Just a few weeks ago I stood in an open-air church that represents the light of the Gospel in a small town called Pachutla in Oaxaca Mexico. I watched as approximately 20 church leaders gathered to learn and fall deeper in love with the Word of God. I was immediately struck with the thought that we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, our local church, even our country. We are a part of the Global Church that God is using to reveal His Glory. I only went to Oaxaca Mexico. How can I say that this is a part of the Global work of God? Because no matter where we have gone, whether it be Oaxaca Mexico, the Black Earth Region of Russia, India, or Thailand, we are seeing the same explosion of pastors and leaders being equipped by the Word of God. I want to take a few minutes of your time in this newsletter article to report the blessings we experienced through our time in Pluma / Pachutla.
The Mission statement of Project Pluma (The name of the ministry) is “to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Word and deed among the Zapotec people of Oaxaca; to preach the Gospel to the lost, and disciple the converted while incorporating them into local churches; to train and equip the next generation of indigenous missionaries and pastors.” — For the first many years of going to Pluma, we spent our time building relationships and strategically serving towns that needed the truth of the Gospel, but were fairly closed off. Over many years, our missionary on the ground, Nathan Stanley, has built relationships with indigenous pastors and church leaders, not only in Pluma, but all throughout Oaxaca. Three years ago, he began a nine-module course that would last three full years to train and invest in these indigenous pastors. The thing that he noticed was the lack of Biblical priority. It was not that these pastors did not value the Scriptures, but rather, they simply did not know how to study them. For the past several years we have had the pleasure of being a part of this pastoral training. Now that we have a group of approximately twenty who will be graduating the seminary, we turn our focus to the future. We pray that the Lord will guide us in His wisdom to continue to support and spread the Gospel vision among all the local villages, while building relationships in unreached villages, and continuing the training on multiple levels. We have watched these pastors grow through the years in tremendous ways. The Lord is moving and His Word is contagious.
We arrived in Oaxaca on Monday Nov. 13th. We arrived late in the evening and we were fairly fatigued from traveling. Tuesday, we spent the entire day together as a team. We needed to prepare our full teaching outlines. The module we were teaching was “Biblical Counseling”, which demanded some extra cultural information. So we met with our missionary and a local Psychiatrist. We also needed some time to really get to know our team. On our way in, we met up with four guys from South Carolina and North Carolina. We had talked over Skype, but not in person. We took our time and prayed over the material asking for the Lord to show up.
Wednesday officially began our training. That morning, we took the hour trip down the mountain from Nathan’s place in Pluma to Pachutla where the training was going to take place. Our entire team was energized as we walked into the church and saw all of our friends we had made last year. As a matter of fact, when Pastor Jaime walked in they all cheered. They love the ministry and the way he communicates the Scripture in their own language. For those of you who do not know, Pastor Jaime is a beloved brother of our church and ministry. The Lord has called him to pastor a Spanish/English speaking congregation on Fleming Island. His service on these trips is a gift from the Lord. We stayed in Pachutla for the rest of the trip. We woke up each day and began our training at about 8:00am and ran until about 5pm. We had four days, Wednesday through Saturday. These pastors and leaders asked challenging questions and searched the Scriptures for the answers. Each day they were given case studies of counseling situations they may face in their local congregations. They worked together in groups to lay out a plan for working with someone from a biblical perspective through these issues. We were impressed with the way He is working in the lives of these faithful leaders. Please join us in prayer as we ask God to bless their ministry and family. We began our journey home on Sunday.
I am overwhelmed when I think about the future possibilities for this great ministry. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Project Pluma and others who prioritize the development of local leaders in the Word of God. Thank you for your faithful support. We could feel your prayers every day. Your generosity financially not only funded our trip, but it also provided some vital needs in the churches. We are blessed to have a church family like SCC who can see beyond our own walls. God bless you all and keep growing in your passion for His Word.
Pastor Joseph Smith