Go Ye Into All the World: Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, MX

Cuidad Obregón lies 165 miles south of Hermosillo, the state capital. It is the second largest city, with a population in excess of 400,000. Numerous granaries dotting the cityscape tell of abundant harvest in the surrounding Yaqui and Mayo valleys. However, not so noticeable is an even greater spiritual harvest taking place within its own precincts.

In early 2006, in Cajeme, a poor subdivision in NE Obregón, a meeting was held in the home of a woman whose daughter is in the Spanish-speaking assembly in W. Phoenix, AZ. Subsequent house meetings in that year, and in March 2007, showed the need for more effort. On August 19, 2008, David Alves Jr., Diego Alves, Duncan Beckett, Ben Kember, Aaron Shutt, Johnny Seed, and I met to do just that, outdoors in a borrowed yard next to a parts store. Shad Sluiter organized a Seed Sowers distribution with eager believers from the assembly in Hermosillo. Attendance was great despite the owner’s dog, swarms of fruitfly-like insects called “bobos,” extreme temperatures and the rainy season. Juana, the firstfruits of Obregón, surprised us by accepting Christ after the second meeting. She was shocked to learn that salvation was a free gift, available now. The familiar gospel hymn, whose chorus repeats: “Jesus died for me” (Él murió por mí) settled the matter for her.

The young men, whose help was invaluable, reluctantly returned to their obligations but Duncan Beckett (Sussex, NB, Canada), thankfully, was able and willing to stay on.

No one else professed for two months. Attending nearly nightly right from the start, Hilda listened carefully, read her Bible, and every available tract. Getting off the bus one day near her house she saw an old man looking, she thought, at a young woman. Suddenly, she tripped and fell flat on her face. She thought, “God is showing me I’m just as much or more of a sinner than he.” Shortly after, she was brought to faith in Christ through the words: “He that hath the Son hath life”(1 John 5:12).

At the end of October, the meetings were moved to a nearby rented hall. Timothy Turkington (Valencia, VE) relieved Duncan for the month of November. Manuela, a good friend of Hilda, had also been attending since August. Just over a year before, her daughter and son-in-law were killed in a tragic accident near her house. Soon after, her husband succumbed to cancer. This new message not only gave her comfort for earthly woes, but eternal ones. On November 12, as Timothy was preaching, she interrupted the meeting, fell on her knees, and with tears called on God to save her, “the worst of sinners through your Son Who suffered the worst of punishments for my sins.” One day, a skeptical man dropped in to see the new Manuela whom his wife had told him about. Failing to trick her into her notorious way of talking, he confessed what he was doing. He left saying, “I couldn’t believe it until I came and saw for myself.”

In January 2009, Juana, Hilda, and Manuela were baptized, with a nice number from the area, plus a good representation of the believers from Hermosillo.

In March 2009, María grasped salvation while Duncan was telling of Christ being led, unresisting, as a lamb to the slaughter. Months later, she still weeps as she tells of it. Hardly able to believe the changes in her, one hot day walking home she thought she would put it to the test. Previously, she loved to drink. Dropping in at a place where she used to hang out, she said “hi” to everyone, was repeatedly offered drinks, and eventually left without touching a drop. She was so pleased at this newfound victory over sin.

A pop-up tent was purchased for children’s meetings, largely carried on by Duncan and Shad Sluiter. A three week series in several different spots in the same subdivision attracted not only new children, but adults. Many new contacts were gained, and a healthy respect earned.

Despite the busy pace, Duncan was exercised to start more meetings for those beyond normal walking distance to the first hall. In May, another place was rented and fixed up. Over a long weekend, he and Bethany Kroeze, Shad Sluiter and family, a family from Hermosillo, and some of the new believers packed and passed out 6,000 texts and invitations. Some of the newcomers are now saved.

June marked an intensive month. At times, 14 helpers were fed and cared for by a few sisters, including my wife, in a small 3-bedroom house, a very hot kitchen, low-to-no water pressure, and constant laundry. Until now, God had blessed in saving women so at the morning mini-prayer meeting, specific prayer was made for men. On June 5, Mario, a nearly blind man invited by Hilda, his neighbor, received his spiritual eyesight as Duncan preached on Ephesians 2:8, 9. Jesús, a man coming faithfully for many months, got a clear understanding of Christ’s payment for his sins when John Dennison was preaching on June 24. Juan, Beto, Carlos, and Arturo all professed in July and August. (Some more ladies were reached.) Raquel was saved while pondering Romans 10:9, and Manuela’s two friends, Sonia and Angélica, from Culiacán.

Recently, Marcus Cain gave ministry on baptism and introduced the believers to assembly truths. Afterward, not surprisingly, on November 7, eight people were baptized as their family, friends, and neighbors looked on. What joy there must be in heaven to see these “diamonds-in-the-rough” showcase God’s life-changing grace!

Please pray for a citywide Seed Sowers held in December, followed by a gospel series in a completely different part of the city.

With characteristic humility and self-effacement, the author has not mentioned his role in this work. He has been the spearhead, inspiration, and go-to person who has been responsible for its guidance. Shad and his wife, Debi, are laborers. His generous commendation of others in the article reflects upon the character of the man and the character of the work being done there. -AJH