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Last month, we said goodbye to Mexico City (CDMX), our home and base of operations since September of 2021. As we planned and packed, said our farewells, and boarded the plane for Springfield, MO, we felt a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities we’d been given and the contributions we’d made. Nevertheless, we depart with a sober understanding of the unfinished business we leave behind.

As we ministered in our last service at Casa de Dios, the storefront congregation pastored by Enoc Galván, we recognized our affection for our home church. This was where we regularly led worship, shared God’s Word, and prayed fervently for God’s move in Santa Úrsula, the neighborhood where the church is located. This was also a people from whom we’d received such tremendous hospitality and among whom we’d witnessed miracles.    

Similarly, as the ministers of Section 6 extended their hands to pray for us during our last meeting together, we reflected on the opportunities we’ve had to partner with them, preach in their churches, and encourage their congregations. These men and women have labored for the Lord and persevered in extreme circumstances. We’re honored to be considered their colleagues and receive their blessing.

Still, we can’t help but recognize how few are working to reach this city. Section 6 consists of only 6 churches in the Tlahuac and Itztapalapa municipalities with 2.2 million people. That’s over 366,000 people for each church to reach! City-wide, the Assemblies of God has only 52 churches among 9.2 million inhabitants*. Clearly, there is work to be done to increase the influence of the gospel message and the power of Pentecost in this megalopolis.

That’s why, as Dave prayed during the Spiritual Retreat, he asked the Lord to unite the congregations of CDMX in their work to reach the city.  We ask as well that He speed our return so we can rejoin our friends and resolve our unfinished business in Mexico City!

Note: this post is just a portion of what we share in our quarterly newsletter. If you’d like more information from the Godzwas or would like to print this update, take a look at the full PDF version of our quarterly newsletter or, better still, sign up to receive our newsletters direct to your inbox!

Photo captions:

  1. Saying goodbye to the congregation of Casa de Dios, our home church in Mexico City 
  2. Fellow ministers of Section 6 pray for us during our last meeting together.
  3. Dave was invited to pray for the ministers of Distrito Sur during the Spiritual Retreat.

*As a comparison, New Jersey has a population of 9.3 million and 228 Assemblies of God churches.

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The signs of damage were impossible to miss as we arrived in Acapulco—trees broken and bare, windows shattered, and, in some places, the complete facades of buildings still missing months after Hurricane Otis carved its devastating path eastward through the city into the surrounding hills. Yes, the sad story of disaster that began on October 25, 2023, when this category 5 storm made landfall is easy to tell. Nevertheless, the story we heard as we greeted the area congregations was one of resilience.

Fellow missionary Peter Breit accompanied me (Dave) as we made the 4 1/2 hour drive from Mexico City to Acapulco, located on the Pacific coast of Guerrero. We were met by the district superintendent, Victor Olivares, and his team, visiting 25 churches in the five-day trip, from May 1st to the 6th.

What we saw was breathtaking. At one church, the entire third floor—roof, block walls and all—had been completely swept away. At another, the metal roof structure of a neighboring building had literally been thrown into its second-story balcony. Miraculously, there was no loss of life among A/G church members. However, these structures remain scarred because reconstruction has been slowed by a lack of available materials and laborers despite the generous response to calls for support.

Even in the face of so much adversity, we were met by people with hearts full of gratitude, determined to persevere. Celso and Guadalupe, the pastors of Rey de Reyes in the Las Cruces neighborhood, exemplified this determination. Even before the storm, as they sought to establish a vibrant congregation in this needy area, they had to overcome both violent persecution and an avalanche while constructing their building. Seemingly unfazed by the setback Otis dealt them, they received us with thankfulness for the support we’d given and faith for their complete recovery.

Let’s remember these brave believers in prayer as they continue the labor of reconstruction.

Photo Captions:

  1. Pastor Alfredo Castañeda shows Victor Olivares storm damage to his church and how high winds carried a neighbor’s roof through its balcony door.
  2. While reconstruction efforts are slow, we rejoiced to see materials on-site at “Amistad,” a church that had lost its roof in the storm.
  3. Pastors Celso and Guadalupe, together with the leadership of District “Sur Pacífico”

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Elijah was as human as we are and yet when he prayed fervently… —James 5:17

Phil caught Dave’s attention in the hallway. He was one of the new candidate missionaries seeking approval from the World Missions Board during the Spring Pre-field and Candidate Orientation (PFO/CO) Event, which took place March 9th-15th in Springfield, MO.

He said, “You prayed for me during General Council in August, and now I’m here to become a missionary to Paraguay!”

Phil reminded Dave of how they met in the World Missions exhibit while his family was attending the Fine Arts Festival in another part of the convention center. He knew he was called to be a missionary, but his family wasn’t ready to take the next step. Praying together, Dave and Phil asked God to confirm His calling on the entire family, and there they were, just months later, committed to making disciples in Paraguay!

Prayer can be difficult. With our busy schedules, there seems to be so little time to intercede for our own needs, much less to pray for the nations and for workers to reach them, but we’re encouraged by the Scriptures, God answers the prayers of ordinary humans, even ours!

In addition to Phil and his wife Yariana’s calling, we’re seeing our 10.2 prayers (read Luke 10:2) being answered. During this PFO/CO, we welcomed 4 new global workers destined for Mexico—Crystal Lodico, working with youth, Jennifer and Aldo Wajajay, planting churches among the indigenous, and Melissa Sederwall reaching children. In all, 125 new missionaries participated in the week’s training. Keep pausing each day at 10:02 AM or PM and ask God to continue to send workers to Mexico and around the world.

We’re happy to say that God answers those personal requests as well. We’ve always sought more opportunities for ministry as a couple. When travel issues kept another team member from teaching during the main Bible in Ministry sessions. Kelly filled in and did a wonderful job!

Photo Captions:

  1. Dave prayed with Phil in the LAC General Council Exhibit in August of 2023. In March, he and his wife, Yariana, were approved as candidate missionaries to Paraguay.
  2. 10.2 prayers answered! The Wajajays (right), Melissa Sederwall (center), and Crystal Lodico (left) are new workers for Mexico.
  3. A suitable helper: Kelly stepped up to help facilitate the Bible in Ministry Competency.

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Growing up in the nineties, we remember the famous CT Studd quote as presented by singer Steve Camp:

“Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells, but I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of hell.”

As Mexico Area Directors, we’re honored to serve those who work in the hard places. Take places like Guadalajara, where Centro de Adoración a Jesus, the first Assemblies of God church in the city center was dedicated last month. Julio Cesar Andrade, the District Superintendent and event speaker, called it a difficult place. That was evident as both panhandling and prostitution could be observed from the building’s front windows. However, Rich DeMartino, the missionary church planter who founded the work, called it a lighthouse, a beacon to those facing disaster without its presence. We’re glad to have had a hand in establishing this new center of hope in Guadalajara, and we rejoice for its ministry.

Mexico City is another, where colleagues, Paul and Sandy Kazim, have partnered with Projecto Vida Integral, a church ministering to the students of the local Teen Challenge Center and their families. They’re intervening in the lives of desperate people seeking liberation from life-controlling addictions. The Kazims hosted a meal to recognize the installation of its new pastor, Mariano Ramirez, for whom we had the honor to pray.

Whether in bustling urban centers or remote jungle villages, LAC global workers are planting new works and seeing lives changed in the hard places as last month’s Church Planters’ Dialogue in Managua, Nicaragua highlighted. Still, there are many more hard places yet to reach like Distrito Laguna, where the Mexican National Church asks for workers to catalyze outreach efforts, or the major cities of Mexico, languishing for the lack of church planting movements. We’re thankful for your support of us and others working in the hard places. Please keep praying, giving, and going with us until they are reached.

Note: this post is just a portion of what we share in our quarterly newsletter. If you’d like more information from the Godzwas or would like to print this update, take a look at the full PDF version of our quarterly newsletter or, better still, sign up to receive our newsletters direct to your inbox!

Photo captions:

  1. Dave and pastor Alfredo Trejo of Centro de Adoración a Jesus with fellow global workers, Joel Viera, Rich DeMartino, and Chris Abiuso
  2. Praying with the Kazims for Mariano Ramirez, pastor of Proyecto Vida Integral
  3. LAC Missionaries present for the Church Planters’ Dialogue in Managua, Nicaragua

…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal 6:9

As we traveled to Mérida, Yucatán, in late January, the place where we had lived and ministered for 13 years, we couldn’t help but remember how we had worked to cast a vision for church planting throughout the district. There were hours spent with leadership to formulate a plan and create a team, miles traveled cross-crossing the state to introduce the concepts, and months spent training the prospective workers, walking alongside them as they founded new communities of faith. The work was arduous, and we faced our share of resistance along the way, but we labored on, believing that we would someday reap a harvest.

The harvest came in 30 churches planted or revitalized at the end of our time in Yucatán, but as we stepped away from the district to take on our current role as Area Directors, we were disappointed to know that church planting had been placed on the back burner.

You can imagine our surprise when Pastor Castillo, a colleague with whom we worked in Tixpehual, called to invite us to inaugurate the newly formed district-wide church planting school in Yucatán. “We called to invite you,” he said, “because you were the ones who cast the vision. We wanted you to witness what the Lord has done.”

It was truly a sight to behold. Not only had 23 students enrolled to plant new works throughout the state but many from the district were on hand to mark the occasion, even some who had shown resistance to our efforts in the past!

Dave preached that opening service and taught the first course module. We also celebrated the 38th anniversary of Pastor Castillo’s church, “Camino a Emaus”, where Isabel and her family from Tixpeuhal now attend. Our weekend in Mérida proved the veracity of Galatians 6:9–the seeds of vision sown and the labor of cultivation brought forth a harvest, both then and now for another generation.

Thank you for your prayers and support that helped make this all possible!

Photo Captions:

  1. Dave praying over students during the inauguration of the new Yucatán church planting school. This group of 23 students is preparing to plant works statewide.
  2. Memories: the first church planting module was held at Bethel where Dave first taught in 2006!
  3. Celebrating 38 years at “Camino a Emaus” with Pastor Castillo and his wife Olga.

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If you follow the news, you know that reports from Mexico are routinely related to complicated issues most would rather avoid. However, despite the headlines, God is moving in Mexico! And just last month, we witnessed more proof of that statement.

In December, we traveled to Pozuelos, Hidalgo to witness what can only be described as a modern-day version of the story of Cornelius. Only months prior, fellow missionaries, Peter and Delia Breit, received a call asking them to share Jesus with a family that was waiting to hear the gospel. When they arrived that day, they were met by more than 20 people in a brand-new church building eager to listen t what they had to say.

They found out that a brother had immigrated to the United States where he joined an evangelical church. With the desire that his entire family share in his experience of salvation, he began sending money back to Mexico, instructing his siblings to build a church where they could gather to learn about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And there, in that very church, as Peter and Delia spoke, many in his family decided to follow Him!

Since then, Peter and Delia as well as missionaries, Larry and Melodee Gruetzmacher, have been visiting the village weekly to teach these new believers how to incorporate their new-found faith into their everyday lives individually and corporately. During our time there with Larry and Melodee, we had the opportunity to encourage the adults from the Scriptures and interact with the children, showing them how Jesus is present amid difficult circumstances. We also evidenced the transformation that He was accomplishing in these precious people, giving them hope and a heart to help others.

Yes, in Mexico, and around the world, bad news is easy to encounter. Still, God is moving. Thank you for your prayers and support that allow us to be a part of what He is doing!

Photo captions:

  1. The congregation in Pozuelos following the Christmas service. Kelly found out that this was the first time several of the children heard the Christmas story. 
  2. Encountering encouragement in the Scripture.

  3. Opening hearts in simple worship.

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While we continue to provide logistical support to the recovery and rebuilding process in Acapulco, we’re also taking advantage of open doors to facilitate ministry throughout Mexico. This past month, we traveled to Monterrey, strategizing with our national partners to reach the more than 30 million children of Mexico and see more churches planted.

A National Children’s Ministries Consultation was held on November 28th and 29th. Children’s ministries representatives from each of the 24 districts of the A/G of Mexico met with national church leadership to pray, train, and plan for a greater impact among the next generation. We coordinated the visit of featured speaker, Steve Sobey, President of the International Association of King’s Castle Ministry.

King’s Castle is a vibrant and growing outreach and discipleship ministry, activating youth to communicate the love of Jesus to children. In Mexico, however, it has faced a series of setbacks. One of the principal aims of the Consultation, then, was to see this ministry revitalized.

In their presentation, Steve and his associates, Heber Pérez and Wendy Landaverde, spoke on child evangelism and cast vision for the future of King’s Castle in Mexico. A highlight was the time of prayer as King’s Castle leaders gathered around the flag to intercede for the children of Mexico. While there is much work yet to be done, it was clear that the revitalization had begun.

Following the Consultation, we stayed in Monterrey but switched gears to talk about church planting. Dave preached at the national superintendent’s church, Palabra de Vida. In his sermon, he shared from the Good Samaritan, leading the congregation through an analysis of attitudes helpful for the extension of their influence in society. We concluded our time together detailing profiles for potential church planters among Mexico’s growing professional class.

We believe that our time in Monterrey has served to motivate ministry throughout Mexico. Thank you for your prayers and support that allow us to walk through these open doors!

Note: this post is just a portion of what we share in our quarterly newsletter. If you’d like more information from the Godzwas or would like to print this update, take a look at the full PDF version of our quarterly newsletter or, better still, sign up to receive our newsletters direct to your inbox!

Photo Captions:

  1. Steve Sobey (bottom center), praying with leaders of King’s Castle Ministries in Mexico  
  2. Dave, sharing from the Good Samaritan at Palabra de Vida, Monterrey
  3. Conversing about church planter profiles with National Superintendent, Enrique González (center), and his family

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On October 25th at 1:25 AM, Acapulco was impacted by Hurricane Otis, an unprecedented category 5 cyclone. In its wake of devastation, there was damage to 80% of the city’s commercial buildings and more than 270,000 homes. Officials state that 47 lives were lost due to the storm and 59 more are still missing.

Since the storm’s passing, we have not been idle. In addition to our fervent prayer for the victims of the storm, we have been in communication with local emergency response coordinators and the national leadership of the Assemblies of God of Mexico to assess the need and convey it to both Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) and Convoy of Hope (COH). These organizations have combined to send $50,000 to purchase relief supplies to help thousands. We have also been helping with logistics as COH looks to send relief supplies directly from the US to the needy of the area.

Victor Olivares, a leader of the local response team, has expressed his gratitude. He told us that his volunteers are distributing relief kits daily because of this generous response and support from neighboring communities. Still, a major need remains.

There are 75 Assemblies of God churches in addition to several parsonages that have been damaged or destroyed in the region affected by the storm. The cost to repair or reconstruct these buildings will be staggering–a burden too heavy for the residents of Acapulco to bear alone, especially since the economy from which they made their livelihood literally collapsed overnight. That’s why we’re making an appeal. Can you take a moment to consider what you might do to help them rebuild?

AGWM has set up a fund for reconstruction. By following this link, you can donate to help speed the recovery in Acapulco. In this moment of their desperate need would you respond with your generosity toward our brothers and sisters in Mexico? Thank you in advance for your help.

Photo Captions:

  1. Hurricane Otis surprised forecasters and shocked the residents of Acapulco as it moved from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in twelve hours’ time.
  2. Otis not only took the roof off of A/G church “La Amistad” but its heavy rains also undermined the foundation, threatening to collapse its walls.
  3. The response to the need has been swift. Thanks to gifts from AGWM and COH supplies such as these are being distributed daily. Relief has arrived, rebuilding remains.

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Hurricane Otis, which made landfall last week as a category 5 hurricane, has devastated the city of Acapulco and the surrounding area. We ask you to pray for its victims, for their safety, security, and recovery.

We also want you to know that AGWM and Convoy of Hope are responding. To make a donation to help relief efforts, follow the links below:

AGWM Disaster Relief
Convoy of Hope

(Photo Credits: “Otis 2023-10-25 300Z.jpg” ABI imagery from NOAA’s GOES-16 Satellite accessed on wikipedia.org)

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Paradigm noun: a typical example or pattern of something; a model.

There are familiar patterns to our lives, ways that we are accustomed to thinking, speaking, and acting that help us to relate to others, accomplish tasks, and meet the challenges that we face on a daily basis. These are our paradigms; although usually unconscious, they govern our behaviors in significant ways. Generally, we only become aware of those paradigms when they fail us, often painfully.

As we serve on the Global Resource Training Team (GRTT), training Global Workers for AGWM, we recognize that we can’t prevent all of those painful moments, but we can prepare them by helping them recognize their paradigms and allow for the shifts in those paradigms that will inevitably come throughout their career. That process begins during the Pre-Field/Candidate Orientation (PFO/CO) sessions.

In October’s session, the GRTT welcomed 83 new Global Workers who are beginning the formation that will make them effective ministers in a cross-cultural context with AGWM. Dealing with the Bible in Ministry (BiM), Dave participated in the presentation of a revamped curriculum to help these new Global Workers see the limitations of traditional paradigms for understanding the Bible and connect them to its overarching story which more readily engages the people they aim to reach.

In the afternoons, we joined our Latin America Caribbean (LAC) Regional Team to receive the 7 new missionaries joining the LAC family and to facilitate conversations around the core missionary competencies of Spiritual Formation, Missionary Life and Work, Theology of Mission, Understanding Language and Culture, Ministry in Context, as well as Bible in Ministry.

What a privilege it is to serve in this capacity, preparing our colleagues to fulfill the Great Commission! We appreciate your prayers and support that make our ministry possible.

Photo Captions:

  1. Dealing with BiM, Dave shared during two sessions, presenting a revamped curriculum to help new AGWM Global Workers grasp the biblical narrative.
  2. In this PFO/CO session, we celebrate answers to prayer: seven new Global Workers for the harvest in the LAC Region.
  3. A highlight of our week was the Global Prayer Service. Our newly elected executive director, John Easter, led us as we interceded for the nations.

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