June Update

Posted by: julio on June 15, 2011

Dear friends,

Here is an update my wife  wrote to her family- I think it paints a good picture of where we are 2.5 months into our Costa Rica journey and I wanted you to read it. After all, you are our family too;-)

Thanks for staying connected to our lives and ministry here in Costa Rica.

Julio

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Hi Family,

Two and a half months in and I feel like it has been one year!  The phrase we are trying to learn is “pace ourselves”.  However, in order to catch up, I think we need to work at this pace.  There was so much that needed to be done on top of the normal stuff that still needs to be done each week so we have been in overdrive and are a little weary but very encouraged.

Julio and I just took his parents to the airport.  They have been with us for the last month and I can definitely say that it was without a doubt a huge blessing.  Of course, Lucas and Liam had the best situation possible because they really got to know their Venezuelan “abuelos”.

As far as the church work, Julio is transforming before my very eyes!  He has always been a great thinker, leader and communicator but his current role has really stretched him.  He is communicating better than ever, he is leading his own team, he is developing relationships with big business guys, and he is pastoring people.  Julio just had a very intense week of meetings with some top-level leaders and I got to listen in on one of them and thought he did awesome.  The great thing is that most of these guys are experts at something but they are lacking in the spiritual guidance/knowledge that Julio brings to the table.

Of course, during this time, both of our weaknesses are also magnified and we feel super inadequate most of the time. But little by little we are feeling like we are swimming rather than sinking:)

In August, we are going to be doing our “soft” launch where we will have service two Sunday’s per month as opposed to the monthly events.  We are also going to be moving to a much better environment for the adults as well as the children.  We are learning that trying to do this kind of church in a predominantly Catholic country causes people to be wary of even considering going to the church we are trying to create.  But we are confident that as we get people to invest in their friends and invite them to church, they will find something they enjoy and that helps them by challenging them to move their minds and hearts toward God.

If you guys think about it, you could pray for us about a special event that we are doing on June 22. It is a Vision Night where we are basically going to be asking people to get involved in giving and volunteering. We will introduce the idea of Percentage Giving, and to many this will be the first time they hear about this.  These two areas of involvement are critical for our launch in August.

I love you guys so much and still don’t like to think too much about how much I miss you because then I just start crying.

I loved seeing dad on my birthday and the personal video from Clint whose words somehow made me laugh and cry at the same time.  I keep looking at the summer vacation pics of Bently, Silas, and Leighton and how big they are getting.  I am soooo super excited to be an Aunt once again and can’t wait for that little bundle of joy to arrive in January.  I miss my mom more than I even thought was possible.  No one can seem to make me feel rested like her.

Can I also say thank you once again for your financial support.  It is really no small thing for our family.  You guys are carrying us financially.  Really hard to just say thank you for that.

I love you so much,

Ash

Double Update!

Posted by: julio on March 10, 2011

My wife wrote the update below to our friends and family last week. We were suppossed to leave to go to Costa Rica last Tuesday March 8th. However, we had to postpone our trip because our two boys Lucas and Liam have been very sick in the last few days. A respiratory virus, a thing (I did not know existed) called Croup and ear infections have kept us going to the hospital multiple times in the last two weeks. So, following the Doctor’s recommendation, we canceled our trip and are still in Atlanta monitoring the health of our boys. They are doing a lot better.

We want to  to keep you updated and we ask that you keep our boys in your prayers.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Julio

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To Our Family and Close Friends,

I wanted to give you some more details about the Gonzalez adventure as the pieces are falling into place.  We have come to that deadline, Tuesday March 8th, leaving our country, our family, and friends to step out by faith to launch a church in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Julio and I both had hoped to meet with so many of you personally but having our second baby Liam, and Julio continuing to work full time until next Monday hasn’t allowed it.

I am writing so your heart will be connected to us and that we won’t ever be far from your mind.  More than anything else we need your prayers.  As I write to you I have so many memories of how you have impacted my life.  Some of you go back in my life when I was a little girl, when I surrendered to the Lord for missions.  Several years later, I now stand at the doorway of this next assignment with my husband and two sons. Each assignment has taught me so much.  I have had opportunities to serve and learn all over the world.  I believe that all of those experiences were preparation for this next chapter.  This feels like a much bigger step because we are leaving not on a temporary assignment, we are moving.  Everything we are taking must fit in a 20′ container. We have sold our two cars and know we must leave things behind.

I just don’t know how people do this without the support of their family and friends.  We are getting help logistically, financially, emotionally, spiritually.  What would we do without you?

We are excited but tired, hopeful but scared, joyful for this opportunity yet sad to leave our family and friends and start from scratch.  We need your prayers because we are feeling a bit overwhelmed and know that this is really way over our heads.  We know a church can’t be started by just the two of us and we really need the hand of God and the help of so many others.  In the meantime, we really don’t want to get so busy that we stop focusing on our marriage and raising our two boys.  We are learning that we are really going to have to be diligent to not let this happen.

So many of you asked how we are doing financially?  We have had to trust the Lord and ask family, friends and churches to support us. We have been blessed by the support of many of you, but we do not have all of our financial goals met yet. We believe in our hearts that God has called us and we are going without all of our support.  Its not really in the Nowery/Gonzalez DNA to ask for help, just to prove that we are worthy of what God has called us to do and ask you to believe in us and pray for us. You are never far from our hearts.  Come see us when you can.  Our web site is www.julioandashley.com

We love you,
Julio, Ash, Lucas, and Liam Gonzalez

Costa Rica, Iraq and the last few weeks.

Posted by: julio on January 25, 2011

The last few weeks have been very busy.  We are transitioning from Atlanta to plant a church in Costa Rica. We have been busy with moving companies, fund-raising, planning and building the team for our church.  We have also had a great month with family.

Yesterday was the last day of enjoying the visit of my brother in law, Matt and his wife Sarah who were home from Northern Iraq, where they serve as missionaries with Samaritan’s Purse. In the last few weeks we have had great meals together, created great memories (like jumping out of a perfectly good plane for Clint’s 30th birthday) and heard great stories of God’s activity in Northern Iraq where most people have no concept of what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Since their departure, my wife Ashley has been crying all day because her little brother and his wife are heading back to a place of great danger, where you could be a target just because of your faith in Christ. We have been blessed by their presence over this month.

Before leaving, Matt and Sarah who are on a very modest salary from Samaritan’s Purse, made a huge financial commitment to the new ministry that Ashley and I are launching in Costa Rica. Multiple times through this month I heard Matt say: “I just want you to know that nobody believes in you and Ashley more than Sarah and I…” God has surprised us by means of their sacrificial generosity.

In the midst of all of this, I have been working on my exit from North Point. Many things are on my mind and I have many mixed feelings. I was thinking I am making a sacrifice by moving from my nice suburban life in Atlanta to Central America …Matt and Sarah have helped me put things in perspective

Heading out to Costa Rica!

Posted by: julio on December 6, 2010

Dear friends,

Ashley and I have some big news we want to share with you!

We are celebrating the arrival of Liam Cruz Gonzalez to the world! Liam was born on Thursday November 4th, 6 lbs 15 oz and 19” long. Both Liam and Ashley are doing great! We feel extremely blessed that God has entrusted us with two little boys to raise for His glory!

As we celebrate the birth of our second son, we are about to experience another major life change. We are moving to Costa Rica, Central America to plant a church in the capital city of San Jose.

We came to this decision after several months of praying and seeking advice from several key people. It was not an easy decision, since we are part of a great ministry and have a great life here in Atlanta.  But the more we explored this opportunity, the clearer we felt that God was leading us in this direction.

As many of you know, growing up in Venezuela, I began to develop a passion for the local church and it’s impact on Latin America at a very young age. In fact, it was through a small church in my hometown that my family’s life was transformed by the message of Jesus Christ.  From that point on, I have developed a passion to see God do big things through local churches in Latin America. The past couple of years, Ashley and I have had the privilege of working at North Point Community Church where we have served alongside of some incredible leaders.  Through our time at North Point we have learned much about creating churches for people who don’t like church! Although we love Atlanta and working in such a great organization at North Point Ministries, Ashley and I both feel like God has placed a new adventure on our hearts. Although there will be many new challenges, we feel called to trust God and take a step of faith to pursue the adventure He has placed before us. There is always a level of uncertainty with a new adventure, but we are more certain than ever that we are in the middle of God’s will for our family.

As we walk through this door to pursue our heart’s passion to plant a church in the capital city of San Jose, Costa Rica, Latin America is in a crucial time in its history. Traditionalism and legalism through the years have created a tainted view of Christianity in most countries in Latin America, including Costa Rica.  As I have traveled through Latin America over the last few years, I have learned that there is a new generation with a desire for a different kind of church and that is exactly what we want to accomplish.

Our vision is to create a church focused on reaching the new generations of unchurched people in San Jose Costa Rica. By planting a vibrant and relevant church, we dream that eventually we can serve as a catalyst of change and influence other churches in the region.

Here is why we are writing you – as you can see this is a huge task. This is way bigger than Ashley and I. If you are reading this letter, you have in some way, whether big or small, made an impact on our family.  You are a part of our lives and we want to invite you to partner with us in planting a church in Costa Rica. We cannot do this alone!

We ask that you would consider joining with us in praying faithfully, walking with us during this new journey, and helping us financially until the church can support itself. At this time, we are raising support for the next two years because we believe that is what it will take for the church to sustain itself.

Please visit our website www.julioandashley.com for more information and to learn how you can be a part of a small group of friends who believe in Ashley and I and most importantly in the vision of creating churches to reach unchurched people in Latin America!

With a grateful heart,

Julio and Ashley Gonzalez