Partial Journal & observations
Got out of Bisbee late so as to drive by night. The VW has been having trouble with the heat. Stopped briefly in at Thomas and Eve's house (our daughter) in Tucson, and then went on to New River to spend the night with our son Matthew. On the following day, with his help, and some of his co-workers, we connected the unused air-conditioning radiator as an engine oil cooler. In the evening, I left Katy (our little dog) with Matthew, and I to Yuma, resting along the way so as to arrive in the morning.
Spent most of the day making telephone calls, thanks to brother Ray Williams. A job which I should have finished before I left home, but somehow didn't. Thank you, brother Ray! In the evening I participated with Pastor Tim McDonald, and his group in an evening service. Was allowed the opportunity to challenge the people with the need of the hidden (mostly Indian) people from Mexico who are always in the area. One young man seemed especially touched by that challenge. After a good night at the home of Ray Williams, I got an early start for the Imperial Valley trying to avoid the heat of the day, but in spite of the cool air and the ample oil cooler, the car started burning oil and blowing huge clouds of smoke. I stopped to let it cool down, and to give some thought to the problem. Overheating has not really been the problem, although the problems are diminished when it runs cooler. The real culprit is "blow by" - a problem that afflicts older engines, and sometimes causes oil to be lost through the "positive crankcase ventilation" (PCV) system. This was my main problem, aggravated by the fact that the PCV connects directly to the intake manifold, channeling any oil lost there directly to the combustion chamber - hence the large clouds of smoke.
I drove slowly to El Centro, and found an auto parts store. Purchased a new air filter (the old one was 'well oiled'), and a length of 5/8 inch hose. Cut a hole next to the lid in a three liter jug left over from juice, and channeled the "blow by" into the jug, stopping off the hose to the air cleaner.
Couldn't connect with any of my contacts by phone, so I did some exploring in the area. It is the hottest part of the summer, so there is no harvest work going on (July and August). But I did learn that many of the harvest jobs are taken by workers who come across daily with work permits from Mexicali. I met a store keeper from India, and another individual from an Arabian country. Afternoon heat drove me to look up the local swimming pool. Conversation there led me to look up the local Salvation army leadership. The lady (Major) I talked to seemed genuinely interested in the materials that are available to reach people who don't speak English or Spanish well. I left her my card, and some information about Gospel Recordings. I hope we shall hear from her again.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon with Mark and Marianne Selay in Imperial. About ten o'clock I moved on across the desert, and up out of the Imperial Valley toward Tecate, California. The steep climb was a good test for my 'oilcatcher'. I didn't see much smoke, even though the engine temperature gauge registered very close to the danger Zone. After some time climbing, I pulled off to check the oil, and found that it needed a quart, but there was almost a quart in the three liter jug. I dumped that back into the engine, and continued on to Tecate.
In Tecate, CA. I asked a local man about evangelistic churches in the area, and was refereed to "Tecate Mission". There I found the young man in charge to be very interested in reaching the Indian people with the gospel message. He had already begun to reach out to a tribe whose homeland is near Tecate, BC In Mexico. He asked if there were recordings in that language, and I told him to write to GR and see. I hope that he will do that. I think the language he asked about is the one that Philip and Maritza Young recently recorded in that area.
I crossed the line at Tecate intending to go through Tijuana, and do some exploring. But since I don't know the streets, I found myself at the international line without a place to park, or a way to turn back, and so back in California without doing very much exploring. The San Diego area is huge confusion of freeways to an outsider like myself. None of my contacts seemed to be answering their phones, so I spent a few days just exploring the area. I stopped at a church in East San Diego, but all their doors were locked, and the place seemed deserted. Not far away I stopped at a yard sale, and in talking to the owner, discovered that he is from Afghanistan, and speaks Farsi. Almost certainly a Muslim, he will never darken the door of that evangelical church. Muslims are taught that Christianity is synonymous with the American way of life as portrayed in "western films", sex, violence, etc.
My focus has been the Indian people from the mountains and jungles of Southern Mexico, because they represent a huge number of people who have been denied the privilege of hearing the gospel. That will remain my emphasis for now, but In Southern California I am discovering that there are also huge numbers of Arabian, Southeast Asian, Indian (from Indian), and others who for various reasons have been left out in the 'breaking of the bread of life'. Although the Indian peoples from Mexico (taken as a block) make up the largest group of unreached peoples in Southern California (my opinion), Strategies to reach the unreached need to include both specific and general plans to reach the above mentioned groups.
I did not take adequate notes, but during the past few days I have met at least one representative of each of the following groups: Afgani (language: Farsi - probable religion Moslem), Indian (several cases, language: Hindi - probable religion Hindu), Arab (language: Arabic - probable religion Moslem), Guatemalan (language: Tanjolabaal ? didn't write it down! Sorry - probable religion nominal Catholic), Mixteco (language: Mixteco 7 or 8 - probable religion nominal Catholic), Chinese (language: Mandarin - probable religion unknown), Korean (language Korean - Probable religion evangelical Christian). In addition, I talked to a Hispanic pastor in Banning, CA who is very interested in Gospel Recordings materials to reach two or more ethnic groups from Southeast Asia that live in that area.
Immediate strategies needed:
We should recognize that most of the people who make up these ethnic Groups will remain separated from the American culture for the rest of their lives. Special effort will be required, on our part, to bridge that separation. If they remain in the United States, it is likely that their children will be at home in the American culture. We should also recognize that most of these people have a desire to return to their homelands, and will do so if they are able. This is for us an opportunity to penetrate their culture for Christ. If they return home as followers of the Christ, we may through them reach entire unreached ethnic groups from almost any corner of the world.
We need also to recognize that our American culture (most especially the culture of the evangelical churches) presents us with a number of problems that must be eliminated, conquered, or downplayed, before we can or will reach any of these people for Christ. First among these, as I see it, is the problem of Apathy. Even among practicing Christians, our belief in, for instance, hell or the second coming of Christ has no practical significance. I think it safe to say that the most dedicated Christians (generally) are those who go to prayer meetings in their local churches. Yet the topics of their prayer requests reflect little of a lost world in need of a Savior. Little of the heart of Jesus who came "to seek and to save that which was lost."
Our national preoccupation with building temples instead of with the "great Commission" indicates a hugely selfish interpretation of 'stewardship'. (if any New Testament church built, or bought a temple there is not a word of it in the New Testament). Resources and time and effort spent building church buildings would certainly be better spent obeying the spoken and written instructions of the Lord of the Harvest. There are some who think and each that the enthusiasm and unity engendered by working together to build a church building is of great value. If that is so, why not work together with the same unity and enthusiasm to get the gospel message to every last tribe, and every last "creature"? If your response is that people will not be as enthusiastic about such a goal, I will say that either you are not talking about people whose God is the Lord, or you lack spiritual vision. In any case we have His clear command for the one, and neither precept or example for the other.
Some aspects of the way groups of people behave when they are in a "foreign culture can perhaps be used to good advantage. Their tendency to "colonize" is a good example. That is their tendency to want to live near and congregate with people that are of their own culture, or lacking that possibility, those nearest to their culture. This means that if a way that is agreeable to them within their culture can be found to penetrate their culture with the gospel message the gospel may very well spread in that culture without much further intervention.
A corollary to the above is that small cultural groups isolated within larger groups are often more disposed to find aspects of the larger cultural group agreeable than they would be if not so isolated. That means that Americas rampant materialism (for instance) has a much more profound and detrimental effect upon these isolated groups then it would have if they were less isolated from their own cultures. But it also means that they can be much more profoundly affected by the love of Christ through his people, and by the gospel message.
Sometimes, for those members of a foreign culture who have been in the USA for a long enough time, some individuals have learned English, or even to read and write English. I have met Mixteco Indian families in which the Mother, Grandmother, and others speak only Mixteco, but the children speak and read and write fluent English. Properly handled this situation can serve as a bridge for the gospel back into the culture. "Properly handled" means without, prejudice, condescension, or superiority, and in true Christian love and friendship. The weak link here is touching the bi-lingual (or even tri-lingual) child. These children tend to think that the language of their parents is something to be left behind, and forgotten about. Although they use it in the intimacy of their families, they are hesitant to even admit that they use it to anyone outside the family. For that reason they need to be led (gently) to Christ through friendships, and using English, and/or perhaps Spanish. But once they have found the Savior, these cassette tapes from Gospel Recordings can be a means for them to be more effective witnesses to the members of their families who may not understand English or Spanish. One huge advantage here (for American Christians) is that these children can (even must) be approached in English or Spanish, and they will not be inhibited for lack of understanding your speech.
Another similar approach may be effectively used by bi-lingual young Christians who can work in the fields. Get a job in the field working next to the men and women who come from these Indian villages, and win them from there. This is hard work, and working people often pass judgements upon your Christian testimony by how well you "hold up your end" of the work in the workplace. So if you choose this form of witness, be sure to make your daily work in the fields, as well as your words toward your comrades at work a testimony for your Lord. If you speak Spanish bear in mind that some with whom you can converse, may be much more at home in some Indian language. For them especially, who and what you are is much more important than what you say. But by diligent effort coupled with prayer, and a daily Christian walk, you may establish a testimony and rapport with them that will allow you real friendship. And then you can learn what language is their 'heart language', and obtain for them a cassette of the gospel that will begin to 'fill in the blanks' in their understanding of the gospel story in a language that they can share with others in their household.
Because many of the ethnic groups from Mexico, and Southeast Asia and other areas are extremely poor, they can often be found in all the same places that the rest of us go when we are looking for a bargain. I stood at the door of a large discount department store in Tennessee with a handful of Spanish tracts, and tried to engage each Hispanic individual or family in conversation over a period of three hours. Out of thirty contacts, I found that twenty were Indian people from two southern Mexico states. I made a quick walk through of a Swap Meet in Tucson, and discovered one family that was selling were Mixtecos, and they in turn told me of quite a number of other Mixtecos in the area. In The San Diego area I made a 10 minute tour of a swap meet, and found several Indian families and individuals.
I think a strategy that might be very fruitful would be to erect a booth at a swap meet selling Spanish Bibles, giving away Spanish gospels of John, And perhaps selling Gospel cassettes, etc. (there are many Mexican Christian artists). Since some speakers of Indian languages can read and speak Spanish quite well, a prominent portion of the display can be an advertisement in Spanish that cassettes are available in Mixteco, Zapoteco, Nahuatl, and other Mexican Indian languages. Some one at the booth needs to have an understanding of "diagnostic procedures" to determine what language is needed in any given case. Such an approach would almost certainly produce worthwhile leads which properly handled could prove very fruitful in terms of reaching the Indian people from Mexico with the gospel, and at the same time provide a much needed ministry to the Spanish language people, at a price and in a place suitable to their needs.
If any of you are interested in pursuing any of these (or other) strategies toward reaching the most unreached people in America, please know that we are ready to help by prayer, and in any other way we can. We have a wealth of information at our disposal about sources, methods, languages, etc. Please contact us at mailto:DM at IamHis.today;
© Dave & Ella McMullen, 2001