16th Commission Unto Mexico a success in more ways than one

It was another record-setting year for Southern Nazarene University’s annual Commission Unto Mexico trip which took place in Monterrey, Mexico over the Christmas holidays, December 27, 2004 through January 3, 2005.

The annual work and witness trip celebrated its sixteenth (16th) year, lauding a record 315 participants from across the United States. Some of the largest groups represented included the Nazarene districts of South and North Arkansas, South and West Texas, Northwest Oklahoma, and Louisiana. There were even some who came as far away as Maine, Iowa, North Dakota, and Indiana to take part in this year’s event. Among those in attendance were SNU President Dr. Loren Gresham, Terry Toler (VP for Church Relations), Dee Kelley (VP for Spiritual Development), senior students from the traditional nursing program, professors Mary Hibbert (Nursing), Dr. Ken Bryant (Spanish), and Dr. Howard Culbertson (Missions) as well as Southeast Oklahoma Nazarene Missions International (NMI) president Dick Sowder.

“This was a very good year. Our Mexican hosts and missionaries Ron and Laura Sylvester did a wonderful job of preparing for us,” said Culbertson, associate professor of missions.

For the third year in a row, the Commission group partnered with Nazarene churches and ministries in Monterrey to work on various projects at 13 different locations throughout the city, including a nursing home facility where SNU had initiated construction years earlier. Vacation Bible School (VBS)-type events were held for children at each of the 13 sites, and a medical team of SNU senior nursing students and local dental students hosted a free medical clinic at one of the sites where they treated a total of 950 patients in four days. An Evange-Cube personal evangelism team, introduced this year as a new Commission ministry through a Jesus Film partnership, was also stationed at the medical site, providing visiting patients and passer-bys an opportunity to sit and talk one-on-one with the sponsors and learn about Christ.

Construction projects ranged from cleaning and painting to roofing, plumbing and renovating. And as buildings took shape, relationships formed.

“A key objective of this trip is to see relationships developed between the people of different cultures. Some mission trips are focused on a construction project that HAS to be done. With Commission Unto Mexico, our primary focus is building relationships,” said Culbertson. “We do not go to Mexico to ‘do’ things for the Mexican churches. We go there to be with them, to work alongside them, to learn from them.”

This relationship was evidenced during the final celebration dinner, the Noche Mexicana, on the last night of the trip as the two groups exchanged hugs and tears as they bid each other farewell.

“I thank God and the SNU Missions department for providing this opportunity for a cross-cultural missions experience to Mexico,” said one trip participant. “I was able to see lives touched spiritually, physically and emotionally. People were truly transformed and helped. In the process, my life will never be the same.”

Plans for next year’s Commission Unto Mexico trip are already underway, with a scheduled destination to the Coahuila State city of Sabinas, Mexico, December 27, 2005 - January 3, 2006. For further information, contact Dr. Howard Culbertson, co-director of Commission Unto Mexico, at 405.491.6693, hculbert@snu.edu or visit www.snu.edu/mexico.