On the plane now and headed back home after a quick trip to the mountains in the northern part of Puebla, Mexico (near Vera Cruz). It was a thrilling time of beholding the glory of Christ both in the stunning majesty of creation and the amazing grace of God in the lives of faithful pastors and church leaders.
We gathered on the first day of the conference, even if it was hours later than we hoped, and the men were present and ready. Rough roads, steep moutains, narrow passes, and a bit of uncertainty about exactly where we were going took over three hours of additional travel time. The warm welcome of our friends in this very remote village setting high in the mountains quickly erased any frustration at the travel delays and difficulties. Even though it was late, the men still wanted to gather for at least one session that night. We obliged by opening with three compelling reasons to not quit ministry, not cease preaching the word, and joyfully engage in the work of Christ from 1 Timothy 3. The conference site filled with passersby and others who decided to listen in.
It was obvious by observing the red eyes of all of us that we needed to close it down for the evening and try to get some sleep and so we laid out our sleeping bags and fell off into a coma-like sleep.
When I woke in the morning and went outside I found that it would’ve been more accurate to say that we were in the clouds rather than the mountains! It was stunning. The trip down to a nearby spring was invigorating…and so was the “bird bath” in the spring.
As we were getting ready to leave a young man are to us and pleaded with us to visit his home and drink coffee with him. It was still early so we followed him up the mountain to a little shack-house where his grandfather eagerly welcomed us and set before us piping hot cups of his own homegrown and home roasted coffee. He sat there proudly watching his vistors enjoy the work of his hands.
Needing to get back to the conference site, we took some pictures as we thanked them and began our walk back to the church building.
The conference began with a review of SGM’s “Ezra Example” for Bible study and preaching. Then we moved on to the book of Romans. We worked past planned breaks and the 1 and 1/2 hour session became 3 hours. We were able to have lunch together which is almost always a grand event!
The ladies of that church worked from 5:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m. every day. They gathered wood, and water, prepared tortillas…hundreds and hundreds of tortillas for every meal, made salsa, boiled water for coffee, squeezed lemons for lemonade, soaked beans, etc, etc. They joyfully served everyone more than enough to eat and we were all very satisfied.
SGM provided no funds for this conference (other than travel fare and an offering for our translator). All of the other expenses were covered by the pastors and churches who brought and bought the food, organized everything, and did all of the work.
After lunch we enjoyed quick hike to take in the majesty of the surrounding mountains and beauty of a large waterfall.
As the conference continued we made our way, chapter-by-chapter through the book of Romans. The brothers marinated in the truth and began to rejoice as they saw the multi-faceted awesomeness of the Gospel. We used to wrestle with the question of eternal security…it’s not even an issue anymore. Sovereignty of God? Well, of course God is the absolute sovereign! Many of these brothers are men of sorrows and well-acquainted with grief. The glory of the Gospel is cool water for their thirty souls.
By the time darkness came we were just getting finished. Questions kept coming, they were scribbling notes as fast as they could. When we first began two years ago, one or two kept notes…now they all are…even Domingo whose Spanish is so rough that he struggles to keep up. But he is always the first one to the table and the last one to leave. His last exam was his first “passing” grade!
Dinner was ready and the decibel levels rose. Of course, the dogs were still barking, the chicken’s were still cackling, and the kids were still laughing. But you should’ve heard the joy of that night. It’s always like that. They were very serious in their study but now it was time to relax. We laughed, told stories, and I even tried a few “magic” tricks. We ate and drank coffee, enjoyed a few sweets, and talked into the night. We slept on the concrete floor but I don’t think noticed the hard floor because I was floating on a cloud!
We have planned to return in October and hope to be able to distribute Spanish versions of The MacArthur Study Bible and work on further homiletical and theological training.
After the conference we made it back in time for another mini-conference with our friends at Iglesia Cristiana Dios Es Amor. The subject was “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”. I preached from Matthew 25. I was personally moved and encouraged by this passage and am looking forward to beginning a more in-depth study of the passage later.
The brothers and sisters there are always so warm and welcoming. Over 80 were in attendance for this mid-week meeting. Questions at the conclusion of the teaching came quickly and we probably could’ve continued on for some time, but we needed to get things wrapped up as we had to get ready early for the flight home.
The work that SGM is doing here is a good work. We hope to establish a more permanent SGM office in Mexico and I was able to meet with Mario Lopez who is considering becoming the Director for what will become SGM Mexico. He’s a godly and brilliant surgeon who is gifted to teach and who is evidently called of God to ministry. Please pray for Mario and the future possibilities for SGM Mexico.
Thanks for praying and for supporting this work. Your prayerful labor and faithful financial support is sprouting up in spiritual fruit all over these beautiful mountains!