Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adventures in Life Ministry... celebrating 20 years of short-term mission in Mexico...

Just a few weeks ago I shared about the anniversary of a partner church of Adventures in Life Ministry. Iglesia Bautista Fortaleza de Dios.

This fall, AIL Ministry will celebrate 20 years of ministry in Mexico and we are throwing ourselves a party.  But best of all, you're invited!

We will celebrate in Las Vegas on September 22 at where else?  Yep, a coffee shop, Perk Up Coffee to be specific!  We've got the entire place to ourselves, a chance to enjoy some great fellowship, Oaxacan coffee and some wonderful desserts.  We will also auction some of those hard to get Mexican arts and crafts that only available in the interior of Mexico.

Here's your "official" invite, courtesy of Facebook.

Then on October 7, we are holding a big get together at The Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles.  Owners Fernando and Bricia Lopez, and their parents are all from the area of Oaxaca where we serve and they are excited to help us celebrate our anniversary.

So if you are looking for some great Mexican food, The Guelaguetza was recently named one of America's Best Mexican Restaurants, and if you would like to be part of that celebration, you can RSVP here.  Once again, courtesy of Facebook.

At either location, know that we will be highlighting some of our past ministries and providing a look into the future of Adventures in Life Ministry as we prepare for what we hope will be another 20 years of successful ministry in Mexico!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fortaleza de Dios... Happy Anniversary to a Very Special Church in Ensenada

Back in the early days of Adventures in Life Ministry, we worked with a small congregation started by Pastor Alejandro [Alex] Corrales and his wife, Lilia.

The year was 1996 and we had helped Pastor Alex and his church buy the piece of land on which their new church now stands in Ensenada.

It was a corner lot [pictured above] and it cost us about $2500.00.  It measured 12.5 meters by 25 meters, or about 3200 square feet.  We signed all of the papers on Valentine’s Day and got ready for our first group to come and serve.

Chris Tong, [shown here with Pastor Alex] then the Youth Pastor at Warm Springs Baptist Church in Las Vegas, had called and he wanted to bring his group to help us get started.

After a lot of discussion, Pastor Alex and his team, led by Alberto MontaƱo [below] decided that we needed to start with the fence around the property.  They said that in Mexico, it was very important that you identified your property and that a fence was the best way to do that.  And so Chris brought his group and they got started.

Soon Chris came to me and asked what his group was going to do later in the day.  I explained that they would be digging trenches for the entire time of their trip and he was amazed.  He explained that his group was very good, and would have those trenches done real quick.

Very quickly the group got around half of the property, and then the fun started.  You see, the outside border was in a street.  A street that had been compacted by years of cars and buses driving on it.  When that dirt was hit with a pick, it just bounced, barely leaving a mark, exasperating the Americans who had come to work on that fence.

That’s when Sabino stepped in.  Sabino, who almost always had a smile on his face when he was working for Jesus, must have been 70 years old back then.  No one really knew his exact age, and neither did he!  He lived alone because when he came to know Christ, his wife and family left him.  That’s how it is sometimes in Mexico when you decide to follow Jesus… you go it alone.

At 70 years of age, Sabino watched those kids and knew they would never get the trench dug in time to pour the concrete footings and build the block wall fence.

Grabbing his own pick, he started working.  Bit by bit Sabino sheared away the hardened dirt and within a few hours, we had a perfect trench where the Americans had been trying to dig for two days.

We finished the project that week because of Sabino and his determination to work hard for his Lord.

Soon a group from First Presbyterian Church of Huntington, West Virginia, led by Billy Craig came to serve.  And then a group from Los Angeles, a few from Oregon, San Francisco and many others places I cannot remember. 

Everyday we worked, Sabino showed up to help in any way he could.  Mixing concrete, laying bricks, heating tar, it did not matter, Sabino was there until that church was finished and the people of that colonia in Ensenada had a place where they could go and worship God.

Much has changed since those early days for Pastor Alex.  He’s got two wonderful teenaged daughters, the church is full almost every week and they have started their own project to build a larger facility next door for the still growing congregation.  They are even sending short-term teams throughout Mexico to help other congregations like theirs build their own places to worship.

This month Pastor Alex and that little church we helped build, indeed, many of you reading this helped build, will celebrate their anniversary.  Sadly, Sabino will not be there as he passed on a few years ago.

Sabino is one of my spiritual fathers.  I cannot remember a day working at Alex’ church that Sabino was not there alongside me, encouraging and pushing me to be a better man for Jesus.

For me it is fitting that each June, the church Sabino loved and served, the church he helped build with his own hands, gets to celebrate not only earthly fathers, but our father in heaven, and their anniversary!

If you get a chance, find Pastor Alejandro Corrales on Facebook and wish him, his family, and his church, Fortaleza de Dios, well this weekend.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane... getting ready for your short-term mission...

All your bags are packed and you’re ready to go… 

Or are you?

As we head into summer, thousands of people from the US will leave our shores on what has become some sort of Christian passage, the short-term mission trip.

Perhaps the destination will be some exotic locale like Fiji or Papua New Guinea.  Maybe they’ll be headed somewhere in the 10-40 Window, or perhaps, they will be driving across the country or even across town to serve.

But no matter the location, far or near, there are some important things short-term missionaries need to make sure they have safely tucked in their bags before they leave.  

1. Get some insurance. 

I recently met with someone who shared that one of the largest ministries working across the border does not provide medical insurance for short-term missionaries serving with them. 

When I asked him what they do in the event of an accident, he told me they just drive back across the border to the US.

As a short-term mission leader myself, this lack of foresight is stunning.  As a parent, it is frightening.  What if, God forbid, the worst happened and a short-termer died?  There would be no way to guarantee the safe, legal, quick repatriation of the body. 

For just a few dollars a day, leaders, churches, and families can get a policy that covers medical emergencies, baggage loss, and even a flight for a parent to be with their kids in the event of a major accident.

Do not leave our shores without mission trip insurance!

2. Get your Culture Gram.

For just a few dollars, you can get a real understanding of the issues in the country you are serving, some cultural clues, tons of demographic data and even on diet and holidays.

The Culture Gram is an invaluable tool that can really help you go better prepared to where God is sending you!

3. A list.

Make a list of the people who have supported you and enabled you to take part in your mission.

This will help you better pray for them and remember them when you need to pick up that something special to say thank you for participating in your ministry.

You do not want to get home and suddenly remember that you forgot to get a scarf or something for Aunt Lucy simply because you did not have a list of your supporters.

4. A bible.

This may sound incredible, but I have had a number of people serve with me who got to Mexico and realized they had no bible.  Don’t forget your bible and better yet, make sure it is bi lingual.

5. Additional memory sticks for your camera.

Let’s face it, you’re gonna take a lot of pictures.  You are part of the Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram generation.  Be prepared!  Take more memory then you think you’ll need and while you are packing, make sure to put your charger and cable in the bag too.

6. A copy of your passport.

If something happens and you lose the original, a copy makes that replacement process so much simpler.  Now I know your leader is supposed to have a copy safe and secure from all alarm for you, but don’t rely on that.

Your passport, your responsibility!

Finally, take a couple of books.  I cannot imagine traveling without something to read.  The amount of time spent waiting for planes, trains, and automobiles will pass much more quickly if you are into a good book.

Besides, you won’t typically have a cell phone data plan in the country you’ll be visiting, so why not read?  it's certainly better than playing Angry Birds for hours on end.

There you have it.

7 things every person serving on short-term mission must have in their bags when they leave home to serve on short-term mission.

Like the old American Express commercial used to say… don’t leave home without ‘em!