Tepic is a city of over 300,000 people located 3000 feet up in the Sierra Madre mountain range in Mexico. It is the capital city of Nayarit whose motto is Fertile Land and Sea of Opportunities. Perhaps that accurately describes the spiritual condition as well. The name Tepic comes from an indigenous language and means hard stone. This perhaps is an indication of the hearts of many living in this city, but we are thankful that God has over the years brought many to the Living Stone.
Tepic has a long history of Roman Catholicism, dating back to the sixteenth century. The latest census tells us that 92% of the people of this state, as well as the city, follow the teachings of Rome. When driving around Tepic, one quickly realizes that there are many other religions seeking to fill the spiritual vacuum that many feel. Sadly, those who are genuinely seeking something besides the popular religion have accepted teachings that are not at all based upon Gods Word. The need is very great for clear gospel preaching.
When the work of God began in the western part of Mexico back in 1988, it was necessary for David and Lois Alves to leave the country twice a year. Many times they drove up to the border, passing through Tepic. Being only 100 miles north of Puerto Vallarta where they have been working arduously for many years, there was an exercise that some day God would commence a work in this neighboring city.
In the summer of 1996, Alison and I arrived in Puerto Vallarta, with our two small children, not knowing any of the language and feeling very limited in our usefulness in the Lords work. Since then, two other children have been born here in Mexico. Our first introduction to Tepic was in the fall of 1996 when we came up for a day with the Alves. That fall, a decision was made to cover the city of Tepic with Seed Sower texts. Sid Emberly rented a large building for the distribution in December of that year, as well as for the subsequent gospel meetings that began in January of 1997.
During eight weeks of gospel meetings, God worked in His matchless grace and several souls were saved. Brother Antonio was the first one saved – he had been reading his Bible for five years, had attended almost every religious place he could find in the city. Several months before the series of meetings began, he had hit rock-bottom. He could find no work and his family was hungry. He met a man who was instrumental in getting him employment, but he also gave him a word of advice: You are seeking God so that you can live as you wish. That will never work. You can not live with one foot in the world and one foot with God. You decide. Antonio began earnestly seeking God, and with great joy received the text in his home in December 1996, making the meetings a priority. Not only has his wife been saved, but we are thankful for the salvation of his two daughters, one of whom now has a Sunday School class. His two unsaved adolescent sons are a heavy burden to him.
In the fall of 1997, a lot was purchased close to where many of the believers live. Construction work has been ongoing in different stages since early in 1998, helped not only by some of the brethren here, as well as brethren from the north. I remember the day two brethren from Iowa saw some of their Mexican brethren opening the ditches for the foundation of the wall with picks and shovels. They insisted I look for a backhoe!
The first Sunday in 1999, it was with great joy that we sat down to remember the Lord for the first time. This was exactly two years from when the first gospel meeting was held. Satan has worked and, sadly, some of those who were with us that first Lords Day no longer attend meetings, but we are thankful that others have been added to the number.
We see the work with the children as being of utmost importance as more than thirty percent of Tepics population is under fifteen. This past summer, two young brethren from the assembly in Puerto Vallarta came for a week of meetings. They worked a neighborhood where one family lives whose children have been coming out to Sunday School since 1997. The last day of the meetings there were more than 80 children present.
Childrens works are carried on in three different parts of the city. Local brethren and sisters are a very capable help in this work. These meetings take place in homes of the believers. We are thankful to see a good number of children attending, including many in the crucial age bracket where they will be deciding what to do with their lives. Our prayer is that many will turn to Christ.
We have done some work in neighboring villages, as well as some that are not so close. Many of these small towns are very closed to the gospel. People have a great fear of what their neighbors will say. We had been visiting a village twice a month for two years. One Saturday morning I received a phone call saying that the lady whose backyard we were using to preach the gospel no longer wanted us to come. She was the only who regularly came. I found out several months later that it was not she that called, but rather a neighbor who took it upon herself to rid the village of those Christians who had nothing better to do than to come here and bother us. That is what more than one person had said to me at the door during the time we worked the village.
We have tried to be of some help in the work in Guadalajara since it began in December 1998 with a Seed Sower distribution. The work in this large city has been difficult. Paul and Barb Thiessen have spent large amounts of both time and energy in this city, although living two hours east in Zamora.
Last December, we were thankful for the help of about eighty believers as 60,000 Seed Sower texts were again delivered in the city. Gospel meetings commenced the same week and God blessed in the salvation of several souls.
Many of the believers here in Tepic are from other parts of the country. Their desire is that the gospel reach their loved ones. There are large open fields for those whom God has called: He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing (Psalm 126:6).