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On Wednesday night, March 12, the cell group that meets in the Santa Ursula Coapa barrio celebrated God’s gift of multiplication. The Santa Ursula group had been planning to multiply for several months and through God’s grace it finally became a clear reality. The group had recently grown to over 20 regular participants. In order to restore intimacy and reach out to new people, the group decided that it would be best to become two groups.

 

The evening was filled with singing and prayers of thanksgiving. We made a list of things God has done among us on a white-board. Each of the group members lifted up specific things that they were thankful for in our group. After finalizing the plans for the two new groups, we ate a final celebration meal together (tostadas, tortas, arroz con leche and cake).

 

The Santa Ursula Coapa barrio will be the site of Tierra Firme’s next church plant, most likely this summer 2008. Please be praying for these two new cell groups and the plans to plant a new church in this area.

 

On Friday, February 22, the Tierra Firme Church hosted a net casting event entitled “El Secreto” (The Secret). Over the last several weeks the church passed out 9,000 invitations to the event, with the help of the 2007-2008 AIM class. While not knowing how many people would attend, our expectations were high after our recent equipping retreat and spending significant time in prayer together. We invited our good friend, Iker Marquez, from Cuernavaca to be the main speaker for the event. Church members served in every aspect of the process: passing out invitations, setting up chairs, welcoming guests, providing pastries and coffee, serving at the raffle table, serving the guests at the intermission, and cleaning up after the event. It was powerful to see the unity and diversity of service in the body of Christ!

 

Iker also did an excellent job explaining “El Secreto” – the mystery revealed – Jesus Christ! He tied in some of the concepts from the popular book and movie “The Secret,” showing both its strengths and its weaknesses. However, after the intermission he invited people to find true peace through Jesus Christ. It was exciting to walk with Iker through his personal journey. We were all moved by his humility and story telling, finally coming to the realization that Jesus is our one and only hope.

 

We were blessed to have 150 people attend the event, with 80 visitors filling out prayer cards! At the end of the event, we gave away 5 Bibles and 3 copies of “The Purpose Driven Life” in our raffle. We also invited people to continue discovering the one “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

 

The church members have already committed to personally visiting every person who filled out a prayer card. The work of caring for each need and sharing Jesus with each family will be our task throughout the coming weeks and months. Please pray for these special encounters as we seek to participate in God’s redemption story in the Tlalpan district of Mexico City.

 
The Tierra Firme Church started the new year by spending the weekend (January 25-27) together. Tupac Alcauter and his family let us stay at their ranch near Tuxpan, Michoacan. We were blessed to have 45 people from the Tierra Firme congregation attend the retreat. It was a great time for living together in Christian community and growing together in God’s mission.
 
As we began the new year, we wanted to provide a special time of missional equipping for the members so that we could be more prepared, both spiritually and strategically, for multiplying the congregation. Our hope is that God would transform us into effective servants in his kingdom.
 
Throughout each day we focused our attention on the greatness of God and his plan for the world. This included times of devotion, praise and prayer. Israel and Sean both facilitated equipping sessions that discussed a short and simple way of sharing the gospel from the book of Mark, which we entitled "Con Jesus se puede!" (With Jesus We Can!). Sean also facilitated a session that developed a Missional Bible Study will be used as a basis for intimate groups of 2 to 4 people. Jeni also worked with several of the youth to teach the kids’ sessions. On Sunday morning we had a special extended time taking the Lord Supper together. Another highlight was on Saturday night when we spent the evening around the campfire singing and praising God under the starlit sky.
 
There were also 4 people who gave their lives to Christ in baptism during the retreat: Nabor and Nancy from San Andres Totoltepec, Elvia the daughter of Jaime and Joaquina, and Tonio the son of Luis and Luisa. It was powerful to see the Spirit at work among us! The entire weekend was reason for celebration.

 

What a way to finish the year! We are so thankful for the work the Spirit of God has been doing in the hearts the families in San Andres Totoltepec. On Sunday, December 16, the Tierra Firme Church traveled up to San Andres to celebrate Christ together. We also invited Iker Marquez, from Cuernavaca, to share from the word. Israel has been forming a cell group in San Andres for over a year now. The seed was sown and God caused the growth! Four people from San Andres were baptized into Christ, including Doña Guille and her husband, the owners of the house where the cell group has been meeting. It was also awesome to see Luis Paco baptize his own son, Oscar. After the baptisms we shared an incredible Mexican home cooked meal together and ended with a piñata for the kids.

 

Our prayer has been that God would lead us to plant a new church in San Andres. Therefore, we are stepping out in faith beginning in February. Israel will be working with several of the families from the Tierra Firme Church to serve in San Andres as part-time missionaries. Our hope is that through this experience the Tierra Firme congregation will learn how to plant new churches.

 
Over the last 3 months, Israel and I have organized a special equipping seminar for the men of the Tierra Firme Church. We held the seminar on Friday night once per month: October, November and December. We call this group of men "Hombres de Valor" which has a double meaning in Spanish – "Men of Courage" or "Valuable Men." Over the last three months we have based our training on Romans 8: More than Conquerors! We encouraged one another to look at our lives as Christian men from God’s perspective, and not from the perspective of the world. Through Jesus Christ, God has made us more than conquerors over condemnation, guilt, negativism, laziness, loss, hurt, worry, materialism, passivity and ignorance. Each lesson was filled with biblical examples, which brought out great conversations about how to live out our victory over these things. As a result, several of the men have taken greater initiative in the spiritual leadership of their families, their cell groups and the projects within the congregation. For example, one of our "Hombres de Valor," Alfredo Hernandez, has become a co-leader in our cell group. This has given us the ability to multiply our cell group within the next couple of months. So, please continue to pray for the men of the Tierra Firme Church as they live as "Hombres de Valor" in a city that needs true examples of integral followers of Christ: Alfredo, Luis Gonzalez, Jorge, Angel, Miguel Angel, Oscar, Luis Paco, Buenaventura, Porfidio, Jonny, Jaime and Froylan.
 
This year’s Mexico Missionaries’ Retreat was held in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero: November 7 through 10. In attendance where missionaries from the cities of Lazaro Cardenas, Leon, Guadalajara, Morelia, Cuernavaca and Mexico City (91 people). This year we invited Jay & Sherry Jarboe to be with us for the retreat and encourage us from the Word. Jay guided us through several passages from 2 Corinthians. The retreat theme was Family On Mission and Jay challenged us to reflect upon our relationship with God, our families and our ministries and to drink the cup that Jesus drank. It was great to reconnect with everyone and to remember that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. May God continue to bring the people of Mexico to himself as we lift Christ up in our respective mission points.
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