We had the privilege of participating in and representing Sovereign Grace Churches at The Gospel Coalition’s first ever Hispanic Conference in Orlando, FL. Abelardo Muñoz, the official live Spanish translator for TGC, and Rich Richardson, our Director of Global Missions, joined me at the conference, along with Bob and Brittany Kauflin, Joselo Mercado, and Mauricio Velarde.
It was an amazing and humbling experience to witness the coming together of 700 leaders from all over Latin America. It was a great opportunity for us to learn and be encouraged with the many reports of what God is doing in our continent by bringing what we believe is a new wave of reform by making the gospel of grace shine in a land that never truly experienced the Reformation.
One of the highlights was the presentation of the book, Gracia sobre Gracia: La Nueva Reforma en el Mundo Hispano (Grace upon Grace: The New Reformation in the Hispanic World). This book represented the very first joint effort of producing Spanish resources by Hispanic leaders brought together through our alliance in the Spanish TGC. The book contained contributions by world-renowned leaders like Dr. Miguel Nuñez and Pastor Sugel Michelén, both from the Dominican Republic, and from local church pastors like Al Pino of Palm Vista in Miami and me. This book was a gift to all attendees of the Hispanic Conference and it is now being translated into English for a possible future publication.
Another highlight was the opportunity I had to represent Sovereign Grace Churches in a panel led by pastor Juan Sanchez from Austin, TX, along with Dr. Nuñez and Dr. D. A. Carson (Joselo had a similar opportunity to interact with a video panel on church planting). We talked about the benefit of being a part of a family of churches like ours. I had the opportunity to share the immeasurable blessing it has been for me to have always served in the context of a plurality of local elders and now in a body of regional elders—and never on my own. This unexpected exposure enabled us to connect and talk to several pastors from different parts of Mexico and the U.S. that wanted to inquire about getting to know us and establishing new friendships. It was humbling to recognize that what we have enjoyed for so many years is sadly an exception and not the rule in the Hispanic world.
But this exposure also gave us the opportunity to talk with and invite many leaders to our upcoming Pastors Conference in Juarez. Our Sovereign Grace exhibitor booth (faithfully served by Mauricio and Brittany) gave out hundreds of flyers with information about the conference. We were able to establish many new connections with other ministries as well as secure support from sponsors that will help make our gathering in August a more effective time of encouragement and equipping. We hope to serve and encourage many pastors and leaders this coming August when we will be served by Jeff Purswell and Bob Kauflin as well as our special guests Dr. Nuñez and worship leader and songwriter Jonathan Jerez. I was able to sit down with Bob and Jonathan to plan their participation at our conference as well as a concert in which we will be recording and videotaping several Sovereign Grace songs that haven’t been recorded in Spanish yet. Bob and Jonathan will also be hosting a one day worship workshop after our conference ends.
One last personal highlight for me was the chance I got to spend some precious time with my son Andrés, who is currently serving Dr. Nuñez as his assistant in the Dominican Republic. I was privileged to sit with him and Dr. Matthew Hall, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matthew has been a great help in opening an opportunity for Andres to attend the seminary next fall in their M.Div. program. So we are praying and hoping God will grant all that is necessary for him to move to Louisville to be trained and discipled as a future leader for Gracia Soberana Latinoamerica!
Finally, I want to specifically thank all of you that are praying for us in these exciting times of gospel advancement into our nations, as well as for your heartfelt desire to invest and partner with us in all that God is leading us to do to see the true gospel shine in the midst of much darkness. Without your partnership and prayers, none of this would be possible for us.
To support such gospel work in Latin America, donate here and designate your gift for “Latin America.”
May 29–31, 2014 is definitely a high point in the life of our church.
It had been our prayer for many years to be able to offer to others from the many riches we have received by God’s mercy, especially from our rich heritage in Sovereign Grace. God granted us that opportunity to serve a group of pastors and leaders in a concentrated and, I believe, highly effective way.
A New Conference
Last May, we invited Pastor Miguel Núñez from the Dominican Republic to come for a two-day seminar on biblical leadership. That was our testing ground for a much-needed conference directed toward pastors and leaders. We had good participation that encouraged us to make a more intentional effort. So this year, we officially started Fieles a Su Llamado which means “Faithful to His Call.” It is a conference for pastors and leaders focused on training and encouraging men from Latin America to be faithful to Christ in their holy callings as proclaimers and teachers of the gospel.
One dynamic that changed from last year’s gathering is that we joined efforts with our sister churches in El Paso, Aguascalientes, and Arandas. And with encouragement from our Executive Director, Mark Prater, we presented the conference as a Sovereign Grace Mexico Regional event. Therefore, we specifically invited all those men who have been asking us for help and training for the purpose of planting churches with Sovereign Grace or who are interested in some sort of adoption by Sovereign Grace. So men came from the cities of Chihuahua, Durango, and Torreón, México, as well as from Cartago, Costa Rica and Palmas, Canary Islands.
We also invited men from churches with whom we have been working for several years like the Oasis Churches in El Salvador, “The Church from Guadalajara” in Mexico, and “Unidos en Cristo Bible Church” from Monterrey, Mexico. Representatives from congenial church families in Latin America (like the Horizontes Churches from Queretaro, Mexico) also joined us. They are quickly becoming strong friends and partners in our gospel mission. There were also many guests from other cities in Mexico, but our most surprising ones were two pastors that we were able to sponsor from the rural jungle mountains near Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.
By God’s grace, the members of our church in Juarez completely financed the conference. The church worked for several months beforehand to raise the necessary funds. Several held bake sales in their neighborhoods, one young single girl donated her vacation money, others donated items for a huge yard sale, one donated his airline mileage points, and so on. Thus, we were able to pay for several pastors’ airfare and housing, make the conference and workshop affordable to all, give full scholarships to low-income pastors, give away many books and study tools, and pay for investments needed to upgrade our equipment so that we could transmit the conference live on the internet.
Reaching Beyond the Conference
Even though our goal was to serve this particular group of pastors, God increased our reach. In total, we hosted about 200 people, with pastors coming from 21 different cities and 6 different countries. We also had a wide international audience through our live stream. At one point, we had 3,000 people tune in from most Latin American countries, including 6 countries from Central America, 10 from South America, and 2 from the Caribbean.
Our conference included a three-day, pre-conference Expository Preaching Workshop, which 48 pastors attended. The workshop was sponsored by The Charles Simeon Trust, and it was their first workshop in continental Latin America. They generously donated all of their expenses. For our two-day conference, we invited Pastor Sugel Michelén from the Dominican Republic, who blew us away with some of the best world-class preaching and teaching on the gospel, the church, and preaching that we have ever heard. Pastor Luis Núñez from the Dominican Republic led us in worship. He is currently part of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville as he finishes his Masters degree from Southern Seminary. We enjoyed the refreshing presence of the Holy Spirit in our gatherings as well as rich fellowship that made the whole experience memorable.
The Work of God in Changing Lives
But the most encouraging highlight for me personally was hearing the testimonies from these pastors about the effect this event had on their lives. The main comment from the pastors was that the conference shaped their whole view of ministry. A couple of men ended up in tears as they pondered their past experience in light of their newfound zeal for the gospel. Several men shared with me that even though they very much appreciated the teaching and training, they were amazed at the way the dozens of conference volunteers lived out the gospel and served us.
Robert Kinney, the Executive Director of The Charles Simeon Trust, expressed it this way: “This is the highest compliment we can give: I don’t believe we have ever been received and served in such a gracious way as we have by this church. This seals our commitment to make Mexico one of our priorities.” To which I was able to reply: “This is only the fruit of what we have received through our many years as part of Sovereign Grace.” As we have heard many times, we have nothing to share with the world if our message is not being lived out in our own congregations. I am extremely grateful to God that he is enabling us to serve others by forming in our hearts a passion for the gospel and for his church throughout the world.
This experience confirms my belief that God is willing to use Sovereign Grace as a family of churches to plant and serve churches in many parts of Latin America. I see the hand of God moving us forward 1) through the affirmation and receptivity from the men seeking our help and support, 2) through the young men being raised up in our churches, and 3) through the evident gospel mission heart in the Mexican churches, displayed in their willingness to give to and serve other pastors and churches. We plan, God willing, on following up this coming year with the current church planting and adoption opportunities that seem to be confirmed and compelled by God. We need your support and help to be able to do this.
We are already planning on “Fieles a Su Llamado 2015.” While we don’t know what the future holds for us, we know there is great need. And we are already receiving inquiries from new groups as far as Argentina. So, please pray for us that we would be faithful to his glorious calling.
To support more gospel work in Mexico, donate here and designate your gift for “Strategic Global Project - Mexico.”
One of our member churches, Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana in Juarez, Mexico, is hosting a pastors conference May 29–31 called Faithful to His Call. Message topics will include the centrality of the gospel in ministry, the centrality of the church in God's purposes, and faithfulness in preaching in ministry.
Sugel Michelén, who pastors Iglesia Biblica del Señor Jesucristo in the Dominican Republic and serves on the council of The Gospel Coalition, will be the guest speaker for the event. Carlos Contreras, the senior pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana, will also be speaking. There will also be a pre-conference Expository Preaching Workshop hosted by the Charles Simeon Trust.
Pastors from different cities in Mexico are attending, as well as pastors from several Southwest U.S. cities, Central America, and the Canary Islands. There will also be a live stream provided so that even more people can benefit from the conference.
If you're interested in attending, registration is available on the conference website (but please note that the Expository Preaching Workshop is already full). If you aren't able to attend, consider watching the conference on live stream. Information about the live stream will be posted on the website. Please join us in praying that the conference would be fruitful, that those there would be encouraged, and even that this conference would result in church plants in the future. If you’re interested in supporting work in Mexico like this, consider giving to our Mission Fund and designating your gift for Mexico.
Una de nuestras iglesias, Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana en Juárez, México, organizará la conferencia para pastores “Fieles a Su Llamado”, del 29 al 31 de Mayo. Los temas incluyen la centralidad del evangelio en el ministerio, la centralidad de la iglesia en los propósitos de Dios, y la fidelidad en la predicación.
Sugel Michelén, pastor de la Iglesia Bíblica del Señor Jesucristo en la República Dominicana, y miembro del concilio de La Coalición por el Evangelio, será el predicador invitado del evento. Carlos Contreras, el pastor principal de Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana, tambien predicará un mensaje. Además, previo a la conferencia habrá un taller sobre Predicación Expositiva por parte del Charles Simeon Trust.
Pastores de diferentes ciudades en México asistirán a esta conferencia, así como pastores de suroeste de Estados Unidos, de Centroamérica, y de las Islas Canarias. El evento será transmitido en vivo para beneficio de los que no puedan asistir.
Si le interesa asistir, puede registrarse en el sitio web de la conferencia. Tenga en cuenta que el taller de Predicación Expositiva ya está lleno. Si no puede asistir, considere la transmisión en vivo. La información sobre la transmisión en vivo será publicada en el sitio de la conferencia.
Por favor únanse a nosotros en oración para que esta conferencia dé mucho fruto, para que los que estén allí sean animados, y aun para que esta conferencia resulte en plantación de más iglesias en el futuro. Si está interesado en apoyar esta y otras obras en México, considere dar a nuestro Fondo de Misiones y especifíque que su contribución es para México.
Mauricio Velarde shared an update on his recent trip to the Dominican Republic to participate in the Musiclass13 conference. Read about a few ways the Lord is at work in Latin America and how he is using Sovereign Grace Music to bless churches there.
I was invited to the Dominican Republic to teach at a conference called Musiclass13 hosted by Iglesia Bautista Ozama (IBO) from August 1–3. Musiclass13 takes place every year. Not only do many churches attend, but the conference is broadcast live through Misión Virtual, allowing numerous Spanish churches in different countries to participate. This year, we had the privilege of having 25+ churches, including a church from Ecuador.
I arrived on Monday, July 29 and quickly began music rehearsals with Rogers Peralta and Carlos Garcia, who are music conductors at the church. They are both doing a great job musically by conducting an orchestra of talented and humble musicians, and they are also doing a great job in their theology of worship by keeping Christ the main focus.
I had the privilege of teaching various messages on topics such as the characteristics of a faithful servant, what acceptable worship to the Lord looks like, and the role of the worship leader. The format was much like WorshipGod in that we held a main session and breakout seminars. The emphasis of the conference was to teach worship leaders how to grow more in the knowledge of the Lord and not simply strive to be good musicians.
To end the conference, we had two concerts back to back. Both were packed out! How amazing! During the concert, we sang a combination of Sovereign Grace songs and some original songs written by IBO’s senior pastor, Otto Sánchez. It was an amazing time of worship where we focused on leading the people to see God’s amazing love for us in the cross.
As an encouragement to all of you, I would like to mention that all throughout the conference, I had brothers and sisters from many different churches come to me to say things like, “We sing many of Sovereign Grace’s songs, and they have been a huge blessing to our church.”
I believe God is doing a magnificent work in Latin America, and I am thankful that we can be instruments in his hands. May God continue to give us grace to magnify His glory to His people.
Mauricio and his wife, Sonia, live in the Gaithersburg, Maryland. Mauricio leads worship at Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Gaithersburg. He writes songs for the Spanish Sovereign Grace churches and sung on and helped produce our last two Spanish albums: Eres Dios in 2012 and Allí En la Cruz in 2010.
During the weekend of May 24–25, 2013, we had the privilege of hosting our first ever Sovereign Grace "Conferencia para Pastores y Lideres" (Pastors and Leaders Conference) in Mexico with Dr. Miguel Nuñez from the Dominican Republic as our guest speaker. We had the joy of seeing close to 400 pastors and leaders come to this event that was advertised in a limited way through local pastoral networks and social media. In all, we had leaders from eight different cities attend.
The weekend included six, hour-long main sessions under the general heading of "A Pastor According to God's Own Heart." Dr. Nuñez taught on "The Leader's Character," "The Leader's Goals," "The Leader's Influence," "The Leader's Pulpit," "The Leader's World," and "The Leader's Disqualification." On Friday afternoon, we also hosted four workshops for those interested our church's ministries of worship, small groups, evangelism, and leadership training. During the leadership training workshop, Dr. José Mendoza (who works with Dr. Nuñez and is in charge of their Leadership Institute) presented the opportunity to participate in the video training program they have developed which will be hosted by the churches in Tijuana, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, and Juárez.
We plan on hosting this conference on a yearly basis with a hope to expand and be able to reach and serve leaders from the whole nation of Mexico as well as be able to broadcast it live through the internet to all of Latin America.
Carlos Contreras has attended Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Cd. Juárez for 34 years, and has served on staff for the last 22 years (15 as senior pastor). He and his wife, Kena, have been married for 30 years and have four children.
December 19, 2012 by
Categories: Conferences | Music | Latin America
Thank you for praying for your Latin American brothers and sisters as we hosted a Pasión Por Dios Conference in New York City earlier this month. We had the privilege of hosting Pasión Por Dios 2012 in Argentina, Puerto Rico, and now New York City. Each time, we've been encouraged by how God uses our feeble efforts to proclaim the gospel and see lives transformed for His glory.
When we arrived in Manhattan, we spent the first couple of days rehearsing and preparing for those who would join us for the conference. Friday night kicked off with a time of worship and a message. On Saturday we continued with three more messages and a few more times of singing. On Sunday we concluded with a concert. The place was packed.
I am so grateful to God for pastor Freddy Noble, Freddy Noble Jr., and for our brothers from PIBHM for all the hard work they are doing to serve the Latin American community of New York City.
And I want to thank God for Sovereign Grace, especially Sovereign Grace Music, for all you are doing to serve us as we proclaim and sing the good news of the gospel at events like Pasión Por Dios. Mauricio Velarde led our times of singing and gave an exemplary conference message. Mauricio’s participation blessed us richly as we sang songs he wrote with Sovereign Grace Music. Thank you!
A Latin American philosopher once said: "In New York you can find the worse and best of the word." In 1930, when Diectrich Bonhoeffer arrived to New York City, he said the following about the believers he found there, "... In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life." The German theologian martyr shared his impressions when he came to study at Union Theological Seminary. Eighty years later the situation has not changed. On the contrary, it has grown worse. Despite this, many from this city clearly heard the gospel and were affected by the message of salvation through Jesus Christ at Pasión Por Dios. And, thanks to technology, additional Spanish speaking brothers and sisters from around the world watched the conference online.
I'd like to thank Bob Kauflin and Mauricio Velarde for supporting us through Sovereign Grace Music. Sovereign Grace, thank you for producing worship albums that serve your Spanish speaking brothers and sisters. It is my hope that God will allow us to continue doing things together in the future for His glory.
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
" Psalm 115:1
Gracias por orar por sus hermanos Latinoamericanos durante nuestra conferencia Pasión Por Dios en Nueva York este mes. En el pasado hemos tenido el privilegio de llevar nuestra conferencia a Argentina, Puerto Rico, y ahora a Nueva York. Cada vez somos animados al ver como Dios usa nuestros débiles esfuerzos para proclamar su evangelio y ver vidas transformadas para Su gloria.
Cuando llegamos a Manhattan los primeros dos días, los pasamos ensayando y planificando para servir a las personas que nos acompañarían esa noche. El viernes empezamos con un tiempo de adoración y el primer mensaje. El sábado continuamos con tres mensajes y más tiempos de alabanza. El domingo concluimos la conferencia con un concierto a casa llena.
Doy gracias al Señor por el pastor Freddy Noble, Freddy Noble Jr. y por los hermanos de la PIBHM por el trabajo que están haciendo con la inmensa comunidad hispana de la ciudad de New York. Quiero agradecer al Señor por Sovereign Grace y en especial por Sovereign Grace Music por lo que están haciendo para servirnos mientras cantamos las buenas nuevas del evangelio en eventos como Pasión Por Dios. Mauricio nos lideró en los tiempos de alabanza y dio un magistral mensaje en la conferencia. La participación de Mauricio nos edificó en gran manera mientras cantamos canciones de Sovereign Grace Music. ¡Gracias!
Un filósofo latinoamericano dijo: “En New York se puede encontrar lo peor y lo mejor del mundo”. En 1930, cuando Diectrich Bonhoeffer llegó a la ciudad de New York dijo acerca de los creyentes que encontró allí lo siguiente: “…predican prácticamente sobre todo, tan sólo hay un tema que no tratan o que, de hacerlo, es tan rara la vez que hasta el momento no he podido escucharlo, y es el evangelio de Jesucristo, la cruz, el pecado y el perdón, la muerte y la vida." El mártir y teólogo alemán dejó ver sus impresiones cuando vino a estudiar al Union Theological Seminary. Ochenta años después la situación no ha cambiado. Por el contrario, está peor. Sin embargo, la sana doctrina de Cristo, sanó muchas almas tanto en los que asistieron al evento como a todos los que en más de 10 países nos siguieron por la web.
Gracias Bob Kauflin y Mauricio Velarde por su apoyo a través de Sovereign Grace Music. Sovereign Graace, gracias por producir música en español que nos permiten servir mejor a nuestros hermanos de habla hispana. Espero que Dios nos permita trabajar juntos en el futuro para Su gloria.
"No a nosotros, oh Jehová, no a nosotros, Sino a tu nombre da gloria, Por tu misericordia, por tu verdad." Salmo 115:1