Exclusive stories from the mission field
An 11-year-old boy in Mexico had trouble socializing, and his father was addicted to drugs, so local missionaries seeking to help him had persuaded his mother to let him live at their educational center living quarters. Workers noticed some alarming drawings in his notebook. The sketches made it clear the boy was suicidal.
His friends and father were heavy drinkers, and a 17-year-old boy was on the verge of falling into the same lifestyle before a local missionary led him to Christ. He faced ridicule from his friends, and his father often beat him for becoming a Christian, but he was very public that he would not deny Christ and hoped to win others from his ethnic group with his testimony.
Poor children faced pressure to sell trinkets rather than attend school, and local missionaries encouraged them to stay in class. Every day of the week, children also received nutritious lunches at the local ministry’s feeding center, giving them the health they needed to excel in class and helping workers sow the seeds of God’s kingdom.
Amid conditions that seem to grow more apocalyptic every day, local missionaries in Latin America need either super-human stamina or otherworldly faith. A worker in Bolivia needed true grit to continue reaching out to a young man whose drunken rages had driven his family away. “Every time Pablo got drunk, he went home and hit his wife and children,” the leader of the native ministry said.
Infection from COVID-19 is just one risk local missionaries in Latin America face as they serve the unreached and needy. While the pandemic has increased resistance as villagers fear workers from nearby areas could bring infection, spiritual warfare and persecution are prevalent and gunfire paralyzes some towns. “Armed conflicts in the towns are a problem for the mobility and security of our missionaries,” a ministry leader in Mexico said.
Depressed since her marriage started to sour a few years ago, 32-year-old Ximena Flores suffered steady deterioration of her mental health, cementing her husband’s desire for separation. A schoolteacher with a 5-year-old daughter, Flores’ condition worsened when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to teach online from home – where the sources of stress and conflict overlapped with work challenges. “Someone told me that there was another teacher who was a Christian and could help me,” Flores said. “She told me Jesus is the answer, and I said, ‘How?’”