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. The pastor has shared with us pictures from the previous building, though the different stages of construction, to the final product. Praise God for His faithfulness!
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. We took teams to their services, crammed ourselves in the little remaining available space, and were always blessed worship together with these brothers.
Two years ago the lines were marked out around the existing structure, marking out the fulfillment of a dream, and a testimony to God's goodness and providence. Teams came alongside the church financially and also lending a hand in building the project. From prepping and pouring the floor, the purchasing the bricks different teams from Canada and the US gave a helping hand. The church itself hired men from within the church to put up the walls and funded it through many fundraisers they themselves did, such as selling tomales, tirelessy, almost every week. Then came the roof and now all that remain are the windows and some wiring.
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.
The church, almost done!
We are excited to be involved in the lives of people like Pastor Pablo and his church because ultimately, their heart is for their community. And their prayer is that the problem of once packed walls of the old, dilapidated structure would be a problem they would have again in the future soon - a church building too small to contain their growing congregation!
Thanks goes out as well to those who have been involved whether through prayer, financially, or with a helping hand.
Pastor Omar & Cristina
There are many lives who have been touched by this awesome pastor couple! For the last number of years we have been working with them in their desire to reach out to their community, one of the poorest areas of the neighboring town, Empalme.
They have seen their church grow from a straggling few members to what it is today: bursting at the seams! God has blessed their ministry as more people have turned to the Lord through their ministry. From handing out food hampers to assisting in various building projects different teams have served alongside them over the past couple of years.
Two years ago several teams had the privilege of building them a pastoral house right beside the church. They had been living in neighboring Guaymas, making the commute several times a week in order to be with their church family. But God laid it on our hearts to build a pastoral house so that they could live in the community which they are serving. And thanks to God, this project was completed this previous winter!
Thanks to all of you who were involved! But don't just take our word of thanks. Check out the video from Pastor Omar and his wife as they convey their thanks and share what a difference this house has made in their lives and in their ministry.
It's encouraging to not only see Pastor Omar and his wife's faithful work in the community but also the church, strong and vibrant. But as we all know, growth does not come without its difficulties. Please keep these things in your prayers:
Pray for the well-being of the church. The church continues to grow. But often, where God is at work, the devil is often doing what he can to counter what God is doing. An example of that is a young man named Rojo, some of you might remember him. This young man, in his lower 20's used to be a vibrant leader in the church, leading the worship as well as getting a youth program going. But for the past year or so, he has fallen back into a life of drugs and is no longer regularly attending the church. He is a gentle, passionate guy who has fallen back into some of his old ways, but not beyond God's grace. Pray that God would draw him back to Himself!
Pray for the physical needs of the community and more specifically that God would continue to provide for Pastor Omar and his wife as they reach out to these needs. The past year, with all of it's economical struggles, has taken a toll on this already struggling community. Daily the pastor and his wife have people coming to their door in need of food. Pray not only for provisions, but that the people would see God as their Provider.
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.
I am always a bit skeptical at these films, but since then we have gone back one more time to see the church having grown from five to over fifty. 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 in the fall 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. The two groups have now joined together.
In June of 2011, the Batacosa church came to the Center for a second weekend retreat and for a baptism service. Only the believers from the church who desired to be baptized came. The Pastor invited several others who did not know the Lord. On the trip out, they saw GodÕs hand of protection through a blown tire. A local pastor from San Carlos brought the first evening devotional. The following morning Juan Carlos shared and before the morning was through, five more individuals desired to receive the saving grace.
Pastor called a few days after returning to Batacosa to say the youth from the church have decided to start a youth group and invite others so they can share their faith with them. Pastor is so excited knowing God is building his church AND the gates of hell cannot prevail against it!