It’s so exciting to see when an influential leader has an “Ah-ha moment”! As we, the CPD, become more and more aware of the opportunities around the world to bring Gospel access to people who have never heard the name Jesus, my prayer is that we would engage these opportunities head-on with enthusiasm and generosity. I hope you enjoy another “eye-opening” update from our recent Vision Trip to Mexicali. Happy reading….
Recently, Brentwood Neighborhood Church, Trinity Alliance Church, and Price Chapel went on a Vision Trip to Mexicali. The story is from Sergio Gonzalez of Brentwood Neighborhood Church:
Hello! I wanted to share with you our experience at the Mexicali Base. We were a group of 12 people that came from churches in Redding, Utah, and of course, right here in Brentwood, CA.
We all met at the airport in San Diego and after a quick lunch got into our rental vans and headed to Mexicali. As we drove past city after city heading further inland, the landscape went from luscious green rolling hills to high and dry mountain range full of boulders that transitioned to a flat low-lying desert terrain. Once we arrived in Mexicali, we then proceeded to drive to the outskirts of town where the Base is located.
The Mexicali Base is all about building relationships with ministries that will partner with the local churches. Our approach is not to have a ministry come with a “Look what I can do” enabling approach, but rather a “Look what WE can do“ team-building relationship.
Pastor Gil explained that the Mexicali Base is all about building relationships with ministries that will partner with the local churches. He does not want a ministry to come and build a project and hand it over to the church, as this would only be a “Look what I can do” enabling approach rather than a “Look what WE can do“ team building relationship.
He encourages mission teams to help start a project together with a church and then let that church continue with the project so the next time the ministry returns they can see the fruits of their labor, while at the same time build a relationship with that church. As a matter of fact, the Mexicali Base suggests the mission teams continue with the same church for 3 seasons or more to seal those relationships.
We met Gil’s wife, Kimberly, and his base team. All of them are very faithful in their walk with Jesus and happy to see how God is working in Mexicali.
New Church Plant: Luz Admirablé
The next morning, we shared breakfast and spent some devotional time before heading out to start our day. Our first stop was at the church, Luz Admirablé, which Pastor Gil just opened a month prior and has started having service on Sundays. Even though the church is open, he doesn't want to partner with US ministries yet because he wants to see how God leads him and this church to grow with the help of the locals in this gang-filled neighborhood.
Afterward, we drove over an hour to visit Pastor Martin in what we thought had to be the poorest part of town. I translated the Pastor’s testimony for the team of how the church came to be what it is currently. He explained that all he started with was a plot of land that was loaned to him and they had a tarp for shade and a single wooden post to hold it up in the center.
Mostly women and children would attend the service and although he heard God telling him he needed to feed the hungry, he kept praying and being faithful, even though he had no resources to do so. Pastor Gil had come around during this season of time and asked if he would like to partner with one of the Alliance Churches. Pastor Martin saw this as an answer from God.
Simpson University Medical Team
Next stop was to a location where the Simpson medical team was partnering with a local clinic. We saw the team helping with first aid and assisting the clinic doctor and Simpson team doctor. They were also helping others by handing out reading glasses after going through a short exam to determine strength of readers needed. The director of the clinic was also very grateful that the Mexicali base continues to partner with them to help the local communities that otherwise would not be able to get any medical attention. We prayed for their health and to continue following our Lord's will as they serve others in need.
We had a lunch break and then headed to one of many orphanages the base partners with. Here we met with the children of the Fratello Orphanage. Twelve children were at this home run by a team consisting of a husband and wife, along with help from their adult daughter and sometimes help from a brother-in-law, when he's in town visiting. The children were happy to greet our team and we all engaged in either high-fives, lifting them by their hands, showing them how to take pictures/selfies or just talking with them.
We brought the girls some dresses from a ministry called “dress a girl around the world” and they all enjoyed putting them on. I felt a sadness in my heart as I imagined these could have been my grandkids growing up without a mom or dad or any family for that matter.
We heard from the orphanage director that most kids were either dropped off by a grandma or found on the street alone and helpless, sometimes sick and malnourished. Our team was excited to see that the kids were well-cared for but saddened that they probably would be raised here until 18 unless by some chance they were to be adopted. There is so much red tape and expenses that one needs to go through to adopt a child in Mexico, it’s just another way of making money from someone’s vulnerable feelings.
We gathered and prayed for the well-being of the children and the directors. They proved to have great servant hearts with these kids in need. Pastor Gil’s wife, Kimberly, also teaches children’s ministry at the church the children go to. By the way, the sign in front announcing the location of the orphanage also states below “Hope, Faith, Love.”
Back to the base we went for another debriefing and time to reflect on all we saw. It was a long and emotionally intense day as our feelings seemed to be overloaded from all the testimonies we heard today and seeing just how blessed we really are.
Pastor Armando and his wife, Francisca
The morning of our last day started with breakfast and some devotional time. We packed all our belongings and said our good-byes and thanks to the base staff. We took off to visit a church in an area on the opposite side of Mexicali. As we got closer to our destination, we noticed the surrounding neighborhood was looking poorer than the one we visited the day before.
We met pastor Armando and his wife Francisca. They have a church built on a plot of land and through partnering with another ministry they have a solidly built church with a metal roof and three walls, but completely open in front. He told us that when he first started here, they were doing street outreach ministry as they did not have a building nor a property. Mostly mothers with kids would come to be prayed for but eventually a woman gave them permission to have a service on her front patio. At first the husband would not allow them but finally agreed.
As the church continued to grow it acquired a plot of land and worked together with a mission team to build the church, but not all were happy. There was some negativity and even hostile gestures sent from a local witch because they were intruding into her territory. Witchcraft is big in these areas and has a strong foothold in poverty-stricken communities like these. The pastor had come down with a fever and was bedridden for some time, but the church kept praying for him to get better and soon his fever broke and he recovered. Francisca told us how a child was recently sent with a message from the witch that she wants to meet with pastor Armando because she wants to know why her curse did not work on him.
The pastor told us that he also does a prison ministry and that after teaching and preparing for a year, over eighty prisoners were baptized. His love for Jesus and having a strong faith family has allowed the word of God to reach an area like this. He showed us his modest home next door which was basically a one room home built from pallets. We prayed over them and upon leaving we felt the need to bless them with a little financial support. When we gave the money to his wife Francisca, she began to cry and told us how two days earlier they had run out of fuel to make their oven work, but prayed that the Lord would provide and here we showed up just as God wanted us to.
Homeless Camp Ministry
Last, but not least, we stopped by a park were the Base has a homeless ministry. Here we talked about how this ministry impacts a lot of the forgotten, those who have lost everything due to addictions, abuse, poverty and even those that end up here trapped after traveling form Central and South America by train, only to be stuck here without any resources to return home.
Some of our team handed out water while we spoke to a man that had come up from Honduras and could not make it into the U.S. and is now seeking asylum in Mexico because he does not wish to return to his native Honduras. He had approached us, because once we started to pray, he overheard us say “Jesus” and then he felt relieved as he also is a believer. We told him that we would pray for him, but we needed to go as it was getting late and we needed to get back over the border to catch our return flights.
Common Misconceptions of Mission Trips
Our group all expressed feelings of how our perspectives have changed as we felt the needs and suffering of the pastors, orphaned children, and the homeless.
We discussed some misconceptions of doing mission trips. One is the belief that you have a build-a-project and complete it in 5 days; or the idea that you'd better not start something you can’t finish before leaving. This is something pastor Gil said is not the case at all. He would rather we start a project with a church together and do what we can and have the church continue with that project when we leave. That way a relationship starts to build, and we work together as a team.
Another common misconception is that some may think, “I am not mechanically inclined, or I don’t have a creative mind to have a vision of what is needed.” Maybe you think, “I don’t have the finances to donate to help a ministry.”
Let me tell you first and foremost PRAYER is what is needed the most. Some may bless with labor under instruction from a project director, others may bless by having the patience to help with children’s ministry, there's also need for training with almost any trade. Age doesn’t matter at all. Youth help everywhere, adults offer labor and guidance, and seniors offer all the above and then some. Every age group has something to offer and the Base is family-friendly as well, even a two-year-old girl was able to paint rocks to help with the Mexicali Base beautifying ministry.
My Honest Confession
To be honest, I am one of those who had never gone on a missions trip. My wife and children have all gone and I was content in just supporting them from home. My decision to go on this trip was simply to take photographs and videos to document our trip and bring back visuals that our church can look at and hopefully motivate them to go on a mission trip to our Mexicali Base next year.
This trip changed my outlook on mission trips. I don’t know if it was listening to all the testimonies and seeing the look of complete faithfulness from the pastors or starring into the eyes of the orphans as we left them. Maybe the total brokenness we witnessed at the park full of homeless and needy souls. I can honestly say things will never be the same for me again. I want to return to Mexicali and partner with a church to start our own relationship and follow God’s will to step forward and serve others and not stand in the background wasting precious time.
I believe the purpose of this vision trip was a great eye-opening experience to show us just a small glimpse of the ministries that we are able to serve alongside when come down to the Mexicali Base.
Vision Trips are for decision-making leaders of our churches who have not yet been to the Base, and a few team members of their choosing are more than welcome to come with them!
If you're interested in hearing more about this, please respond to this email or contact Tim Agnello at the District Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.