Saying goodbye to Clyde at Los Mochis Airport. We spent a great week together and it was a little hard to part ways. Much harder than we expected! Clyde is staying behind to spend some much needed family time (his wife Claudia is from Mochis) and to continue our efforts. The project is in good hands with Clyde. His character is exceptional and his love for the people here is boundless.
We finally arrived home late last night after a very long day of travel. We started from Los Mochis, flew to Mexico City, then to Houston, and finally to Nashville. We are sincerely blessed to have met so many wonderful people along our journey.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. This would not be possible without the support of such a loving church family and our great partnership with Hands On Ministries.
This is just the beginning of a great effort in Mexico.
Note: Please continue to pray for Clyde and his wife Claudia as they continue efforts there. Clyde also was not feeling well yesterday, so please pray for a speedy recovery.
*Clyde will continue to update the blog from Los Mochis. Stay tuned for more news and updates!
Today was the best day yet! We traveled to El Fuerte with our good friends Oscar and Geovanny. Delilah, Clyde’s sister-in-law came to translate. She has exceptional English.
We stopped along the way and bought bread from an earth oven. Oscar and Geovanny recommended it, so we were happy to pull over for a sample of fresh bread. They sold us bread straight out of the oven! It was one of the most unique finds in all my travels. We bought loaves that were plain wheat and some stuffed with pumpkin and cream cheese.
El Fuerte is the home of Zorro!
A new friend (introduced by Delilah), Ilse, wanted to meet with the leaders of Maranatha about starting a home group. A brother from the church association loaned his van so we all could comfortably ride together. It was the most beautiful countryside I could have ever imagined.
Ilse is a wonderful lady. Her family provided a very unique and delicious lunch as we talked about plans for a future Bible study in her home. Her teenage daughter knows a little English, but seems to be very shy and does not stick around for long.
After the meeting, we visited the area hotels to find future lodging for a larger team to visit this fall. As we travel, I am shocked by the absolute beauty we find. At the top of the fort, the river basin stretches out for miles with mountains visible way off in the distance. The hotel we chose as a tentative spot has an unbelievable view. The staff takes us to multiple meeting areas that could be used for group devotionals, serene prayer time, sharing meals, fellowship, or meeting to discuss business. We marvel at the astounding beauty and the gem hotel, talk about possible future reservations and pricing, and hit the road.
As we leave, the reality sets in that this is our last day. Traveling down the road, I look at my new friends and feel incredibly sad. It’s a tremendous sadness that I did not expect. I know they are sad too.
In just a short time, I have come to know and love these people so very much. I never expected to find what we found in Los Mochis and El Fuerte. The kindness, the warmth, and the generosity have left an undeniable impression I won’t soon forget. I miss them already.
Before the day is finished, Oscar and Geovanny take us to the top of a big hill where you can see the entire city of Mochis. Once again, the view is spectacular. I look off into the valley and see the people that I hope to serve again.
Nate and I finish the night off with a last minute decision to walk and grab a bite.
Time to pack for our flight back to the states.
Note: Please pray for Maranatha church, Oscar and Geovanny, Isle and her efforts in El Fuerte. Also pray for all the wonderful people we have met along this journey. They have shown me what true hospitality means.
Following breakfast, our day started with a trip to the downtown market of Los Mochis. We wanted to pick up souvenirs for a few very special people back home. It’s the least we could do to express our gratitude to those who have helped make this trip possible. The marketplace is very busy and has all sorts of items. I have to pause many times to grab my calculator, convert the sales price to dollars, and test to see where the real bargains are. We found a few bargains and hit the road.
Our very good friend and tireless man of God, Marco, invited us to his home for lunch. Marco oversees many efforts for the local church association here. Marco is no stranger to Tennessee, as he has family just south of our county. We are joined by other friends and family. The meal and fellowship were fantastic and we spent some great time building friendships. I love the fish tacos.
We then head to Topolobampo. Topolobampo is a very poor area along the coast overlooking the bay of California. We currently do not have any contacts in this area and after visiting, decided that there are many opportunities and they are in desperate need of the Gospel. The Catholic presence has saturated the area and there are a few small cells of the “charismatic”.
After arriving back in Los Mochis, we were honored to attend another local church service. Patel is a small church pastored by Marco’s brother Omar. Again, I was touched by the warmth and love of the people here. They welcomed us with open arms. The sermon was in Spanish and Claudia, Clyde’s wife, quietly translated every word for us. We met some amazing people here and strengthened relationships.
After the service, we invited the pastor of Maranatha, Oscar, to dinner with us. Oscar is a strong man of faith and we felt an instant connection with him when we first met him. The heart of Maranatha is very similar to ours at Central Christian. They highly value their children and youth and have a servant’s heart. Although the congregation is small, they have strong outreach efforts and value discipleship.
I have made so many good friends already that I almost do not want to leave. The people here have been so good to us!
April 26, 2016
Los Mochis, Sinaloa
There is a beautiful large park here in Mochis called ‘Sinaloa Park’. It is a great place to have solitude and quiet time for prayer and reading. I went there this morning for some quiet time with the Lord. The park is also a great place to strike up conversations with the people.
I met two people today that speak English, both were employees of the park. Alejandra Flores Lepe is a tour guide in Sinaloa Park. We talked quite a bit and she came to sit with me later in the day; she just found me, isn’t that interesting. As I spend more time there I hope to talk to her more. It is still my conviction that this city is ready for an English speaking church. Alejandra is now in my prayers daily.
The man who spoke English was Miguel Ybanez who is a maintenance employee in the park. He also does wood carvings there on display in the park. As we were talking I shared with him that I preach Jesus Christ; at that time he was ready to say his goodbyes.
Later in the day Alvaro Osuna (the man that has on his heart to minister to the deaf) and Elsie (his fiancé) came by the house for a visit. He told us about the people from Mexico City that will be here in Mochis encouraging the churches to get involved with the deaf; something that Alvaro has been doing for some time. There is such a great need in this area for the ministry of sharing Christ’s love and grace with the hearing impaired. Romans 10:14 says; How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? Alvaro is that preacher here! Pray for more preachers of the ‘silent gospel.’ Pray for the people from Mexico City as they attempt to stir the hearts of the churches here toward this important outreach. Pray for Alvaro as he desires to attend more training in Mexico City to be able to more fully explain the Bible to this people group. Currently only the Jehovah’s Witness are ministering to these people here in Mochis; being led and taught a false way.
Glory to the Son, Jesus Christ, for He is God incarnate!
Today, we went into the impoverished side of Mochis. Our good friend Abner generously picked us up at the hotel and drove us to his church. Shalom is a church plant where Abner pastors. It was funded through a joint effort from churches in north Alabama and Lawrenceburg, TN.
Being my first visit to Mexico, I had almost become a little disillusioned from staying in the more affluent area of Mochis. Leaving this side of town suddenly took me into the Mexico I have always heard about and imagined. It’s two totally different worlds.
Abner took us to several blocks of land on the outskirts that the city has agreed to donate to a good, charitable organization to improve the quality of life there. These areas need it, bad. Seeing the houses and the people (and even the animals) makes my heart hurt.
The drug culture is heavily entrenched in these areas and has been for a long time. Change would be difficult. It would have to occur at such a deep, grass roots level; change that can only occur through hope. I really believe so many of these people have been completely robbed of hope.
It’s so good to see Abner and the churches doing work in these areas. Shalom has family and youth camps here. They have made very good use of the property.
Dinner in downtown Mochis at Tacos Bachomas.
Wednesday afternoon we finally had a chance to get into the hotel and relax a bit. We absolutely could not wait to lay down after the night of traveling we had. Upon arrival we were welcomed with great news! Not only would the local congregation be joining us at the church at Maranatha, many pastors and leaders from various area congregations were coming to hear what we had to say. Some were traveling long distances. Some were coming on faith as they barely had gas money to get to there.
We received a very warm welcome from the congregation. Though it was a small building, every seat was filled. The service was opened with music, all in Spanish, and it was beautiful. To hear worship in the native language really moved my heart, and the Holy Spirit was definitely there. There were some obstacles we faced, but God was at work. God is bigger than our cultural differences and language barriers. (Claudia, Clyde’s wife, did an outstanding job translating for us.)
As we spoke, there was some tension in the air that we didn’t quite understand, but was made clear to us later. Church members and leaders alike had some challenging questions that we did our best to answer. Obviously God worked in that too.
Although the church was very welcoming, they voiced some serious concerns. As it turns out there is a church nearby, also called Central Christian, that has brought some unfavorable opinions of Christianity to the area. This charismatic “church” has done a lot of damage to the true gospel message.
A lady of the church stood up and boldly expressed her confidence in our mission and how appreciative she was that we were there. Tearfully, she expressed that she could tell that our hearts and motives were pure. A local pastor who had also voiced some concerns came to us afterwards and explained that he was trying to help clear things up for everyone there, but he too could tell that God was in this.
When it was all said and done, our reception was wonderful. We were even invited to join the church for a dinner and fellowship in our honor, and got to spend good time with the church.
While we couldn’t give them any exact plans, we told them that ultimately we wanted to serve the people of the region. We conveyed to the wonderful people in attendance that we were there to establish, cultivate and build relationships based on our common bond of the Lord Jesus Christ. With the help and guidance of God through the power of the Holy Spirit we hope to work with the local believers to help provide the spiritual needs of the people of this area; which is to love and know the Lord Jesus. And that’s exactly what we plan to do with this mission. To serve the people of Los Mochis and surrounding area by sharing with them the gospel of Jesus Christ is our purpose. This is a region with 400,000 plus people. Only a handful of churches that teach and preach the true gospel and doctrine exist here. The need is tremendous.
We are up against some strong religious organizations who have really hurt the gospel message and hurt the people, so the task at hand is an important one. The participants in last night’s service are making up folders for us to look through that will really identify the needs that they have in the region. With these folders we hope to identify the specifics of what God has for us.
And now, we are off to follow up with some contacts we made last night! Thank you for your continued prayers.
-James, Nathan and Clyde
I am always amazed at God’s perfect timing. Needless to say, after three flights from Nashville to Tucson, I was beginning to lose a little focus and a lot of energy. We were carrying out our luggage to the curb in front of the Tucson International Airport when God showed up, yet again, right on time. The next step of our adventure was to head to the Tufesa bus station to embark on a 12 hour ride into Los Mochis, Mexico. At this point, all I needed was a shower and a bed. Then I heard his voice.
A taxi driver approached and offered his assistance. This driver, Andrew, loaded our luggage and welcomed us aboard. As we exchanged small talk, we learned that Andrew is originally from Nigeria and is a strong man of faith. Andrew has lived in Tucson for the last 25 years with his wife and 5 children. When we shared the purpose of our trip to Mexico, Andrew’s eyes lit up and he said that he loves missionaries. He said he was happy to talk with fellow Christians because his employers frown on any talk regarding religion. As we were sharing our faith, I began to think of how blessed we are to be a small part of God’s plan and how we are truly missionaries. We are spreading the gospel and God’s love into a foreign country, no matter how uncomfortable or tired we may be. This brief ride from the airport to the bus station with another believer reenergized me. After paying the fare, the four of us stood in the parking lot, hand in hand and prayed for Andrew and his family and gave thanks for having the opportunity to meet him and to be able to serve such a big God in such a small world.
Note: Please offer a prayer for Andrew and that he continues to spread the Gospel and share his faith with boldness with the many people that enter his taxi each day.
Acts 1:8 - "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Meet Beth and Rick from California!
It's truly amazing to see how God continues to have his hand in what we are doing. After nervously taking my seat on the crowded plane to Oakland (I haven't flown much), the wonderful lady beside me offered me the window seat. I had very much hoped for a window seat; and as fate would have it, they preferred to sit near the aisle!
As we engaged in a bit of small talk and compared reading material, I discovered she is from California, a Christian, and has led multiple youth mission trips into Mexico!
I couldn't help thinking back on the previous week's lesson on praying and then LISTENING to the Spirit.
We gave Beth a souvenir peso and asked her to say a little prayer for us when she sees it in her pocket over this week.
In my reading on the flight, one particular passage really struck me:
"Gideon replied, 'If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me."
I can't tell you how many times during the last week I have pulled a "Gideon." -My wife can attest.- But God is patient with me. He has consistently answered my request with a resounding “YES!”
Meeting Beth and Rick was an amazing confirmation!
I am ever learning and growing in my faith; and I am learning what it means to truly listen.
Then I hear Clyde in the row behind me sharing his faith with his seatmates as I look out at the beautiful, snow covered Rockies.
Now he’s attempting to order chicken wings from the flight attendant. Probably not gonna happen.
I smile to the mountains.
And I am beyond grateful.
Thank you, Father.
Note: Please also pray for Beth and Rick as they are currently searching for a new place to worship and serve.
Today was the official congregational send-off.
As I embark on this journey from what I know and what is comfortable into things unknown and uncomfortable, I am finding great peace in my heavenly Father. Through prayers and fasting, and taking the sermon on listening to God very seriously, He has spoken.
Through that familiar whisper, God reassured me that I was on the right track and that I was in the center of His will. The outpouring of support and prayer commitments further cemented that for me.
Today was a good day. Before I left the church, the prayer wall was completely full. There were so many thoughtful pledges from our church family we had to add extra nails to avoid double hanging commitments. This assures me that we will make it through this week and accomplish the good work that God has planned.
Seeing you all line up at the prayer table was more than an encouragement. It was empowering. It’s not just three men heading to an impoverished area in Los Mochis, Mexico. It's three men, God, and all of you in spirit.
Today, God reminded me once again of His splendor and greatness.
I know He has a plan for this. It’s been confirmed over and over. He loves this work. He loves what this church is doing. He loves the people of Central Christian Church and the people of Los Mochis. He loves me. I count myself so tremendously blessed to be able to serve in this capacity. I absolutely cannot wait to see what His plan is and what the future holds for our efforts in Mexico.
Don't forget to check in daily on the blog! We will be posting updates and pictures as we go and you will be able to share the journey through personal entries from each team member!
Mexico Mission Team