By Kenneth D by Levone

VIEWS: 10 PAGES: 3

									Small church with ambitious plans addresses immorality, witchcraft;
LAM missionary helps with outreach to children, women
By Kenneth D. MacHarg,
LAM News Service

Mexico City,
Mexico (LAMNS)—
Members of a large,
lavish North-
American church
would be taken back
at its basic and
unfinished
construction. But
Rebekah Meyerend,
a missionary with
the Latin America
Mission, is proud of
the Presbyterian
church building
where she serves in a
low-income suburb of Mexico City.

“When I arrived it was just dirt floor and plastic tarps and a carton roof,” she reflects.
“Two years ago a group of young marrieds came from Atlanta and they helped us dig up
the floor and lay the foundation. Then the ladies held a bazaar and raised enough money
to build the roof, the cement roof. Then we painted.”

Since then the church has purchased an adjoining house to remodel for Sunday School
classrooms, club groups and offices. “Before, we had Sunday School in one room and it
was a big zoo with a lot of noise,” Rebekah, a native of Devon and Newtown Square,
Pennsylvania, says. “Now we have three classrooms downstairs, and up stairs is where
my office will be when we can get it fixed up. There are more rooms that we can either
fix up and rent to a seminary student or eventually use for more church space.”

The new facilities reflect the church’s vision for where God is leading them in the future.
“When I arrived five years ago it was a mission with maybe 15 or 20 people. Two years
ago we had 23 members, the amount required to become a congregation under
Presbyterian policy,” she says. “Last Easter Sunday we baptized ten people.” Reflecting
the church’s growth, Rebekah says, “We’re getting there.”

The church where Rebekah serves sits in the Valle de Chalco, a sprawling low-income
community stretched between Mexico City and the rumbling Popocatepetl Volcano.
“Most people here have enough money that they have some sort of shelter,” she says.
But, they aren’t rich. “Many of the fathers work six or seven days in the city, so they’re
working long hours.” Many of them, along with the women, work in the informal sector
cleaning houses, washing clothes or doing other day-labor jobs.

There are challenges to working in a community such as Chalco. Rebekah faces
immorality, witchcraft and apathy every day.

“It is very typical for a couple to just move in together and never formalize their
marriage,” she says. “We have one family that has a difficult situation because the
husband and wife are not legally married. The church will not let them join until they
work out their marriage situation, but they still attend.” Others face the common cultural
problem of husbands with multiple families.

“Drunkenness is another problem and the church needs to learn to deal with that. We
don’t have a lot of men in the church. It is a challenge for men to come to the Gospel and
be saved.”

Another problem is witchcraft that Rebekah says is common throughout Mexico. “There
is still some black magic that goes on in the community,” she says. That practice is
combined with idol worship and a mixture of Catholicism with ancient Indian practices.

Of particular concern is the apathy. “They know about God, they know about Christ, but
it just doesn’t sink in. I have given many Bible studies over the years and have seen
people pray to accept Christ. But they just don’t follow up and continue in their faith.”

Rebekah says her most successful work is with children. “Children are very open here,”
she reports. “Because this is a poor community, children are not kept behind doors like
they are in a middle-class community.”

When her church presents evangelistic programs, 75-100 children show up. "Our mother
church which is more middle class is lucky to get 25 children together,” she says.

“My interest is with the child. The parents know me and accept me and I can visit in the
home.” Rebekah says that she is well received and people are open to a presentation of
the Gospel and to Bible studies.

“I love these people,” she affirms. “This is my family, this church is my church.”

Like many missionaries who work alone, Rebekah says she can use more help. “I’m
looking for some long-term workers to come. Someone who is interested in community
work and likes to work with children and women.”

Rebekah reports that she must raise several thousand dollars in the next few months to
finish paying off the new annex in the house that her church bought. She says that while
the church has raised some funds toward the payment, they are unable to bear the entire
cost.
Working with the pastor of the church, Rebekah has opened a preschool program and
needs teachers as well as those who can teach English, train parents in nutrition,
education, and arts and crafts. She also is seeking short-term work groups who can help
build and improve the building. “We mix evangelism with hard labor, but you’ve got to
be willing to come and get your hands dirty,” she says.

The Latin America Mission currently has approximately 240 missionaries in 15 countries
and is seeking to place 300 new missionaries in Latin America. The U.S. headquarters
can be reached at Latin America Mission, Box 52-7900, Miami Springs, FL 33152, by e-
mail at info@lam.org, or by calling 1-800-275-8410. The mission’s web site may be
found at http://www.lam.org. LAM’s Canadian office is at 3075 Ridgeway Drive, Unit
14, Missassauga, ON L5L 5M6.

LAM missionary helps with outreach to children, women in Mexico, LAM News
Service, Jan 11, 2000

								
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