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Greetings from I-90 in Pennsylvania. We wanted to safely update you (no typing and driving!) on our last month’s activity in the US. Our main responsibility centered around Missionary Training (MT) in Springfield, MO. 191 global workers, preparing to serve in over 80 countries, gathered to begin their formation process in 6 key areas: Culture and Language, Life and Work, Spiritual Formation, Theology of Mission, Ministry in Context, and the area we facilitate, Bible in Ministry (BiM).

Our BiM session, titled “The Key to the Story of the Scriptures,” taught together with fellow team member, Daryl Jump, featured interactive elements designed to help the new global worker understand not only what the Scriptures say but also how they work together around the person of Jesus to relate God’s big story of salvation. This understanding is foundational as they seek to cooperate with and carry forward that story in their countries of service.

A highlight of these two weeks of MT was receiving several new workers for Mexico. Danny and Kayla De Los Reyes (Mexico City), Micah and Laura Reed (Aguascalientes), Lizette Salazar (Mexico City), and Giuliana Acevedo (Guadalajara) were commissioned as Missionary Associates, while Aldo and Jennifer Wajajay (Oaxaca) were commissioned as fully-appointed missionaries one week later during Missionary Renewal (MR). We’re excited for them as they advocate for Mexico now and prepare for their ministry there in the near future.

Veteran Mexico Global Workers returning for MR were Noah and Melanie Lane and Ernie and Sandra Peacock. We’re thankful for the opportunity we had to encourage each other during that event.

Speaking of advocacy, our itineration was appropriately kicked off on July 7th in Independence, MO. We’re thankful for the tremendous hospitality of pastors Jerry and Tracy Hildebrand and the opportunities to connect with adults and children alike during Sunday services at Central Assembly.

As you read this message, we should be safely at our destination.  Nevertheless, we deeply appreciate your prayers and support as we continue our journey to raise workers and resources to complete the unfinished task of Mexico’s redemption. 

Photo captions:

  1. Dave displays Caravaggio’s depiction of the Supper at Emaus during our BiM Training, emphasizing the need to look at the Scriptures through the lens of Jesus.
  2. Kelly takes new Global Workers through the letter of James, tracing how the Sermon on the Mount profoundly influenced apostolic thought.
  3. We celebrated our first itineration service in Independence, MO with the Hildebrands.

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We’re just back from a whirlwind trip by air and land to the south of Mexico and through America’s heartland. We began by boarding a plane in Mexico City to travel to the Latin America Caribbean (LAC) Retreat. This event, which took place from July 24th to 28th, gathered over 580 people from the entire region for rest and renewal. As area hosts, Kelly and I helped coordinate logistics for the event which also served to kick off LAC’s new advocacy campaign: “Enter the Story.”

“Enter the Story” is a product of the team led by Caribbean Area Directors, David and Kristen Speer. It presents three major blocks of the people of LAC: Unreached People Groups, the Emerging Generation, and the Urban Masses as largely unengaged by the gospel narrative. During the retreat, each Area Director presented a 5-minute window, highlighting the plight of an individual representing these groups. Kelly and I presented the story of Blanca, a member of the Urban Masses living in Mexico City.

In Blanca’s message to us via Network211, she spoke of her desperation, tired of trying to make ends meet. We responded to her with the hope of the gospel, but her access to an example of it is limited. While the most she’d have to walk to fill her stomach at a taco stand is four blocks, the journey to feed her soul in an Assembly of God church may take over 11 miles. In this city of 583 square miles, the Assemblies of God has only 52 churches–there are 1.6 million taco stands.

Following the LAC Retreat, we traveled stateside to Columbus, OH to be a part of the team to assemble and unveil the new interactive LAC exhibit which featured the stories of LAC’s unengaged at General Council ’23 (GC23), our fellowship’s national conference. During our time there, we served as “Story Influencers,” helping visitors understand the messages and encouraging them to respond.

Thank you for your prayers and support! As you help us to “Enter the Story” of LAC’s unengaged, you’re “Changing the Narrative.”

Photo Captions:

  1. Over 580 people gathered in Mexico July 24th-28th for the LAC Regional Retreat, “Reignite.” We were a part of the team coordinating logistics for the event. 
  2. For the roll out of the “Enter the Story” advocacy campaign, we prepared and presented a 5-minute window during the LAC Retreat.
  3. We served with fellow global workers as “Story Influencers” during GC23. Here we’re pictured in the LAC exhibit with Bill and Joy Wilson from the Oregon Ministry Network.  

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Just a few paces from the flashing lights and bustle of activity of the General Council exhibit hall, in a space created to illustrate the syncretism, idolatry, and animism common to the region of Latin America where we serve (see photo), Danny* was speaking to me with tears in his eyes. He was attracted to “the shack,” the location of this display of indigenous religious expression, by the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe which was positioned prominently in the center of the structure. Being of Mexican descent, he was keenly aware of its significance. Although he described himself as non-religious before his conversion, he knew how central this image was to Mexican religious expression and how distracting it can be to the nurture of true faith in Christ.

This “shack,” which housed examples of indigenous religious expression, was just one piece of the LAC missions display at General Council 2021.

Still, as the conversation continued, it was clear that Danny had entered that space with a need that casual exchange could not meet. A young pastor of a fledgling church plant, he was struggling with the opportunities and challenges of serving his Hispanic congregation. He questioned his ability to guide a community so needy during a time so tremendous. He lamented his lack of a mentor as he struggled to motivate a congregation comprised of several who surpassed his age by decades.

“I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this,” he said apologizing, but it was plain to see what was transpiring: surrounded by symbols of false religion, Danny was looking for a sign of hope. And, as I spoke the words, “can I pray for you?”, that shack designed to display the pervasiveness of syncretism became a sacred space, a point of encouragement for a beleaguered pastor. As Jesus, the way the truth, and the life met with us, Danny discovered that he had come with a burden but left with a blessing.

Danny’s story is special, but it is in no way singular. As I exited the shack, I saw another group, with hands raised, praying in the middle of our regional missions display. Clearly, in the four days of General Council 2021, hundreds of visitors were engaged and informed. Dozens signed up to explore opportunities in short-term or career missions and many were encouraged as missionaries shared their time, stories, and prayers.

What a blessing it was to advocate for missions during General Council 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Thank you for your prayers and support that make such trips a possibility. Please continue to pray that we would see fruit from our efforts–new workers to continue the unfinished task of disciple-making in Mexico and throughout the LAC.

*name changed

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