Hello, friends and family.
What a different season this has been! Just a few months have passed since most of the world has gone into chaos, but it seems like it has been much longer. We certainly hope and pray that you have been well during this time in which COVID-19 has spread literally across the globe, affecting both the health and the economy of most nations.
We are happy to report that we have all been pretty much well after a bit of a rough start this winter. You may remember that in February and March we all had Typhoid Fever. That’s pretty much over, although the effects tend to linger and come back every now and then. But we’re thankful for health!
Right now there are many people sick and dying here in our country. We know of several pastors who have died of COVID-19, including one who was a personal friend over the last 23 years. He went to be with Jesus this past Saturday night, June 13, leaving behind a wife, a son, and an influential church in the city of Puebla.
The country is beginning to reactivate the economy, opening businesses and getting back to a supposed “new normal”, even as the infections and death rates soar in many communities.
We plan to be very cautious during the next few months, continuing with our online work with the local church and avoiding large gatherings. There may soon be official permission to open some churches, but we feel led to continue to invest online with our people and perhaps open only small groups in homes, if that becomes a possibility later on.
Our experiences with online ministry
Over the last few months, we’ve ministered extensively online. Each week we do our online service via YouTube with a decent turnout. Although we pre record and produce our services usually on Fridays, they go live at 10:00 AM on our YouTube channel Sunday mornings. This allows us to maintain the experience of everyone gathering their families together to be a part of the service at 10:00 AM Sunday mornings, and yet gives us the flexibility and quality of a well produced program.
Over these last few months I’ve seen so many smaller churches here in Mexico place a cell phone in the back of their auditorium and try to reproduce the “live” church experience in this way on Facebook, but most obtain a very low quality production and ministry experience. Right from the start, we decided on producing the highest quality content and ministry experience we can, using the resources we have available.
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is being able to “connect” with our congregation on Sundays, even though we’re actually ministering in front of a camera on Fridays. There is truly a spiritual connection that can take place, transcending time and physical location.
We’ve also enjoyed very interesting times of worship utilizing members of our worship team. Although we haven’t been physically together in one location to play and worship, many times I’ll ask for the participation of two or three members of the worship team who then record their own parts in their homes using their cell phones. They send me the videos, and I put everything back together. It’s really amazing how this can work! (You can have a look at how this comes together by playing a little of the video below.)
On Wednesday evenings, we do small groups via Zoom video conferencing software. Just a couple of months ago, barely anyone even knew what “Zoom” was, and now many people in our congregation use it regularly to meet for Bible study and fellowship. We’ve also done online counseling with several people, helping them sort through their marriage or personal situations.
The pandemic has brought many problems, but God uses what was meant for evil and turns it for good!
People coming to know Christ
Even during this time, people are coming to know Christ! In our church, there is one family in particular, that has been able to bring the gospel to their family members in Mexico City via our online ministry. Several of them have given their lives to the Lord during the last couple of months and now meet weekly in our online groups.
I’ve also had the opportunity to minister to another congregation in Mexico City via Zoom, thanks to Pastor Raúl Méndez. What a privilege to minister simultaneously in over 70 homes scattered throughout Mexico City, and to be able to see each family as they participated in the meeting!
Anna’s online devotionals
Anna continues to teach her little group of adolescents online every Friday, and she also started a devotional blog which many people have been reading. There is one lady in our church who has been using Anna’s devotional material to present the Gospel each week to her coworkers in an online Bible study that she started. (You can have a look at Anna’s site here. Sorry, but it’s all in Spanish.)
Sara and I also recently started an online parenting class for the families in our church. It will run for a total of 6 weeks, meeting online Monday nights. First, we present 1/2 hour of material in video via YouTube, then 1/2 hour in a question and answer session live on Zoom. I’ve also prepared beautifully formatted written material for each session, including lesson notes and some questions for each couple to discuss together. That material is delivered by email. This past Monday we had our second session, and it is going well.
Online Bible School
We are in the final two weeks of our Online Bible School courses, and around 150 students are currently taking their partial and final exams. We’ve had a good semester. The great majority of the students will successfully finish the semester with a grade of 80% or higher.
The nice thing about this project is that it was designed to work entirely online and has been going strong for several years now. So when the virus came around a few months back, we really didn’t have to make any major adjustments. Actually, the only minor adjustment I made was to eliminate the break we normally had to take for a week of vacation during Easter. All vacations were canceled because of the quarantine, so we were able to “plow straight through” and finish the semester a week early.
For the last several months, all three of us (Anna, Sara and I), have been working on courses. Sara has been facilitating a course on the Holy Spirit, I’ve been producing the reviews, quizzes and exams, and Anna has been my proofreader, finding and fixing all the little errors. We’ve also had our team of about nine other course facilitators working with us.
Thanks so much for continuing your support!
We are so very thankful to each of you who continues to give and support us during these most difficult economic times. We are definitely facing some challenges financially, as many people are. The lack of our physical presence in our church building has impacted our ministry finances, but the Lord has and will continue to sustain us, the work of the church, and other areas of ministry.
Our prayer is that you and your family would be blessed in abundance, even during challenging times such as these, so that you can continue to bless and reach out to others with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.