A partial and corrected journal of recent evangelistic efforts in the border area of Nogales Sonora. Just south of Nogales Arizona.
Nogales, Sonora: April 10, 2000
Budget considerations made it necessary to do the current Nogales project with the Rabbit, so for about two weeks this little VW car is my transportation, theatre, bedroom, and house. Ellas' part this time is to support me in prayer from Bisbee.
Our old three-on-one cassette copier that has been "on the fritz" for over a year, was coaxed into service again for this last season in Culiacan, but failed repeatedly, and again the last day of the Caborca outreach. For this April project I again dis-assembled it, cleaned and lubricated it, and got it working, but the quality of the copies was not that great. The two one-on-one copiers were still in use with other teams when I left Culiacan, so they were left behind.
Arriving in Magdalena (where I had left cassettes, Television, etc.) I discovered that I had no VCR with which to show movies. In view of the problems with the copier, I decided to make a run to Culiacan a days travel one way) and pick up one or both of the small copiers, and a VCR that I had left there with another team. Arriving, I discovered that the copiers were not to be found. Much equipment had been taken to Oaxaca for further outreach there. I hope that our copiers are among that equipment, and so are being used. There was a VCR, and there was a very nice Sony copier (3-0n-1), which David G. urged me to take North for Philip Young. With Philips permission, I am using that copier in this small outreach, and then will send it to him for his mid-May outreach planned for Southern Baja California. This Sony copier is a joy to use, and is highly recommended by those who have used it in the field.
Wednesday, I was back in the Nogales area, and began to "try the doors" to reach the Indian people in one of the two larger camps of "greenhouse workers". First attempts were rebuffed, but ultimately one of the doors opened, and I discovered that both camps were accessible from that door. Two Young men from a nearby ministry went with me, and we showed the Jesus movie (short version) to a group of about 90 representatives of several different tribes from Oaxaca, and Guerrero. Most of whom received the gospel message with joy. For lack of time, We were not able to complete the distribution of Indian language cassettes, and so hope to do that with a special trip this week. I am praying that some of the christians from the Nogales area will interest themselves to participate in that. So far, little interest has been shown on their part to reach these needy people with the gospel message. The joy of the opportunity for ministry that God has brought to their doorstep has been mine alone for these past few days.
Saturday morning I made up cassettes in the two main languages that I have discovered here, and walked down near the international border where many of the Indian people are either selling their wares, or begging on the street. What a joy it was to give to each a short recording with a clear explanation of the gospel of Christ in their own languages. In some cases it appears that some of the women speak almost no Spanish at all, but it is clear that they understand the recording. But I had not made enough recordings, and so repeated the same on Sunday. A young man (Jorge) from one of the Mexican churches accompanied me on Sunday afternoon, And I hope that his spiritual appetite will be piqued to continue reaching out to these people.
Saturday night, and Sunday night, I went alone to a new (and very poor) neighborhood here in Nogales, Sonora, where some Indian families live scattered among many from other parts of Mexico. I had hoped not to make any such trips alone, but little interest has been shown by the christian community. When the Indian people are scattered among others, they do not readily identify themselves as Indians, which makes distribution of Indian language cassettes more difficult, and in some ways more important. OH, for Local cristian workers with long term commitment to reach them, and a willingness to be at pains to that end!
I was gratified to find that a local Baptist church has been showing gospel movies in that neighborhood, and has led a number of people to Christ there. But even they seem unaware of the huge cultural and linguistic barrier that keeps the Indian people in the neighborhood from even hearing the message.
This evening (Monday, April 10), I expect to be showing the Jesus movie in a part of town where Mixtecos have lived for more than ten years. I continue to pray that some of the local christians (on both sides of the border) will catch the vision, and begin to take steps to reach these people. Many hundreds of indians (and others) from the least reached areas of Mexico pass through here regularly, and they are far from home, and wide open to the gospel. But they remain for the most part unreached, while the churches meet in mostly empty rooms, and discuss mostly empty plans to build more empty buildings. This afternoon, God willing, I'll go again to the area about two blocks from the border, and distribute cassettes to those who cannot hear the gospel in Spanish or English, and who remain there waiting to hear. Some of these people who do speak some Spanish are telling me of an American woman who came from Tucson ("Juanita"), and speaks the language of one of the Mixteco groups. What a blessing her visit was! And not only to the Mixtecos, but also to the Mazahua people, because she obviously cares for them. I don't know who this woman is, but I suppose she must be one of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I hope that she can make further visits.
Added: Wednesday April 12, 2000
I received word late Monday afternoon from Pastor Dave Canada, (First Baptist Church Nogales Arizona) that three to five from his church will meet with me to go and see what can be seen in one evening of the need and opportunity in the "greenhouse camps" South of here. Praise the Lord! I answered him by email Tuesday morning as follows:
I got your message. I'll be ready and waiting at Calvary Baptist, there in front of brother Roberto Estradas house by 3:30PM on Wednesday.
In the few days I have been here, the need and opportunities to reach the unreached "nations" ("ethnic groups" from the Greek New Testament) have expanded tremendously. There are several locations where the Indian people sell in the downtown area, and there are several languages represented. And there are several areas where they live in the city. And then there are some that are just begging here and there on the street, and others who sell their wares in an ambulant way, or at individual posts. Everyone without exception has been very glad for the cassettes in their own languages, And through this means anyone could begin the process of befriending them, and winning them to Jesus.
The Mixteco ladies were greatly moved by the visit of an American lady (probably from Wycliffe in Tucson) named Juana (Jan, or Jane?) who speaks their language, and brought them some literature in their own language. The literature also has the Spanish, which some of the ladies can read, and some have been reading the Spanish part. I believe that with some further encouragement, they could also read the Mixteco scriptures, since they use the same phonetic structure. I have seen that work before. And the Mixteco would be far more meaningful to them.
Her visit also impressed some of the Mazahua ladies, for although they could not understand her Mixteco, She showed a genuine interest in them, and not like the tourists to whom they sell their wares.
I have been going alone in the evenings, because no one else has shown the interest to go, until last night. Last night a young man named Jorge went with me to a Mixteco neighborhood. We showed two short movies. During the first one (a "Veggie Tale") no one came. But during the second (the life of Christ entitled "El Revolucionario") about 18 people came, - almost all Mixtecos, and almost all confessed Christ as Savior and Lord afterward. God willing we will go back to that same neighborhood tonight, as one of the ladies has invited us to use her yard to show another movie.
These Nogales hills are almost too much for this little VW car loaded as it is. Several times I have had to back down a very steep hill, and either "hit it again" or find another route. There are some neighborhoods that I just can't get into because of the steep (and rough) roads.
I am running out of sixty-minute tapes. There are more Indian people here than I had thought. I don't know where to buy tapes here, but I guess I'll have to find out. At the moment, I'm erasing tapes that I had pre-recorded in other languages, which don't seem to be much represented here, and re-recording them, but I'll soon be out of them also. I have not kept track of the number of tapes distributed but I'm quite sure it exceeds one hundred.
Well, I'm going to go to an internet cafe, and send this off to you. See you Wednesday afternoon.Yours for Him, Dave McMullen
Wednesday April 12, 2000 Early morning:
Filling in some of the blanks of the two writings above:
I have made several more trips to the border area, and the "tourist section" of Nogales Sonora, to distribute audiocassettes. Jorge (mentioned above) went with me on some of these trips, and reflected great joy in being able to share with these people the gospel message. He had tried before, but was rebuffed, but now was well received, because of the Indian language tapes. On one of these trips the new Pastor of Iglesia Calvario (where I am parking at night) went with me. We discovered another center where quite a few Mazahua people and some Otomi are gathered to sell their wares.
Jorge went with me Monday night, and again on Tuesday night to the Mixteco neighborhood mentioned above. Will he be God's chosen instrument to continue working among these people? One extended family there has been very open and about 18 of them have made a profession of faith in Christ.
As we were preparing to go last night, suddenly a group of people came into the church parking lot, shouting, and asking for help. They brought with them a young Indian man, bleeding and bruised from a beating that he had received. He told us that he and his two companions (Chatino indians from Oaxaca) had paid some men (coyotes) to help them get across the international line. These "coyotes" had instead beaten them, and robbed them. He escaped, but saw that they had thrown his brother into a pile of garbage, and he didn't know if they had killed him or not. Pastor Roberto Estrada called for medical help, and called the police. While we were waiting for help, I talked to the young man, and discovered where he was from, and was able to provide him with a couple of copies of gospel cassettes in his own language.
This points up another aspect of this border opportunity, and need. Thousands of the poorest people of Mexico are trying to get across the border into the United States looking for work. Most Americans (and, sadly, most christians) view them merely as "wetbacks", and lawbreakers, never considering the distress that causes them to run such risks so far from their homelands in search of support for their loved ones back home. And christians are failing to see the huge opportunity that their presence presents to us. For these people come mostly from the least reached rural areas of Mexico, and many are from tribal Indian groups that have had virtually no exposure to the gospel. We christians have failed in the "go ye into all the world" part of the Great Commission, but our merciful God has brought them to us to give us another shot at the "preach the gospel" part of it. Are we going to fail at that also?
These people are now scattered (and growing every day) throughout most of the United States (New York, Florida, California, and Washington are favorite destinations - the four corners of the continental United States). Stop, PLEASE STOP! viewing it as a problem, and start viewing it as an opportunity to reach them with the gospel of Christ while they are here!.
Here at the border, Their large numbers show their desperate need, and put them in peril from both governments, and from thieves and murderers on both sides of the line. Their presence in jails and hospitals, and cheap hotels on both sides of the border is (and should be viewed as) a huge opportunity to reach them with the gospel of Christ.
Wednesday was spent primarily mapping out previous contacts so that someone else can follow me and find the locations that I have found. I have found no really good maps for this city - not even old ones, and the areas where the Indian people are have not yet been included in the maps. Never the less I have made some progress. At about 3:30pm Dave Canada arrived with his son, and James (Judge) Hathaway. We went together to view the Greenhouse camps to the South of Nogales, near Imuris. They were not permitted to go into the camp with me to distribute cassettes, but it appears that their interest was stirred. We arrived at a tentative plan to get together to discuss what is known, and what is needed, on Saturday afternoon about 4:pm. Unless They Inform me of adjustments to that plan, I'll be meeting with them at that time.
Prologue to the Nogales project 2000:
The major goal of the project was to begin the process of evangelization among the unevangelized Indian people who have settled there, and to interest some other christians in carrying on to that end. My feeling is that we met with limited success on both counts, but that further efforts may be required to produce lasting results. Because of the current divisions suffered by the Church of Jesus Christ in Nogales, and because of the anti-Biblical clerical system in vogue in today?s churches it is difficult merely to contact large numbers of local christians in order to present to them the need. Of those Christians contacted about the need there was a response, and further efforts will be required to contact more until the response begins to make a difference upon the need.
During the two weeks of outreach, about 200 people in four different locations professed faith in Christ, and five individuals from three evangelical churches expressed a willingness to continue in similar outreach.
© Dave & Ella McMullen, 2001