Two Sides of the Border: A Glimpse of Ministry in Mexico
By Carl Stagner
He wouldn’t have planned it this way, but he’s thankful for the way it turned out. The untimely death of his thirty-six-year-old mother was a tragedy, but out of that experience God got ahold of his heart. In Bellflower, California, Jesus Christ saved a young man’s soul and ultimately called him into vocational ministry. This new believer had been living and working on the United States side of the international border, but he couldn’t ignore the Spirit’s leading to preach the gospel back home in Mexico. Recent crises affecting society and church compound the challenges of doing ministry in Mexico, but one minister’s perspective—that of David Rios—suggests the spiritual harvest is more than worth the trouble.
“People coming to Christ is the most rewarding thing to watch!” David explains. “Having the youth join our group is also an awesome feeling. Knowing that they choose to be at church rather than with the world is most satisfying.”
Lately, they’ve not all been able to choose to gather with the church. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic put strain on normal operations for his church in San Luis Rio Colorado (Sonora), but tensions at the border have also affected their work. “The crisis of not meeting has been, by far, the worst part,” David reflects. “But also, having the border party closed has kept mission trips postponed.”
David goes on to cite several churches and ministry organizations that would otherwise supply their congregation with volunteer labor during the year. Like the United States and other countries, the church in Mexico has also had to cancel various church retreats for youth and adult. David and the church persist, though, focusing not on the hurdles they’ll have to cross but the next vital leg of the race. Along the way, the victories are certainly worth celebrating.
One of the benefit David enjoys both in Mexico and in the United States is his ability to speak two languages. As a minister, this skill comes in especially handy. When work teams and mission groups do visit, they don’t have to worry about bringing along someone to translate. Not only do they discover they are making a difference, but God always touches their hearts, too.
“It is not only what you bring to Mexico that helps people, but what your hearts and minds learn from our people that you take back with you,” David explains. “Serving the Lord in such deplorable conditions for many families, but seeing big smiles amid trouble times, is truly a miracle to see.”
David sees a bright side of doing ministry in Mexico, in spite of the challenges. In Mexico, the church’s resources and activities can be a significant draw for the younger generation. “We target areas where there are kids,” David explains. “They connect quite easily with us through games. Of course, we slowly introduce the Word of God and, as parents get more comfortable with us, we have chats with them and share the plan of salvation.”
David notices the success of their outreach to children and families when they return to the church. “Children come out of their homes and start running to us when they see us.”
David and his family of four praise God for the ministry he has given them. They request prayer for them as they continue to parent, as their congregants safely come out of what they refer to as “COVID hibernation,” and as they find effective ways to reach the world with the hope of Christ.
Please continue to pray for the Church of God in Mexico and around the world. Learn more about the Church of God around the world, including Latin America, at www.chogglobal.org.
Feature (top) photo: Creative outreach activities to local children and families featuring the congregation in San Luis Rio Colorado.