Go Ye Into All the World: Irapuato, Mexico

Irapuato, Guanajuato, is located roughly near the geographical center of Mexico. It is a city of 350 – 400,000 people, most of whom are Catholic. Thirty minutes outside of the city is a little town called La Purisima, where the work first began. There were three brothers from La Purisima who went to work at a nursery in Manitoba, Canada. The owner of the nursery, a believer in the assembly in Portage la Prairie, invited the migrant workers to attend Spanish gospel meetings. For several years, the Spanish-speaking believers in the assembly there had been preaching in Spanish as an outreach to the migrant workers.

In 2005, upon hearing the gospel, the first of the three brothers was saved, and he brought the gospel back to his family in La Purisima. The closest assembly is two hours away in the neighboring state of Michoac√°n. Over the years, Paul Theissen and the believers from the assembly in Zamora have visited La Purisima for weekly gospel meetings, resulting in more members of the Galvan family being brought to Christ.

At the end of 2013, Ross Vanstone and Herman Sawatzky (who, along with his wife Mary are very much involved in the Spanish outreach in Portage) visited the Galvan family to encourage them. I was in Texas earlier in 2013, but because of visa issues had to leave the country, therefore I was able to spend time with Paul and Barb Thiessen and Jason and Shelly Wahls. I was glad to accompany Ross and Herman upon their request. The first week in La Purisima was spent giving ministry and the second week was open.

The unanimous decision was to test the nearby city of Irapuato for spiritual interest. We rented a room for six nights, and invitations were printed and glued to the back of texts given to us by nearby assemblies. There was no formal distribution, just simple invitations handed out, but the response was positive. The room was full, and the hotel wouldn’t allow for more chairs, so people stood in the hallway outside. More than 20 attended from the city that first week, not counting believers who came from La Purisima.

After that week, we unanimously agreed that our plans needed to change in order to continue the meetings, so we began our second week of preaching, and, as before, we were impressed with the interest, particularly of a core group of about 10 people who came every single night. Because of their consistent interest, what began as a six-night experiment turned into a 10-week gospel series resulting in several who professed faith in Christ.

By the middle of March, 2014, Ross and I both needed to return to Canada, but we both left deeply burdened about this new work of God. I was undecided as to whether my labors should be focused in Texas or on the new work in Irapuato, but the Lord graciously made His will clear, and shortly after I arrived in Canada, I got word from the USCIS that my religious visa application had been denied, and that I would not be allowed into the United States for several months. I’m not sure how much closer it gets to “writing on the wall.” The door to Texas slid emphatically shut, and the one to Irapuato was wide open. Irapuato it was.

By the first of May we were back in Irapuato. I came to reside, and Ross came to help with the logistics of getting set up in a new place. The Lord provided a decent building, central to the city, and a meeting schedule was established. We were greatly encouraged by the continued attendance of that original core group of attendees, and by the evident signs of divine life. For example, one man, who had previously owned a bar, sold it because he felt it wasn’t a spiritually prosperous pursuit for a new follower of Christ. Another resident of La Purisima decided, on his own, to forego travel to the north, and to stay with us and help with the work. After six months of bi-weekly gospel preaching, weekly ministry and a number of in-home Bible studies, we held a baptism. Two couples, attendees since the very first day, as well as a recently saved high school teacher (who thought there was no forgiveness for his many sins and had hated Christians prior to his salvation) were baptized and have continued to show tremendous growth. The interest in the gospel in Irapuato continues to be an encouragement, as just this last weekend, there were about twenty from the city who came to hear the gospel preached, not counting the believers in attendance.

We are encouraged, both by the interest of the unsaved and in the steady growth of new believers. We are prayerfully anticipating the day when we will break bread here. We don’t want to rush God’s timing, but having taught the Biblical principles surrounding our Lord’s request to remember Him, we see no scriptural reason to prohibit those who want to form a part of a local testimony here from carrying out His request. We are so thankful for all who have prayed for the work here, and we ask that you continue to do so, as fellow laborers together in service for our Master.

For any questions or for further information feel free to contact: sawatzky_48@hotmail.com.