While volunteering in the church office one day, I noticed an email for a PrimeTime Work and Witness trip. I was praying for a mission trip my husband and I could go on together. This trip sounded very interesting so I printed the email and took it home. At dinner, I showed Dennis and said I think maybe we should think and pray about this trip. He took one look at the info and dialed Charles to ask questions and before he hung up He had Charles add our names to the team!!
We went with the intent of painting a church. I, being a retired school teacher, was interested in visiting schools and Dennis, being s children’s minister for years, was interested in the children at the churches. So….we were prepared – we thought we were.
What we weren’t prepared for was God’s surprise calling on our lives to the Jamaican people and work. We painted, at least Dennis did for a couple days, before he became very involved with the computer and technology issues and plans for the clinic. We looked at each other one evening in our room and said “Wow” God is serious. Are we willing and ready? Of course, both our answers were “Yes!”
We laughed while on the airplane on the way back to Oregon how before the trip we spent time and prayer trying to decide what we would do when Dennis would soon retired. Now our whole lives are spent filling suitcases with supplies and looking at the calendar planning when we can take our next trip to Jamaica.
God already had a plan for this lone West Coast couple to join a group of unknowns, who we now claim as family and spend our retirement time focused on The Jamaican Journey.
Submitted by Dennis & Charlotte Wiser
Jamaica Journey-2016 was my fourth Mission Trip; the other three were to Mexico. My expectations for this trip were basic: providing manual labor, probably painting, to help finish painting the Mount Grace Nazarene church in western Jamaica. Little did I realize how small my expectations for this Mission Adventure were.
We did a lot of painting tasks; beginning with repainting the sanctuary walls as well as painting bare stucco walls on the sanctuary extension for Mount Grace Church of the Nazarene. We also painted the entire outside of the church completing all
this in just three days—not bad for a bunch of PrimeTimers whose average age was 69 ½! Part of our team branched out to successfully enlist a partnership with community leaders for the health & wellness expansion of clinical services provided at Gamertsfelder Mission Centre in Frome … and so the miracles began to surface.
God’s strong hand was so evident in the abilities, training and talents our team members brought to the ta
ble. I was in a constant state of wonder and excitement over the personal stories of our team and the events taking place to reveal the miraculous tapestry God was weaving to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Jamaican people. One of my favorite experiences was listening to the visionaries in our group relate their successes and discuss future stages of this project; as different aspects of organizing and “taking it to the next level” were presented. Each time a new challenge / opportunity presented itself one of our team members would have a skill or contact that contributes to that phase of the work. In our devotional book “The Grave Robber” author Mark Batterson calls this alignment of skills, needs and opportunities as “The Synchronicity of God”. He devotes an entire chapter to this faith issue.
Our team’s devotional times revolved around Mark Batterson’s book and video, The Grave Robber, which elaborated on seven of the miracles performed by Jesus. A recurrent quote of the author that so fit the entirety of this Mission Trip was, “Sometimes God shows up, and sometimes God shows off.” He also said there are two elements to each miracle; the human and the divine. We must do what we can do and trust God to do only what He can do! When we do our part we release God to do His part.
I was privileged to listen to Pastor Brown talk about his vision for the Mission House and how it was built by Work and Witness teams; to hear Dr. McCloy recount his experiences and the possibilities of another medical center currently unfolding in Montego Bay; to listen to Tally, a young Jamaican third-grade school teacher and Sunday School Superintendent list her hopes and dreams for her students.
Several years ago we had a guest speaker in our local church whose theme was, “It’s a God Thing.” He taught God does little pockets of work in various places that would seem to be unrelated by person, place, time, and/or event, but eventually He brings them together just at the right time to impact a life, a family, a church, a community, and even beyond. The reality of this Jamaican Journey and its evolving expansion has been and continues to be “A God Thing.”
I am already a team member of the “Jamaica Journey III – Expanding the Vision” scheduled for Feb. 8-22, 2017. Plan to join our Team! Don’t miss this amazing PrimeTime Mission Adventure!
Submitted by Barbara Hiett
Dr. & Mrs Jerry Porter Celebrates Global Family in the Caribbean
Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Porter recently worshiped in the Caribbean with a unique bonding of the global Nazarene family in Barbados, Guyana, Martinique, and Cuba.
The Porters joined with Nazarenes from several nations in Barbados where District Superintendent Orlando Seale welcomed three Work and Witness teams from across the U.S. and Canada, a total of 61 persons organized as the Eastern Michigan District PrimeTime Barbados Blitz. (Editors Note: Lead by Rev. Charles A. Bledsoe)
In the midst of working on various projects, the Work and Witness teams joined the Barbados District’s quarterly service, where the united crowd of over 1,000 Nazarenes filled the district tabernacle. Dr. Porter reports, “We had church to the glory of God!” For four hours they sang and celebrated the Lord’s goodness and grace. Dr. Porter preached and encouraged pastors to embrace the Centennial Faith Projections, goals for new churches, membership, and worship attendance in celebration of the upcoming Church of the Nazarene Centennial in 2008. Pastors came forward to express their commitment, and lay leaders gathered around them, laying their hands on them in prayer. The Sunday morning service climaxed with everyone joining in the Lord’s Supper.
On Sunday evening at the Western Light Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Porter was requested to preach a message on the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father.” He called on them to be a global multicultural family of children who care for each other. The congregation included not only Barbados Nazarenes and the American and Canadian Work and Witness team members but also people from Africa, Guyana, and many of the Caribbean islands. In small groups, these global Nazarenes concluded the service in prayer with a brother or sister from Barbados.
Dr. Porter’s recent work in the Caribbean also included conducting assemblies for the Guyana, French Antilles and French Guyana, and Cuba districts. In Guyana, 1,200 Nazarenes joined together at the National Cultural Center to celebrate 60 years of the work of the Church of the Nazarene in Guyana. The exuberant crowd conducted an anniversary march from the Cultural Center to the little building where the Church of the Nazarene began its work six decades ago and then on to the Queenstown Church. The march was punctuated by joyous Caribbean choruses and praise music.
The French Antilles and French Guyana District enjoyed a moving holiness rally, district assembly, and ordination service in Martinique. This district extends 1,400 miles from French Guyana in South America to St. Martin. Dr. Porter reports that in spite of challenges of “great distances, the cost of living, and the postmodern influence of France and Western Europe, the pastors and people are enthusiastic and energized.”
Cuban Nazarenes celebrated their 60th anniversary during the district assembly held on the campus of Cuban Theological Seminary currently has 24 students enrolled on campus and almost 200 in extension classes across the island. Cuban pastors enthusiastically embraced the Centennial Faith Projections. Dr. Porter said of these pastors, “They are heroes who inspire us beyond words!”
Anyone who has ever been on a Work and Witness Ministry Team knows the benefits of serving others. It is not to give pity, but to give a helping hand by raising self-esteem along with buildings and/or ministries. It is to share Jesus through our God given talent or abilities and to make an impact on communities and individuals.
It is also a benefit to the one who goes. The people enrich your life as they in turn minister to you. They help one to see the importance of life in whatever circumstance they have been given.
Prime Time adults have the gifts, graces and experience to really be an active part of any Work and Witness program. Prime Timers are prayer warriors, experienced workers, and seasoned Christians ready to help where needed. Now is the time to make the commitment!
Rev. Derl G. Keefer,
Retired General Coordinator Prime Time Ministries, Global Ministries Center in Kansas City, Kansas
Retired District Superintendent, Wisconsin District Church of the Nazarene.
I am an 89 year old great-grandmother reminiscing about the amazing and joyful experiences the Lord allowed me to enjoy on two PrimeTime Work & Witness adventures!
The unique and astounding realization for me, a widow who at the time in her late 70’s, was invited and accepted as a team member on the first PrimeTime Mission Adventure conducted by Rev. Bledsoe. This first trip was to Brazil (2003) — and then three years later we went to Barbados (2006).
Our leader for both trips was an American, Rev. Charles Bledsoe, and what a leader he proved to be! We were a motley crew of American and Canadian characters and I realize now (but didn’t then) what a strong, effective leader a senior group like us really requires!! We could have been out-of-control but we had the best team leader! (Editor’s Note: How “out-of-control” can PrimeTimers get? Maybe I don’t want to know.)
As a group we had all the characteristics of a comedy drama! 🙂 But we had the leader we needed to get us settled and re-focused on the work we were called to do. We had Rev. Bledsoe leading our team and the Lord guiding and abiding with us all the way.
Things did go wrong—they always do in foreign countries and even in our own—but never did our group feel stressed as we watched our leader deal with everything—and everybody! It was totally a mountain top experience!! Thank You, Lord!
Thank you, Rev. Charles.
Mary Copeland (Editor’s Note: Eldest team member; Lovingly called Queen Mother. Full of life, energy, love and the Holy Spirit.)
Thunder Bay, Canada
We went to Barbados in 2006 and to Jamaica in 2009 & 2016 on Work Witness trips with Rev. Charles Bledsoe as coordinator. Each trip was very well organized from beginning to end. The cost was reasonable and included air transportation, land transportation in Jamaica, lodging and meals, etc.
He planned for us to have private devotional times and team devotional times. These times were very important and soul searching. You will not return home and be the same person. These are life changing experiences.
He doesn’t ask us to do anything he won’t do himself. He works very hard on the projects.
Rev. Bledsoe has excellent organizational and leadership skills and is a people person. He communicates with us with any pertinent information that he felt was important before we left.
There are always “fun” days and time to do some shopping and sightseeing.
We have already joined the “Jamaica Journey III – Expanding the Vision!” Mission Adventure for Feb. 8-22, 2017, and recommend you join our team if you want a spiritual adventure; a time of bonding with other Christians and an opportunity to help build God’s Kingdom. We can help fulfill the great commission even in the later years of in our life.
Clarence & Wonda Hawkins
We feel it a privilege to have traveled to Brazil, Barbados and Jamaica with a team of great Nazarenes and to have had Rev. Charles Bledsoe as our leader. Each day we had a schedule of work that must be accomplished, however it wasn’t all work. After our project for that day was done we were able to see many wonderful parts of the country and learn about their way of life.
But foremost each day after breakfast we had devotions led by Charles. This was a great way of asking God to lead us in what we had planned to do and to do it well. It also allowed us to get better acquainted with our group by listening to their testimonies. What a joy it was when the trip ended to see the progress we made in helping the local people have a better life as they gave their hearts to the Lord. After returning home many of our group continued our relationships we started while getting to share memories and picture we had taken with each other.
Earl and Priscilla Mann