|Pastor Rafael teaching children.|
VBS stands for Vacation Bible School, a name which sounds about as exciting as a stale piece of bread, and for many of us, including most children, is frequently how some view church, or at least many churches we have seen or been a part of. Church, even from the start, has been a very grown-up exercise and yet Jesus very clearly instructed us to not hinder children from coming to Him (Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17). In modern times, VBS is supposed to be not be boring, but if you ask most kids, the part that should be the most exciting (learning about God) is in fact made quite boring by well-intentioned adults as we struggle to communicate who God is to a young heart and mind.
Thus, we were very excited to have a team from Mission Hills Community Church from San Marcos, CA come to bring new passion and joy into this year's VBS here in Chacala and Las Varas. The team did an excellent job in demonstrating many new methods and games to us and the church from Las Varas who we hold VBS with. Modeled in the same philosophy of the GameLife ministry, MHCC sent a team of 17 adults and young people who demonstrated how to more effectively organize and teach children in dynamic and fun ways. By the end of the week, the local church here was leading the entire VBS with us "gringos" serving in the background. We were thankful to have MHCC choose to invest their time with us, and look forward to more joint ministry in the future. For those of you who have an interest in sending short-term teams, this is one opportunity here which makes for an relatively inexpensive and easy introduction for teams to learn about what God is doing outside the US and Canada. We were thrilled to see 41 children make spiritual decisions. Many of the team from MHCC connected with leaders from the local church and have remained in contact. A few folks from the MHCC team also have radically changed their focus on international ministry and are seeking to step out in faith by serving God internationally. Through the generosity of MHCC, instead of spending the funds they had set aside to rent a van while they were here, they decided to help the local church buy a van (which was less expensive than renting one), and enables the church here to use this more reliable van to transport children and adults to services and activities (most folks here don't have a car and so either walk or use a taxi).
GameLife / Juegos de Vida
Continuing the 2 day trainings we held the week before VBS, each afternoon the team from MHCC drove to Las Varas to help start a weekly Friday night Juegos de Vida (GameLife) ministry for children. Starting ministries by providing training and material is the central goal for us as a ministry, and we are so excited to see this new ministry get up and running in the church here. We are so thankful to have hosted the team from MHCC whose vision was to equip the local church here in Las Varas to carry on the ministry. They brought passion and equipped each local leader to run the entire Juegos de Vida (GameLife) ministry, and now the church here has around 30 children coming each Friday night. Already, 5 new families who were not previously connected to a church are starting to connect to the church in Las Varas, and we expect this number to grow as the church expands is potential to minister to more people. Won't you pray each Friday night for Pastor Rafael, his leaders Karen, Pauly, Laura, Rafael, Xavier and others? This starts a whole new chapter for us too, as we seek to further equip the Mexican church to demonstrate and teach the love Jesus has for us. We are already planning with Pastor Rafael's church next year's ministry project to join the local Juegos de Vida team here with a team from North America to equip another Mexican church to start a mid-week Juegos de Vida ministry in their church. Thanks for praying for this project and for your support to enable us to continue to expand and equip the local churches here!