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If Paul Otremba were to sum up the focus of his ministry, he would point to one verse: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2, NKJV). In other words, it’s all about leadership development.

“We believe that the leaders in a church are the key to the development of the church and any ministry that might flow out of the church to the community and to the world,” says Paul, Foursquare Missions International’s (FMI) area missionary to Central America and northern South America. “By developing good relationships with the leadership in the region, we find great open doors to invest into their lives and ministries, and see multiplication. We are in a position where we can help, facilitate, counsel and encourage new emerging leaders.”

Paul and his wife, Ulrike, reside in Bogota, Colombia, and are the proud parents of three adult children. Paul has served as area missionary to the Central America/northern South America region since 2009, overseeing Foursquare ministry in 10 countries—Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala. Foursquare ministry in all of these nations is self-supporting.

According to 2010 statistics, there are 3,471 churches and meeting places scattered throughout the region. In 2010 alone, more than half a million people—616,353 to be exact—made first-time decisions for Christ. Those baptized in water totaled 43,765. An astounding 41,596 were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Other ministries throughout various countries include 146 Bible institutes, 8 orphanages, 2 schools (in Belize), 3 rehabilitation centers (in Venezuela) and 10 medical clinics (in Honduras).

Honduras, Panama and Colombia are Stage 4 nations in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model. Stage 4 is the Send (Extending) stage, meaning those nations have developed responsible, reproducing, missionary-sending churches that send missionaries to other countries. Costa Rica and Venezuela are between Stage 3 and Stage 4. Stage 3 is the Expand (Multiplying) stage, during which responsible, reproducing congregations are being developed. Ecuador is a Stage 3 nation.

El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua are between Stage 2 and Stage 3. Stage 2 is the Nurture (Strengthening) stage, the goal of which is to make responsible, reproducing leaders. Belize is between Stage 1 and Stage 2. Stage 1 is the Initiate (Evangelizing) stage, where they are developing responsible, reproducing disciples.

“This region can be a big blessing to many countries in the world by sending out more and well-prepared missionaries,” Paul tells Foursquare.org. “Those countries that are not yet in the fourth stage need special attention and encouragement. We want to see them grow and become strong churches with healthy leadership.”

Paul notes that short-term missions teams from the U.S. come to Central America regularly, for which he is very thankful. He sees these teams as vital elements in developing ministry works in the region, because a lot of work and investment is still needed in many places, especially in the areas of Christian education, church planting and leadership development. The Foursquare Church in the U.S., he asserts, is a huge source of encouragement and inspiration for people here. But the blessing, he adds, isn’t just one way.

“I also see that the churches and the leaders in the region can be a great source of encouragement for leaders and pastors in the U.S.,” Paul states. “A healthy partnership, working as a team to accomplish the Great Commission in the region, will bear much fruit.”

Indeed, much spiritual fruit is blossoming in Central America. During a seminar for leaders in Ecuador in late 2009, for example, John and Sonja Decker, well-known Foursquare ministers, taught a seminar on “Doing What Jesus Did.” They held practicums for different ministry skills as part of the training. One of these workshops was themed “How to Heal the Sick”—during which one man, Pastor Bolivar, revealed that he needed healing from a fleshy growth in his eye that was bothering him, as well as ear and back problems.

The group prayed for the pastor, and the growth disappeared. His ear and back issues were also healed. When Paul saw Pastor Bolivar again three months later, the pastor was all smiles, basking in his complete healing. Such stories are happening throughout the region.

“People are learning how to minister to others, and they are so encouraged to see that the Lord is backing them up, doing healings and miracles through them,” Paul excitedly shares. “In Venezuela, one church has grown in six months from 400 to 800 people. That happened after Pastor Mogollon attended one of these seminars and started to train his people to minister like Jesus did.”

So how can those of us in the U.S. pray for Central America? Paul offers three key points for prayer.

“First, pray for healthy, reproducing leadership, for their marriages and families, and for leaders who live a life of integrity,” he asks. “Second, pray for the capital cities in the region that do not have a big Foursquare presence.” These cities are Caracas, Venezuela; Quito, Ecuador; San Jose, Costa Rica; Guatemala City, Guatemala; San Salvador, El Salvador; and Belmopan, Belize.

Third, Paul asks for prayer for the region’s young people. He notes that in Colombia, for example, over 50 percent of the population is under 25 years old; but that percentage is not always reflected in the churches or in the leadership. Other countries, he reports, reflect similar figures. He asks for agreement in prayer that the churches in his region will find the “right way to reach the lives of all these young people.”

But Paul doesn’t only offer prayer requests—he extends an invitation to believers in the U.S.

“I would like to invite you to visit the region and to connect with leaders and pastors here,” he shares. “I am sure that all will learn, and all will profit, from those connecting times. Out of the relationships that will develop in those moments, ministry opportunities will grow—opportunities that will impact lives.”

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 https://give.foursquare.org. One hundred percent of every dollar given to the Global Missions 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: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles

is a credentialed minister and freelance editor living in Sacramento, Calif.
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