Just a week and a half ago, I got the privilege of going with Pastor Elias and West Side Church to deliver Christmas presents (Same style as Operation Christmas Child) to the kids of the Mixtec community living in Othello. Above is a picture of pastor Elias preaching the Gospel with a Mixtec translator to all the families who came out.
I brought the language diagnostic tool and got to speak with several people about their heritage. Each person reported that they speak Mixtec, Alacatlatzala, that this whole community in Othello speaks it, and that everyone is from the same general area. After doing some more research on this language, I found several interesting things:
The people group that speak this language has been somewhat “engaged” with the gospel but is not “reached”. (According to the Joshua Project around 1.5% are evangelical Christians.)
Andworship songs that are in Spanish but composed in the music style of those people groups such as this:
It turns out that the Alacatlatzala Mixtecs are from an area not far from where the church plants I visited with Northern Light Ministries last year where our dear friends are still working. Here is an interactive map of where they come from in relation to the NLM Church plants that we visited last year. From Chapultepec, it’s only about 70 miles away (as the crow flies).
Thank you all for praying and please continue with us in prayer for these people. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
I got back from Oaxaca two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been pouring over photos, praying, and considering how to communicate what we experienced. I got to see first hand how desperately these areas need the Gospel and how lacking these parts are in Christian workers. Standing on top of a mountain, one of the pastors who we visited pointed out the 18 different towns and people groups who live in the region of Chalcatongo. If I remember correctly, he said that only three of those towns have any formal meetings as a Christian church. He also said that he has never heard of any Christian presence whatsoever in two of those 18 towns. We must be asking God to send more workers into these fields and in doing so we all must willingly, simultaneously pray: here am I, send me.
We spent the first week in Milta and the second week in the region of Chalcatongo, which is much poorer and more rural. It didn’t take long to notice the physical poverty and suffering experienced every day by the majority of the people in Chalcatongo. If you were to sit on a street corner and watch those walking by, you would observe many serious, downcast, and fear-filled faces. You would see many needy, malnourished people who work all day, everyday, and many old widows trying to sell their garden vegetables to scrape by. After only a few hours of being in Chalcatongo, the spiritual darkness also became very obvious to all of us who had never been there before. At just about every street and home, there are idols and items used for witchcraft. After hearing from the local pastors, I deducted that out of the ten thousand or so people in this region there are maybe about 50 Christians total. We also learned that each town has their own god that they worship and give sacrifices to. Everything they do is done under fearful superstitions of what could happen if they displease this god. By not joining in with the local superstitions, the Christians can be blamed for just about anything that goes wrong.
Despite all this, God is actively working in this area. Although they are very few, there are more and more people coming to faith in Christ. God has protected our dear Christian brothers and sisters there and put His love in their hearts for the lost around them. They are passionate, mature, constant people of God who testify to everyone there about who God is and what he has done for them. Please join us in praying for them and the lost in that area.
The city of Chalcatongo from the top of our hotel. Chaclatongo is the center of trade for about 18 different towns. Each town considers itself a completely separate political entity and people group. We visited two church plants in two of these towns–one in Chapultepec with Pastor Senen and one in Plan De Ayala with Pastor Beni.
One of the many old log houses in Chapultepec. This one is likely over a hundred years old and still has residents.
Each trade city we drove by has a huge ancient catholic church. They were established by the Spaniards when they conquered the region hundreds of years ago.
Our team–Ilene, Me, Jan, Francisco, Dwight, Dale, Leon, Ramon, and Don. As far as I know, we were the first group ever of this size to be publicly welcomed into Chapultepec as Christian missionaries.
The current church building in Chapultepec. They people meeting there, as far as we know, are the only evangelical christian church in history there.
The inside of the church building. The church was established about 7 years ago by Pastor Senen, a graduate from the Bible Institute in Papalote.
The other side of the church packed full of people. There were about 40 people present when we were there. 10 to 20 of those people don’t consider themselves Christians yet and come sporadically to hear teaching from the Bible.
The front of Senen’s home with the church on the far side.
The gable-end side of Senen’s home.
The group of people who came to church the first day we came. The people came from both Chapultepec and Plan De Ayala. Plan De Ayala is a forty minute walk away up a mountain trail. Beni pastors there.
This is the other side of the photo.
Pastor Senen and his family.
Me and Senen hiking down the mountain trail the goes from the town of Plan De Ayala to the town of Chapultepec.
Pastor Beni and his wife Nati. Beni graduated from the Bible Institute in Papalote a year after Senen.
Marisol. She graduated from the Bible Institute the same year as Senen and Fransisco. She lives in Plan De Ayala and supports both Beni’s church plant in Plan De Ayala and Senen’s church plant in Chapultepec. She lives with her family who has been very closed to the Gospel and who ridicule her for faith.
Pastor Diego and his family. He is the pastor of the church plant in Mitla,Oaxaca where we worked during the first week. He is a gifted teacher and has started an extension of the Bible Institute in Papalote there in Milta.
Some of the women meeting together before one of the services.
Me leading a song for a prayer service that they had while we were there. Every Tuesday in the afternoon the get together for this service. They sing, read the Bible, share prayer requests, pray for each other and their community and then repeat the process about 5 times.
Pastor Beni sharing to everyone about the recent work in Plan De Ayala
Corn is one the most essential staples of their diets in this part of rural Oaxaca. In general, each family has their own small plot of land from which they grow all the corn the need for an entire year. They also plant beans and squash amongst the corn.
A pile of freshly picked corn.
A typical kitchen in Chapultepec.
In this part of Oaxaca, many of the elderly have been completely abandoned by their families. Maybe the majority of an entire generation has picked-up and left never to return. Senen and his wife Bernadita are some of the only people who are willing to go and care for the elderly outside of their own family.
This woman makes pottery in her old age in attempt to make a living.
Ilene went with Bernadita to visit several of the elderly and the widows. She checked their health and administered what help she could. Just as a side note…praise God for health professionals who administer the Gospel through medicine! When people are sick and hurting, they sometimes realize the reality of their own desperate state. This has provided many open doors for Ilene to be able to explain what Jesus did for them and the only way by which we must be saved eternally.
Ilene with one of the older women. The dress she has is a very typical, traditional Oaxacan style.
Many (if not all) of the widows and elders that Senen and Bernadita visit cannot read. Much of their ministry is to just go and read the Bible to them in both Spanish and Mixteco.
Baby Alba, Eugenio, and Susana. They are a new Christian family in the Chapultepec church plant. Alba was born last January with her intestines outside of her body. As it was happening, we received a message from Senen asking for urgent prayer. Us and many others prayed for them. We got to praise God together when we heard of her miraculous recovery a few days later. Now baby Alba is in full health and a very happy baby.
Susana, her sister Reyna and baby Alba.
Me and Dwight installing supports for drywall in Senen’s home. Our goal was to stop the air flow that kept them home freezing cold during the nights.
Installing the drywall
We also helped Eugenio build an outhouse.
Me digging out some stairs in the hillside.
Ramon built a loft with a bed for Senen’s son Manuel.
The lumber mill. Lumber there is cheap and very high quality.
These are the current town leaders of Chapultepec. Although they look very serious here, they received us very warmly. The man on the right was our chauffeur the whole week and after much interaction with him it seems that they are now very open to Christianity. It’s hard to communicate how incredible this photo really is. The resistance to Christianity has historically been very oppressive. Now, after year of seeing Senen faithfulhard work ing the city, they have recognized that he and the Christian really do want to help them.
This is their equivalent of a city hall. This is where they make community decisions and where the town leaders work.
Dwight preached on the last day and Ramon translated.
This is Ramon, Dwight and Francisco praying for Tia Martha (Aunt Martha). She publicly confessed faith in Jesus after Dwight’s sermon. Senen and his family have been ministering to her for 7 years, praying for this moment.
Tia Martha and Eugenio’s family.
This is a very common and interesting cactus plant there called a maguey. It’s basically a super-sized version of an aloe-vera plant
This is an maguey plant that just died. At the end of its life it shoots up a huge flowery stalk that can be 25-30ft tall.
Some of the us hiking down the mountain trail.
This photo was taken just west of a trade town called Yosondua near Chalcatongo. The mountain in the middle of this photo is where Senen’s sister lives. There is a written public law in that town that gives the local people all authority to punish and even kill anyone who preaches the word of God there. Senen said that he will be going there soon to share the Gospel with his sister. Please pray for this town and Senen’s sister.
While we were there, Ramon talked with Pastor Senen and they thought through some of the vision of planting the church there. After measuring and considering the dimension of Senen’s property, Ramon drew up a picture on a scrap piece of wood showing the concept design of a small church building on his land. They hope to start preparing and building maybe next year.
Last Sunday, bright and early in the morning, myself (Josh) and a group of several missionaries and pastors arrived here in Oaxaca, Mexico. Since then, we’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with a few of the local missionaries and we’ve dived into a whole bunch of work.
Right now I don’t have much time to access the internet so I’ll try to fill in the details of the work down here in another post, but for now I’d like to just share some photos.
Thank you all for praying…we’ve have all been very healthy, safe, and blessed through all the travel and work here so far.
The road to Diego and Luz’s home. They’re one of the local missionary families.
Found this little guy on Monday morning as I was putting my shoes on at my bed.
A typical city street here in the city of Milta.
This is a taxi you can take for about 60 to 80 cents a ride if you’ve crossing town. There are all over the place here.
Typical local construction
The new property where we’re helping build a pastoral house. The plan, God willing, over the next several years is to construct a church and class rooms for the Bible Institute Extension here in Milta.
This is a ancient ruin inide the city of Mitla. The original structure is around 700 or so years old. When we climbed it today there were freshly burnt sacrifices of corn and flowers at the entrance.
The church property after we hired a backhoe to come and level the building area.
This is the church meeting that got to participate in on Sunday. Right now this new church (they’ve met together and been growing for about a year) meets outside in a courtyard or in a little rented space right inside.
This week has been loaded with new things. We’re getting into the grind of work down here and still adjusting to life fueled by corn, re-fried beans, spicy salsa and gratuitous amounts Coca-Cola.
14 new believers were baptized on Sunday morning. We got to together the Papalote church (the “mother church”) and the Benito Garcia church plant across the road from us to celebrate and worship at the beach as these new believers we’re baptized. It is an awesome thing to be a part of!
Please Pray for Jose
We written about Jose before. He was a witch doctor when he was younger and became a Christian about five or so years ago. Please pray that he will have relief. Right now he is living alone and is in constant pain, hardly able to sleep at all. Among other things, he has terrible arthritis and constant cramping in his legs.
Please Pray for Us
We just began teaching at four different events; two guitar classes, youth group meetings, and Thursday night bible studies.
The guitar classes are every Wednesday night and all afternoon on Fridays. We’ve been really surprised with how excited people are for these classes. Between the two classes, there are at least 22 students signed up right now. Please pray us and the people taking the classes–that we will be able to better connect with the community.
The youth group meetings are every Saturday at 5pm. There are on average 12 kids attending. We are just starting to go through the book of Mark together. Pray for us to teach it well and fluently, pray for them to learn how to learn from the Bible, and pray that those who aren’t saved will understand and believe in Christ as Lord.
The Thursday meetings are with pretty much the whole church. We are attempting to teach through storying and discussion based techniques, which is a completely new style of teaching for them and for us. We hope that the people here will better grasp the Bible as a whole and will know how to clearly communicate the Gospel through stories. Right now this is a huge challenge for us–pray that the Word is taught clearly and with the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for good interaction.
This trip, praise the Lord, was the best one we have had so far. Mainly because Liam was such a trooper! He slept nearly the entire plane trip and didn’t even bat an eye through the entire six hours in the car. We are so thankful! Now we are safe and sound in our little trailer waiting to see what God has in store for us for this upcoming period of time before we have the baby.
We have not been able to sit down with Francisco and Maria to catch up for an extended period of time yet, however we have been able to talk to them enough to communicate a couple of praises and prayer requests:
Vasti and her neighbors
Many of you had been praying for the family of a beloved young sister in Christ named Vasti. The picture above is the gate to their home. Her and her siblings were in danger of being sent off to live with their stepfather while their mother found work. The stepfather had previously abused them, and so we asked you all to pray.
We found out that just recently that her mother (Carmen) found work again, so the kids were able to come back and live with her. We’re so thankful and we’re praising God for answering our prayers to take the children out of this terrible situation.
Also, we’re thankful that Carmen’s health seems somewhat stable for the moment. However, it still doesn’t appear to be good. It sounds like the doctors haven’t given much a real diagnosis.
We also asked for prayer for Vasti’s neighbors. They had forbidden their kids to go to church and even see Vasti’s family. Vasti said that those families are still keeping their kids from going to church.
Please pray their their hearts would soften and that God will open a door for us and Vasti to show them that Gospel is truly good news meant for them and their whole family.
Luciano and Mariela
Praise God, for what’s happening right now in the family of Luciano and Mariela. Luciano accepted the Gospel after meeting with us a couple times about 4 months ago. Initially Mariela, his wife, was wide eyed and pretty shocked to see the way her husband believed and confessed his need to change to strangers like us, but not much later she seemed to have accepted both us and the Gospel. We left back to the states in June having just started to really get to know them. They have been meeting consistently with Francisco and Maria and seem to be growing in their faith. They have two young kids that are also being affected by the change they see in their parents.
Pray for them as they seek out how to live for Christ in their work, in their community, and in their family.
Specifically Luciano needs clear direction on how to work for Christ. He is struggling to know how and where to work.
Pray that they would become more and more desirous for knowing God and more satisfied in their relationship with Him.
Pray that they would understand God’s love clearly and powerfully enough to love their neighbors like God wants them to.
We’ve now been traveling in the states for about 6 weeks. We’re really thankful for God’s protection as we’ve driven over 3500 miles during that time. Visiting family and friends has been a blessing and refreshing in many ways. We’ve feel very much loved and supported by all you.
It’s kind of an interesting feeling, moving between Mexico and here in the states. Both places have severe struggles but they are very, very different worlds. We’re experiencing the concept of being aliens and strangers here on earth in a more direct way than we ever have. Our home is with the God and with his family. On earth, the most “at home” we feel is when we are fellowshipping with our dear brothers and sisters in Christ and living in fellowship with God.
For anyone who does not know, we are expecting a new baby in April. Please pray for him or her and copious amounts of grace for us to become godly, wise parents.
We’ve asked for much prayer concerning Chuy (the child who was badly burnt) and his family and we’re seeing results. Chuy seems to be doing very well health-wise and right before we left to the states, Chuy’s Grandma and aunt had clearly professed faith and commitment to Christ. Please pray for more families members and the growth of these two new Christians.
For a girl named Vasti and her neighbors. She is 14 years old and is maybe the most passionate member of the Church in Nueva Era. A few days before we left, she asked us at youth group in tears to pray for her neighbors. She had invited several of the kids to the VBS that we hosted at the church and some confessed faith in Christ. When those kids returned home, their parents reacted terribly and won’t let them come back to church. They also seem very angry at Vasti. Please pray for these kids and their hard families where we believe there is also much child abuse.
On top of this, we recently learned that Vasti’s mother may have cancer and has been fired from her job. Without the means to earn money, Vasti’s mom believes that she needs to send Vasti and her two younger siblings to their ex-step father’s home. Francisco and Maria have learned that this step-father was and probably still is horribly abusive in many ways. Please pray that those kids will not go back to that abuse and that they will be safe. We and especially Francisco and Maria need prayer on how to act.
For our trip back to Mexico. We’ll be flying to San Diego on the 23rd of this month and we’ll be driving down from there in two different vehicles.
For God’s wisdom and direction for our family as we expect a new baby. We have tentative plans to come back to the states to have the baby but we are still figuring out many of the details.