I-Film Training – July 2017

Five First Nations churches have committed to sending three trainees each for the I-FILM training offered by I-TEC and organized by Andres Ayala of RELIEP.

Andres received the I-FILM training last year in Brazil and was convinced that Paraguay needed equipped in this area.

The churches are raising funds, as have I-TEC and Partners For Paraguay. At present, we have $1,071 of the $1,700 budgeted for the project. One local church made soap and sold them locally to raise the funds needed!  

The dates of the training are July 8-12, 2017 and will be hosted in the Ayala.

Click here to give a donation towards the I-FILM Training. 

Pastor’s Retreat

Through our commitment to work under the leadership and direction of the Paraguayan Association of Evangelical Churches (ASIEP) and the First Nations Evangelical Leadership Network of Paraguay (RELIEP), our opportunities for ministry have exploded.

This month, we were invited to share in a Pastor’s Retreat held in southern Paraguay where over 50 people gathered for training in Worldview and the Role of the Local Church in the Community. 
There were break-out groups where individuals worked through an exercise to help identify root problems found within the communities in which their churches are located. It was fascinating to see the lights turn on when they discovered that so many of the social problems stem from worldview issues and that God’s Word provides answers. 

Several Pastors gave testimonies of their renewed commitment to make a difference in their communities by becoming intentional. The Director of the Facilitators of Justice of the Supreme Court challenged the Pastors to utilize their Community Centers to bring workshops based on values and principles. One Pastor shared with us what a blessing it was for him to be asked to pray for different people’s needs that would surface during the Community Meetings. 

We believe that a local church engaged in “Jerusalem” will also have impact in “Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) 

Strategic Alliances

Several years have gone by since we first began sowing the idea here in Paraguay where mission agencies, national churches, and individuals work in strategic partnerships with First Nations churches and their Christian organizations to jointly fulfill the Great Commission. 

The greatest obstacle we have faced is a lack of trust toward one another. Trust is built. It takes hard work, and it is very easily lost because of lack of communication or wild assumptions. For some, it is harder to trust than for others, and it takes more effort to overcome prejudice.

Since 2014, we have organized six forums where people meet, dialogue, and exchange ideas on what is involved in ministry among First Nations people groups.

Our 7th meeting was held this month at the newly acquired property of Letra Paraguay, a Paraguayan Bible Translation organization.

Mike walked everyone through the historical background of the gathering and the direction we are headed.

After the meeting, Ache Bible Translator, Eliseo Chachugi, tearfully embraced Mike and said, I finally understand what it is you are doing! You are bringing people together that are going to strengthen the First Nations churches to fulfill the Great Commission together!

It was clarified that for now, we would remain a movement and not start a new organization. Our focus for the next few months will be to continue deepening our relationships and to allow God to use those to enrich each one of our ministries. 

Tom Stout, director of SIM Paraguay, joined our meetings on Skype, by using Mike’s cell phone.  Through technology, he was able to attend the meeting all the way from the USA!  

Continue to pray for the missions movement in Paraguay!

John & Barb Windler [our coworkers]

“When we first moved into the area, the Paĩ Tavyterã men I hired to help me build my home, would take their week’s pay and immediately walk over to the nearest place to purchase strong liquor and only moments later, pass out along the road home. After hearing the Gospel and accepting Christ as their Savior, their lives were transformed and are today leaders within the local church!”  

When you hear John and Barb Windler share about their ministry among the Paĩ Tavyterã since 2001, you will be challenged! Read more about what John says, 

My own life is a testimony that God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes. My language acquisition consultants didn’t leave me with much hope that I could ever communicate clearly in Guaraní. However by God’s grace, my friends came to a clear understanding of their need, and together, we grew in our knowledge of the Creator.

Barb Windler is Mike’s sister! Together with her family, they have been serving in cross-cultural ministry in Paraguay since 1991. On their 26th year anniversary in ministry, they co-founded a new organization called Partners For Paraguay with us. 

We want to encourage you to make contact with John and Barb and invite them to share about their ministry in your small group setting, in your church, or to meet over a meal or coffee.

They will be in the USA for a period of Partnership Development, which begins starting May 22nd. Join us in prayer for their need of a reliable vehicle for their travels to both the East Coast and West Coast.  

You can contact the Windlers by sending an email to: john.windler@nanduti.org.py

You can also make an online donation toward their ministry here.

Mario’s Ordination

This month, the missionaries working among the Paĩ Tavyterã people, John and Barb Windler, Wes Goddard (Mike’s cousin), & Mark and Odie Goddard (who are currently in North America), ordained Mario to the ministry. Mario’s life has been transformed by the Gospel. The community has seen the changes in his life and family over the past few years of knowing Christ. He is a faithful man. 

Mario received an Ordination Certificate in recognition for his years of studies of the Scriptures and faithful service through the local church.

Why is this important and newsworthy?  

Because the authority of First Nations Pastors is not respected by radical religious groups. Every existing First Nations local church in Paraguay, regardless of their theological background, is under threat of radical Pentecostal groups that have a strong mix of animism in their worldview. For these groups, even the godly missionary that has conducted themselves with the utmost respect toward the culture, is viewed as a menace and thus require that demons be cast out of them. 

After many meetings and hours discussing how to deal with this threat, we are convinced that it is impossible to protect the First Nations local churches from unhealthy external pressures, but we can empower, equip, and engage local leadership.

The Ordination Documents provide Mario with a tool to peacefully demonstrate his authority and responsibility within the local church that was established in his community. It demonstrates that he has the legal backing of several organizations with representation within the Paraguayan government. 

This, among other similar tools, cause religious and nonreligious bullies alike to think twice about forcing their views and practices on people they may deem “ignorant and uncivilized”.

Pray for Mario and the believers in the Paĩ Tavyterã in the Department of Amambay as they grow in their faith and live it out in practical ways. 

Graduation

It was exciting to witness the graduation of 24 students, who are from the Paĩ Tavyterã, Mbya Guarani, Ache, and Ava Guarani ethnic groups as well as 3 Paraguayans. A member organization of the Strategic Alliance that Mike is currently coordinating was responsible to bring this three-year Bible program to completion. 

If you would like to watch a few minutes of the 43:51 minute video Mike filmed of the event, you can follow this link: https://youtu.be/sSl6_LyTiKQ

We are very encouraged to see that God is raising up more solid Christian leadership from among the First Nations groups, and it gives us hope that we are indeed drawing nearer to seeing the vision fulfilled that God put in our hearts. 

Cipriano and Carmen Ayala with Alejo, a local church leader among the Ava Guarani

Cipriano Ayala sharing wisdom with the church association he founded 20 years ago

Betrayal!

My parents and family claimed that I was betraying them!

These were the words of a Christian school teacher as she wrapped up the Chapel session where we were invited to talk about missions among the First Nations of Paraguay.

My husband and I decided to spend Christmas with my family and travel interior for a few days during New Years to spend time with his parents. My parents were distraught that we would deprive them of their rights to have us all to themselves. And to think that missionaries don’t leave for just a weekend, but for years at a time, far, far away from all their family members!  

The challenge to the 7th to 12th graders who were listening was powerful.

Sometimes we have to make sacrifices when called to take the Gospel into other regions of our country or into other countries around the world. 

The Chaplain invited the young people to take up an offering and sacrifice their soda and candy for the day, to help support the Goddard family as they minister among the First Nations leaders of Paraguay. The offering came to $8 USD, a real amazing amount for such a small group. This money will be used to support RELIEP’s project to train around 15 people to produce films as a medium of sharing the Gospel.

Check out the project here, and consider giving up a soda today by donating online.

Be Brave

As we headed to a Pastors and Leaders retreat with my family, I had to keep telling myself,

I choose to be brave.

It was a retreat with all Spanish speakers, most of whom I knew, yet I did not want to go.

WHAT! A missionary that speaks Spanish, has lived in Paraguay for almost 13 years and whose main ministry focus is Paraguayan churches and First Nation churches! Yup. Newsflash: Missionaries are normal humans too!

Yet after arriving, God used that day and a half to show me what an awesome role my husband has and the unique opportunity that God has given us to influence and participate in what God is doing in the hearts of Paraguayan pastors and leaders.

And in that moment, I no longer had to choose to brave as I was reminded that this is where God has me, as stretching as it can be. 

During that same week, I recorded (with the help of my amazing husband) a Spanish video clip for a group of ladies in Uruguay. This is definitely not something that I would not normally “do”, yet because a friend extended the invitation, I knew God wanted me to do it, ALL for His honor and glory. 

Watch the Spanish video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0NXcmjLvU0


 

RELIEP’s 2nd Conference [October 2018]

Last month, the RELIEP leaders decided two things which we are committed to partnering with them in:

  1. To legally incorporate
  2. Date for the 2nd RELIEP National Conference

RELIEP asked that Mike bring a lawyer to the RELIEP meetings in April to walk them through the basic legal requirements for incorporating.

During the meetings, Mike observed the empowering effect it had on the leaders as they discussed the things important to them and how they would assume financial responsibility for the sustainability of their own entity.

While RELIEP is connected internationally through the Trans Amazon Network of First Nations Leaders, they genuinely grasp autonomy and local responsibility. 

The dates for the next National RELIEP Conference will be October 5-7, 2018!


God did amazing things the first conference that was held in 2015, and we are expecting no less next year. Already, volunteers are calling Mike and offering their help. We are trusting God for sufficient donations to invite international keynote speakers and cover logistical cost. 

If you would like to serve and be a huge blessing to the Pastors and Leadership Network of Paraguay, don’t hesitate to contact us!

The Body of Christ working together in unity is essential to complete the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ in all the world!