God is bringing new approaches for ministry in Mexico. In 2005, Ralph Shepard (formerly in Peru with TEAM), his home church pastor, and my husband Steve as ministry area leader at the time, took a survey trip to Guadalajara, on mainland Mexico.
Ralph and his wife, Ellen, felt that the Lord was leading them into a new thing – bringing new believers into cell groups rather than following the model of starting traditional churches. Guadalajara seemed like a great place to work because only one to two percent of the people were considered evangelicals, the city population of about seven million was one of the largest in Mexico, and the missionary presence was relatively small.
At the end of the five-day survey, the three men sensed the Spirit’s go-ahead to expand the work to Guadalajara. The Shepards arrived in Guadalajara in July 2007, joined by Herb and Linda Gregg about a year later, then Paul and Jann Vander Mey in January of this year.
The “Guad Squad,” as they call themselves, has carefully laid the groundwork and spent much time getting to know neighbors and other acquaintances through such means as an open house, English classes, get-togethers, sports, and leadership interviews. Through all of this “convivencia,” meaning to spend time with others, the families have developed friendships and built trust.
The first home group and investigative Bible study began in March of 2009. In June, they decided to pray together daily, Monday through Friday. Within a few weeks, they sensed more opportunities coming their way. In January of 2010, they began to see a real spiritual breakthrough. Over the next three months, eight people in their circle of contacts indicated that they had joined the family of God. The process of transformation was evident!
Again, as the missionaries took time to be with people and get to know them, then move into studying the Bible together, changes began to happen. By God’s grace, the new believers will keep growing through means of growth groups where they can learn from Scripture, keep accountable to each other, and pray for one another.
-Written by Lois Dresselhaus
-Photography by Robert Johnson
[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, September 2010]Download This Issue of TEAMHorizons