GCI Churches and Work in Latin America
Hector Barrero, National Director for Colombia, is our Missions Director for Latin America. He is well known in Colombia because he hosts a radio program. Easily 60 percent of our members in Colombia came in during the past few years as a result of the radio program. Hector served as vice president for both the NAE in Colombia and for the largest pastor’s association in Bogotá. He is also the national representative for Christian Schwartz’ Natural Church Development. He is often invited to speak at various churches. Recently he was called in to share his testimony by a group of churches that are concerned with the growth among many churches in Colombia of Jewish practices from the Old Testament.
Mexico: We have over 200 people attending church services every week in 15 groups scattered in the country, the one in Guadalajara being the largest. We have members in Chihuahua, Cuauhtemoc, Mexicali, Mexico DF, Monterrey, Tepic, Tijuana, Torreon, Tampico, San Luis Potosi, Ciudad Juarez, Xalapa, Veracruz, Jalpa de Mendez, Orizaba, and Francisco Villa. At present we have two yearly seminars of three days each for the leadership. In these seminars we work on doctrine, governance, promote unity and direction.
The groups in these cities are working within their communities helping and reaching out. They have weekly church services, in most cases at member homes. They invite family and friends to their Bible studies. The Guadalajara congregation has a rented hall.
Central America: We held a yearly seminar for members and leaders in either El Salvador or in Honduras. We invite leaders and members from Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This seminar is the only opportunity we have every year to see each other to plan for the future of the congregations in this area.
In Honduras we have two groups: one of about 50 people in the capital Tegucigalpa, led by Mauricio Diaz. This congregation has a ministry serving prisoners in a local jail. Members of the congregation are allowed by the prison authorities to present Bible studies. Members also take used clothing and Bibles to the prisoners.
The other congregation is in the northern part of the country, in San Pedro Sula, attended by about 30 adults and 50 children, led by Marco Antonio Mejía. Marco Antonio, a former school teacher, has a growing children's ministry in the area. At the end of each year the congregation gives children school supplies for next year. Parents of the children appreciate this gesture very much, as many of them need the help.
In El Salvador we have a small group of about 12 in the capital, San Salvador. There we have David Agreda, who translates our church publications into Spanish. He does an excellent job translating and keeping updated our Spanish web page. David is also our contact reference for all our leaders in Latin America. Two U.S. pastors and the local congregation in San Salvador give David a monthly offering for his work. We appreciate the help of those who contribute to make possible this monthly offering. David is translating into Spanish some of the classes offered by Ambassador College of Christian Ministry – material used by the denomination to train leaders and pastors.
This is a huge area with over 450 million inhabitants. Our denomination is present in the following countries:
In Colombia, we have two congregations - one in Barranquilla, of over 50 in attendance, pastored by Sonia Orozco de Vengoechea. Sonia is the owner and principal of a school with 270 students. Sonia registered her school as a Christian-oriented institution, so she is allowed to teach Christian values to the students. As a result, many students and their parents are attending weekly services. Sonia has in the school a youth ministry led by a deacon with an attendance of 35 youngsters. The influence of Sonia’s school in the community is positive and well received by the neighborhood around the school.
The other congregation is in Bogota, the capital, with over 100 people in attendance. The church’s three-minute daily program in radio station Nuevo Continente reaches many Christian homes. We constantly receive new visitors to church services and phone calls from people who want spiritual guidance and counselling. The radio program has been on the air for over seven years and has given us the opportunity to come into contact with other denominations and their pastors and with secular radio stations, which have occasionally invited us to discuss a variety of subjects. We also receive constant invitations from the other Christian radio station, Vida AM, to participate in opinion programs. Our church is well known among the Christian community in the city. Nuevo Continente officials have invited us to increase our time spot from three to five minutes for 2008. Vida AM has invited us to have our program on their station but we have not accepted it because of our limited budget.
In the Bogota congregation we have been working to train small group leaders, and we have 10 small groups going during the week. We also send trained missionaries to visit scattered members over the country.
In Peru we have three small groups in the country. In Lima, the capital, we have 12 to 15 people who meet weekly with pastor Jose Kasum. This year we had a two-day seminar with attendance of 47, children included. We invited leaders from the Piura and San Benito groups. We plan to continue having a yearly seminar in Lima as budget permits.
In Argentina we have two congregations, one in Bahia Blanca of about 25 in attendance, and the other in Buenos Aires with close to 50 in attendance, whose pastor is Julio Fernandez. Julio works for a local Christian publication and is in contact with other evangelical pastors and denominations. In 2007 we held a two-day seminar in Ezeiza, near Buenos Aires, attended by over 50 people. The Ezeiza congregation owns a nice church hall in the middle of a community in which residents are somewhat related by family ties. When the MD visits Argentina he also visits Uruguay and Chile, where we have friend congregations. We want to keep our commitment to visit members and friend congregations in this area once a year.