Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(Luke 2:8-14)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


A couple of pieces of news from San Pedro:

  • We are happy to say that the church is still growing! Last week we baptized 3 new people in the church - one planned, and two who responded to a call that night in the service.
  • On a less happy note, El Calor was eliminated in the second round of playoffs, after two nail-biting penalty shoot-outs. Overall, however, the results of this season exceeded anyone's expectations, and the players are hard at work preparing for the new season in January.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Another week, another quick update from San Pedro...

  • Stephen left this morning on his last trip of the year, to Nashville, to minister at a church conference. Please pray for his safety as he travels and for God's blessing as he ministers.
  • The regular soccer season ended on Saturday with a 6-0 win for El Calor, leaving them with a record of 10-1-1. The team qualified for the playoffs, beginning this coming Saturday, in second place in their group and in 4th place nationally (out of 185 third-division teams). If they win the playoffs, the team will move up to Division 2 and open new opportunities for the players as well as new doors for ministry.
  • The students of the Id Pues missions school left early today for a week-long desert retreat. They will be spending four days camping, hiking, and deepening their relationship with God, and then will spend 3 days ministering in the nearby city of Monclova. Please pray for their safety and that their time will be blessed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Just a short update on what's been happening here in San Pedro:

  • Stephen and Marcela have returned safely after a successful week-long conference in Houston. Stephen is now preparing for a trip to Nashville in mid-November.
  • Work continues on the new building for our children's breakfasts. The men at our Torreon rehab center are working hard, and the walls are almost done, the floor will be laid sometime next week, and we hope to start distributing from this location within the month. Please pray that there will be no delays and that there will be sufficient funds to complete the work.
  • The El Calor soccer team continued its winning streak with a 1-0 result on Saturday in the city of Juarez. This Saturday is the final regular season game, and the team is now in training for the playoffs, taking place through November.
  • We are getting ready to welcome a young man from England who is on his way right now to San Pedro to work and minister with us for several months.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Travel Update

Both Stephen and Marcela are in Houston this week teaching and ministering at a conference. Please keep them in your prayers as they share God's word and as they travel.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Update: Traveling

Stephen, David, and Elizabeth arrived safely home last week after spending two weeks in Chile. Their trip was the first step in forging a stronger relationship with the church in Chile, and there are plans in place for a reciprocal visit later in 2008. Thanks to all those who were praying for the trip. Stephen is heading to Houston on Monday for a conference; please keep him in your prayers as he travels and ministers there.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Student Profiles: Jesús, Luis, and Jairo Mejia

Name: Jesús Mejia
Level: Middle School
Age: 13
Jesús’ family can be seen in almost everychurch activity. The children have a single mother who works full time to sustain herfamily. Their father committed suicide a few years ago. Jesús is very active in the church and is a true worshiper. He is always in the front lifting his hands and
dancing before the Lord.

Name: Luis Mejia
Level: Elementary (Public)
Age: 10

Luis likes to play hard and is full of energy. He grew up under his father who was an alcoholic and was old enough toremember when his father died. He needs a lot of love and care as he grows into a teenager.

Name: Jairo Mejia
Level: Elementary (Public)
Age: 7

Jairo can always be seen with a smile on his face. He is in every church service. He loves his family and his church.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Student Profile: Azucena Muruaga

Name: Azucena Muruaga
Age: 18
Level: University

Azucena is in her first year of university. She is studying Business Administration at the San Pedro branch of the Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila. She can always be seen with a smile on her face and is willing to serve. Azucena is the only member of her family who is faithful to God and to the church. She is learning to be a panderista and is always ready to help, whether with the youth group, with special church events, or with the children's breakfasts in Torreon. She also attends our English school and is making rapid progress.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Trip to Chile

This morning Stephen left for a two-week visit to Chile, along with David and Elizabeth. They will be ministering in various churches and teaching and training church leaders. Please pray for safety as they travel and that God will bless their time there.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Id Pues Missions School

This week classes started at the Id Pues Missions School here at the property. We have 4 students enrolled, 3 from Templo Libertad and one from Torreon, who is staying here for the semester. We are so excited to see this project finally beginning, as it has been over two years in the making. The classes we are offering right now are: Doctrine, Old Testament Overview, Cultural and Human Relations, Biblical Missions, and special workshops in Phys Ed. and How To Study the Bible. Classes are taught by Stephen and Marcela; our assistant pastor, Jacob; Paul Ellsworth, the school director; and myself. We are looking forward to seeing how God will use the school and its students in the future. Please pray for the school, the students, and the teachers, especially Paul, who is carrying the majority of the workload right now.

If anyone would like more information about the school, you can email me at sanpedroshm@gmail.com or Paul at paulsworth84@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

URGENT Need: Desayunador

If you are a regular reader of the blog, you will know about the children's breakfast project we run every Saturday in Cardboardland, the poorest neigbourhood in the city of Torreon. (If you are new to the blog, click on the label at the bottom of this post that says "Ministry - Children's Breakfast"to see a list of all the pertinent entries). Several months ago we obtained land to build our own desayunador, or building from which to distribute food and eventually open a medical clinic. We started building but have only been able to lay a very basic foundation. Recently we were given a deadline by the local government: we have until the end of October to complete the building or we will lose the property entirely. This is the only remaining property available in the area and we urgently need $5000 to completely construct and furnish the building. You can send donations through PayPal (see button at the top left of this page) or through regular mail to:

Seedtime and Harvest Ministries
8635 Callaghan Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78230 USA

Please help us continue this important outreach. As I have commented before, we are not only feeding the children's bodies, but more importantly we are feeding their souls.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Student Profiles: Clementina & Maria Ramirez

Clementina (Clemen) and Maria literally live in one of the last houses in town. They are part of a family of 7 children, only 3 of which are still at home. Their mother was a prostitute and their father left the family when they were still young. They came to the church when Clemen broke her arm (see other blog) and her brother brought her to church for help. Stephen and Marcela raised money to pay for her surgery and eventually both girls and their brothers, Dany and Luis, accepted Christ and became involved in the church. Clemen and Maria still attend services faithfully and are part of the tambourine ministry, and Luis is a leader in the church.

Name: Clementina Ramirez Campos
Level: University
Age: 17

Clemen is attending nursing school in the nearby city of Francisco I. Madero. She is in class from 2pm-7pm every day and in her spare time takes care of the home and participates in church activities.

Name: Maria Rosario Ramirez Campos
Level: High School (Public)
Age: 16

Maria is in her second year of high school, and her goal is to become a gynecologist. She has studied English for several years in our English school and speaks the language very well. She cleans houses to earn money.

Monday, September 03, 2007

El Calor Home Opener

On Saturday night the El Calor soccer team played their first home game of the season. The season began two weeks ago, with the team traveling 12 hours out of state. Ideally, the team arrives an hour or so before the game to warm up and prepare, but this time the bus driver got lost and they arrived at the field 20 minutes before the game! Despite the unexpected delays and rush, and a battle against altitude sickness, the team won 1-0.

This week the team played in Torreon, as their own field is not ready yet. A group of young people from the church traveled down in the bus to cheer on the team, and we must have done something right because we won 8-0! The team has been training extremely hard for the last two months and their efforts are paying off. Please pray for continued success for the team, wisdom for the coaching staff as they train the boys mentally, physically, and spiritually, and resources to equip the players. El Calor is more than a sports team; it is a ministry, and as their motto says, in all things, "To God Be The Glory". (El Calor in red jerseys)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Student Profiles: Pedro Mejia

Over the next few weeks I will be posting short biographies of the students in our Sponsorship Program so that you can put names with faces and learn about the people you are supporting.

Name: Pedro Mejia
Level: University
Age: 19

Pedro is one of the first students to be helped through the Student Sponsorship Program. Shortly after beginning high school he had to stop studying and go work in Monterrey, a city 3 hours away from his home in San Pedro. When he came back, he was too old to re-enter high school, so through the sponsorship program he was enrolled in a private high school. He has worked very hard to earn his diploma and this year he is going to university in Torreon to study architecture. He will be working in the mornings and attending the school in the evenings. Pedro is very active in the church and is one of our regular worship leaders in Sunday services and in his cell group. He also plays the drums in the church's music group, Reflejo. Pedro is excited to have the chance to complete university, and he is a blessing to us here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back to School

School started on Monday and dozens of children and teens from Templo Libertad have resumed their studies. There are many costs associated with school here and Stephen and Marcela help support several students in primary, secondary, high school, and university. Last year we created a Student Sponsorship Program and we would like to share with you the needs of the students involved in the program. Please pray and ask God how he can use you to help give these children and young adults a better future.

We have a complete package including student profiles, donation information, and frequently asked questions. I can't post the entire package, but here are the FAQ's. Please email me at sanpedroshm@gmail.com if you would like me to send you the sponsorship package (as an Adobe Acrobat document)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the tuition prices for each student?
The Student Sponsorship Program places each student in a category according to their leve0l of schooling. Each category has its own cost per student. The amount will cover tuition, school supplies, and inscription fees for the students. (Note: The payments of schooling are for 10 months a year starting in August and continuing through June)

Elementary Students (Private School) – $50 / month ($500 / year)
Elementary Students (Public School)- $20 / month ($200 / year)
Middle School Students (Public School) - $30 / month ($300 / year)
High School Students (Private School) -$70 / month ($700 / year
High School Students (Public School) - $40 / month ($400 / year)
University Students- $400 / month ($4000 / year)

  • How are the students chosen for the program?
Each student is a member of the church in San Pedro, Templo Cristiano Libertad. The students are chosen for the program as a result of their financial situation and the desire they show to continue in their education.

  • How is the money managed?
The sponsorship donations are sent through an organization based out of Nashville, TN called Global Foundation. The money will then be transferred to the Student Sponsorship Program’s bank account and administered according to the needs of the students.

  • Will I receive a report about the progress of the students?
Every month, the Student Sponsorship Team will send out a newsletter to sponsors. The newsletter will include a stories and testimonies from our students. It will also include any needs or prayer requests for the program or for the student’s families.

  • Why is there the option for private or public school?
There are strict age limits in the public schooling system in Mexico. If a student passes the age limit, he or she must enter a private school to continue their education. Also, many of the private schools offer special programs or career studies that the public schools do not offer.

  • How do I start with the program?
You can start, by reading the profiles of our students. Please choose a student, print and fill out the attached form with your personal information, and send it in the same envelope with your first donation.

  • For all donations simply follow the steps:
1. All checks should be made out to “Global Foundation.”
2. Place Student Sponsorship Program in the memo line.

All Donations:
3. Place the check or cash in an envelope addressed to the Global Foundation office.

Global Foundation
PO BOX 58328
Nashville, TN 37205

4. You will receive a letter for proof of your donation to a non-profit organization.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Difficulties and the Grace of God

This past Wednesday was our monthly cell group celebration, when we hold a joint service at the church for all our cell groups. The message that was shared with us spoke of how the hardships we experience in life allow God to manifest himself and show his grace. As Christians living under the authority and power of God, sometimes we think we shouldn't have problems, and we wonder why we do. In John 16:33, Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." There are two promises in this verse: one, we will not always have an easy life BUT, two, God has already won the victory over whatever circumstances we find ourselves. When we have problems we often want to blame God and question his will. We need to remember, thought, that blame and doubts and confusion do not come from God, but from the devil. We might start to think that there are no solutions, that the problems we face personally and globally are too big, but these thoughts again are not from God; they are what the world would have us think. The book of Romans assures us that, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose" (8:28). Being a Christian doesn't make you immune to difficulties, but it does guarantee that as we seek the will of God and remain faithful to him, he will provide a solution to even the worst problems and can turn them into blessings. If we did not have problems, we would not see the power and grace of God working in our lives. John 9 tells the story of a man blind from birth. When the disciples saw him, they asked Jesus what sins this man or his parents had committed to cause him to be blind. Jesus replied, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (9:3). In John 11 we read the story of the death of Lazarus, one of Jesus' closest friends. Jesus could have healed Lazarus easily, but he stayed away until several days after his death. This was a difficult situation even for Jesus; he wept when he arrived at the tomb. But when his disciples first told him that Lazarus was ill, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it" (11:4). Jesus knew that he and the others who loved Lazarus would have to suffer, that Lazarus himself would suffer death, in order for God to be glorified. When we experience problems we have two choices: one, we can get angry and forget about God, or two, we can give thanks to God for the opportunity to experience his grace. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." If we stop seeking God and focus on our pain, our problems will grow, but if we accept problems as part of life and thank God for giving us life, we allow him to show his grace, power, and love.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Hi again! We're in the last weeks of summer vacation and getting ready for the start of school and other regular activities. The last month has been exciting and busy as we have been blessed by visits from various groups and individuals from the States. Two weeks ago a group of young people from Texas spent four days with us, participating in street ministry and also cleaning up the property. We did two outreaches here in San Pedro and the group also participated in our Friday night church service. Their ministry was unique in that they used magic tricks to illustrate the love of God and to visually present the Gospel to the groups of children who gathered to watch. The church drama team also presented several skits during the outreaches.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. The last couple of weeks have been difficult as many of the team members here have been sick with various illnesses. We know that God has his hand on us and that your prayers make the difference for us. Please pray for renewed health and strength for all here to carry out the work that needs to be done.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)

Monday, July 16, 2007


Hello Everybody!!

Lots of exciting things have been going on in San Pedro this summer. The soccer team is in training (and are doing excellently). The children's breakfast continues. The youth group has been doing events for fellowship. We have had some amazing visitors. More is on the way too!! We have a group from Houston coming down on a short term trip this Thursday.

One of the events that we had that stuck in my mind is our service at the Rehab Center. We recently went there with some friends who were visiting us from Arkansas. We started off the service with worship. At first the men were calm, hardly even clapping. After a while they started to experience the freedom of God. They began to dance for him and praise his name. Later in the service, one of our friends from Arkansas preached. The men were listening closely and were touched by the word. After the word, we prayed for the men and worshiped more. It was an incredible time. The men didn't want us to leave. They tasted the freedom of Jesus.

Being there reminded me of a man who used to be in the center every time I went. This rehab center is not voluntary. The men are placed there by their families. Every time that we used to have a service in the Rehab Center, this man was there. He would graduate from the program, but shortly be back in.

I used to also see him on the bus going to Torreon. He was selling candy to make a living. I would ask him, "How are you doing?" He knew exactly what I meant and would always respond, "I am not doing well. I cannot stay off of drugs." It was upsetting to see this man still struggle after so many people had poured their lives into helping him. One day, however, all that changed.

I was arriving in San Pedro on the bus when I saw the man again. I asked him the same question, "How are you doing?" This time was different and he didn't have to say anything to tell me. I could see it in his eyes. He smiled from ear to ear and with a sparkle in his eye said, "Pablo, I have found Jesus. I found Jesus. I am free!! I am free!!" He kept saying that and started saying it louder and louder until he was almost shouting it. I am sure the other people on the bus thought he was crazy. He even missed his stop to tell me all that Jesus had done for him. Jesus had set him free from drugs and addiction. He was truly free.

More than programs, these men in Rehab need Jesus. He is the only one who can truly make them free. Let us allow God to use us to bring that freedom.

John 8:34-36
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Paul (Pablo) Ellsworth

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Update - Vacation Time!

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the more-sporadic-than-usual blogging...summer has a funny way of making things go off schedule. Stephen and his family are on vacation right now - please pray that God will give them a time of rest and relaxation and keep them safe as they travel. I'm also away - I'm in Canada until mid-July visiting my family and raising support for the coming year. I've never had to do this before, so please also pray for me - that God will give me the words as I speak to people and that I wouldn't be afraid to ask for what I need. If you would like to help me, or would like to donate to the ministry in general, remember that you can donate using the PayPal button at the top of this page, or you can send donations to these addresses:


Make all checks and donations payable to:
Seedtime and Harvest Ministries
8635 Callaghan Road
San Antonio, TX 78230


Make all checks and donations payable to:
Shiloh Christian Centre
P.O. Box 158
Fenelon Falls, ONT KOM 1NO

(Please specify in writing the persons or projects to which the funds are designated; all donations are tax deductible)

God bless you as you give to his work. For those of you who are also on vacation or are making plans, we pray that God will bless your time off!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I Can't Do It

For the last month, I've been teaching a children's Bible class 4 days a week at the English school. We're going through the Old Testament, touching on major stories and people, and yesterday the lesson was about the anointing of Saul as the first king of Israel. We talked about how Saul didn't understand why he had been chosen by God to be king: "But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?" (1 Sam. 9:21). In other words, "I'm not important, I don't have anything to offer, what does God want with me?" This is the same thing that Gideon and Moses said to God: "Choose someone else - I can't do it." I say the same thing as well, especially when it comes to teaching. For me, teaching is the hardest thing I do here, and this Bible class has especially been a struggle because not only do I have to teach, but I have to teach in Spanish. Every day I want to give up before I start, because I think, "I'm going to make mistakes, this is too hard...I can't do it."

"I can't do it" - this is the whole point!!

In every class I give the students a memory verse to learn for the next day. To go with the lesson yesterday, I chose 2 Corinthians 4:7: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." What is the treasure? The Spirit of God and the knowledge of him. And what are the jars of clay? We are. Moses was. Saul was. I am. If we are weak in a certain area, but ask God to provide what we lack, and then go ahead and act, people will see that God is working through us because of our faults, not in spite of them. Even though I'm not the best teacher in the world, if I do my part - preparing for class and showing up every day - God can use that for his glory. Usually only two or three kids come to class, but yesterday three more girls from the church dropped by the school on an errand and decided to sit in the class. Afterwards, one of the girls told me that this idea, this theme, had been running through her mind for several weeks. She said that, although she is a Christian, she has made some mistakes and she and others have been doubting and wondering how God can use her life. We prayed together, and she said that now she knows that God will restore her and use her for his purposes.

Alone, using my own resources, I can't do it. But if I am willing to be used, there is no limit to what God can do through me.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:13)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Student Sponsorship

Several of the youth in the church are in the process of writing university entrance exams for September. I'm glad that I'm not the one going through it, but there are many people who wish they could afford the cost of schooling - not just at the university level, either, but for primary and secondary school as well. There is no free schooling here, and this is a barrier for many children and teens who can't afford to pay. Compared to the cost of schooling in the States or Canada, the prices here are very low:

* Primary school: $85 (government school)-$700 (private school)/year
* Secondary school: $105/year
* High school: $310/year
* College/university: between $500-$3000/semester, depending on the school and the program of study

As I've also mentioned, we are starting a missions school here in September. We are anticipating that there will be students who will want to come but are facing financial barriers. If you want more information about how you can sponsor a student in the missions school, email me at sanpedroshm@gmail.com, or the school director, Paul Ellsworth, at paulsworth84@gmail.com. Please pray about how God can use you to help the students here, both in regular school and in Bible school, and give them not just a better future, but the future that God has planned for them.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Believe and Do Not Doubt

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
(James 1:5-8)

Last night Stephen shared this passage of Scripture with the young adults group. Many times we ask God for things and then wonder why we don't get them (and I'm speaking from experience!). Sometimes we ask with wrong motives; other times our motives may be fine, but we lack the faith to believe that we will receive what we ask for. One argument that I always have with myself is that, "Well, I try to take a realistic view of the world. I know God can do anything, but how do I know that he will do what I'm asking? Sometimes the answer is 'no'." I asked Stephen about this, and he reminded me that our view of reality is not necessarily God's reality:

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (1 Cor. 13:12)

" 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'."
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Even if the answer is "no", we won't know this unless we ask in the first place - and we definitely won't receive anything if we don't ask at all!

Many times we don't receive what we ask for because we are indecisive and undetermined - as James says, "a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." Pretend you're on the beach right now, standing on the shore with the waves coming in around your feet. They come in...and then they go back out. In again...and back out...in...out...the only constant thing about them is that they keep going back to the place they started. Even in violent storms like hurricanes, when there is massive flooding and water comes deep inland, what eventually happens? It goes back out - it never stays in its new place. What good is it if we ask God for something, but later take it back or change our minds? Jesus said the same thing over and over again in the Gospels:

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
(Matt. 21:21-22)

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24)

"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
(John 14:13-14)

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." (John 15:7)

"If you remain in me...". First, we need to seek the will of God and then we will ask for things according to his will, not carelessly or selfishly. This is why James says that we should ask for wisdom - if we seek God and simply ask for the wisdom to know his will, and then obey, all the rest will follow.

To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Outdoor Evangelism

Last night the youth group traveled to a nearby town to do outdoor evangelism. We arrived at about 6pm and went door to door inviting people to come to the presentation. The service started shortly after 7 in the town's central square. We sang two or three songs and then the drama team performed 5 skits. There is no speaking in any of the dramas, but the message of the Gospel and salvation is conveyed with great impact. After the dramas, Stephen spoke for a few minutes, emphasizing that only in Jesus can we find fulfillment and peace. Several people from the audience came forward for prayer and to give their lives to the Lord. The simplicity of the whole event was what stood out for me - we didn't spend days or weeks planning this, we didn't pass out flyers or take out newspaper ads - we just hopped on a bus, knocked on some doors, and presented the Gospel to those who came. God had already done the hardest work, preparing the hearts of the people who came and who responded to his call; we just had to be there, willing to serve him.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Día de los Niños

In Mexico, the month of May is full of holidays: Mother's Day, Teacher's Day, Worker's Day, Student's Day and, yesterday, Children's Day. Kids all over the country receive candy and gifts and numerous parties and celebrations are held. We made a special trip to Cartonlandia, where we give out the Saturday breakfasts, to give out chocolates to the children to celebrate this day.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt. 19:14)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I mentioned in an earlier blog that recently we travelled to Poza de la Becerra, an spring-fed lake in the middle of the desert, about 2 hours away from San Pedro by bus. To get there, you have to drive through a long stretch of desert – rocks, sand, scrubby plants, and mountains. Then, a quick left turn and suddenly…trees. And grass. And a lake! In the most unlikely place imaginable, there is an oasis, actually a series of waterholes fed by an underground spring. Each is home to a species of fish that isn’t found anywhere else in the world – if you stand too long in the shallow water, though, they tend to bite your ankles! Ever since I arrived here, people have been telling me about this place and saying, “You have to go”, but honestly, when the day of the trip finally came, I didn’t want to go. It was two days after youth camp had ended; that weekend we had also gone on an all-day trip Saturday and had a full day of Sunday services. I really just wanted some downtime, not another trip. However, it turned out to be one of the most relaxing, fun days I have had in Mexico. The weather was perfect, there were no crowds to speak of, and for a while we could forget about the work waiting for us at home.

In Matthew 11, Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." He knew what it was to be weary and in need of rest, and he offers himself as an oasis for our souls, a place where we can go and be refreshed with living water. A church service, your time alone with God, reading the Bible, prayer – all these things can be oases, springs of life in the middle of whatever desert we are going through. BUT, we do have to make the journey! I could have stayed home and rested, but I would have missed experiencing the poza, something I could only do by making the journey. Sometimes when we’re tired, the last thing we want to do is go to church or read the Bible – but if we don’t, we will miss the chance to have a closer encounter with God. And just like the water in the poza is continually renewed from the underground spring, each time we seek an oasis with God, he will bring something new into our lives and spirits.

They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water. (Isaiah 49:10)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Prayer Request

Please pray for Gerardo, the man who runs our rehab center in Torreon, as well as his family. Last week his daughter, who had been sick with a kidney condition for several years, was hospitalized suddenly and died early on Friday morning. She was a Christian and so we know and are glad that she is in the presence of Jesus and that her suffering is over. It is a difficult time for her family, though, and we ask that you pray for peace and comfort for them.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


We've just reached the end of Easter vacation, although I don't know how relaxing it was - I don't remember being this busy since I arrived! The day after camp finished, we went to Monterrey to visit an amusement park...but it rained the entire day (it was awful, like the worst November day you could imagine), so we headed off to do some shopping, instead. We had our regular services on Sunday, and then Monday we travelled to Cuatrocienegas, about a two hour bus ride away. Just outside the city, in the middle of the desert, there are a series of small lakes, each containing a species of fish unique to that spot. About 20 youth and others from the church went and enjoyed swimming, volleyball, and soccer. We also had some visitors from Tennessee staying with us this week - when they planned their trip, I don't think they expected quite so much activity! Two bus trips, camp, tours of San Pedro and Torreon, and two days of repairing roofs - did I say this was a vacation??

Campa 2007: Wrap-up

So, I didn't quite reach my goal of posting every day of camp...but almost! The final day, Friday, we had an excellent Praise and Worship workshop in the morning - God's presence was very tangible among the young people. After another full day of activities, we wrapped up the camp with an awards ceremony recognizing the best overall group and the king and queen of the camp, as voted on by the campers. After the service 7 people were baptized, all of whom had attended the camp, and some of whom had just accepted Jesus in the Thursday night service. Of these people, one was a soccer player for El Calor, 3 were from the Torreon rehab center, and two were friends of Elisa's from school. I was amazed at how God was able to bring people from different areas of outreach together in this one place and time, and how their hearts were opened to receive him.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Camp 2007: Day 3

The late nights and early mornings caught up to everyone today as we started almost half an hour late! After running the obstacle course and relay again, we ate and headed to our classes. First, everyone attends an hour-long worship workshop, and then we divide up into teams for the next 3 hours. Each team rotates between 4 40-minute workshops: drama, crafts, team dynamics, and Bible study. After lunch, we have competitions and games. Today, each team had to race the other to fill up a pop bottle with water from a bucket, using only a sponge. They filled the sponge with water, ran to the other side of the yard, and squeezed it into the bottle, which was resting on the forehead of another team member.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thanks - updated

A huge thanks to Mark for the sound equipment and instruments that he donated to the church, as well as the soccer balls and other items you brought. You and Jordan were a blessing to us while you were here, and we hope to see you back soon!

Thank you also to Earl Stone for his generous donation of a portable generator. We'll be using it on outreaches and trips around the country.

Camp 2007: Day 2

Day 2 of camp came much too early, as we woke up to the sound of blaring sirens - good morning!! I will never complain about my alarm clock again...we met in the church at 7am, had a brief service, and went right into the day's first activity, the most involved and dirty obstacle course I have ever seen. Each team had to run through tires, crawl under logs, clamber around a nearby playground, and jump off the water tower using a zip line...but I'll let you see for yourselves:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Camp 2007: Day 1

It's just after 8pm and youth from all over Mexico are arriving for our annual youth camp. Tents are being set up, there's a soccer game going on, and the property has been turned into a gigantic obstacle course, full of people, activities, and games. Check the site daily for updates and pictures, and pray that everyone who comes will have an encounter with God and go home changed.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Update and Thanks

Stephen and the kids returned safely from Houston on Tuesday night. Now, everyone's gearing up for camp next week, which will run from Tuesday night to Saturday morning. Stay tuned for more details - I'll try to post daily summaries and pictures.

Thanks to Ruth for her contribution toward new tires for the truck. We appreciate your generosity (and, if you look at the post "What Are The Odds?", you'll understand why!).

Friday, March 23, 2007


Stephen, Elisa, and Timothy left last night on their way Houston, where Stephen will be preaching and ministering this weekend. Please pray for their safety and that God will speak in these services.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

San Pedro Projects Blog

In the last couple of weeks we've started a new blog called "San Pedro Projects". We want you to know the projects we're working on and praying for, and some of the needs of the ministry. The blog address is here at: SHM San Pedro Projects

You can also go to the site by clicking on the link on the left side of this page. We will be updating the blog to reflect progress and to let you know specific areas you can pray for. We ask you to pray for the needs that are presented, and also about how you can help complete the work. We've set up a PayPal account for those of you who might prefer to donate online; just click on the "Make a Donation" button on either the Projects blog or on the first San Pedro blog.

If you have any questions or want more information about any of the projects, please contact me at sanpedroshm@gmail.com. If there are questions about the missions school, you can also direct them to Paul at paulsworth84@gmail.com; he's overseeing the development of this ministry and is happy to tell you more about it.

God bless you as you continue to participate in his work here!

The Growing Church

In the last week, we've had 6 baptisms in the church. Those baptised ranged from an 11-year-old girl to an elderly woman who was introduced to the church through the cell group program. Praise God that his people are obedient in taking this step of faith and demonstrating their commitment to him!

Last Friday we welcomed our new youth pastors, Cesar and Paulina. They came to us in January from the state of Nayarit, where they worked and studied with Philip, David, and Elizabeth. They are currently living with us on the property and have already shown much willingness to act as mentors and friends to our youth. We're excited to see how God will use them to lead the young people in changing lives and spreading the Gospel.

We're just two weeks away from our annual youth camp, which this year is taking place on the property from April 3-6. The theme is "Go for more", and we're expecting between 100-200 youth from all over Mexico to come and participate in 4 days of fun, work, and ministry.

Last week in Cartonlandia, the area where we hold our weekly children's breakfasts, several houses caught fire and about 25 families lost everything except the clothes on their backs. Thankfully, no one was killed or injured, and the fire was contained to a relatively small area. Please pray for protection for the people living in this impoverished area, and for us as we minister every week.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Generation Without Limits

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
(Rev. 17:14)

On March 3 the youth of Templo Libertad took part in a youth gathering in Torreon, along with about 200 youth from 8 other churches. The theme of the conference was missions and Stephen was the main speaker. For some time we have been praying that God will open the way to establish a missions school here, and now things are starting to fall into place. We are still in the planning stages, but we are aiming to open the school in September. Stephen felt very strongly called to preach at this gathering, and in keeping with the missions theme he shared a message entitled "Called, Chosen, and Faithful", which he also preached in church a couple of months ago. God calls us to his service, but we must respond to his voice. Those who are called are chosen by God to be part of his family and to bear fruit for him. We do not choose God first; he chooses us because he wants us as his children, whether we feel worthy or not. Being called and chosen, we must then ourselves choose to be faithful to God no matter the cost - as he was and is faithful to us.

We're excited to watch the plans for the missions school unfold, and just a few days after the conference we have already been contacted by people who want to enroll. Please pray with us for the success of this new area of ministry, and that many here will respond to the call of God in their lives.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We Made It!

We're happy (and amazed) to tell you that we DID make it to the food bank this week - despite our van overheating. Thankfully, we were at the rehab center when it happened, and so we were able to deal with the situation quickly. After running out of food at the last two breakfasts, this week we were blessed with enough food for 130 breakfasts on Saturday morning. We actually saw closer to 150 children come, and while we weren't able to give full breakfasts to the last few, at the very least they received a bottle of yogurt or Jello. Please pray that we will be able to feed all who come, and not just with earthly food, but that God will fill the souls of the children and their families.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What Are The Odds?

If you've been reading our blog from the beginning, or if you've taken the time to read some of the older posts, you probably know a bit about the children's breakfast we serve in Torreon every Saturday morning. 3 weeks ago, Stephen told me that I would be taking charge of the breakfasts. Every Friday, I have to go to the food bank in Torreon, get what we need for the next day (usually bread, yogurt, and milk), and then drive to Torreon bright and early Saturday morning to serve breakfast. Since I'm still relatively new here, I don't know where the food bank is, so Stephen told Paul and I to go that first Friday. However, when Friday came, we didn't have a car to go in. Fine, we said, we'll go next week. The next Friday rolls around, and Paul and I set out in our ancient pick-up truck. All is going well until about 20 minutes into the trip, when the truck suddenly slows down for no reason. Well, actually, this was the reason:
So off we trekked into town, called for help, changed the tire, and decided to try again the next week.

The third Friday comes along, and we set off again (in a different car), feeling a bit of trepidation...but we passed the spot where we broke down...halfway to Torreon...success!! We made it to the rehab center! All we have to do is wait for a couple of people, and then we're off to the food bank. BUT, while we're waiting in the office, we get a phone call from Stephen - there's a problem at the bank, and we have to go back to San Pedro to sort it out. So close...and yet so far...so this week, a month after our first attempt, we'll be heading out again - please pray that we'll make it!

However disastrous our attempts to get to the food bank, the breakfasts have been going very well. Three weeks ago we fed about 60 children, two weeks ago about 75, and last week over 120. While we're glad that we're reaching so many people, this week we ran out of food before we ran out of people. It's difficult to look at the people and tell them that there's nothing left, although they received the news calmly. To avoid this problem in the future, we're hoping to involve some of our church members in buying beans and tortillas and making burritos to supplement the food we get from the food bank. It will also be helpful when we get the new kitchen built because if we start to run low on food, we will be able to make more on site, instead of guessing how much to bring every week. This is a picture of the new building right now. We are praying that we will be able to expand it further to accommodate more children and more workers.

Monday, February 12, 2007


An update on some recent events:

-In the church, we have celebrated 5 baptisms in the last week, including 3 young men from our San Pedro drug rehab center.

-We are continuing to reach out to needy children and their families in Torreon through our Saturday breakfasts. This past Saturday we fed almost 100 children, almost double the number who came two weeks ago. We are moving forward with plans to build the permanent kitchen facility that we need, in order to provide a safe place for the children to come and eat, and also to allow us to serve even more children every week.

-Plans are also advancing to start a missions training school here. Stephen and Paul have been talking and praying about what classes to offer and what curriculum to use, and tonight we will be discussing the school with our church leaders. At an upcoming conference in March, Stephen will be presenting the plan to other Mexican churches. We hope to open the school in August or September of this year.

-Finally, we want to express our deepest sympathy to the congregation at Christ Church Nashville and the family of Eric Falk, who was the missions pastor there. Eric's passion for the extension of the kingdom of Jesus Christ was exemplary, and though we know he is rejoicing now in the Lord's presence, we will miss him here on earth. Thanks for your great friendship. Our prayers and sympathy also go out to the Tommy Scott family for the loss of their daughter.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thess. 4:13-14)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Shine a Light

Ahi viene la güera!” “Here comes the blond girl!” As one of only three white, blond people in San Pedro, I hear this, or some variation of it, every time I set foot off the property. When I walk down the street, cars slow down and people turn around and stare – and not just a quick glance, but until I’m not in sight any more. Often people will be walking in one direction while staring in the other – I fully expect to witness some sort of horrific accident one day because someone’s not watching where he or she is going. Usually this attention doesn’t bother me too much, but some days it irritates me to no end. It’s tempting to do or say something rude in return, to let the world know that yes, I can see you looking at me, and yes, I can understand what you’re saying about me. But I know that if I did do something, people would remember for precisely this reason – I stand out. Stephen likes to comment that in San Pedro there’s no way he could ever sin – too many people know him and would find out about it. One day Stephen and I went downtown to run a 10 minute errand, and it turned into a 30 minute excursion because every 5 steps another person would stop and greet him. In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). In other words, as a Christian you need to be so radically different that people know who and what you are without you having to say a word. I may not like being noticed, but as I walk around the city I am reminded of Jesus’ words. This in turn helps me accept, and perhaps appreciate, being different – in living here, I’m not representing myself, but my family, my work, my church, and ultimately God.

Templo Libertad update: Tonight is the first night of our new weekly service format. We still have regular Sunday morning and afternoon services, but in response to requests from the congregation, we are consolidating our weeknight meetings instead of holding them on separate days. Every Friday we will meet for a time of corporate worship and then break off into groups for men's, women's, youth, and children's services.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Back in San Pedro (and boycotting the car)

We arrived safely back from San Antonio yesterday afternoon after a busy but enjoyable week at missions conference. I have made a solemn vow not to step foot inside the van for at least a week...or at least until I run out of Diet Coke and have to go to the store...so probably tomorrow. I'm glad that I got to meet some of you who read the blog - I now have faces to go with my list of email addresses! Thanks to everyone at Destiny who worked so hard to make the conference a success and to make us feel at home.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Missions Convention: San Antonio

A short update from Texas - right now we're in the middle of the yearly missions convention at Destiny Church in San Antonio. We've enjoyed the services very much; the worship and the speakers have been excellent. A special thanks to the kitchen teams for providing coffee every morning...

Marcela and Elisa will be flying back from Nashville tomorrow for the end of the conference. They have had a great time at the recording studio - initially, the producer had only planned to record 3 songs, but they were able to record 10! We are all excited to see where this will lead, and are praying that God will continue to provide opportunities for Elisa to use her gifts.

A final note - for those of you who read the blog and aren't at the conference, the next time you talk to David and Elizabeth, ask them what they had to do when they received pledges in the Tuesday night service...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Site Update

After several requests, we've finally updated the family pictures on the site. Re. the changes: Damara, Philip's daughter, recently got married and so isn't in the current family picture (yes, they still love her, and no, she's not an outcast...). Pedro, in the far right of Stephen's family picture, is Stephen and Marcela's nephew; he and his mother, Marcela's sister, live here on the property.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Update: Missions Convention

Just a short update today...we're getting ready to head off to missions convention in San Antonio on Friday. We're looking forward to the services and to connecting with people we don't have a chance to see very often (and I, personally, am looking forward to seeing more of Texas than just the interior of the DFW airport...). Please keep us in your prayers as we travel and minister this next week.

As always, feel free to leave comments here on the site or email me at sanpedroshm@gmail.com. If you are not on our regular mailing list and want to be, you can let me know at this same address.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Update: Cell Groups

In an earlier post I talked about our cell groups and how they have expanded beyond our expectations. This week the church and cell leaders met to decide how to restructure the cells to accommodate everyone. Several changes are set to take place in the next couple of weeks:
  • new locations - some groups are changing location to make attendance more convenient for their members
  • new leadership roles - every Monday, Stephen holds a leaders meeting where he instructs cell leaders in God's word and helps them prepare for that Wednesday's service. Now, leaders will be given a theme every week and then have to write their own message to deliver to their groups.
  • new worship roles - every cell group now has its own worship leader and musicians. When the groups started, this wasn't the case. The church trains all its young people on the instrument of their choice and a short time later they begin to minister in the church. Enough people have been trained now so that each cell can hold worship services every week.
We are excited to see these changes implemented. Not only do they mean that the church is growing and that God is blessing this ministry, but the increasing number of leaders and people trained in different roles means that the church is not dependent only on the leadership of a few people. The more people who are trained to minister, the greater the reach and influence of the church. This, and not a power hierarchy based on titles, training, or position in the church, is one of the most important goals of the church.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from everyone in San Pedro! We pray that God will continue to bless His work here and also bless all of you who continually support us.

I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
(Matt. 3:11)

This New Year's we had both water baptism and a kind of baptism with fire. On New Year's Day Stephen baptized his sister-in-law, who has been a Christian for some time but had never been baptized. A small group of us gathered at the baptism tank (outside and unheated! Thankfully the day wasn't too cold...) and we had a short service. Before coming here I had never been to a baptism for only one person, but there have been two such baptisms in the last month. Praise God that His people are willing to obey Him - even in the middle of winter! - and take this step of dedication and surrender.

On New Year's Eve we held our regular Sunday afternoon service and then had a special Thanksgiving service at 11 pm. We had a short time of worship and then gathered around a bonfire, where everyone shared one thing they were grateful for in their lives this year. These things ranged from simple things like another year of life and the blessings of family and friends, to life-changing miracles and works of God. After this, on a small piece of paper we each wrote down the things in our lives that we want to change this year - not as resolutions, but as prayers and needs that we presented to God, asking for His help to change us. We then threw the papers in the fire, symbolizing that we have surrendered these things to God. In the Bible fire is used for several purposes. The Israelites offered burnt sacrifices to atone for sins and also to offer thanks to God. God spoke to His people out of the fire, as when He gave the 10 Commandments, and to show His power, as in the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. It is also used to purify and refine. What we did was a small sacrifice on our part; it didn't really cost us much, but as I looked at the things I wrote, I realized how merciful God is and how loving - despite our shortcomings, despite our sins, He is always faithful and willing to accept us as we are. Even though we tend to want to rescue that paper from the fire and take back control of our lives, He still wants nothing more than to purify us, filll us with His Spirit, and draw us closer to Him. The need for burnt offerings is gone because of Jesus' death and resurrection, but we still need to offer ourselves as sacrifices every day, laying our plans and our desires before Him and asking for His will to be done in us. It may hurt; we may smell smoke and see the ashes of things that we valued lying around us, but what is left in the end will be pure and everlasting.