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.