28 Jan 2008
A land of saguaro cactus … of mesquite and Palo Verde trees … a place where the season of rainfall is short and the grass can find little soil to grow … a place where cattle long for a shade that will cool their bodies and goats seek pasture among the rocks. This is a place where the Mixteca Baja, … an indigenous people of Mexico, … lives. They are located in the lowlands and foothills of the Sierra Madre about 150 miles southwest of Mexico City in the State of Oaxaca.
This area may appear void of economic resources, but this is not the case. There are many small towns and cities scattered throughout these hills, valleys, and plains. Residents of the small town of San Antonio Tlaxcala mine onyx and carve it into a variety of items suitable for the tourist trade. A salt mine provides employment for some. This mine has been in operation for decades. The salt collected from the leeching pool is dried, sacked, and carried to a storage shed awaiting shipment.
Generations have come and gone but little has changed in the lives of the Mixteca Baja. It was in centuries past that large churches were constructed on orders from the Spanish priests. These Catholic Churches continue to be the central focus of the towns scattered along Highway 125 that runs south from Puebla to Oaxaca. The large city of Huajuapan de León is the administrative and economic center for the area. People congregate around the zocalo to visit with friends … to get their shoes repaired, get a haircut or just relax under the shade trees. The large church located on one side of the zocalo reminds all that the Catholic church and the people are one and the same. Over 95% (?) of those living here claim allegiance to the Catholic faith, but their faith is like the ringing of the church bells, … a tradition that has little impact on their lifestyle. They have little knowledge of Biblical truths and continue to cling tightly to the pagan worship practices they followed before the arrival of the Spanish. Less than 1% are evangelical Christians.
There are opportunities for the Mixteca Baja to learn more about Christ and God’s Word. On the edge of Huajuapan is a small church, … Primera Iglesia Bautista Getsemani. Augustine Meneses is the pastor of this congregation of about 90 believers. Listen to his vision about sharing the Word of God.
(Augustine on camera.)
Use another voice here for portion below.
The church has three goals for this year.
1. To bring the three missions in Zapotitlan Palma , Las Huertas , and Colonia Militar to become churches with local pastors.
2. To start a school of missions to train pastors and missionaries for the Mixteca Baja.
3. To start works in the outlying towns of Tonala, Las Montas, and others.
Each Saturday they have a youth evangelism study and the youth go out to practice what they study in the community. Further away, … but still a suburb of Huajuapan, … is the small community of Zapotitlan Palma and another church Sinai where God’s Word is taught. The church’s young pastor Miguel Paz … despite opposition from Catholic priests … teaches the truths from the Bible. Five Catholic Churches are located in this community. Another one is being built on a hill overlooking the site where Pastor Miguel and his small congregation are planning a major expansion. The members are financing the construction. Many contribute to this expense by making and selling baskets … as well as donating a portion of their corn and bean harvest. They plan to build the church themselves, as they are able. The church is growing in faith and knowledge of God's word and is becoming a strong missionary church. As Miguel moves on to start other churches, one of the men of the church will become pastor and continue the work as well as reaching out to other villages.
There are seats for 30 in their small building, but the regular attendance is about 35. More room is needed now as people respond to the teaching of God’s Word. Listen as Pastor Miguel shares his commitment and vision for this small church.
(on camera comments)
Use another voice here for portion below.
I came to work with Pastor Augustine two years ago after finishing the school of missions in Chiapas.
The move brought cultural conflict and shock just as if the move had been to another country. The language, customs, food, climate, and people were all different. I began work in Zapotitlan with a family of new believers and the work has grown steadily. Now I am starting a new work in the next village of Chila de las Flores in the home of another family of new believers.
God is moving among the Mixteca Baja. New Christians, … some who found Christ in the USA, … are seeking help to grow and start churches in their hometowns. The need for pastors and missionaries is great. Pray for Pastors Augustine and Miguel as they work among their people in this hot and dusty land. Pray that God will call out young men and women to reap the harvest for truly … "the harvest is great and the workers few".
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