Monday, January 10, 2011

Mission To Nogales

January 29th I will be joining 5 others from CMFMC on a trip to Nogales, Sonoara, Mexico.  We will be in Nogales until the 4th of February and return to central Michigan on the 5th.  On the trip we will be connecting and working with Spring of Life Church, a Free Methodist Ministry.  Here's a description about the church that came from a person on the ground in Nogales:

Spring of Life (The Manantial de Vida church) is church #3 in Nogales, Sonora. It was started by several from the second church.  The church is located in a poor neighborhood (what we call an invasion neighborhood) where many people just kind of claim the land and put a house there, while others will buy the land the proper way (like the church did). The church started about 6 years ago and has grown incredibly during that time. Before we were full time missionaries, we brought a group down to work on this church and we helped poor cement for the area of the church that was about a 20 x 20 foot section. Needless to say, they have come along ways since then. The pastor is a vibrant man that has a vision for all of Nogales and the world to come to know Christ. You can tell from his work that this is his passion. He is probably one of the most capable pastors in the northern Mexican conference. You will be blessed to work alongside him. 

Pastor Jaun Carlos was featured in a write-up in Light and Life Magazine

Our work at Spring of Life will be to continue work on the building.  In the spring of 2010 they had a massive mud slide that crashed through a wall portion of the church building and diverted their attention and resources to repairing portions of the building.  From what we've heard we may be tasked with finishing this repair work and/or moving onto other projects that have been awaiting action. 

This trip has been on the radar for a while.  Last spring when Haiti endured their tremendous earthquake the Lord began doing a work in many hearts at CMFMC.  There was a spirit that said, we need to be involved in responding.  We did through our giving and prayers, our interest.  We also felt the Lord leading us send and go. 

After the earthquake three of us attended a training event hosted at Free Methodist headquarters in Indianapolis.  The training focused on how to lead a short-term missions trip.  The heart of the church was open and available and wanting to serve.  We heard at HQ that the window of opportunity in Haiti was small.  Though the need is great, the ability to move people in, about, and out was at low capacity.  The people at HQ displayed great sensitivity toward the need and leadership of the Haitian church in knowing the best way to respond and help with Haiti.

As our training session ended in Indy, we were given a list of needs that existed, both in Haiti and around the world.  As we continued to talk with HQ they continued to mention Nogales as a location that we should consider.  By October we were ready to commit to the idea. 

November found our team taking formation.  People expressed interest, people discovered what it was going to cost, what it was going to take physically, emotionally, spiritually.  In the end our team has become a team of 6 who are going, and a support team that includes the church here and innumerable people in our circles of life. 

Along the journey we have watched the Lord do some amazing things.  We had an operational budget that looked insurmountable.  We've discovered that with some effort on our part in fund raising, some generous hearts have responded and the resources needed for the project are being provided - our Lord provides.  We've watched people display skills and abilities that weren't being tapped in this way before. Of great joy is the leadership of our team leader Joel Brookens.  He's done a good job of keeping many self-starters working as a team.  He's been a little like Jesus with a group of disciples who have a host of ideas and he's been tasked with keeping us focused. 

Our lone female team member, Shelly Miller, has displayed an entrepreneurial ability that has shaken the tree.  She's like the lady who asks Jesus for healing for her son and won't take no for an answer. When Jesus says that he's been sent to the house of David and she's not in it, the lady says, that even the dogs under the table get something from the table - Jesus says she has much faith.  Shelly has led our team in being persistent like this lady, and the fruit is awaiting action.

Though our team is small, there have been countless from the church who have chipped in at some of our fundraisers, who are praying for us, who are encouraging us along the way.  Our families have been supportive and made contributions of time (our absence from them), thought, energy and encouragement.  Some have expressed concern about border security, this has prompted us to think through the process well. There is a great inclusion that makes this team possible.

We've also discovered that preparing for a mission outside our borders has led us to mission at home.  One of our first "fund raising" events was a hot chocolate and cookie stand in downtown Mt. Pleasant during the Dickens' Christmas Festival parade.  We asked for donations for the hot drinks and cookies, we didn't raise a lot of money.  However we did interact with our community, we told what we were doing and why, we had an opportunity to bless others, we invited the broader community to join us in mission. We found that being there, blessing others with hot drinks, displaying our mission and telling our story, was giving witness to Jesus, who came to earth because he loves the people in Mt. Pleasant and in Nogales.

We've got one more fundraiser ahead of us and then the trip.  The Lord has surprised us, blessed us, led us.  With great anticipation our team is looking forward to carrying out the work of prayer and serving in Nogales. 

To the readers of this blog, I invite you to join our mission, in prayer especially.  Gifts of monetary resources are also welcomed.  You could send those to Central Michigan Free Methodist Church, 6012 S. Mission, Mt. Pleasant, MI  48858.  Note that it's for Mexico.  Any gift you'd give would be used for the work project.    We are praising the Lord for his provision and for the grace that He has showered upon us through the beautiful hands of His Church.

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