Our ministry base, the Chiconautla church where Manuel pastors, is located on the northeastern outer edge of Mexico City's vast metropolitan area. From this base, church-planting teams have established 6 satellite churches, most of which are found within a 90-minute radius from Chiconautla. One church plant is 5 hours South of us. Most of the areas are densely populated. Some had no previous evangelical presence, while others might have a church at some distance.
The majority of the people we minister to have had no previous knowledge of the Gospel, though due to population growth, we have many who have heard the Gospel, but not responded to it. In general most of our families are first-generation believers. Most of our people have a high school education at most, but in recent years some young adults have pursued higher education. In over 30 years of ministry, we have seen amazing changes in countless lives as people have come to Christ and learned from God’s Word.
One of the biggest challenges over the years has been dealing with character issues in the equipping of leaders. Leaving the old self behind proves to be an ongoing struggle for many of our newer leaders, in small ways and big ways. Leadership potential and a calling into ministry are certainly not enough, and some choose not to continue when the going gets tough.
After walking alongside many through the ups and downs of the forging of Christian character, it is rewarding to now see several of them in fruitful ministry in our churches, other parts of Mexico, or even in the U.S.
We mentor those with leadership potential through life-on-life mentorship. In addition to regular team meetings for training and fellowship, Manuel works personally with each leader, placing them in ministry roles where they can gain experience and learn under his guidance. He mentors them and speaks into their lives at deep levels. In our experience equipping future leaders, the most important component of discipleship is our character and not our talents or achievements. It is this truth that makes the difference between a showy ministry and one approved by God.
Many of our leaders have come from rough backgrounds and broken families, so there is a lot of growth in character needed. We experience frustrating setbacks at times, but after walking alongside many growing leaders through the ups and downs of the forging of Christian character, it is rewarding to see them in fruitful ministries in other parts of Mexico and even in the U.S.
One story to illustrate the long-term impact of equipping emerging leaders:
We met Rodolfo and Belem in their early teens back at the beginning of our ministry. They both came to our youth group where they met the Lord, began to grow in their new faith, and then began serving in the church in various ways. Rodolfo became our Youth Director and Belem helped in the church office. They eventually married and Belem grew into the role of Church Administrator. Rodolfo has led our worship ministry for many years, mentoring and investing in the lives of many young musicians, and recently he has been essential in building up our men’s ministry.
As first-generation Christians, Rodolfo and Belem were excited to build their family according to their newfound biblical values. After growing up as the youngest of ten siblings with an alcoholic father, Rodolfo was determined to be an attentive husband and doting father. But that would be a long time in coming. Their son Ian, their “miracle child,” was born after 19 years of marriage. Ian is now 4 years old and they are enjoying raising him in the Lord.
As part of our faithful leadership team, this special couple has played key roles in the discipleship of new believers, the equipping of new leaders, the mentoring of newly married couples, and the planting of new churches. They are a wonderful example of how God can transform and use anyone willing to submit to Him and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” (2 Peter 3:18).