The end of 2023 brought a series of major changes to our lives. In May, my long-estranged daughter, Ruby, came to live with us, making us a family of three. In June, a car accident left me with ongoing health issues. In August, my son enrolled in an online school after 7 years of homeschooling, and I was given the new title and responsibility of being the Calvary Culiacan Missions Coordinator, organizing mission trips among ALL the Calvary Culiacan churches. In December, my long-time friends Pastor Hugo and Brenda Limon, moved to a new church in Ensenada, resulting in more changes in my responsibilities. And, quite unexpectedly, we are now facing the need to find a new home in less than a month.
Facing change has never been easy for me, but there is one truth that never changes: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER. God has shown me through a series of God-hugs – special moments where He reveals His love to me in a special way through His Word or His workers – that 1) I am still right in the center of His will, doing exactly what He has called me to do, 2) He will continue to equip me and provide for all of my needs as long as I stay there, and 3) I am not alone – not only do I have His backing, but the backing of great friends, brothers and sisters in the faith that He has placed in my life.
Here are a few highlights from the last few months to catch you up on what God has been doing here in Culiacan and beyond.
This story has to begin with the arrival of my daughter. Ruby was taken away from me more than 8 years ago during a very dark time in my life. All of my efforts to be reunited with her were quashed, but my prayers never stopped. After 6 years of searching, we finally found her, but due to many unfortunate circumstances, we were not able to be reunited… until June 2022 when she invited us to attend her high school graduation. After a difficult year, God finally opened the door for her to come home in May of 2023, and we couldn’t be happier! After 8 long years of waiting, God finally answered our prayers, and our family is whole again!
In June, a car accident drastically changed my life. After the adrenaline wore off, what had felt like nothing more than a nasty bump turned out to be a deviated cervix with three bulging discs and a severe shoulder sprain. OUCH! Life, work, and ministry had to be put on hold for nearly two months as I began to recover. While I am still going to physical therapy four times a week, I have regained most of my mobility and some of my strength, allowing me to once again dedicate myself to the ministry God has called me to do here.
In August, I had recovered just enough to be able to attend the annual church planting conference in Rosarito. Neck brace and all, I accompanied all of our 2023 EPICC graduates (church-planting school of Calvary Culiacan) on their graduation trip and was very blessed by the teachings and fellowship. God once again renewed my calling and gave me new strength to get back to work.
One week after the trip to Rosarito, I accompanied the Calvary School of Missions and 45 other missionaries from Calvary Culiacan, Los Mochis, and Calvary Cocoyoc on a mission trip. We went to Nayarit to work with the Kuáre, an unreached tribe we have been working with for a couple years now. In spite of horrible weather (torrential rains that soaked us and turned everything to mud), we were able to hand out food, clothing, toys, and blankets to all of the families and hold our very first church service with them. Nearly 50 people came, and through the aid of double translation (English > Spanish > Kuáre), many of them expressed an interest in learning more about Jesus Christ.
September saw the beginning of a new school year for the EPICC, our church planting school. This year, we have seen so much growth and interest in the program that we are now offering it at four campuses instead of three. While the South, West, and virtual campuses have smaller groups, our North campus is looking to have about 20 graduates again this year. God continues to grow the vision for church planting, not only in our city, but all over Mexico.
November brought a flurry of activities as always, the first being another trip to visit the Kuáre. We went from home to home, taking a census of the population and praying for each family’s individual needs. With the information we gathered, we will be leading a medical team later this spring to help with simple ailments like parasites and diarrhea that have already claimed the lives of many. The highlight of our trip, however, was projecting the Jesus film in their language. Nearly 100 people attended, and their childlike expressions of awe and wonder upon hearing the Gospel story for the first time ever were priceless! As a result, we now have at least 7 Christians in the community!
We also had a divine appointment resulting from a bathroom stop. LOL! While waiting for our team to use the one-stall bathroom at a remote convenience store, a young woman approached us, asking if we were Christians. Her father is a pastor who speaks Kuáre and visits many local villages as an itinerant preacher. She gave us their contact information, and if God wills, they will accompany us on our next trip to see if maybe they can add the Kuáre to their circuit!
Upon our return, we celebrated Calvary Culiacan’s 7th anniversary with a joint worship service and special conferences and events for men, women, couples, and leaders. Over 600 people attended our anniversary service from nine of our churches! We also celebrated the official opening of our two newest churches – Calvary Santa Fe and Calvary Gracia y Verdad (Grace and Truth). With these new additions to the family, we now have seven verse-by-verse Calvary churches in Culiacan, two just outside of the city, and one in Calpulalpan, near Mexico City.
Christmas and New Year’s activities kept us busy throughout December and added many new faces to our churches and many new souls to the kingdom of God, but also brought us to the end of an era. After seven years of faithful service in Culiacan, Pastor Hugo Limon and his family have moved to Ensenada to take on a large church in need of a new pastor. As all of our leadership was restructured, we now have three very capable pastors leading the church, a wonderful team in charge of the women’s ministry, and many new faces leading our children, youth, worship, prayer, and media ministries. While this is going to be a very challenging time for us, we know that with God, nothing is impossible.
The month of January has been spent working hard planning for two major events next month – a women’s conference and a marriage conference – then, the first in a series of outreach events, family camp in March, and our next trip to the Kuáre in April. For now, my responsibilities remain somewhat the same. I have joined the creative team to help with photography and design, and I will continue to help with our Wednesday night worship and teaching ministries, church planting school administration, missions team coordination, women’s ministry leadership, and counselling.
Due to the many changes here in Culiacan in the past few months and the work being done with the Kuáre, our move to Calpulalpan has been postponed once again. While I know that someday we will make Calpulalpan our new home, for now, there is a greater need here in Culiacan, so we have decided to stay a little longer.
How can you pray for our ministry here in Culiacán?
- Pray for the health and growth of our two new churches – Calvary Santa Fe and Calvary Gracia y Verdad.
- Pray for the Kuáre – both their physical and spiritual health – and for the team that will be going on the next mission trip.
- Pray for our upcoming events:
Marriage Conference, February 3
Experiencia Idonea (women’s conference), February 10
Outreach Activity, February 17
Family Camp, March 27-30
How can you pray for our family?
- Pray for the continued healing of my neck and shoulder and financial provision to cover all of the extra medical expenses.
- Pray for Ruby as she is looking for a new job and trying to figure out where she fits into the ministry of our church.
- Pray for Sammy as he strives to be a good student and prepare himself for middle school and his future ministry.
- Pray that God provides a new home for us this month as our landlord decided to evict us with no notice.
- Pray that God will provide new monthly supporters for us so that I can work less as a teacher and translator and dedicate more of my time to the work of the ministry.
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God bless you all!