At the beginning of December, I returned from a month of travel to the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, as well as to the northwestern state of Baja California del Norte. The purpose of our trip to the south and then to the north was different, so in this blog I will just share about our travel south.
The purpose of our trip to Oaxaca and Chiapas was to obtain an overview of what the Lord is doing among the indigenous peoples of these two southernmost states of Mexico. Our hope was that through this trip, we would begin to gain an understanding of where the “edge” of the church is there. What is the Lord already doing and how can we be a part?
As an organization we value evangelism, discipleship and church planting in the heart language. We study culture and worldview with the hopes of clearly presenting the Gospel message, and continuing to teach through the Scriptures, in a way that is understandable. We don’t stop there, either. We hope to see believers discipled, strengthened and growing together with other believers into a loving, maturing church. We want to see the Scriptures translated into their language, and a literacy program developed so that they can read them. We work to see leaders established in the churches to lead and guide them towards continued maturity through the Scriptures and in dependance on the Holy Spirit. This is what makes us who we are, our DNA, as an organization. We hope to see this work accomplished through partnership with local believers from local churches in sending, supporting and going together as the universal body of Christ.
We had a great team for the trip which was made up of a couple named Hugo and Mariana, a man named Beto and another named Danny, as well as myself. Hugo and I planned and led the trip together, while Hugo did most of the research beforehand. Mariana took notes for us during the trip. Beto provided many contacts among the people group where he is from and Danny, who has had the most experience in investigating new areas, was there to help us understand what we were looking for.
It was great to grow in our closeness as friends through out these three weeks of travel as we shared new experiences, strange new foods and often some very interesting accommodations that made personal space and privacy an impossibility.
This investigative trip was a first for most of us and took much preparation and planning ahead of time. We had clear goals set out and a list of specific questions we wanted to get answered through the trip.
Overall, we felt like our three week trip was a huge success. We met with many missionaries, pastors and believers, and also spent time in various indigenous groups in both states. We were able to begin to form what next steps would look like for us in Mexico with thoughts of heading into the south. We were able to see new and exciting ways that the Lord could potentially use us partnering together with believers in the south to work together towards seeing a thriving church among the least reached indigenous groups in southern Mexico.
I was personally challenged during our trip to have open eyes to see how the Lord could open up opportunities for us to work alongside other believers to see our goals accomplished. We often talk about the Great Commission as a task that we want to and need to do at an individual level, and when it comes to the least reached peoples we often talk as if we are bringing what the Lord wants to do, instead of understanding that the Lord has probably already been working through His church in many ways. We need to have eyes to see how we can participate in what the Lord is already doing among His church. What a privilege!
We had an especially impactful time spent with a small group of believers among an ethnic group in Chiapas. They had never been visited by believers from so far north in Mexico and were so encouraged by our presence with them. They are a small group of believers with no Bible translation in their own heart language and no people present among them helping to teach and disciple them. They requested that one of us share God’s Word with them when they met on Sunday and Hugo did so. The church was so encouraged by what he shared; it was a blessing to all of us. When we said goodbye many shed tears and thanked us repeatedly for coming. When there are so few believers in an area it is amazing how encouraging a visit from others who share their faith can spur them on in encouragement. I am thankful for our time with them.
It also meant a lot to me that we had the opportunity to serve a fellow believer in one of the pueblos we visited. This elderly woman, a long time widow with two adult sons no longer living with her, heard the Gospel and believed while visiting one of her sons and his family in Chihuahua a few years ago. Because of her faith she is alone as a believer in her community. We spent several days with her, being served by her hospitality and answering her simple Bible questions. While with her we learned that the dirt floor inside her small one room home was being washed away little-by-little every time it rained. Her son decided that the problem needed to be fixed and we were able to spend several hours the next day leveling her floor by shoveling in loads of dirt and rock. It was a privilege to take some time to be the church on a trip where we were on the lookout for the edge of the church.
Our trip was a major success and we have since decided as a field to move ahead on the recommendations our team put together for further exploration in the south. Christ is building His church! Thank you so much to those who stood with us in prayer throughout the trip.