Friday, March 31, 2006

Barquisimeto: Home of Wesley Seminary


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barquisimeto is the capital city of the State of Lara located in west central Venezuela, halfway between Caracas and Maracaibo. Coordinates: 10°3′50″N, 69°18′56″W.

Barquisimeto is a city with strong agroindustrial roots, surrounded by a sugar cane valley and near to one of the largest vegetable production regions in Venezuela: El Valle de Quíbor (The Quibor Valley) and Sanare. Also, Barquisimeto is very close (about a 55-minutes drive) to the most successful wineries in the tropical countries: Viña Altagracia

First founded by Don Juan de Villegas in 1552 and named Nueva Segovia de Varequesemeto it was later moved to several places until 1563 when the town finally settled in its present location. Barquisimeto is today a modern town, fourth most populated in the country; highly important for its situation in the middle of the west-central axis of communications, industries and agriculture of Venezuela.

Barquisimeto is a very successful industrial and commercial centre. It has one of the biggest markets in Latin America called Mercabar, where about 80% of the food produced in Venezuela is gathered and then redistributed to the rest of the country, and various shopping malls like Las Trinitarias, Ciudad París and Babilon (also known as Babylon).

Population: 1.050.000

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Update from Dan and Nancy Dunn

Dear Friends in Christ,

Nancy and I want to thank you for your generous support of our new ministry. Some of you are supporting us in prayer, some in financial giving, and some with both - and we are deeply appreciative. It is an enormous comfort knowing that we are taking this step of faith with you as our partners. We would like to take this opportunity to update you about some things related to our new ministry, and the transition thereto.

  • Our house is now on the market. We received an offer today, and made a counter-offer, so we hope to hear something concerning the counter-offer tomorrow (Wednesday). Please pray for God's will, instead of our will!
  • Kevin Klingler and I will fly to Venezuela Thursday afternoon for an 11-day trip. We are really looking forward to the opportunity to visit some pastors in the Barinas state who are interested in becoming Methodists. We will also enjoy spending some time with missionary Jon Herrin and his family.
  • I drove to Montgomery today to meet with a minister friend of mine who may be able to help me make contact with some churches in his conference there in Alabama. Please pray for God's help in opening the doors He wants opened.
  • On my last visit to Venezuela a couple weeks ago, we had 68 students in the Seminary, the most we've ever had. Additionally, we had 10 new students. It was a fabulous trip. The Seminary is a hugely important ministry there. Please keep the Seminary in your prayers.
  • Another joyous experience on my last trip to VZ was the privilege of serving the Lord's Supper at Pastor Efrain's church in Cabudare (outside Barquisimeto). I've attached a jpg picture file below.
  • Our support-raising continues. We deeply appreciate your generous support, and we look forward to God providing more supporters so that we can fulfill the financial responsibilities of our new call. Please pray for God to bless the support-raising in powerful ways.
  • About a month ago I preached a mission sermon at a church in Blairsville, and the congregation seemed to really enjoy it (it's a miracle!). This is an example of one of the ministries I am being called to - preaching and teaching in local churches to help them understand and get excited about supporting God's global mission.
  • On April 23 and May 21 I will be preaching at a church in Woodstock that is thinking about supporting us in our new ministry. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to move in these two worship experiences, so they will be motivated to participate passionately in God's mission.

Please allow us once again to express our gratitude to you for your generosity and compassion, as we partner together to reach the lost of Latin America.

Much Love and Many Blessings, Dan and Nancy

Update from Dan & Nancy Dunn

Saturday, March 25, 2006

This picture captures the calling of Venezuela Now, Inc. to reach the lost of Venezuela. We will accomplish this primarily by equipping and empowering the United Methodist Church of Venezuela. The picture is one artist's attempt to capture the passion and the urgency of Jesus' story of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7. This picture hangs over my desk to remind me of Jesus' concern for the lost and my need to burn with that same passion. It is a copy of a Sunday School card from early in the previous century. Notice the peril to the Shepard. Notice the precarious position of the lost sheep. Notice the eagle that is about to swoop in to the sheep's doom. Humankind apart from Christ is lost and in need of the Savior. Jesus said he "came to seek and to save the lost." He give us the same mission. Please pray for those of us associated with Venezuela Now, Inc. and the United Methodist Church of Venezuela to be ever vigilant in the mission of reaching the lost of Venezuela for Christ.
Warren Lathem

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pray for Wesley Seminary

Pray for Wesley Seminary. We have several opportunities/challenges facing us. First of all, we are seeking accreditation by the Venezuelan Ministry of Higher Education. By God's grace, one of our students and UMC mission pastors is now employed by the Ministry and will usher our application through the Ministry. What a great blessing we have received from the Lord! As our student leads this process, several issues have emerged. Most of them are in the process of being addressed and will be satisfactorily resolved. The biggest challenge we face is space! As you can see from the photo, we are simply out of space. The Assembly of God Bible Institute has been our home for the first 3 1/2 years. We use their largest classroom and have simply outgrown it. Additionally, one of the requirements by the state is to have our own site in order to be accredited. At this time, Jon Herrin, missionary, is looking at some potential temporary sites while we continue to pursue the purchase of our own location. Good News: I spoke yesterday with a donor who has committed significant support for this effort. He stated that he hoped we would receivedthe promised funds early in 2007! Praise God! However, we do not yet have funding for a temporary location. We are praying for God's provision for this need. We have learned to trust God's supply. Pray with us for this need.
Warren Lathem

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Wesley Seminary, March 2006

Wesley Seminary of Venezuela began it's March session on Monday, March 13 at 2:00 pm with 65 students - a record enrollment! We enrolled ten new students, most of whom are already pastors or lay preachers. The 4 credit hour course was "Church Administration in the Mission Church," Dr. Warren Lathem, Professor. While we are most grateful for how the seminary has grown in just over three years, we have now outgrown our one available classroom at the Assembly of God Bible Institute in Barquisimeto. We must move quickly to find a new home, staying in the inadequate home until God opens the door for a new site. A church in North Georgia has committed a large sum to help with a new location and we are eagerly awaiting that funding.

We also have been blessed with one of our students and UMC Mission Pastors who has just joined the staff of the Venezuelan Ministry of Higher Education. What a blessing from God! He will guide our application for accreditation by the Venezuelan government. With his guidance, we hope for a rapid approval. In the meantime, we are operating under the umbrella of the Methodist Seminary in Costa Rica.

One of the great joys of seminary week is spending time with our UMC pastors and students. Over half of the class is affliated with the UMC. Each time we learn about one or more pastors starting a new mission to some community in which there is currently no Christian witness. God has blessed this missionary conference with a missionary zeal that is bearing great fruit for Christ in Venezuela.

A highlight of the week was the unsolicited testimony of Issac Brita, a non-Methodist, but very devoted student and pastor. He shared how attending the seminary had changed his life and ministry, calling attention to three particular courses which had profound impact on him as well as the three professors. As a result, he resigned the staff of a large church and has started a new mission congregation targeting young adults. Pray for Issac and this brand new church.

Additionally, we were blessed this week with the visit of a potential missionary from Costa Rica. Bernie spent the week getting to know the pastors and taking about the possibilites that God may be opening for him in Venezuela. We have been praying for more labors in this rich harvest field and Bernie may be another answer to prayer. Pray for Bernie, the church in Costa Rica and the leaders in Venezuela as they (we) all atempt to discern God's will.

By the way, contact us if you would like to know more about the Seminary or the work of the UMC in Venezuela. We need many prayer partners and financial supporters. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Revival in San Cristobal

We led a Revival in the San Cristobal UMC on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 10-12, 2006. This was held in a rented space since the church has lost its leased space. Rev. Raul Lavinz is the pastor and also serves as the Registrar of the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela in Barquisimeto. Raul, Teolinda and their 3 grown children and I are pictured above. Raul also serves as a translator in the seminary when I and other non-Spanish speaking faclulty teach. During the three nights of the revival, 9 people professed faith in Jesus Christ and committed themselves to living for Christ. There were also may prayers for healing and lost family members.

Pastor's Conference in San Cristobal

I (Warren Lathem) just returned from two weeks in Venezuela. What a great trip. After meeting with our pastor in Caracas, I flew to San Cristobal accompanied by Samuel Rojas, a student in the Wesley Seminary. We went to San Cristobal at the invitaion of the Ministerial Association and Rev. Raul Lavinz, pastor of the San Cristobal First UMC. On Wednesday, March 8, 2005 we were interviewed on a couple of local TV stations. We also met with some of the leaders in the San Cristobal UMC. Thursday was a sightseeing day trip to Cucuta, Columbia and a time to purchase leather purses for my wife and daughter-in-law. Then Thursday we led a Pastor's Conference hosted at a local technical school. About 25 pastors attended. For many of them, this was the first formal training they have ever received. Pray for San Cristobal It is a city of 600,000 people and only about 5-6,000 evangelical Christians. However the evangelical church just celebrated 100 years in San Cristobal. I invited these pastors to take personal responsibility for fulfilling the Great Commision in San Cristobal. What an opportuity for the Gospel in this influential Adean state of Tachira, Venezuela! Especially pray for laborers in this rich harvest field and for pastors to develop a passion for the lost. Also pray for our UMC in San Cristobal. They just lost the lease on their church site and are looking for a permanent home. If you would like ot help provide them with a home, just let us know at Venezuela Now, Inc.

Friday, March 17, 2006

March Seminary

Fifty to Sixty pastors and students will gather in Barquisimeto, Venezuela March 13-17, 2006 to engage in the 3 hour Wesley Seminary Course: Church Administration in the Mission Church. The professor, Dr. Warren Lathem, is also the founding president of the Wesley Seminary of Venezuela. He will be assisted in teaching the course by Rev. Raul Lavinz, Registrar of the Seminary and pastor of the First United Methodist Church of San Cristobal in Tachira State in the Andes on the border with Columbia. Raul will also serve as Dr. Lathem's translator since his Spanish is limited to a few basic phrases. Prior to the week of seminary, Dr. Lathem will join Pastor Raul in San Cristobal for a busy week of ministry. The schedule includes a pastor's conference for the pastors of the Tachira State, a three day revival at the San Cristobal United Methodist Church, interviews on local radio and TV and a leadership conference for the Tachira State Governor's staff. Samuel Rojas will accompany Dr. Lathem to San Cristobal and will assist him in all of these activities. Samuel is a student in the seminary and a great servant for Christ in the United Methodist Church.
Others involved in the March session of seminary include Rev. Dan Dunn, Dean of Students of the Wesley Seminary and co-founder. Rev. Dunn is the Missions Pastor at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, GA, USA. Sensing a much stronger call to theological education in Latin America, Dan has applied to the Phd. program at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, USA. Assuming admission, Dan and Nancy expect to move from Alpharetta to Kentucky in the summer of 2006. Please keep this new development in your prayers as they wait for admission, attempt to sell their home in Alpharetta, seek housing in Kentucky, await news of financial aide and attempt to raise their financial support for this mission endeavor.
In addition to the above persons involved in the seminary in March is Rev. Jon Herrin. Jon is a minister of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and a Professor of Church Planting at Wesley Seminary. He and his wife, Jeanne, and their three children, Jesse, Meghan, and Andrew, currently live in a home in Cabudare, a suburb of Barquisimeto. John works closely with the local United Pastors and Church Planters as they work to share the Gospel with their neighbors in Venezuela.

Anyone interested in helping with this very important work of the seminary or the work of the United Methodist Church of Venezuela is invited to contact the following:
Dr. Warren Lathem,
Rev. Dan Dunn,
Rev. Jon Herrin,

Monday, March 06, 2006

Venezuelan Heartbeat E-Update

Below is an email from our missionaries in Venezuela, The Herrins. Please keep this family in your prayers as they serve Christ and His people in Venezuela.

What?!? Is it March already??? WOW! Where has the time flown??? Well, never mind that it passes…much is happening in each day, and we have so many opportunities to give thanks to God for the good things that come to pass…and there are so many lives we can touch in small and large ways—through a smile, five minutes here, a day there. We write this month to share with you…to share our experiences, our dreams and our hopes for the days to come.


On Feb. 18, Jon flew to Caracas to meet a team of twelve, highly dedicated, highly motivated folks (they may think I’m exaggerating…but I’m not!) from the Tucker First UMC of Tucker, GA. After a night in Caracas, they began their day-long trek to the small city of TUMEREMO in the state of Bolivar in eastern Venezuela. In four wonderful days, this team built a new bathroom with showers onto the sanctuary of El Pan de Vida Iglesia Metodista Unida (The Bread of Life UMC). However, far more important than constructing something of brick and concrete, relationships were built…between North American Christians and Venezuelan Christians—between “Little John” and Sergio, between Cindy and Noemi, between Tom and Cheo. This is what a mission team is all about—building relationships across cultures and languages and all those things that threaten to separate us from one another. Way to go, Tucker First!!! Thank you for coming and sharing the love of Christ in Venezuela!!!


Many of you know that Jon was in an accident a few weeks ago, but the week after the wreck was almost worse! On the Tuesday after that Saturday wreck, Jon came down with dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that causes a lengthy fever, severe muscle pain…and sucks the life out of a person!! Well, after being in bed for almost a week, Jon was back up…and slowly gathering his strength. Now, some three weeks later, he is back to his old self—for better or worse!


Jeanne joyfully began teaching English a couple of weeks ago. She has folks from our church here in Cabudare—Ondas de Pas IMU (Waves of Peace UMC)—and from our neighborhood. Even the young woman at our video store wants to join in on the classes now! For many years, ESL courses have been wonderful entries in the lives of others…and Jeanne has found a way to connect and develop relationships between herself and church members and the un-churched. The students are so enjoying her class, and we look forward to seeing where all of this goes in the days to come….


Jesse, Megan and Andrew are plugging away at the school work. Since the beginning of February, we’ve had a tutor working with Megan and Andrew…and they are taking LEAPS and BOUNDS in the language area. Jesse continues to leap as well…taking the top of her class in Mathematics and Castellano (Spanish!). So, the children are doing FINE in school…and enjoying it like never before. They are developing friendships…in school, at church, and in our neighborhood. We are so thrilled to see them thriving and doing well. One of the great surprises and joys has come about in the questions their friends are asking: “How can you be Christians and not be Catholic?” We have some young people who now want to know more about these “non-Catholic Christians,”...and we’re going to tell them! These young people have even asked to go to worship with Jesse and Megan so they can learn more. Folks, that’s good news!

Now, PLEASE keep our children in your prayers…for there is still a long way to go in language learning...and obviously many opportunities for them to be lights in the darkness!!!


The Church here in Venezuela is growing and changing as the days pass. We have been thrilled to see two new missions started—Vallecito, a mission of Ondas de Paz IMU; and Sta. Rosa de Tin Tin, a mission of Lugar Altisimo IMU.

In addition to these new missions, the Church here is getting closer and closer to forming a national convention/conference. Please keep this in prayer, as we strive to form a national, Venezuelan Church…one that is faithful first and foremost to Christ, but also faithful to the culture and life-style of Venezuela.

We have five more teams scheduled now to come and work in Venezuela, to do various kinds of projects—build a sanctuary, renovate a school where a congregation meets, lead a youth evangelistic project, and begin the construction of an orphanage. However, more important than all of these tangible projects are the relationships that will be formed, the lives that will be changed because of the coming-together of Christians from the North and South.


  • After the wreck of the mission vehicle early in February, a wonderfully faithful couple in South Alabama stepped forward to offer an incredible gift—a check$$ towards the replacement of the mission vehicle!! We give thanks and praise to God for their faithfulness!!!
  • Seminary Week is March 13 – 16. Please pray for our visiting prof, Dr. Warren Lathem, District Superintendent of the Atlanta-Marietta District. And, keep in prayer our pastors as they make their way to Barquisimeto for this wonder time of learning and fellowship.
  • Continue to pray for our language acquisition (we can’t wait until we can take this one off our list…but we understand it may be another year or so!!!)
  • And, we still await word on our visa situation. Pray that we can soon have the visas that will allow us to stay and serve in Venezuela.
  • We continue to adjust to culture and custom…new things hit from time to time, and sometimes the days are tough. Pray for patience and understanding on our part.
  • We give thanks that a couple from our home church, Earl & Idalu Bishop, are coming to visit with us for a week!! How good to have good friends come to encourage us in the ministry here!!
  • Please pray for peace and reconciliation between the governments of the USA and Venezuela. May the peace and good will that exists between our peoples spill over into the political arena!

We ALWAYS give thanks and praise for your prayers, your gifts, your love and care for us as we live for God here in Venezuela. Without your heart for others, we could not be here for others. We are grateful that we can be an extension of your ministry, your mission to the world. Please keep us in your prayers…and if you get a hankerin’, come see us, join a mission team, or help someone in your congregation go touch lives.

Thank you for all. May God bless and keep you…and lead you in all His ways!

Jon, Jeanne, Jesse, Megan and Andrew…and “Buttons” (the dog!)

Cabudare, Venezuela

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Someone asked today why we began to be interested in the work of the Methodist Church in Venezuela. The short answer is that in 1994 God sent Carlos and Carol Gonzales to the church we were serving, Mount Pisgah UMC in Alpharetta. They were natives of Venezuela and came to the US to learn to be a pastor. We fell in love with them. Then in April of 1996 Carlos returned to Venezuela for our first mission trip to that country. Traveling with him were Roger and Dana Lane and our son, Ray Lathem, III. They are pictured below at the LaMarita church in Tachira State (Ray is the one with the beard). Tragically, they were all killed in the ValuJet crash in Miami on May 11, 1996. Of course, we were broken hearted. But God is faithful. We were invited to help start the work of the Methodist Church through the leadership of Bishop Luis Paloma of Costa Rica. Initially moved out of grief and the need to make something positive grow out of tragedy, God eventually broke our hearts for the people of Venezuela. Our first trip was in 1998. Not all the work has gone smoothly and there have been some starts and stops, joys and disappointments, but God has been faithful. We have found the people of Venezuela to be among the most loving, gracious and generous we have ever met anywhere in the world. So, what began as a memorial proceeds as a hope and joy. Our primary desire in Venezuela is to help the United Methodist Church of Venezuela reach the lost for Christ. Of course, as is so typical of our gracious God, our son, Jared, met his wife, Lim, through our work with the church in Venezuela (see the earliest posting for their picture). We serve a God who turns tragedy into joy. Praise his name!

Warren and Jane Lathem