Editor's note: Mexico, the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, has made great strides in both economic development and democratic freedoms over the past 15 years. However, an escalation of drug-related violence since 2006 has affected the major urban areas, especially in Northern Mexico near the US border. This letter was sent by Andres Garza, a church planting movement leader in Monterrey, to the US churches who support them.
March 23, 2010
The Lord has called us to serve him here, in the city, for the city, and with the city. For many years Monterrey, Saltillo and Ciudad Victoria have not had problems with drug trafficking. Unfortunately, many incidents have happened in these cities in the past few months, as we have been hit by organized crime.
Because of these new problems, the US Department of State, the US media and so forth have sent travel warnings about what is happening. After these warnings, many of our supporters have raised questions about security issues.
What should be our attitude towards these situations? Should we stay in the city? Should we keep inviting more mission teams to come? Are we being responsible with our supporters? Are we being responsible for our families? These and other security questions have come to us, and as human beings of flesh and blood, we need to ask these questions to learn and to grow in our ministry. We do not have all the answers or understand why all of these things are happening.
As a team, we know that there are two ways to react to the difficult times we are facing in our city. A very "spiritual" person might say, "We shouldn't worry, since we are Christians serving the Lord, God must take care of us and nothing is going to happen to us." On the other side, there are the "realistic" people that in the midst of their fears would say, "You have to decide what is best for you. You do not have to live in a city with all of these problems. You can protect yourself or stay inside your home and stop doing unnecessary things like visiting people, going to church, and so forth."
We have learned a third way to think in regard of this situation in our city. We are not to be "spiritual" and close our eyes to what is happening, but neither are we to be pragmatists who believe that we have to leave the city or hide from the city, and depend on our own decisions.
First of all, we see in Acts 4:27-29 that crime and violence happened in the city where the saints lived, and the reaction of the disciples was very strong. They did not close their eyes to what was happening, but they knew the biggest problem was that their fears could become a stumbling block to spreading the word of the Lord, and they prayed to be bold to keep preaching his word. They were sure about their call and praying for boldness was their first reaction. This is what we have started to do, and we are asking you to pray for us.
Secondly, we see in Jeremiah 29:7 that we are called to seek the peace of the city. We are called to be a renewed city in the broken city, to plant churches in cities where crime, drugs and so forth are the normal state of living for some people. In Tim Keller's writings about Jeremiah 29 he makes two great statements:
1. Have a positive view of the city. The Lord will bring judgment to the city if they do not repent, however, we are not to close our eyes to the brokenness in the city, nor are we to leave or hide from it.
2. Keep a vision for the city. It is in these difficult times where we really need to confirm our vision for church planting in cities. We need to accelerate our work to plant more churches and city ministries to fight the spiritual warfare through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to go to the heart of the people, the culture, the society, education and so forth, and to bring the gospel to the center of these arenas.
Do we need to be spiritual towards these situations? Yes. Do we need to be realistic about what is happening? Yes, of course. But our responsibility towards our call is to comprehend the purpose of our Lord in the midst of these situations and we are still living part of the redemptive history the Lord is developing. We need to trust the Lord with WISDOM and also to understand what is happening to act with CAUTION in accordance with the supreme call of the Lord to be and to serve in these cities.
We are an extension of your ministry of word and deed. Coming to any of these three cities is a great way to serve the Lord, however, your prayers and support are two other great ways to keep doing the ministry of the word in Northern Mexico. You can be sure that we are committed to serve the kingdom of God and by his grace we will continue serving.
We, the Northern Mexico MTW Team, want to thank you so much for your great desire to serve in our partnership to plant churches and train leaders in the 27 largest cities in the region. We thank you for your commitment to work with Christ in His promise to build his church, to become a new community into the cities we are working.
Please, keep praying for us and for this ministry. God bless you all.
agarzaayala @ aol.com