On April 22, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortés first set foot on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. His arrival coincided with what is known as “Good Friday,” so he called the area “La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz,” taking the name of Veracruz from the Latin word “vera” and the Spanish word “cruz” meaning “true cross.” In the years that followed, Veracruz became the gateway to the “new world.” In 1565, Spain began construction of the island fortress San Juan de Ulúa to protect the vulnerable coastal city. During its 400 year history of operation, the fortress served at various times as a defense, dock, prison, and even the presidential palace, and stands today as a testament to robust architectural design and turbulent colonial times.
Today Veracruz is known as Mexico’s first city, and is its largest port city on the gulf coast, located about 425 km east of Mexico City. The metropolitan area of Veracruz, which includes the municipality of Boca del Río, has a combined population of about 850,000 people.
In 2001, two Veracruzanos, Lucio Osorio and Ángel Baez, left this area seeking work in Iowa, United States. Both were invited on various occasions to hear the gospel in Hampton, Iowa and were later saved by God’s grace. Both were baptized and then received into assembly fellowship in Hampton. In 2007 they returned to their families in Veracruz with the message of the cross. The preaching of that cross is described by the apostle Paul as “to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
Dr. Harrys Rodriguez was living at the time in Pachuca, Hidalgo (about a five hour drive) and began making trips to Veracruz for the purpose of followup work with Ángel and his family in the city of Veracruz, and Lucio and his family in the small town of Cotaxtla. In 2007 a building was rented in Cotaxtla for the purpose of having regular gospel meetings in this town; these continue along with children’s meetings on a weekly basis.
In August, 2008 the Lord guided us to move to this area with an exercise to see a permanent work established. After arriving, we began Bible studies in our home with Ángel and his wife Mónica, continued the gospel work in Cotaxtla, and worked to prepare for the Seed Sowers text distribution planned for Veracruz in December of 2008.
We are grateful for the sacrifice of about 180 believers from Canada, USA, Venezuela, and many parts of Mexico who came, giving generously of both time and resources, to distribute 150,000 John 3:16 texts, packaged with invitations to a series of gospel meetings beginning Sunday, December 29 in a rented hall. The attendance and hunger of the people to hear the gospel was encouraging and during the ten week series we were thankful to the Lord that the preaching of the cross was evidenced as “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16). A number of people accepted Christ as personal Savior, while other believers found truth for which they had been searching.
Following the gospel series we began teaching the new believers and a number obeyed the Lord in baptism in the following months. It has been a joy to witness the spiritual growth of men and women, to see their sincere desire to please the Lord in their lives, and their hunger to learn more of their Bibles.
In both the gospel series and the followup teaching work, we have appreciated the visits, support, and help of various fellow workers. As believers responded to the teaching of the Word of God, they expressed an interest in the local church of the New Testament. That interest grew as they heard teaching and continued reading their Bibles. “They received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
It became clear that the Holy Spirit was guiding in the formation of a local church gathered to the precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:9; Matt 18:20). After much consideration and prayer for direction, and in fellowship with our fellow workers, 18 Veracruzanos, including Ángel and Lucio gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus for the first breaking of bread in Veracruz on July 5, 2009. About 30 believers from Canada, the United States, and Mexico also joined with us, and the day was spent enjoying ministry and the company of visiting believers, both of which were an encouragement and help.
It has been a genuine privilege to witness “the hand of the Lord” (Acts 11:21) in blessing and to share with so many in the joy of being “laborers together with God” (1 Cor 3:9) here in Veracruz. The gospel work among migrant workers especially in the US and Canada, the help of full-time fellow workers in Mexico, the sacrifice of those who came to the Seed Sowers distribution, and the daily intercession of the Lord’s people on behalf of the work have resulted in blessing and contributed greatly to the formation of a local testimony for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ in Veracruz.
We would greatly appreciate continued prayer on behalf of the spread of the gospel in this beautiful state, and that the new assembly might prove to be an enduring testimony to the Divine design of the local church and an honor to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ in turbulent times.