Coming from a typical small-town country church in the United States, Amy and I knew we were in for some changes when going to church in Mexico. Between differences in language and culture, it seemed obvious that our definition of a ‘typical’ Sunday morning service would change somewhat! While some of the specific adjustments in the months to come certainly caught us by surprise, we’ve found that we love our local church body dearly… and feel so privileged to have been adopted into the family at Iglesia Bautista Jireh!
On the first Sunday we visited, we knew very little about I.B. Jireh (also known as Misión Jireh; either way named after Jehovah Jireh, ‘God our Provider’). We’d heard it was a church plant by the downtown First Baptist church, and that the pastor was a graduate of the New Tribes training here in Chihuahua. But that was about it! So as we picked Fito (our pastor) up from a bus stop some blocks from the church, we had next to no idea what we were going to encounter.
We shortly left paved roads behind and went the last mile on a dusty and bumpy dirt road. Parking in front of a typical-appearing concrete Mexican house, I started to think we were meeting in a house church – but was surprised to find the church meeting out back in a tent, constructed in part from various canvas signs and pitched right out on the bare dirt. Nine wooden pews sat in front of a short raised platform, and together easily accommodated the whole congregation. A swamp cooler would help with heat in the summer months – but during the rainy season we would have to watch out for leaks, mud, and the occasional indoor stream. What a change!
Despite various surface-level differences, we quickly realized that Jireh was a great place for us to be! Fito is a gifted preacher of God’s Word, and though we could not understand much at first we enjoyed his clear and understandable speaking style right away. Our brothers and sisters in Christ welcomed us warmly, patiently repeating themselves when we didn’t understand and sifting through our broken attempts at speaking Spanish. And what an advantage that, as the only NTM missionaries in that church, we had no alternative to confronting those communication barriers head-on! Seeing no need to investigate further, we decided right away to stick around for as long as God keeps us in Chihuahua.
Eight months later, we are so grateful to be part of this church family! We’ve seen God grow our little congregation, witnessed friends publicly defend their faith and be baptized, and even had our pastor get married (with a baby on the way!). There have been hiccups along the way – I still can’t believe someone fed Joel pumpkin pie at three months old, and cake at six! – but God is knitting us into the fabric of this community. We love our new friends and brothers-in-Christ, and are so excited for the opportunities we have to encourage one another in this season of life!
Some day, the time will come for us to leave Chihuahua. Our desire is still to see a church planted and the Bible translated among people without access to God’s Word in their heart language, and we have not yet reached the location where this is going to happen! So, just as before, we will have to leave beloved friends and brothers-in-Christ to go where God is leading. But also as before, we will go knowing that those who remain love us, pray for us, and are excited to see God work to His glory through our lives! And what a joy it will be to share how He works with our family at Jireh when next the Lord brings us together.
- We are so grateful to have an amazing church family here in Chihuahua… for their love, patience, and help as we keep working to learn Spanish and understand Mexican culture!
- Language and culture study are progressing well these days; we continue to better figure out ‘how this works’, which benefits us now and will also greatly help in future ministry!
- Our family is continually prayed for, encouraged, and supported by an amazing team of partners. It is a humbling privilege to work alongside each of you to see God’s incredible plan of salvation made known among the unreached!
Ways to Pray:
- For Cruz, Elia, Ruth, Angelica – our newly baptized brothers and sisters at Jireh – that they may continue growing more like Jesus, faithfully declaring here in Chihuahua the hope they have in Him!
- In the months to come, we have many opportunities to learn more about the church planting teams in Mexico – to get to know those working now, and see where the needs for more workers are. Please pray for God’s leading, wisdom to ask good questions, and energy to keep up with a lot of anticipated travel!
- Finally, we would ask that you pray for each of us – that we keep seeking God and growing in Him, and that our family would model Christ’s love to those around us (whether we are understood or not!).