The Barnabas Initiative is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Clergy Development for Mesoamerica, the Center for Praise and Proclamation (known as CAP for its Spanish-language acronym), of Oaxaca, Mexico and the Nazarene Seminary of the Americas (SENDAS). The launch event was held in San José, Costa Rica on June 7 and 8, 2019.
The activity brought together forty-three senior pastors, associate pastors and spouses from the two districts of Costa Rica who committed themselves to short and medium-term projects in which they will be trained personally through webinars, and will also be mentored by a pastor or pastors from a church in consistent healthy growth. The two district superintendents of Costa Rica actively and enthusiastically participated in the activity: Rev. Sirlene Bustos (Central) and Johnny Calvo (North).
Dr. Rubén Fernández, Education and Clergy Development Coordinator, began with the theme: “Why Barnabas?” explaining how this early church disciple had inspired the name of the initiative through his proactivity and multiplication mindset.
Rev. Wilfredo Canales, professor at Olivet Nazarene University, gave a masterful presentation on “Two modern church crises: the pastoral calling and pastoral transitions.”
Dr. Carlos Sáenz, regional director for Mesoamerica shared about the “Identification of our calls.”
The opening event included the reinforcement of our denominational identity through group activities on Nazarene essentials and their application in context, coordinated by Dr. Monica Mastronardi, editor of the Regional School of Leadership program.
During the conference, presentations were shared by Dr. Elías Betanzos, pastor of the CAP, the largest and fastest growing local church in the region, and superintendent of the Oaxaca Norponiente District and other pastors of his team. They were joined by pastors of churches also experiencing sustained growth: Guillermo Martinez, Josue Barrera, Juan de Dios Gonzalez, Walter Gordillo and Natalio Cruz.
Dr. Rubén Fernández said about the initiative:
“On the Mesoamerica Region we are fully aware that the Lord gives us growth, and we are simply collaborators of the Holy Spirit in what He is already doing. The Barnabas Initiative is not about copying a model, but about learning some totally transferable principles, which have helped enable a district of our region to increase the number of congregations from 14 to 55 in just 8 years (100% of which contribute faithfully with their district) and the number of full members from 2,991 to 12,002 in the same period. These are not just numbers. They are transformational churches impacting communities and people.
Costa Rica is the first country to embrace the Barnabas Initiative, but we know it will not be the last. The process that began at SENDAS in June will continue for three years. The next step in the process will be a self-evaluation by each participating local church. After three months a follow-up webinar will be held and in six months there will be a new, more focused and personalized event for the pastors who decide to continue in the initiative. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Elías Betanzos and CAP for their investment in the pastors of Costa Rica.”
The San Juan de Tibás church, taking advantage of the presence of Pastor Betanzos, celebrated a dinner for evangelistic purposes known as MIES (acronym for “My special guest”, part of the principles learned in the Barnabas Initiative), which welcomed more than 150 people, out of which more than 60 from that local congregation participate.
Pastor Walter Caravaca stated:
“From the beginning the motto was prayer, and the leaders who were members of the congregation committed themselves to praying weeks in advance, for one or several people – be it their friends, relatives, companions, or others, who did not know about Christ, with the purpose of inviting them to participate in this special event sharing not only food, but a message of hope, reconciliation, restoration and life, which only the Word of God can bring.
The experience of seeing the response of so many people during the activity was very rewarding and confirms the support of God and the power that prayer has in the life of the Church. The guests received special attention from each host who set out to show the love of Christ in the smallest detail.
Pastor Betanzos brought a word about Jesus and challenged those in attendance to have an encounter with Him. At least eight people went to the altar to receive Christ or be reconciled with Him, but we know that God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11), and we trust that the seed that was planted in the heart of each of our special guests will germinate and bear fruit in its time, in the perfect time of God.”
The purpose of the event does not end here. The commitment to pray for all those guests continues, and we are convinced that we will witness many miracles in the lives of these people.
The Barnabas Initiative has given us a series of principles that have challenged us as a church to leave our comfort state, to go to deeper waters, to believe in miraculous fishing, namely, that we have been called to grow fully and extend God’s kingdom.”
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