Encountering God in Mexico
By Kate Berkey - August 17, 2017
Posted in Adult Ministry, Student Ministry, Global Impact, Stories from NMC
Often it’s in those moments of true dependence that we meet God most deeply. It’s in those moments that stretch us and grow us and set us outside of our comfort zone that we encounter the radical love of God. It’s often in situations unfamiliar to us that we recognize a new side of God’s character and catch a glimpse of His immeasurable vastness.
When we send Global Impact teams, we recognize that short-term missions experiences are impacting for those we minister to as well as the team members themselves. A very real side of these trips are the invaluable lessons God wants to teach us as we step outside of our comfort zone, experience new situations, and meet new people. So many times our team members come home with an expanded heart and mind. They come back with a deeper appreciation for people’s stories and for this big and beautiful world God created. They come back joyful and encouraged by the Church, by the Body of believers around the world who are impacting the world.
Recently, a Global Impact team returned from a trip to the Juárez area in Mexico. They partnered with Rosita and Lucio Ontiveros, who lead a group of pastors and churches in El Millón, Riveras, and Jesús Carranza. Every year, these churches have back-to-school fiestas throughout the community. They celebrate together, hand out school supplies, and love on those in their communities.
It’s become a highly anticipated event for those in the area. Each year, more and more kids request school supplies and show up to the fiestas. Who could resist carnival games, good food, and face painting? What kid would miss free fun with his friends? Through these fiestas, the churches build relationships with their neighbors and show them how deeply they care for them. This is done not just as they have fun and laugh together, but as they individually hand the children backpacks while looking them in the eye, giving them a smile filled with love.
This year, we asked members of the team to share a bit about their experience in Mexico. Through their words and pictures, you can get a glimpse of what God did during this trip and what He is continuing to do in their lives.
In just five days, God taught me the incredible importance of surrender. I learned that when I surrender my thoughts, concerns, decisions, children, and everything else to Jesus, He meets all my needs. Praying quietly to God will reward with answers (Matthew 6:5-15).
I would say that the most impactful moment for me was when a little girl cried when I tried to give her back to her mom. Even in the short time we were together, we found a way to communicate even though we didn’t speak the same language.
While on the back-to-school trip, God taught me that all Christians face trials, and we are supposed to carry each other’s burdens and lift each other up. When we give the best of ourselves, we bless the Kingdom of God, bless God’s people, and receive a blessing as well. I’ll also never forget hugging the many wonderful children, talking to the church members (as best as I could), and serving the Church the way Jesus taught us to! Engraved in my memory will also be the way one sweet, adorable little girl went out of her way to hug me and how one teen made me her mom for the day.
One of the most impactful things for me was reconnecting with people I had met during the IMPACT trip in April while also connecting with new people. One of the ladies I connected was Rebecca. We talked and laughed together with broken English and Spanish, and she became my Mexico Momma.
When we were at the fiestas, I noticed that all the kids got along. Age didn’t matter. The older kids played with the younger kids, and this was really impactful for me. Click here to watch this incredible video Wes made while they were still in the airport travelling home!
I was incredibly impacted by my new friend Teresa. I met her at Jesús Carranza and had the opportunity to hear her story. She has been and is going through so much. Right now, she finds herself pouring out so much of herself, and it’s exhausting. Yet, even in the midst of it, God is faithful and is filling her with His strength. She showed me what it looks like to follow Jesus even in the midst of painful circumstances, and her story reminded me of the incredible goodness of God.
I was born in Mexico, and when I was six years old, my dad moved our family to the United States. So a memorable moment for me on this trip was handing out backpacks with my son, Trevor. Some of the kids we gave backpacks to were six years old, and I couldn’t help but be reminded that I was in their shoes many years ago.
God is doing incredible things all over the world. Every day He invites us into His work, asking that we leave behind our comfort zones long enough to trust Him and experience His goodness. May we be people who trust the Father enough to step out not only when we are half way across the world but also when we are in our hometown.