"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Central Mexico Missions Trip

Hi everyone,
We'd like to begin by thanking all of you for your prayers. In our last update, we told you that we'd be taking a missions trip to central Mexico with our church and asked you to be praying. God did indeed work in a very powerful way on this trip and so we wanted to share that with all of you who were praying, so that you can hear the answers that the Lord sent to your prayers.

First of all, the Lord did provide for the many people who were wanting to go on the trip, but didn't have the money yet. I heard of four people specifically share a testimony of how the Lord provided their $1000 pesos that they didn't have at the time they signed up. I'm sure there were more than those 4, but at least them. We took some food with us for the trip and some was provided by the church there. I was reminded of what Jesus said of the widow in the temple, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." The people of Mazahua were very poor, yet they gave abundantly to provide for the needs of this group of 30+ people. Like the churches in Macedonia, "...in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord..." They were truly a blessing to us!

The trip was over 30 hours long, and we passed the time in the bus in fellowship, singing, reading, praying, eating, and sleeping. We rented a bus to take the group which was a much better plan than our initial plan of driving a caravan of vehicles. The trip was to Iglesia Bautista Esmirna in Campo Mazahua, Mexico. The church was started by our pastor here at Cristo Te Ama, Pastor Martin Lemus, while he was in seminary or immediately after. The town is about an hour northwest of Toluca, the capital city of the state of Mexico. It was a small village spread out over various hills and valleys. The area was very pretty, with lots of flowers, fruits, rivers, animals, and houses. It rained quite a lot - ironic, because we had thought the name was "Campo Mas Agua" or "Field of More Water".

The purposes of our trip was threefold - VBS (or Escuela Biblica de Vacaciones), evangelism, and discipleship. The VBS program that we did was the same that we taught at Cristo Te Ama the previous week. The evangelism was, obviously, for the purpose of spreading the gospel, growing the church, and reaching the lost. The discipleship was a specific need of the church, as they are without a pastor and have been heavily influenced by a lot of false teachings coming out of the USA and Canada. Pastor Martin was concerned that this church he had begun would carry on in sound doctrine and be rooted in the Word. I believe it was this area that sparked the interest in making this trip in the first place.

The VBS program we did was called "Vuela Mas Alto" based on Isaiah 40:31. The theme was wisdom from on high and every day we spent time teaching the kids lessons about wisdom, using the stories of Daniel and his three companions. I worked with the 7-9 year old class for both weeks and on this trip our class teacher, Dora, was not able to come, so I had the opportunity to teach the class all 5 days. I was grateful the Lord got me through it, as it's not easy to teach in another language without much time to prepare. We had a great time with the children and I really do feel that our kids were able to learn more of the Bible and grow spiritually during the course of the week. At the beginning, they just came to have fun, get a snack, and play soccer, but by the end of the week, they would show up with their Bible verse of the day memorized, remembering last week's Bible story, and ready to hear this week's. I was very grateful for Karla, Diannis, Karina, and Ixtzul for helping me out with the kids throughout the week.

After VBS was finished in the morning, the group was divided in the afternoon between evangelism groups and discipleship groups. On different days, I went with both groups. The evangelism was door-to-door, knocking, avoiding dogs, inviting people to the church, and sharing the gospel. One or two people would go to the door to talk while one or two would stay nearby and pray for them. Every day of the trip, at least one group would come back saying that someone had prayed to receive Christ. And most of the time, we would see those same people at the church later throughout the week. Each day the groups would go a different direction and visit different houses until on the last few days, they actually had to drive further out, because every house nearby had been visited. Each night, we also had an evangelistic service. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, one of us from Cristo Te Ama would preach a gospel sermon and on Tuesday and Thursday, we would show a gospel film and Pastor would give an invitation afterwards. I preached on Monday night of the hope of our salvation. Afterwards, I gave an invitation for people to come forward and talk to someone rather than my leading them in a prayer. One young woman came forward and talked to Marta. Afterwards, Marta told me that she had received Christ and would be bringing her husband the next day. The next day, her husband was saved after the video. The following day, some of our church people went to visit them to follow up. The next day, that couple came to our evening devotional and shared their testimony of salvation and thanked God for keeping them together through the difficult times and now saving them. The man had had problems with alcohol and testified of his commitment to change. He said, "I don't know if any of you have lived the type of life that I lived up until yesterday, but it is a hard life and I'm grateful to God for rescuing me from it."

While the groups were out evangelizing, the church people of Esmirna would meet with some from Cristo Te Ama for discipleship. Pastor Martin led a time of collective teaching for the church leaders and deacons. He focused on areas of doctrine that had been in question from the teachings coming out of the US and Canada. He had prepared some lessons on key areas as well as having time for questions leading into further Bible study and spiritual growth. I couldn't help but pity these believers, as Jesus had pity on the multitudes who were "as sheep without a shepherd". Without someone to care for the spiritual well-being of the flock, certainly the wolves of the false teachers will come in, "not sparing the flock." As Pastor led the church leaders, several others met one-on-one with people to personally disciple them in their walk with the Lord. And the people from Esmirna were committed to being discipled. You can see that this man is quite old, but he came faithfully to learn, as did another woman who was over 70 years old - every day she was there! It was so neat to see these people fulfilling the Great Commission to "go and make disciples of every nation".

I have to share one more story and then I'll finish this off. The man in the picture above is Jorge Patron Flores, one of our dear friends at Cristo Te Ama. One day he was waiting for this man to show up so he could disciple him, but the man was late. As he was waiting, there was a teenager standing outside the church building. Jorge felt the Lord leading him to talk to him. As he did, he shared the gospel with him and the young man accepted Christ. Shortly after, Jorge's disciple showed up and they met for their time together. Jorge said when he got back outside, there was a line waiting for him. The teenager who had just been saved had gone home to get his brothers and sisters to hear about Jesus. They, too, received Christ! Jorge was moved to tears as he shared the story with us that evening. We truly serve an amazing God and we are privileged to be in His work, allowing Him to work through us!

"To God be the glory, great things He has done!"