By Paul Olver and Delia Nüesch-Olver
Twelve countries in two weeks – that must be a record for us! Well, we didn’t actually visit each place, but we did meet with the leaders of our church networks from those countries at two key events.
In a retreat center near Santiago, Chile, 100 leaders from six countries gathered for a weekend and were introdiced to Community Church Planting (CCP). About 70 of the participants were from the Chile Conference; the other 30 came from Bolivia, Peru, Parguay, Argentina, and Mexico.
Bruce Bennett, from South Africa, was our resource person. Along with Delia, who translated his presentations from English to Spanish, and Paul who translated the questions and dialogue times from Spanish to English. There were some funny moments when Delia misinterpreted his South African accent and vocabulary. Bruce’s principles are simple, biblical and powerful; his presentation is passionate and penetrating; he exudes an attractive and dynamic blend of humility and spiritual authority. His CCP movement has resulted in 5 million new believers and 50,000 new churches on five continents in the last 15 years. Many of those are Free Methodist churches in Africa and Asia – and we are trusting God that many more will be planted in Latin America.
A week later 125 leaders from five countries met in Managua for CCP training. Of those, fifty people paid their own way to travel from the two districts in Costa Rica. There were also good delegations from Honduras and El Salvador and some participants from Ecuador and the U.S. Despite last minute challenges all international visa issues were resolved. This was the largest gathering of Free Methodists in Central America, and the first time many had met Free Methodists from other countries.
Everyone paid a registration fee to participate and most paid their own travel. A $1200 offering from the Colombia District and a grant from Free Methodist World Missions covered lodging and food. The Nicaragua District has a history of dependency, and it was moving and encouraging to see them pitched their dependency to host this event. And when an offering was received for church planting the Nicaraguan participants led the procession