"Commission Unto Mexico: Thank you for your choice," proclaimed a banner in a Juarez, Mexico hotel. Although hotel employees had made the banner just to say thanks to the 150 Work & Witness trip participants for staying there, its wording was a reminder of the warm welcome given to them by Mexico North district.
This December 27-January 3 trip was the 18th Commission Unto Mexico, a family-friendly short-term mission organized by Southern Nazarene University and co-sponsored by the NMI and NYI organizations of the South Central Region. One of the "firsts" for this Commission Unto Mexico was snow. During a community work project to rehabilitate a park badly damaged by flooding a year ago, snow began to fall with over an inch accumulating before melting about three hours later. Another first was involvement in activities of the Border Initiative Church Planting Project, which is just getting underway.
Rev. Josh Foster who brought a group of 15 from his Clearwater, KS Church said, "What a pleasure it was to go on this year's Commission trip. . . This one was exceptional. I was very proud of our people and the way that they sought to connect with the people of the Segunda Church."
Participants worked on nine construction projects and conducted Vacation Bible School type ministries in seven of the neighborhoods. Average daily attendance of children at those ministries was about 200. Construction projects including putting on new roofs, lay cement blocks, pouring support columns, painting, and putting in interior walls. The trip included New Year’s Eve celebrations at each of the nine churches involved and a final combined Noche Mexicana dinner celebration on January 2.
The event also included two mobile medical teams of doctors and nurses who used medical supplies provided by Blessings International. Among the three doctors on the trip was Erika Rios of the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries office in Kansas City. In four days of clinics, the medical teams treated about 215 patients. The pharmaceuticals, which had a wholesale value of $24,000, which were not used up in the medical clinics, were divided between Nazarene medical work in Mexico and Nicaragua.
SNU nursing professor Mary Hibbert, who directs the medical aspect of Commission Unto Mexico, said, "The real story is that every day the physicians had opportunities to pray with clients for problems that only Christ can fix. One day a lady was walking by, not even intending to come to the clinic, but she saw the sign and decided that it was worth a try. She accepted Christ that day. This year was a great investment in making connections between the church and the surrounding neighborhoods."
This year’s Commission Unto Mexico participants came from as far away as Canada, Wyoming, and Maine. Professional clown Linda Duncan from Friendly Chapel in North Little Rock, Ark. brought nine clown suits and face paint and taught volunteers to be clowns for each of the ministry sites.
Tammy Fry of West Lebanon, Indiana, said, "On the first day we paraded through the streets and passed out balloons and invited the kids to VBS. It was a great opportunity to get a chance to see the neighborhood and meet the parents of some of the children. We had no problem getting the kids to help us out. They were more than happy to jump on their bikes and ride along with us and knock on doors. The church did a great job of sharing the VBS music and teaching the kids the lesson for the day. It was great to see the smiles on their faces and even though there was difficulties with the language it was so easy to just give the children a hug and say God Bless You."
District superintendent Eliseo Sedano from the Mexico North district invited Commission Unto Mexico to return to Juarez next year. That invitation was accepted by SNU President Loren Gresham and Dean of the Chapel Brad Strawn. Information on the trip can be found at: snu.edu/mexico
Posted on Thu, January 18, 2007
by Howard Culbertson