There is no one here like that!

As we sat on the back of our pickup truck after a night in our tent in a First Nations community, we reflected on the day before. Mike had asked a member of a community where there had been an Evangelical church for nearly 40 years, “Out of all the families you know in this community, who would you say lives a life above reproach and of integrity?” He quickly answered,

There is no one here like that!

Earlier, the same issue came up in a conversation with one of the newly appointed church leaders. He said, “The community doesn’t trust their leaders. They don’t have any financial accountability, and money is always disappearing.” Mike thought quietly to himself, “Surely this is an opportunity for the followers of Jesus Christ to make a real difference!” Mike’s hopes were dashed at what came next, “The members of our church don’t put much money in the offering plate, because they don’t trust the Pastors.” 

We are overwhelmed with concern for the health of the First Nations churches in Paraguay. Many church planting agencies speak of leaving behind “mature” churches, but few have produced a solid and sustainable model of what that looks like in Paraguay. 

Recently we drove past a very, very old tree, one that Mike remembers from his childhood. It is a “Lapacho” tree, a very exotic hard wood native to Paraguay and worth a mint on today’s market. For a tree like this to weather the storms, deforestation, forest fires, drought, floods, etc. it must be deeply rooted and firmly established in good soil. 

We long to see First Nations men and women firmly established in the truth of God’s Word and walking in integrity in every area of their lives and committed to leading their people in truth, honesty, service, loyalty and justice.

The vision statement of the organization we lead in Paraguay states: “Communities holistically transformed through sustainable development”. In our Biblical terms, that means men and women of God are empowered to live out their faith and glorify God through visible action in the community where they live. 

Men and women of God are needed. Men and women of integrity. People willing to place their own personal needs and desires aside for the life and livelihood of the community.

Transformation has to begin with each person, and then, and only then, will we see communities transformed.

Please pray for the First Nations of Paraguay to be firmly planted in the Word of God and for those who are still lost, that they will see their need of a Savior and a personal relationship with God Himself.

Other Activities in September 2017

INTERVIEW ON TV: Mike and Cipriano Ayala were invited this month to talk about First Nations on a Christian TV program. It was Cipriano’s first time on television. His comment to Mike was,

Your ministry in Asuncion is essential for the tribal voice to be heard. This is yet another example of what ’empowerment’ looks like!

SURVEY TRIP: Mike and Kaleb made a trip to visit Wayne Goddard (Mike’s cousin), and together, they visited a region of the country where many Ava Guarani have yet to hear the Gospel.

We are excited how God is leading Wayne and that we could have a small part in his ministry by surveying with him. We even traveled into Brazil where there are several communities. 

TRAINING SEMINAR: In partnership with ASIEP, Mike has began training teachers in how to use The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus material.

This month, we presented to 40 Pastors and Christian leaders an overview. Many are asking for follow-up sessions in their local churches and denominations.  The next session in October will be done without Mike’s help.

YOUTH CAMP: The Ache youth of Cerro Moroti had a camp organized by a Paraguayan ministry. Mike was invited to take a couple of sessions to teach the Word of God.

It’s always fun for our family to visit the community and church where Mike grew up and was baptized. Each time we visit, people ask about all the missionaries that used to live there and what they are doing at present. 

 

Investing in Leadership

Since 2013, our ministry focus has been on working primarily with Christian leadership. Leaders of churches, organizations, businesses, and communities. Over the past 4 years, we have seen the impact our role is having in Paraguay. The way we gauge the success of our ministry is by rejoicing in the success of those with whom we have partnered with. Our model for partnership is one of empowerment. 

This month, Mike traveled north with Cipriano Ayala and missionaries from a Paraguayan Mission agency to meet with the Pastors and leaders of 11 different Paĩ Tavyterã local churches and one Mbya Guarani church. They arranged to meet up in one of the communities with the Pastor of a local church in Pedro Juan Caballero that has been working with the Paĩ for several years. 

In the hours following, they presented the vision of RELIEP (First Nations Christian leadership network) and the importance of coming together for the defense of religious freedom, leadership training, community development, education, etc. Each community visited, expressed that they were facing challenges that were beyond their ability to handle alone and that together the Body of Christ is stronger.  

The Paĩ pastors and leaders affirmed that they would like for RELIEP to organize and facilitate a Consultation in the city where they could continue the dialogue and be more intentional. 

A few phone calls later, our partner in Pedro Juan Caballero had tentative location and dates for the first of its kind: First Nations Leadership Consultation of the Amambay region!  

It is our firm belief that the transformation of communities is a result of the transformation of its leaders. Please pray for these Paĩ Tavyterã men and women as they seek to grow in Truth.  

Be sure to read our November Newsletter for the follow-up article.   

August Ministry Activities

On our way back home from an Ache community, we stopped by a Mennonite community where MOVIDA had organized a youth missions event. Mike shared two messages and workshop on Evangelism for the young people receiving the training. We are excited that many young people from Mennonite churches are being called into full-time, cross-cultural ministry. 

We partnered with RELIEP to jointly sponsor Marciano Chevugi to receive Fundacion Caracter’s computer training provided for Christian leaders. They teach the basics of operating a laptop, how to use powerpoints, use Bible programs, and make videos. A Christian businessman subsidizes the costs of the laptop and projector for greater affordability. 

Mike received a call from a Chamacoco friend asking him to visit his pastor and wife who was very ill and in a hospital about an hour drive from our home. We encountered a very discouraged man. All he needed was to know God loved him and that he hasn’t been forgotten.The food that we took them as well as the time of prayer together was just what he and his wife needed! 

Once a year, many organizations come together to spend 24 hours in prayer for Paraguay. Mike has been responsible to lead in prayer for the 19 First Nations people groups in Paraguay during this yearly event. We believe the reason God is working so mighty in Paraguay is due to prayer.

Getting ready to equip!

Books. Lots of them. 11,000 workbooks printed locally. A shipment of 10,000 books from Europe. As our family unloaded all the books from their pallets and into our home, we joked, Have we become book hoarders? The answer is “No.”. All these books will be used to train disciples of Jesus Christ here in Paraguay to make more disciples.


We estimate that within a 2-4 year period, over 10,000 Paraguayans will receive training from Creation to Christ, using The Stranger On The Road to Emmaus. If each seminar has an average of 15 people, it will take 600 seminars for us to reach our goal. 

Our initial focus in what remains of 2017 and in early 2018 is to train instructors and facilitators. These instructors will in turn teach through a seminar of Creation to Christ. Please pray that God will raise up faithful learners and teachers. 

How does an initiative like this develop? 

THROUGH PARTNERSHIP!  It takes teamwork. People willing to take a chance and trust the other to keep their end of the agreement. 

Paĩ Tavyterã and Paraguayan Pastors receive training together

We have so much to learn from each other! Intercultural relationships can either clash or result in mutual edification.

This month, we traveled North to a Pastors’ Retreat for Paraguayans. Mike invited the Pastors and Christian leaders from three different Paĩ Tavyterã local churches and each committed to sending 2-4 people.

These Paĩ communities, at one time, hosted foreign missionaries whom invested years of their time and energy into their lives. The morning of the retreat arrived, there was 12 Paĩ leaders that came to participate in the day and a half retreat. 

Two women had walked at least 20 miles! Most arrived by motorcycle. We welcomed them into the guest home and offered yerba mate (Paraguayan tea). Then, Mike took them to the location where the retreat was held, sat with them, and provided translation from Spanish to their heart language, Guarani, for those who needed it.

For the Paĩ leaders, this was a rare opportunity to sit alongside Paraguayan pastors and leaders as peers and partners in ministry. Both groups realized they face similar challenges in their respective churches and communities.

During the breaks and meals, the Paĩ took the opportunity to network and catch up on all the news from their communities. Each one expressed in their own way their gratefulness for having been extended the invitation to participate and were challenged to make a positive contribution to their communities as disciples of Christ. 

Informe de la Familia Goddard en Paraguay – agosto 2017

El último informe que compartimos con nuestros amigos de habla hispana fue en noviembre del año pasado. ¡Tantas experiencias lindas hemos pasado durante el plazo de nueve meses y queremos compartirlas! Dios ha sido fiel en nuestras vidas y en nuestro querido país Paraguay. Tome un ratito para gozar con nosotros en los logros y desafíos mencionados abajo. 

En diciembre de 2016, fundamos una entidad sin fin de lucro en EE.UU. llamada “Partners For Paraguay” que significa “Aliados Con Paraguay”. Vemos que la gente de Paraguay ya no busca imposición extranjera, sino amigos y aliados que caminan juntos en los momentos de éxito y prosperidad y en los momentos difíciles y de flaqueza. P4P pretende ser un puente entre Paraguay y personas con ese corazón. Se puede dar una mirada en nuestra página web: 4paraguay.org

Mike sigue en el rol como Director de la entidad sin fines de lucro, Organización Ñandutí. Brindamos asesoría y consultoría intercultural a iglesias, organizaciones e individuos que buscan el desarrollo integral de los pueblos originarios. También acompañamos el desarrollo de la entidad inter-étnica llamada RELIEP (Red de Líderes Indígenas Evangélicos del Paraguay) mientras ellos buscan potenciar al liderazgo eclesial y comunitaria. 

Desde 2015, trabajamos en forma oficial con ASIEP (Asociación de Iglesias Evangélicas del Paraguay) en el Eje Iglesias Solidarias, donde varias entidades y personas trabajan juntos para potenciar la iglesia local en el cumplimiento de la Gran Comisión, demostrando el Amor En Acción. Las iglesias Evangélicas precisan del permanente acompañamiento para no encerrase dentro las cuatro paredes ni tampoco caer en el asistencialismo. 


Red de Líderes Indígenas Evangélicos del Paraguay 

La directiva de RELIEP decidió en diciembre de 2016 para desarrollar sus estatutos sociales e iniciar los trámites de reconocimiento como entidad sin fin de lucro como persona jurídica. Su legalidad les dará la capacidad de ser ente facilitador para el desarrollo integral de pastores y líderes cristianos de todos los pueblos originarios en el país. Ellos dependen de las donaciones voluntarias de sus miembros y amigos. 

RELIEP organiza el Segundo Congreso Nacional en la comunidad Fortuna de los avá guaraní en el Departamento Canindeyú. Será para las fechas 5 al 7 de octubre del año 2018. El evento crea un ambiente donde las “Tres Olas Misioneras” puedan juntamente alabar a Dios, disfrutar de la comunión y ser desafiados por la enseñanza de la Palabra de Dios. En el Primer Congreso de RELIEP (ver fotos), había mas de 600 personas y se espera superar 1.000 en este evento histórico. 

Gracias por tomar el tiempo de leer nuestro informe. Enviamos regularmente informes en inglés a nuestro equipo de apoyo y sustento en EE.UU., pero generalmente nuestros amigos de habla hispana se enteran de los acontecimientos ministeriales por medio del Facebook o Whatsapp.  


Nuestro principal motivo de oración es que el Señor sea glorificado en nuestras vidas y labor y que levante un ejercito de discípulos que hacen discípulos en todas las naciones que aun no cuentan con un claro mensaje del Evangelio con una visión clara de quién es Dios y quienes son ante Él. 

 

Segundo Congreso Discípulos a las Naciones

Tuvimos más de 250 personas durante el Segundo Congreso Discípulos a las Naciones en la ciudad de Encarnación. La conferencia misionera fue organizado oficialmente por CONAMI, ASIEP, APEP y Jesús Responde al Mundo de Hoy.  

Se puede ver imágenes en la página de FB de CONAMI >>

Estuvo testimonios de misioneros paraguayos en varios países en el extranjero y también al nivel nacional. 


Estuvo Pr. Cipriano Ayala, presidente de RELIEP, hablando del ministerio entre pueblos originarios dentro de Paraguay.  

Las flechas son los mensajeros del Evangelio. Para ser útil, necesitan un arco para enviarles hacía el marco. El arco es la iglesia local que envía y sustenta a los misioneros.

Mike dio un taller sobre la cosmovisión animista, dando ejemplos de los pueblos originarios de Paraguay. Pr. Cipriano Ayala dio ejemplos prácticos sobre las creencias Ava Guaraní. Surgió la importancia del aprendizaje del idioma y cosmovisión de la gente antes de compartir el Evangelio y pretender formar discípulos de Jesús. 

Escuchamos sobre ministerios de traducción bíblica y los motociclistas. Había gente de la Red de Universitarios y del Centro de Capacitación Transcultural SAMM. Realmente fuimos muy desafiados y animados por el mover de Dios en Paraguay hacia las misiones locales y mundiales.  

El siguiente Congreso Discípulos será en Ciudad del Este en las fechas 13 al 15 de julio de 2018

 

Third Pastors and Leaders Retreat

We had our third Pastor’s Retreat with ASIEP (Association of Evangelical Churches in Paraguay). There is one more planned this year for Pedro Juan Caballero, near where Mike’s siblings live. As the understanding of church leadership increases, so do the invitations to speak in their churches!  

Our order of 50 books in Spanish of When Helping Hurts arrived this month. It is already playing a key role in our training process as we guide local churches through the maze of spiritual and social issues and how to gain a Biblical view of “poverty” and healthy ways of addressing it.

By early 2018, our team plans to have a solid workshop laid out for training in churches. 

Keep us in your prayers as we mobilize and equip Christian leaders in Paraguay to engage their local churches in the four aspects of the Great Commission:

  1. Jerusalem (same culture, same city)
  2. Judea (same culture, other cities)
  3. Samaria (similar language and culture)
  4. Uttermost Part of the Earth (cross-cultural)

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

Kaleb’s experience

He was having a blast feeling the wind blow through his hair as he weaved in and out on his roller blades and down an incline until…  the wall rushed toward him too quickly to brace himself, and he took the impact in the face. Stunned, he quickly held his nose that was bleeding and picked himself up, holding back the urge to cry. No one realized, at that time, that he had broken his nose!

A few days later, after the swelling had subsided, it was evident that he needed a physician to examine it. After a series of tests, he was scheduled for a procedure to re-position the nose before it set permanently. In ten days, it will all be a faint memory and a story to tell his friends and descendants as a bedtime story.