With pastors across Latin America struggling not just to minister but, in some cases, even to feed their families, BGEA is streamed a two-day event to encourage and equip them for ministry beyond COVID-19.
Thousands of pastors and evangelical church leaders viewed the Facebook stream of Fidelidad Extrema más allá del COVID (Extreme Faithfulness Beyond COVID) July 31-Aug. 1. This was the second Fidelidad Extrema conference to be streamed via Facebook.
“The feedback from pastors in our first streamed program in May was that they are lonely, they are struggling with depression and many of them are considering suicide,” said Chris Swanson, director of Latin America Affairs for BGEA. “One of the highest rates of clergy suicide in the world is in Brazil right now. Every week, evangelical pastors are committing suicide. The impact on ministry is enormous—pastors losing their congregations, losing the buildings they meet in, asking themselves where the food for today is coming from because there is no source of income—the list goes on and on.”
With pastors asking “Now what?” the second conference focused on key issues for struggling pastors. Barbara Zeiden, a counselor in Bolivia, addressed how to deal with grief and loss. Will Graham encouraged pastors to be faithful to their calling. Associate Evangelist David Ruiz taught on the priority of evangelism. Pastor Jose Luis Navajo of Spain spoke on leading when circumstances are out of control, and he teamed up with Laurent Trabadello of Samaritan’s Purse Canada to address key themes for pastors to focus on as churches reopen.
Interspersed with those teaching sessions, the conference included worship from recording artists Marcos Witt, Miel San Marcos and Christine D’Clario.
As conference segments were recorded at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, the worship leaders focused on the daunting needs of the pastors who would watch the conference.
“My heart breaks for these pastors whose hearts are so discouraged,” said Marcos Witt, his voice choked with emotion. “Some of these pastors are living in tiny little villages; it’s tough under good circumstances. I want to encourage them, to help them realize that God is still on the throne, Jesus is still Lord and He has promised He will never leave us.”
Witt, who has participated in a number of Franklin Graham’s Festivals in Spanish-speaking countries, said that during his 39 years of ministry, many people have told him that they were considering suicide, but God changed their direction through Witt’s music. With that in mind, he prayed that God would “reach through the technology and grab hearts” during the conference.
Brothers Josh, Samuel and Luis Morales, who minister as the group Miel San Marcos, have seen the pressures of pastors up close. “We are the sons of a pastor,” Josh said, “and we have seen how our dad cries. But we believe that if you plant a seed with tears, you will receive very good fruit. Our prayer is that God’s presence will fill every home around Latin America and give rest to these leaders.”
Dove Award-nominated artist Christine D’Clario said: “I pray that they will remember that Christ is sovereign, that He has us, and if we keep our thoughts on Him, we need not worry. Fear is not our counselor; the Holy Spirit is. And what He says goes.”
Watch the event at lp.billygraham.org/fidelidad-extrema-mas-alla-del-covid or on Facebook.
Photo: Todd Sumlin/©2020 BGEA