Happy Fall, Friends and Family!

Note: You can download a printable PDF version of this update here.

David and Sara Lont

The autumn season has begun, and with it, cool weather, rain and fog here in our area. We really haven’t seen much of the sun over the past several weeks! A hurricane came through in the middle of August and brought lots of rain, which we’re thankful for, especially since we’ve had a lack of rainfall during the past several years. The months of August and September are normally very cool and rainy, and we’re enjoyed every day of God’s provision of water from heaven.

A Generator Fire

We were in the middle of an online meeting with our church one Wednesday night in September when Anna looked out the window and saw sparks and fire coming out of our tool shed (which is about 100 yards from the house), where the power generator was running. I was down the hill in our cabin in another meeting, and Anna quickly told me (over the Zoom meeting platform) that something was wrong with the generator and that I should go and check. I ran up the hill to find the plastic casing on the outside of the generator burning in flames. After quickly shutting it down, I raced to the house to get water and put out the fire. Thankfully, the fire only affected the housing of the generator and nothing else burned. We saw the Lord’s protection that night. I was even able to get back into the church meeting to close with prayer, and nobody realized that I had gone to put out a fire during the service!

Replanting a Forest

The lack of rain over the last several years affected the pine forests around our state, making the trees more susceptible to the pine beetle. This tiny insect eats through the bark of the tree, lays eggs, multiplies, and then comes out, leaving the trees “bleeding” (with pine sap) to death. Hundreds or thousands of them attack a single tree and kill it within a few weeks.

Although we had seen this happen before on our property, the beetles usually only attacked a few trees and left. But over the past year, they began attacking dozens of our trees at a time, and then moving on to the next batch. The only way to stop them is to cut down and burn the infected trees, but government regulations require special permits to cut trees, and these permits are a bit difficult to get. The beetles attacked and killed over 200 of the pine trees on our property, until finally in April, we were able to get the proper permissions to deal with the beetle outbreak.

Sara’s great-nephew helped to plant a tree.

Now we’re in the process of replanting the affected area with young trees, and praying that the beetles will stay away. It’s been quite an adventure. I hated to see the whole section of forest destroyed, but now it’s beautiful to see the area replanted with little trees. It’s also nice to have a rather large supply of firewood.

Church

Our church is moving forward with vision for establishing God’s Kingdom in our area. We are doing a combination of online and in-person services. I preach every week to our congregation on YouTube, and our small groups meet via Zoom. But we are also doing some outdoor services every month here outside of our house. At the same time, we’re pursuing a micro-church model, in which a few families can gather at a house and participate together in our online services.

Our church’s building project is making good progress. Parts of the wall surrounding the property have been built. The area for the office and bathrooms is also coming along well. It has been raining a lot during the last few months, so this has slowed the construction progress some. Whenever the workers dig to make foundations, if it rains hard during the night, the next morning they find their trenches filled with water and have to pump it out. But other than this little detail, the work is progressing. We hope to have a garden area on the property completed within six months or so, in order to have outdoor services there.

I’m constantly reminding our people that the church is not a building, but rather the people who respond to God’s call to become living stones in His house. In the times of the New Testament church, there weren’t church buildings. Church meetings took place wherever the people gathered – at times, in the synagogues, in certain cities outside near the river, in the public square, or in houses.

It’s definitely nice to see some of our people in our outdoor meetings each month. We encourage them to bring something for lunch, and most stay to have a picnic after church. These have been fun and unique times.

A picnic lunch after church this past Sunday

Bible School

Our online Bible School is active and well. We began classes in the middle of August and had about 180 students enroll for the semester. As I shared with you in our last update, I have been developing our Hermeneutics course. We finally finished recording the last six classes a couple of weeks ago, although I’m still working of the weekly reviews, forming essay questions and tests. The students are currently in week seven while I’m working on week eleven, so I’m managing to stay several weeks ahead of the group.

Our course facilitators are doing a wonderful job of taking care of the students each week, grading assignments and staying in communication with their groups. It is such a blessing to be able to count on our team!

Advanced School Of Ministry

We’ve been meeting with the Advanced School of Ministry team about once a month. During these meetings we’ve been planning our next seminar (which will be online) at the end of January. It is so nice to be able to see and talk with our team members in different cities on video conferencing. With everyone now using technology, we actually get to see the team much more than before the pandemic, when we only got together a couple of times per year.

Our Family

Our son David moved to Texas A&M in August to work on his doctorate degree in engineering. David was blessed to be accepted in a program in which he gets paid to study! He also was able to purchase his first car and is very happy to not have to travel everywhere on a bicycle anymore. He often comments on what a blessing it is to be able to get groceries and not worry about how to carry them home. Although he isn’t specifically called to ministry, he faithfully attends church each weekend.

Daniel and Elisa are going on 5 months of marriage. Daniel works for Portland Bible College, and together they serve in their local church in Vancouver, Washington.

Anna is here with us, studying online as a full-time student at Bethel Church’s school of ministry in Redding, California. She is enjoying her classes and growing in her relationship of the Lord. She is also taking an online course in our Bible School and helps with the development of our material. Of course, Anna is also such a blessing in church, doing youth ministry, leading a small group, singing with the worship team and taking care of social media for us. She is a very gifted Bible teacher. Whenever the church hears her teach, we get many positive comments. We know that she is definitely called to ministry.

Thanks for your help!

Thanks so much for your prayers and financial support. We are extending God’s kingdom in the Tulancingo area and throughout Mexico and are very thankful for your help as together we accomplish the mission of preaching the gospel and expanding God’s kingdom.

Have a blessed week!

With love,

David and Sara Lont

Update – August, 2021

This update is available in PDF format here.

Hello, Friends and Family!

Have you been enjoying the summer? Here the heat is over and it’s mostly cool, cloudy and rainy. We’re once again using our heaters, fireplace and wood stove here in the mountains outside of Tulancingo, Hidalgo. For the most part the warmest time of the year is in April and May. After that, the rainy season starts and with it, cooler weather. We’re very thankful for the rain! It makes everything so beautiful. The wild flowers are in bloom in the fields and the mushrooms begin sprouting here in the forest. It is truly a nice time to enjoy the beauty of God’s Creation.

Bible School

We finished our spring semester in June. After a brief break, our students are heading back to classes on August 18. During this time, we have been working on putting together a new course on Biblical Hermeneutics. We are using Bill Scheidler’s material, translating it and adapting it for our school. Anna is working with me, doing most of the work on the material. I am teaching the courses on video (24 sessions) and creating all the assignments for the students. It takes many hours to get a new course set up, but once it’s ready, it can be used for many years to come.

During this time I have also been working a bit on our online platform (the program that makes the online learning experience work), adding a few features that will hopefully make for a better student experience. I have finally been able to localize most of the system so that the students will be able to work in their own time zones and pay for the courses according to the country in which they live.

Anna is also doing a great job with social media posts and advertising for the school. It is such a blessing to have her help!

Our Church Family

Church has definitely been different these last 18 months, but we’re excited to let you know that we have been enjoying celebrating some services with groups of people. On several occasions we’ve had people over to our place to have outdoor services. This past Sunday, we had a larger group (about 60) for a service here on the lawn. It was so good to see several of the people that we hadn’t seen “in person” for over a year.

We continue to do online services as well. Even when meeting in person, we also produce an online version of the service for those who can’t be here. I was a bit surprised that this last Sunday we had about 75% of our online attendance at the same time we were meeting in person.

COVID-19 continues to spread with the Delta variant in our area. We know of several people who are very sick right now, including one of our online course facilitators. We pray for God’s mercy to end this diabolic plague and His protection upon us and our extended church family.

Building On Our Land

The building process for our church has begun. The cistern has been dug and the foundations are being laid this week for the wall that will surround the property. We plan to build a large walled outdoor garden area that will eventually be able to host about 500 people, a smaller café and multi-purpose auditorium (for seating smaller groups indoors), bathrooms, a kitchen, offices and a storage room. Please pray for Holy Spirit wisdom for us, the architect, and the workers, to get all of this built. We also need favor with the local government to get through all of the bureaucracy. Sara is doing a great job supervising things, getting permits and trying to cut through all the “red tape”.

Our Family

We praise God that we are all healthy and well. Daniel and Elisa are now married and living in Vancouver, Washington, where they serve in their local church and Daniel works for Portland Bible College. Our other son, David, graduated from Western Michigan University and is about to move to Texas to work and study a doctorate degree at Texas A&M University. Anna graduated from High School and is working with me this summer for our online Bible School and church. She will begin studying online with Bethel (BSSM) in September.

Prayer and Praise

We are happy to report that God has continued to bless His church in the midst of the pandemic. We are thankful for health, life and provision throughout this time.

Here are a few prayer requests we currently have:

  1. Please pray for protection and health for the pastors, leaders and members of our church and Bible School. Several have gotten sick and a few have passed into the presence of the Lord over the past few weeks. Please also remember the pastors in Uganda.
  2. Please pray for Raúl Méndez and his family. He is a member of our Online Bible School team and is battling COVID. Please pray for a quick and complete recovery, and especially that he wouldn’t have any severe complications.
  3. Please pray for our building project.
  4. Please also pray for this new semester of the Bible School.

Thanks for your help!

We are very thankful to you for your prayer and financial support. Thanks for being our partners in the Kingdom of Heaven. God has called us to manifest and extend His kingdom in the Tulancingo area and throughout Mexico. We’re very thankful for your help and support as together we accomplish this mission.

We would love to hear from you, even if it is just a short note saying that you received and read this newsletter. It encourages us to know that some of you actually read these updates all the way to the end!

Have a blessed week!

In Christ,

David and Sara Lont

Update – June, 2021

Note: You can download a printable PDF copy of this newsletter here:

Dear friends, family and supporters,

How have things been going for you? We have been enjoying this spring with warm weather and now a bit of rain. Actually, here in the mountains, April and May are the warmest months of the year. By August, we’ll be using our wood stove again to stay warm.

Anyway, I’d love to share with you a few things that we’ve been working on.

Online Bible School

Our online Bible School is going strong. We started out our spring semester with about 170 students enrolled in courses. Most of them have stuck to their studies throughout the semester and many have grown both spiritually and in knowledge of God’s word and in their ministries. Most of our students are either pastors, leaders, or serve in some capacity within their local churches.

We are working with a group of about 12 others who serve as course facilitators, editors, designers and technical help. We also have six Bible teachers who teach the online courses in audio and video.

History of the Online Bible School

The school started as an idea that John and Bill Brown had about 10 years ago. (Bill is a spiritual father to us, and John is his grandson.) John Brown worked here in Mexico for several years and brought many fresh ideas to the Advanced School of Ministry team. However, he returned to Canada before being able to develop the online school. I took the vision from there. I started by developing the software on which to build the school (I couldn’t find any free software that satisfied our needs), and then we launched the school just within our congregation, as a trial. After successfully developing and offering a couple of courses to a small group of our people here locally, we decided in 2015 that we would launch it nationwide through the Advanced School of Ministry. We grew from about 40 students during our first semester to about 170 now.

We are continually developing new courses. Each semester we offer at least one new course, and we have the goal of developing a complete Bible School curriculum.

At the present time, each student who completes a course receives a certificate of completion which counts toward the Advanced School of Ministry bachelor degree program.

Our Local Church

We have been meeting online with our church since March, 2020, when the pandemic started. The change was abrupt, but our congregation has adapted well. We meet in small groups on Wednesday nights for Bible studies, and our Sunday services are transmitted via YouTube and our church’s web page. As I have stated before, this has worked very well. However, we do desire to get together with the entire church soon. We no longer rent a building, and it’s still not the best idea to meet indoors here, so we’re looking at other options.

Our church owns a piece of property, and we’re currently working on plans to build a garden (or yard) in which we’ll be able to have some outdoor meetings. In the meantime, we’re starting to get together in small groups for outdoor meetings at our home and soon at the homes of others in our congregation.

We’re in the process of transitioning into a type of “microchurch” model, in which the teaching will continue to be centralized, but delivered via video simultaneously to the different groups meeting in different locations. In this way, online church will continue, but we’ll also be able to get several families together in a safe way. We’re excited to see what God will do in these meetings. I truly believe that He is about to pour out His Spirit in new and fresh ways!

Anna, leading a time of worship with a few of the girls

Our daughter Anna has continues to lead a group of adolescent girls. The hunger that they have for the presence of God has been awesome! They’ve been meeting online throughout the year, but just recently they also began meeting in person outside on our property. Anna teaches a simple Bible lesson and leads them in worship. At these gatherings we’ve seen the girls break down in tears as they worship the Lord together. The Holy Spirit is doing some really deep things in the hearts of some of them.

Our Wednesday meetings (online via Zoom) also continue to flourish. I have been developing all of the teaching material in the form of Bible themes based on questions for discussion. Our Connect Group leaders direct the discussions and then pray and minister to the people in their group. It has been so awesome to see how the Spirit of God touches people during these Zoom sessions. The Holy Spirit isn’t limited by distance or technology!

Our Family

On May 15, Daniel and Elisa graduated from Portland Bible College. The next Thursday, May 20, we were privileged to attend Daniel and Elisa’s wedding. We now have a married son and a new daughter! We are very happy for both of them, and feel blessed to receive Elisa into our family. Elisa spent a good share of her childhood and teen years in Japan as the daughter of a missionary family, and Daniel was born and grew up in Mexico. Even though they are from different places and experiences, both had a very “American” upbringing (including Veggietales).

Daniel and Elisa, at their graduation

For the moment, they plan to continue to live in Vancouver, Washington, and work with Portland Bible College, as well as continue to serve in their local church.

Thanks!

Thanks for being on our team. Your prayers and financial support make our work possible. We are thankful that you have continued to stand with us throughout the COVID storm!

Do you know someone who might be interested in what we do? Please go ahead and share this message with them. You may do this by:

  • Forwarding our email communications to your contacts who may be interested in what we are doing.
  • Personally telling others about us and asking them to contact us: dsm@desert-streams.org.
  • Sharing this letter on your Facebook page or via Twitter using these buttons:


Blessings!

David and Sara Lont

Update – March, 2021

Note: You can download a printable PDF copy of this newsletter here:

Hello, Friends, Family, and Supporters.

It’s great to greet you again from central Mexico. We want to share this update with you so that you will know some of the things we are working on.

David and Sara Lont

What Does the Church Look Like?

Today our church looks very different from how it looked a year ago! Last March, unbeknown to us, we had our very last meeting in what had been our church building and meeting location since 2004.

With all of the restrictions and dangers of COVID-19, I began to study once again what the Bible teaches about the church and what the original church in the book of Acts looked like. It has been a very interesting study as well as one that allows us to see that the work of the Lord cannot be stopped by a pandemic, government restrictions, persecution or anything else. The church that Jesus Christ is building is unstoppable!

Here are just a few thoughts:

The House of God is simple. The first mention of God’s house in Scripture is in Genesis 28, where Jacob has his dream of the ladder going up to heaven. When he awakes, he calls the place “Bethel”, which means “house of God”. What was there? One man, the Word of the Living God to that man, and his answer to the voice of God in the form of a sacrifice.

Church is not about big crowds. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them. This is so good to know since so many of us have been gathering in homes during the past year. Instead of gathering in a building, our church has been gathering in about 40-50 houses all across the city (plus a few in other states).

Church is not about buildings. While buildings can be useful to gather the church for meetings, church buildings are not essential. Most of the churches in the first few hundred years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (and the birth of the church) didn’t have buildings, but rather, met in houses, outside town by a river, in public squares, or in borrowed locations.

The church tends to multiply when under pressure. We see in Acts that persecution caused the believers to be scattered, but wherever they went, they preached about Jesus Christ and the number of disciples multiplied. While the pandemic is not exactly persecution of the church, the fact that churches have had to close to in-person meetings has, in many occasions, caused true believers to walk closer to God and some unbelievers to begin to desire God. In our experience, we’ve seen several families come to Christ through our online meetings.

As we continue forward through this year, we definitely don’t know what to expect in terms of the pandemic and its effects, but we do know that God is moving in the midst of everything! Christ continues to build His church.

Bible School

Online Bible School

Several years back we began designing and building a Bible School that pastors, leaders and others who serve in any capacity in their churches, can attend without having to leave their job, church, and community. We’ve designed it to function totally online. This was a great blessing before the pandemic, but now it’s more important than ever! We were able to continue with our classes without any interruption during 2020, and now, in 2021, we continue to make progress as we train servant-leaders to build up the church.

On February 17 we began our spring semester with around 170 students. We have a team of about ten course facilitators who attend to the daily needs of the students, check homework assignments, and personally encourage each student in their course work.

Testimonies

Have a look at what a couple of our students have said about the online school.

“Thanks to Fundamentos Ministeriales I have gained much knowledge, which has helped me in my personal life to effectively exercise the calling that God has placed on me.” – Francisco Bermúdez (working in Chiapas)

“I have been studying at Fundamentos Ministeriales for about five years and it has brought great blessing to me. I have received a better understanding of the Scriptures, and the best thing is that my teachers have shared their experiences with me.” – Nancy Chávez (in Mexico City)

Thanks For Being On Our Team

Remember, you are part of our team! Thanks to you, we are able to continue forward with our work, even during this difficult COVID season. Please pray for us over the next couple of months for:

  1. Direction for us as we lead the church during this season of so much uncertainty, that we would be able to discern and do God’s will for the local church.
  2. For the members of our church, that they would continue strong in faith, connected with God, and that they would keep sharing the Gospel with others.
  3. Health and divine protection, as so many around us have been sick and some have gone before us to heaven.
  4. Finances for the Bible School, the church and for us personally. Please agree with us in prayer for God’s continued provision!

We also continue to pray for you, that the Lord will sustain you, uphold you in His perfect peace, give you health, and that you may grow in Him.

Your Help Wanted

Do you know someone who might be interested in what we do? We could really use your help spreading the word that we are looking to grow our partner team. This includes our mailing list as well as our prayer and financial support base.

How can you help?

  • By forwarding our email communications to your contacts who may be interested in what we are doing.
  • Personally telling others about us and asking them to contact us: dsm@desert-streams.org.
  • Sharing this letter on your Facebook page or via Twitter using these buttons:



Blessings!

David and Sara Lont

Happy New Year

David and Sara Lont

As I write today, it is the last day of 2020. I know that many people are happy that 2020 is over because it has been quite a year! As we begin 2021, all of us hope for something better for this next season. Even though 2020 was a difficult year for most of us, it definitely hasn’t been a waste of time in God’s calendar. In His sovereignty He has been calling the attention of the nations to change their hearts and place their hope in the Lord. This present world, with its pain, affliction, grief and difficulties, continues to be under the care of a loving Father who sent His Son to redeem it and bring His people back to communion with Him. How thankful we are for Jesus Christ who makes it possible for us to live in peace and harmony with God, even in the midst of the chaos!

This past year was full of challenges for us, but at the same time, it has been a good year. The Lord has allowed us to continue ministry in several different but interesting ways. Here is a little of what has happened with us and our family during 2020.

In March, all churches were shut down across Mexico and many nations of the world. We immediately moved everything online, which was a challenge but at the same time an interesting change for us and many of our people. We began prerecording our services in more of a “studio” style and delivering them simultaneously to our people via YouTube, using Facebook and WhatsApp as our main ways of keeping our congregation connected on Sundays. During the months of June/July, Sara did an online parenting course, and Anna and I also prepared weekly devotional material for each family to use during the week. Then, a few months into the pandemic, we also started small groups on the Zoom platform on Wednesday nights. Those groups went over really well and allowed our group leaders to continue to minister more personally to each member of their groups. At the same time, these small groups began getting involved in helping others in our church and community with groceries, small offerings, and other little blessings. God allowed us to reach several new families in the midst of the pandemic and we’re thankful to see some of them now growing in their relationship with the Lord and they now consider our church their home.

A couple of weeks ago we did a larger Zoom meeting on a Wednesday night, and just under 50 of our families connected online. It was great to see so many of them all together for that meeting! It was also wonderful to confirm that many of those who considered themselves members of our church before the pandemic have continued with us through this very different time. Each Sunday morning we try to engage in the chat with the families who connect to our services on YouTube. We’ve been able to minister to several this way, praying with them for certain needs that they have. We’ve also done counseling using video calls and have been able to reach people outside of our local area.

We are now officially a church without a building. We have been renting for many years, but during this past year we only used the building for three months. This next year will be very interesting and is full of “unknowns”, but we believe that the Lord will direct our steps as we move out into new experiences with our congregation. During this year we have been constantly reminded that the church is people, not a building or a piece of property. Where will we meet once the pandemic is under control? We don’t really know yet, but we know the One who is in control of the future.

Our Online Bible School has continued to move forward through the year of 2020. We developed and recorded three new courses and had an enrollment of around 170 students during this last semester. Our homiletics course was a new experience for us, as we taught on principles of preaching and then had the students practice preaching online via Zoom group video calls. Their final exam, a message recorded and placed on YouTube, was a challenge for many of them. Almost all the students did very well.

As a family, it has also been a very interesting year. Our son Daniel, who is in his last year at Portland Bible College, is now engaged to be married to Elisa Kaylor. He and Elisa came down here to Mexico for Sara’s birthday in September. Our oldest son David, who is studying at Western Michigan University, is currently with us. He will be going back in a couple of weeks. Anna is here with us in her last year of high school and plans to continue her studies online next fall. Our family is doing well.

We pray that the Lord will bless and keep each of you. He is faithful and His Word will never fail!

Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support during the year. We appreciate each of you and all you do for us!

Blessings!

David and Sara Lont and family