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February 20, 2013

Mexico: The Joy of the Lord

An unexpected invitation to use a home for a Bible study led to the rapid growth of a church in the traditional and superstitious town of La Playita.

  • Vacation Bible School

    Around 50 kids attended the Vacation Bible School in La Playita led by Emmanuel Church teachers, prompting leaders to start a Sunday church service.

  • Body of Christ

    Two young couples from La Playita joined candidates from Emmanuel Church at a baptism service led by Reyes, Pastor Arroyo, and Mauricio, a church elder.

  • New Beginnings

    The La Playita ministry held its first baptism service in January 2013. Reyes and Arroyo baptized Rolando in the Sea of Cortez.

  • Answering the Call

    Amelia (center) was delighted to discover the Bible study in La Playita and became the evangelist of the group, inviting many of the people who now attend.

  • Sunday Service

    Church services for around 75 people are held Sunday evenings on a patio under a thatched roof at a home in La Playita.

  • Generations

    Salvador (left), a Christian since last summer, discovered that his great uncle (right) was also a believer when his uncle moved back to the area.

“If you want to start a Bible study here in La Playita, we can meet in our home,” said Martin, following TEAM missionary Art Reyes to the car after a visit in July 2012. Reyes accepted immediately. He and the leadership team at Emmanuel Evangelical Church in San José del Cabo had been praying for years for an opportunity to start a Bible study in this area after a failed attempt two years earlier.

La Playita, a traditional fishing town currently undergoing transformation into a luxury home community, is usually suspicious of outsiders, so national believers such as Martin and his wife Arcelia were key in establishing roots in the area. Things were about to change in La Playita.

Martin and his wife Arcelia became believers ten years ago while living in nearby Cabo San Lucas, thanks to spiritual guidance from an uncle and TEAM missionaries Carlos and Sandy Rios. Later, Martin and his family moved to La Playita, Arcelia’s hometown.

Just a few days after Martin offered his house, the first Bible study was held there, attended by Martin, Arcelia, and Arcelia’s brother Salvador and his wife Natalia. Salvador and Natalia had recently made professions of faith in spite of rejection and verbal persecution from friends and neighbors.

This Wednesday Bible study continued to grow as Martin and Arcelia invited neighbors and friends. Amelia had become a believer a few years earlier while living in Ensenada. She had tried to attend church in San José del Cabo, but problems with transportation and an unsympathetic family discouraged her. She was delighted to have a Bible study in La Playita so close to her home and became the evangelist of the group. Her husband, brother and sister-in-law, son and daughter-in-law, as well as her two young daughters all began to attend, thanks to her prayerful encouragement. Around twenty adults and fifteen kids regularly attend the study.

A few weeks after the Wednesday night study was started at Martin’s house, a member of the Emmanuel Church approached Reyes with another amazing offer. “My house in La Playita is now empty if you want to use it for services,” said Panfilio. The church leaders decided to offer a short version of their Vacation Bible School program there on Sunday nights to see if there was enough interest to start a Sunday evening service. For the next three Sunday evenings, teachers and workshop leaders from the Emmanuel Church presented the “Follow Me” curriculum to around 50 kids from La Playita. There definitely was interest! Sunday services at Panfilio’s empty house started in September 2012. Now the La Playita ministry, just six months old, has attendance between 50 and 75, including about 20 regulars from Emmanuel Church in San José del Cabo who want to show support.

In November 2012, four new believers from La Playita joined three candidates from Emmanuel Church in their baptism service. The La Playita ministry held its first baptismal service in January 2013 at the Sea of Cortez. After Reyes and Mexican pastor Omar Arroyo baptized a man named Rolando, a whale calf leapt out of the water just a few hundred yards from the group. The calf spurted water, jumped, and slapped his tail on the surface of the water. As the group watched the calf’s joyful display, their hearts were filled with the joy of the Lord as they celebrated His work in La Playita.

-Written by Vicki Reyes, TEAM missionary in Mexico
-Photography by Vicki and Art Reyes