The blessing of God be upon all those who support and want to support in prayer and in other ways our church in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. Our ministry is in the city of Zapopan of the metropolitan area of Guadalajara.
Having arrived in Guadalajara on March 26, 2013 of the City of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, on Sunday February 23, 2014 we started our first Sunday service with an attendance of 12 people between adults and youth. Today we meet between 15-20 people on average.
During this time we have been dedicated to bringing the message of Jesus to people who do not know and strengthen the faith of the people attending our little church through the preaching of the Word of God through Bible study, through prayer, worship and continuous coexistence.
From the beginning when we decided the name of our church, we thought of planting a new church where people can feel not only a church, but in a family with the warmth of a spiritual home. So our church family called on Him, and He has supported this desire and this vision because our house is always visited by people who are part of our church and those who need Christ seeking counseling, prayer and sincere friendship. They find refuge in our home, feel loved with the unconditional love of God and accepted.
The people God has brought into our lives are people with lives and families destroyed, as have faced suicide in the family, young people who were involved in gangs and drugs, broken marriages, financial problems, troubled youth identity, unwilling study or work. We not only advise them about their problems they face, or share the message of the Word of God or pray for them, but sometimes they also share our food, we invite them for lunch and dinner as the economic condition of some people is very poor and often have nothing to eat.
Young people like to spend much time in our home and most of them have taught music. Some have learned to play guitar, bass, violin, and guitar a Mexican instrument. We have all kinds of instruments to enhance our praise making it more beautiful, while keeping youth busy and away from all kinds of worldly distractions, such as gangs, drugs and negative and sinful habits. Our need in this regard is of instruments such as electric guitar, electro-acoustic, one bass, drums, keyboards, microphones, amplifiers and bass guitar amplifiers for vocals, horns. Anything that has to do with music.
This year we have developed some activities to encourage the strengthening of the spiritual life of the people, such as encouraging them to participate in the ministry of the church.
At Easter we had our first service of Resurrection. During the week a family in our church we established earlier in Monterrey traveled to Guadalajara and was with us for a week. His visit strengthened the faith of the new people in our small congregation. They established friendships with people and confirmed our ministry as a calling from God to serve in Guadalajara. They were filled with joy to see the progress of the church, because last year they had traveled and still there was not a single person.
In May is we celebrated Mother’s Day. We made a special meal in honor of them, we bought them some gifts, there was special music by our young and had a wonderful time.
In the coming months we were dedicated to planning Vacation Bible School. My wife Teresita coordinated the whole program. Being small and incipient our church does not have the financial resources to fund activities or events of this type. But the willingness of people from our church despite not having money was great. We gathered some clothes and used things, plus some things I that did not know who gave them. We sold the items in the weekly street market. Used items sold on the street for weeks. The money was used to buy colors, Resistol, scissors, food for children, refreshments and some small gifts. In the spiritual aspect of our youth and adult, classes were prepared to study the Bible, praying, learning songs for children. We also handed out 500 invitations in every home, in parks, sports parks and streets of our community. For Vacation Bible School they let us use, for free for four days, a place for parties that event costs $ 150.00! We rejoice to see God touch the hearts of those who manage the place to do Vacation Bible School, and one of them attends our church. We had between forty and fifty children, a large amount amount for us because many where we are developing our ministry people are very closed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Last year we had 25 children despite the opposition of the Catholic Church. To see we had more kids this year was a great success. It was wonderful to see them praise God, learn Bible verses and listen to Bible stories and also teach them to pray. The last day we paid for two removable pools for the children and enjoyed themselves to the fullest. During that week the same family that traveled at Easter to Monterrey and Guadalajara, came to support the work in VBS. His work and his help was great. They marveled at God’s answer to our prayers and children. They traveled last year also to support the same project and saw this year compared to last year was higher. The VBS was a success and impacted our community. We are the only and first Christian Church, Lutheran to do something like that in such a Catholic community, so close and sometimes so aggressive to the preaching of the Gospel. In some villages in Jalisco Catholic priests promote persecution of Christian evangelical people, but God gave us favor with the people of this place. The hand, the grace and provision of God is expressed very clearly. As with so little resources our VBS was on par with our other sister churches already organized. Many children and adults heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, praised God and the Word of God was planted in their hearts. Our prayer is that the fruit is in abundance.
A week later, three women also of our former church in Guadalajara and Monterrey traveled to visit. They were a blessing to the people of our church because they were encouraged to remain faithful to God and His Word. They had traveled in December last year with their families, a total of ten people and met the first family who had evangelized, and filled with joy to see how God had sent new people. Two weeks later a young couple and their little baby, from our former church in Monterrey, traveled to Guadalajara to be with my family on vacation while living with people in the church. They gave new shoes to a child in our church because their parents did not have any money to buy him shoes. They also motivated people to continue walking with God.
It is wonderful that each person traveling to Guadalajara not only comes on holiday but with a missionary spirit. They, like people who have traveled to Guadalajara, have been surprised by the movement of God among us, because out of nothing God is raising up a church.
In October I made a three week journey with Pastors Enrique Estrada and Victor Barbosa to America to attend the annual convention of the LCMC and the board of MMI. During that time, I was not with my wife and my three children. Theresa Stephany, Kevin and Kalev were in the care of the church. They participated in the preaching of the Word of God on Sunday, and midweek Bible studies, music and counseling. During my time in U.S. the assistance and loyalty of the people to the church and God remained strong. It shows their love for God and their sense of belonging to our Christian community, which they consider their real family.
On October 31, we celebrated the day of the Lutheran Reformation. We saw a video of the story of Martin Luther, and had dinner together. People were very surprised and amazed at the history of the Lutheran Church, and the work of Martin Luther, for Jalisco is the most Catholic state in Mexico and had never heard of her story and how God used him.
We are also involved in activities in the community to make known our presence as a church and our interest in their other needs. We also helped clean up the streets and parks of our community.
Since we began our first worship service venue had been the living room of my house. About two months ago we began meeting in the office of Social Center Community Events for free. The reason to have our meetings there, and not in our house is that some neighbors, over matters of religious discrimination, sought ways to allow us to have our meetings. His religious zeal led them to rise slander, tell lies about us and influence other neighbors. It is noteworthy that not all neighbors agreed, because they have a lot of respect and sympathy towards us by our witness and Christian behavior. However we choose to be at peace with all as the Bible says, and we decided to find a new place to meet. We believe that through this circumstance God is leading us to seek a larger and unique way to have our meetings more comfortably and in in a freer place. The office where we met is very small, and we are only renting it until January and February, then the people who manage and are our friends finish their shekel as administrators. Our greatest and urgent need is to find the financial resources to rent a place to meet, and the minimum price for a place are between $400.00-500.00 per month. We ask for one month’s rent and a deposit for the same amount at the beginning of the rental month. So the initial payment will be $800.00 or $1000.00 dollars, money we do not have, but faith itself. We believe that through faith and generosity of God through his children and his church anywhere in the world will supply our need.
Our goals for the coming year are to reach more people for Jesus Christ. Reaching the sufferer, who feels hopeless, who feel lonely and those who need Christ. We plan to have more activities and events where we can invite. We will be doing evangelism in homes, on the streets and in the squares by the distribution of tracts, New Testaments or Bibles, outdoor events, either through music or film screenings for youth and children. We want to take any circumstance and opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and King of Jalisco, to spread His kingdom around Guadalajara and its metropolitan area and that lives are transformed and attain salvation through faith in Christ and the grace of God. To achieve this we need the help of people who want to support us financially to pay rent for a place to worship God and preach His word, are people who want to donate instruments and sound equipment, Bibles and evangelistic booklets. Also people who want help with material for summer Bible School, toys and things for gifts at Christmas and Children’s Day. We also welcome missionary groups who want to visit and support the ministry and be a part of the wonderful things God is doing among us.
But most important are your prayers for our church and my family as Pastor.
Yours in Christ, Pastor John P. Manuel Vazquez