As we face the crisis related to the coronavirus and the effects of the COVID-19 disease, we wanted to update you on our situation and offer you our support. Please, take a few moments to watch this video that we’ve prepared from our home in Springfield, MO where we are serving our 8th day of self-quarantine. You can do so by simply hitting the photo above. We hope that it’s an encouragement to you.
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We’re in the middle of a 3,175-mile family road trip (see inset). Our family of 6, (yes, we’ve brought our dog, Kaixin, along) has traveled from Missouri to Pennsylvania; now we find ourselves in Florida. It’s been a journey of reconnection as we’ve had the chance to visit with family and friends, many who have been so instrumental in sending us to Mexico and maintaining us as we minister there. However, this stop in Orlando, where we find ourselves currently, was made with a different purpose in mind. While we have made reconnections as we’ve met together with hundreds of missionaries from around the world for the unprecedented gathering called Together 2019, we’ve spent the last 4 days seeking renewal, acquiring refocus, and enacting recommitment to the “greatest evangelism the world has ever seen.1”
All this week, as Assemblies of God World Missionaries have been meeting at Calvary Christian Center, we have paused our ministry pursuits to pray for one another, to hear from the Holy Spirit and to respond to His direction. For our entire family, it has been a significant experience, especially as we take on our new responsibilities as Directors of the Mexico Area (members pictured above). It has been a time to give thanks to God and to worship Him for what He has done among us, to encourage ourselves in the Lord and in His power, and to minister and receive the ministration of others.
The culmination of the event was the signing of a document of recommissioning. It was a recommitment to the Lord and to His Great Commission to make disciples of the nations. It was a reaffirmation of our commitment to the leading of the Holy Spirit, the establishment of the Church, and to collaboration with our fellow missionaries. As we face the enormous task of reaching the tens of millions without Christ in Mexico we know that it is only as we live out that commitment that we will be able to finish the work.
So as we turn now to the labor at hand, pray for us as we seek to walk daily in the spirit of our gathering. Pray for us to cultivate a freshness in our relationship with our Lord, to maintain our focus on the work of establishing the church, and to endure in our commitment to the Lord and to one another.
1. Statement made during the 2nd General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1914.
January marked the opening to a new semester at Instituto Bíblico Bethel and to new relationships impacting both the school and area churches. Hit the link here, or click on the picture to find out more. While you’re there, don’t miss
- Updates on our outreach activities,
- a bit about what’s going on with our family,
- And an opportunity to be a part of our 2019-2020 itineration schedule.
It seems so hard to believe that a year has gone by since we began the process of training our church planters throughout the Yucatán. In this video, we take the time to look back over our term, including the past year, to see the progress we’ve made in fulfilling the vision of the Yucatán full of churches diverse in class, status, education, and language, but united in their love for the Lord and one another. We pray that it’s an encouragement.
At the same time as we upload this update, we ask for your continued prayers for our evangelistic outreaches in the month of February, in which we anticipate a harvest of souls after the months of planting and watering. By the time you see this, we’ll have wrapped up two regions and should be finalizing the details in three more:
- Centro: Hacienda Sahé, Tixpehual, February 21-22
- Occidente: Piedra de Agua, Mérida, February 22
- Norte: Euan, March 1
In my youth, I always loved the times when my dad would let me sit in the front seat during road trips. Not only was there ample leg room for a change, but I was also able to take charge of the map. It was amazing to me how that compact rectangle of paper, designed to fit in a glove box, could unfold to reveal our whole state, and how, with a bit of practice, I was able to not only pinpoint our location but also track our progress and estimate our time of arrival.
Long gone are the days of navigation by paper maps. Still, maps, like the one above can be useful to measure the progress that we’re making toward our destination. In this case, the destination that we’re seeking is the goal of filling the Yucatán with churches.
On this map, each pin represents a new church being planted by workers who have walked through our 12-month church planting process. The red pins represent the communities where we are holding special outreaches in the month of February designed to accelerate the growth of these new churches.
Would you take a moment this month to pray for all of our church planters and especially for the planned outreaches? If you have a bit more time, why not head over to our interactive Google Map @ https://s1.ag.org/churchmap where you’ll be able to click on each pin to reveal the names of our church planters and prayer requests associated with each work.
Thanks for your prayers!
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.
Commencement. It’s a word that takes us back to our college days; it makes us think of those graduation ceremonies that, for many of us marked the end of our formal education. The word commencement, however, also speaks of a beginning. This month, we’re experiencing the dual significance of that word. January 12th marks the commencement (ending) of our church planting pilot project while January 19th is the commencement (beginning) of our new program, now no longer a pilot project but a district-wide undertaking.
ln 2016, we introduced Red de Multiplicación here in the Yucatan, and the six pictures that you see above are of the graduates of that program. Their commencement, however, marks much more than the end of a course of study. It is the celebration of the new churches and the changed lives that their perseverance and practice have facilitated. While we say goodbye to several of them as active participants in the program, we launch them with the confidence that they’ve acquired the mindset and practices that will ensure that the works that they lead will continue to flourish.
In 2017, we began the cycle again, casting vision, setting goals, and encouraging participation. The preparation now ceases and the work begins, distributed across 5 sites and employing 15 coordinators and teachers to facilitate the work of dozens of planters (represented above behind our graduates) as they look to fulfill the shared vision of the Yucatan full of churches.
We covet your prayers as we celebrate these commencements. Please add both our graduates, Sara, Moises, Reina, Fausto, Alex and Luis to your prayer list as well as those new workers that are now following the path that they have blazed.
We can’t help but be thankful for the support of key partners like the Southern Missouri District. This month, we received a visit from our Superintendent Don Miller and his wife, Vicki. During their time with us, we had the chance to show them what God is doing through the lives of some of the participants of our church planting pilot program. Click on the link or the photo above to experience a bit of that visit to San Pedro Chacabal.
This month is a month of some drastic change, but instead of writing about it, I’ve recorded a short video to fill you in on all that’s going on. Click the play button above to take a look.