Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bajmission Newsletter 12 2016

(sing) *Praise to God whose love was shown *Who sent his Son to earth *Jesus left his rightful throne*
*Became a man by birth *The virgin's baby son *All creation praised Him *God incarnate come *Come to Bethlehem*

Blessed Christmas, ministry partners and friends!
We hope that this season of celebration and relationship finds you elbow-deep in the joy of family, friends and church…time to re-connect, time to remember, time to love, time to dream!
These last few months have been a great challenge for us.
Yes, there have been great ‘move forward’ moments, like the new ‘Estrellas’ sewing ministry member. There have been amazing discipleship moments with pastors and future missionaries. There were ‘faithful partners’ who celebrated our quarter-century anniversary with us in Michigan.

(sing) *Still a higher call had He  *Deliverance from our sins *Come to set all people free *From Satan's hold within*
*For by the sin of man we fell  *By the Son of God *He crushed the power of Hell *Death we fear no more*

Then there have been tough hurdles. Our San Vicente ministry center (well, a rented house in the village) was broken into, and majorly cleaned out. We’ve seen a significant decline of missionary funding in 2016 that hinders expanding ministry. We’re also ministering to a number of people in very harsh circumstances, which weighs heavy on us.

(sing) *Now we stand with strength, with power *The sons of God on earth *Faithful to the final hour*
*Christ's righteousness our worth *And now all praise is given * For the babe, the Son *The Savior King is risen*

We realize these challenges need to be worked through. We continue to connect, we’ve improved the security of our facility, we pray and intercede for God’s favor and strength to move forward. Our Savior chose to come into our reality in such a mind-blowing way; truly, our Immanuel, “God with Us”… beyond our tough days, we continue to follow this Lord into a broken and bleeding world.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

Your missionaries,                  Chris and Lori

Friday, December 2, 2016

Camelia's journey

Four years ago Camelia joined the "Star Seamstresses" making these zippered bags her first "for sale" item. Her participation in the micro-enterprise group has made a huge difference in the family economics. The financial goals she made at the beginning of her business journey included helping with the children's school expenses, making payments on property, and building a home. During the last four years not only did she use her profits for the above, but also to avert financial disaster when her husband was hospitalized for a whole month and then unable to work for three months because of his illness and surgery. Camelia's resilience proved strong as she went around the community selling her sewn aprons and bags in order to buy food and medicine during the crisis. Camelia continues to be a dedicated worker even though balancing her sewing time with the needs of her husband and five children can be challenging.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Encouraging To-Be Missionaries in Mexico

Long-term Missionaries...
With the surge of 'short-term' mission trips, long-term missionaries are a diminishing breed in Christian circles in the United States. In the churches of Baja Mexico, however, Christians tend to view missions as something that means a very, very long-term commitment.

In the small village of San Vicente, with barely 4500 people in the region, we've encountered a number of Mexican nationals who are passionate and energized towards long-term ministry and missions. As the Lord has brought us together, we've given special attention to these folks with encouragement, counsel and prayer towards long-term Christian service.
Lately, two particular couples have really 'pressed hard on the gas pedal', and are revving up for their next steps in Missions. We've been spending time talking and praying with them to clarify what the Lord is saying to them, what their role in missions might be, and helping to frame 'next-step' plans and actions.

Jorge and Hilda, friends thru the Nazarene church in San Vicente are beginning to see some clarity in their call to re-build the people of a small Pentecostal church in Oaxaca, and outreach to the surrounding villages. We are currently connecting with pastors and leaders to help Jorge find a Bible school/seminary that he can fulfill the needed education to step into that role.

Dario and Anaid are an energetic couple associated with the San Vicente Assemblies of God. Dario is sifting through a call from the Lord to launch and maintain a much-needed 'half-way' house ministry to drug addicts and alcoholics in the region. Anaid has been a part of Lori's sewing-cottage-industry ministry, and this couple is beginning to identify the needed steps to build such a ministry in a sustainable fashion.

As we 'walk together' with these two couples, it really is exciting to listen to the 'God-stories' they have, and where the Lord is leading and directing. Their determination to serve the Lord, no matter what the difficulty, is inspiring.

Pray for us as we continue to walk with these couples, and others who are talking to us about the Call of the Lord in their lives!


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

25 Years of Service: God's Grace, Generous Partners

June 2016
Lori and I have completed 25 years of Missionary service.
Twenty-five years ago this week, in 1991, we drove away from our comfy Monroe, MI community of friends and family and struck out into the unknown.
We were officially commissioned for service among the Hispanic-Latino peoples, particularly Mexicans.
Our initial 'approval' was for 2-year term, lengthened to 5, now basically life-long ministry.
Twenty-five years ago, we had our two daughters with us, ages 5 and 10.
First, Ontario, Canada for 4 months of YWAM training.
Then 8 months in Juarez. Mexico.
Then to Tijuana, Mexico, where we lived over 8 years in country
We re-located in south San Diego in late 1999, continuing our work, mainly in Baja Norte with the under-served and struggling Mexicans living in low-resource communities.
We assisted a number of ministries in their works, mainly in Baja Mexico, but we also traveled throughout Mexico, and to seven other countries to outreach, mostly in health care and medical outreach. We've been to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Eastern Europe, China and southern Africa.
Lori founded her work in San Vicente (Baja Norte, Mexico) in 2006, and has built that development project up over 10 years, including living part-time in the village.

Twenty-five years. Daughters are now married and living elsewhere (Oakland CA and San Antonio TX) with our sons-in-law and 4 grandchildren.
Twenty-five years. It has never been easy, but God has been faithful.
Twenty-five years. God's unexpected GRACE has always surprised us.
Twenty-five years. We have had SO MANY generous Partners who have given to the Lord over the years towards the ministry... some who started out with us 25 years ago!
Twenty-five years. Waiting to see what God is going to do next...!

Thanks to all of you who gave and partnered in this ministry work. Here's to the future!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Twenty-four and 11/12 years No words... no... words...

Twenty-four and 11/12 years of mission service...

Twenty-five completed years, first week of June 2016.
Yeah, we are beginning that 'anniversary look-back' thing around here. We are asking the questions like... "what was the biggest and most important set of lessons learned?"... "what was the most amazing thing God did?"... "if we knew then what we know now, what would we have done?"
Many blogs, Facebook posts and newsletters to come with bits and pieces of all that.

In the big, climactic bit of the movie Contact (1997), there is a scene where the Elle Arroway character has been sent thru a 'wormhole' to a view-point of a majestic, swirling galaxy... she is totally, emotionally over-whelmed by the massive beauty in front of her, the awesome and fearful creation being displayed... "no words... no... words... (sob)... poet... they should have sent a poet" is all she can squeak out between tears and sobs.
When I look at the Lord in His majesty, when he lets me look back at all the 'what happened' thru His perspective (especially the last 24 and 11/12 years), when I am in His Presence, when I hear shards of the Song of Heaven, when I sense being in the company all the saints and hosts of heaven... I am undone... I am like Elle, "no words... no... words... (sob)"...

Next quarter-century, bring it on...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PLZ PRAY The 'Estrellas' at the Tianges!

April 2016
The 'Estrellas'... all the Mexican ladies that are working on micro-enterprise/cottage industry development via sewn products are moving into a new level.
Lori has been praying and working (hard) to help the ladies organize and begin an organized sales front to the community they live in.
The ladies met, and have organized around a new idea: sell and advert at the TIANGES.
WHAT is a Tianges, you ask???
Well, a Tianges is a staple of Mexican life. Every village has one 2-3 days a week. In large cities like Tijuana, they move around.
The best American equiv is a SWAP MEET... loaded with individual vendors set up with pop-up tents and portable tables... lots of various things sold... hot churros and champurado (a hot drink with chocolate and corn meal)... everything from vegetables to boots to timing belts for cars to tools... lots (and lots) of USED items, especially clothing...
Bartering is encouraged. 
The Estrellas have begun the effort to have a regular table at the San Vicente Tianges.
Please pray
[The San Vicente Tainges on a warm weekend day]

Padrinos... honor beyond words, incarnational ministry, worship

Hello, friends!
One thing you find doing 'incarnational missions and ministry' is that you become as close as family to so many of the people you are ministering WITH.
Now, notice that funny word... WITH, not TO... which is a distinction lost in a great deal of today's rush into 'short term missions'.
We minister WITH people, never TO them. It seems more like the 'what would Jesus do' thing...
Lori has been ministering WITH the Martinez family in the San Vicente village for over 7 years. I've spent countless hours with Lori at the Martinez home, and watched their kids grow up. I can't even think how many tortillas I've rolled at that wonderful house with dirt floors...
Last year, Lori and I were asked to be Padrinos in daughter Yessica's  QuinceaƱera... the HUGE 15th birthday. In Latino culture, it's bigger than getting married. It's considered THE biggest day of a young girl's life...
Now, the best American parallel to a Padrino would be a 'God-parent' in a liturgical church culture... BUT being a latino Padrino is a life-long commitment to be aware of what is going on in the person's life AND be committed to help care for that person in times of crisis and trouble... NO small thing!
We said yes. How can you deny such an honor beyond words??
Then we were asked what 'portion' we would take in the lengthy ceremony, all filled with symbolic gifts and trade-offs, all to signify the girl becoming a woman.
We chose to be the bringers of the Perfume in a beautiful bottle... all to center on the idea of the young woman turning her heart in worship to Jesus for her life. What a JOY to be 'tapped' to be people who encourage our friend to worship the Lord in all she says and does!!
There was a magnificent PARTY... birria de res (a wonderful and messy dish of beef cooked in a spicy chili and tomato sause... yep, there's a spot on my suitcoat!), and there was wonderful fellowship with so many in the village...
At the reception, I found out that we were the ONLY 'Padrinos' who were not blood-relation... I also found out that having a non-blood-relative as a Padrino was a triple-honor... one brother told me, "that family really, really holds you guys as close!"
Honor beyond words. Real incarnational ministry.
Lord, let all that mean something in Your Kingdom, and receive the Honor and Worship for which YOU are worthy.

(top: Lori + Albina     bottom: Lori, Yessica, Chris at the Fiesta)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hats at the Hospital

It’s a cool rainy December night when I (Lori) join the Nazarene Church of San Vicente in their bi-monthly outreach to hospitals in Ensenada 1+ hours north. It’s almost 8pm when we arrive. Hospital officials are okay with the ministry but, insist that it needs to take place outside. We press against the wall trying our best to squeeze under the overhang trying to avoid the raindrops. When the rain lets up people emerge from the hospital waiting room to enjoy handmade burritos and hot chocolate that the church ladies have prepared. Tonight, I’ll be giving away hats as an extension of the on-going outreach to those waiting to visit patients. As one lady chooses a hat, she asks if I could pray for the side pain she is having. I gather five ladies from the team and we lift the request to our healing Savior. Sprinkles of rain and the Holy Spirit fall. Small groups form to minister and pray with individuals for the next several hours.