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March was a hectic month to say the least; playing host to two teams and a state-side trip had me wondering if I was coming or going. Add to that a seasonal sinus infection and I was primed for a personal pity party. At the lowest point, alone, on the road, congested and unable to sleep, I’m sure the thought “What difference does all this make, anyway?” had crossed my mind if not once then several times.

That’s not to say that good wasn’t being done. A roof was raised in Kiní, giving a growing congregation a place to meet, shaded from the blazing sun and protected from the rains that are soon to come. A church building was started in Tekax, breaking ground on a vision to reach that city of over 25,000 with its 90+ surrounding communities. Youth and adults were challenged to leave their comfort zone and join in God’s mission to reach the nations. But in the same way that prophets have been known to battle with self doubt, so this missionary was feeling the psychological burden of being over-extended, though his wounds may well have been self-inflicted.

A “chance” meeting on a Wednesday afternoon, then, was just what the doctor, or the psychologist ordered. A man by the name of Luis stopped by the building site in Tekax. He had met one of the team members from the church the evening before on the square and had wanted to thank him for taking the time to talk with him. While he was chatting with the pastor and the team member, he suddenly stopped and took a hard look at me, trying to place me as I took off my sunglasses.

“Did you lead a campaign here in Tekax eight years ago?,” he asked me.

“I had,” I told him. “My evangelism students from Bethel and I held a campaign in 2009 in one of the neighborhoods on the north side of the city.”

“Thank you,” he said. “I was saved on the last night of that campaign.”

All of a sudden, the hectic schedule, the physical exhaustion, perhaps even the sinus infection were but a distant memory. What difference does it make? For Luis, eight years ago, it made all the difference in the world.

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New Life in Tekax

tekaxreportIt started with a blown radiator and a whole lot of improvising. It ended with dozens having committed their lives to the Lord. That, in a nutshell, was the result of our evangelistic campaign in Tekax, Yucatán.

On Friday January 23rd, I had the opportunity to take 17 students from Bethel Bible Institute to the town of Tekax, which lies some two hours away from our city of Mérida, to hold a two-day evangelistic campaign. The campaign was the culmination of a four week training that we had held for the members of “Templo Emanuel,” where Romeo Calvo is pastor. The goal was to start a small group in the neighborhood of San Juan de Dios at the site of what had once been a catholic chapel.

On the day of the event, we left just about a half hour late, which, here in the Yucatán, is no small feat. Little did we know, however, that the real delay waited only a few miles down the road. At mile 16, I noticed one of our students pulling to the side of the road. When we stopped, I asked what was the matter. Lifting the hood showed the obvious problem. The cap of the water tank had been left off, and all of the water had spilled out. The result was a severely over-heated engine, a big mechanic bill, and a delayed start to our campaign. After a bit of traffic direction around the stalled truck, and a two-hour wait for a replacement, we were back at it again, finally arriving at Tekax with enough time to scramble to put things in place

At the site, basically a street in the middle of a poor neighborhood, we busied ourselves grabbing electric from a nearby house for our lights and sound and starting as soon as we were able in order to keep the crowd that had already gathered. Fortunately, the quick thinking of students and the preparation of the host church paid off. Not only did the people stay, they responded! After the songs, the dramas, and the message was over, students dispersed through the crowd to pray. Several decisions were collected that night. I personally got a chance to pray with three people who had decided that night to follow Jesus. Still, that was only the beginning.

We arose the next day to a hearty breakfast, ready to serve the people’s needs. From 10 AM until 2 PM, we had a team helping with dental hygiene, another giving haircuts, a nurse giving health examinations, and a team fitting people for glasses. On top of that, the church had gathered clothing to give away. All the while we were serving, we were inviting the people to attend the closing service, and attend they did.

In the final event, we had over 100 kids and several adults. The kids laughed, played, and sang with the students and church members while all stayed attentive for the dramas, and the closing remarks. One drama, the Auction, pulled no punches as it spoke of the life that many of the inhabitants of that neighborhood were living–a life full of alcohol, drugs, and despair. As the call was made, we found that we didn’t need to go out to them, they came to us! The children responded first and then the adults. Many came forward to repent of their past lives as whole families wept together. It was an amazing sight! As I greeted the pastor and gave him the 15 decision cards that I had received from other students, he pulled out a stack of his own, possibly up to 40 in all had made a commitment in the two-day event.

The wonderful news is that the event itself was just the beginning. There is now a small group meeting at the site of the campaign. Discipleship materials from John Hall, “Start-up Studies” in Spanish are being utilized to help these new believers experience the eternal life that they now possess, and church members are being utilized to help them along their journey. It is our prayer that not only those 40 will be affected, but that a whole neighborhood will be changed because of this intense effort.

The road is difficult though. Tekax, although ready to receive the truth, is ripe to be deceived by falsehood as well. Signs of false teachings were evident, and cults seem to be gaining ground among the spiritually hungry. Still, we are encouraged by this first step, and we are confident that the results will remain and grow.

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