Those of us in the U.S. have just observed a traditional day of Thanksgiving. We of the Mission are thankful to YOU, our readers, Your prayerful concern means more to us than we can express. Your giving, as the Lord has led you, has been so very much appreciated as it goes to support faithful pastors in churches throughout Mexico. Heaven will reveal the souls won to Christ through both your prayers and your sacrificial giving. THANK YOU !
January 2017 building project...Long time followers of the Mission have come to think of us not only as seekers of lost souls in Mexico but as builders as well, builders in concrete and steel. Traditionally since 1995 this has been in January, soon after Christmas. So it is this year, with a church project scheduled for the week of January 7-14, 2017.
Some will remember that in recent years we have avoided projects in and around Torreon because of the dangers associated with the drug violence in that city. Tony Gomez feels that conditions have quieted down now and that it would be relatively safe to return to Torreon. We sought for an open door, and were almost certain the Lord had revealed it, in an eastern suburb of Torreon. The property the budding church in question had in mind was classified as green space; it could be used only for a playground or a church. A church! Wow, except the authorities proved firm in denying Tony a permit to build an evangelical church.
This was in November, travel tickets had been purchased for the building crew, and time was getting short for the necessary planning. Then the Lord opened the door we had sought. There is a growing congregation of about 70 in the town of La Palma, about 20 minutes to the northeast of Torreon. They do not have a building, but they do have land, and more importantly, the blessing of the town judge to build a church. They will obtain the necessary permits and construct the footings, then our crew will arrive and construct a church building about 35’ x 60’ in size. Our objective in the period of a week is to build a shell, then others will finish it by putting on the roof and pouring the concrete floor. As finances permit, we would leave money for the other work and for windows and doors.
At some time during the approximately 10 days president Doug Bytwerk will be in Mexico, he will no doubt preach more than once, perhaps teaching in one of the sessions of the Bible Institute as well.
The crew has been assembled and if there is one reading this who has block laying experience and skills whom the Lord might be leading to join this crew, he is urged to contact either Doug Bytwerk at 616-402-2973 or project superintendent (and board member) Cecil Patterson at 616-566-6485. There is a definite need for more block layers.
Gift of musical instruments and instruction...We have written previously of a mission trip proposed by a group from Faith Bible Church in Lansing MI set to take place sometime after Easter of next year. The work of Mrs. Jennie Visscher, who has made previous mission trips to central Mexico. has resulted in some 35 stringed musical instruments, mostly violins, being donated for shipment to Mexico. These were given by companies dealing in supplying instruments to schools and other institutions. The plan is that Doug Bytwerk will spend a week in March taking a trailer loaded with the instruments to the Mexican border. One of our pastors in Monterrey has agreed to meet Doug there and get them into the country.
When the group from Faith Bible Church goes down later, it would be for the purpose of Mrs. Visscher giving two full weeks of instruction in violin to about 25 students from Celaya and another 10 students from Torreon. The men of the group not involved with musical instruction would construct wooden benches for the Celaya church.
While this endeavor to provide musical instruction to young Mexican Christians has not been initiated by the Mission, it certainly has our blessing and assistance. We are grateful to Mrs. Visscher for her zeal and vision in seeing this opportunity to promote music for the glory of God.
Samy’s Friends school for the developmentally disabled...More long time readers are familiar with this school, started several years ago in recognition of a great need not being met by the government; Tony’s son, Samuel, suffered inflammation of the brain shortly after birth and is thus severely handicapped for life. The Mission cooperated by providing a two-story building (another of the January projects) and we have since provided nominal financial assistance. Someone recently sent us an e-mail asking about the school, if there are prayer and financial needs. The response was that indeed the school always has prayer and financial needs. Only the Lord could motivate dedication in teachers to be able to deal with student situations day in and day out that most of us could not tolerate one hour. These teachers are very poorly paid and yet they are faithful to their calling. We do try to encourage them with a little bit extra at Christmas time. If the Lord should lay it upon your heart to donate something for this cause, it would be a great blessing. The special needs students in the school are special objects of love by the Lord who shares their infirmities.
United States – Mexico relations...The presidential election campaign just ended in the U.S. has been closely watched by the people of Mexico. as the campaign rhetoric, if translated into eventual action, will have profound impact on the Mexican economy. In declaring his intention to “build a high wall” along the southern border, if elected, Donald Trump described immigrants as “criminals, rapists, and drug dealers.” While he has since backed away from some of his coarse statements, everything he said has been exaggerated and misquoted by the American press, and every bit of this negativity was absorbed and believed by the people of Mexico. It is thus of little wonder that Mexico is uneasy about what is going to happen in the future. Already the Mexican peso has slipped to 20 to the dollar.
President-elect Trump, during the campaign, made statements threatening to unravel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This agreement has been an economic boon for Mexico, resulting in movement of U.S. manufacturing operations to Mexico, the building of new plants and the hiring of thousands of Mexican workers. As the U.S. economy has subsequently suffered, the Mexican economy has correspondingly bloomed.
We have seen already this spirit of apprehension in Mexico. We pray that it will not have a negative effect on our efforts to spread the gospel south of the border, e.g., what if, in retribution, Mexico should decide to charge a high tariff on the import of the musical instruments for the Celaya church?
Enlarging the Mission board...The board of the Mission, through resignations because of health, etc. found itself down to seven members as recently as a year ago. This caused a self-examination and the realization that not only should we try to enlarge the board but we should also try to bring in younger blood as well (your writer is 89) to ensure a solid future for the Mission. Correspondingly, in August we invited Victor Hansen of Rockford, MI to join us. Victor is a businessman, owning Displaypak, a packaging firm. Then, in November, Jim Hennesey, of Lansing, MI, joined us. Jim is a recent retiree as a state electrical inspector. Our latest and youngest member is Mrs. Jennie Visscher, already referred to, an active music teacher. She has a passion for missions and lives in Pinckney, MI. These additions bring our number to 10. We are confident the future of the Mission is in good hands. Everyone on the board has made multiple trips to Mexico to see this mission field firsthand.
This might be a good opportunity to pay a special tribute to Jim Bytwerk, a stockbroker by trade and Doug Bytwerk’s father. Jim was nominally president of the board back in the ‘seventies and ‘eighties. This was at a time when the purpose of the Mission was solely to support Antonio Gomez Friare, our present field administrator. That Tony is the son of Antonio Gomez Rosas, a soldier for Christ on horseback in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, whose support was the reason for the Mission being created in 1961. Upon the death of his father, Doug recognized the great need of continuing support for the younger Tony. He gathered a very few advisors around him to constitute a “board.” The sphere of Mission activity and service has grown ever since.
And so, with this newsletter number four, some of 2016 passes into history. We are so grateful for those who faithfully pray for us, and for those who respond to the Spirit’s urging to give of their means. The work of the Lord goes on as we as a Mission perceive His plan and desire for the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ in Mexico. May each one of you, as well as your loved ones, enjoy the blessings of this Christmas season!
Dwight A. Bell, for the Board
Spanish American Mission