Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CPC Team Serves in Nicaragua (part 2)
July 30, 2014

A portion of our trip to Nicaragua focused on Discipleship and Leadership Development. We had the opportunity to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ in the area of biblical marriage.  We met with many of the married couples in the church and shared God's plan for healthy marriages.  There were many good questions and discussion about how to keep marriages Christ-centered and healthy.

During the Sunday worship service, Gaston Formisano gave a message on the role of
discipleship in the church.  The women of the team (Jillian Beharry, Heather Bennett, Hayleigh Bennett, Ananda Elam and Cathy Formisano) had the opportunity to share a message and a craft with the children in the church.  Daniel Hedman and Brian Lum Shue Chan brought their guitars along and participated in leading worship while Cathy Formisano did an amazing job singing a solo in Spanish.  During one of the evenings, David Schatz led a prayer meeting sharing God's will for us as we help to build His church.

Speaking of building the church, one of our tasks on this trip was to come alongside our brothers and help begin the construction of a new church building.  I would love to say that our team was instrumental in preparing the foundation for the building. Unfortunately, that would be a lie.  We were hopeful as we were given the task of digging two holes about 1.5 meters square and 2.5 meters deep, with the end goal of setting up rebar and pouring concrete in the holes.  Though our hopes were not met with success (not even close), it provide an opportunity for great fellowship with our brothers as we moved some dirt around together.  We were the recipients of quizzical looks (okay, they really thought we were nuts) when we suggested renting a backhoe to dig the holes.

All of this reminded me that relationships are more important than progress - I know that is often very hard for us productivity-minded Gringos.  Roy Oishi, videographer, documented all of our attempts at digging during those days, as well as all the other activities throughout the week.

We rounded out the week with a "Fiesta de adios" where we exchanged gifts and words
of thanks.  This event included a time of worship with our friends, eating together, sharing testimonies about how God was working in us and through us throughout the week, and saying our goodbyes (some of which were tearful).

Relationships really are the key to the inter-dependent partnerships that we are seeking as we act on our desire to be a part of building the Kingdom.  We were all extraordinarily blessed as we developed and strengthened relationships.  We are humbled by our like-minded kingdom building partners and their love for us, for each other, and for the communities they serve.  Pray for them as they seek to share the Good News with those who desperately need it.

Written by Mark Diener

For more information on our Global Missions program or upcoming short-term missions trips, contact Mark Diener, Global Missions Director at

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Serving in Nicaragua - Part 1
July 23, 2014

It has been a week since our team arrived home from Nicaragua.  I wanted to chronicle the trip immediately upon my return but got a bit sidetracked by Montezuma's revenge, and then some. Here are some highlights so you can get a glimpse of our time there.

We arrived in Esteli on July 4th and almost immediately got to work, meeting with the leaders of Saving Grace Presbyterian Church.  It was a pleasure to meet with brothers and sisters, both old friends and new:  Richard Fuentes, Emerson Wilson, his wife Martina and daughter Xochil, Juan Reyes and Marbley Diaz.  What a blessing it was for our team to hear how God is working among and through these partners.  Early the next morning, I began teaching a session that would assist our partners in establishing a Presbytery for the newly formed Presbyterian Church of Nicaragua (PCN).  This meeting, originally scheduled for 45-60 minutes, ended up lasting 2 1/2 hours because they were so interested in learning all they could about moving forward.

The rest of the team had been scoping our the construction site for the new church building.  We met them and gathered outside with several of our Nicaraguan friends to sing songs of praise for this new chapter in the church.  What a beautiful time as we raised our voices to our Lord and Savior, thanking Him and worshiping Him for what He has done and what He continues to do to redeem a people for Himself.  It was such a privilege to pray over the land and ask God to bless this work of building His kingdom.  We asked God to use the service and works of all involved to soften the hearts of many in the community, have them get involved in the worship and work of this new church, and hear and respond to the saving message of the Gospel. We laid the cornerstone and asked Christ, the true Cornerstone, to come and bless His Church mightily, allowing many new believers to be recipients of His unending grace, and allowing us to experience and witness that joy.  Many in our group were moved by the presence of God's Spirit as we again lifted our praises to Him.

Our first of two outreach activities was targeted to low income children and adults.  We sang with the children, teaching them new songs.  The puppets came alive, singing and performing a Gospel skit that had the crowd laughing and cheering.  This was followed up with crafts, balloon animals and face painting.

Our second outreach a few days later was similar, with two exceptions.  First, many of the children in this community were not receiving regular nourishing meals.  When supplies were available, the local school provided lunches.  To assist them, we blessed them with a 100-pound sack of beans.  The principal of this extremely rural school was very grateful for our gift.  The other surprise was Randall, a young boy who showed his puppet ventriloquism skills.  We didn't understand all the Spanish skits he performed, but it was obvious that the crowd did, and Randall kept them rolling.  The greatest part is that Randall is the son of another new church planter and he is using his puppet skills as a way to evangelize in the new community where they are planting a church.

To be continued...
Part 2 - coming soon.

Written by Mark Diener

For more information on our Global Missions program or upcoming short-term missions trips, contact Mark Diener, Global Missions Director at

Monday, July 21, 2014

First Sunday Socials for Young Adults
July 21, 2014

Being a recent graduate from high school and now attending a local college, I can confidently say that it has been a struggle to get connected to a good college-age ministry in the Palm Bay area.  Many high school students move away from the area to attend college following graduation, but for those of us who don't, we're left to fend for ourselves, often having to find a Christian community outside of our church.  I know of many ministries that have started up (and have thrived, even) only to fall apart after less than a year, or drift away from sound doctrine.  Our church has had many attempts to reach the college-age group with Covenant Groups or other events, but nothing seems to stick and bring new people.

Until now.

Recently, Covenant has begun a Young Adult Ministry, which has consisted of a few Sunday socials at Fred Lee Park or Pastor Jonathan's house.  I went to the first social (begrudgingly, to be honest), and was unsure as to how I would fit in.  I gave it a couple tries, and this past Sunday was (in a word) fantastic.  We met at the Culley's house right after church, and not only was it one of the best-attended First Sunday Socials, the dynamics were practically perfect in every way (to quote Mary Poppins).  After lunch, people naturally broke out into smaller groups for some exhilarating games of Crazy Uno and Dutch Blitz.  I had fun and many others appeared to enjoy themselves as well.

I have begun to change my attitude toward what I had previously considered "another young adult ministry".  I think that if we keep having social times like these, other young people will wonder, "What's that going on at Covenant this weekend?  Let's go check it out?", and this ministry just might become grafted into the DNA of Covenant.  So, let's do this; get the word out.  Share upcoming events on Facebook.  Click here for our Young Adults Facebook page to see when our next event it.  Invite your friends to your Covenant Group or the next First Sunday Social.  In the long run, you'll be glad that you did.

For more information or to stay in the loop, check out our Young Adults Ministry page at