Sunday, December 31, 2006


A large part of our ministry involves rehabilitation. Stephen and Marcela run a rehab center in Torreon called Rescate Social (Social Rescue) which is dedicated to giving free help to men with alcohol, drug addiction, and social behavioral problems. Most of the participants are young men between 14 and 22 years of age.

When they enter the program, the first and most difficult thing they go through is a detoxification period, after which they are put in the care of the “encargados”, men who have been through the program and act as fathers and mentors. Every day meetings and services are held where the men are ministered to with the word of God. They are taught to pray and learn how to depend on God to supply all their needs and realize their hopes for the future. Stephen regularly instructs the leaders of the center in the word of God, which the leaders then share in the meetings. Every week we supply food to the center, which we are blessed to receive at an excellent price from a local food bank.

Our hope this year is to buy the property on which the center is built. Right now we only rent the land, and we would like to be free to make improvements and build without fear of having to give up the land one day. We would be blessed to receive any financial help that you could give in order to purchase this land, which costs about $18,000. It is more than property; it is a place where souls are rescued and won for God.

In the future we are planning to open a similar center for women. There is a great need for such a place, but few people realize it. We are praying that God will guide us as we plan this work, as well as in our current ministry so that we can be effective and continue to bring glory to His name.

As we face a new year, I know that many of us are planning how we want our lives to be different in the coming months. There are the common year-after-year resolutions (I WILL lose 10 pounds!) and others that perhaps are more private and personal. The common theme behind all resolutions, though, is renewal: we want to leave behind all of our bad habits, the things we don’t like about ourselves, and be reborn along with the new year. Why, then, if we sincerely want to change, do we so often fail? Not all the men who go through the rehab program stay clean; in fact, almost half relapse at some point and return to the center. These men face the same problem as the rest of us who make the same resolutions year after year: we want to change, we know how to change, but somehow we keep going back to our old selves. It is easy to lose hope, to be beaten down with each failure, but it is in these times that we learn to rely on the grace and mercy of God. In a ministry where a 20% success rate is considered excellent, the fact that more than 50% of the men do change their behavior for good is a testament to the power of God. It is when we depend on him, and not on our own resolve and willpower, that change can happen and we can be reborn.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Viaje al Cerro

...literally, "trip to the hill"... and that's what it was. Recently our youth group went on an overnight camping trip in the desert just outside of San Pedro. I went along, not really knowing what to expect - what hill? Are we going to the real desert, or just kind of an out-of-the-way wilderness spot? Are there bathrooms?? Are we going to survive the night???

With these all-important questions unanswered, about 20 of us set off in the bus at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon. Well, first we had to stop for snacks, then for gas, then to pick up more we went at 4:30, this time for real, and after half an hour on the highway, we turned off on a rough track through the brush. First answer - we were going to the real desert. We made a brief stop to collect firewood (so this was why they told us to bring our machetes!) and a short time later, we arrived at the hill. Second answer - our campground was a spot between a couple of hills in the middle of the desert. Who decided this was a good camping spot? Does anyone actually know where we are? And, third answer - no bathrooms...

After clearing the ground of cactus spines and checking for scorpions, we unloaded the bus and set up camp. The only person who actually brought a tent was the bus driver; the rest of us planned to sleep in the bus or on the ground. We started a campfire as the sun set and after we got the coffee boiling, we had a short service. Although it doesn't matter whether you have a service in a church or in the street, worshipping in the open desert underneath more stars than I knew existed made me more aware of God's presence. There we were, a small group of people in the middle of nowhere, who couldn't see beyond the light of our fire, but still God knew exactly where we were. He heard our voices although no one else did, and we felt his presence in the stillness around us.

The night passed peacefully - no one got lost, we didn't run out of firewood, and we only heard and didn't see the wolves around us...morning came with a spectacular sunrise, and after breakfast it was back home to San Pedro. Fourth answer - yes, we did survive the night and, more than that, we experienced the presence of God in his creation and in his care of us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


We are happy to report that Stephen has returned safely to San Pedro after an absence of just over a month. During this time he travelled in the States, preaching and spreading the word about God's work here. We hope you were blessed by what he shared. To those who listened, those who gave, and those who opened your homes to him during his travels, many thanks for your generosity.

If there is anyone who heard Stephen during this trip who is not on our mailing list, and you would like to receive regular updates from San Pedro, please send your name and email address or regular address to

Monday, November 27, 2006

Miracle Baby

Sometimes we might think that God isn't watching over us, but he always is, even down to the smallest baby that is born. Several months ago, one of the women in our church, Guede, gave birth to a baby boy. Almost immediately, the doctors realized that the baby was very sick - he was born with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a disease that affects the intestines and digestive system (visit for more information). Babies with NEC develop serious complications very quickly, and often die as a result. Guede called Stephen and Marcela, who prayed with her, told the church of the crisis, and then rushed the baby to the hospital in Torreón. The baby didn't die that night, but he remained very ill. While they were in the hospital, another baby was born with the same illness, and she died after only 3 days. The church continued to pray for the baby, and after several days Stephen went to the hospital to pray for him there. God answered these prayers and the baby slowly gained strength, to the point where he was strong enough for the doctors to operate on him and remove the dead tissue. The morning of the scheduled operation, the doctors took an X-ray to check and see how far the disease had spread and how much intestine they would have to remove. What they found was - nothing. The baby was perfectly fine, his intestines perfectly healthy and living. We might wonder why God would allow a mother to go through an experience such as this, or why he would allow a baby to suffer. But now, hearing this testimony, who could look at this baby and deny that God exists, is all-powerful, and cares for his children?

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
Yo amo al Señor porque él escucha mi voz suplicante.
Por cuanto él inclina a mí su oído, lo invocaré toda mi vida.
Psalm 116:1-2

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More Than a Game

In a previous post I talked about our soccer team, El Calor, and the difference that this ministry has made in the players' lives. Although the results of this kind of evangelism may not be seen for many years, sometimes there is a more immediate and wide-reaching impact, as in the following testimony.

The first soccer team Stephen started was called Mexico-Canadiense; it wasn't a professional team as El Calor is, but rather a group of teens playing recreationally. Some of the players were extremely poor, so Stephen and Marcela would help them buy equipment and other necessities, and also invite them to church.

Two brothers, Luis and Dani, were the first players on the team to come to church. One day they came crying to Stephen and Marcela because their sister, Clemen, had had a serious accident. She was walking along the top of a fence when she fell and suffered a compound fracture of her arm. They had taken her to the hospital but the doctors refused to help because the family couldn't pay. Marcela prayed for Clemen and then went for help. She and some friends paid for the hospital expenses, and at the hospital they were introduced to the rest of the family. Timothy and Elisa visited the hospital before Clemen's surgery and prayed for her as well. The surgery was successful, and Clemen was released from hospital after several days. The following Sunday, Clemen came to church wth her sisters and her mother, and they all eventually accepted Christ. Clemen and her family are still serving God, and Clemen and one of her sisters are part of the tamborine worship ministry in the church.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Personal Testimony

I had the privilege of visiting San Pedro for the first time in June 2006. A missions group, under the leadership of Pastor Walt and his wife, Vicky, were also there with an enthusiastic missions work group from Arkansas and Texas. They worked in the heat, doing a number of projects to upgrade the buildings on the property. As well, they participated in various aspects of the ministry, including the prison service, the drug rehab program, the Wednesday cell group service and the Friday night youth service. There was also time for some recreation, including nighttime soccer games, an afternoon at a local water park, and shopping in the downtown market.

The ministry in San Pedro is multi-faceted with outreach into a variety of areas in the local community. I found the service in the prison courtyard to be very moving, from the enthusiastic worship to the sincere response to the gospel as it was preached openly by one of the visiting pastors from the States. Stephen Tolman has great favour with the prison officials and is called on frequently in a chaplaincy role. We also met other members of the San Pedro ministry team including Jacob, the assistant pastor, Samy, the youth pastor, and many members of the congregation.

This is God’s work, and our efforts are nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. That power is evident as the foundation and planting efforts that have been going on for a number of years are now bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cell Groups

This year we started running cell groups in order to extend the ministry reach of the church. Every Wednesday, small groups of people gather in homes and in the church to worship and learn God's word. Once a month we also hold a church service with all the groups. The main focus of the cell groups is to encourage us to read and study the Bible beyond what is preached on Sundays, and to teach us the importance of sharing Christ with all the world. The cells are also way of bringing new members into the church as they provide a welcoming environment for us to invite friends and others who don't normally attend services. We began in April with 7 groups, and the response has been so great that this month 4 groups have started cell groups of their own.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Don't Close Your Eyes

A little while ago Stephen asked me to go take pictures at a ministry that I didn't even know we had. I have been here working with him and Marcela for almost a year now, but there is just so much going on that it is hard to keep up with everything.

Every Saturday morning the director of our Torreon Rehab Center (Rescate Social), Gerardo, and some of the young men who are in recovery go to a neighborhood to give breakfast to the children there. This is no ordinary neighborhood.

It is called Cardboardland (Cartonlandia). It is just a few miles away from one of the most expensive, private universities and one of the wealthiest parts of town. It is a part of the city that I didn't even know existed. The cardboard and cinder block houses stretched as far as I could see. Many had newspaper for roofs and sticks for beams. Others had wood nailed poorly together with gaps in the walls. It literally makes me shudder to think about how cold the winter will be for these people. I have seen this type of poverty in other parts of Mexico, but never in this proportion and not in the city of Torreon.

We arrived and unloaded the car with the food. The families were already lined up waiting for us. It was a blessing to be able to see the kids and visit with them, and to be able to help a little against their poverty. They seemed grateful for the help and, despite their conditions, they were still smiling.

The long term plan of this ministry is to build a permanent cafeteria in the area so the children can come, be safe, and simply eat. Stephen and Gerardo are already looking at property. What an incredible vision!!!

Numbness is a scary thing. It happens even on the mission field. We become so used to our schedule, to our life, and the worries of our day that we forget that it is not about us. It is about Him, the one who gave everything, all his attention, all his life...for us.

So the challenge for all of us is to open our eyes. Be aware. It is so easy to see a picture of a child and say, "What a shame,'' and do nothing more. Let's be involved, be aware, and pray always for the greatest need of all: the salvation of the souls of these children.

Please be praying for Stephen and Gerardo as they further this ministry. I praise God for opening my eyes to this ministry and for touching my heart with the faces that need spiritual and physical bread.

Paul Ellsworth

Thursday, November 02, 2006

El Calor

One way that we reach out to people here in Mexico is through our soccer ministry. Stephen and Marcela are president and vice-president of the El Calor organization, which is made up of two professional teams, a girls' team, and children's teams, for a total of almost 150 players. The children's teams are divided up by age level, and the girls' team is open to ages 13 and up. In order to play on the 3rd and 4th division professional teams, players are required to follow a rigorous training schedule and also be in school. The players are exposed to Christ through the examples of the coaches and trainers, through constant prayer, and through the teaching of God's Word. Before and after every practice and game the team gathers for a time of devotion and prayer. Twice a week Stephen holds Bible studies with the teams, and before each of the 3rd division team's road trips Marcela leads a team Bible study in their home. Stephen and Marcela also act as counselors to the players, praying for them and encouraging them to live a Godly life.

A short time ago we witnessed an example of God's faithfulness in this ministry. On a recent trip to Torreon, Marcela ran into a former Calor player. When he was with the team he was known as a rebel - he had long hair, wore makeup, and painted his nails black. He was not living a Christian lifestyle, and he was influencing other boys on the team to follow his example. When Marcela saw him in Torreon, she didn't recognize him at first, but he came up to her and excitedly told her, "Sister, all of the prayer, the counseling, and the sharing of God's Word when I was on the team have changed my life. I'm a Christian now and I'm serving God with my whole heart. Next week I'm getting married to a girl I met at church. Thank you for your prayers and for sharing God's love with us." God is not confined within the walls of a church - he is present even in the dust and sweat of a soccer field, and he will use all that we give him for his glory.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Site Updates

Just a few site changes to bring to your attention: so that you can find out more about the entire ministry, we've added links to the Tepic blogs of David and Elizabeth, and Philip and Lucy, and also to the Seedtime and Harvest website. Click on the links for the latest information and news from these areas of our work. We've also posted our mailing addresses for Mexico, the USA, and Canada, as well as two email addresses for you to contact us at any time. Also, feel free to leave comments at this site - just click the Comments link at the bottom of each posting.

On Monday, Oct. 23, Stephen left on a 3-week trip to the States. He will be preaching and sharing information about the work here in San Pedro. Please pray for his safety as he travels and that God will bless him as he ministers.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Welcome to Our San Pedro Blog!

Welcome to the new way to keep in touch with what's going on in San Pedro. Here you'll find ministry news, family updates, and pictures of the work God is doing here. Thank you for being part of this ministry, and please keep us in your prayers as we serve our Lord Jesus Christ and further His kingdom.

Recent Ministry Activities

  • On Sept. 30, our youth group travelled to Monclova to participate in a music and drama outreach service. Our drama group, Brilla Jesus, performed 3 skits illustrating the redemptive power of Jesus, and Reflejo, the church's rock group, played several songs from their album "Junto a Ti".
  • Sept. 15-17 was our semi-annual men's retreat to Durango. God's power was manifested through healings and delivery from demonic possession.
  • Every Saturday morning we serve breakfast in Cardboard Land, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Torreon. Cardboard houses stretch for miles and miles, only a few blocks away from some of the wealthiest homes in the city. We feed between 50-60 children every week, and we are planning to open a permanent kitchen facility in the near future.