Areas: Mexico: Communities
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20: 19-21)
Some years ago, Bro. Marshall Heinold and his wife, Sis. Jan, felt a calling to provide a boys’ ranch for orphans in the impoverished areas of rural Mexico. Bro. Marshall and Sis. Jan made several trips to Mexico to research and learn more about the possibilities for this work. Through these efforts they learned that members of the Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarean) had begun a mission in Ixtlan, Mexico. They held services as often as they could, and there were some converts. However, they experienced difficulties in maintaining and staffing this ministry.
In 1989, along with Elder Bro. Wendell Gudeman and his wife plus five other brethren, the Heinolds visited Mexico City and then Ixtlan. There they met representatives from the Apostolic Christian (Nazarean) Church and shared concerns with one another. At that time, they looked at a piece of property for a ranch, but felt the price was too high.
God’s guidance continues
The Heinolds became aware of a possibility for a ranch in the state of Puebla. They made a thorough investigation of the feasibility of this project. However, the Mission Committee did not see an open way to pursue it.
About the same time the Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarean), with the assistance of some of our brethren, erected a small church building in Ixtlan. After the building was up, the Nazarean Church still found themselves unable to maintain services. They made an appeal that we would consider sending someone there to assume responsibility for the entire project. The Heinolds visited the area and held services on four occasions each year in 1993 and 1994.
Late in 1994, approval was given by the Mission Committee as well as the Elder Body for them to move into the facility as permanent residents. The Heinolds left home on January 16, 1995, with a small pickup truck full of essentials. They drove 2,195 miles in 6 days. By God’s grace they arrived without incident or accident.
Regular services start
Although the original purpose was to develop a “home” for orphaned and abandoned boys, the spiritual work at Ixtlan presented itself much greater than anticipated and the focus shifted to providing for that need. The Lord has blessed His work in the hearts of the local believers. Much time, prayer, and effort has been given toward nurturing their spiritual growth in the conviction and hope that this small group will be the “first fruit” of many churches throughout Mexico.
The first regular service was a Thursday evening service at 5:00 PM on January 27, 1995. There were six converts in 1996. After much prayer and deliberation, the Mission Committee and the Elder Body decided to ask the ACCN elders to baptize these converts, and this was carried out. This decision was made because they already had two members in Ixtlan, and we needed additional time to consider our future spiritual involvement with the church in Mexico.
In 1997, the gatherings grew, and the building became very crowded. In November of that year, Elder Brothers Roy Grimm and David Wiegand visited the Ixtlan area and evaluated the status of the entire situation. By mutual agreement of our elders and the ACCN elders, the eight original believers and two recent converts were accepted into our church as members in full standing. During this same visit, for the first time, a Holy Communion service was held.
The vision for the church in Mexico is to bring the Gospel message to the lost and unreached multitudes to free them from the bondage of sin and false religion. The desire is to nurture the new believers, and then to send out laborers into the harvest. The greatest blessings are the converted lives and reunited families with renewed spiritual focus, which are evident in the church in Ixtlan.
A new facility
Approval was given by the Elder Body at the August 1997 Conference to build a modest church building next to the existing one. World Relief work teams assisted with this construction. The new church building in Ixtlan was dedicated on January 24, 1999. Many brethren and friends participated to bring this about and the building is the center of many activities that are a blessing to everyone.
After the construction of the church, Bro. Marshall wrote, “Truly we have experienced the salvation of the Lord as others turn their lives over to the Lord. We have also seen His mighty hand as His people come together to build a house of worship. The spiritual blessing they brought even surpassed the physical help they provided. The example and encouragement they gave to the men who had started coming to the services cannot be measured in earthly terms. The support we have been receiving financially, spiritually, and in prayer has been a real outpouring of God’s love through His people to those here in Mexico. God’s blessings to all of you!”
A new guesthouse was completed in 2001 to accommodate individuals working in this ministry as well as others who are visiting the work. It also functions as a meeting place for young group activities and church Bible studies.
In the recent years, a school has been built near the church with the intent of providing children opportunities to gain a quality education in a wholesome environment based on the Bible. Our prayer is that the Lord will bring us qualified teachers who will be examples of Christ in word and deed.
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Bringing the Gospel to other areas
The Ixtlan church reaches out into several other communities in the area with Bible studies during the week. People are brought in vans from these villages to the church for regular services on Sunday. There are now 6 villages from where we bus people.
Since 1999, the Ixtlan church has been supporting a small gathering of in Morelia, Michoacan. Bible studies are every Sunday at 12PM and once a month a minister goes to have services there. Morelia is the capital city of the state of Michoacan. There is an excellent Spanish Immersion school in Morelia and many Apostolic Christian members have spent a few weeks or months here learning Spanish and supporting the Morelia church.
Barra Vieja - Lomas
Barra Vieja is a small fishing village along the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Guerrero. Some of the believers in Ixtlan grew up in this little town and have shared their faith with family members who still live here. There are now 4 baptized members and Bibles studies are held each Sunday at 12PM. Ministers or teachers will continue to be sent on a monthly basis. As the Lord opens doors, it is hoped that a couple can be sent to nurture this little flock on a more permanent basis.
A new outreach has been started here and Bible studies are being held every Sunday at 12pm. A minister or teacher will be sent to assist on a regular basis. Queretaro is also an excellent study abroad location for Spanish learners who want to be close to a church location.
Bros. Loren Schrenk and Bryan Stoller have worked to establish a clinic where eye care services can be provided to those who otherwise would have none. Room for this clinic has been provided in the second floor of the Ixtlan Church.
Some of the people who were treated at the clinic left with tears in their eyes as they said they could see well for the first time in years. People who need help often come to the door of the facility wanting to know when the doctor will be here again.
Currently the church has 40 members and many friends that benefit from this “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Vacation Bible School each year is a wonderful opportunity to invite children to learn to know about the Lord while seeds of faith are planted. In 2008 the average attendance at VBS was over 280 students. Young believers from Ixtlan taught the children.
“Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38)