#EQUIPHER: TAKING THE GOSPEL FROM EVERYWHERE TO EVERYWHERE
Two Ibero-American young women — one from Nicaragua, one from Ecuador. Both Christian. Both Wesleyans. Both certain that God is calling them to reach the world beyond Ibero-America. Both planning to be missionaries to Muslims. Because of the mentoring from Global Partners missionaries; the encouragement, leadership, and support of their local churches; and the equipping opportunities through the broader Wesleyan Church of Ibero-America, God’s call is becoming reality in Gisselle* and Benita’s* lives. The Ibero-America Church is investing in the lives of these young women — and others like them — by equipping them to be ready to take the gospel into the world.
The Amplified Leaders Initiative exists to provide training for pastors and leaders like Gisselle and Benita as they serve in varying contexts and cultures. The previously known Heart of Missions offering continues to equip these female leaders and others like them to multiply disciples and churches.
By Sarah Schmitz, missionary to Nicaragua
The sizzle of chicken legs frying in vats of oil wafted around us as we sat down at a booth that had recently been wiped clean by a woman in a red and yellow polyester uniform. Ice falling into plastic cups and children squealing as they chased each other through the nets of the play area filled in the gaps in our conversation as we munched on French fries dipped in small packets of ketchup. We could have been anywhere: Kentucky, Toronto, or Jamaica. But we were in Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes — earthquakes and scorching heat.
“Yes, Sarah, I have thought about being a missionary. I have dreamed about being a missionary. But I can’t,” Gisselle confessed with me as she bent her head down, lips pursed together. “But why, Gisselle? Are you scared?” I pressed further. “No. I can’t because I am a SINGLE woman. And missionaries are married — they have families,” she blurted out. “Gisselle, don’t you know that it is not a requirement to be married? Some of the most dedicated and effective missionaries have been single women,” I said, leaning towards her, wanting to grab her by the hand and go running to the nearest passport office to get the ball rolling. “No. I didn’t,” she replied. “All the missionaries I have ever known have been married with children!”
Gisselle is one of the most talented and passionate young women I have ever met. She can lead praise in worship that will make you weep, translate Sunday school lessons, light up any room with her smile, and her heart longs to serve in the Muslim world. At 14 she graduated high school and still holds the record for being the fastest student to finish the Bible institute. She started as a church planter here in Nicaragua and is currently raising up new disciples in La Ceiba, Honduras. The time to send Gisselle is now. She’s equipped and called and single — and God has great plans in store for her!
By Jim Rice, missionary to Ecuador
I first met Benita when she was a teen, attending church in the Andes Mountains. She was quiet, intelligent, and shy. She had been exposed to missions through her grandfather and our Global Partners missionaries in Ecuador, as well as short-term teams that worked around her church. As time passed, she felt God moving her to do something, but she was not sure what.
Then she attended a JIBACAM† training/mission trip on the Amazon with missionary Perry Hubbard followed by a week-long mission camp in Colombia. We could see that God was moving in her. One day, Benita met Lori and I for lunch at a restaurant where we were surrounded by the usual noise and televised soccer. She told us that she was feeling a call to missions, she but didn’t know exactly what that looked like. No one from Ecuador had done it. Maybe she would go to the indigenous in the Ecuadorian rainforest. She could see that as a possibility. After all, it wasn’t too far, and they needed to be reached for Jesus.
Benita became our national mission director, and she represented Ecuador at JIBACAM conferences. She became heavily involved in the Colombian Missions Camp as an attendee and then leader. She took others with her to these camps, including pastors from Ecuador. She spoke in Ecuadorian churches. She followed. She led. Even so, Benita could not see how God could use her outside of Ibero-America. But she was a young lady stepping out into the unknown in obedience to God’s call. All the while, she was saying I don’t know how this will work, but I’ll follow where God sends me.
Fast forward to November 2019. I was working with a short-term team and got a message: “Can we talk?” It was from Benita. She was in Costa Rica at a JIBACAM conference. We got together via WhatsApp, and she told me something had happened. She was very nervous. She was afraid. She was excited. I nervously asked her what had gone on. She, along with one other young lady, had been asked to represent Ibero-America as participants in the NEXT program. They would be ministering to the Fotizo people, a Muslim people group in the Turkic-Arabic area. She wondered if she could do this, especially because of the cost, the distance, and the different culture.
In the end, none of that mattered. Benita said yes, not because she had been asked by the area leadership, but because she was sure of God’s call. She continues to prepare by helping to lead mission camps in Colombia and Peru, as well as planning a camp for Ecuador. She is also taking online classes from the Bible institute in Colombia.
*Names changed for security reasons.
†JIBACAM is the Ibero-America Wesleyan Church mission sending board.
Let’s together remove the challenges of accessibility, affordability and believability for women globally. Equip Her to make a leadership difference for generations to come.