“A Wide Door for Effective Work”
The “Valley of the Sun” lives up to its name. From January to June, not one drop of rain fell and you could likely count the number of cloudy days on one hand. As I write, it is 116 degrees and the hottest months of July and August are still ahead – but at least it’s a dry heat!
Hermosillo is a growing city of more than 800,000 people. A large Ford plant and other North American businesses have drawn industry and workers from other parts of the country. It is a highly literate city and one of the more modern ones in Mexico, boasting of not one, but three Wal-Marts.
This is a predominantly Catholic city, although there are plenty of Pentecostal and Apostolic Churches of every imaginable variety. Thankfully, we have seen God work in both groups. Some, who were Pentecostal, discovered that, although they had prayed “the prayer of faith” or gone to the front, they had never understood salvation. Others, who were saved before we met them, have paid a price for leaving charismatic churches to gather to the name of the Lord Jesus. Even still, they are frequently under siege from members of these churches propagating the false teachings that baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is necessary for forgiveness, salvation can be lost, tithing is necessary for spiritual blessing, and God wants all men to live to 120 years of age.
Many in this city are disillusioned with evangelical churches, especially due to the constant appeal for money. One local preacher even scammed the people with a “revelation” that God was promising a special blessing to all who would give a love-offering of 2007 pesos on January 1, 2007. He collected a fortune, but few got the blessing. His explanation? “The givers did not give in faith.”
We moved to Hermosillo on August 15, 2005, for our children to learn Spanish and to try and reach the family of a brother in the West Phoenix assembly. At the end of December 2005, we had a large Seed Sower distribution and began a series of gospel meetings in a rented storefront. This past year we had another distribution of 155,000 texts and invitations followed by tent meetings. God in kindness saved souls in both series. We are deeply grateful for the privilege of seeing God at work. It has made us feel like the apostle who said about Ephesus, “a wide door for effective work has opened to me” (1Cor 16:9 ESV). We trust the Lord will guide, as we now have contacts and invitations to preach the gospel in other areas within the city and in surrounding towns.
The first year of the work required much teaching about eternal security, charismatic gifts, and basic doctrines. The response was positive and the requests for assembly teaching grew. Finally, after four months of teaching on the local church, a group of 21 Hermosillo believers sat down with 44 visitors to break bread for the first time on December 24, 2006. We deeply appreciated so many of the missionaries in Mexico being present that day as we value their fellowship and support.
Although there have been struggles and disappointments, the assembly has grown in the first six months and it has been a special joy to see progress in the participation of the local brethren in worship, gospel preaching, and Bible Readings. God has also given us a class of 15-20 teens each Friday night. A dozen have professed to be saved, six have been baptized, and two have entered the fellowship. We pray that God will continue to work among them for His glory.
With eight meetings a week and no Spanish teacher for our children, we needed help! God first brought Eleonor Mosquera, commended to the work from Valencia, Venezuela, with a burden to teach Spanish to new workers and their families. She has been an answer to prayer as she teaches with excellence and the results show in her students. Then, John and Rebecca Nesbitt (Bryn Mawr, PA) and Shad and Cynthia Sluiter (Marion, IA) were commended to the Lord’s work last summer. Both couples and their children came here to study Spanish with Eleonor. They have been great additions and have given themselves fully to the work in Hermosillo. Shad and John have covered a large area around the hall with invitations and tracts and are maintaining a children’s work in a little rented hall in the south of the city.
Adapting to all the changes and learning a new language and culture is not easy, especially for older children. Battling through confusions, frustrations, and even embarrassments with the language can be discouraging at times. Under Eleonor’s teaching, the missionaries here continue to make good, steady progress. As they begin their second year of study, undoubtedly, they would deeply appreciate your prayers.
In the past year, there has been an exercise to start a printing work in Mexico and to base that work in Hermosillo. In the last eight months, we have been able to print 16 different gospel tracts and a Gospel Outreach Hymnbook and are currently working on a hymnbook for children, and the publication in Spanish of Marriage and the Family by Dr. A.J. Higgins. David Alves is responsible for the editing, while the team God has put in Hermosillo is responsible for layout, design, printing, and shipping.
Lord willing, when the weather cools this fall, we hope to have all the permits ready to begin construction of a hall. God has graciously provided and we have purchased the lot across the street from the building we currently rent. In May, with the help of some young brethren from the north, we completed the perimeter fencing and wall. The new hall will provide much needed space for the assembly and send the important message that God’s work is done with a view to permanency. We would value your prayers for this new assembly that God will preserve it until our Lord Jesus returns.