December 9, 2008
Welcome to the Team
For all of you who have been following our email prayer updates, you know that we have been praying over the past couple of months about becoming team members with Impacto Latino, a church planting organization here in the Mexico City Valley. All of you also know that Lindsay and I have been praying for a long time about teammates, as we know the work of a new church plant is too great for just one couple. And now, we are pleased, blessed, and excited to announce that God has provided us with a wonderful team!
When we first met Eric and Dee Duggins a few years ago at a missionary reunion in Mexico, we were immediately impressed with the church planting that they and their team were doing. As a matter of fact, Lindsay and I so liked what we saw, that we began researching church planting models like theirs in preparation for the new work we felt God calling us to.
Now Eric and Dee and their team are beginning a new church plant in an area just north of Mexico City called Pachuca. We began talking with them about coaching us through our church plant on Mexico City’s south side, and as our conversations progressed, it became apparent that God was opening the door for something more. Rather than us beginning on on our own in the south, and Eric and Dee beginning in the north, with both groups looking for additional team members, why not join forces?
After prayer, fasting, and seeking counsel, Lindsay and I felt that joining up with the Duggins and Impacto Latino was indeed a door being opened, not by us, but by God. It is his unexpected team gift to us.
We are so happy to officially introduce you to our new teammates: Eric and Dee Duggins, Holly and Sergio Alvarado, and the local ministry workers, Jorge and Juanita Del Angel.
Join us in praising God for a new team! Pray that our relationship with Eric and Dee, Holly and Sergio, Jorge and Juanita, and the new church plant would be positive and fruitful.
About Impacto Latino
About 10 years ago, the Impacto Latino team planted a church in Pachuca (a community to the north of Mexico City) called “New Hope.” Today, that church is completely nationalized. It is guided by Mexican elders and a Mexican pastor, and it is financed 100% by the tithes and offerings of the church. Moreover, more than 80% of the church are new Christians, and the congregation is growing more each year, with more than 400 gathering together each week.
The New Hope Church is testimony to the wonderful things that God is doing in Pachuca. The new church plant, which we are part of, is called “Jubilee.” Although the Jubilee Church plant is still young, it is already experiencing good growth and health.
Please pray for the new Jubilee Church. Pray that God would raise up local leaders and that the church would continue to reach out into the Pachuca community.
Eric and Dee Duggins began missionary service nearly 30 years ago in Indonesia, and have been in Mexico’s central cities for the past 25. We first met them a few years ago at a missionary get-together here in Mexico, and we hit it off right away. They both bring a ton of experience to the team, are outstanding leaders, and well, we just like them.
Sergio and Holly Alvarado are both graduates of Kentucky Christian College and have been with the team in Pachuca for about a year. We’re excited to work with a young couple who also has small children. Holly and Sergio have two girls, ages 6 months and 20 months.
Finally, our team works closely with Jorge and Juanita Del Angel, locals who serve as leaders in the church plant. After working for Nissan Mexico for many years, Jorge decided that he would retire from the auto business and work in the church. He and Juanita have been working alongside the Duggins for a couple of years now.
Please pray that God would bless us as we transition into life on this great team. Ask him to give us good friendships, good communication, and a continued shared vision for Pachuca and the rest of the Mexico City Valley.
October 6, 2008
Dia de Independencia
Many Americans mistakenly believe (as I did) that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s equivalent to the 4th of July. But Mexico’s Independence Day is actually September 16th. In the past, we have celebrated Mexico’s independence with some of our dear friends who live in the southern Mexico City barrio of Xochimilco. This year, we got to be with this family again.
Like all Mexican celebrations, there was plenty of food, including Lindsay’s favorite, homemade fried chicken tacos. After eating, we did something that we have yet to do since we moved to Mexico nearly seven years ago: we watched the Grito on television.
The Grito, or “yell,” is a tradition dating back to the priest-turned-revolutionary Miguel Hidalgo who, on September 16th 1810, rang a bell and cried out before crowds of farmers who were unhappy with Spain’s imperial rule. Hidalgo’s Grito marked the beginning of Mexico’s independence from Spain, much like the signing of the Declaration of Independence marked the U.S.’s independence from England.
Over the years, the Grito has become the central part of Mexico’s independence pageantry. Every year, Mexico City’s main square swells with hundreds of thousands of people waiting to see the Mexican president stand on the balcony of the National Palace and shout “Viva Mexico!” As he shouts, the peal of an enormous bell over the entrance of the palace resonates over the square, and the throngs of people offer up their own voices to the Grito.The event is simulcast to giant screens in city squares all over the country, and as one nation, Mexico celebrates her independence. It is an extraordinary occasion.
As missionaries, we love being a part of cultural centerpieces like the Dia de Independencia. It reminds us again of the beautiful burden that God has put on our hearts for this people. We hope for a time when Mexico, as one nation, will worship the one true king, Jesus.
Please pray that God continues to advance the growing movement of people coming to know Him here in Mexico. Pray that we would be completely given to what He asks of us.
Neighborhood Prayer Walks
Those of you who receive our prayer emails know that we have spent the last few weeks walking street-by-street through our neighborhood, asking God to prepare the way for us in starting a church here. We have now covered virtually every street in the neighborhood, and it has been a great opportunity to pray for the people, businesses, and homes that we’ve passed. Also, seeing the neighborhood and its people has been a great learning experience!
Please pray for our neighborhood. Ask God to lead us to people here that are ready to hear His word, and ask Him to send more workers! (Lk 10:1-3)
Upcoming 2009 Budget
Since we began living and working as missionaries, God has been incredibly faithful in providing us with the resources that we require.
Due to the dollar’s weakening value, Bella beginning school, higher rent prices, and most of all, the expenses of beginning a church, our budget planning for 2009 has shown that we will need to gather substantially more support by the beginning to middle of next year. (As always, all of our budgeting is done in conjunction with other mission leaders, and with the approval of GMF.)
Please pray for us as we open dialogues with new church mission committees and other supporters. Also, join us in thanking God for always providing!
Bella just started kindergarten! Every morning Lindsay does reading, writing, math, and art lessons with her, and she’s really enjoying her time with “Mrs. Greer!”
Please pray for Bella (and for Lindsay) as she home-schools to prepare for 1st grade!
August 23, 2008
Bienvenidos a la Ciudad de Mexico
Our return to Mexico City has arrived! We are now back in the Big City, in our apartment, hugging our friends, enjoying homemade Mexican food, brushing up on our Spanish, and praising God for our return.
The sensation of being here is strange. In some ways, our year-and-a-half away feels like it was an eternity, such as when we think of all that has happened over these past 18 months. On the other hand, when talking and joking with our neighbors, it seems as though we have only been away for a few weeks.
I was very blessed with a safe and eventless border crossing and cross-country travel. And Lindsay and the girls had an equally blessed time traveling by air. We want to thank you all again for your prayers over us as we travelled; they made all the difference.
One of the most frequent questions that we received in the days and weeks leading up to our departure was, “So what are the very first things that you’ll be doing after you arrive?”
Apart from the basic unpacking and other tedium that come with any move, the first thing we will be involved with is a two-week language refresher course. We think that this will be an ideal program for people like us, who have learned the language, but have been away from it for awhile. When language school is finished, we will finish setting up home and office, and begin on several other details, the first of which will be completing the first stage of obtaining a missionary visa.
Please pray for us as we work on visas, moving, and language classes. The church planting mission depends on all of these preliminary details!
Nuts and Bolts
What we do
Now that we are back in Mexico City, we want to share (or re-share) the nuts and bolts of our mission so that you can be actively praying for us. Here’s a snapshot of what we’re doing in Mexico City.
Our ultimate hope for Mexico City is to see it no longer be a mission field at all. All of our church planting efforts are aimed squarely at local empowerment so that Mexico’s churches might become more and more vibrant, mature, and strong, and be able to carry out their ministries with local leadership and resources.
We are engaged in indigenous church planting in three ways:
In our south central Mexico City neighborhood, we are actively engaged in relationship evangelism with our neighbors and friends. These friendships form the basis for home groups and Bible studies. Our long-term goal in this area is that these small groups would mature into a new church.
We regularly meet with local indigenous church planters and pastors in other neighborhoods to pray, brainstorm, and mentor. In this way, our church planting efforts extend beyond our neighborhood and into other neighborhoods. Our long-term goals in this area are to empower local church leadership and responsibility, and to educate ourselves about the challenges facing local ministers.
Research and documentation
Finally, our indigenous church planting strategy also includes recording “best practice” cases of local ministries and churches. Our long-term goal in this area is to publish a report for mission agencies and churches to read, so that further mission undertakings can be best informed about indigenous ministry efforts in Mexico City.
Of course, each of these three church planting pieces are ultimately in God’s hands, so we depend on him in everything that we do.
Please pray for us as we begin our work toward church planting in Mexico City. Pray that all of our efforts would be God-inspired and that we would have the discernment to hear and the courage to follow.
Did you know?
Mexico City covers an area of 580 square miles and has an average population density of 40,000 people per square mile
(Source: Four Seasons)
April 13, 2008
His Call Is Sufficient
When we began our time on furlough, I had some specific plans. Some of the things that we anticipated doing have come to wonderful fruition. We have met many veteran missionaries and church planters who we have been able to talk to and bounce ideas off of. Wheaton College has provided us with more solid mission training. We’ve been able to spend time with family and other supporters.
But there is one item that has been very different from what we had planned. For nearly two years, I have been talking to and praying with potential American teammates to join us in Mexico City. For two years, one-by-one, they have expressed their sorrow for not feeling God’s calling to Mexico City.
For Lindsay and me, this has been an experience that we weren’t anticipating. We thought that with our hard work, a team would come together naturally. As we’ve prayed and talked repeatedly through this surprise, we continually return to our sense of God’s calling on our hearts to continue in the City. It’s as if he’s saying, “My call is sufficient for now.”
At first, this experience stung. “Where’s the team, God?” “What about what we need to get this job done?” But over time, praying and talking with mentors here and in Mexico, we know one thing: God is calling us to Mexico City to work as catalysts for church planting. And for now, that’s enough. That’s what we need to know to take the next step.
After all, this is his work, not ours, and partnering directly with Mexican leaders may provide the very best inroad to truly indigenous church planting.
Please pray for God’s continued grace and providence over us.
We would like to extend a ‘thank you’ to all of you who have supported us through our time here in Wheaton, IL, both financially and prayerfully. We felt such a peace about coming to Wheaton College when God made it possible for Luke to study here. It was so apparent to us that God wanted to use this time to help us grow, not only in an academic sense through classes (though he certainly has), but also as a family, and most of all, as followers of Jesus.
Over and over, through our preparations for returning to Mexico City, God has called us to be faithful to Him. When there have been times of uncertainty with our plans, God has reminded us that they are His plans and that He has simply invited us to participate. So, thank you for helping to make all this learning possible! We absolutely couldn’t do it without your willingness to participate in His plans, too.
Please join us in praising God for faithfully supporting us and directing us.
Wheaton Coming to a Close
There are nothing but a few papers, tests, and weeks separating us from Luke’s graduation in May! What a blessing this time has been for us for God to continue to prepare us for His work in Mexico City!
Please pray for Luke as he finishes his course work. Also, join us in praising God for the blessing of studying here!
1000 Prayers Update
We have received a number of additional sign-ups for our “pray-ers” for us and this ministry, but we still need many more to reach our goal of 1000. If you want to regularly pray for us, please tell us by going to our website and clicking “Commit to prayer for us” at the bottom of the page.
This newsletter goes out to about 450 people, so we need you to help us spread the word about gathering 1000 committed prayer partners. Tell your Sunday School class, your friends, and your family!
Please pray that God would raise up more praying people for us and for the ministry in Mexico City.
Spring seems to be finally creeping in here in Wheaton, as plants are sprouting their little heads through the snow. We’ve had a long winter with lots of snow and cold. So we are excited about the idea of warmer weather and wearing fewer layers.
Bella is enjoying preschool. She was excited last week when they took a nature walk looking for “signs of Spring.” Olivia is growing and changing everyday. She can do most anything she wants now and even has determined ideas about what she wants to wear some days. We think we may have two strong-willed children. Lindsay was able to take a class at the college called Holy Spirit in Mission. In her words, “It rocked my world.” She enjoyed the time to be on campus and to meet other students.
Please pray for our family as we prepare for another move to Mexico City.
February 4, 2008
One Thousand Prayers
Lindsay and I have been blessed from the beginning with people like you–people who read these newsletters, people who give to us, and most of all, people who pray for this ministry. There are people literally all over the world who are praying for us, in Japan, in Thailand, in Chile, in North Africa, in Costa Rica, and of course, in the United States. Our lives and ministry are more fruitful because of God’s faithful response to your prayers.
For this reason, this year we are launching an effort to secure one thousand committed pray-ers for Mission Mexico City.
This summer, we will be returning to Mexico City to begin the ground work on the new church plant. The possibilities, and challenges, are great. That is why we are redoubling our efforts to involve as many as possible in regular intentional prayer for us, for the church plant, for Saúl, and for other Christian leaders in Mexico City.
Please consider committing to regular, consistent prayer for this ministry. Here are some ideas of how you can be one of the 1000:
Share our newsletter with others– your Sunday School class or Bible study group, your family, or your praying friends.
Sign-up for email updates on our website. We send out updates and prayer requests monthly.
Start a prayer group on our behalf that meets monthly or weekly.
Read and pray the Psalms on our behalf.
If you want to be one of the thousand praying people for Mission Mexico City, email me at Luke@missionmexicocity.com, or sign up by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
Please pray that God would continue to provide us with people who are dedicated to lifting us up in prayer on a regular basis. Pray for us as we prepare to reenter the field this summer.
Our Visit to Mexico City
In our last newsletter, we mentioned that we would briefly interrupt our current furlough to make a visit to Mexico City.
The visit was wonderful. We were able to visit some good friends, see our neighbors, attend a local church service, pray with some people, and do some business.
It was also great for our four-year-old, Bella, to see the City again after a few months to refresh her memory and prepare her for reentry into the field this summer.
Please pray for our beloved friends in Mexico City. Pray especially for Tavo, Sara, Toño, Má-le, Ray, and Vío.
Many of you have been steadfastly praying for our future teammates. Although the process of team recruitment has gone differently than we expected, we are happy to know that we have been given a great partner in Saúl, and there are two other Mexican families who are also interested in joining us. This may well be God’s answer to our prayer about planting a truly indigenous church!
Please thank God for the interest in this project that our Mexican colleagues have displayed. Pray for fruitful partnership with them.
Thankfully, we have sufficient support income for the first half of 2008. However, beginning in August, we need to supplement our current support by an additional 15% for ministry expenses.
Join us in praising God for his steadfast faithfulness in providing our every need. Please ask God to continue to bless this ministry’s finances.
Saúl’s Studies and Family
Saúl Flores, our Mexican partner, is studying at Dallas Christian College, preparing to return to Mexico City to aid in the church plant. Although much of Saúl’s schooling is already covered from his work and scholarships, he still needs some additional help. Dallas Christian College has provided an easy way for donors to help provide for Saúl’s scholarship fund. For more, simply call Mark Worley at Dallas Christian College: 800-688-1029.
Please continue to pray for Saúl as he studies at DCC. Ask God to gift him with humility and wisdom.
Saúl was able to visit his family this Christmas, which was a special blessing because his father has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, thus far he has responded well to treatments.
Please pray for Saúl’s dad, Noé, as he has recently been diagnosed with cancer.
October 1, 2007
A kid wearing a Yankees cap bumps into me as he enters the train, just before the doors slide shut. I gently squeeze past a woman on crutches, rattling a cup with a few coins, and then beyond a man in a business suit who is barking orders over his mobile phone. Finally, just as we pull away from the platform, I’m able to stake my claim of precious subway square footage, steadying myself by grabbing the bar overhead. I can hear U2 blasting from the white earbuds of the teenager in front of me, and I can smell the earth and sweat on the barefoot farmer beside me.
This is Mexico City’s Metro, an extensive rail system that is part of the city’s sprawling and choking public transit works. Originally conceived and built for the 1968 Olympics, Mexico City’s Metro now carries more than four million people every day. Riding the Metro is quite an experience, and although it can be overwhelming to the uninitiated, it soon presents itself as one of the most efficient ways to get around the city.
When I am riding the Metro, I am usually trying to consciously feel my wallet, as pick-pocketing is commonplace in the crowded subway corridors and trains. Thankfully, we have never had anything lifted from a pocket, backpack, or purse.
I may need to concentrate on my wallet, but I can’t help but notice the sheer number of people around me. Mexico City’s Metro is an ideal place to remember just why God has directed us to this mega city in the first place. There are people everywhere. Young and old, executives and farmers, healthy and handicapped — people from all backgrounds.
And each one needs Jesus.
Please pray for the millions in Mexico City who do not yet know Christ in a real, personal way. Ask God to give us perseverance and God-perspective as we live and work in this enormous place.
Trip to Mexico City
We will be going to Mexico City in October to visit with friends, pray over our ministry plans, and to eat some of the great food that we’ve missed since we’ve been on furlough!
We had originally hoped to make it to the City during the summer, but our busy schedule wouldn’t permit, so we are glad to have carved out some time this fall to make the trip.
Please pray that our reunion with our Mexican friends would be sweet. Also ask for discernment, wisdom, and boldness as we pray over and consider ministry possibilities.
Saúl’s studies at Dallas Christian College are chugging along. He is enjoying all that he is learning and experiencing, although his heart is also eager to return to Mexico City. He is also working at Highland Meadows Christian Church, serving as an intern both in the missions department and in the Hispanic ministries department.
We are truly blessed to have a young man of such passion and wisdom join us as a Mexican partner in ministry.
Please pray for Saúl. Ask God to shape his plans and ideas for Mexico City. Ask God to bless his time at DCC and HMCC.
Our furlough here at Wheaton College continues to prove to be a great blessing. The courses that Luke is taking are terrific and many benefits for Mexico City are already apparent. Spiritual Conflict, Contextualization of the Gospel, and Intercultural Communication are some of his favorite classes.
Please pray for continued blessing over us during our time at Wheaton College. Join us in Praising God for this opportunity.
The “Popular Revolutionary Army,” (EPR) has claimed responsibility for more than six separate pipeline blasts that have caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, disrupted oil supply, and temporarily displaced more than 20,000 people.
The rebel group says that the explosions will continue until the release two EPR prisoners that it claims the government is holding illegally.
Please pray for a peaceful and rapid conclusion to this rebel action. Pray for the people who have been injured, and praise God that no one has yet been killed.
June 28, 2007
El Porvenir Christian Camp
El Porvenir Christian Camp is special place to me for many reasons. It the church camp that I grew up going to. I don’t remember, but I’m told that I was two-years-old the first summer that I spent up there. El Porvenir is also the place that I was baptized.
But this camp, nestled in the mountains of New Mexico, has developed another special meaning to me in recent years. I have spent the past seven summers at the high school week of camp.
For seven summers, the high school camp has offered itself to the team of Mission Mexico City. Each year we attend the camp as the week’s missionaries. We teach, we learn, we bless, and we are blessed. This summer was no exception.
The camp always has great leadership, great programming, and a great attitude of growing closer to God together.
This year, Saúl and I attended the camp together. Saúl was representing Dallas Christian College, and I represented Mission Mexico City. Each morning began with a brief mission message and reflection which was followed by prayer time for the students.
Also, each day I taught a class on the Holy Spirit and being led by God. The students were excellent, and brought a lot of great thinking to the table.
Every year, Friday night is my favorite time at camp. It’s celebration night. The students are always super excited, and each year they bless Mission Mexico City with an offering.
Thank you to Johnathan Mast, James Sharp, Ben Headley, Brad Ingram, J.R. Cano, Jeremy Bannister, and the many other youth leaders and sponsors. Thanks also to the 170 students who help to make El Porvenir such an incredible place!
Please pray that our great relationship with this camp would continue over the years. And join us in praising God for another great year!
Teammates: Continued Prayer
We know that we’ve mentioned our future teammates in every newsletter this year, but that’s because it is an issue that is very important to us! As you read this newsletter, we are praying over six different couples and families to join us in the church plant next year.
Please pray that God would provide us with the very best teammates for our family and for the church plant!
Mexico City Current Events: Abortion and Prostitution
If you have a habit of reading Latin American news, then you certainly know of Mexico City’s recent legalization of abortion, overturning the city’s long conservative history toward the practice, and defying Roman Catholic authorities.
Please pray for the women who might now be considering an abortion. Pray that Christians in Mexico City would show them God’s love and grace.
Now, Mexico City legislators are pushing a new bill that proposes to legalize prostitution. The rationale is that “sex workers” can have better rights under a legitimate system than they currently have. (It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 sex workers in the city, many of them children.)
While the bill’s proposal may be well-intended, similar strategies have failed in other countries, like Sweden, who re-criminalized prostitution after discovering that it was tightly linked to other crimes like the illegal drug trade and human trafficking.
Please pray that wisdom would prevail in Mexico City’s government. Pray also for the women and children who are victimized by the city’s sex trade.
In our last newsletter, we introduced you to Saúl Flores, a young Mexican man who will be working with us in the new church plant in Mexico City.
This summer, Saúl will be traveling with a Dallas Christian College group, visiting camps and conferences around the country. Also, he will be traveling back to Mexico to visit his family for a couple of weeks. In addition to travel, Saúl is working on campus and as an intern at a local church.
Please pray for Saúl’s studies at DCC, for his summer travel and working plans, and that he would be prepared by God for service in Mexico City.