Greetings to everyone! We hope this finds you all havin gotten a good start on the New Year and ready to come out of winter…..
Here in Mexico, we are thankfully well and full of excitement and hope at what this year will bring. We continue to be constantly occupied with a ministry that is in a real spurt of expansion that amazes us!
The Lord has allowed us an opening into the indigenous community in the area for which we are very grateful. At this point we are ministering alost exclusively to Indian peoples from several tribes who hail primarily from the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, the two most impoverished states in Mexico. These people come to Baja Norte seeking work in the rich agricultural fields here. They seek no more than to survive and hope for better conditions than the ones they fled, but unfortunately, they most often find themselves in an even worse situation here, far from all that they know. They board old (circa1974) auto buses for a 5 day trip to Tijuana, then board other buses for the farming areas. Once here, they find the wages insufficient to sustain themselves upon, with minimum wage right now hovering at the equivelent of about $4.00 US a day. In order to survive on such low income they must live in “company” housing or labor camps which are overcrowded, unsanitary and basically deplorable. A family of 11 that we know, for instance, lives in a labor camp; they all live in a 8×8 cinder block room with no running water or bathroom, no heat and one 2×1 glassless window set high in the back wall. Rain and wind blow freely through the window no matter how they try to plug it up with cardboard or old blankets. Raw sewage runs freely thru the camps central area, where all of the cooking is done over wood fires.
There is no safe place for anyone to walk let alone anyplace for the many children to play and they frolic daily in nasty black water.
The people to whom we minister very rarely know how to speak Spanish which is the national language here. We deal with three tribes , the Trique, Zapoteco and Mixteco; each on espeaks a different dialect and they do not understand one another, making it easier for the rest of society to discriminate freely against them. Due to the language barrier and the fact that these indians still practice home births most have no government documents such as birth certificates. This and the transient nature of their work keeps almost all of the children from being able to attend school.
To make a long story short, these people are facing an impossible situation (without Christ) and each day is a new and difficult battle, jsut to survive.
On January 8th, we celebrated one year of feeding these children at the new facility and it has flown by. Last year this time we were serving approximately 45 people a hot free meal daily, but noiw attendance is up to an average of 65 a day! It comes out to some 325 meals a week, praise God!
The Lord really blessed our relationship with the local school principal, allowing us against all odds to inscribe any children we can in elementary school.So far, in the current school year we have placed 53 indigenous children in school for the first time in their lives. We found a loophole in the law that allows us to enroll them if we have them vaccinated at a state hospital. Once vaccinated, they recieve a natuional vaccine card which is the legal equivelant of a birth certificate here. Praise God, you should have seen Pastor Francisco , Bro. Marcial and me chasing leery children around the hospital lobby on our mass vaccination trips. Everyone knows how much children hate shots…. We are working closely with the school now, so much so that Marcial, a brother and HEALED heroin addict who came through the rehab program here 7 years ago, now drives the school bus route to three different work camps. After school the kids return to the church, eat and board our borrowed bus to be shuttled home. Having outgrown the van, (with about 58 kids needing a ride) a local rancher has loaned us their school bus which is usually used to transport field workers. This is a great example of God’s favor as this rancher is not even a Christian and is known as a very “hard” man , but he’s butter in the Lord’s Hands!
WE now have a couple who are members of our church who are helping us daily with teaching the children. We are offering daily classes on Bible and basic Spanish. We were trying to teach math and reading but found that we needed to narrow our focus first to the very basics and it has been very successful thus far. I thank Yahweh for the help!
WE have also been approached by a couple of doctors who are very interested in opening a health clininc offering free medical care to the indigenous people in our community. The idea is also to train individuals from each camp in basic triage and preventative medicine to improve their quality of life. They will be using our building until they build their own and would work closely with us as we have ties to the pueblo and the people are very very suspicious of “outsiders.” Until the clinic opens, they have pledged $150 a month to establish a fund for health care emergencies among the people we minister to. This is an awesome blessing. Currently, we are trying to help Cristina, a 7 year old girl with stribismus or wall-eye condition that is causing her bad headaches and many problems learning to read obviously. Minor surgery will hopefully correct the problem and be an asthetic blesssing as well, as the other children tease her about her eye. Right now, we are awaiting the return of her father from Oaxaca to get permission for the treatment.
There is so much going on, I know i am forgetting something, but I have to tell you that I am most overjoyed by what is happening in our little Church. WE have Sunday morning services here and a mid-week service out in a community south of town at a young Trique couples home. They were both saved here when they lived in the camp near the mission base last spring. He is our Trique translator.
Our Sunday meetings have grown steadily in accordance with Pastor Richard prophetic Word when he was last here!
I have to say that that is what excites me the most of all. This past week we had 49 adults and about the same amount of children. Every chair was full and the Presence was oh so sweet! Attendance has been steadily climbing since mid December and we have men as well as women and children and it is hard to get the indigenous men to attend. No OTHER fellowship in this area has such a diverse mix of tribes as we do, praise Yahweh. Please keep our meetings in prayer and pray that the Word will go forth quickened by the Holy Spirit so that it can be understood in each language!
We have had cases of supernatural translation and some really creative salvation miracles. Sister Felipa is a Trique who speaks NO Spanish. Weeks after her conversion she told me through a translator how it happened. Evidently, days before she responded to the altar call, she had a dream. She dreamed a “good” man with a “shining appearance” was beckoning her into a mountain meadow in her homeland. In the dream she felt such great peace. Well, when the altar call went forth that Sunday she connected it to the dream and “knew” she should step forward. When the prayer and confession to salvation was made in Spanish she heard it in her own language and repeated it that way!! So see, the Lord loves these people so much that He WILL make away! I and she believe it was Jesus in the dream. Now I do not worry much about which language the Word goes forth in, because I know the Lord can make anything happen. This sister is in her mid 60’s, she works 14 hour days in the field cutting tomatoes for about $7 a day. She is always bringing new friends and family to meetings and she has never missed a Sunday so far, even though she walks over a mile to get there. She is a true blessing.
I want all of you at Harvest of Faith to know that not a day goes by that we do not have you on our hearts. Your sacrificial giving to this mission is truly touching and changing people’s lives everyday.
I recently read on The Joshua Project, an organization that tracks international missions and their impact that the people we minister to’ the Trique, the Zapoteco and most Mixteco are considered to be “unreached peoples”. LESS than 2% of them are evangelical Christians. The entire Bible in written form is still unavailable in their languages. There has been ZERO evangelical church planting among them in the past 2 year period.
Now I know folks who believe missions are “obsolete.” They believe everyone has been “reached.” NOT TRUE! The Lord has entrusted us with a very special task! This includes you all, because without your giving we would not have done all of what we have this past year. These people are modern day targets of the Great Commission handed down to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. No one else is doing it and if they do not hear the Word they WILL remain LOST. Now, you may not be able to physically get out on the foreign mission field right now, but by your obedience in giving you are enabling us to preach the Gospel to the lost everyday. Thank you all so very much for remaining steadfast and faithful. Harvest of Faith has been the fountain through which the Lord flows since our first months in this foreign land and we thank ya’ll for sticking with us and for your great generosity. Please know how important you are to our expression of Jesus great Love and His Kingdom in this place!
We love you and pray the Lord prosper you in every area of your lives,
Your Sister and Servant in Christ,
PS- you may google “The Joshua Project” or “Etnopedia” for statistics on missions and more info!