Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dan's Report on Cuba Trip

Dan’s Report on Last Week's Cuba Trip with Rick Bonfim Ministries, September 30 – October 5, 2012

Sunday, September 30 and Saturday, October 6 were travel days, so the report below just deals with Monday-Friday, October 1-5. 

On Monday morning we had Bible study, prayer, and teaching time with the team.  The team consisted of participants in Rick Bonfim Ministries from all over the USA, so this was a good opportunity for team-building, nurture, and Biblical teaching.  Monday afternoon we went to a construction site where modest faculty housing is being built to host Seminary professors when they come to teach in the Cuban Methodist Evangelical Seminary.  Painting was on the agenda that day.  Monday evening the team split into four groups and went to four different churches for a worship experience.  Dan’s group went to a section of Havana, where he had the joy of preaching in Spanish (When God Shows Up, Things Can Happen in a Hurry).  Several persons said an initial “Yes” to Jesus, and the Spirit moved powerfully as other folks responded to an invitation for a fresh infusion of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Weeping, laughter, and everything in between, as God touched people’s spirits, bodies, minds, wills, and emotions.  We got home about 11:30pm (too late for this old man!).

On Tuesday morning we had more team time, and then in the afternoon we visited the Cuban Methodist Evangelical Seminary.  We split into two groups, and each group enjoyed teaching the Seminary students for about 40 minutes, and then praying for them.  Dan was blessed to be able to be the teacher for one of the groups, focusing on the fullness of Christ-centered transformation that is portrayed in the story of the Gadarene demoniac.  A special emphasis was on helping the pastors understand that they will need to encourage their congregations to develop an outward focus because the natural tendency of the church is to turn inward.  Without this outward focus, the fullness of our Christ-centered transformation becomes too selfish and hoarding.  We are blessed not to hoard our blessings but to be the source of blessings for others.  We then prayed for the students, which they deeply appreciated, but they also insisted on praying for us.  They did this with musical accompaniment, and it was a grand time.

Tuesday evening, Dan’s group traveled about 45 minutes to a church in San Antonio de Rio Blanco.  When we first passed by the building, we didn’t see it because (unbeknownst to us) the electricity in the whole community was off and we couldn’t see anything.  Our van driver finally realized he had gone past the town, so he asked for directions and we turned around and headed back.  We finally found the church, and we started the worship experience with two battery-operated lights.  There were two preachers in this group, so they agreed that Dan would preach a sermon and give a salvation invitation, followed by the other pastor preaching on moving from Repentance to Power and giving an invitation to receive the Holy Spirit.  Dan preached his entire sermon in the mostly-darkness (the two battery-operated lights), focusing on God’s proactive, seeking love as seen in Luke 15 (lost sheep, lost coin, lost son).  He gave the invitation, and three persons came forward, all under 25 years of age.  As the pastor was beginning to lead these people in a prayer to say “Yes” to Jesus, the lights came back on!  Perfect timing, because they were in the midst of asking for the Light of Life to direct and illuminate their lives.  Then Jim preached and there was a dynamic time of ministering in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  One thing we especially appreciated about this congregation is that after the service was “officially over,” they kept singing and dancing to the Lord, and they were doing it as an inter-generational family.  They were simply Having Fun Together.  This really touched our hearts.  We got home around midnight (ay papa!).

Wednesday the team had more time together for nurture and ministry, and it lasted until 2pm, as several people received focused prayer concerning specific issues and/or needs in their lives.  Because this went on longer than planned, we essentially took the rest of the afternoon as free time (everyone was pretty tired after a long travel day on Sunday and two very late nights on Monday and Tuesday).  I had the joy of walking a few blocks with John (our youngest son) so he could buy something to take home to Jace.  We also looked for something that I could take home to Jace (our grandson), but with no luck.  John and I then enjoyed some Cuban ice cream, and it was very good.  Then back to the Methodist Center (where we were staying) for a nap and supper.

Wednesday evening Dan was with a team that travelled about an hour from Havana, to a town named Tumbadero.  This church was located closed to banana fields, and was down a long gravel/dirt road, leading to a side road that was clay.  It had rained that day, so we eventually had to track through some mud to get to the church.  When the service started there were about 50 people there.  When the service ended, there were about 100 people there, and at least 40 of those were children.  They had a children’s dance presentation, a small choral presentation, and one other event that featured teens.  Given this congregational context, it seemed to the team that we should focus our ministry on kids and families, and so that’s what we did.  All the team members gave a brief testimony.  Mine was about how Nancy and I received the call to leave the local church ministry and focus full-time on ministry in Venezuela and Costa Rica.  I told the congregation that we received this call when I was 51 years old.  I made a point of encouraging them to answer God’s call in their lives (whatever it may be) no matter how young or old they are.  They seemed to appreciate my perspective on this.  The preacher that night was Gene, and he did a fabulous job talking with parents and families.  We then formed a prayer tunnel and the entire congregation took time to slowly pass through the tunnel, as folks forming the tunnel laid hands on them and prayed for them.  Oh, the joy and exuberance these Cuban Christians exhibited.  It just filled me with gratitude and appreciation.  Would that I could be so joyous in my worship back in the States (I even moved a couple of toes in a pretend dance!).  We “enjoyed” another midnight arrival back at the Methodist Center.

It’s hard to say which day was the best, because I do love to preach in Spanish when God provides that opportunity.  But I also dearly love the ministry of training leaders and pastors in the Venezuelan Seminary.  It really lights my fire and fits the way God designed and gifted me.  Given that, I think Thursday afternoon might have been my favorite time of the trip (besides being with John – all parents will understand that!).  Thursday morning we had some more team time, but then on Thursday afternoon while the rest of the team was doing some fun touristy things, I had the chance to meet with the Dean and Rector of the Seminary.  We explored ways the Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela and the Methodist Evangelical Seminary of Cuba could partner together.  Oh, my, what a blessed and joyous time.  Alfredo and Cesar are wonderful brothers in Christ and very open-minded and open-hearted.  They invited me to teach in Cuba if we can work out the dates.  I of course invited them (and other Cuban professors) to teach in Venezuela.  Especially important for us in Venezuela: they invited us to send some selected Venezuelan students to Cuba to learn Greek and Hebrew well enough that they can serve as our future professors of Greek and Hebrew in Venezuela.  This is a HUGE blessing for a theological Seminary: as in, humongous.  We also talked about sharing of library resources, and the possibility of finding a way that Venezuelan and Cuban students can adopt one another as prayer supporters.  Just a fabulous meeting that left me almost speechless with gratitude for the new avenues that God seems to be opening up.

Thursday night the team travelled to a restaurant for a nice meal on what was supposed to be our last night together.  I say “supposed to be” because on Friday when we went to the airport in Havana, we were told that our flight had been cancelled (with no prior warning).  I won’t go into all the details.  The end result was that we finally got tickets issued for a flight on Saturday, and then we headed back to the Methodist Center because we all needed to notify folks back home of the delay, and we also needed to make new arrangements to get from Fort Lauderdale to our final destinations.  The internet in Cuba exists, but Cuban citizens are not allowed to have it in their homes, and the few internet cafes that are in Havana only use dial-up.  So it took hours for some folks to get their travel arrangements completed. 

So on Friday we had an unexpected additional evening with our Cuban brothers and sisters.  We enjoyed supper with them at the Methodist Center, and then we shared some prayer time together, as each Cuban and each American received laying on of hands and prayer.  This was a great way to have a send-off.

I give thanks to God for this trip.  I learned a lot, I met new brothers and sisters in Christ, and I had the joy of exploring ministry partnership between the Cuban and Venezuelan seminaries.  Thanks for your continued prayer support and financial support, which allows me to be used by God in these types of ministries.  Through your prayers and financial giving, YOU were in Cuba with me, and Nancy and I are very grateful.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring 2012 Update

Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,

We hope your Easter season was filled with God’s grace and the power of the Risen Lord.  We were able to enjoy Easter Sunday brunch with Tara, John, and Jace, and then share Easter worship with them at their church, so our hearts are filled with gratitude.  Please find below some brief comments concerning what we are up to through our ministry in Venezuela and Costa Rica.    

Thank you for your prayer support and your financial support.  We are deeply appreciative of both.  We count it a joy and privilege to partner with you in what the Spirit is up to in Venezuela and Costa Rica.  Moreover, we could not do this without your support.  Your prayers are our spiritual lifeline, and we can guarantee you that they make a difference.  Likewise, your financial support makes it possible for us to devote ourselves full time to this work, and as you will see below, this has allowed the ministry to flourish.  We are grateful for your partnership with us.

Much Love Dan and Nancy

·        The ministry is Venezuela is Expanding!  Not only have we added an extension campus (Nirgua) to the Wesleyan Seminary of Venezuela, but we are also feeling strongly led by the Spirit to add a Master’s program.  This is keeping Dan and Warren very busy with curriculum planning, recruitment of faculty, and course preparation.  Please pray for discernment and clarity as this process continues.
·        Dan will be teaching a course on Colossians in April and May at the extension campus in Nirgua – he will also host Leroy Lindsey to teach a course (Holiness in the Old Testament) in May at the main campus.
·        We will celebrate Dan’s Ph.D. graduation in Wilmore, KY on May 19th!
·        At the end of May, Dan will be translating for a course at the main campus on Pastoral Counseling that will be taught by Jim Powell and Jim Seaton.  In early June he will host David Cosby for a week of classes on Holiness in the New Testament.
·        June will bring the North Georgia Annual Conference, followed by Dan and Nancy flying to Costa Rica to share in mission team ministry with the Due West UMC.  In addition to serving with two mission teams, Dan has been invited to teach two evangelism workshops while in Costa Rica: one in Guapiles and one in San Jose.  This will be a first-time experience for Dan, and we are grateful for God opening up these doors.
·        We will return to Venezuela in late July.  Dan will teach a course on the Gospel of John and later in August he will translate for a course on the Book of Acts.
·        We will also celebrate the third graduating class and the 10th anniversary of the Seminary in August, so we are very excited about this.  We will have more than a dozen new graduates.

Thank you again for your prayer support and your financial support.  To give, please make your check payable to VNI, write “Project 3455” on the memo line, and mail to: VNI, P. O. Box 1655, Duluth, GA  30096.

Much Love, Dan and Nancy

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We've had a great season of ministry since returning to VZ two weeks ago - been involved in Seminary classes (both translating and teaching), plus translating for sermons, plus preparations for the upcoming Due West mission team.  This week Dan is especially enjoying teaching the Pentateuch.  The students are really engaged in digging deeper into the Word, and it's a privilege to share with them in this time.  Thank you for your continued prayers.
In this photo Dan is pictured with Anibal Rodriguez, Warren Lathem, and Oscar Rodriguez.  We celebrated a Sunday worship experience in their church, with Warren preaching and Dan translating.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great Time with Due West UMC, Headed Back to VZ

We had a great time with our friends at Due West UMC over the past several days, including a visit with Sonia and Edwin from Costa Rica, along with a fun afternoon of evangelism teaching - we are headed back to Venezuela tomorrow (Feb. 1), and will hit the ground running - we will arrive in our home town of Cabudare on February 2nd, and on February 3rd Dan will start an 8-day stretch of translating, followed by a 1-day break, then 6 days of translating and teaching - please pray for safe travel and for God to bless all the upcoming Seminary classes - February and March will be very busy, but we arel super grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of what the Spirit is up to in Venezuela

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Ministry Plans - Venezuela and Costa Rica

Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,

We hope your Christmas season was filled with the love of Jesus, and that your New Year has been saturated with God’s grace.  We have been richly blessed during this season of our lives:
  • ·        Jace came home from Ethiopia on December 2nd and we LOVE being Granddaddy and Gram!!!
  • ·        Dan passed his dissertation defense on December 16th, and has almost finished his revisions – things are on track for him to graduate on May 19th – (God is faithful)
  • ·        We have been able to enjoy several visits with family and friends during our time in the States

Our 2012 plans are pretty well set now, and we want to let you know what those plans look like.  Please see a few details about those plans below.  As always, please know how much we appreciate your prayer support and financial support, both of which are vital to our continued ability to minister in Venezuela and Costa Rica.

Much Love, Dan and Nancy

  • ·        January 23-31: Ministry Time with Due West UMC, along with Edwin and Sonia Brenes, from Costa Rica
  • ·        February 1 – March 27: we return to Venezuela Feb. 1 – Dan will teach, preach, translate, and host other professors – Nancy will continue her work with Seminary finances and will also sew some more curtains for Seminary dorm rooms – together we will host a mission team from Due West – we are looking forward to this time of ministry
  • ·        March 27-April 16 : we will be in the States to spend some time with family and enjoy Easter worship 
  • ·        April 17-May 14: Dan returns to Venezuela, where he will teach two Seminary classes on Colossians and host a guest professor for another week of classes 
  • ·        May 15-May 22: Dan returns from VZ so that we can both drive to Wilmore to enjoy his May 19 graduation, and then celebrate our 36th anniversary on May 22nd
  • ·        May 23-June 8: Dan will be in Venezuela, where he will host two weeks of classes – since this is such a short time in VZ, it makes more financial sense for Nancy to stay in the States, rather than buying another plane ticket
  • ·        June 9th: Dan returns to the States for Annual Conference and two Costa Rica trips
  • ·        June 12-14: We will be in Athens for the North Georgia Annual Conference
  • ·        June 16-23: We fly to Costa Rica to serve as leaders and translators for a mission team from Due West UMC, working with Sonia and Edwin in Guaplies
  • ·        June 30-July 7: We fly to Costa Rica to serve with a second mission team from Due West
  • ·        July 31-August 21: We will fly to Venezuela – Dan will translate for two classes, and we will both help make preparations for, and then enjoy celebrating, the third graduating class of the Seminary (12 graduates!), PLUS the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of the Seminary – we are very excited about this
  • ·        August 21-October 1: we are going to visit some with our families in Jacksonville – Dan’s mother is in her 80s, and we want to be sure we get down to visit with her – plus almost all of our siblings and nieces and nephews are there - we will also do preparatory work in advance of our upcoming 6-week trip to Venezuela
  • ·        October 2-November 13: we return to Venezuela – Dan will translate for 2 classes, teach his own class on the Gospel of John, and then translate for two weekends of ministry in UMC churches, as we partner with the Lathems to encourage pastors and their congregations
  • ·        December: at some point in December, we may be flying to Costa Rica to translate for another Due West UMC team that will be serving in San Jose to help the Amor en la Calle Ministry with their Christmas ministry preparations

As you can see from the information above, Nancy will spend more time in the States in 2012 than Dan will.  During her time in the States, however, she will continue to work with the Seminary finances, getting the information she needs from VZ via phone and email. Beginning with his April trip to VZ, Dan will stay on the Seminary property in VZ rather than in the house we are currently living in, because the owners of the house are planning to sell.

One great blessing we are excited to share with you is that God has provided a place for us to be based in Athens when we are in the States.  This is wonderful for us, because it means that whenever we return to the States from Venezuela or Costa Rica, we will no longer be homeless.  We appreciate the generous hospitality of many friends and family over the past 18 months during our visits Stateside, but it will also be very nice to have our own base in the States again.  Thanks to all of you who have been praying for God’s guidance concerning this process.  We can testify yet again in our lives that God is faithful, so very faithful.

Thank you again for your prayer support and your financial support.  To give, please make your check payable to VNI, write “Project 3455” on the memo line, and mail to: VNI, P. O. Box 1655, Duluth, GA  30096.

Much Love, Dan and Nancy

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Frequent Updates on Facebook

We are very grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ's Kingdom in Venezuela, and appreciate your friendship and your prayer support.  Just a quick word to remind you that we don't update the blog nearly as often as Dan posts updates on Facebook.  So if you're a Facebook user and want to keep up with what's happening with us on a more regular basis, invite Dan W. Dunn to be your Facebook friend.  Much Love, Dan and Nancy

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Navidad 2010 - La Flor de Venezuela



On the evening of December 14th we went with friends to a cultural site called La Flor de Venezuela. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and they had various musical groups ranging from elementary through high school.  There was also an area with kiosks for purchasing Christmas gifts, most of which were pretty standard, but some of which featured interesting handmade products.  We had a wonderful time and it helped lead us more into feeling a little Christmas spirit.  With highs each in the upper 80s it's been tough to "feel" Christmassy, since we're accustomed to cold weather at this time of the year.  So last night really helped a lot.  We are so thankful to be here, and appreciate your prayers.  Much Love, Dan and Nancy