Our first visit of the year across the border was to Rio Bravo.  We found our brothers and sisters strong and faithful, and Don Tino, though recovering from health issues, is firm in his confession of faith in the word and his healing.  Willy also returned this month to minister, and Miranda and Omar have been going weekly to minister and assist the praise and worship team.  We praise God for the ones who have felt led to participate in the ministry in Rio Bravo.

Just days later, we headed to Victoria.  On the way, when stopped by soldiers, we were asked what we do.  When Jose told them, one of them asked us to pull over for a more thorough check, but his purpose was really to ask us more questions.  He was curious how Christians “made a living” and wondered about our faith.  As we talked, his supervisor joined us in the conversation and with a wide smile told us that Christians are making the difference.  He says Chiapas (a state in Mexico that has been known for much violence and upheaval) is a better place now and that the Gospel is growing.  According to him, most people there are believers, just like in Chile.  He observed that Christians live better than the lost -- of course they do!  God and His Word are faithful to those who live by Him!  As we concluded our conversation, we gave out New Testaments and tracts to the soldiers, and the sergeant gave us a phone number to call if we encounter problems.  It was a very uplifting time for us.

Our prayers for peace in Mexico are working.  The state government changed hands at the beginning of the year, and many people feared more violence because of threats on the in-coming governor who replaced the one who had been assassinated and on others involved.  Praise God, the transition went on without a hitch, and they say this governor is cleaning up the corruption.  

Dante (Salomon’s son) has a friend who was chosen to be the governor’s personal secretary.  The morning he was chosen, he got with his pastor and asked to pray with him from 7 to 9 AM.  At 9:00 his selection was confirmed.  He is a Christian and has already expressed his confidence in the Lord and his testimony openly.  When traveling, he prays with the governor and his staff. We are grateful to God for godly influences in high places.

The churches in the area of Victoria plan to pray together on February the 5th.  At least 45 churches are involved in the planning of the event, when only 9 were involved for the event back in September.  Cosecha Mundial, our church in Victoria, has helped with the financial expenses and will provide ushers, and several other churches have pitched in as well.  Thank God for unity in the Body!

We’ve also encountered very enthusiastic, unashamed believers everywhere we go.  At a restaurant, the owner saw us praying over the meal and stopped us on our way out to share her testimony and rejoice in meeting other believers.  The next week, we went to a Bible book store to buy one thing and ended up having a lengthy chat with the owners.  They told us of a woman from a remote area who was told by the Spirit to go to Victoria and speak to a young pregnant woman and tell her to forgive her parents and ask for forgiveness or her child would not be born alive.   The pregnant lady was already past her due date. In obedience, the woman walked miles and then took a bus to Victoria which was an unfamiliar place to her, and was finally led to the book store.  The first pregnant woman she saw was not the one, so she asked about another.  Turns out, the right one soon arrived and received the word and did obey.  The very next day, her father was assassinated and the baby was soon born alive and well.  And we are reassured that the Church, too, is alive and well and growing.  Thank God there are obedient, Spirit-led people that have not bowed the knee!

We’ve already had people come to Christ or start to draw near to Him this year.  In a newly formed grupo de alcance (home outreach group) that started with fifteen people, Carlos and Vivi led Lupita to the Lord.  Another group has begun in Maribel’s home with mostly family members. And another group that began just weeks ago has really picked up at Cristina and Cuco’s home.  In addition, the group that Monica started  has been divided into three groups because they have grown so much.  

During a conversation with Salomon, he gave quite an interesting testimony.  His sister-in-law in Valles was telling a psychologist friend that Salomon is good to share Word and help people with problems.  That friend then referred to him a 67-yr-old man who had tried to commit suicide twice.  Salomon ministered to him, led him to Christ, and invited him to church.  The psychologist later called Salomon to thank him and ask what he’d said to him because she could see an obvious change in the man.  Unfortunately, when he prepared to go to church, his wife -who they say has her hands in the Catholic church treasury- threatened that the family would cut off his income if he went.  The family business is now legally in the hands of his sons and wife, and he relies on their support.  So he didn’t go.  If he only knew that the Giver of Life would sustain him.  For now, Salomon plans to hold Bible studies with him until he gets strong enough in the faith to make the tough decisions and be free from fear.

At a recent leadership training meeting in Victoria, we asked for an update on the legal registration of our ministry.  Salomon said he just heard from the lawyer who told him that he got a call from the government agency in charge of processing our application.  Apparently, the agency missed the deadline to investigate and process the papers, so by law our application must automatically be approved.  Hallelujah!  Sometimes inefficiency is to our advantage.
During another leadership meeting, we spent time just worshiping God, and several received a touch from the Lord.  Carlos arrived feeling quite ill, but was totally healed as he entered into worship.
At the leadership trainings at the cottage, we now have Beto and Cheli, the hosts of the meetings in Mante, joining us.  We are thrilled to have them.  They drive an hour to be with us, but it already has produced benefits.  They arrived with many questions and expressed some insecurities that they have had in their hearts, so we were glad to reassure them.  Their participation in the meetings is also helpful because it seems to encourage others to ask questions and  get involved in the discussions.  The ones from the villages have not been very expressive.  They know Beto and Cheli because they have ministered to them in Mante on many occasions, so there was no awkward introductions or uneasy changes in the dynamics of the group.

This month Jeanette met with the teachers of the church in Victoria to discuss plans for the new year and reorganize a bit.  There are four teachers plus Jeanette, and they are believing God for at least two more in order to rotate and allow the teachers to not miss so many services.  This is especially important since Vivi also ministers to the children in Mante once or twice a month.

While the meeting was taking place, the guys had a soccer game against a ministry that has an orphanage.  Both staff and residents played and really gave the Victoria church a challenge.  We look forward to more opportunities to be in contact with them and bless them in many ways.

It was a full day.  Some went from the teacher’s meeting and/or game straight to praise and worship practice and then to the monthly men’s meeting at the church.  No one seemed to mind.  In fact, the members of the congregation go out of their way to spend time together, anyway.  That kind of love for one another and unity is beautiful.

From the same congregation, Judith, who has only been with us a few months, told us that God is really helping her and her family.  When she came to us, she was at her wits end and could only cry out for help.  She has remained faithful in attendance and always sits in the front row, drinking in the Word.  Her alcoholic husband has been recently admitted for treatment, and the Lord has provided her with a house to live in debt-free, and all her debts have been paid.  The financial burden she arrived with has been lifted.  Interestingly enough, a project she was planning as a way to make some money has become a way to bless people.  She says the Lord told her not to sell them, but to give them as He leads her.  It is no coincidence that she is beginning to prosper.

Another sister who is reaping a harvest from seed sown is Cheli.  She gave us a refrigerator for the pastor’s quarters, and then her husband won one at an event he attended.

Sister Rocio told us a hair-raising testimony of a neighbor who had been kidnapped.  When she learned of it, immediately she was reminded of the word of the Lord for this year to be quick in responding by faith when encountering a situation instead of being just a by-stander.  She said she instantly felt heat going from her mind to her mouth and back and forth and began to declare scriptures over the situation., even some she didn’t know she knew.  Eventually, a smaller ransom than the one demanded was paid and the man was released.  Unfortunately, there was another man with him who did not survive because the authorities had gotten into a shoot-out with the kidnappers in hopes of stopping them, and a bullet struck the other man.  Surely both would be dead if Rocio hadn’t reacted as she did.

As one of our last activities of the month, we had the privilege of providing premarital counseling (teaching) to Maribel and Toño who are engaged to be married in May in our first wedding in the new building in Victoria. What joy!

We’re so grateful for your prayers and support!  Love in Christ,

                                José, Jeanette, Joshua, and the Missions Team
2 Tim 4.2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”


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