Do you know Jesus Christ?

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Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray that the people of Tej. repent of sin and respond in faith to the truth of Jesus being the only way to a relationship with the Father.
  2. Praise God for sending both US and national churches to continue the work in the village of Tej.

 

“Do you know Jesus Christ?” This is a question we often ask when evangelizing the lost.
 

When asking this question in Oaxaca, Mexico, the answer will always be…. yes. There are images of Jesus everywhere in various forms (Jesus on the cross, Jesus with a crown of thorns, Jesus as a baby, etc.). Oaxaqueños have a high view of the Bible. The apostles, Jesus, and Mary are all held with a level of respect. The villages outside of Oaxaca city are unique. Neighboring villages look different, smell different, and share different traditions. Likewise, each village has a saint or virgin that is important to their village (a saint could be someone who the village chose to saint).  Each village has its own Catholic church filled with several images of the apostles, saints, and virgins (virgin Guadalupe, Juquila, Soledad, etc.). Even though the community may be poor, money is spent to keep the church well-cleaned and stocked with images, flowers and candles. Larger amounts of money are also saved for specific holy holidays.
 

As a follower of Jesus, I have realized the importance of dying to self in a new way. I have opened myself up to learning the specific traditions and beliefs of the people. In the boldness of sharing the gospel, I need to know who it is that I am evangelizing.
 

It takes great patience to be a missionary in Oaxaca, Mexico. I have learned many things from a beautiful people in the village of Tej. Tej is unique because the people dislike their Catholic priest. A small handful of people attend mass and less money is spent on the church. However, the majority of the people will identify themselves as Catholic. The people I have shared with are very open to discussing the Bible. They love to hear stories and have admitted that they don’t often read their Bibles.  I have had the opportunity to share the gospel many times with the same people.
 

One of the major barriers to the truth goes back to the question, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” Oaxaqueños struggle to see their need for someone they believe they already know. Many of the people have stories about a specific virgin/saint that helped them during a time of need. Their eyes have not been opened to Jesus being the Only sufficient sacrifice for their sin (John 14:6).
 

All I can do is be faithful to live in pursuit of my Savior, proclaiming his life, death, and resurrection. The Lord is the One who will open their eyes to the truth, so that they may respond (Ephesians 2:8, John 3:16-18, 2 Corinthians 4:6). I am eternally grateful for the relationships the Lord has given me in Tej. I am reminded of His plan and thankful to see the fruit of His work. Jesus has begun to strip away the barriers that plague this village to reveal the glory of His name (John 1:9-14, Luke 21:27).

 

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Choosing Trust

Personal Journal Entry

Sunday, May 6

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

-Psalms 34:17-19

Throughout my time in Mexico I have endured many challenges. I have seen some of the most desperate places of myself. Each week has presented its own challenge. In comparison with my own USA, Mexico makes it difficult to find complacency and comfort. I have found that it is a choice to recognize the gifts, blessings, and works of the Lord. Self has blinded me from the truthfulness of God’s plan. Choosing self over trust brings feelings of doubt, worry, hurt, and anger.

I am currently a foreigner trying to understand a people who are foreign. My reliance cannot be on the Oaxaqueños I am trying to understand nor should it be in the missionaries I work with. Jesus has been waiting for my daily reliance in his truth. He is truth. At times I have felt so desperate that I thought I might explode with emotion. The Lord Jesus is the only one who can sustain and fill my soul.

It is difficult to trust him when I don’t understand the fullness of his plan. The little faith I have propels me forward into truth and helps me remember his faithfulness in the past. I have been presented with the same choice throughout life. Will I choose to fixate on the unknown or the known? Why would I focus on the unknown when I know it is known by Jesus? What do I know? I know that Jesus replaces doubt, worry, hurt, and anger with his love, joy, peace, and hope.

The discomfort of this life draws me to Jesus. In his goodness he delivers me from all my afflictions and fills me with himself. Thank you Jesus!

 

Can barriers become bridges?

  1. Please pray that Dani and I would stay focused and finish our work in the village strong.
  2. Please pray that we would continue to be bold in our sharing of the gospel.
  3. Please pray that we would continue to be patient and trusting what God is doing in our lives and the village.
  4. Please pray for our local church and US church to continue working together in order to bring the gospel to the lost in tej.
  5. Please pray for the Salvations of our family in tej.

These two months have flown by…

Several unexpected events took place during the past two months. After our Christmas vacations Dani and I were very excited about getting back into tej. We were able to meet with our family a few times. One of those times was a Sunday evening. It was one of the most meaningful visits we have had with them so far. Dani, Betty, and I spent a little over two hours talking about God’s word and answering questions about life and death. We sat in a circle on small wooden and plastic stools laughing and sharing stories. As the sun began to go down we transitioned from the dirt floor to the kitchen table. We ended the night sipping cafe de olla (Coffee made on the stove top with sugar) and eating pan dulce (sweet bread). Dani, Betty, and I left that night feeling very encouraged and ready to bring a returning US missions team to visit our family. This is the same team that came to share a meal with our family a few months ago. We were excited about bringing this team out to see our family because our J-term ends in late July. Dani and I have been praying for God to provide others to continue sharing the gospel/bible with our family after we leave.

The following week we had another great meeting with the vice president of the village. We set up a meeting to introduce the team to them. Dani and I have found that it is wise to always include the leadership of the village in on what we do. The very next day Dani and I heard that there was an incident that happened within the village. This event kept us from entering back into tej. My heart sank as I realized that we would be unable to take the team to visit our people in the village. It seemed like a huge series of walls had been put up around tej. I have also felt some great spiritual opposition in bringing light to this dark village. I felt like Dani and I were just beginning to scratch the surface in shedding light to the people in tej. I didn’t understand the timing…why would this happen? I felt frustrated and sad that we had to wait to go back.

After some time spent in prayer I realized that this wasn’t a loss. The team came and we spent most of our time in prayer. They were diligent to pray with us, as a team, and individually. This kind of opposition shows how the Lord has been working in tej. He has every intention of continuing to tear down the walls of sin and oppression that have surround it. The Lord is drawing specific individuals in the village of tej. to Himself for salvation and the formation of a church. Praise God!

What seemed to be a set back was actually a golden opportunity. Dani and I were able to meet with a Pastor working in an area close to the city. Pastor Juan and his wife Gloria have been working in a village located right next to tej. They have both been ministering and bringing the gospel to the people there in San Antonio. Dani and I know Pastor Juan and his family through his son Julio. Julio was a translator for my team (before I could speak Spanish) when I was here in Oaxaca as a summer student (June-July 2015). Dani and I have had the privilege of working with Julio as partners in the ministry during our time here in Oaxaca. Julio has recently gone to seminary to learn more about missions and ministry. Thankfully we were able to be in contact with his parents. Pastor Juan and his wife  have been interested in doing missions in tej! We were able to introduce the US missions team to their church. They have begun to talk about a future partnership in bringing the gospel to tej. It is unbelievable what the Lord is doing in providing people of different age and culture for His purpose. My heart is full of much emotion. I am truly grateful to be a part of the Lord’s great plans for tej. 

Thank you for your prayers!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Mira que te mando que te esfuerces y seas valiente; no temas ni desmayes, porque Jehová tu Dios estará contigo en dondequiera que vayas.

Josué 1:9

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Dios es Fiel (God is Faithful)

 

Prayer Requests

  1. Please give God all the glory, honor, and praise for working in the hearts of our families in Tej.
  2. Please pray that Dani and I are able to focus and stay strong in sharing the gospel these next several months.
  3. Please pray for the pharmacy couple (Juan and Rosie) to continue asking questions about God’s word.
  4. Please pray for our tlayuda-making family to continue reading the Bible. Pray that they would recognize their need to repent and have faith in Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

During the month of December, I spent some much-needed time with my family for Christmas. It was the first time that I have been back to the good ole US of A. It was a very sweet time of music, laughter, fellowship, and prayer. I came back to Oaxaca in the new year feeling refreshed and supported.

 
Dani and I have both been anxious about visiting our family in Tej. We decided to go prayer walking in the village yesterday and stop by to see the couple working in the pharmacy. The husband Juan welcomed us into the store. We were very encouraged to hear that he and his wife Rosie desired to meet with us on Sunday afternoon. Juan has expressed that he is encouraged by our desire to share God’s word. He believes in the importance of hearing and discussing the word of God. Dani and I were unsure if this couple would be able to find any time for us in their very busy schedule. We have made sure that they are aware of our flexibility to their schedule and that we understand if we can only meet with them for shorter periods of time. We are excited about the possibility of this couple eventually joining the other family that we share with regularly. Juan mentioned that he and his wife could begin meeting with them while we share the Bible stories. Dani and I can see how God could bring this group together for the beginnings of a church in Tej.

 
Later that same day we stopped by our family of tlayuda-making women (our friend Betty’s cousin Lucia). Lucia and Doña Maria (Lucia’s mother-in-law) were both in the home, making and cooking the large tortillas (tlayudas). They were happily surprised by our visit and wanted us to sit and chat with them for a while. Don Carlos (Father-in-law) came outside to greet us with a friendly hello and smile. All my anxiety went away as I saw the gladness on their faces and answered their questions about my trip home. We sat by the fire-run ovens called comals which are used to cook the tlayudas. I felt great joy well up in my heart as Lucia shared how beautiful the Bible we had given her was. She shared that she had been enjoying reading the Bible while we were gone and that at times she was confused about what it was saying. She explained all this with a never-before-seen smile of joy on her face. Lucia had seemed to be the most closed to the stories when we would share. Usually she would leave the room and stay nearby to wash dishes or cook. Clearly God has been working in the life of Lucia all along. His faithfulness to her is shown even when Dani and I aren’t present. Praise God!

 

 

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Who is Ministering to Whom?

Ministry within the mission field does not only pertain to one particular group of people. I desire to minister to those whom God has placed on my heart (Oaxaqueños). However, I work with a group of missionaries who carry the same desire in their hearts that I do. Why do we have this desire? Because the Lord has given us a passion to bring the news of His son Jesus Christ to the nations.

 

But, if my fellow missionaries are ministering to the Oaxaqueños who is ministering to me? Brothers and sisters, our ministry goes beyond a hierarchy of whose “job” it is to minister to a particular individual or individuals. I have recognized that God has given me a unique skill set in order to reach others for Christ. The question is… how will I use my unique skill set to minister to those I come into contact with? I come into contact with all kinds of believers, including Oaxaqueños, Missionaries, and Church partners. I have a role to serve all of these different groups of people. These groups of people also serve a role in encouraging me in the ministry.

 

Regardless of what group we belong to, as believers we should be propelling one another forward in sharing the good news. Some of my most encouraging moments in the Lord’s work have been with Oaxaqueño believers. I have been prayed over by the missionaries that I work with as well as reminded of my purpose here in Mexico. I have been emailing back and forth with a Senior Sunday School class from a Baptist Church in Georgia. It touched my heart to hear that a church I had never met has picked my prayer card out of a stack of prayer cards and has chosen to pray over my journey.

 

We must break out of the confined way of thinking that the church ministers to the church, the missionaries minister to the missionaries, and the Oaxaqueños minister to Oaxaqueños. We all play a part in ministering to one another. My sending church reads my blog and hears from me, which encourages them to continue sharing the good news. My sending church also encourages me by sending emails, asking questions, and praying over me. In turn, my fellow missionaries encourage me and understand the struggles that I endure. But as a missionary I am also extremely encouraged by my fellow Oaxaqueño brother who is able to show me how to care for his people better than I could ever understand. I am thankful for the many ways and people God has given me in order to be involved in His ministry. What a blessing it is to have so many relationships through which I may be encouraged to minister.

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Aftershock…

  1. Please pray for the pastor and the baptist church located in the village to receive encouragement from the brethren during such a great time of loss.
  2. Please pray for the baptist church to reach out to their unbelieving neighbors sharing the truth of God’s word with them.
  3. Please pray that the villages on the coast continue to receive aid.
  4. Please pray for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones during this time to find peace, hope, and love in Jesus.
  5. Please pray that God continue’s to open the hardened hearts of those in the village to see their need for Jesus.

My heart has been heavily burdened for the Oaxaqueños who have been shook with fear. It has been hard knowing of the devastation on the coast and not being able to do anything about it.

Last week the Lord provided an opportunity for Dani and I to visit the coast for a few days. We spent most of our time in one village that was severely affected by the earthquakes. I saw piles of bricks and broken glass that used to be someones home. Some buildings had two floors but seemed to only have one because the second floor caved into the first. Some homes had large holes through which you could see hanging clothes, pictures, and a bed. I felt a helplessness wash over my body as I ached to physically get to work. I wanted to help rebuild homes right there. I wanted to get in the rubble and start moving stuff. I wanted to do something!

We arrived at the surviving baptist church (seemed to be the only building still habitable) which was acting as a base for providing clothes, water, and food. The church daily provides one or two meals a day from their kitchen. However there are so many people who need to be fed and have no stove with which they can cook food.

The pastor’s wife and a group of ladies showed Dani and I some of the destruction. My heart sank as I realized many people had left and gone to live in other villages because their home and belongings were gone. My heart broke as I saw those who were living in the rain-filled streets with their family and belongings because they had no other options.

Dani and I immediately made a connection with a family whose crumbling walls were right next to the church. A young teenage girl named Sol had a sweet encouraging spirit in the midst of so much loss. Sol had a strength about her that came through having a relationship with Jesus. We encouraged one another as I realized that my physical help was less important than simply being with her.

The people didn’t need some gringa stopping by to move a few bricks, hand out some food, and take pictures. They just needed someone to listen, cry, pray, and laugh with them.

God willing I will return.

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Prayer Alert!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Two nights ago a violent earthquake (8.1) shook Southern Mexico.

Please join us in prayer for the lives and homes lost in Southern Mexico. All of our personnel and Oaxaqueño partners have been spared…give God the glory, honor, and praise…

However we still have hurting people who have lost loved ones, homes, and businesses. I encourage you all to lift up the lives of those living in Southern Mexico. Please pray that we take the opportunity to share the truth (Jesus) with our beloved people. Pray that our Oaxaqueño brothers and sisters take this opportunity to share the truth with others. Pray that unbelievers would look to Jesus asking how they might be saved.

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