Empowering the church to reach out

Ever since the foundation of Fuentes Libres in 1997, the vision for ministry has always included a desire to partner with the local church in blessing and empowering low-income Oaxacan women through community banks.  However, the evangelical church in Mexico, including the Covenant church, has historically, just as it has in the U.S. evangelical church, held to a more traditional view of evangelism, with an emphasis almost solely on the verbal proclamation of the gospel.  The Covenant church of Mexico has struggled to understand biblically and live out the whole mission of the church, one of our six Covenant affirmations.

In about a quarter of the 35 Fuentes Libres banks there is a local pastor that partners with them in providing pastoral care and Bible studies at their weekly meetings.  Right now there are no Covenant pastors partnering directly with them.  They have had more success in partnering with pastors from other denominations.  Over the years, there have been attempts to offer holistic mission workshops and invitations for Covenant pastors and leaders to be involved in Fuentes, but unfortunately there has been little response.

That is why on Monday we rejoiced and were filled with hope in the third holistic mission breakfast and workshop Fuentes offered to pastors and church leaders, because for the first time all five of the Oaxaca City Covenant churches participated!  Nils and I have had the blessing of facilitating the workshops, which have included a look at Jesus’s mission on earth as described in Luke 4:14-21 and Matthew 9:35-38, a dramatic reading and reflection on Christ’s mission to all as He healed 10 lepers freely, even though only one came back to worship Him, and an inductive bible study from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus calls his disciples the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

P1070098The response has been more positive than the Fuentes leadership expected.  Even though the Covenant pastors are not currently involved in their ministry, they have invited them to come and be a part of this community.  It has become a way of providing community and care for the pastors and leaders as well as a time for studying the Bible in a deeper, more communal way.  Fuentes proposed gathering every three months for the workshops and the leaders asked to meet every two months.

Our pastor, Julio, has been participating in the workshops and after the second one he commented to Nils that the time to study the Bible together has been so good.  He shared that God has been opening his eyes to see a larger, more holistic view of God’s mission in the world.  That God indeed seeks to restore his relationship with humanity, but He also desires to see a restored relationship between human beings and with all of creation.  He said he couldn’t wait for our next time together!

When I saw two leaders from each Covenant church, together with several others from other denominations sharing stories, laughing and eating together, knowing that at the same table are people with such different approaches to ministry and biblical interpretation, I immediately thought of Psalm 133:1.  I decided to open the workshop with this text, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

May God continue to bless and grow the relationship between Fuentes Libres and the church, especially the Covenant church. And as we ended our time together in prayer on Monday, may the church be empowered to reach out beyond their four walls with the good news of Jesus Christ, and may our words be endorsed by our commitment, actions and testimony.

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