Central American Lutheran Mission Society...
...Connecting and Advancing Leaders in Mission and Service.

What is CALMS' Mission?

Existing: Our mission is to be an effective participant and partner in fulfilling Christ's Great Commission to all races and cultures within Central America and the Caribbean.

Our mission is to connect congregational mission leaders to strategic mission and service opportunities in order to advance God's work with our partnersmission in Central America and the Caribbean.

When and how did CALMS begin?

The vision for the formation of CALMS grew out of discussions in 1999 between Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Houston, Texas), LCMS World Mission and Lutheran Hour Ministries. Gloria Dei was looking for opportunities to guide the allocation of a portion of their mission budget into specific programs in which they could involveactively participate, without negatively impacting their members.

Commitment to support LCMS World Mission - Gloria Dei invited other congregations to join them in developing a new mission society to advance the mission, initially in Panama, and to meet the growing trend for congregations to become more directly involved in cross-cultural mission opportunities.

Throughout the world - In addition to providing more direct involvement through short-term mission opportunities, the new mission society offered the opportunity for congregations to pool their resources to make a significant impact.

Since its beginning, nine years ago, CALMS has grown to include more than a dozen partner congregations and has expanded its initial work in Panama work to the following Central American countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize and Costa Rica.

What is CALMS' Vision?

A growing missionary movement advanced by congregational leaders who are able to joyfully use their gifts and grow in discipleship while serving strategically and effectively to build the capacity of partners in Central America and, the Caribbean partners to advance God's kingdomand the United States.

What do we expect will be the results of faithfully carrying out our mission?

A growing number of confident and competent leaders (lay and ordained) in Central America, the Caribbean and the United States, who are actively involved in serving the needs of their communities and sharing their Christian faith with lost people. We want to see growing and healthy missionary churches and institutions (schools, hospitals, community leaders, homes for the aged, etc.) willing and able to serve effectively to the glory of God. We also want to work with healthy partnerships that benefit both North AmericanUS and Central American churches/institutions and their members and help them work more effectively.

What is the urgency with CALMS' work?

Many people are not living the "abundant life" because they do not know Jesus. Central American churches need a growing number of effective leaders with missionary vision and zeal to meet the mission challenges and to extend the Body of Christ. Hurting and sick people are in need of services that are not now available. North American churches need to learn how to work effectively in a cross-cultural setting, and their members want to make an impact with their lives through challenging projects that build relationships with real people and respond to real needs.

Where and with which partners is CALMS working?

CALMS is presently working with national churches in the Panama, Nicaragua Costa Rica, we are working in a special partnership with Lutheran missionaries and other partners such as Bethesda Lutheran Home and Services, LCMS World Relief, LCMS World Mission and the Brazil Lutheran Church. In Guatemala CALMS is working with individual Lutheran congregations under special partnership agreements. In other countries such as Belize, we work with healthy independent congregations and Belizean institutions such as homes for the elderly. When we enter new fields, we do research to understand the opportunities for meeting human need and equipping local leaders.

What is CALMS doing in these places?

In Panama and Guatemala, CALMS is focusing on building the capacity of national workers and congregations through strategic short-term teams and projects. For example, CALMS is helping support the theological education of workers in Panama and recently organized seminars on Islam, stewardship and missional small groups for church workers.

A new focus for CALMS is organizing mixed teams involving national workers with North American short-term teams to provide a broader mix of skills and opportunities for our Central American partners to grow and serve in another culture. For example, we recruited a couple from Panama to work with a team from St. Louis to help lead a family life workshop in the Dominican Republic. We are in the process of sending a team of North American volunteers to work with Panamanian volunteers to serve in Costa Rica.

In Guatemala CALMS has been building homes for needy families including disadvantaged Lutherans. Since February 2007, we have built over 100 houses and repaired dozens of houses.

In Belize, we are working with a Guatemalan Lutherans to reach the growing Spanish-speaking population in that country. We have worked with healthcare workers to develop train health care workers and plan to provide training for physical therapy workers in several locations. We developed a new partnership in 2012 with Tubal Technical Institute and congregations in Ladyville, Belize to build houses for needy families while mentoring young people at the Institute. We have also initiated a successful ministry to equip pre-school teacheres throughout the country. Another recent project involved training church leaders to counsel more effectively.

Another major focus for CALMS CALMS' is our work with the Adopt-A-Child program which links families in the United States with children in Central America who would not be able to study without special scholarship help. Currently we have an active program in Panama that also focuses on building leadership skills among the young people. We are currently working to expand the program to serve children and churches in Belize.

CALMS has also provided scholarships for educating national pastors, provided opportunities for national workers to see new mission models, funded projects to help build the capacity of national churches, provided spiritual, emotional and prayer support for expatriate and national missionaries and facilitated strategic planning for national churches and individual congregations.

What are the key priorities for CALMS?

CALMS top priorities include: 1) building the capacity of national workers to plant healthy churches; 2) designing strategic short-term projects that help advance the goals of Central American churches; 3) equipping North American lay leaders to work effectively in cross-ultural settings and to lead effective short-term teams; 4) helping facilitate a missionary spirit and motivation among North American and Central American church leaders; 5) helping congregations make an impact on their communities and 6) helping national schools and organizations (hospitals, homes for the elderly, etc.) serve and meet human needs more effectively.

Which are the nations/people groups we have been called to reach and disciple?

In each of the countries in which we work, there are huge numbers of poor people who need health and human care services as well as the Good News about Jesus.

In Guatemala and Panama, there are the Ladino populations (people of mixed ancestry) and the indigenous populations such as the Mayan and Cuna people.

In Belize, there are a variety of groups including a large Mennonite community, Garifuna (African/Mayan descent), Chinese, Spanish-speaking from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico and retirees from Canada and the United States.

In the Dominican Republic, in addition to the dominate Dominican people; there are large numbers of Haitians. Rastafarians are found in all the countries where CALMS works.

What are the mission challenges at this time?

In several countries where CALMS is working, there are not enough national church leaders to serve all the existing congregations or to expand the church to new communities.

Most congregations do not have enough people who earn enough to help support their pastor. This forces most pastors to work in a secular job in order to support their families.

Workers are also generally very overworked and need more prayer support and encouragement. For example, one pastor serves as his national church president, teaches school and pastors a growing congregation while trying to study and take care of his wife and family of three children.

CALMS is working to help Central American pastors and missionaries with economic challenges to better support their families by providing assistance to begin appropriate businesses that will provide income and allow them to serve and grow their churches.

Health care is often not available and many suffer from undiagnosed conditions such as diabetes and preventable diseases caused by lack of sanitation, poor diets, etc.

Housing needs are very real and many families, including Lutheran families, live in deplorable conditions. For example, a deacon, his wife and family of four children from Gualan, Guatemala, live in a one-room adobe house. Another family of six in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala live in a two-room rented apartment. In Seine Bight, Belize, 18 single Spanish-speaking immigrants from Guatemala live in a small one-room shack with no running water or bathroom.

What is the current CALMS' mission resource situation (budget and personnel)?

CALMS has two full-time staff members, Rev. B. Steve Hughey, Executive Director and Missionary-at-large, Rev. Miguel Torneire, who work from their homes in St. Charles, Missouri, respectively.

Steve is a former missionary to Venezuela and the Mexican border and Miguel has Brazilian roots. Miguel served for four years as a missionary pastor in Guatemala before coming to CALMS in early 2009. Both Steve and Miguel speak Spanish and have a strong commitment to building relationships with national leaders.

Dawn Timm is CALMS Business Manager working from her office in Denver, Colorado. Dawn is a former missionary to Russia and staff member with LCMS World Mission. She also served with her husband Gary as a missionary to Jewish people in New York City.

CALMS is also blessed with several new missionaries, several part-time North American staff and a number of volunteers who help with accounting, web-design, communication, short-term training, etc. In addition, we are privileged to count several highly qualified Central American workers as co-workers in our ministries.

Causing donated office space, CALMS is able to minimize administration overhead costsreal estate, and pass along gifts and offerings to support strategic projects to help our Central American partners.

The total CALMS budget for 2013 is over $500,000. Support comes from congregational church partners, receipts from the children's scholarship and ministry program, modest fees charged to short-term teams, regular donations from individuals and families through the CALMS' Circle of Friends and some grant funding.

Currently, there are around 12 congregations that include CALMS in their budget, and six of these have representatives on the CALMS board of directors.

Where are the current open doors and opportunities?

CALMS is continually developing new short-term mission opportunities in Central America for North American volunteers. CALMS will be sending approximately 40 short-term projects during 2012. These will include projects that focus on equipping national leaders, construction, health care, teaching special skills, children's ministries and evangelism.

We are looking forward to supporting existing and new Lutheran work in Belize working with our partner church in Guatemala and CALMS' partner congregations in the United States. CALMS has sent missionaries to Guatemala and Belize to help us work more effectively with our Central American partners and North American volunteers and is planning to send others in the coming year.

Nicaragua and Venezuela have growing Lutheran churches and have askedhave requested CALMS to support them with short-term teams and special projects.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity for involving North American Christians while helping to address the huge housing shortage in Central America is the new partnership that CALMS has developed with several congregations in Guatemala.

In 2007, we hope to do three to six pilot built a dozen houses in order to test our relationships and learn how to work together. Earlier in 2009, we conducted a complete evaluation of this program and launched a three year plan with our partners to construct over 100 homes using dozens of North American teams supported financially by our ministry partners such as congregations, Rotary Clubs, and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Thrivent.

Our goal is to use this project as a way to help begin new churches several communities in Guatemala. We are also working with ministry partners to develop a new medical ministry and church planting effort near Lake Amatitlan, Guatemala.

In addition to helping our partners set up the clinic, we are sending medical teams from the United States to help with special clinics such as dental, women's health and eye clinics. This ministry complements the work of Dr. Elry Orozco and his brother Dr. Abdiel Orozco who are serving displaced and needy people in the Lake Amatitlan area near Guatemala City.