INCREDIBLE!!! A Church is (re)Born in N Mexico!!!!!

Amazed but not surprised are the feelings I, my family, Garry Weaver (Dir of Field Training) and the rest of my church planting team have been experiencing over the last week or so. Amazed by God’s goodness and rapid work in village CD but not surprised that He does great things for His kingdom.

 

Our first gathering in village CD.

Our first gathering in village CD.

Let me explain. Last Monday Garry and I met with a pastor and a family that has family in village CD (for more background story on CD read here). It was a very encouraging meeting in which we learned more about the village and some of the believers. They family on this side of the border has been praying for years that someone would go to plant a church. We found out that there used to be a church there but they have not been meeting for about 2 years or so due to no leadership. They gave us the phone number of their family there and said they would let them know that a few of us would be coming over from village EZ on Wednesday to visit. Our expectation was that we would meet and spend some of the remaining believers getting to know them a little.

CD church building

Then God amazed us again! A few of us were heading over from our main village of ministry, EZ, I received a text in Spanish saying that they were waiting for us in the church building (I was actually wondering if the family we were to meet would actually be there – appointments do not hold the same significance as they do here). I told them we were on our way. Now, last time we went the church building needed some work inside and out and our team discussed the important principle that this is their church so we cannot be the ones to clean it up (we could help but this is not the gringos’ church – it is theirs so we want them to take ownership from the beginning). To our amazement we arrived to a group of about 15 people working inside and out cleaning and repairing their building.

Eating with some of the believers in CD. Garry Weaver to my left and some visitors to TET who came for the day across from me.

Eating with some of the believers in CD. Garry Weaver to my left and some visitors to TET who came for the day across from me.

Beyond that they had lunch prepared for us – chicken mole which is a special party dish in Mexico. We found out that they killed the chicken that morning for the meal with us. Then they asked to have a “church service”. Garry preached and we had a terrific time of fellowship. I explained that we would return on Saturday to worship again to which they were very excited. They also stated that they want to begin to meet on Sundays.

We returned to EZ and celebrated God’s goodness with the rest of the team and the believing family in EZ. Yesterday (Saturday) Garry and I returned with the rest of my family, a CPCP trainee named, and our brothers Bruce and Dave who were visiting from First Baptist Church of Geneva – the church Betsy grew up in. We had a fantastic time. We ate and worshipped together and I shared my testimony in Spanish. The ladies loved Betsy and she used her limited Spanish very well. Ethan, Titus and Nora loved the dog who lives right outside the church as well as the chickens. The same group came along with some new people who arrived toward the end. Beginning April 20, we will begin to go in each Sunday to preach, teach, and begin the process of training leaders from within the church.

This is a church plant that we have truly had the joy of watching the Lord do all the work!
people praying in CD

Prayer requests going forward:
1. What will this look like for our family – does everyone go every time, if not what does that look like, building good fellowship here for Betsy, how can we best help the spiritual needs of our children during this time, etc. The village is about 2 hours away so these will be long days for everyone.
2. Wisdom for me and Garry in how to best proceed in teaching the people and training leaders.
3. Although my Spanish has improved dramatically since August, I will need to be extremely diligent in growing even more very quickly to enable me to be more effective in preaching and teaching.
4. For us to make time for Betsy to really work on her Spanish.

I do not have a shoe because I have 10 stitches in the bottom of my foot.

I do not have a shoe because I have 10 stitches on the bottom of my foot.

our kids in CD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praise God for His grace and amazing work in village CD!

Bryan and Kelly from our team got to work in the field with some of the men in village EZ. We also showed the movie Courageous and had over 20 people come which is HUGE there! Praise God!!!

Bryan and Kelly from our team got to work in the field with some of the men in village EZ. We also showed the movie Courageous and had over 20 people come which is HUGE there! Praise God!!!

 

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EZ and CD

Trevor and his team left today to go to EZ.   They will spend time there as well as in CD trying to establish better relationships there that will hopefully lead to a church plant there.

Please pray that…

Trevor and the team will be able to encourage  a believer in EZ  as her mother died recently

Relationships will be established in CD that will allow God to open doors for a church plant

the showing of the movie “Courageous” will soften hearts and start meaningful Gospel conversations

Lastly, please pray that Trevor would be able to minister effectively despite some limitations this trip (last week Trevor injured his foot playing football with the boysAnd received 10 stitches).  It is supposed to rain all week in EZ and Trevor needs to keep his foot dry.

This week Joel Nash's family gets to accompany the team. Mandi hasn't gotten to go on a team trip this year.

This week Joel Nash’s family gets to accompany the team. Mandi hasn’t gotten to go on a team trip this year.

Thanks for praying!

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“That’s my language!” – A Recap of My Recent Trip to Oaxaca

IMG_7712“Hey, that’s my language!” said a local villager as he sat outside our medical/dental clinic listening to the New Testament in his native Zapotec language for the first time in his life. In fact, this was the first time any of his people group (about 5,000 people who live in 3 neighboring villages) HEARD the Word of God in their heart language. Many have perhaps heard small bits and pieces in Spanish (their second language) but never in their heart language. Why hearing in one’s heart language important you may ask?

“I have heard some of the Bible in Spanish before but when I hear the Bible in Zapotec it sticks because Zapotec is in my blood” explained another man. Imagine having Spanish as your second language and only hearing God’s Word in that language – would you “get it” like you would in English? Would you be able to understand important nuances like you would in your native tongue? Most importantly, would you understand that God’s message of salvation is for you and your people directly? Hearing the Word in one’s heart language has major implications even beyond having a proper understand of what is being read – it means that God knows about and cares about your specific people group. It means that if you talk to God (pray) your communication is not bound by a language you do not know all that well - it means you can cry out to Him in your language and He will hear and understand!
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Quotes like the above were being spoken each day as people waited for the medical/dental clinic and listened to the Gospels and Acts in their own language. In fact, when one of our team members was having a great gospel discussion with a man from the village the man kept saying, “Whenever I have heard the Bible in Spanish it just goes in one ear and out the other…” He mentioned this several times and finally another man from the village jumped in and said, “You are like the story of the sower and the soils! I just heard that story earlier today!” My friend sat there amazed as this man had just heard this story hours ago and was able to internalize it and apply it. Lord willing, a missionary family for To Every Tribe will be moving into the main village of the Q people group in the near future to work toward planting a church there.

Me working hard and long in the dental clinic praying for the numerous gospel conversations happing outside as people came to hear the Word of God for the first time in their language.

Me working hard and long in the dental clinic while numerous gospel conversations happening outside as people came to listen to the Word of God in their Zapotec Language.

These are just a couple of the amazing ways in which we had the privilege of watching God work while our team spent 5 days in the mountains of Oaxaca among the Q people group 7200 feet above sea level. Amazingly people from 2 other people groups from neighboring villages came to the clinic as well and were engaged in gospel discussions. In fact, we believe one man was possibly converted from one of those other villages. These two other people groups invited the team that lives in Oaxaca to come do clinics in their villages as well which we are confident that the Lord will use to open more doors for the gospel.

IMG_7726Here is an interesting thought regarding the diversity and complexity of  the hundreds of villages scattered throughout the mountains of Oaxaca – a village could be 30 minutes drive (a few kilometers as the crow flies) on the “roads” the lumber companies have created for their trucks yet speak a totally different language (not dialect – LANGUAGE) and have a totally different culture from its closest neighbors. For those in KC imagine living in Overland Park then driving to Lee’s Summit and not being able to understand each other.  Or for those in Chicagoland, imagine driving from Batavia to DeKalb and not being able to understand the language in DeKalb.

IMG_7497Ethnopedia Mexico (a research agency for unreached peoples similar to Joshua Project but more accurate because it is specific to the unreached in Oaxaca) estimates that there are 200 “missionary points” (villages which missionaries are needed) among the indigenous peoples in Oaxaca. Some of these are places where a church is meeting – often 3-4 believing families meeting with very little Bible knowledge. Further, there is no strong leadership as they are all untrained in even the most basic facets of understanding and teaching the Scriptures. Since these are oral cultures almost all of these churches have no written Bible or they are unable to read a written translation. Finally, many of these “missionary points” are among the unreached. Neither can be neglected.

Needless to say, there is a lot of need in these REMOTE villages in the mountains of Oaxaca and people do not live this remotely because they want to be reached. They are hard and dark villages that are difficult to get to but I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Paul in Acts 18:9-10, “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Below are more pics…Thanks to all of our partners for your prayers and sacrificial giving – you are an IMPORTANT part of making this happen!

A few team members got to do some Bible storying for the only 3 believers in the entire people group of 5000 people. One of them just came to know the Lord through the other about 2 weeks before we came. They have VERY little Bible knowledge but are really trying to be faithful.

A few team members got to do some Bible storying for the only 3 believers in the entire people group of 5000 people. One of them just came to know the Lord through the other about 2 weeks before we came. They have VERY little Bible knowledge but are really trying to be faithful.

New Testament in the Zapotec language for the people group we were among. Recently finished. The only problem is that none of them can read.

New Testament in the Zapotec language for the people group we were among. Recently finished. The only problem is that none of them can read.

A close up of the text. It is a tonal language - not even close to Spanish.

A close up of the text. It is a tonal language – not even close to Spanish.

The view right outside the room we slept in the village.

The view right outside the room we slept in the village.

Stopping for lunch along the way to the village. It took 4 hours to travel the last 20 miles.

Stopping for lunch along the way to the village. It took 4 hours to travel the last 20 miles.

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Team strategy and prayer time in Oaxaca City the day before we left for the mountains.

 

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While the cat’s away…

While Trevor is away I thought I would give just a quick family update.  We’ve been having a lot of fun while Trevor is gone (we still miss him though).  It is great to step outside not only to sunshine almost everyday but to Christian community as well.  There are about seven families (out of 12) who have stayed on campus while the teams are away and we have filled our days doing our normal activites as well as going to the beach, watching the Charro Days Parade, visiting  the Palo Alto Battlefield (the starting place of the Spanish American War)  and having a couple special nights for our children. A couple ladies have even offered to watch my children so I will have some time to myself a few afternoons this week! I also just wanted to post some fun pictures from the past few months of how we have been keeping busy and what we’ve been up to.

Nora loved the parade.

Nora loved the parade.

The boys waiting for the Charro Days Parade.

The boys waiting for the Charro Days Parade.

Football at the beach.

Football at the beach.

We went a walk around a lake and the boys got to ride their scooters on the path.

We went a walk around a lake and the boys got to ride their scooters on the path.

The whole family went on a day trip to village EZ.  We got to hand out invitations for an event that is being held in March as well as continue to build into the family of believers there.  It was nice to go together since I didn't make it on the trip in February.

The whole family went on a day trip to village EZ. We got to hand out invitations for an event that is being held in March as well as continue to build into the family of believers there. It was nice to go together since I didn’t make it on the trip in February.

I have begun to order some books for homeschooling next year.  Titus saw his and wanted to get started right away!

I have begun to order some books for homeschooling next year. Titus saw his and wanted to get started right away!

We went to new beach that is right across from Mexico called Boca Chica beach.  Even though the water is too cold to play in the kids enjoyed the sand and climbing up and down sand dunes.

We went to new beach that is right across from Mexico called Boca Chica beach. Even though the water is too cold to play in the kids enjoyed the sand and climbing up and down sand dunes.

My sewing skills are improving!  I can do simple projects and made this baby carrier for Nora.  It was supposed to be for her birthday at the end of March but I was so excited with my handiwork that I just gave it to her.

My sewing skills are improving! I can do simple projects and made this baby carrier for Nora. It was supposed to be for her birthday at the end of March but I was so excited with my handiwork that I just gave it to her.

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See…it does get cold even in Texas.

Ethan is reading well so now I am working on getting him to enjoy reading-some days that is easier than others.  He now reads to Nora one day a week and they have a lot of fun together.  I even caught him reading a book to several children at a friends house while the adults were fellowshipping.

Ethan is reading well so now I am working on getting him to enjoy reading-some days that is easier than others. He now reads to Nora one day a week and they have a lot of fun together. I even caught him reading a book to several children at a friends house while the adults were fellowshipping.

Titus and Nora have a special relationship-either hot or cold.  Good thing is usually hot!

Titus and Nora have a special relationship-either hot or cold. Good thing is usually hot!

We've begun to acclimate to the culture down here-look closely.  Nora got her ears pierced!  All in all in went well.  However, if I did it again I would wait until Trevor could clean them each day instead of me doing it while he is in Oaxaca.

We’ve begun to acclimate to the culture down here-look closely. Nora got her ears pierced! All in all in went well. However, if I did it again I would wait until Trevor could clean them each day instead of me doing it while he is in Oaxaca.

Please continue to keep praying for Trevor and the rest of his team.

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Oaxaca, here we come! Pics and a Prayer Calendar

7:00 AM Monday morning a team of us from the Center for Pioneer Church Planting will be heading down to Oaxaca, MX to work with the team of missionaries from To Every Tribe that are already down there. We will spend some time in Oaxaca City as well as in one of the mountain villages among some of the unreached indigenous people where we will be doing a dental clinic, building relationships, and evangelism. Below are some pics and prayer requests.

Our Personal Family Requests:
1. To be a blessing/encouragement/refreshment to the team of missionaries living in Oaxaca
2. Boldness with the gospel and prepared hearts to receive it
3. That the Lord would supernaturally enhance my (Trevor) Spanish ability
4. Team unity that demonstrates the unity we have in Christ
5. My dental skills!!!
6. That we make it to and from Oaxaca peaceably and without hindrance
7. That Betsy and the kids would THRIVE while I am away (patience for Betsy, obedience for the children, Betsy to feel well, that they have fun together!)
Team Mexico Spring Trip Prayer calendar2014 team oaxaca

Ethan, Titus, and Nora preparing goodie bags to encourage the MKs in Oaxaca.

Ethan, Titus, and Nora preparing goodie bags to encourage the MKs in Oaxaca – they are missing Starbursts and Skittles because they are not readily available in MX :).

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Ministry in MX…We are NOT on nuetral ground

The below is an excerpt taken from our N MX church planting handbook used in the CPCP. This information is important for anyone who is ministering in MX to know and helpful for those praying for us. One additional point about MX that is not in the info below is that MX does NOT have a Western culture (i.e. like Europe or the US). If one spends time in MX (outside of the resorts) it is easy to see that the culture is radically different from that of “Western” countries. I will write more on that another time. But in the meantime I hope this is helpful:

WE ARENT STARTING ON NEUTRAL GROUND

It is important to note that in dealing cross-culturally with Mexicans we are not starting on neutral ground. We are coming into a situation where some strong stereotypes already exist. As Americans we have an uphill battle to relate in ways that show that we, as Christians who claim to love the Mexican people, are different.

Americans are often believed by Mexicans to be pushy, know-it-alls, patronizing, disrespectful of Mexican culture and sovereignty, wealthy, and loose morally. These stereotypes are not without foundation. Let’s take a quick look at history to see some of the reasons such stereotypes exist.

  • In the late 1840′s the U.S. invaded Mexico and forced Mexico to sell half of her territory to the U.S. This is far from forgotten by the Mexican people. Until recently the heroic act of the young military academy students who wrapped themselves in the Mexican flag and threw themselves off a cliff rather than surrender it to the American invaders was commemorated on the 5,000 peso bills.
  • From around 1880 to about 1910 Mexico was ruled by the dictator Porfirio Diaz. The United States government supported his rule and helped impede efforts to overthrow him because he allowed lots of U.S. investment in Mexico.
  • In 1938 Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas expropriated all foreign petroleum interests after the American and other foreign oil companies showed disrespect for the government officials while trying to resolve a dispute with Mexican petroleum workers. Though economically a disaster, the move was very popular among Mexicans, and until recently was also proudly commemorated on the 10,000 peso bill.
  • More recent events such as the kidnapping within Mexican territory of the suspected murderer of a DEA agent, numerous border incidents where U.S. agents have violated Mexican sovereignty pursuing alleged criminals into Mexico, Proposition 187 in California, the Arizona immigration debate and the case of the complications in granting extradition of a corrupt ex-government official to stand trial in Mexico serve to reinforce negative perceptions of Americans.
  • American behavior in Mexico is often less than exemplary. Americans are often loud, obnoxious, and act distastefully when abroad, giving them a bad reputation among many Mexicans.
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The Needle in the Haystack…Amazing Story from our latest MX Trip

“If Mr M cannot go with’ I can go to Village CD with you,” said Mr J (one of the believers in village EZ) in Spanish of course. “Okay thanks, I believe Mr M knows a lot of people there. How many people do you know there?” I responded. “Um, maybe one but I am not sure if he lives there. Oh and I only have an hour.” Mr J’s offer was kind but boy I wanted Mr M to accompany us on our exploratory trip to Village CD to check out the prospects of planting a church there!

Well, even though we went to his house an obnoxious amount of times Mr M (the believer in EZ who suggested we think about planting a church in Village CD) he was never home. I personally was really set on bringing him with to Village CD on this exploratory trip. He seemed like a much better option than Mr J; after all he has family there and knows several people in this village of about 800. What could we do with the reserved personality of Mr J – wander around? “We need someone who can help us make some relationships,” I thought. But Mr J was our only option to go with us from Village EZ so we prayed that God would do something big and lead us to a “man of peace” (Luke 10).

IMG_0117In the end, I realized my question was all wrong. My question was what could we do with Mr J when it should have been what will God do with Mr J. Well, God did something big and it’s not done yet. When we arrived in Village CD we went to the house that Mr J thought the person he knew might live in – no one home. However, we drove by a little wooden Baptist church building that did not look like it was in use anymore. We were told in Village EZ that there was no longer a Baptist church in CD but only a JW Kingdom Hall and a Catholic church. After a couple of us got out to check it out and it seemed clear it was not in use we drove a little farther down the road and stopped to speak with a man outside of his house. We asked him about the building and if there was a church meeting in it. He was not sure but pointed us in the direction of the man who oversees the building.

We arrived at a plywood shack and called out “Buenos dias!” (People just call out in MX – knocking on someone’s door is seen as a little rude.) Out walked an older gentleman, we will call him Mr Jo. We quickly learned that he was EXACTLY the man we needed to speak with. He told us that there used to be a church in CD but they have not had a pastor for several years. He tried to get the believers to keep meeting to read Scripture, pray, and sing but they were not interested without a pastor. He expressed that he really desires to have a church in CD.

We shared with him who we were and our intention to plant a church. Mr J was amazing how he stepped in a vouched for us telling Mr Jo how we are his friends/brothers in Christ and how we come and bless Village EZ each month. I cannot possibly explain how important (and encouraging) Mr J’s support and promotion was in this discussion. It gave us instant credibility. Mr Jo said he would share our intentions with the other believers in the village to get their support as well and invited us to continue to come back which is a big deal because we need an invitation like that from a villager to be able to go do work and/or stay in a village like that. Garry Weaver (Director the church planting teams in N MX) and I gave Mr Jo our business cards as we left.

Our team was absolutely in awe of what God had just done – we showed up on a passing suggestion from a fellow believer in EZ, not knowing anyone, with only an hour to spend, to a village of 800 people and the Lord led us directly to the most important contact that we could have in the village after only talking to one random man before him! We simply showed up with a heart for the Kingdom and God SHOWED UP with a heart for His Kingdom. God is awesome!

But there is still more! Days after our return to home Garry received a call from a woman in S TX who is a part of a church of which Mr Jo’s adult children are members. This church has been praying for and trying to get a pastor down to Village CD to (re)plant the church down there. She stated that after our meeting Mr Jo called his children and told them the believers in the village are “very excited” about our team coming Village CD! This woman stated that she has a lot of information about the village and the believers there that would be helpful to us so, Lord willing, we will meet next week before I leave for Oaxaca for several weeks. Please pray that the Lord would move to have a vibrant evangelical church in Village CD quickly and that myself and others on our team can build into Mr Jo and help to equip him (and other men) to raise him up as a pastor in this church.

"Escuelita" - our children's ministry in action.

“Escuelita” – our children’s ministry in action.

The rest of our trip was very profitable as well. We had several great gospel discussions with people in Village EZ and I was able to share the gospel in Spanish for the first time with no help from the primary Spanish speaker on the team! I praise God for that even the I still have a VERY LONG way to go in my Spanish. We also had a great time with the children doing our children’s ministry – we have consistent and eager group of 10-12 kids each time. We went through the story of Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac which leads beautifully to the fact that God did not spare his own Son…Below are some pics from our time in EZ.

Eating in a believer's home. Mr E is on the left.

Eating in a believer’s home. Mr E is on the left.

Some of the teens that we are building gospel relationships with. Playing soccer with them has given some great gospel platforms with them.

Some of the teens/young adults that we are building gospel relationships with. Playing soccer with them has given some great gospel platforms with them.

Ethan learning how to roll his own tortillas.

Ethan learning how to roll his own tortillas.

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