“Moving Christians from the pew to the harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38
July has come and gone, and it was a good month. Judy and I are generally healthy, and we are continuing to find ways to be of service to others. If you know me, then you know my passion for the Word of God and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Everything we do is aimed at helping others to experience the reality of God’s inspired Book, and to have a personal intimacy with the Spirit who lives in the text He inspired. Let me give you a brief update.
July 16-22. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
· Instituto de Entrenamiento Ministerial de Fe
On July 18 and 19 we completed the Divine Healing course. We wound up with a wonderful time of prayer, tapping into the grace of God that is always sufficient to
bring healing. These classes have been well attended despite the fact that school is out, and Hermosillo is a very warm spot in the summer. It’s difficult to express how refreshing these classes are to the students. One pastor’s wife told me that she and her husband were so very tired and burned out when they started attending the classes. They had been praying for something to help them. It has been like a drink of fresh water, encouraging them and re-charging their ministry.
Possibly the biggest victory in this class was at the registration table. We are aiming to turn the administration and teaching of the bible school over to the local churches by the time we finish the First Level in April of next year. The teachers are coming forward as we evaluate students and talk to their pastors. The administrative aspects are less visible, but no less important. On this trip, Rosa Andrade recruited and trained a team of local folks to do all the registration. That means signing in all students, instructing new students, keeping track of homework turned in, distributing the homework that was graded from the last classes, and being sure the new homework gets to the appropriate personnel to grade it. They did a wonderful job. IEMFe is going to be continuing in Sonora long after we are gone. In addition, we broke in two interpreters who will be very helpful in the future. Welcome aboard to Mario, and welcome back to Joel!
· Pastors / Leaders Breakfast.
Again, despite the summer heat and all the vacations, we had 7 ministries represented at the Saturday Pastors Breakfast. This event has been given over to leadership growth, and this one was particularly rich. We are addressing the concept of casting a compelling vision. For this meeting, pastors shared how God spoke to them in prompting them to start or take a church. The stories of these encounters with the Hand of God were inspiring.
One pastor shared this: “In a dream, He showed me a people who were jumping high, and praying, prophesying, and reading the bible. And He told me of this Church that is going to send forth ministers to work for Him. Help them and encourage them to learn the Word!” Now, I can get behind that vision, can’t you?
This pastor shared this sentiment: “The institute you brought to Hermosillo has been a great blessing to my life, my family and ministry, Thank you!” That gratitude goes to God and to you guys who make it possible.
· A Great Sunday service.
Eduardo and I brought the Word at Grupo Amistad Los Olivos. Pastor Martin was out of town and asked me to fill the pulpit. We enjoyed the fellowship, the worship, and the hungry hearts who devoured the Word of God. A dozen people answered the call to be filled with the Spirit. Thank God for His Spirit and His Word. Afterward we had the privilege of visiting with the pastor’s family and praying with them about their individual ministries. (Not to mention some great carniitas!) Being able to encourage and impart to the next generation of musicians and preachers is a great joy!
In Case You Don’t Know:
What is IEMFe: (Instituto de Entrenamiento Ministerial de Fe),
or FMTI (Faith Ministry Training Institute)?
Faith Ministry Training Institute started in 1989 in Oneonta, NY. I was driving through the mountains in Upstate New York begging God to send more laborers to help in those little towns and villages. He spoke to me very clearly: “Train your own.” So we did. I began to fashion a set of courses that would teach a unified theology of Faith. It needed to be comprehensible to the gamut of student backgrounds: educational, ethnic, and economic. It had to be teachable for normal people, not just preachers. It had to be conveyable and replicable with a degree of uniformity. It was quite a project. We used it in the local church then moved on to other churches and other nations, making adjustments as we went.
Our aim has always been to provide materials that are accessible to individuals, churches and other bible schools. By accessible, I mean affordable, understandable, and flexible enough to be tailored to any context. The first level, 128 hours of classwork, stresses the importance of Scripture, the basic doctrines of historical Christianity, and the distinctives that make us Faith and Holy Spirit people. (Faith, healing, In Christ realities, Holy Spirit baptism, worship style, and financial abundance). Each of the 8 basic courses is aimed at practical application in the student’s own life along with the ability to share with others.
After thirty years we have honed the materials and the process. While the primary emphasis has always been to enable individual churches to implement the program in their own house, we have also provided our courses to free-standing bible schools as part of their curriculum, and to individuals who wish to study at home. For all, we have evaluation tools that enable us to certify completion for those who wish to be part of the family of FMTI grads who receive certificates and are recorded in our offices.
For those who want to keep moving forward in leadership and ministry skills, we have developed 2nd and 3rd level courses that address specific skills and types of ministry. In addition, there are courses that take off from where the first level stopped, digging deeper into biblical subjects like bible interpretation, ministry gifts, and living a Spirit-filled life. The FMTI website has all the information necessary to get started. If you or someone you know have need for such a course, check us out at www.fmtionline.com.
- · We just received a report from Cuba that our new friend, Pastor Mario, is now using IEMFe to train leaders in 20 home groups in the region. God is good!
- In Hermosillo, Pastor Alberto Flores announced his plan to begin IEMFe classes for those who didn’t get in this current rotation at the beginning. He plans to begin in September with bi-weekly classes open to the public. This will be a big step in the saturation of Hermosillo with the Word of God.
- Pastor Gildardo, a 2003 graduate, is now teaching classes at his church in Hermosillo.
- Eduardo and Rosa Andrade asked permission to begin teaching classes in Nogales, Sonora in response to requests from 3 local churches. They begin in August.
- Vida Ministries in Panama is preparing to re-broadcast the classes on Radio Vida which reaches the Darien Province as well as parts of Colombia. They will be using our most recent Spanish courses taught by Rev. Eric Sonera.
- One of our 2003 Hermosillo grads, Marisela came to our recent classes. She is still teaching in the jails at age 76.
- September 13-14, we begin the 2nd level classes in Hermosillo. I plan to do one of these leadership focused classes each quarter. For thses classes, all administrative duties will be handled by the local people. We will build a broad base of well-equipped leaders, full of faith, full of the Word and the Spirit, and prepared to expand their impact.
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August 4. Visit to New Life Family Church in silver City, NM. Pastor John Mahl
August 18: Faith Family church. Chandler, AZ. Pastor Andy White
August 21-30. Vacation. I am gonna see that canyon just so I can say I did.
September 1. FCF Tucson. Home sweet home!
September 8. Ministerio Zoe-Tucson. Pastor Abel Leon.
September 13-14. Hermosillo, Sonora. IEMFe Level 2 – Planning for Success
September 19-20. Hermosillo Money, Ordinances, and Music class begins
October 1-8. Peru. Bible School graduation. Pastors training.
October 17-18. Hermosillo Money, Ordinances, and Music class continues.
October 26- November 3. Upstate New York. TBA
November 8-9. Southern AZ Pastors and Leaders Gathering. Living Faith Christian Center. Tucson
November 14-15. Hermosillo Money, Ordinances, and Music class concludes.
Now Scheduling: Contact me to schedule something at your place. Email virgil or call 520-792-3238.
Thank you for your prayers and contributions. You make it possible for us to continue. Please pray for grace to travel. Also, wisdom concerning finding time to write. I have some things in my heart that will require God’s ability to finish in a timely manner. (I’m working on a manual for men’s ministry and a course on the power of the tithe). One of the most gratifying things about this season of life is the number of people who have known us for decades who are still supporting us. I can’t tell you what that means. Together we are making a difference for people you may never see this side of Heaven. There are a bunch of them, and they are grateful, too!
Pray that I will connect with the churches and pastors that need the grace that’s on me. I don’t just want to go because I can, I want to go because I should. Thanks.
We are part of Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson. Financial support can be sent there or given online at www.fcftucson.org. (Checks made payable to FCFT, you can designate for missions or pastorvirgil)
Yours in His service,
Virgil and Judy Stokes