These are some updates about what happened with the Wingos and the Tepehuan. It was not the result that we expected.
Greetings from L***s! Tomorrow we head back to the city, and so once again we would ask you to pray for safety. There’s been a robbery in the last week just outside of town here, on the same road we’ll be taking. Thank you so much for praying.
We also plan to stop in and see Jorge and Paulina, the new Tepehuan pastor for the people in Milpillas, 4 hours drive North of us. There are Tepehuan living in this village, which is quite a bit larger than L***s, but few there still speak their language. Jorge and Paulina have a desire to reach out to L***s as well, as Paulina is actually from here. So we want to try to be an encouragement to them as they are just starting out, and Milpillas can be a hard place to start your ministry!
It’s our desire that you understand the situation here in L***s as best you can, so I’ll bring you up to date: As you already know, I went to talk to the village leaders about teaching the Word of God here in L***s, and was told in no uncertain terms that they are not interested. Here are some quotes from them:
“We call on all our gods, all the ones we have in the church. We find our identity in them, we have our mother and our father, and all the saints in the church, the virgin, Guadalupe, all of them. That is what our ancestors believed, and we believe the same. We are under obligation to teach our children the same. We know that you only call on Christ, and we can’t have that kind of teaching here.”
I read Mat. 28 to them, that it is Christ Jesus, the all powerful one, who sent us here. I then read John 14: 6 to them as well, where Christ said that he is the only way to God. It’s almost like they didn’t hear me, even though it was in their language.
In talking with a good friend a couple of days ago, who is fairly outspoken, I got some more insights into what they are thinking. Let me quote from him:
“Our customs and way of life is very delicate. If we don’t fulfill all the obligations that we have, we will die out as a people. We know of people who have left the Tepehuan ways, and they have died out as a family group. So people here are afraid that you are going to change our customs, and thus cause us harm as a people. So we have to keep doing all that our ancestors have taught us so that nothing bad will happen to us. We are afraid, deep down, to leave what we have been taught, as we know we will die if we do. Since we don’t want that, we don’t want you here anymore, even though you are our friend.”
What we see is just like what we read in Hebrews 2:15 “… all their lifetime they’ve been held in bondage through fear of death.”
All this to say as that there is no openness here even on an individual level because of these fears and also fear of going against the group.
Also, despite Candy’s best efforts to make it as easy as possible on the literacy students here in L***s, attendance has dropped from 16 down to 3. And English classes have completely ended at the school, due to lack of interest.
In addition there was a meeting of the Tepehuan here in town last week where some people from outside L***s were very vehement about wanting us out of here. They claim that we are going to bring in other gringos and steal their land, or cause them other problems. They plan to present us with an official paper to that effect on the 30th of this month. This is what they said, but the deeper underlying issues are in line with what we have stated earlier.
So, where from here? We will be moving out of L***s to spend more time in the city of Durango and working with the Tepehuan who live there. So it’s mainly a change in location but the same ministry. We plan to continue to focus on helping Placido and family become literate in Tepehuan. This will fulfill their own desire to read God’s Word. Pray that Placido would be motivated to improve his own reading skills as well as encourage his family as they learn. They all have a long way to go before they can read the Bible well with comprehension. We also will be able to spend more time with Agustin, who is still living in Durango as well.
Also, we plan to pursue Tepehuan families in the city who have fled the violence and danger here in L***s. As you pray, perhaps they will be more open to listen to God’s Word outside of the pressure of L***s. Please pray for opportunities to share the hope of forgiveness of sin through Christ with many Tepehuan in town. Andrew and Anne Marie also live now in Durango and desire to do the same.
We will make another trip out here in about 3 weeks or so to begin moving out of the village. It is not wise for us to try to force the issue and stay here against the desires of the people. It is obvious that the people are no longer comfortable with us living here the way we have been. Besides, what would we do? We hope to have an opportunity to officially say good-bye to everyone. Some people from L***s occasionally go to Durango so we will see them, but many do not.
We do not feel discouraged but it is of course hard. You have all prayed with us and we know this is hard for you as well. But this is clearly God’s answer for this present time. We believe that God is directing us to make this change and begin to minister mainly to the Tepehuan living in Durango City. Our leaders here on the field with NTM are in complete agreement.
Again we want to express our love and appreciation to you all for your faithful financial and prayer support. I hope that this letter gives you a better understanding into the situation here and informs you well on how much we continue to need your prayers. We’ll be keeping you up to date.
Blessings from God to you all,
Barry and Candy
April 2, 2015
Greetings from Mexico.
Thank you all for praying for us these days as we seek to share God’s Word with the believers and other Tepehuan friends here in the city. Please be in prayer especially for Agustin these days, as he’s not doing well and seems to be returning to his former life. Pray also for Placido and family, as they are very busy and have not been able to keep up with literacy classes of late. We are seeking to reconnect with some Tepehuan folks living in town, and would appreciate your prayers for open hearts.
Next week it looks like Andrew will be accompanying us to L***s for about a week. We plan to try to sell the things that we have there that would be useful to the Tepehuan, and haul the rest back to town. The dental equipment is a full pick up load all on it’s own, so John Steinbacher and a new missionary to the field will come down from Chihuahua and help us by taking the equipment back to our mission location. Please pray for safety with all this travel.
It will be very hard to say goodbye to our friends in L***s. It actually breaks our hearts, and we know it does yours as well as you’ve come to love the people of L***s along with us. It has helped us to meditate on the fact that this current chapter of our lives, even though very painful, is not the end of the story, either for us nor for the Tepehuan of L***s. We and Ferguson’s have had the privilege to plough some ground and plant some seeds, and we trust God to make those seeds grow in His time.
Barry and Candy
Today Candy and I along with Andrew, Agustin, and Placido’s son Jose are heading to L***s in our truck. Thanks for praying for us. We plan to stay a week, saying goodbye and trying to sell a lot of the things we won’t be needing anymore. There’s a lot of “activity” this time of year due to the local “crop” so we expect to be stopped and checked.
Please pray for wisdom as we seek to honor Christ during this next week.
It’s great that Andrew will be heading out with us, and I know the people will be glad to see him after about 3 years. He too would appreciate prayer that witnessing opportunities would open up as he interacts with the people and seeks to point them to Christ.
Okay, thanks for taking the time to read this and for praying for us. We are very grateful for your prayers and encouragement during this difficult chapter of our lives.
Love in Christ,
Barry and Candy
Just a note to ask for your prayers as we head back to the city tomorrow. Everything has gone well and we have sold a good bit of stuff and have everything pretty much ready to go. There will be three trucks going together, which is nice.
Now Candy and I will go around and say our goodbyes. It’s hard to walk away…
Thanks so much for praying, there are rumors of thieves as usual.
Okay, all for now.
Barry and Candy