Humberto Paz, originally from Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, moved to the U.S. in 1968 to attend Foursquare’s LIFE Bible College (now called Life Pacific College). He met his wife, Teri, in Los Angeles, and they were married in July 1972. Together the couple has raised three daughters, all of whom are now married and living in the U.S. Humberto and Teri have four grandchildren, and a fifth will arrive in September.
Soon after they were married, Humberto and Teri planted a Hispanic church in Denver, where they pastored for three years before being deployed as Foursquare missionaries to Mexico. They served there for 19 years, until 1994, when Humberto was asked to be the regional coordinator for Latin America.
In 2007 Foursquare Missions International (FMI) asked the Pazes to move to Nairobi, Kenya, to work as missionaries serving East and South Africa. Today, Humberto is Foursquare’s area missionary to East and South Africa.
Called to Africa
In East Africa, Humberto serves Foursquare’s work in the nations of Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and East Congo. In South Africa, he serves the denomination’s ministry in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mauritius.
When asked how God led him to Africa, Humberto responds simply: “I had been sensing for a long time a desire to change venues. It just felt like the right time, and so here we are in Nairobi.” He says his assignment feels like a perfect fit.
Despite the inconveniences of congested traffic and sometimes high security risks, Humberto describes living in Nairobi as a tremendous cross-cultural experience where nationalities from all over the globe congregate. He and Teri enjoy the prominent presence of an expatriate community, which creates the opportunity for very interesting friends and conversations.
Making a Difference
The spiritual statistics among the nations of East and South Africa are exciting. In 2010 alone, more than 40,000 people gave their lives to Christ through Foursquare ministry. The same year, more than 12,000 individuals were baptized in water, and more than 17,000 believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit. The denomination added 89 new churches, bringing the total number of Foursquare churches and meeting places to 1,491.
The many countries in this region are at various stages in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model, ranging from Stage 1 to Stage 3. Stage 1 is the “initiate-evangelizing” stage; Stage 2 is the “nurture-strengthening” stage, when leaders are developed; Stage 3 is the “expand-multiplying” stage, when congregations reproduce; and Stage 4 is the “send-extending” stage, when churches send missionaries outside their countries.
Many countries in the region are highly Christianized, and Humberto describes the Africans as “great evangelists.” But he affirms that there is still a need for stronger leadership development, and for pastors to be trained more effectively to build healthy, strong churches and reproduce strong leaders. Many pastors in the region have little formal education and even less Bible training. His primary focus in all of the countries is to reinforce the leadership that is already in place, and to prepare and train upcoming leaders.
One of Humberto’s duties is facilitating the training and education of leaders, and strengthening national boards to function to their full capacity, with the goal of church planting. He works with national boards to define and set goals, sometimes acting as a mentor to national and emerging leaders, and conducting leadership development seminars in the different countries.
Despite the obstacles, Humberto tells Foursquare.org, it’s amazing what the churches have done with limited resources, and there are many pastors throughout the region taking bold steps of faith, investing in their own ministries and taking personal responsibility for carrying out the Great Commission. More and more local and national churches are being motivated toward financial independence and discovering the profound blessing of contributing toward the expansion of the gospel in their own countries, without the help of outside resourcing.
This kind of courageous faith is making a difference in the region. Humberto believes that as churches grow less and less dependent on outside funding, and more focused on trusting God for their own resourcing, the national churches will become a stronger, healthier, reproducing and self-sustaining church-planting movement.
One example is the Kenya Foursquare Church, which for the first time, in 2010, completely funded their own national convention. Humberto describes the excitement and joy when pastors began to say, “We did it!” Their faith, he says, is expanded by experiencing the faithfulness of God in such a tangible way.
Humberto envisions an army of trained leaders who can move with strength and confidence to increase the efforts of church planting in the region, so that Africa will be won for the Lord as well as overcome tribal differences and the thrust of Islam on the continent. His prayer is to see the national churches fully developed, so that they might join the task of proclaiming the gospel to the world through their missionary endeavors.
There are many miraculous happenings throughout the region. One example is Burundi, where Humberto says great breakthroughs in evangelism and church planting are taking place thorough the ministry of Foursquare National Leader Rev. Leopold Banzubaze and the people he is training. Rev. Banzubaze oversees 474 churches in Burundi.
Rev. Banzubaze relates the story of a Foursquare evangelist from Buterere Foursquare, a local church located in Bujumbura, who experienced paralysis on one side of his body for six months. God visited this man in his sleep one night and instantly healed him.
Another man, Rev. Banzubaze reports, had paralyzed legs and could not move. During a crusade held at the Foursquare Ngozi District Church, some friends carried the man to the church. He was healed immediately as the Holy Spirit touched him.
In Tanzania, National Leader Peter Dalmas has been instrumental in the multiplication of churches there. He tells about a girl in secondary school who was demon possessed and not able to attend classes or take exams. Through the ministry of a Foursquare church, she was healed and delivered, confessing Christ with two other girls who witnessed her deliverance.
Praying for Africa
How can the church in the U.S. pray for the East and South Africa region? Humberto requests prayer for pastors in the region as they go through continued training and leadership development; for greater financial release; and for pastors to trust God for independent financial provision for themselves as well as their churches.
He also asks that people pray for ongoing peace in the many areas where there are civil wars and tribal strife. And he requests prayer for people who might be interested in opportunities to serve in a short-term setting, particularly in the areas of teaching leadership development sessions.
For information on helping FMI works around the world—including how to support the Global Missions Fund, a missionary or project, or to donate toward disaster relief, log on to //give.foursquare.org. One hundred percent of every dollar given to the Global Mission Fund goes directly to the mission field. For details on short-term missions teams or other information related to FMI, visit //www.foursquare.org/missions.
By: Amy Swanson, a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministry at New Life Church in Santa Barbara, Calif.