The year 2017 is turning out to be a year of major growth, here in Extreme Nazarene. So far, we are projected to plant more churches this year than our initial goal with three of them opening up in a completely new mission field. Already in January, we began the work of planting in Germany. And now, later this year, we will begin planting in Brazil, and then Venezuela.
Venezuela has been a popular topic in the news with it’s political unrest. Over the years, missionaries from different denominations have been pulled out of the country, and Americans have been warned about travel through the country because of violent crime, social unrest, and shortages of food and medicines (see here). Pastor Yoan Camacarro, the NorAndino Field Office Manager in Extreme Nazarene, himself is Venezuelan, and naturally has a heart for his nation.
The Lord began to speak to him about planting churches in Venezuela with a team of just Venezuelans. Shortly after running with the idea, it became a reality. Extreme Nazarene Missions later this year will train and send a team of young adult Venezuelan 40/40s to plant a church in their country.
We interviewed Pastor Yoan about how this project became a reality.
How did this opportunity come up to plant a church in Venezuela?
The idea came one day while I was preaching in an Encounter in Chile. While we were watching a video, God spoke to me clearly about the opportunity that we have to plant churches in Venezuela. Afterward, I shared the idea with Brian and then with the Area Director, Dwight Rich. They approved of the project and they saw it how I did, as an opportunity in spite of the very difficult crisis that the country is living through.
Can you explain a little why Venezuela isn’t a safe country for North Americans? Why are we sending a team of just Venezuelans?
The initiative to employ a team of Venezuelan missionaries was because of the insecurity of having North Americans in Venezuela. The lack of safety is one of the biggest factors, especially in the area of delinquency. Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is the number one city in the world with the most deaths caused by violence. The other issues reside in the situation with the government. The Venezuelan government is a socialist government where the relationship with the USA has been in upheaval for decades. They have prohibited the entrance of North Americans and the tension and conflict between the US and Venezuela continues today.
How was the process of finding Venezuelan missionaries?
The process was pretty simple. I say that with humility. The situation is that in Venezuela there are a lot of young adults with strong mission calls on their lives. When Extreme presented the church plant project at a young adult retreat, the response was an 80% among those in attendance. The youth in Venezuela are ready to serve God and to follow the call He’s given them.
How did you choose the city Coro, Venezuela for the site of Extreme’s plant?
It was really awesome to hear from Dwight Rich that the superintendants have some “dream cities” in mind. In other words, they had cities on their hearts where they dreamed of seeing a church planted at some point. Extreme is accomplishing this dream of that District and the Nazarene Church!
What are the current challenges that we face with this church plant?
The challenges are rather large, however God is greater still!
Raising funds for the project is hard. In Venezuela, a dollar is equal to 4,000 Bolivares, and the minimum wage is 60,000 Bolivares. So basically, in one month that’s $15. The capacity to give offerings toward the project costing almost $60,000 is almost a dream in and of itself.
The crisis affects the food industry and to get food is difficult. The missionaries will have to stand in lines for days to get food.
The crisis also affects the health sector. We need the missionaries to be able to stay healthy during the project. This practically opens a door to God for miracles. Those who get sick may go through a bitter experience in Venezuela during these times.
Experimenting with a team that is 100% nationals will be a challenge. The “way” of Extreme is to unite North Americans with Latinos. However, this team setup can surge into an awesome change or could result in a failure for the organization.
The Venezuelan 40/40 Missionaries are set to arrive to Quito in May where they will start their training in the ECQ (Extreme Center Quito). By the end of June they will be deployed to Coro, Venezuela, to begin the church plant project.
We are excited for the hope that this church will bring to the people of Venezuela during such a dark time in their history. Thank you for the prayers you have already poured out for them and we ask for more of them as this team begins on this journey of uncharted territory within Extreme. Pray that they learn the lessons they must swiftly so their focus can remain on planting a sustainable church in Venezuela.