The world is changing, and God is not surprised. He is on the move, shifting things and using Christians from the Global South and East to take the lead in global missions. It’s their turn, and we can partner with them.
A little over a year ago, we were invited by the late DeLynn Hoover to serve with VidaNet as the directors of a new discipleship training base in Honduras. This was a long-term dream of Wendell who had stated multiple times over the past 25 years, “I would love to be part of a discipleship-mission training program for young people based out of Central America since EMM’s YES program was so life-shaping to me.”
So when the invitation was extended to join VidaNet, we resigned from Academia Los Pinares, the school where we were serving in Honduras for six years and made plans to head in that direction. Then, the fall 2020 Vida220 training was canceled because of COVID-19, and DeLynn passed away suddenly in July. As a result, much was in limbo. So we decided to stay in the U.S. for a while longer, which was ultimately a blessing.
In late fall, the VidaNet board invited us to consider serving as the new overall directors of VidaNet, which meant moving to Costa Rica since the hub of facility and ministry is located here. We were also considering other ministry opportunities in the U.S., which would have provided more stability for the family (and not fundraising)!
Yet as we waited in prayer and sought godly counsel, we believed the Lord was leading us to say “yes” to VidaNet. So we moved our family here in early April to serve as the directors of VidaNet. This choice was not necessarily the easy option, but it is an amazing way for God to show His glory! The potential stories to be told in heaven are huge. And we Nofzigers love to tell a good story; preferably over ice cream!
We are already impressed with the diverse network of pastors and young people that VidaNet serves. Some of the young people who pass through VidaNet training will become church leaders, some will go into the mission field, some will stay on staff here, and some will develop ministries in other locations. We’re just passionate about seeing them be discipled and equipped and then sent out wherever the Lord has them to go into the mission field.
Just a few weeks ago, Wendell along with the VidaNet assistant director, Manuel Salas, had the opportunity to spend several days with the leaders of Central American Mennonite churches in a gathering called CoDiMi (Comisión de Discipulado y Misión). The passionate CoDiMi leaders reaffirmed their commitment to raising up leaders, including through VidaNet’s Vida220 discipleship school, and partnering together with EMM to continue reaching the end of the earth with the good news of Jesus. Around numerous meals, a local soccer game, and late-night conversations, Wendell and Manuel heard these leaders’ dreams and swapped ideas of how VidaNet can serve and partner with them. The potential impact for the kingdom of God is invigorating!
We are passionate about Jesus being glorified, and that happens through radical transformation. For those who are thinking about entering a discipleship training program like Vida220, we say, “Do it! Your life will never be the same!”
In Romans 12, believers are called to radical transformation — not to be conformed to the patterns of this world. We believe that taking a gap year with a program like Vida220 and living in a uniquely bi-cultural, bilingual setting, is a powerful way to deepen, challenge, and live out one’s faith. DeLynn always used to say, “Applying pressure and taking people out of their comfort zone produces growth in ways that you can’t help but see those seeds burst forth.”
No one can “replace” DeLynn with his huge heart and passion to lead others out of their comfort zones. We have different gifts for this different season. Yet, resting in a sense that empowering Latinos is one way that God is at work in global missions, we join the VidaNet team to see what God will do for His glory. The rest is His story to write ...