What can God do with a burdened soul and many willing helpers?
“Juan, how do you start one of these?” asked Iemy Chavez. The tears in her eyes reflected the burden in her heart as she asked me this after a breaking of bread in West Phoenix in August, 2003.
As a result of a Seed Sowers distribution in West Phoenix in January, 2003, Iemy had came out to gospel meetings and been saved. One month later, her husband Leonel trusted Christ as well.
Then in May, Iemy suddenly left Phoenix to go home to Chihuahua, Mexico. For several weeks we wondered what had happened. Then she began to call requesting verses and explanations to Bible texts and giving evidence of her witnessing in Chihuahua. The calls continued, with reports of salvation. Finally, Iemy returned to Phoenix in July and brought her parents. They attended meetings for two weeks; her mother professed to be saved.
One month passed before that Sunday morning when Iemy poured out her burden for Chihuahua. During her visit home, four family members had professed to be saved. Also, her brother had an empty building next to her parents’ house that we could use for meetings. We sensed the Lord was working, so the next Monday, Iemy went to Chihuahua on a bus and I drove down in my van.
It was a rainy August night when I arrived, but Iemy still had five people waiting to hear the gospel in her parents’ house. The next night we moved to the building and 10 unsaved arrived. By the end of the week we had 17 souls present and a young nephew of Iemy’s professed to be saved.
I went back for another week of meetings in October, and David Alves went with me for another week in November. During that week, Iemy’s father trusted Christ while looking at a Two Roads Chart. David was a great encouragement and helped me to make plans for a Seed Sowers distribution.
On December 27, 2003, about 60 believers from the USA and Canada descended on Chihuahua to help distribute over 50,000 texts and invitations. Some also helped to repair and improve the building for the gospel series to follow.
On January 1, 2004, Jeff Sharp of Waubaushene, Ontario, and I began a gospel series in the little building. Attendance was good, with up to 30 adults present, plus children. The meetings continued seven nights a week, and Blas, a brother-in-law of Iemy, was saved on January 11.
Then, after four good weeks of meetings, Blas succumbed to the pressure of Pentecostal friends who insisted he “watch and pray” all night to see his family saved. He was very burdened for them and went three nights without sleep before his nerves gave out. Ironically, the charismatic friends convinced the family that an evil spirit had entered him during our meetings, so a Pentecostal preacher tried to cast a demon out of him. From there they took him to a doctor who gave him sleeping pills.
Blas took a month to recover, and he has been fine since, but the resulting opposition was intense. Attendance dropped to just two people. The preaching was immensely difficult, and some in the family threatened to call the police and have me arrested; others were going to call the immigration authorities to have me thrown out of the country. But through it all, God gave encouragements. The meetings continued for over 10 weeks with one other man professing salvation. Then Jeff Sharp and Michael Rodgers of Kitchener, Ontario, went down to start a children’s work. The Lord gave great encouragement and gave some fresh contacts for the work.
With the help of Jeff, Michael, David Alves, and Shad Kember, we had been able to keep someone in Chihuahua and in Phoenix consistently. However, we calculated that by the first week of May, that was no longer going to be possible. There we sat with a work in Chihuahua, a vehicle, an apartment, and no worker.
At the same time, Gilberto and Alicia Torrens of the Brbula Assembly in Valencia, Venezuela, were exercised about full-time work in Mexico. David Alves sent them a list of seven possible places to consider. Very clearly the Lord gave them a burden for the seventh on the list, Chihuahua. The next question was when could they move? The answer? The first week of May, 2004.
On May 3, Gilberto and Alicia arrived in Mexico with their 8-year-old daughter Anagabriela. They settled into the apartment and we had a baptism that weekend with three believers obeying the Lord.
Since then, Gilberto and Alicia have done an outstanding job in taking over the work. They have continued the schedule of four gospel meetings and two children’s meetings a week and have seen some blessing in salvation. In September, we had a second baptism when three brethren obeyed the Lord.
Gilberto and Alicia are a humble and hard-working couple who simply look to the Lord for His help and direction. Their coming to Mexico was a great step of faith because, due to the political situation in Venezuela, the believers are prohibited from sending funds to support them. Nevertheless, God has faithfully supplied and encouraged them in His work. It has been a great privilege to go down monthly, when possible, to see the progress of the work and help in any way we can.
On December 27, 2004, over 50 believers from the USA, Canada, and Mexico arrived in Chihuahua for a second Seed Sowers distribution. Gilberto and I began a series of meetings on January 1. We were most encouraged by seeing well over 30 people in for the first time to hear the gospel, a number of them attending regularly.
Besides remembering Gilberto and Alicia before the Lord, we would value your prayers for three specific matters. First, please pray for the salvation of more souls, that the work might be strengthened. Second, please pray for the formation of an assembly. Third, please pray for the Lord’s guidance in the purchase of land and the building of a hall. Blas has grown spiritually and is a major help in the work. He is a builder by trade and wants to build a place where an assembly could meet in the name of the Lord Jesus. Above all, we long that the Lord might be “working with them, and confirming the Word” (Mark 16:20), and that He, as Iemy said, may “start one of these.”