…No, that’s not it. That connotes the idea of an ugly caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. And our old ministry in Mexico was never an ugly caterpillar. It’s really as though a beautiful butterfly morphed into a different, yet still beautiful, butterfly. Hope that clears it up?
It’s moved from serving the church with physical labor to serving the church through personal ministry. Yes, we still do VBS. Yes, we still do evangelistic meetings. And yes, we still sometimes mix cement if needed. But our newest ministry is through the local schools. From Jr High schools to Universities, there is a desire to practice English skills. And who better to practice with than Americans. It’s easy for the Americans, enjoyed by the students and approved by the schools. They certainly understand who we are and why we are there and each school has different guidelines about how much we can share about our relationship with Christ. And I think that leads to the two reason for this ministries success.
1- We really want to help the students improve their English skills. English is the language of business and it will go a long way to helping these students be successful and better their lives. And before you cry ‘ethnocentrism’, this is about their desire to learn English, not our telling them that they should. Also consider how many more opportunities there would be for any of us if we were fluent in another language.
2- We also want to build relationships. As these students see that we are interested in truly helping them, we begin to build friendships. They start asking more personal questions such as why are we spending our vacation to come teach them, which then leads to some interesting discussions. We can’t stand in the front of the room and meander down the Romans Road with the class, but we can share with a group of students who ask, how Jesus is the reason for our coming to Mexico to help them.
These relationships take a while to build, and don’t always come to fruition through one group. As was the case with Arturo, it took a whole summer of groups before he accepted Christ at the last VBS of the summer. And that was just the beginning of his journey. This is what one of our missionaries in Mexico wrote about it.
We moved to El Alamo on May 7th, 2016. Soon after that God led us to contact the Jr High that’s across the street from the TIME Center. We were well received, and we started a great partnership with the school. They opened their doors to us and the groups that come with TIME. We met a young kid that summer, his name is Arturo. He was part of the activities we were able to do at the school. We became friends with him and we would hang out with him. At the last VBS of the summer, he accepted Christ. Fast forward to 2017, he starts coming to church with us. Kike is now intentionally investing time in him. Last year, we had our first English Summer Camp at the TIME Center and we invited him to volunteer with us. He did a great job, he has a great attitude and his English was a great asset and it has gotten so much better. That summer, he was challenged to share his testimony before his very own classmates, and he did it. This year, he has shown more growth in his faith and he was a volunteer once again. He is now a sophomore in High School and God has been working in his life so much. Arturo has made the decision to be baptized. It is a blessing to see how this young man has made a commitment to follow and obey Christ and to see the value of every single person who has invested in Him, from group members, interns, leaders, volunteers, missionaries, etc. Pray for Arturo and his family. He is a great testimony to them and to us.
As you might have noticed, working with the schools has naturally progressed into developing English Summer Camps. Hosted at the TIME Center and in partnership with our anchor church, it is a fun, crazy, exhausting, educational time centered around the Gospel. There is no bait and switch. Both the students and the parents know what we are about, that we are affiliated with a local church, and that we do an excellent job at improving the students English. I believe that the affiliation with the local church gives us credibility. It also challenges the teens from the church that come and help at the camps. Read what Aide had to say.
This summer I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I knew what the English Summer Camp was about, I knew the missionaries (Sam, Kike and Jess) I was going to live with them for the next few weeks. But I can say I didn’t expect the impact this experience was going to have in me. Being vulnerable by practicing my English 24/7 for the first time, being “far” from my family and, it may sound weird, but be reminded of God so often, praying a lot of times per day, having more than one devotional daily…that’s what I was afraid of and at the same time excited about. But God is way bigger than my expectations. These people became my family and being reminded of God that often is now the lifestyle I’m sure I want to have.
About the activities, games and projects we had, I loved each and every one of them. I saw the students getting so interested in English and in the volunteers from the States. I believe they really enjoyed learning while playing. I was also challenged this summer, I shared my testimony for the first time, and it wasn’t just that, I did it in front of people from my church, who I’ve known my entire life, and it went great. I also had the opportunity of sharing a devotional for the youth helpers of Nuevo Pacto’s VBS, who were also friends I’ve known my whole life, and it also went well. I was challenged this summer, I was vulnerable, but I was also loved and welcomed by all the people I got to hang out with. I know God wanted me to be there this summer, He wanted me to learn all the things I learned about His unchanging love and I know He wants me to share that love with others. So, it was an amazing summer, I can’t wait for the next one.
Aide Sánchez Martínez
But most importantly, it reaches out to students that wouldn’t otherwise be reached. A student who has no connection with a church and comes to the English camp to learn English, or to meet Americans, or to hang out with friends or whatever reason. They make new friends and build stronger relationships. They meet not only Americans, but peers that go to our partner church. They get invited to church with their new friends. They are exposed to the Love of God. Introduced to a Savior they didn’t even know existed. Begin a new life as a Child of the King.
Sounds great. But does that really happen? Read about Roxanna and her journey.
Roxanna came to the English Summer Camp to spend time with her friend Fabiola. She was supposed to be there the previous year, but she couldn’t make it. Little did she know what God had in store for her. Little did we know what God was going to allow us to experience. She was able to connect with the group really well. She loved every second of the English Summer Camp. After the group left, we invited her to come to church to hang out with Haley and she did. She brought her younger sister to the VBS at our church, we invited Roxanna to help at VBS and she did. She started coming to the cell group we host at our place. Lexi, one of the team members, has been in touch with them and through the Bible app they have been reading devotionals together. After cell group I was able to share the gospel with her. She came to know Christ. It is incredible how this is a great illustration of what happens with the groups when they come down and how God takes every bit and piece and puts them together for His own glory. So many parts came into play for her to hear the Gospel and to come to know Christ as her Lord and Savior. Short term missions are not just about that one week or tour you take with TIME Ministries. We believe that we share the Gospel out of obedience to God, leaving all the results in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Pray for Roxanna and her walk with Christ. Pray for her family, so she can be a catalyst in their lives and what God is doing in Roxanna’s life draws them to Christ.
That’s why we say that TIME Ministries is more than missions. Or more specifically, more than that one week you spend on the mission field. It is cultivating relationships to provide opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s sustaining those relationships so they can experience that Love that should define the church. It’s working together to harvest the souls that long for something that they haven’t been able to define themselves, a reconciliation with their Father and Creator. It’s teaching them that they have a purpose, they have an important work to do that God specifically created them to accomplish.
It’s showing them how God can transform their life from the ugliness of sin and and the cocoon of death into the beautiful creation they were meant to be.