So…how did we get here, to pursuing full-time ministry in Mexico? Pete and I have both felt drawn to cross-cultural work for many years. The first time we spoke about marriage was at Urbana (a missions conference for college students). After that we talked seriously about what ministry we could do cross-culturally. God led us into youth ministry in Norfolk, Virginia, and we believed that the cross-cultural desire we both had could be realized in Norfolk, a diverse city. We both love that God created people in unique and different ways and feel that our understanding of who God is has grown greatly as we interact with people who are different from us. God values diversity…one day we will be gathered together before the throne of God, every nation, tribe, language and people, worshiping God and giving Him glory. (Rev 14:6) Pete and I are passionate about seeing that glimpse of heaven here on earth in God’s church.
We were happy continuing to work at Tab Church with the youth and families. I (Emily) was planning on eventually returning to the classroom to teach here in Norfolk. But God had another idea for us! Our senior pastor, Kenny Bryant, went to a TEAM conference, spoke with the director of Mexico and came back telling us we had to call him. Apparently, Kenny was convinced that there was this camp in Mexico where Pete and I would fit great! We said NO for 2 months, but every week, Kenny would ask us to call.
Finally, we made one phone call that lasted 2.5 hours! And everything started happening from there…God made it abundantly clear to us that we should begin the application process with TEAM to work cross-culturally in ministry, and Pastor Kenny pushed us to do that quickly. So 2 months from the phone call, we are appointed as missionaries to Mexico!
1. We are passionate about Church, and TEAM’s primary focus is on church planting and the ministries that support those church plants. We connect with that focus. Our vision is to build the church where it is not and to strengthen and help the church where it is!
2. Mexico has a huge need for counselors (Pete’s Master’s is in counseling), youth work, and leadership development …we feel especially burdened for the young people in Mexico. Mexican sociologists and the media are talking about the generation coming of age now as “los ni nis” (the neither/nors). There are as many as several million young people who neither work nor study. One estimate we heard while in Mexico from the director of a relief agency is that of 100 students beginning school, only 26 graduate high school. These young people drop out, have no marketable skill and no education. We have a vision of working with these teens, giving them an eternal hope in Jesus Christ and a physical hope in the form of job skills training. Specifically, we would be working to plant a church in a squatter town turned permanent (Márquez de León) and using the Ranch to reach out to youth in addition to ministering to local churches!
3. We want to be bridge-builders. We need the church in Mexico, and they need us…we want our ministry site to be a place where we can build unity in the Mexican church, but also unity between the Mexican church and the US church.
We would love to see partnerships between Rancho El Camino and camp ministries and churches in the US.