteered in shelters, including providing activities for children. in the shelters. The Loiza Valley Church of the Nazarene offered meals to their community and collected resources to distribute to those in need. Seven feet of water flooded Arecibo. People had to ration food and water, and many people lost homes and livelihoods. Two pastors gathered their congregations

together to worship days after the storm. Pastor Martin encouraged her church to remember, “Maria might have taken our properties … but she did not take our joy or our hope of eternal life.” When the ports opened up and shipments of aid supplies started pouring in, dozens of volunteers from Nazarene churches in Puerto Rico worked tirelessly to distribute hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, water filters, Crisis Care Kits, baby supplies, and more to those in need. Volunteers from the Dorado Church of the Nazarene went to Naranjito, an impoverished town where they regularly minister, to distribute aid. The church in Vega Baja took supplies to a home for senior adults that was lacking resources. Volunteers from the Cataño Church of the Nazarene took aid to La Puntilla, a distressed neighborhood that was flooded by ocean water. As the group was leaving La Puntilla, one volunteer heard a young girl say to her mother, “Look, Mom! Now we have something to eat.” n



ver the past decade, NCM has always had enough Crisis Care Kits to meet needs during disasters responses. That changed in the late summer months of 2017 when an unyielding season brought disasters one after the other. The warehouses were emptied as case after case traveled to disaster-affected areas. When NCM put out a call for more Crisis Care Kits, the response of Nazarene churches was positively overwhelming. Within days, thousands of kits were on the way, and within a few weeks, more than 10,000 kits had been delivered! Thousands and thousands of kits were delivered to people experiencing their darkest days—all in the name of Christ and all thanks to the generosity of Nazarene churches.

Called to Compassion.

And Now It’s My Turn


learned was my friend’s father, paid my fees and left. I took the final exams and graduated high school. Today, 42 years down the road of life, that pastor is retired. He feels proud and happy that he responded to my need when he heard of my plight. Each time I visit his home, I go with gifts and I pray with him. His never stops weeping with joy when I visit. I do not know what my life would have been if he hadn’t helped when he heard my story. I do not know what would have happened if my classmate hadn’t shared my story with his church. I do know that someone provided for me when I was in need. If no one had paid my fees, I would be a high school dropout today. Someone made a difference in my life, and now it’s my turn to make difference in the lives of others. This is why I do what I do. Rev. Frank Mills serves as a district superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene in Ghana and as a youth justice coordinator for the Africa Region. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree. He and his wife, Hanna, are the parents of four children. Photo courtesy of Frank Mills

something out behind the scenes. The father of one of my classmates was a pastor. My classmate shared my struggles at church during prayer meetings. by Frank Mills Then the day before registration closed, y parents attended a Methodist I was alone in my usual corner of the church as I was growing into a class, watching my friends chatting, playteen. They were proud to call themselves ing around, and studying. All of a sudChristians, but they did not really live the den, the school finance director stepped Christian life. I didn’t have anyone to help into the class and asked, “Who is Frank me understand what it meant to be a Mills?” Christian. My dad was an accountant and “Me, sir,” I said. made a stable income, but unfortunately He told me I had a visitor. I got to his he spent his money on friends and fun. office, and there was a man I had never Then my dad lost his job and had to flee met. The man, who told me he was a pasthe country for safety. My mom followed, tor, asked “Have you paid your registratraveling to Nigeria to search for our dad. tion fees for your final exams?” She stayed longer as she I told him I hadn’t, and continued to search, and he told me that the Lord my brother and I had to had spoken to his heart “Beloved, move in with our auntie. to provide for my fees. I let us love one Life was like hell in did not know what to say, another, this new place. My brother but I knew I wanted to and I were able to eat only know this “Lord” who probecause love once a day. No friends of vided for my need at the is from God; ours were allowed to visvery point I had lost hope. everyone it. We did all the houseThe pastor, who I later who loves work and took care of the is born of God garden. We cleaned the floors, washed the clothes, and knows God.” washed the cars, cleaned — 1 John 4:7 (NRSV) the toilets, and did anything else we were told to do. If we did anything wrong, we weren’t allowed to go to school and were denied food for the whole day as a form of punishment. When my brother could no longer bear the harsh treatment, he left for the streets. Left behind, I struggled on my own to pay my fees to stay in school. I depended largely on gifts from friends and peers who showed compassion as they saw my struggles. I eventually reached my final year in high school, but I had no way to pay the registration fee of 50 cedis ($10 USD). I had no helper. No family member came to my aid. I regularly wept in school as the deadline for registration drew closer. I isolated myself from friends and cried on an empty stomach. Little did I know that God was working

Left: Dr.

Frank has been instrumental in empowering girls to pursue their education by encouraging churches to support projects such as piggeries that generate income for school fees.

Winter 2017 | 35

Love in Action.

Rebuilding Hope Restoration and Healing After the 2016 Ecuador Earthquake Reporting by Dwight Rich, North Andean Field, and Tabita Gonzalez, NCM South America


he word restoration can be misleading when it’s used after a disaster. It’s what everyone wants—full restoration. But as many of the families and individuals who experienced the April 2016 earthquake in Ecuador will tell you, things may never feel fully normal again. Those who survived have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. So while homes can be rebuilt

LOCAL CHURCHES RESPOND Macias was close to the church when the earthquake began. He immediately rushed home to find his family as buildings crumpled into the street around him. When he arrived, the apartment they called home was destroyed, but his family was safely outside. After ensuring they weren’t hurt, he ran back to the church. When Macias

“Whole city blocks were decimated, and tens of thousands of people were left homeless, jobless, or both.”

Many families were affected by the earthquake and lived in makeshift shelters for months.

(Far right) In the town of Manta, church volunteers visited the home of a single father and his children with first-aid items. Through the relationships that formed, the father has come to faith in Christ.

36 |

got there, he discovered that the three-story rented building had collapsed with 10 people still inside. They had come early to pray for the service. Six people made it out, but four were still buried beneath the rubble—a couple and their two grandchildren. The group that had gathered outside peered in with flashlights, but they couldn’t see through the dust. A passerby offered to squeeze through a tiny opening. He was able to rescue the young brother and sister, ages 12 and 13, just as the building settled again. The man was unable to save the grandparents. In the hours and days that followed, Macias and other Nazarene pastors and volunteers were among the first to respond to the needs around them. The Church of the Nazarene was the first of 35 groups to reach the area with relief. Without the quick responses of churches on the ground, many people wouldn’t have Photos courtesy of NCM SAM

(Right) In Jaramijó, a small fishing community, Maria Pin survived the earthquake. She had been at work when the entire building collapsed. She was the only one from her floor to survive. She was rescued after seven hours. Maria says this event brought her back to the Lord. She and her husband are now leading a local Nazarene congregation.

and families may now have enough to eat, life won’t ever be quite the same. Pastor Servio Macias was walking to the church he pastors in Jama, Ecuador, when the ground began to move. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake had just struck the coast of Ecuador. Thousands were injured, and more than 600 people were killed during the disaster, including four members of Macias’s church. Many months later, the affected communities are still discovering what it looks like to rebuild, heal, and adapt. The relatively shallow earthquake toppled buildings and, in many places, cut off electricity and communication. All over the country, people faced economic hardship. Even before the earthquake, the country’s economy was struggling. After the quake, whole city blocks were decimated, and tens of thousands of people were left homeless, jobless, or both.

Pastor Servio Macias found the building his church rented collapsed after the 2016 earthquake in Ecuador. He is pictured here with his son.

received the support they needed in the hours and days immediately following the earthquake. As various non-governmental organizations began to arrive with food, water, and shelter, Nazarene volunteers worked alongside them to see that victims of the earthquake received help. They also organized teams to go to remote coastal areas that hadn’t received government aid.

RECONSTRUCTION Macias and his family were among those left homeless and jobless. Macias was bivocational and could no longer work his second job in animal husbandry. His company’s building was destroyed, and what was left was later looted. But, like many other pastors in the country, he and his family committed to helping others first. Seven months after the earthquake, the Macias family was still living under black plastic stretched over rugged wooden poles while they worked to help others rebuild their homes. Some of those who provided aid were 160 youth from all over Ecuador, who gathered to help rebuild homes and

church buildings, as well as providing food and essentials. Mission teams have also traveled to the country to help with rebuilding efforts. Through donations, Macias’ church was able to purchase a property where they hope to build a new building with help from other teams. His family has also been able to move their temporary shelter onto a new permanent property, where they hope to one day build their own home. Slowly, people have been able to leave their makeshift shelters and move into permanent homes. The economy is slowly recovering, too. Small businesses are re-opening, and people who migrated away are beginning to return. And local churches are still helping families in their communities as they rebuild their homes and their lives. Restoration looks different for every family. For many, it’s the ability to move into a permanent structure. For others, it’s learning what life looks like without loved ones or with a new career. But for all, there is still hope to be found in the things that are being created anew. The man who pulled two children out

of the rubble is one person who would tell you his life will never be the same. He has put his faith in Christ and now attends the Nazarene church in Jama, Ecuador.


without warning. When they do, help is needed immediately. That’s why Nazarene Compassionate Ministries helps mobilize the people who are already there: local churches. Since they’re already there, they are able to care for people right away. Then they can communicate needs when external support does arrive. NCM partners with local churches to implement a holistic approach that meets both immediate and long-term needs. The South America region is prone to natural disasters. To support the ability of local churches to respond, visit

Winter 2017 | 37




AGE 14






AGE 16



“Some of the things I long to achieve for 2018 are to be a better student and to be healthy. For the future, I would like to be a great businesswoman and to help other children the same way I have been helped.”

“I want to finish my studies, study pedagogy in physical education, and work in gyms. I hope that the church will have a great revival.”






“For next year, I want to perfect my guitar playing, mainly to please God with the best, because He deserves it.”

38 |

AGE 13


“I want to finish the hairdressing course and get my degree. With the money I earn, I can study music in the conservatory. I also want to continue to grow spiritually.”

AGE 14

*Children’s names are changed for their protection.


AGE 15




“I hope that in the year that comes, many more children and people can benefit from this wonderful program and receive great opportunities for life and education.”

AGE 12



“I hope to succeed and to be the woman God wants me to be. I hope that God will reward my efforts in the ministry, both in our church and as part of my family.”


Through a Child Sponsorship Endowment, you can leave a Legacy of Compassion. Pass compassion down through the generations by ensuring a child is sponsored in your name in perpetuity. For more information, contact the Church of the Nazarene Foundation at 866-273-2549 • •

Winter 2017 | 35

NAZARENE COMPASSIONATE MINISTRIES Church of the Nazarene 17001 Prairie Star Pkwy Lenexa, KS 66220 (800) 310-6362

The needs are great. But our God is greater. Together, we can respond when a crisis hits. WITH A GIFT OF $100 OR MORE by December 31, you will receive a set of cards featuring artwork by sponsored children from around the world. You can use these cards as a tangible expression of the hope found in Christ.

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage


General Board of the Church of the Nazarene

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