Archive for November, 2008

UNITY MEETING HELD AT OUR CHURCH – MISSION UPDATE

Posted in Mission Updates 2008 on November 17, 2008 by filerofish

unity-200800003November 16 of 2008 will undoubtedly be remembered as an historic occasion for the local churches in Ensenada. A series of protracted unity meetings have been held over the weekend at several different locations and the Colonia Jalisco church was the last to host the well-attended group of visitors. Members from 5 out of the 7 congregations were present to enjoy some uplifting worship and the rich fellowship of the saints. Jesus Christ is doing a sovereign work among his people, and he is reclaiming his bride for himself.

Mark Northrup, a fellow missionary colleague from Saltillo, Coahuila has been touring through the state of northern Baja and delivering a message entitled “Healing for a Bitter Heart.” He has shared his own difficult pilgrimage from bitterness to wholeness and many have responded to his call for mutual forgiveness. Many times God uses different agents to issue a wake-up call to his body, especially to those who are in a position of leadership.

I have found that average church members hunger for unity, but it is the leadership that oftentimes gets in the way. Strong personalities and firmly-held convictions can clash with each other, causing friction among the brethren. But even when those issues are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, there can be significant doctrinal and even moral concerns that obstruct unity efforts. This has been our struggle in Baja for at least two decades. A fresh message of forgiveness and healing of old wounds at least holds out the prospect of eventually overcoming these obstacles and moving forward.unity-200800012

The next step in procuring fellowship among local congregations will be to get the leaders to meet with each other for the purpose of mutual encouragement and planning. This phase will be absolutely crucial if a lasting unity is to be obtained. There is already a move toward unity among the churches at a regional level, so it behooves us to give our best effort to finding a resolution to our local differences. This will not be an easy task, as some issues remain firmly entrenched. Nevertheless, we are praying that God would sovereignly remove all these impediments in his perfect timing.

In the midst of this process, the Lord has been blessing us with his favor and has been vindicating our ministry in many ways. We are humbled by the many displays of love and respect that we have been getting from a growing number of our brothers and sisters throughout the region. This favor has been confirmed by brother Tito Garcia, who is the acting chairman for the regional minister’s meeting. He has embraced us as fellow servants and worthy ministers of the Gospel.

UPCOMING EVANGELISTIC CAMPAIGN IN DECEMBER

Tito Garcia, the fellow evangelist for the Colonia Periferico church in Tijuana and the, will be holding an evangelistic campaign at our church from December 4-7. His wife Eunice will be doing the special music, along with their worship team. They are a delightful couple and a true blessing to the church. We look forward to their visit with us. The congregation at Granjas El Gallo will be working with us in this event. They will be in charge of the children’s program.

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A FANTASTIC REGIONAL CONVENTION! – MISSION UPDATE

Posted in Mission Updates 2008 on November 4, 2008 by filerofish

coreno-200800006My family and I, along with a delegation from our church, just returned from the CORENO 2008 (Northwest Regional Convention) that took place over this last weekend in Mexicali. The convention was outstanding! With the attendance of 230 brothers and sister in Christ, the spiritual atmosphere and camaraderie where exceptional. The displays of sincere Christian love and affection toward Miriam and myself where overwhelming – they truly blew me away! I was not expecting or anticipating so much undeserved attention. It caught me completely by surprise and I am still trying to digest it all. I was crying openly in the shower this morning do to the sheer awesomeness of this incredible blessing!

coreno-200800008At first, our party of 15 was not sure if we would be able to make the trip. I had not been well for several days previous, and the vehicle was not ready. But your prayers and the prayers of our local church members made it possible to get everything ready just in time. My wife Miriam was absolutely instrumental in helping with the expenses. She paid for most of the trip out of her personal wages. God bless her heart!

The four-day event was hosted by the church at Colonia Polvora, which is lead by their capable evangelist Aldo Dominguez Jr. He is also the founder of the congregation. Like many other Mexican preachers in our fellowship, Aldo must work at a secular job in order to make ends meet because his congregation is not able to support him full time. So far he has been able to juggle between his managerial work in a local hospital at night, and his church ministry during the day.

Aldo asked me to lead a morning workshop for the young people based on Psalm 119. Thiscoreno-200800027 passage exalts the role of God’s word in our lives, and emphasizes its power to transform us. The response that I got from them was also phenomenal! I had several kids come up to me afterward to congratulate me for the message. They said things like, “refreshing,” “relevant,” “wow,” “that’s the kind of stuff we need to hear,” and “why don’t they invite Philip to preach?” Tito Garcia, who is a preacher friend of mind in Tijuana, informs me that his son couldn’t stop talking about it all the way home. That’s a a 3 hour trip mind you. I didn’t know that a message on the power of God’s word and our need to restore it’s authority in our lives would have such a response among young people. This proves once again that they are ripe and ready to receive this challenge just as our forefathers did in their day. May God speed up this revival among the youth of Mexico!

Brother Mark Northrup (son of Rodney Northrup) from Saltillo, Coahuila was the main speaker. His subject was “Healing for a Bitter Heart.” He led us through a series of Biblical passages that deal with the need for forgiveness and healing among Christians. A couple from Ejido Puebla came forward on Sunday to be reconciled to God and to each other.coreno-200800010

The local music team led in spirited worship, combining several familiar contemporary praise songs with some of the old classic hymns. The special music was delivered by Aldo Dominguez, Luis Vasquez (evangelist for the church in San Luis, Sonora), the local youth, and several others. I was also invited to sing. The audience requested that I sing “Juntos Estamos Aqui” (We Are Gathered Here) which has become an anthem for the call to Christian unity among believers. A dear elderly sister from Culiacan informs me that the church where she attends is very fond of this song, and that they sing it often during their meetings.

I wrote and recorded “Juntos Estamos Aqui” in 1978, under a different title. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own and transcended beyond the confines of our own fellowship, as various individuals have been using it in their own churches. One such worship leader told me this weekend that he uses this song to open the service every Sunday at a Christian center in Mexicali that is unrelated to our brotherhood. I must say that I am deeply humbled by this phenomenon. One of my goals for the coming year will be to record a brand new album (thirty years later) using this song as the main theme. But first I need to get some serious dental work done –hopefully (ha, ha, ha).

If the Lord wants to use my music to bless his church, who am I to keep him from pursuing Hiscoreno-200800009 perfect will? If you would like to contribute to this noble project, please contact me immediately. Proceeds will be used to develop similar praise projects and aid in the spreading of the Gospel among the Mexican people.

CORENO 2009 IN CABO SAN LUCAS!

Next year’s convention is scheduled to take place in Cabo San Lucas & San Jose del Cabo which is located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. There is a small struggling church there that is being led by Victor Vazquez and his father-in-law’s family. This ministry serves a growing population that works in the tourist industry. Many of them are traditional Roman Catholics that have been uprooted and are in need of connecting with the community.

Hosting a convention there represents a huge challenge for our churches in northwestern Mexico. First of all, it is a 24-hour drive from where we are, and 36 hours away from those living in Hermosillo. Special transportation arrangements would have to be made in order to mobilize 200 people. Furthermore, the Cabos are a favorite tourist destination; everything is at least 20 to 30% more expensive there than anywhere else. Renting a facility is out of the question for the same reason. The cost of food is prohibitive as well.

The brethren in Cabos do not have enough room in their church building to host over 200 people. We have suggested that they rent a vacant lot where we could set up a tent along with other temporary fixtures such as portable restrooms, personal tents, etc. We want to work with them for a viable solution. I already have a mid-size tent that could seat 100 people. What we really need is something twice that size in a rectangular shape, with corresponding walls. Then we could use the smaller tent for a dinning hall. These tents could be used for other future events and similar contingencies.

Large quantities of non-perishable and canned food items such as pinto beans, rice, pastas, etc. would go a long way to alleviate the need for food. We also want to purchase Bibles and tracts in order to lead the young people in a city-wide outreach event, thus assisting the local church in their effort to spread the Gospel.

Please help us to accomplish this goal for 2009 any way you can! You are also more than welcome to join us in what we have chosen to call “CABO OUTREACH 2009!” If you have a church group that wants to experience some real mission work, this would be the ideal opportunity. It would be a challenge, but the benefits of taking part in evangelistic outreach far outweigh the costs.