It may have been a simple shopping trip, but it’s shown us that our small but significant interactions are resulting in meaningful relationships. Interested in reading about it? Hit the link here, or click on the picture. While you’re there, don’t miss
- Our latest installment in the Breakthrough Series,
- a major milestone for the youngest member of the family,
- And an opportunity to be a part of fulfilling our vision through your year-end tax-deductible giving.
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In our fall newsletter, we spoke of testimonies of breakthrough in the Yucatan. This article is the third and final of that series—the story of José Luís Vera Poot, planter of the new church, Río Jordán in the southern village of Maní, Yucatan.
In his youth, José wouldn’t have been picked out as the most likely candidate to plant a church. Having been schooled in and later teaching Marxist anthropological theories for 31 years, José had rejected God as simply a clever invention used for exploitation and manipulation. He declared himself an atheist and was proud of, what was in his estimation, his enlightened worldview. But a string of poor choices led José to infidelity, which threatened to destroy his family.
It was then, desperate to save his marriage, that José literally opened the door to the truth of the gospel. A series of visits by the pastor and several members of the local Assemblies of God church opened José’s eyes to the message of the Bible while their times of prayer softened his heart to consider the reality of God’s existence. It was a dream, however, in which José states the Lord stood before him saying simply, “I am,” that finally convinced him to believe. He was later baptized, and having reconciled with his wife, Gloria, became a member of the church. Now, José promotes the faith that he once ridiculed, serving alongside his wife as the leaders of the mission, Río Jordan, which they are planting in the western half of the village of Maní a section from which the evangelical church had been noticeably absent.
With a population of about 5,000, Maní is known for the variety of fruits and vegetables that are grown in its fields and for its handicrafts, especially the richly embroidered dresses called huipiles which are woven by the women of the community. More recently, however, the lack of economic opportunity has caused many to abandon the village, seeking their fortunes elsewhere, often turning to illegal immigration to the US as a solution to their financial problems. Those who remain increasingly turn to alcohol and drugs as a way to pass the time as they wait for their luck to change.
José and Gloria, on the other hand, have taken an active approach, dedicating themselves to sharing with others the Good News that had produced their own transformation. José was already enrolled in the local Bible institute extension when we met him at our regional church planting seminars last fall, and when we made the call for those who would volunteer to start a new work, he was among the first to respond. In the months that have followed, he’s been utilizing the tools he’s received in the church planting program to help guide both those who are discovering faith for the first time and those like Chico, who had lost their way.
Chico was a Maní success story. He had made a comfortable living for himself, saving much of what he had earned in his years as a house painter in the US. Upon his return to Maní, however, his expendable income and his ample free time gave him the opportunity to first sample and later become addicted to the alcohol and drugs readily available to those with the means to buy them. It wasn’t long before the addiction took its toll, robbing him of his money and estranging him from his wife and family.
José and Gloria reached out to Chico, who had by this time recognized that he’d hit rock bottom. They stayed with him, caring for him as he struggled for sobriety, and they prayed with him, leading him to repentance and renewed faith in Jesus. He now stands a changed man, taking steps toward restoration and testifying to the power of God to save. I had the pleasure of hearing his testimony only weeks ago at services in Río Jordán.
Yes, looking over his history, José would be considered an unlikely candidate to plant a church, but it’s just that sort of person that God has the tendency to use to facilitate a breakthrough. Thanks for your prayers and support that make it possible for us to walk alongside them, working together with them to maximize their impact.
In our fall newsletter, we spoke of testimonies of breakthrough in the Yucatan. This article is the second in that series—the story of Isaí González and his wife Tifany, pastors of the new church, Casa del Rey, in Mérida, Yucatán in the developing neighborhood of Los Héroes.
Los Héroes is a young suburb on the eastern periphery of the city of Mérida, but the colorful facades of its new houses and the bustling activity of its thriving businesses do little to alleviate the loneliness and anxiety that plague its residents. Many of its current occupants have upended their lives elsewhere in the country to look for new opportunities that the relative safety of the capital city of Yucatan affords. It was to meet the needs of these young families that Isaí and Tifany decided to plant Casa del Rey in 2016.
We first met Isaí in Instituto Biblico Bethel, where he was a member of Dave’s first church planting class in 2012. Recalling that formative time, Isaí stated that he’d learned from Dave that the success of the implementation of a project is in its planning: visiting the area, collecting information, and asking for the Lord’s direction. This is the same methodology he’s now applying to the benefit of the residents of Los Heroes.
Emphasizing a vision of multiplication, they’ve fostered steady numerical growth and have facilitated significant personal transformation in the lives of the residents of Los Héroes. The Ruiz family* is one example of the change that has occurred. Attempting to start over after economic disaster nearly destroyed their marriage, Lalo* and Luisa* arrived in Los Héroes broken and hurting, but, through the invitation of a church member, they attended service at Casa del Rey and were touched by the presence of God. Since that first service, they’ve given their lives to the Lord, experienced restoration, and are actively participating in the church’s ministry.
Whereas the rapid growth has brought with it its share of complications, such as the need to undertake an eight-month building project to expand their facilities, Isaí and Tifany continue to strive to fulfill their vision, turning now to cell groups to increase their impact and meet needs in Los Heroes.
We’re grateful for the privilege to work with people like Isaí and Tiffany, people achieving breakthroughs in their area of ministry. And, as we enter this season of Thanksgiving, we want to take this time to thank you for your prayers and support, which grant us this opportunity.
In our fall newsletter, we spoke of testimonies of breakthrough in the Yucatan. This article is the first in that series—the story of a pair of church planters, Kary and Lily.
Kary and Lily had felt for some time that they had been born for something more. Still, adversity nearly short-circuited that call. It took the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit to help Kary take the step of faith toward ministry, while a missions trip encouraged Lily to prepare herself. Both are currently enrolled at Instituto Bíblico Bethel.
Nevertheless, Blanca Flor, the site of their church plant, was not their original ministry destination; they had signed up to study church planting simply to assist others. However, the homework assignment they were given in their first class, to establish relationships with people outside of the reach of the evangelical church, moved them out of their comfort zone.
What they found was a forgotten place at the end of a barely passable road, a town of about 60 people who earn their living by the crops that they manage to grow. Their needs, however, are direr than their situation suggests. As the women put it, they suffer physically from a thirst for clean water but spiritually from a hunger for the Word of God.
Since that first visit, they’ve established a rapport with the people and have come to understand their needs. While they’ve taught them practical skills, they’ve also opened up the scriptures to help them understand how they speak to their everyday lives. In this way, they’ve introduced new possibilities for revenue, while facilitating conflict resolution and fostering an appreciation for the Word of God.
This initial impact has increased their conviction to build a church in Blanca Flor—a people and a place to serve as a permanent testimony of God’s love and care for this community. But their passion doesn’t end there! They encourage others to follow in their footsteps: “Don’t close yourselves within the walls of the church,” they say. “Open yourselves up to the possibility of making a difference. Why work in a place where others are already working? There are places with no workers who need to hear the gospel!”
People like Kary and Lily are working throughout the region to see the vision of the Yucatan peninsula full of churches become a reality. Stay tuned for more of their stories, and thanks for your prayers and support which give us the opportunity to encourage and resource the breakthrough their efforts are achieving.
We believe that we are at a point of acceleration in the fulfillment of our vision of the Yucatan full of churches, and we want to tell you the story Hit the link here, or click on the picture to find how to hear it. While you’re there, don’t miss
- Updates on our fall ministry activities,
- a bit about what’s going on with our family,
- And an opportunity to be a part of our 2019-2020 itineration schedule.
Have your kids ever gotten a clothing gift from a relative that was a bit too big? Was your advice that they would “grow into it?” My own kids cringe at that snippet of wisdom, desiring it to fit now! I believe that concept with clothing can apply just as aptly to our roles in life and ministry.
Arriving on the field, I felt my primary role was to provide stability and safety for my children as I, personally, engaged in ministry that fit well with their young ages. Dave might be traveling and teaching, but I was content to support him and the kids with my role at home and with local church kids’ ministry.
The following term, the need arose for a new Mexico field treasurer due to the restructuring of our field fellowship. Having been a former high school math teacher, I had the ability and the desire to step into this new “behind the scenes,” yet key, leadership role. It took a bit of courage, but with our kids getting older, I found it to be a perfect fit for that particular season.
Now that we have a daughter in college and two sons in high school, I find myself “testing the fit.” Continuing in the treasurer position, I now also feel the freedom to do more alongside Dave – taking trips, assisting in conferences and classes, and participating with teams, both translating and getting my “hands dirty” with some of the physical work that they do. My latest opportunity came through one of those team experiences – hosting our district superintendent Don Miller and his wife, Vicki, here in Mexico. The connection I made with Vicki opened the door for me to participate in, and now lead, one of the SOMO District’s online small groups, which bring women ministers together for prayer, mutual encouragement and spiritual growth. That role has since expanded to include helping to administrate the website, mailings, and social media that facilitate that ministry.
I’ll never stop being a mom, but I see how permitting myself to flex as my kids grow has opened doors of increased involvement in other areas of ministry. So, as I reflect on my time in Mexico, it’s clear to see I’ve “grown into it,” and I expect that I’ll continue to do so for years to come.
Thanks for taking a moment to read a bit of my story. While you’re here, could I ask you the favor of taking a moment to pray for us? You can find our list of requests here.
In our April update, we took time to highlight the ministry of Light for the Lost. Through their support, we were able to furnish all of our church planters with the evangelism materials that they needed to effectively present the gospel to the unsaved in the neighborhoods, towns, and villages where they are starting new works. In this July report, we’re excited to update that story as we’ve been able to extend that support to churches throughout the district of Yucatán.
Leading the District Evangelism Department since July of last year, we’ve been promoting the idea that the local church is the engine that drives evangelism. It is therefore a pleasure to support these pastors and congregations, utilizing our network to distribute some 68,000 tracts and 600 Bibles in support of their evangelistic efforts. We’re convinced that through their desire to reach the lost and the use of these tools, their outreaches will leave a lasting impact.
We are also providing churches with a particularly exciting tool: Respuestas De La Vida (Journey Answers) cards. Designed to follow up gospel conversations or be left with restaurant servers, gas station attendants, taxi drivers, etc., these cards lead the lost to an online, relevant gospel presentation and a site where they can respond with questions, prayer requests, or make a decision for Christ. These respondents can then be directed to any one of our local congregations for continued discipleship. Our hope is that this mass distribution will lead many to respond to the gospel and connect with a church home.
Of course, this kind of operation does create its share of complications. Our spare bedroom has since turned into a warehouse/staging center as we prepare evangelism packets for distribution! Still, it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to take another step toward fulfilling the vision of the Yucatan full of churches.
Pray with us, then, that these messages will reach their intended audience and influence them to become disciples of Christ. And, as you do pray, would you please add these additional needs to your list?
Growth mindset—you may know it as a term trending on Twitter, but we consider it an essential missionary quality. More than mere positive thinking, it’s about embracing problems as opportunities to find solutions. It’s the belief that, when things get difficult, a bit of extra effort can make a difference. Analysis, intervention, and discovery are basic activities for the development of a growth mindset, and it’s just that type of activity that we’ve been involved in during the last month as we continue forward in our church planting journey.
One of the main challenges we face as we seek to fill the Yucatan with churches is the lack of trained workers. In fact, the majority of church planters throughout Latin America are laity, men and women with a deep sense of calling, but a shallow ministerial formation. The problem, however, isn’t the lack of availability of training, it’s that those who receive training increasingly move toward other forms of ministry.
In April, I teamed up with missionary, Jerry Brown, to tackle this issue head on in the seminar, “Encouraging Church Planting in the Bible School,” given during the Educators’ Summit in Honduras. There, we brought the issue before Bible school educators, gathered from throughout Central America, calling them to pray, teach, and encourage students to take part in this vital ministry.
Now while it’s good to talk about problems, it’s even better to be a part of the solution. It’s an honor, then, to be able to intervene in our own context at Bethel Bible Institute, where we are currently teaching a class designed to take 20 students through the practical steps of planting a church. Here, we get to practice what we’ve been preaching!
For all that we are doing, though, we understand that there are solutions that remain undiscovered. That’s why we joined with over 30 church planting missionaries to learn about Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison’s Acts 2 Journey for healthy churches held in Mexico City.
Thank you for all you do to facilitate this activity, helping us to grow, that we might, together, extend His Kingdom!