Name: Pastor Felix Fernandez
Participant’s name who visited: Pastor Bernardino Wilson Joseph
Dates of visit: June 2011
What aspect of your ministry did you enjoy teaching the most? Why?
I enjoyed showing pastor Bernie the different approaches to church ministry in the Orlando area. We began our visit together by giving him a taste of worship in a mega church setting. I also took him to a Haitian CRC church in Orlando. We then had an opportunity to compare and contrast the ministry at New Heart Church with the mega church and the sister congregation. Pastor Bernie found that New Heart was much closer to the CRC Haitian church than the mega church. I enjoyed showing this because it confirmed to me that our ministry is a powerful one even though we do not have 10,000 members.
What aspect of your ministry was difficult to teach? Why?
At first, I felt like I had to be doing something as a pastor all of the time. My thought was the busier I am with pastor Bernie the more successful of a pastor he’ll believe I am. But the further we got into the week, I realized that talking through the issues facing the church and different members gave me an opportunity to stay busy in a different way.
What did you learn about yourself and your own culture through this experience of hosting?
I re-opened my eyes to the challenges facing the church in North American today. So many people come to church looking to receive and be sensationalized, but New Heart Church has not caved into to this approach to ministry. We are a humble church with a Big Savior!
Describe any moments when you felt proud of your culture.
North American is a law-abiding and very organized country. I felt proud to demonstrate how traffic laws are obeyed, how honesty & personal responsibility is the basis for much of what we do and how we operate as a country.
Describe any moments when you felt insecure or embarrassed about your culture or your context.
Pastor Bernie was surprised with the number of “M’s” – as he called them (McDonald’s around). He noticed that there was one on every corner and he was surprised to see the number of morbidly obese people in my community. I explained to him the connection between the “M’s” and the health issue facing the U.S.
How was the experience of hosting for your family? For your church?
We loved it! I noticed that at the 8 day mark, Pastor Bernie was really missing his family and ministry. We had a blast together just hanging out together and learning from each other. My wife was a gracious host and my kids played some jokes on Pastor Bernie – hiding a spider under his pillow one night. The congregation had a special dinner in which it thanked pastor Bernie for his visit, and the congregation explained to him that they were grateful to have him here.
What aspect of discipleship do you hope to improve on for your next hosting experience?
Well, having gone through it once, I have a better grasp of how to set up the itinerary for the week. It would also help me better if I understood the kind of ministry and context from which the visitor is coming. I wasn’t quite sure where Pastor Bernie was coming from, and was wondering if he had a context from which to absorb what I was showing him.