Dr. Geraldo Nunes is field strategy coordinator of the North Andean field in South America and the rector of South American Nazarene Theological Seminary.
HT: With some of the largest and fastest growing Nazarene churches in the world now located in South America, how would you describe the movement of the Holy Spirit throughout the region?
GN: We know that the work of the Holy Spirit is ample and still moving forward. When we read the book of Acts, we see something marvelous taking place in the church. The Bible says that when the day of Pentecost arrived, they were gathered together in one accord. Yes, this was a celebration that took place every year, but on that day something different was about to happen.
The disciples saw the Holy Spirit at work in Jesus' ministry. They experienced the Holy Spirit when they went out and served God.
They heard Jesus promise a new work to come, and they received the Spirit in a new way after Jesus finished His work on the cross and established the new covenant. They heard Jesus order them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, who would fill them with power to testify.
I want to believe that South America is going through a special time. We are a region full of social, political, cultural, and economic contrasts. However, this is fertile ground for those who surrender to the movement of the Spirit. We will see beautiful things happen. I trust that this growth is due in great measure to people’s sensitivity and openness to biblical preaching that confronts and challenges them.
Those who are full of the Spirit live in a way that questions the values imposed by their contexts.
When the Spirit is at work, His purpose becomes clearer.
In South America, people are experiencing renewal in regard to doctrine, communion, and prayer. We are experiencing a movement of the Spirit in the lives of young people. A new generation is heeding the voice of God calling them to serve with their whole hearts. The Lord adds each day to those who are being saved!
HT: Some of the gifts of the Spirit seem to focus only on external manifestations. How do churches on the South America Region maintain the focus upon holiness and the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Scripture?
GN: I believe that we must clarify what the fruit of the Spirit means, which is the divine nature (love) at work in me when I allow the Spirit to sanctify my heart. We begin to live in such a way that our attitudes reveal the very presence of God.
Our own culture sometimes beckons us to live a life of emotionalism. Even the predominant types of theology around us place an emphasis on outward manifestations, sometimes neglecting the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. In our region, we are working diligently to guide each believer to live out the Great Commission. Therefore, we develop initiatives that will help each believer understand the role that God has given all of us.
HT: As rector of South American Nazarene Theological Seminary (SNTS), how do you emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit as part of the academic work of seminary students?
GN: We believe that the life of every facilitator in the formation of students at STNS must have an impact beyond a theoretical understanding of the Holy Spirit. They must live a deeply committed life. We challenge each student to value their academic work, knowing that everything they do is part of the work of the Spirit in their lives. This is truly fundamental.
HT: Can you describe any stories of God’s Spirit moving on the South America Region?
GN: I would like to share the story of the Acts 29 Church of the Nazarene in Bogotá, Colombia. This new church held its first Sunday service on November 12, 2017, in the Chía municipality (about an hour away from the city of Bogotá). The project was conceived at the beginning of 2017 with a desire and a call to plant a Nazarene church in an area where the church had not been. Chía is an area that is currently experiencing a demographic boom, and it is where many university campuses and colleges are located.
The vision of Acts 29 is to work with younger generations (children, pre-adolescents, adolescents, and college-aged), since we believe adult parents will come to church as a result of their children’s interest in knowing God.
Its main objectives are: 1) A revival in the area through the implementation of the spiritual disciplines; 2) Relational evangelism through the Alpha tools; 3) Serving the community through compassionate ministries; and 4) The creation of devotionals appropriate for children and pre-adolescents.
The church began with 27 people, including children. Since day one it has been a self-sustained church. A year later, we have 41 full members and 46 associate members. We're developing a mission point in a municipality 30 minutes away from Chía called Tocancipá. Chía’s central hospital opened its doors for us to visit weekly and pray for the children who are sick and for newborns. We give away 60 food baskets each week. We have a list of 300 people whom we have contacted in the hospital who will be invited to small Alpha groups to be evangelized and added to the church.
HT: Can you talk about the importance of prayer and its impact?
GN: Prayer is a sine qua non (essential) factor in the development of the Lord’s church. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we need to understand that prayer has always been and will always be the best way to communicate with God. Prayer is so important that the sacred writers show more than 250 texts that specifically address prayer.
This dialogue is very important in order to discern the Father's will in all aspects related to the ministry He has given to us.
In prayer, we bring to God the changing circumstances of life.
We share with Him, and He shares with us. Some important texts regarding this important value in our ministry work include: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3); “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8); “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34); and “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:16-18).
I am absolutely certain that if we prayed more consistently, we would achieve much more. When we have communion with the Father, we see the movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.
HT: What are key areas of the Andean field where you are seeing Spirit-led revival and stories of transformation?
GN: There are several key areas: church planting; the transformation of children’s futures through the Child Development Centers; and Urban Ministries, a program offered by the Seminary on child and adolescent development. We are also seeing growth in the empowerment of Women's Ministry, as well as the new churches starting among the Shuar people.
HT: What can other fields and regions learn from the obedience to the Holy Spirit you are seeing in your ministry area?
GN: This question is difficult to answer, since we know our church is committed to the responsibility of making disciples in the entire world. Each context has its own unique features. However, I believe that if we gave more value to the needs of people in each of our contexts, we would see more results from our work.
It is fundamental to have strategies, but I believe that if we have the right people in the right places with the right motives, any strategy will have a good outcome under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Holiness Today, May/Jun 2019