Church Mission Trip

Church Mission Trip

Have you ever felt that God has called you to make a BIG IMPACT on the world? This is the question that the leaders of Chinese Evangelical Church grappled with. As we reflected upon our involvement in short-term missions, we had much to thank God for. In the past two years, over 50 individuals went on short-term missions and over 100 individuals came to receive Christ. Even so, there was the nagging question, are we truly making a long-term impact in the world? As we thought about this question, we were led to wonder, what would happen if we helped a particular church or ministry for several years instead of one year? Could we then make a greater impact with a multi-year holistic ministry where the goodness of the gospel is preached and displayed? As we sought answers, we became excited about the possibilities. Living in San Diego, Mexico is only half an hour away. At such a close proximity, we could make several trips a year and support a local Mexican pastor. Lacking Spanish speaking skills, we prayed that God would provide a partnering organization, which knew local Mexican pastors and could offer translation services and housing.

God answered our prayers through Agua Viva

Agua Viva has over twenty years of experience bringing together American churches and local Mexican pastors. They provide the translation services, help with logistic planning, and offer housing. They also have a seminary that trains local Mexican pastors. Most importantly, they have an amazing staff, who are a joy to work with. After consulting with them, we decided that a weekend medical mission trip best suited our gifting and would benefit our Mexican partners the most. 27 individuals including 4 physicians and 4 other medical professionals signed up for this trip to Ensenada. We left on a Friday afternoon and after a beautiful drive down the coast, we arrived in the early evening. The Agua Viva retreat site is set on a beautiful mountain side just outside of Ensenada. A warm authentic Mexican meal was awaiting us. After the meal, we discussed the logistics of the next day, and then we went to a campfire where students at the seminary shared their testimony. Several of the students were from indigenous Mexican Indian backgrounds, and their zeal to see their people saved and their love for the Lord was infectious. We then retreated to our dormitories which were as nice or nicer than most camps in America. The next morning, we ate an amazing breakfast of chilaquiles, packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to give out later, and prepared medical supplies. We then drove to Paraiso: a dusty, rural farming community populated by migrant indigenous Mexican Indians. Most of the homes are ramshackle or one room homes constructed by various mission organizations. In the midst of this poverty, there was a well-constructed one room brick and wood church, which was built by another American church through Agua Viva.

Setting up a medical clinic

Inside the church, we set up the medical clinic for the adults. Agua Viva provided translators for our medical staff and counselors with whom patients could discuss spiritual matters. They also brought a local doctor, Dr. Vidauri, who debriefed our medical staff on the typical illnesses in this area. Patients received medical care, medicine and spiritual counseling. It was an wonderful partnership to behold: Americans and Mexicans working side by side as the Body of Christ to be a witness in Paraiso. This was such a powerful witness, because without the help of Agua Viva bringing in American short-term medical professionals, communities like Paraiso might never be visited by a medical professional.

Setting up crafts and games

Outside the church we set up crafts and games for Vacation Bible School. The games were simple: a card board box with slots to catch a ball, and a Velcro ball and target. These games would have seemed too simple for most American television raised kids, but the kids of Paraiso loved them. These kids just wanted to spend time with people. They also embraced the crafts that we did with them. After craft time, we had a worship time. The children knew the Agua Viva staff, who easily gathered and prepared them for worship. A few of our missionaries had learned several Spanish Christian songs and when they sang, it was amazing to see the children embrace their Spanish songs led by Americans. A song about how having faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains was especially powerful. After worship, a gospel message and magic trick were presented. An Agua Viva staff member translated the message into Spanish, and several kids raised their hands to receive Christ. It was incredible to see how God worked! At the end of the day, we gave out free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the children. They were so thankful for a simple sandwich and a cup of juice. After everyone had first and second servings, we had leftovers, and one of the most poignant moments was when we invited everyone to take as many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as they wished. One young elementary aged girl sheepishly gathered up four sandwiches and left with a huge grin. You would think she had won a million dollars. Then we realized how something so small to us could be such a huge blessing to those who had little. The next day, we drove to inner city Ensenada for Sunday worship. The church was built brick by brick by its members. When a family had saved enough money to buy a brick they would buy it, bring it to church, and have it set in the wall. After the wall was completed through Agua Viva, an American church built the roof of the church. Worshiping together was amazing. Although many of us did not understand Spanish, the songs and the message still encouraged us. We realized that we worshipped and loved the same God who is greater than our language and cultural differences.

Agua Viva was the perfect partner

The mission trip to Ensenada was an unforgettable experience and Agua Viva was the perfect partner. They were a bridge to the people of Ensenada and Paraiso. Because the locals knew them well, they trusted us to provide medical services and run a VBS program. They also provided the logistical, language, and housing support so that we could concentrate on doing ministry. We’ve been so blessed in partnering with Agua Viva that we have already started planning to do several trips next year. Lord willing, together with Agua Viva, we will deeply impact Mexico with the goodness of the gospel.