19 Nov Focused on Training Pastors in El Salvador
Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries
On September 2-5, I visited El Salvador with Global Ministries associate director Donna Hollopeter and Kyle Bushre, pastor of Outreach and Missions at King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa. We had just concluded several days with the UB ministries in Haiti. Now it was time to move on to Central America, starting with El Salvador.
Gonzalo Alas (right), a UB minister from Honduras Conference, has been dedicating all his time to the work in El Salvador for the past year. During the prior four years, he had been splitting his time with responsibilities in El Copan, Honduras.
During this past year, he has dedicated his time to searching out and training church planters. His emphasis has been on disciple and leader multiplication, and not necessarily on simply amassing people or churches. During this time he has turned away more pastors and church planters than he has retained.
All of the churches in El Salvador are located west of the capital near the city of Sonsonate. Our first visit was Sunsa UB, led by Pastor Saul Natividad. He has been there one year. Although the group is still small, Gonzalo has been investing heavily in training and orienting Pastor Saul.
Next we visited Caluco UB, led by Pastor Isaias Reyes. I had visited this church before and been impressed with the pastor and his wife. It is a rural church with a corn mill on the property. The pastor’s wife builds relationships with community women who come to grind their corn. Pastor Isaias commented on Gonzalo’s influence and how he has come to recognize the need to be multiplying disciples who multiply disciples, and not simply building a larger, nicer looking church building.
That evening we visited Jardines de la Nueva UB (Acajucla), located in a housing subdivision outside of Sonsonate. Currently, they are constructing a new church building with local resources and from offerings from other Salvadorian UB churches. Pastor Luis Urkia, a single man in his early twenties, is leading the church. He grew up in a Christian family and is studying and receiving training from Gonzalo.
Having been asked to provide a one-day leadership conference, I prepared to speak on the multiplication of disciples as it relates to the multiplication of churches. I based the training on Mark 4 and the three parables of the sower and the seed.
Each of the five pastors brought three or four of their key leaders, so some 30 people attended. Walter Recinos and his congregation did not attend. Gonzalo was thrilled with the fact that the conference reinforced what he has been doing with his leaders and seemed to be well received by the participants. Each church group was provided several opportunities throughout the day to discuss the material and make plans for implementation.