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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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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)


If you needed a reason to pray for your itinerating missionaries, this weekend surely made our need all the more apparent as torrential rain and floodwaters nearly stranded us in the state of Tennessee on Saturday.

We were travelling from Dalton, GA to Caruthersville, MO, returning from services in Georgia and a family reunion in South Carolina. We were on our way back to Missouri on Saturday morning via I-24 and I-40 with hopes to spend a leisurely afternoon with the Titus family, pastors of Caruthersville First, before holding services the next day in the Kennett section of the Southern Missouri District.

Things progressed as expected until just after lunchtime as we reached the Murfreesboro area. As we continued west, the skies opened up soaking the roads and slowing our momentum to 40 miles per hour at times on 70 mile per hour freeways. This kept up for at least an hour, finally breaking as we passed through Nashville. However, just as we thought that the worst was over, our progress ground to a halt in front of a river that had overflowed it’s banks and now crossed the entire highway.

The next two hours were spent in a number of switchbacks as we looked for a suitable detour. We traveled across US-70 through the flooded Dickson and then onto Waverly, where the river had virtually cut off that town from the highway. We crossed the water to travel down route 13 only to be turned back again 4 miles from rejoining I-40. We drove back to US-70 then and on to route 641 where we were finally able to regain I-40 and continue our forward progress toward the boot heel of Missouri.

As we looked to the right and the left of the roadways, everything seemed to be underwater–houses, businesses, churches and farms. The water was everywhere and seemingly in everything. By the time that we made it through Dyersburg and across the Mississippi it was well after 8:00 PM, and we were overjoyed to have reached Missouri and our journey’s end.

As we traveled, there were moments when I doubted that we would be able to make it through. I second guessed our decisions to continue, thinking perhaps that it might have been safer to stop and attempt forward progress at a later time. However, after spending a stormy night in the hotel in Missouri, I was confident that the urgency that I had felt to press on was well founded. The situation only got worse the following day in Tennessee.

So I am thankful that God had His hand upon us, guiding us through. And I am grateful for the prayers of those who stand behind us, as much during our itineration as during our time on the field. We appreciate this much needed support!

Still, as I am glad to be home to tell my tale, my heart goes out to the many who weren’t able to escape the flooding–those who lost possessions, homes, even loved ones to the raging waters. One quote from a news story read, “I know God doesn’t give us more than we can take, but I’m at my breaking point.” As you pray for us, please lift up these who are now suffering in the devastation through which we were guided this past Saturday.

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A Change of Plans

Tabasco Under WaterMondays are usually a low-key day for the Godzwa family. The day after ministry is usually reserved for catching up on household items or replying to correspondence. I had a post planned about the evangelism seminars that we have been leading. But a telephone call from Paul, our mentor missionary here in Mérida, broke the routine. “Dave,” he said, “the situation in Tabasco has gotten out of hand…” The situation he was talking about was the flood that Mexican President Felipe Calderon now calls Mexico’s worst recent natural disaster.

If you have not had the opportunity to see the images of the Mexican state of Tabasco that CNN has been broadcasting, please understand that the inhabitants of this area, which is located about 300 miles from our current location in Mérida, are dealing with a true disaster. Due to unseasonable heavy and continual rain, several rivers have flooded their banks inundating businesses, homes, schools, and churches. News reports put up to 80% of this low-lying state currently underwater. Calls to church leaders in this district have returned reports of lower lying areas completely underwater, of many homes and churches with more than five feet of water in them, and of flooding so high that even people who live on the second floor of a building have found shelter elsewhere because there is no access to their homes.

So to one side moved the household chores and unanswered went the correspondence for one more day so that I could hit the phones to see what I could do to lend a hand to the relief effort being planned here in the Yucatan.

The situation in Tabasco is being described as the Katrina of Mexico. The center-city of Villahermosa is a complete disaster and as a result, those who have been forced to stay behind have nothing. The residents of Tabasco need drinkable water, powdered milk, towels, diapers, canned food, and lots of other basic items. The people of Yucatan are changing their plans to pitch in. Instead of buying food for their family, they’re buying supplies to donate as schools churches and government buildings have opened their doors to accept donations.

Specifically, the church leaders of Tabasco have asked for medical personal with medicines and vitamins to come and offer care. This is extremely important as the floodwaters begin to recede and diseases resulting from contaminated drinking water and inadequate services begin to appear. To respond to this request, God is calling on still others to change their plans. A relief corps of Christian doctors and nurses from Mérida are organizing now to travel in order to provide first-hand relief and the peace of God to those caught in the middle of this crisis. All of these health professionals are sacrificing family-time and their personal goals as they prioritize the needs of their countrymen.

I’m happy to report that my change of plans brought about some tangible results, but a need this great calls out for so much more to be done.

How about you? Do you feel God leading you to be a part of the relief effort?

Comment or email us and we’d be glad to help you with your change of plans.

Photos courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kubricka/

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