My wife, Angela, and I traveled with Mike and Dianne Lawrence on mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca (wa-ha-ka) is a state in the far southern portion of Mexico. The capital, Oaxaca City, is the home and ministry area of one of UBC’s direct support missionaries, Floriano Ramos. The main purpose of our trip was to encourage Floriano and to see the scope of his ministry as we plan to send future teams to work in areas of ministry needs. Personally, I was so encouraged by the depth and reach of his ministry. I’ll share more below. We also spent a day and half with Kerry and Mauri Johnson, missionaries working among indigenous people in the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains.
On Thursday, Oct. 15, we spent the morning at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Oaxaca. Floriano teaches church history three days a week. He also spoke during the chapel service where he taught on biblical marriage and family. We had the opportunity to visit with the seminary director, Iván Sosa López. He shared his dreams for the seminary wanting to see it doubled in student attendance over the next five years. He also shared some of their physical and financial needs. We also had the privilege of meeting the IMB missionary to Oaxaca, Tim Lightsey. Tim and his wife Becky focus their efforts upon raising up national pastors to plant new churches.
On Friday, Oct. 16, we spent the day at two of the churches Foriano’s church has planted in the last five years. The first was in a community called Solidadidad. Irving Jarquin is the pastor and also a student at the seminary. Five families are members of the church. Let me encourage you to pray for this church plant as they reach out into a community heavily influenced by Catholicism. They are presently ministering in the community by providing free cement block to 24 unchurched families. We also visited a church in a community in Monte Alban. Celestino (Cele) Diaz Gutié serves as the pastor of about ten families. Cele recently graduated from seminary. The church meets on rented property under a large canopy. He brought in a medical mission team to his church and invited the community to come for free healthcare.
Friday evening we met at Floriano’s home church for worship and a special time of teaching on marriage and family. I had the privilege of sharing the message in the service. After the service, we enjoyed an extended time with the Lightsey, Johnson, and Ramos couples.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, we traveled outside of Oaxaca to three small towns where Floriano’s church is seeking to plant new churches. There is no evangelical work in any of the towns. In fact, each town has a large Catholic church in the town center like the one pictured here, which pretty much controls the religious life of the community. We spent time in each town praying for the community, for open doors to the Gospel, and for the individuals from Floriano’s church that are doing mission work there. What’s wonderful is that Tim Lightsey is also training these missionaries as church planters. He leads an institute on church planting and Floriano’s church helps with the funding for the missionaries. I’ll share another blog which will allow you to virtually prayerwalk these three towns.
Sunday morning was a wonderful time of fellowship with Floriano’s church. Mike had the opportunity to share his testimony and I again preached the message. Our emphasis was on the mission of the church. We were blessed to have the church pray over us. After lunch, we traveled with Kerry and Mauri up into the mountains to a community called La Cumbre. The views at 9000 feet were spectacular.
The village of La Cumbre encompassed about 70 families. Kerry and Mauri have spent years developing relationships and helping with water and agricultural projects. Numerous families have come to Christ, and the Johnsons lead a weekly Bible study in the village.
Us men helped set a pump in a well, which would furnish water for one of the widows of the village. The ladies helped some of the women make blankets. We enjoyed the hospitality and genuineness of the people of La Cumbre. Our time in the mountains ended with a stop at the local trout restaurant. I can still taste the fresh, fire-baked trout and tortillas.
We’ll be planning future trips to stand alongside our partners in Oaxaca. God is doing some incredible things through the ministries of Floriano & Lillia, Kerry & Mauri, and Tim & Becky.
Written by John Mueller