The Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela continues to be our core ministry making the greatest Kingdom impact, offering undergraduate week-long intensive classes and Saturday classes to a new generation of Christian leaders. Our alumni are already engaged in a vast variety of very effective ministries and are among the leaders of what is probably the fastest growing church in this Hemisphere. We are also developing and making accessible online education to multiply the impact of the Seminary in Venezuela, Latin America and North America. President Carlos Pirona, Licencitura in Theology, Masters of Pastoral Leadership; Academic Dean Dan Dunn, PhD in Evangelism; a Venezuelan faculty, Board and an International faculty lead this effort. Currently, we have over 100 students enrolled and over 500 Venezuelans have received some theological education through the Seminary since its founding in 2002.
The Medical Center
The Wesley Medical Center is only 2 years old, and under the leadership of Seminary Alumnus Dr. Maria Pirona, Medical Director, the Center now employs 7 doctors, has expanded into two additional structures on the campus and through donors in the U.S., purchased a sonogram and full dental clinic. The sonogram is used every day and the dental clinic is being set up to open early next year. The Center and the Seminary co-sponsored the first ever Venezuelan Medical Seminar for Christian doctors and medical providers providing a proven model, consulting with developing a Christian Medical network across the nation and establishing new church-related medical centers. Venezuela Now, through the leadership of David and Glenn Paris, sends pallets of medical supplies, medicines and equipment about every two months. We are currently developing plans to build a full service 45 bed hospital when funds become available. Just $3 million is needed to build this 45 bed full service hospital!
The United Methodist Church of Venezuela
Founded in 2007 by students in the seminary, the UMC de Venezuela is the largest Methodist movement in Venezuela. Under the leadership of alumnus Bishop Juvenal Perez, the conference has over 60 churches at last report and most of these churches are planting other churches, experiencing record growth starting new community ministries, especially feeding programs, and some are sending missionaries to other countries. The seminary continues to provide the theological education for this denomination as well as many other denominations and independent churches.
The Children’s Home
The Casa Hogar, Luz de Esperanza was created by a Seminary alumnus and Methodist Pastor, Yolanda Caicedo. While it took her 10 years to build the center, she never gave up. Venezuela Now has in the past simply provided half of the operating costs of the home. Now, under the leadership of volunteer Kathy Reeves, that ministry support is expanding as she develops other supportive partners and donors. Already she has sent badly needed equipment and supplies as well as food to the home.
The churches of Venezuela joined together for a one-day nationwide witness to their faith. Groups in cities all across the nation marched for Jesus and held great outdoor worship events. The one in Barquisimeto was led by Seminary President, Carlos Pirona. They expected 100,000 participants. Pastor Carlos said 15 years ago they could not have gathered 5,000. But this past October, amazingly, 250,000 assembled in Barquisimeto to witness to their faith! Many of the leaders received theological education through our Seminary!
The church in Venezuela initiated the request for a Pre-Seminary quick-response training program for new leaders. This need arose as the church exploded with growth which necessitated a new, young leadership to be quickly equipped and deployed in ministry. Venezuela Now responded in working to develop a free online course, 12 courses, 6 hours each. These will be available to pastors, denominational leaders, churches and individuals. Initially, this was to be done only in Spanish and our goal was to complete this by the end of this year. But ministries in the US, Africa and India have requested it to be available in English. So we are providing this in both languages. While it has lengthened our production time, we believe it will provide a badly needed resource to many churches and new, young leaders. portions of the course will be available on line very soon.
Since purchasing and fully paying for the Seminary Campus in 2008, we have been in a continual construction project. First, we had to construct 14′ feet high security all around the property, replace all the water and sewer and electrical systems. Then all five of the existing buildings had to have major renovations, a process that continues. Additionally we have added dormitories, classrooms, offices, a library/media center, kitchens and dining rooms, bathrooms, recording studios, a Medical Center, landscaping, paving, and more. We are currently building a 3 story dormitory and office building. God has provided the resources at each step and we have no indebtedness on any of this. Additionally, Venezuela Now has gifted a residential property to the Seminary valued at $350,000. There is a $145,000 debt on the property owed to a U.S. donor, no interest and paid as funds are available. This year’s biggest project was just completed, the installation of a new electrical supply system including a 125 kilowatt diesel generator donated and shipped from the U.S. Due to many factors in Venezuela, this took a year to complete, but is fully paid and operational!
Food banks, Soup kitchens, new Medical Centers
One great result of the Wesleyan education in the seminary which teaches both personal and social holiness, the pastors and churches in Venezuela are engaging in ministries in their communities in ways which were extremely uncommon to the church in Venezuela. Small steps started this process, but now this witness of the church is exploding with growth. Obviously the Medical Center and the Children’s Home are the result of this move of God. But the current economic crisis and rampant hunger has led churches to create food banks and soup kitchens. Some small churches are feeding as many as 350 every week. Others are feeding hundreds every day. In addition, they are providing clothes, shoes, pencils, etc. Often the only meal many children receive in a day is at one of the churches.
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Similar to the crisis in Israel in the Book of Acts, the church in Venezuela is seeing many of their people immigrating to other countries due to the political and financial crisis in Venezuela. Many have gone to Panama, Dominican Republic, the US and other countries. Already the church in Venezuela has sent missionaries to these countries. Venezuela Now is working to support these ministries, especially in the Dominican Republic, Panama and the US. We expect this aspect of the ministry to expand exponentially due to the situation in Venezuela, the phenomenal growth of the church there and the move of God calling missionaries to go to the nations. We already have begun a partnership in Northern Africa, Kenya and will soon see more of these developing.
Restauracion Internacional Association
God has expanded the ministry of Venezuela Now to include the development of the indigenous Latino church in the US. Our traditional Western model of the church has proven ineffective with most of the Latino population in the US. In partnership with the Venezuelan Restauracion International, we have facilitated an Association of churches and pastors targeting reaching this population with the Gospel of Jesus. This year we partnered to host 3 US retreats for some pastors and churches. While just in it’s infancy, we believe this ministry has great potential for growth in the US. The resources of PANORAMA, SEMWESVEN and SEIn will support this work.