Archive for July, 2009

THIS SUMMER’S VBS WAS A HUGE SUCCESS – MISSION UPDATE

Posted in Mission Updates 2009 on July 20, 2009 by filerofish

EBDV 2009 00089

Beloved in Christ,

This year’s Vacation Bible School was such a phenomenal success that it surpassed everyone’s expectations! Two sister congregations, one from Colonia Granjas El Gallo and our own from Colonia Jalisco, got together and co-sponsored a five-day program that attracted over 110 kids and involved 20 teachers and their helpers. That’s right, we topped last year’s record of 75 and our building can only hold 75 adults at one time. We were at maximum capacity all week! Isn’t that marvelous?

The one thing that appears to have made a big difference this year was the teacher’s workshop that Miriam, Vicki and the ladies’ ministries from both churches put together to help recruit new talent for the Lord. With an excellent turnout and even better atmosphere, the workshop reached the goal of bringing people together for the purpose of ministry. Now there is talk of the possibility of holding even a larger VBS in a rented facility for next year. God bless the women! I don’t what we would do without them.

In spite of many obstacles and challenges that we were facing, both churches exhibited the kind of unity and leadership that is required for an effective outreach ministry. Teachers and helpers took part in a team effort, each one giving his or her best to the cause of sowing the Gospel seed in the hearts of these children.

We had very limited resources to work with. The one visiting mission’s group that was scheduled to come decided to cancel do to all of the negative propaganda that Mexico has been getting in the mainstream media. The prevailing perception of lack of security coupled with the economic crisis and the flu pandemic, produced a “the perfect storm” that threatened to snuff out our enthusiasm all together. Nevertheless, we pressed forward with a certain sense of duty and even greater faith. If it was God’s will, he would certainly provide.

Our theme this year was “Celebrating the Creator”. We put together five Bible lessons for each of the four age groups: pre-school, First through Third grade, Fourth through Sixth grade, and Jr. High. Appropriate songs were chosen and few new ones added. The kids always enjoy the singing part of the program. Vicki and Miriam put together handcrafts for each of the lessons – it was quite an undertaking but well worth the extra effort.

Miriam shared a couple of memorable stories with me that might tickle your funny bone. My son was teaching the pre-schoolers but was having trouble keeping their attention, so my wife stepped in and asked the kids if they were behaving. Of course, everyone raised their little hands confirming that they had behaved. Then she asked if anyone had misbehaved and said that they would have to come with her if they had. To her surprise, a few hands were raised and two more were already standing by her side holding her hand – they were ready to leave (ha, ha, ha)

A young boy by the name of Alejandro won a prize which included a candy dispenser simulating a remote control for the Wii game system. When he set eyes on the artifact, he turned to Miriam and lamented, “but I don’t have a Wii!.” “That’s O.K.”, Miriam assured him – “it’s really only a candy dispenser.” His eyes lit up and he remarked, “Then I can use it!”

Refreshments each day were provided by various families. On the last day the ladies from Granjas put together a full fish taco meal for the students. Sister Estela owns a small seafood business in the downtown area, so she offered to fix the food for everyone. Sister Lupita runs a bakery so she produced the cupcakes and gelatin desserts. Everyone else helped to serve. It was quite a feast.

VEHICLE BLUES

It appears that the recent accident caused more hidden damage in my GMC mini-van that I am having trouble pinpointing. After two months and several hundred dollars worth in repairs, it is still malfunctioning. Thankfully, we did not need to use it much during VBS except to provide short-distance transportation.

The mini-van was a repo when I bought. Apparently the odometer had been tampered with because the ware on the engine and differential are characteristic of a vehicle with much higher mileage. In any case, they time has come to replace for something else. Unfortunately, resources are not available for that. Please pray that God would provide us with dependable transportation.

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A WALKING MIRACLE – MISSION UPDATE

Posted in Mission Updates 2009 on July 8, 2009 by filerofish

Still Images80Dionicio Atondo is a walking miracle. He has been in and out of the hospital so many times with near-death incidents that I have lost count. One of the latest was caused by a stroke that left him unconscious. During this contingency his pacemaker’s battery gave up the ghost, and so he experienced heart failure. The doctors hooked him up to a machine and said that if he did not respond favorably in three days that they would advise that he be disconnected. Almost everyone feared that this would prove to be his last stand.

Nearly every church in all three states in the northwest region began to pray for Dionicio. On the third day, his family improvised a prayer meeting on the sidewalk right outside the hospital, and pleaded with God to carry out his perfect will. All of a sudden, the doctors and nurses came running out to give them the latest news. Dionicio had regained consciousness and was responding to the treatment! Although it took a while for him to recover his memory, he eventually recuperated. Today he is preaching again in Mexicali. He is no longer able to be in full-time ministry, but he gets invited to speak at two different churches almost every week. One is led by his son-in-law Rafael and another by his son-in-law Pedro.

Dionicio, his wife Josefina, and two of his daughters – Alma and Miriam – came to Ensenada to visit with us for a while. Alma tells me that Dionicio always enjoys talking with me, and that she felt that a trip to see us would help to lift his spirits. It must have worked because he was smiling and having a great time. Thank God for the privilege of Christian fellowship!

The Atondos have been one of the most prolific church-planting couples among our brotherhood in Mexico. Before becoming New Testament believers, Dionicio and Josefina were active leaders in the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus, the oldest primarily Hispanic “Oneness” denomination in the world and also the eighth fastest growing Hispanic denomination. At that time they were living in Benjamin Hill, Sonora. They were confronted with the truth of God’s word by a native Church of Christ evangelist who patiently shared the Scriptures with them. They eventually left behind the shackles of denominationalism to discover true freedom in Christ.

My father was Dionicio’s teacher at the Seminario Biblico del Pacifico located in the capital city of Hermosillo during the mid 50s. Their friendship grew over the years and my Dad helped to secure support for the Atondos when they left to serve in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Several congregations were established and the Lord’s work is still going strong in that area.

During our conversation, Dionicio shared his deep concern for the future of the church in Tecate. It appears that it is almost dead. Only four people were in attendance last Sunday. Two other churches have already closed their doors for lack of capable leadership, and we could also loose the one in Tecate if something isn’t done soon. Just as I warned years ago, the work in northwestern Mexico on behalf of the independent Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ is in serious danger of disappearing all together if new workers are not sent to the field.

There is an urgent need for a non-traditional leadership-training program to be implemented right away. This project is no longer an option. Meanwhile, something will have to be done to re-start several of these struggling churches that are having a hard time just keeping the doors open and paying the bills.

I would love to hear from you. Please let us know that you are praying for us and for the ministry here.