Go Ye Into All the World: Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

The assembly in this city of close to a million was planted in December 2006. Over these fifteen years of God’s grace, there have been moments marked both by deep heartbreak and by inexpressible joy. We pause to thank God for a good number over the years who have built into the assembly and the work of God here through their “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1Th 1:3 KJV).

We are very grateful for our colleagues in the work here at present, Eleonor Mosquera, and Marcus and Alison Cain. One of the challenges in the gospel here is the religious confusion within so-called “Christian churches.” There is an overarching emphasis on tithing and offerings, coupled with a lack of emphasis on careful Bible teaching. So many people have been disillusioned because their pastors are “like so many, peddlers of God’s word” (2Co 2:17 ESV). Leaders have manipulated many into thinking it is essential to continue giving generously to the church and living righteously in order to “maintain” one’s salvation. The danger of not persevering is often sufficiently effective at enslaving a congregation, and there is no peace. An emphasis on sensory experiences (which purport to prove the Holy Spirit’s presence) over the teaching and understanding of spiritual truth results in shallow conversion experiences and poorly taught members.

In December 2019, the assembly hosted a large Seed Sowers distribution with a focus on the south part of the city, delivering 120,000 texts and invitations to special gospel meetings to be held in a rented storefront. We were most grateful for the help of so many who came to assist in this huge task. Several folks came along to the meetings, but there was one man in particular who really showed clear interest right from the moment he received the invitation. Jesús (Chuy), a professing believer, didn’t miss a meeting from his first night. After about two weeks, he realized that while he had many positive features in his life, he didn’t have Christ. Shortly after, he was saved and baptized, and he is now an appreciated and faithful brother in the assembly here. His desire for others to hear the gospel is evident in his conversations with customers, neighbors and friends. For five months now, he has opened up his carport for Monday night meetings, and the interest has been most encouraging.

As in every other place, the pandemic effects on believers and assembly life have been evident. One of the benefits has been the furtherance of the gospel in an unprecedented way, on a global scale, with many hearing and/or seeing clear preaching and teaching they would not otherwise have been able to experience, and we are confident that God will continue to bless His Word in this way. Sadly, there have been widespread negative effects as well. In this typically warm culture of greeting by kissing on the cheek (women) or a hearty embrace (men), the lack of this closeness has been especially felt by all ages. Some who grew accustomed to not attending in person now find it difficult to break the stay-at-home habit. Many, especially young people, have experienced emotional trauma from the lack of social contact and warm fellowship with other believers, especially those who have no other believers in the home. Others have witnessed firsthand the horrors of watching terminal COVID patients succumb to the suffocating effects of the virus. Pray for those who are discouraged or otherwise sidelined spiritually.

Chon was a brother beloved and well-liked by all. His ever-present welcoming smile and quiet, faithful presence lent special character and stability to the assembly. In August 2020, after struggling for two weeks with a COVID infection, the Lord called him to his eternal home.

An outdoor children’s class that has been the exercise of Eleonor Mosquera here along with a number of younger sisters had to be suspended due to COVID restrictions. It has begun again, and though they are unable to pick up the children, there is a good number coming on foot and hearing the Word of God taught simply again. Most come from very dysfunctional and poverty-stricken homes and many have suffered abuse. Up until recently, all classes have been held online nationwide. Due to the lack of internet connections and suitable devices for these children, many of them have basically lost two years of education.

In spite of disappointments in the work, we are grateful for encouraging evidence of God’s hand at work as well. A brother who had been very useful in gospel outreach had fallen back into the high-risk lifestyle of homelessness and addiction several years ago. This was a significant blow to the assembly, and over the years, hope for his recovery (or even survival) was quickly fading, but God worked in his life and did the seemingly impossible. He has been restored to the Lord and to usefulness again for over two years now, with a real heart for those who are now where he once was. Another brother drifted away from the assembly and believers, and then wondered if there was a way back. He has just recently demonstrated his sincere desire for recovery by consistent attendance and an evident interest to get into the Word afresh. There are other stories of God’s gracious hand at work.

This past week, a request was received to visit a young man in the hospital who had little time left. Nathaniel, 34, was suffering complications from TB, hepatitis B and HIV. When asked if his sins were forgiven, he shook his head. As is customary here, the family hadn’t shared with him how serious his situation was. Being as clear as possible, the warning was sounded and salvation was explained. That night, he received a text message from an unknown number, urging him to repent and to get right with God. The next morning, he informed his mother he had received Christ and was now a child of God. We trust it was so. Two days later, the same message was preached to a sober but attentive audience at his funeral. We are reminded once again of the urgency of what we as believers everywhere have been called to do – to sound the warning to those who are perishing and preach Christ to those who are helpless.

We deeply value your prayers for the Lord’s work in this little corner, and wish to encourage you as you cooperate with Him in what He is doing in your area. Whatever our cultural environment, there is plenty to blind folks to their need, “but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2Co 3:16 NASB).