The Mexico Mission trip that we took in conjunction with the “One Glorifying One” church wide missions focus from March 24th until March 29th was one that God truly worked out and in. I thank God for West E. Free Church and their willingness to invest in short term missions. As we were training with our team of 6, one of the things that we really stressed was building relationships with the people that were at the church planting church in Mexico. The church that we have partnered with twice are a relationship driven church and so they really want to get to know us and we really want to get to know them. I told the Mexico missions team that we wanted to develop relationships flexibly.
As we were preparing the final details to go on the trip, God totally changed what we were planning to do and our team make up. Rose Kreis had come back from a trip to Honduras due to some medical issues and as she saw our team get commissioned on Sunday morning, the spirit of God prompted her to inquire about the opportunity for her to go with us to Mexico. As she inquired, there was a sense of God working in the details and she went with us. She was not going to do the hard manual labor that we were planning to do in Mexico, but throughout the trip, there was reason why she went. She went to be a mom to each of us. She was a spiritual encourager and challenger throughout the trip. When there were things that needed to be said to individuals or to our team, we counted on Rose to say them. She was the connecter for our team. We gathered around the way that God had worked to bring Rose on the trip and we gathered around the fact that God seemed to working in ways that we couldn’t even see as we traveled. While we were at the worksites, Rose provided tremendous encouragement, care, and connection with the folks from the church and the neighborhoods that we were in. She read stories to kids, sang with youth, and cared deeply for the people that gathered around her. The people from the church adored Rose and the love of Christ was compelling as she lived that out. It was challenging for each of us to see our elder live out the love of Christ in such a passionate way.
As we traveled down to Mexico, we had some minor traveling issues but nothing that was devastating to our trip. We were illegal in Mexico for about 25 miles until we were stopped at a checkpoint and told to go back to the border to obtain the proper paperwork. We turned around and rejoiced in the fact that God was leading the trip that we were privileged to be on and be a part of. We got all of our paperwork taken care of and continued on. There was an encounter that I had at the border that created anxiety within me as a border patrolwoman told me about the danger that we were driving into as U.S. had joined with Mexico to fight the drug cartels in the state of Tamulipas where we were ministering. They warned us that we may want to find another way down to the city and offered a route that would take us 22 hours to drive the 190 miles. We continued on as planned and encountered no issues. God is good. When we arrived in Victoria, we were greeted by Pastor Obed who is the Senior Pastor of the church planting church called Getsemani. He can’t speak English but greeted us warmly as we prepared to work the rest of the afternoon. He led us up to the hill that we would be working on and we got to work. The projects that we were to be working on and hopefully completing were much beyond our capacity to live within. For instance, we were to build a sixty foot block wall that would be the outside wall for the future church. We didn’t finish. We were to do that same thing on another wall and we didn’t finish that either.
But finishing the projects wasn’t why we were down there. In fact, we were down there for connection and we accomplished that. That was evidenced by several things. We were invited into eating times with the church. We began to be able to joke around (with a language barrier) and get to know some things that were about our Mexican brothers and sisters. The last night, there was a “celebration service” where connection was celebrated.
We saw all sorts of things happen. 6 folks came to Christ while we were down there and they were having evangelistic services at the church plants. We saw God answer prayer for a couple that had their cars jacked on the road that we were to be traveling by returning all of their equipment safe and sound. We connected well with the church. Our team connected. By the end of the 5 days, there was a sense of family that had developed and we were trusting each other more than any team that I have ever lead. Our “young guys” were burning with passion to invest in the church and be the leaders in our local churches, to lead change and listen to wisdom. We all got to experience a different model of church and were challenged by the spirit led church planting that is happening in Victoria. We got to experience neighborhood based love and care as churches are central in the neighborhoods. We got to experience God’s provision and care for our team and for our travel. We experienced Larry and Rose and their tremendous wisdom and insight and spiritual fervor. It is unbelievable and it has depth.
When people ask how a trip to Mexico was, my general response is “Good.” I don’t know how to say all of the things that we experienced in even just a short time that God did and that God continues to do in me. I don’t know how to express how privileged and honored I am to know the people that I know in Victoria and to be a part of something that is within a cross cultural micro context, but I’ll continue to try. And I’ll continue to ask questions about my own context, about church planting, and about the body of Christ and impacting our culture.