For many years, the Board of World Mission (BWM) has helped to support ministry and mission being carried out by our historical partners in places like Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guyana and Western Tanzania. More recently, the BWM has been supporting the Mission Areas under our supervision (Peru and Sierra Leone) and the Mission Provinces that we accompany (Cuba and Labrador).
In an effort to encourage sustainability and to support continued outreach efforts, the BWM has gradually decreased operational subsidies, while at the same time making money available to be used as funding for specific projects or ministries through a new effort called Mission Grants. These grants are provided specifically for the areas of leadership development, mission outreach, and economic strengthening. Grant applications are reviewed by the Mission Outreach Committee and recommendations are made for final approval by the executive director and administrative support staff.
Since beginning this effort, The Board of World Mission has disbursed Mission Grants for projects such as:
- a photography and videography studio in Peru
- a workshop for pastors’ spouses in Honduras
- an evangelistic outreach ministry among Sukuma people in Tanzania
- a motorcycle for the Ahuas Clinic in Honduras
- a “chalupa” riverboat and motor for the Amazon region of Peru
- leadership capacity building in Western Tanzania
- the sale of gasoline and diesel in Honduras
- a guinea pig farm in Peru
- equipment for showing the “Jesus Film” and for other evangelistic efforts in Sierra Leone
- a health dispensary in Western Tanzania
- construction of the superintendent’s house in Honduras
To help “give a face” to how the Mission Grants are being used, here are several stories of the impact of this effort.
Brandon Lee Valencia has an important ministry in a marginalized suburb of Chiclayo, Peru called “Ciudad de Dios” (City of God). He works with children in an after-school and weekend program, teaching them about Jesus and providing a safe and fun place for them to gather to sing, play games, learn and enjoy snacks provided by the local congregation. His hope is that the parents will also be brought into the Moravian Church through this ministry. Instead of asking to be given a salary or stipend, Brother Brandon applied for a Mission Grant that he used to set up a photography and videography studio. He charges a reasonable fee for producing videos and photo packages of weddings, birthdays, baptisms, new babies, etc. In this way he is able to support himself and his ministry and also give a portion of the proceeds to the church.
Joaquín Muro was recently elected as President of the Peru Mission Area. Besides being a good pastor and leader, he also has experience in carpentry and… raising guinea pigs (or “cuy,”as they are called in Peru). Cuy are considered a delicacy in Peru and are sold in local markets and restaurants. Brother Joaquín decided to use his skills to start a sustainable source of income for his congregation in the city of Zaña. He had a small tract of land available and applied for a grant to purchase materials for cages (which he was able to build) and for enough male and female “cuy” to get the project going. His investment is multiplying!
Lucila Wood is president of the Association of Widows and Wives of Pastors in the Honduras Mission Province. She saw a lot of untapped energy and skill in the women who are expected to be partners in ministry while also raising their children and setting an example for other women in the church. Sister Lucila envisioned a gathering of women where they could learn about social transformation and improving quality of life in addition to acquiring practical skills in sewing, baking, crafts and other ways of supplementing their support. She applied for a grant that was used to help transport 70 women to the town of Paptalaya and to purchase materials for the conference. Local women housed and fed the participants to help keep the cost of this important conference at a minimum. Worship services were held each evening with the women taking turns leading and preaching.
Sister Lucila reported, “We have fulfilled our objective of the activities carried out with the financing that we have received from you for which the wives of pastors who participated and the leadership appreciate your praiseworthy gesture on their part. May God continue to bless your life and your ministry.”
Hiloy Ramirez Lopez is a theological student in the Honduras Unity Province. After completing his studies (supported by a Mission Grant for leadership development) he will teach at the Province’s Bible Institute for training ordained ministers and pastors. It is very difficult for pastoral candidates to study in theological institutions in other parts of the country because of the high cost of living that is involved. So the church hopes to train a few teachers so that theological education at a higher level can be offered locally in the remote area of La Moskitia. Here is what Brother Hiloy has to say about the opportunity he has been given:
“This would not be possible without the support of donors like you who support the Board of World Mission, and also the many who offer their prayerful support. I thank you immensely for this gesture of support for this ministry, and the blessing it will be to train pastors, including with the Garifuna people. The seeds you are planting through this work and support of training is very useful and needed to grow God’s presence and glory in this land.”
Mission Grants are truly helping to support efforts in mission outreach (Brandon’s ministry in Ciudad de Dios; evangelistic programs in Sierra Leone and Tanzania), leadership development (Hiloy’s theological education; Lucila’s workshop for women in Honduras; capacity building in Tanzania) and economic strengthening (Joaquín’s guinea pigs or “cuy” in Peru; fuel project in Honduras and a riverboat in the Amazon region). These grants help our partners (and us!) to move from maintenance to mission, focus on sustainable ministry together and live out the reality of what it means to be the Body of Christ.
Sam Gray is director of mission outreach for the Board of World Mission. For more information, visit www.moravianmission.org.