First Timers, Now Friends

July 10, 2018|Reflections|

Last week, the team from Woodland Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina, worked in Reynosa with us, building two houses and hosting Vacation Bible School. They came to Mexico for the first time three years ago after finding us online. Their pastor and leader Tito Madrazo wrote the following article last year, reflecting on their first trip to Reynosa in 2016. If you’re looking for a short-term, sustainable mission opportunity and want to get involved with Faith Ministry, contact us!

Written by Tito Madrazo (Woodland Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC)

About this time last year, our church, Woodland Baptist in Wake Forest, was trying to identify an international mission opportunity to pursue. Our congregation has a long history of disaster relief work, but less experience doing international work, so we really wanted to choose this opportunity well as a foundation for future efforts. I was looking for three particular criteria that I have found to be most important over twenty years of participating in and leading short-term mission teams: real need, reliable partnership and affordability. A real, tangible need motivates the church as a whole to rally around the mission opportunity and team. Reliable partners on the ground are necessary for the productivity of the trip and for extending its impact beyond a single week. Affordability allows individuals with fewer resources to participate and for family members to share the experience.

In the midst of our prayer and searching, I came across Faith Ministry under the list of Mission Partners on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s website. As I read more about their work building homes along the border in the Reynosa area of Mexico, I was immediately struck by the scale of the need. Almost half of Mexico’s 120 million people live below the national poverty line. Many of the families in the border-town colonias live in homes cobbled together out of spare pieces of wood and corrugated tin. Faith Ministry operates much like Habitat for Humanity does here. Before a family receives a home, one family member commits to working as a volunteer, building houses for others over an eight-month period. This provides an opportunity for relationship-building and gospel-sharing over an extended period.

Miguel Perez Manzano, a 15-year-old boy, worked with us throughout the week on the home we were building for his parents, Jose Luís and Lorenza, and his little sisters, Lesly and Camila. Toward the end of the week, he shared with me that he had been homeless for the first ten years of his life, with his family sleeping in the streets or occasionally on another family’s patio. When they were finally able to buy land next to the community landfill, the shack they pieced together was unable to keep out the rain, the roaches and the rats. With tears in his eyes, Miguel told me how he and his family would plead with God for a safer and sturdier home.

A family waiting for a house in Reynosa

Addressing needs like those of the Perez Manzano family requires partners who really understand the local context. Faith Ministry has been at work in Reynosa since 1994 and has built thousands of homes since then. Their long-tenured Mexican staff also operates a medical clinic and nutrition program in which teams can work. Our team stayed in Faith Ministry’s compound, where we assisted a local congregation with a Vacation Bible School ministry in the afternoons. None of us had much experiencing building with concrete block, but the Mexican foremen guided us smoothly through the process. We built an entire house from the foundation up to the ring that would support the roof, then poured a concrete roof onto a home that been built by a previous team. Just a few weeks ago, Faith Ministry sent us pictures of another team from North Carolina completing the roof for the house we had built. And so it has gone since 1994, with team after team adding to the work that was done before.

Our church raised just over $5,000 to cover the cost of the home we were building, and participants on the trip had to come up with nearly $700 apiece to cover their airfare, food and lodging, but the value of what God provided during that week was far greater. The Perez Manzano family have the home they prayed for. We were able to share the gospel and our lives, and we formed new friendships and saw God working in powerful ways. Our goal is to form a long-term relationship with Faith Ministry — to come back year after year and celebrate what God continues to do across borders and brokenness. And we’d love for you to come too, to meet the children to whom we ministered, to see Miguel and his sisters in their new home, and to make your own contribution to the life-giving work of Faith Ministry.

The team from North Carolina with the family and their new home

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