The Nazarene Seminary of the Americas (SENDAS) and an educational ministry within the Praise and Proclamation Center (CAP), Oaxaca, Mexico, launched the Barnabas Initiative June 7-8 at the SENDAS facilities.

The activity brought together 43 lead pastors, associate pastors and spouses from the two Costa Rica districts.  They committed to a short and medium-term project in which they will participate in web-based training seminars and mentoring by a pastor of a healthy church.   The two Costa Rica district superintendents, Rev. Sirlene Bustos (Central) and Rev. Johnny Calvo (North), participated in the event as well.

Regional Education and Pastoral Development Coordinator Dr. Rubén Fernández, opened the event with the theme ¨Why Barnabas?” He explained how this disciple inspired the name of the initiative with his proactiveness and his ability to make disciples.

Rev. Wilfredo Caneles, a professor from Olivet Nazarene University, gave a masterful presentation over “The Crisis of Vocation and Pastoral Transitions.”

Mesoamerica Regional Director Dr. Carlos Sáenz shared about “Identifying Those Who Are Called.”

The opening of the event included a reinforcement of the identity of the denomination through activities led by Dr. Mónica Mastronardi, the editor of the regional School of Leadership.

Dr. Elías Betanzos shared during the event. He is the Oaxaca Northwest District Superintendent and the lead pastor of CAP, the largest and most rapidly growing church in the region.  Other members of his pastoral team who are experiencing sustainable growth presented as well, including: Guillermo Martínez, Josué Barrera, Juan de Dios González, Walter Gordillo and Natalio Cruz.

“In the Mesoamerica Region we are totally aware that the Lord is the one who gives growth and we are simply collaborators . . . Barnabas does not try to copy a model, but rather teaches some transferable principles that make it more likely for a district in our region to increase the number of congregations from 14 to 55 in only 8 years (all of which contribute faithfully to the district), and membership from 2,991 to 12,002 in the same period.  These are not just numbers: they are transformational churches impacting communities and human beings who have families who have had a personal encounter with Jesus.

Costa Rica is the first country to embrace the initiative, but we know they will not be the last.  The process that SENDAS began in June will last for three years.  The next step will be for each participating church to complete a self-evaluation.  In three months they will do a follow-up web-based seminar.  In six months there will be a more focused and personalized event for the pastors who choose to continue with the program. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Elías Betanzos and to CAP for their investment in the pastors of Costa Rica,¨ Dr. Rubén Fernández said about the program.

Source: Rev. Rubén Fernández, Regional Educational and Pastoral Development Coordinator