Monday, April 01, 2024

February - March 2024 

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be taken up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51

Though His unwavering resolve to head to Jerusalem to fulfill the horrendous purpose of His earthly ministry would require much more sacrifice than the prophesied: “giving of His back to those who would strike it and His cheeks to those who would pull out His beard,” Jesus refused to “hide His face from disgrace and spitting...” (Isaiah 50 5-6). En route to that unbearable cross and dreading the suffering, He made time to meet with those in need and sent His people to do the same so that the power of God could be seen in them, and He still does make time. Many of those needy people were weak, impetuous, slow to understand, and snubbed by society. Jesus taught and admonished them, fed them, prayed with them, took time to restore their sight, and healed the sick and hurting among them. He invited the little children and multitudes of others who had nothing to offer in exchange, to come to Him. He always had time for people, and He always will. 

The past two months in Tepic have been filled with opportunities to be among His sent ones and to experience the carrying out of Jesus’ intentional purpose along His steadfast journey. Following are a few examples of many. 

Luna is a 5th-grade girl who has navigated her ten years of life in a dysfunctional and destructive home life, alone, unsupported, and with emptiness in her heart, until in the IBBM-Tepic OANSA club, she was introduced to Jesus Who forgave her sins and has offered her new life. At last, Luna is learning that she’s not alone and that she’s loved unconditionally. With much encouragement, she is learning to memorize God’s word and apply it, and she recites her verses weekly. She is determined to “graduate” to the next level in May. Best of all, even in the face of adversity, she realizes that Jesus invites the little children to come, and He will walk beside her through every step of life's trials. Jesus and His sent ones take time for Luna. 

Who would imagine this? Dina is one of eight sisters raised in a Godless household with a sworn atheist father, an adamant Marxist committed to “shepherd” the hearts of his girls promoting Marx’s fundamental tenet that “religion is the opiate of the masses;” that Christianity is a distraction from the plight of human suffering and poverty. The walls of their home, instead of family portraits, displayed photos of Marx, Che Guevarra, Castro, and other communist ideologues. Their father spent his life up to the very last day (which ended this past year) convincing his daughters to expect their future husbands to deceive, abuse, and leave them (as he had their mother), and for them to prepare themselves to be self-supporting, to avoid proletariat oppression, and at all costs, to avoid displaying human weakness. Their father’s prophecy was carried out with horrific resulting struggles, cynicism, superiority, and wayward, rebellious children. Miracles never cease; all but one of those eight girls now, one by one, have been forgiven, redeemed by a steadfast Savior, and have chosen to follow Him. Dina has been told three times that she has cancer, breast, stomach, and now terminal colon cancer, and she has undergone excruciating chemotherapy for each. Though her condition prohibits her from being emersed in water, she is determined to proclaim to the whole world that she is now a child of God, a saved disciple of Jesus, and she will follow His example regardless of the risk. Jesus and His sent ones take time for Dina and her sisters. Watch Dina’s joyful baptism here. 

The greatest opportunity to follow Jesus’ directive and example of stopping at nothing to take time and share the Gospel with people in need was this year’s highly anticipated, much prayed-for, and generously provided for 11th annual Huichol youth camp. From the second the first campers arrived to well after they left to head back to their respective villages, there was not a moment of downtime. The theme was Guard Your Heart. The results of an army of discipled servants ready to serve were over-the-top life changing. We had set the limit at 200 because it's just about impossible to accommodate more in the facility we have used so far, but we just couldn't resist the pleas of an additional 38 campers this year from various villages throughout the Sierra Madre. Somehow there's always room and food and provision for "one more." Nineteen of those campers recognized their need for the Savior Who always has time for them. 

Heart-guarding is at the top of God's list for Jesus' followers, and it was appropriate for every single person at camp - Huichol campers, leaders, staff, and lesson writers. This year's hard-working, sacrificial youth staff from IBBM-Tepic did an amazing job of serving way above and beyond, following Jesus' steadfast example of considering His own needs and comfort less important than loving and caring for others, even as He set His face steadfastly toward the most agonizing, but critical, task ever performed. Carlos, one of the young staff members, wrote a heart-guarding note of gratitude for the privilege of serving again this year, his fourth. Here’s an excerpt from that note: “… I felt Jesus closer in every praise time, every devotional, every talk with my brothers and sisters in the faith, every act of service… This year, I was more blessed by the campers and staff members than I was able to bless them. I had to turn my back so they wouldn't see my tears flowing when I watched the Huichol young people accepting Christ’s forgiveness… This year I got to see Jesus’ work in hearts, but it was different; above all, He worked in my heart.” God’s faithfulness knows no bounds in the process of transformation. Jesus and His sent ones take time for Huichol neighbors and for Carlos. 

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

December 2023 - January 2024 His process of redemption in the lives of those who are waiting to hear

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, …eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day…She began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:33-38 

Through her love, devotion, and constant service to God in the Temple of Jerusalem, day and night, Anna was divinely positioned to see Him face-to-face and witness the presentation of baby Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world Whose coming had been prophesied just following the very first sin in the Garden of Eden and for Whom Israel had waited all these years. 

No longer did it matter who Anna’s father was, though his name, Phanuel, means “Face of God,” nor was it so important that she was from the “lost” northern tribe of Asher (certainly not lost or forgotten by God!), nor that she was just a little old widow lady. All that mattered was that she had been privileged to personally know the Savior, and she resolved, wholeheartedly, to introduce the Redeemer to all who waited. Anna, the prophetess, would be the very first missionary mentioned in the New Testament, a proclaimer of His redemptive truth. 
The past two months in Tepic have been filled with God’s divine positioning of faithful servants who, day and night, witness His process of redemption in the lives of those who are waiting to hear.

In the last part of December at the Tepic church, IBBM, we had our annual OANSA Christmas party. LOTS of people worked together night and day to have everything in place, games, piñatas, food, special treats, and most importantly, the story time sharing the best Gift ever! Not everything worth doing comes off without a hitch; the enemy sees to that. For starters, the OANSA-mobile refused to move, so several of the leaders with their servant’s hearts, jumped in available cars and trucks and drove the bus route to pick up the kids from the other side of town who can come only if they have transportation.
Once everyone was here, we met in the church auditorium for singing and the Bible story time. Jonatán, once in cubbies, now club Commander, oversaw the preliminaries, and María, along with a few leader friends, shared the story of God’s very best Gift. As I looked around, I realized that Jonatán, María, Adriana, Josué, David, Omar, Carlita, and Lynethe grew up in OANSA. They started as cubbies and went through the entire program, with at least 12 years of hiding God’s Word in their hearts, learning to apply what they learned, serving, and becoming leaders. When María shared that God’s Gift came to give His life so that we might be forgiven, she could hardly get through her tears. When little cubbies María first started attending OANSA, her dad never dropped her off without leaving her in tears. Now she’s an excellent teacher who freely speaks of Him to all who are waiting for redemption. This coming month’s OANSA theme is: “Did Someone Say Mission? I’ll Go!” 

The following week IBBM-Tepic hosted our annual community Christmas Celebration. It was another wonderful opportunity to share the plan of redemption with all who are waiting to hear…even if they don’t know they are waiting! We shared 200 plates of tamales, beans, and dessert after the program. 

Preparations are underway for the upcoming 2024 Huichol youth camp in which we’re expecting more campers than we can handle from various mountain villages. This is a HUGE problem (It’s a good problem!). We've had to set a limit this year after concluding last year that the facilities we rent just don't allow for more than 200. If the “polling” on the sign-up sheets coming in indicates the final outcome, we will have to turn away way too many Huichol young people from this year’s camp. We are praying for God’s provision of a larger, more user-friendly multipurpose campground (and that dream may be a possibility), but the old “modified” brick factory where we meet is all we have right now. The theme this year, chosen by the Huichol leaders themselves is, “Guard Your Heart.” Each lesson includes a specific kind of “heart” referred to in the Bible and a character who portrays it: Deceitful-Judas, Cleansed-David, Willing-Isaiah, Abandoned-Solomon, Stone hard-Israel, Serviceable-Anna – Oh yes, Anna, that little old lady who with no father, no husband, and no children, did not neglect to serve, night and day, in the Temple. She appropriated the blessing given to her tribal patriarch from Moses: “As your days, so shall your strength be.” And God was just waiting to share His very best with that overlooked little old steward who was faithful, with her servant’s heart, in the place He positioned her. And Anna gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption.

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Friday, December 01, 2023

October - November 2023 - exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Ephesians 3:20, 21 

Who on earth ever would have imagined? Two dream-filled, very young, determined, energetic, and expectant followers of their Heavenly Leader, who began praying almost a half-century ago for that exceedingly abundant answer to their petitions, very “naïvely” assumed He really meant that “exceeding” part of His promise, but they had no idea the extent of that magnanimous abundance. Living an “ordinary” life was never an option! Divine power at work in the details saw to that! And His “exceedingly abundant” promise far surpassed their expectation as well as that of those who have cared enough to share and send them to Mexico 48 years ago this month. The past two months in Tepic were filled with God’s excessive abundance, His setting up of divine matchups, and His power to bring glory to Himself throughout all ages positioning people in His kingdom to accomplish that end. Following are a few examples…exceeding abundantly above all that we asked or thought! God is still in the process of calling, equipping, and providing for His recruits and His children.

First, what a shock that He would have chosen to use two 23- and 27-year-old kids who trusted Him completely but were just learning to speak Spanish, who knew no one, who were uninvited, who carried the Message that was also unexpected and unwanted, to make random friends, and share that treasure in Tepic with all who would listen. Second, how astonishing that only through His power, some of those friends began to listen and were convinced of their need to accept payment and forgiveness of their sins offering them the gift of eternal life. And how amazing that over the years, that little band of “friends” became part of the discipled family of believers who love God, love His Word, love sharing it with others, and have committed themselves to fulfill that same Great Commission with which Jesus Himself charged those two kids and all who would believe. 

Who on earth ever would imagine that another couple, from Cuba, of all places, would believe, love God’s Word, love sharing it with others, and through an incredible display of power that works in them, would have committed themselves to participate in the Commission, in Mexico! Hector and Mirelis, that Cuban couple, answered God’s call to come to Tepic as missionaries, work as apprentices alongside the family of believers led by Pastor Martín, who, just a few decades ago was, himself, a newly-believing young boy who has become the pastor of the IBBM-Tepic. Hector and Mirelis are absorbing the culture, learning to speak Mexican Spanish, working in the Tepic and Huichol churches, and asking God for wisdom as to where He, specifically, would have them serve in Mexico…and the cycle repeats itself according to power that worketh in us

Meanwhile, He Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think is busy adding Huichol believers to the family of churches in villages all over the Sierra Madre mountains. The latest project is in the village of Guásima del Caimán, Pastor José López’ natal village that for 25 years rejected the Gospel he carried to them just after he believed. At long last, the persecutors of believers from that once fledgling church, have themselves been marvelously transformed by the Gospel, and they have just completed the church building in their village. The following is yet another of the many crazy parts of the Guásima story, but here goes: A missionary friend from a sister church in Durango (Mexico) contacted Pastor Martín to see if there “happened to be a building project” that he and some of the very-skilled and generous brothers from his church could participate in, along with some German-speaking, ex-Mennonite believers whose families have emigrated to Durango. You can’t make this up! There are way too many details to share here, but a dozen of them (Mexicans and Germans) traveled to

Tepic from Durango, drove to the Agua Milpa dam, and “hopped” onto boats that took them up-river an hour to Huaynamota. From the landing, they trekked five hours with their equipment along treacherous trails through the mountains that only very-experienced mountain goats qualify to hike and arrived at the village of Guásima. After three days of working together, the Huichol, Mexican, Cuban, German, and ex-Mennonite believers had the roof on, held the first prayer and praise meeting in the brand-new church building, and the mission was accomplished. Who on earth ever would have imagined? Only the Master Designer. This activity of His, calling, equipping, and providing for His recruits (the least likely!) is certainly not exclusive to Tepic, but it is proof positive that with the most diverse team of rescuers, including an army of friends who are reading this letter, God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

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Sunday, October 01, 2023

August-September 2023 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Ps. 90:1-2

August-September 2023 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Ps. 90:1-2 

Moses, the “Man of God” continues in verse 10 of his Psalm 90 prayer to say that we may live to be 70 or even 80, but even the best years will be filled with pain and difficulty; then, like a vapor, they will be gone. This fallen world groans with corruption, but more importantly, our God abides from everlasting to everlasting. 

Praise God that the past couple of months in Tepic attest to the truth that from before the foundation of the world, from everlasting to everlasting, there is hope.

In my unlikeliest dreams, I never would have imagined myself celebrating my 71st revolution around the sun last week by kicking off an 8-week OANSA series based on the Insect World, comparing the Everlasting’s marvelous creation with His faithful promises in His Word. We learned that there are an estimated 10 quintillion bugs in the world and that if placed on a scale together, they would weigh 70 times more than all living humans if they were positioned on the contrasting pan. Ten quintillion is a VERY big number (10 with 18 zeros following it). We also learned that God called Abram to leave his home, his family, and his comfortable life in the idolatrous city of Ur to go to some mysterious place. He told Abram that He would make of him a mega family (like more than all the stars in the universe, kind of like all the bugs in the world), that He would provide them with mega lands, and that he and his descendants would receive and be a mega blessing to the whole world...especially through his everlasting, saving, hope-offering Descendant, Jesus, the Messiah. Lots of bugs, lots of descendants, lots of blessings. 
Nor would I have imagined making my own “birthday cake” (90 cups of dirt with gummy worm “candles”) to share with the OANSA kids and leaders. Leaving country, kindred, and father’s house, metaphorically or literally, is unsettling for sure, but the Everlasting’s resulting legacy is unfathomable. And being a part of His special family is a big deal for all generations. 

 In the Sierra Madre village of San A (actual village names redacted for security), the Huichol family is suffering persecution from a sin-cursed world in bondage to corruption, rejection, and hatred. Placing their faith in the true and everlasting Kakaɨyari and His provision for their forgiveness is not without cost in their slice of this fallen world. The emancipation of seven San A families from their former slavery to the enemy is a miraculous story of the Everlasting’s election, sacrificial and faithful evangelism, and their personal acceptance and obedience. 

 *(Spoiler Alert: You’re going to need paper and pen to diagram and make sense of the participants and geographical villages of the next paragraph of this story, the details of which only the Everlasting could have authored.) 

Pablo from the village of C, first heard the liberating Truth from the faithful missionary heart and mouth of José. Pablo believed and shared his faith with Raul, also from C. Raul, a friend of Nicolasa from San A, shared the Gospel with her. Sometime after Nicolasa from San A believed, she was visiting the distant mountain village of San MH when José “just happened” to be there on a missionary follow-up trip, and she chose to be baptized, publicly declaring her faith in the Everlasting Savior (The “publicly” part is very easy to say!). Together, Raul and Nicolasa carried the Good News back to Nicolasa’s village of San A. Now, there are seven believing families in her village. Raul, along with Marcelino (Pablo’s son), both from C, alternate every Sunday, trekking four hours through the mountains to preach to the little body of believers who were known and loved by the Everlasting in eternity past. This glorious story doesn’t end here. The unbelievers who are worshipers of the traditional Huichol gods and the prince of this world, are enraged. There are far too many details to share here, but the essential part is that they have fiercely persecuted the little body of San A believers, threatened them with confiscating their fields and crops, and banished them from their homes, church, and the village. 

José Guadalupe and Francisco came this week from San A to ask for prayer and counsel from José and Huichol pastors from La Bendición, Vizcarra, and Picachos. They ask prayer from you, my friends, as well, as in the next couple of weeks, they will be having an audience with the tribal judge and council, who are not known for justice. This is certainly not the first case of intense persecution of Huichol believers, and there’s no doubt, it won’t be the last, but it’s the most current and urgent. From everlasting to everlasting, there is hope. 

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Monday, July 31, 2023

June-July 2023 …Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord

June-July 2023 …Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today… ~ Exodus 14:13a 

The young students of the IBBM-Tepic children’s church memorized this verse last week as we finished a six-week segment of a series called Paths of Faith. For the past 26 weeks, we’ve been studying the panorama of the entire Bible which will take over 3 ½ years to complete. The children learned that Moses bravely spoke these words on the brink of crossing the Red Sea. God had divinely designated, preserved, and prepared Moses during the course of 80 difficult years as he was crowned prince, turned patriot and fled for his life to Midian as a refugee. Every student in the class has learned the keywords from the sequence of events in Genesis and Exodus – creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, covenant, chosen people, cruelty, and crossing. But of greater importance is that the children are learning to apply these true Bible stories that were designed by the divine Author to be examples for His followers today. God called Moses to be their liberator, and under his leadership, two million chosen people escaped from Egypt after God’s mighty, saving hand repeatedly and conclusively defied their useless gods. He gave His people three important things to do in the face of their urgent, humanly impossible obstacles: the Red Sea, the hostile desert terrain that flanked them on both sides and the approaching murderous Egyptian army. He orders: 1. Don’t be afraid, 2. Be still, and 3. Prepare to watch the Lord’s miraculous salvation. 

This course of action is exactly what God expects from all His followers as He performs the task of rescuing and saving. It applied to the chosen people fleeing Egypt, and it applies to His chosen ones today. 

The past two months in Tepic
have held some seemingly unbearable situations that are purposely designed opportunities to obey this biblical mandate.
After the long-anticipated OANSA fair in which the children enjoyed the fruits of their year of labor, IBBM-Tepic hosted our annual ladies’ retreat. The theme this year was “Transformed.” We marveled at the power and handiwork of the Creator as He alone works His metamorphosis and transformation in the lives of His children, and we contemplated the fact that sometimes that process is long and painful. 

No sooner was the retreat over than a couple of our sisters experienced graphic examples of that process in their own lives. 

After years of begging God for his salvation, Romy’s unbelieving husband died, rejecting the Savior until the end of his life. Noemí, the mother of two young daughters, was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. Both are clinging to the truth that the very dark transforming moment for the caterpillar which seems to be the end of its world, is actually the light-filled moment that, for the butterfly, is the beginning of true transformation. Both sisters are gripping Moses’ admonition: Don’t be afraid. Be still. And see the Lord’s salvation. 

Thirteen years ago, Isidro, a much-loved, dedicated, and faithful worker and leader in the Huichol church in the village of Zapote de Picachos, died unexpectedly leaving fatherless his little family with four young children. Fourteen-year-old Secundino, the oldest, went to work to support his mother, Hortensia, his sisters, Elvira and Alma Luz, and his younger brother, Isidro, Jr.   

Praise God that Isidro’s son, Secundino, heard the Gospel as a child and responded to it. As one of God’s chosen people, his Heavenly Father saw to it that, though overwhelming and seemingly impossible circumstances surrounded Secundino, he had nothing to fear. He stood firmly as God sent leaders, teachers, and mentors his way. He finished the OANSA program, hiding texts from God’s Word in his heart, and now he’s one of the OANSA leaders. He worked alongside the men at the Zapote church in every project they pursued. The year after his daddy died, a team from NVBC, my sending church in Phoenix, planned a project to place a cement OANSA game court in Secundino’s village. What a project!
Kenny, the concrete foreman from Phoenix, took Secundino under his wing, and they worked together dumping heavy wheelbarrow loads of cement, filling in the forms until the job was complete. Secundino learned to play the violin and formed a singing group they call, “The Gospel Four.” They provided some of the music at the Huichol youth camp in April. This past month, the group traveled to Tepic one weekend to lead us at IBBM in singing praises, Huichol-style. That harmonious, joyful noise was music to our Father’s ears and ours. Who knew that a little Huichol kid named Secundino would be rescued so spectacularly from the enemy’s devious clutches as he is vying for control of the kingdom? His Father knew, for sure.
Secundino learned to obey Moses’ God-given exhortation to Fear not, Stand firm, and he has Seen with eyes of faith, the Lord’s rescuing salvation.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

April - May 2023 Benaiah…went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow… II Samuel 23:20 

 What? Benaiah, the valiant son of Jehoiada and doer of great deeds, killed a lion down in a pit on a snowy day!? That sounds ridiculously impossible, first, that it even happened, and more importantly, that this historical narration is included in the verbal plenary God-breathed Word. It must be tremendously important. 

It is tremendously important to recognize that the seemingly impossible tasks God has designed for us don’t always make sense and may not seem possible, and His timing for their outcome is positively His own. These days have been filled with “chasing lions into pits on snowy days,” and standing back in awe to exclaim with Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! …Nothing is too hard for you.” 
The tenth annual Huichol youth camp is history along with the nine previous camps. We expected about 200 people this year, and what a surprise when on Day 1 the total came to 290. Coming up with last-minute additional food, camp logo t-shirts, blankets, supplies, etc., is tantamount to chasing a lion into a pit on a snowy day! Pastor Martín and Erén did an excellent job of caring, ministering, and administrating, and lots of helpers joined in to help. Jeremiah is right: “Ah, Lord God…Nothing is too hard for you!” 

This year’s theme, Who Am I? is perfect for the needy hearts of young people, world over, and especially in the Huichol villages of the Sierra Madre. At least 27 kids recognized their need for the Savior Who has known, chosen, desired, loved, accepted, redeemed, sanctified, created, forgiven, adopted, preserved, heard, and called them. After camp was over and the kids returned to their villages, the new believers chose to proclaim their identity with their Savior and be baptized on that Easter weekend. In honor of the tenth anniversary of Huichol camps, Jonatán García produced a video showing clips from each camp and God’s amazing outreach during the past decade. 
Last Saturday was the IBBM-Tepic OANSA Awards Ceremony Day. You can see Jonatán’s OANSA video here. Next Saturday is the OANSA fair where the budding young Approved Workers will be spending the OANSApesos they have been accumulating all year and enjoying the fruits of their labor. My favorite award is one we invented, not officially OANSA-endorsed, but the most meaningful of all. We call it the annual NOBEL prize. It goes to one single person who stands out for faithfully and consistently loving Jesus and conforming to His image, working hard to hide His word in their hearts, putting the learning into practice, joyfully following directions, loving his or her classmates, and a long list of other qualities. This year, Yancy received the unanimous vote of the OANSA leaders. Her life has been far from easy. She has seen, lived, and suffered more than any little girl ever should. Yancy rides the OANSAmobile that crosses town for her and a bus full of other children. Despite her extreme timidity, she stands in line every week to share with the whole congregation of children the verses she has learned with great effort. I’ve never seen a child more deserving or more surprised to hear her name called for the highly-valued Nobel Prize. She smiled through tears as she made her way to the front of the auditorium for her award. 

I was sitting near her little sister, Daniela, who also started crying when Yancy received her award. I thought Daniela might have been disappointed because she wasn’t chosen for the Nobel. No, Daniela’s voice quivered through her tears to say how happy she was for Yancy! I could only imagine how ecstatic Yancy will be when she finds herself before her Savior when her name is called from the Book of Life; and how grateful we leaders, the “Danielas,” will be that she will be there with us and the rest of the great cloud of witnesses who generously participated in making it possible for Yancy to hear the Gospel message in OANSA-Tepic. 

These are just a few of many reasons God calls us, along with Benaiah, whose name aptly means, “Built by God,” to chase lions into pits on snowy days. Benaiah was trusted with some humanly impossible tasks as well as the supernatural power to do them. It wasn’t easy, and the environment was not supportive, but ultimately, he was honored with a valued place in the service of the king.


Saturday, April 01, 2023

February - March 2023 Christ… died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for themselves, but for him who died for them, and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

February - March 2023

Christ… died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for themselves, but for him who died for them, and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:15 According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey “there is an epidemic of loneliness today”; around 60% of people in this country regularly feel lonely. How is it possible that in this world, more connected than ever, with opportunities to share “selfies” of me, by me, and about me with the world at large in a mere instant, hearts are starved for real love? The apostle Paul reminds us that “It’s not about me!” The cure for loneliness is not to live for myself. Ron Hutchcraft says to reverse the camera lens and start taking “youies”! A meaningful life is derived from being there for someone else and living for Him who died and rose again. It's refreshing to see brothers and sisters in the Tepic church who have caught hold of this remedy and are learning to put it into practice with those whom God places in their paths, especially some of the IBBM-Tepic young people who have spent years in training for such a time as this. A well-tuned team of student-leaders is willingly giving up their Spring break to serve God and their Huichol “neighbors” with their whole hearts at the 10th annual Huichol youth camp. This camp would be impossible without their creativity and hard work, and their choice to live for Him who died for them and rose again. Camp starts on Sunday afternoon, April 2, but the labor of love in hauling and setting up camp at a very rustic converted brick “factory,” has already begun. Everything must be transported from Tepic: the canopy (auditorium), tables, chairs, kitchen supplies, refrigerator, stoves and gas tanks, blankets for the campers, tents, musical instruments and audio/video equipment, stage and scenery, everything. Then when it’s over, everything must be dismantled, returned, cleaned, and stored for next year. It’s nothing short of a miracle to watch the student leaders joyfully in action, focusing on “youies,” and offering their hearts of love and service for their Huichol brothers and sisters. Just this past month four of these IBBM-Tepic students stand out for their excellent “youies.”

David is Pastor Martín and Erén’s son. He has grown up, following Jesus’ example looking for every possible opportunity to prepare himself to serve. He graduated from the School of Music; he’s an excellent conductor, violinist, and pianist at church. He was chosen to go on a mission trip to Canada, so he learned French, and now he teaches French in a private junior high school. Then he enrolled in an intense school of English from which he graduated with honors. He has used that skill to interpret for visitors to IBBM from the States and as a liaison with a youth group that is coming to help with the Huichol camp. That’s not enough; he’s studying Chinese and just passed the first level. He graduated this year from the University of Nayarit with a degree in biochemistry. He is a leader in OANSA, the game director, and just recently coordinated a six-week teaching series for which he made a soldier piñata to dress in the “whole armor of God.” This coming week David is Huichol youth camp game director and pianist for the worship team, and for the first time, he'll be part of the panel of Bible teachers. No “selfies” for this guy! 

is Pastor Nacho and Lorena’s son. He, too, has grown up, following Jesus’ example of service. He’s in his last year of Economics after passing a very selective entrance exam at the University of Nayarit. His nickname at church is the “erudito” (scholar). In addition, Josué (Joshua) is a very effective OANSA group leader, teacher, and club secretary/ coordinator. He also graduated from the School of Music, and he’s the IBBM worship team leader. He plays violin, bass, guitar, and the cajon. Josué did an excellent job preaching his well-prepared first sermon this past month on the attributes of God. This guy has no time to be lonely; he’s into “youies.” 

Nearly 20 years ago, Armando began bringing his little daughters to the Tepic church OANSA club. María (4) and Lynethe (5) cried every single Saturday when their dad dropped them off at “Cubbies.” Finally, they realized how much they really loved hearing stories from the Bible and hiding God’s Word in their hearts. They learned how much their leaders loved them, and best of all, that Jesus loved them and gave His life for them. Years have passed; the girls have learned not to live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. María and Lynethe are nurses. Both sisters are dependable OANSA leaders, willing servants, excellent Sunday school teachers, and worship team participants. María plays flute, and Lynethe manages the church A/V equipment. They’ll be working next week at camp, too. Their love for Jesus spilled over to their parents, and they also believed and have become faithful disciples. 

David, Josué, María, and Lynethe have discovered by experience that joy comes from not living for themselves anymore but for Him who died for them and rose again. Their fulfilling life mission is simple: No “selfies.”