Hello Brothers and Sisters,
I pray you all experienced a joy filled Christmas and are safe and doing well! Last month President Greg Williams, CFO Mat Morgan and I were able to visit with Clifton and Pearl Charles in Trinidad. We were able to tour their church building and have lunch with some of their key leaders. We were not able to meet face-to-face with the brethren due to COVID restrictions. However, we were privileged to join with them for their digital worship service, then meet in small breakout rooms with various leaders and members. I am very proud and thankful for Clifton and Pearl – as well as their loving and sacrificial leaders. They are doing a great job of loving and engaging the neighborhood around their church building. They are also reaching out to the broader community by proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and finding ways to introduce them to their Savior. Clifton has been very intentional in forming Connect Groups for church members and people leaning in from the community. They are working hard to train new leaders to share various ministry opportunities. I can’t wait to see them soar when COVID no longer limits their activities. Keep up the good work Trinidad! I know you will enjoy reading Clifton’s Update below.
I love and appreciate you all!
Mike Rasmussen– Superintendent North America and Caribbean
God’s Work in Grace Communion Trinidad & Tobago
As the Holy Spirit leads us from legalism to Christ and the mission of Jesus, our members are increasingly challenged and empowered to make disciples of Jesus in small disciple-making groups. We have not experienced anything more exciting. There are over thirty of these groups in our small but growing denomination of over 200 persons in two congregations. These groups develop spontaneously as the Holy Spirit moves members who have caught the vision to form groups for the purpose of helping people to come to Jesus and become like Jesus. Building genuine relationships that have transparency, vulnerability, and accountability members surrender to the lordship of Jesus in all aspects of their lives and help others to do likewise. Prayer and fasting are vital habits in this process.
Around 2007 we realized that our members would not effectively share their faith with others unless they first become comfortable discussing and applying their faith among themselves. So, we began to preach application focused messages and encourage our members to form small discussion groups after each sermon to discus and share their personal application. This strategy strengthens relationships with God and each other and encourages us to reach out to our families, friends, and neighborhoods. When Covid-19 arrived, we continued this strategy on Zoom, utilizing Zoom breakout rooms with encouraging results as our congregations continue to grow both spiritually and in numbers. During the weekdays we also hold discipleship meetings including women’s and men’s Bible Study on Zoom. Going forward we recognize the need for hybrid church formats of both in-person and online church, while maintaining the same message on each platform each Sunday to facilitate consistency.
Our members serve our communities around our church building by providing food, counseling, spiritual and material support, a homework center for underprivileged children in the neighborhood, a venue for community action council meetings, Mothers’ Day and Seniors’ celebrations, Life Skills training, short courses in barbering, hair braiding, and public speaking (through adapting our spokesman’s club experience). The Ministry of National Security also partnered with us by funding various projects in its efforts to rehabilitate our high-risk neighborhood. Our church building also provides a venue for weddings, funerals, graduations, retreats, seminars, workshops, dinners, luncheons, and church camps, for which we had bookings up to 2026 before Covid-19 arrived.
In addition, we host children’s Christmas parties and provide personalized gifts for approximately three hundred children each year (until the pandemic). Members of our neighborhood help us to obtain the names, sex, and ages of their children. Many of these children also subsequently attend our vacation bible schools and Sunday schools (which are now conducted online on Saturdays because of Covid-19). Eventually, the children’s parents may show up at church services after they are satisfied with their test drive of our church. Members of our neighborhood also attend our special resurrection, anniversary, end of year and old year’s services. In addition, they help us prepare for these activities, wrapping gifts, preparing meals, food hampers and gift bags for prisoners and their families as part of our involvement in Prison ministry. They also help us protect our church property by looking out for us and alerting us to neighborhood threats. In appreciation of our service to our neighborhood they have awarded the church a large trophy.
In 2006 we joined the Trinidad & Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches and Prison Fellowship of Trinidad & Tobago. This began our involvement in the ministries of the wider body of Christ. For many years afterwards, their executive meetings were held at our church building, as well as training sessions for the national prison fellowship volunteers. Approximately twenty members of our congregations are involved in prison ministry, providing various classes and courses such as, starting a small business, women of integrity, floral arrangements, music, balloon craft, Mathematics and English, character development, leadership development, and evangelism and discipleship training to prison inmates. Covid-19 has disrupted all of these in person activities. However, the Holy Spirit continues to challenge us to be the church wherever we are, bringing the fragrance of Christ into all aspects of our society.
By Clifton Charles – Pastor Trinidad and Tobago