By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (April 2, 2013) – Eugenio and Pia Restrepo have been named the new Evangelical Covenant Church regional coordinators for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The couple has served as long-term missionaries to Spain since they were commissioned in 1996.
The Restrepos will be officially introduced in their new positions during the Confraternity of Hispanic Covenant Churches (CIPE) triennial meeting that will take place July 22-26 in Medellin, Colombia. Being introduced at the meeting is “coming full circle for us,” Pia says. Both are Colombia natives and together planted a church in Medellin.
The Restrepos will begin their new duties in January. In the meantime, they will continue to serve in Spain while also working with current regional coordinators Dave and Wendy Mark, who are retiring, to foster a smooth transition.
The Restrepos look forward to serving the churches and ministers. “We come humbly to learn from them, to learn their desires,” Pia says.
Eugenio says one of the challenges ahead is to help churches become more self-sustaining and not dependent on support from outside Latin America.
In Spain, the Restrepos have been involved with Comunidad Cristiana Evangélica Parque Victoria, part of the Federation of Independent Evangelical Churches. The church saw growth from 60 to 140 members in recent years, as Sunday school classes for all ages were developed.
The couple has organized retreats, evangelistic outreach, dramas, vacation Bible school, sports activities and youth work. They have also begun to teach Bible hermeneutics and other classes to members of the congregation.
Training leaders has been a key part of the Restrepos ministry. “We feel privileged to train people for ministry, particularly those without opportunities, like the Gypsy pastors who are coming with excitement to the Leadership Training Center,” Eugenio says.
His most recent focus of ministry has been training Gypsies (Roma) for leadership, working in community development, Bible and theology, health care, education, and racial reconciliation. They meet at the basement of a condominium.
Ministering in Latin America will be different from Spain, Pia says. In Europe, she explains, “God is not really a part of people’s lives.”
Seeing the lives of individuals change and make Christ the center of their lives has been a highlight of their ministry. “Baptizing new believers at the beach and listening to their powerful testimonies has been a very encouraging and joyful experience every year,” Pia says.
While the Restrepos look forward to their new ministry, they are glad to have the transition period. “It’s a time for processing,” Eugenio says. “It’s a time to say goodbye to what we have done for the past 16 years in Spain.”
The Restrepos have yet to determine where they will live.