Thrive

Ricardo Gomez seeks to be a person of peace in Medellin, Colombia, and Latin America. Using the community church planting model, he and his team have planted more than 700 churches and introduced more than 3,300 people to Jesus this year. As Area Director for Latin America with the Free Methodist Church and Executive Director for Impact Latin America, he trains, mentors and equips others to create disciple-making disciples.

“Our slogan is planting God’s peace,” Ricardo said. “We believe that is what Latin America needs. You know, we live in a very complex society here. There’s a lot of turmoil, it is like a pressure cooker, where there is political unrest, social unrest and the diaspora of almost two million Venezuelans living in Colombia.”

The Community Church Planting model begins with prayer and is based on John 10 where Jesus sent disciples two-by-two to find a person of peace and preach the gospel. This method mobilizes laity, whether old or young, men or women to be able to tell others about Jesus.

In 2018, Ricardo and a team of 25 Latin Americans developed a practical, 18-class curriculum to train new leaders in spiritual formation, theological knowledge and practical implementation.

Through the training, they are creating teams, offering pastoral care support, developing resources and providing structures so the church planting movement can continue into the next generation. As part of the training, new disciples learn to tell the story of what Christ did for them and allow the Holy Spirit to work through that message.

Ricardo believes that without biblical and theological training the growth of the church planting movement will stagnate. While structured, the training must also be organic. He likens it to growing a tomato plant and staking it as it grows to provide the right amount of structure, stability and freedom.

“We believe community church planting is a movement of God, where we feel that God will provide us the energy and the fullness of the Holy Spirit for multiplication,” he said. “But we believe the curriculum is the gasoline that will sustain the movement because a new generation of leaders is going to be raised up.”

This training isn’t solely for the young. While in her late 50s Pastora Naya attended church in Maturin, Venezuela. She came to know Christ and started attending the church planting training to learn to tell others about her experience. As she studied and prayed, she felt the Lord prompt her to find a person of peace who would open his or her home to a church gathering. The Lord led her to a person and a place; she started to disciple that individual and later the neighbors joined. The neighbors invited friends, more neighbors and relatives until they outgrew the house.

With 60 people attending, she asked for a pastor for her new group. Her pastor replied that she was already pastoring, so he would continue to equip and train her. Now Pastora Naya is an ordained elder, and her congregation has grown to about 200 people. But Pastora Naya felt that God was leading her to do more. She helped develop new leaders for the church in Maturin, Venezuela, and is now an international church planting missionary in Costa Rica.

“So that is our D.N.A., disciple-making-disciples, churches planting churches, and pastors multiplying pastors,” he said. “It’s a blessing to see Pastora Naya, later in her life, decide to say yes to the Lord, and to see the results of her fruitfulness.”

Ricardo Gomez graduated from Asbury Seminary with a M.A. in Theological Studies and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies in 2003 and 2007, respectively. While at Asbury Seminary, he met his wife Beth. In 2006, the couple accepted their first placement as missionaries in Santiago de Chile and in 2013 accepted a position at Colombian Biblical Seminary where he served for five years. In April 2018, he was named the Area Director for Latin America with the Free Methodist Church and in 2019 co-founded Impact Latin America, which he serves as Executive Director.  Ricardo and his wife have two children and live in Medellin, Colombia. Ricardo also currently serves on the Asbury Seminary Board of Trustees.

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