One of the most exciting parts of being where God is at work is sharing the stories of His faithfulness, of Him at work in people's lives. It's a constant reminder, looking back and seeing how lives have been changed, that our "labor in the Lord is not in vain!" (I Cor 15:58) It's amazing to see how He not only changes the lives of those who come down on short term missions teams but how He uses them to leave a lasting impact in the people, in the churches here in Mexico.
Though it is easy to look back see the projects completed, the walls painted, the buildings constructed, the yards cleaned, even the mouths fed, and the children with whom we've connected, the stories in these pages are much more about God at work in people's lives.
It is always exciting to see God moving and to hear the stories behind the projects. Though a lot of the ministry takes on physical forms, from buildings to food and clothing, these are mere doorways through which we pray we can meet their spiritual needs. Check out some of the ways that God has been moving over the years.
From Pallets to Palace
Pastor Pablo, Guaymas, Sonora
After more than two years of working hand in hand with the congregation of Iglesia de Dios and many teams from Canada and the US, both a pastoral house and a new church building were completed in 2011. If you had the chance to visit the church in their previous pallet church and were to stumble upon the new building, you would not recognize the new structure in its place! Its a testimony to God's faithfulness as He provided for this vibrant congregation, previously bursting at the seams.
Praise God for His providence in our physical and spiritual needs! Previously meeting in the church building you see on the left, through the help of a number of churches in Canada and the US as well as many hours of work by the church and selling thousands of tomales, God provided Pastor Pablo and his church not only a pastoral house but also the beautiful church building they now meet in.
Being in a poorer area of Guaymas, it is difficult for the church to support their pastor, never mind take on a building project of this magnitude. None the less, they had a dream as a church to build a larger building for 12 years, to better accommodate the growing congregation.
One of the teams involved from Christ Lutheran Church in Phoenix were able to take part in an emotional service near the end of the roofing project. In this service one elderly man shared in particular how he had had the dream many years ago of seeing their congregation build a new structure. And with tears he shared how grateful he was in being able to see the day that this project would be completed.
A New House & A New Testimony
Ilse, Fatima, Guaymas
In the spring of 2010 while a team was handing out food hampers in
the community, one group came across Ilse. Asking the recipients for
prayer requests, she shared with them her life at the time, a lifestyle
caught in drugs. She asked that the group would pray that she would
be free from that lifestyle. Shortly there after she started going to
Pastor Rafael's church and to God's glory, has not only left that lifestyle
behind but has faithfully been in fellowship in Pastor Rafael's church.
Ilse's husband had left her and she was living with her mother. Unfortunately, though, it was not a healthy situation neither for herself nor for her boys and was living temporarily in the church. Her situation pulled on the hearts of the youth team that was here and taking an offering among the members of the youth group, they decided to build her a 12' x 16' house.
The adult team came right after and was able to complete what the youth had started, painting and furnishing the little quarter with a bed, a stove, food, curtains, and whatever they could to give this single mom who had nothing, something that she could call her own and a place to call home for herself and her children. In an emotional fairwell, they handed her the keys and with tears in her eyes, she expressed her gratitude.
Ilse was baptized at Easter of that year, and is
growing daily in her faith as studies God's word.
It is a thrill to see her, as she tells of the promises
God continues to give her, the peace that her
children have, and the gratefulness of heart she
demonstrates. She is truly becoming a Proverbs
Satan Tries, But God Prevails!
Juan Carlos and Rob Kehler went on a scouting trip by motorbike one day to see where else we might minister. This was in preparation for our motorcycle trip to Chihuaha that maybe we could reach some other towns along the way.
As they drove by bike, Juan heard that small voice within him saying that the next time Rob stops, to ask if they should go there, that is where I (God) want you to go. It was only another fifteen minutes and Rob stopped saying those exact words. "I think we should go over there." From where they stood, you could see nothing over there, but they went in obedience as Juan responded to Rob's words.
As they left the main road and began to drive on a trail about 20 minutes, they came across a very settled community of farmers and ranchers in a town called Batacosa. There they found one evangelical church with a very discouraged yet faithful minister of the word. There were five believers and they were praying that someone would come and preach and affirm them in their ministry. They did not need or want any other help but only that of encouragement from other believers who would come to their community. Two weeks later we asked two other local Mexican pastors and our team from the center and off we headed to meet this new community. We packed 50 food hampers, boxes of Bibles, a few clothes to give away, the Jesus film and a projector.
When we arrived the church was filled with people waiting for us. We began to share the story of how God brought us to their community. The pastors shared the Word and many ears were listening intently. That night one of the dear sisters of the faith received healing in her ears so she could hear again. She is loved by the whole community and many were in awe. That night when we showed the Jesus film, there were about 100 people and many responded to the call of Jesus.
We were able to see the church having grown from five to over fifty people and many of the men in the community have given there lives to Christ. In July of 2010, the pastor brought out many members of the church to San Carlos. She wanted the pastors who had visited them earlier to baptize the new believers. That day over 12 people were baptized. There still are more who desire to do so, but were unable to come at that time and so a second baptism was planned.
In 2011 we were saddened to hear that Satan was trying to destroy the body there by bringing in a division in the church. A few of the leaders who wanted full leadership tried to divide the church. We praise God for the victory in that the few who did leave were unable to destroy the body. It is always difficult and sad to watch this happen.
As a team, we revisited the town on many occasions and we were able to stay in Batacosa for a week at a time to encourage the body. Each evening we showed the Jesus film in neighboring towns, seeing many more come back to Christ. In one town, which is the larger community to Batacosa, we found the original Christian body that missionaries had begun many years ago. There were a small group of believers studying faithfully but praying that they could have fellowship with other believers. These two groups joined together for a while, but soon division happened again in the church. We as believers don't always know the reasons why God calls us to specific areas of ministry, but our job as believers is to follow that calling. We pray for revival in this church, as it is currently without a pastor.