Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Church of God Ministries Guatemala Seeks to Join the Movement

There are a few brief moments in our lives that we were created to hold. We are shaped, forged, and sometimes crushed into the pieces that gear the universe. We are fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose. Today was one of those moments that I was grateful to witness.

Ministerios Iglesia de Dios Guatemala was formed today, December the 29th, 2015 over lunch in beautiful Tecpán, Guatemala, with a small group of pastors led by the Spirit.

Left to right: Pastor Fontaine Greene, Founder of Catalyst Resources International, Pastor Samuel Hernandez of Iglesia Evangelic Genezareth de Zona 6, Pastor Mainor Marroquin of Iglesia de Dios Galilea de Tecpan, Pastor Chad & Kellie Shepherd of Journey Church San Cristóbal, Pastor Julio & Juanita Nolasco of Iglesia Cristiana Familiar Bethany de San Bartolo Aguas Calientes, Pastor Augusto Hernandez and Pastor Gudiel Lemus of Iglesias y Ministerios Cristianos El Santuario Evangelistico de Villa Nueva, Pastor Edgar Ramos of Catalyst Resources International, and Pastor Mike Claypool of Carolina Ministries of the Church of God.

The pastors gathered at the fountain above represent over thirty congregations that identify themselves as Church of God in Guatemala. While many of these churches have had a connection with our reformation movement in the past, there has not been an autonomous Guatemalan association. 

Within the past several years, local churches have expressed a yearning to be connected to the international body of the Church of God, and also to be recognized as a self-governed fellowship of Christ followers who are guided by the very Spirit of the Living God.

The challenges that we face in the world today require that followers of God work together. The time of petty differences or territorial claims has ended. We can do so much more when we work side by side. We are here to declare a new fellowship.

Pastor Mainor's story is like many others that we've encountered. He has served faithfully for the past twenty-two years after a disagreement with the property owner of the church resulted in his disfellowship. With no building, a fractured congregation, and no formal recognition from a church organization, he rebuilt. Pastor Mainor now has a congregation that continues to grow near 500. He has planted and continues to support additional congregations. He explained today that he has prayed for many years that God would make a way for him to again be in a fellowship.

Or consider Pastor Julio who has a vision that stretches for days. His congregation outgrew their building and so he began multiple services. By faith, he and the men of his church are completing an auditorium that will seat 1200 people... using concrete and block. He has contracted with the city of San Bartolo Aguas Calientes, and has built a certified water filtration. He too has been seeking and praying for fellowship as he expands the kingdom in the surrounding mountains and pueblos.

Certified Pure Water!
The initial plans for the new building at San Bartolo Aguas Calientes

God has brought together mission organizations, churches from both the US and Guatemala, and key members of Anderson University School of Theology, and the US National body of the Church of God to break new ground. Simply stated, we are here to serve as witnesses of the work that God has already completed.

This is a historical moment for the Church of God movement as pastors in Guatemala form their own legal church association and seek fellowship from the National Church of God. Like state level organization of the church in the US, they are selecting delegations from each congregation, electing a panel of regional leaders, and will elect a National Director who will coordinate information and resources, serving in 2 year terms.

The leadership group will exist for the consistent training and ordination of pastors, and will coordinate the fulfillment of needs within the congregations. The churches celebrate wins together, join together in projects, and help each other out in times of need.  The Leadership will rotate every two years to maintain integrity and to insure that ultimate leadership remains with the Holy Spirit.

Specifically, the pastors of Church of God Ministries Guatemala want identification and belonging. One pastor explained that "belonging to the Church of God is like having a last name that people recognize and respect." With emotion deep in his voice, he explained how it felt to live without a last name.

Ordination is another component that isn't available to an independent pastor in Guatemala. The Church of God, Anderson, Indiana offers Leadership Focus, an online ordination track that pairs pastors up with mentors, coaches, and resources. Recently, material has become available in Spanish. This group of pastors here in Guatemala is seeking an ordination track, and I believe that it is no mistake that they ask for it in such a time as this.

The first Convention of Church of God Ministries Guatemala will take place on March 10th through the 12th, hosted by Pastor Mainor Marroquin at Iglesia de Dios Galilea, located in Tecpán, Guatemala. Already, over 500 people have committed to attend, flights are booked, and hotel rooms are reserved.

The pastors are hereby requesting that the National Church of God in Anderson Indiana send a delegate to the convention in Tecpán to welcome them into the movement. It is my prayer that this happens. We are also requesting recognition as Church of God congregations in the yearbook and in the online directory. We want to be counted.

The moment when the pastors committed to be a fellowship.
Yes, this is a historic moment. I am reminded by the boldness of D.S. Warner when he began challenging the status quo near the turn of the 20th century. The Holiness movement was gaining steam, and he had a deep desire to engage the people of God in not only Holiness, but also unity. The truth is that the Church of God can only exist when we have both. 

This is a historic moment for the pastors in Guatemala as they lead a nation that still climbs from the desolating clutches of decades of civil war, political corruption, and dark violence. These are pastors who have personal stories of torture at the hands of guerrillas. They have experienced personal loss and sacrifice, sometimes even by the hands of men they trusted.

And even so... they extend hands of fellowship again, and welcome us with open arms, shared prayers, and even shared meals from their own fields and farms. I have found comfort and welcome under their roofs.

But, we cannot miss that this is also a historical time for the Church of God Reformation Movement worldwide. This is a time of definition. This is a time to practice holiness and unity. This is a time that we ride boldly like D.S. Warner on the Floating Bethel, shining our "dazzling light" and "glory bright" as together we walk as sons and daughters of God. 

We seek to join the movement. We seek to change the world. We are committed to make Jesus the subject. We are ready to join hands with churches across the world who share this mission. We want to expand the Kingdom of God and make a difference together. 

We are about breaking down barriers and crossing borders. We are the hands and feet of Jesus to a nation. Hand in hand. Missionaries, churches, the city, the pueblos, we are uniquely positioned in this time and place, working together.

We are united as a global body of believers. We hold to the doctrine of the Church of God. We are serving together to equip others as we advance the Kingdom together.

We are here to boldly claim unity and holiness as we proclaim with you, we're here to take back what is ours. Hell cannot have our fellowship. Hell does not get our division. 

I am confident that it is no mistake that now is the fullness of time. God has put together this unique group in this place from distances around the globe. God has prepared this way and I know that a new wind is blowing.



  1. Wow! Beautifully written from the heart. Unity. Togetherness. Mission. More importantly, JESUS IS THE SUBJECT. Excited for what God is doing in and through you all in Guatemala. May it all be for the glory of God that many may come to know Christ as Savior and Lord. Love you guys. -- David Hackney

    1. Thank you my brother! Yes, Jesus IS the subject. Kellie and I are thankful to be here to give witness to the hand of God.

  2. Wonderful story, Chad! We are so happy to partner with you and C.R.I and the precious pastors of Guatemala. Many will be blessed and I am excited to see the future!

    1. Thank you Sandy! It has been such a blessing to get to know you and Karvin this past year. It is so good to be on mission together. It really is powerful to see these men and women of God unite with enthusiasm and a renewed spirit.