Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tree of Life, Torreon, Mexico

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! On this page I present our vision, introduce you to our family, and tell about the practicality of living on the field in Torreon, Mexico. Then, you can hop over to the page where you can read my latest blog posts.
Our Vision For Torreon
The overarching goal we have for planting a new Church in Torreon is to lift up Christ's name and bring souls to Him. We are working to establish a fellowship of people who will BE the body, BE the light and BE the salt in their city. We have a small group that we want to equip, strengthen and disciple so they in turn can share the gospel with the lost. The Lord has been guiding us as to how He would have us minister to men, women, youth and children. We are praying for Him to raise up leaders and pillars in our group so that the work can expand and be more effective.

Breaking molds and man's traditions of religion so people can find freedom in Christ is part of our calling. Finding innovative ways to help new believers, seekers and the seasoned Christians find a family, a true Koinonia, getting to know and love each other is important to us.  We want to look for creative means to encourage regular time in the Bible and learning to talk with Jesus. Many of the group have appreciated a written plan for reading the Bible in one year, and even if they haven't kept up with the pace, they are becoming grounded in the Word. Someday we may host a Bible club for children or some other outreach for the young.

We have a burden to focus on discipleship, not just conversion. Another desire is to help people find their talents, gifts and callings and prepare them to go out and fulfill their purpose. Some day there may be many congregations born out of this ministry, each led by someone God developed under our care. Missionaries may be sent far and wide with the gospel. One day, we hope to work ourselves out of a job, ready to go on to wherever Jesus should lead.

Third Anniversary Celebration, December 2011
Our hope is to develop practical outreaches in imitation of Christ meeting physical needs out of His compassion for them. A specific plan is to share the love of Jesus with people in hospital waiting rooms by taking food and praying for their loved ones. Another of our dreams is to work with the local authorities to care for the homeless on the cold winter nights. Torreon churches have doctors, nurses and social workers. There are also those who can cut hair or share the Good News or prepare a hot meal. Imagine if the local newspapers could report a changing culture and cite churches reaching out to the poor, the sick, the forgotten, leaving little for the government to do!

We are currently borrowing the rented facilities of another congregation for our Sunday and Thursday gatherings and we have weekly prayer meetings in a home. Our marrieds meetings have been a real success--we try to hold them every two weeks--and we also enjoy gathering just the guys or just the gals to share a good word and a good meal. Chuy has been preaching at the prison twice a month, and he also is assisting another pastor with preaching and visiting the church members, as needed. One of their leaders is an excellent mechanic and has been a true blessing to us with our van repairs and maintainence. 

Meet the Salazar's
A Pastors' Fellowship Dinner, 2011
We are blessed to have the opportunity to present our family to you and to thank you for being part of this special time in our lives. We are Jesus, nicknamed Chuy, Rose, wife and homeschool mom, and our daughters: Sarah, who waits for us with our Lord; Rebeca, 13; Ruth, 10 years old; and Grace who is 8.

Rose, born and raised in Pennsylvania, moved to Torreon in 1990 with her parents. Their vision was to work with local congregations of the Church of Christ. She had trusted Christ as her Saviour at a young age and in her teens dedicated her life to His service.

Texas Bluebonnets 1993
Jesús was born and raised in Torreon and met Christ at the age of 20. He answered the call to serve Him shortly thereafter, preaching his first sermon under the guidance of his pastor just over a year later. He eventually became the youth pastor in addition to teaching the adolescent Sunday School class several years. He ministered to many in the large congregation by leading home Bible study groups, meeting with individuals and families who needed counsel and encouragement.

We met and were married in that church (1995) and continued to minister there, and after a time Chuy joined a prison ministry. With a youth group of about a hundred and 17 years of ministry experience, he felt the need for formal training, which took us to Christ for the Nations in 2001. During his time as a student, he preached at a local church for 1 ½ years, sharing what he was learning. After graduating from the 2 year program, he received a minister's licence, which he has kept current. We´d like to be ordained by the Fellowship of Churches and Ministers at the Christ for the Nations campus in Dallas.

Left to right: Grace, Rose, Ruth, Rebeca  October '12
With hopes of reaching the youth of Torreon, we went back in 2005. Chuy wanted to further disciple and empower youth leaders from the area churches so they could in turn be more effective in their leadership. We did not anticipate the resistance of the local pastors to send their leaders, which left him with a very small group and not enough support to subsist on. After much prayer and anguish, we decided we had to leave after just 8 months. The Lord led us back to Texas to apply for citizenship for Chuy, without which, we could not effectively plant a new church—as we felt God was leading us to do.

After our arrival to the Valley, we discovered that the visual disturbances Chuy was experiencing was due to a detached retina, requiring emergency surgery in May, 2006. Shortly after the surgery we began attending Baptist Temple and learned about AWANA. Rose served two years and Jesus joined her in the second—eventually we may host a similar outreach for children.

Chuy added a middle name when he received his citizenship on July 11th, 2008. As Jesus Caleb Salazar and Family, we share our vision for answering God's call as we plant a new congregation of believers in the metropolitan area of around 75,000 inhabitants.

Living on the Field
Now to discuss practical matters,  our monthly cost of living (including rent, gas, electric, water, telephone, food, gasoline and incidentals) is between $900 and $1100. At the beginning it was mentioned that Rose homeschools our daughters; each year the costs run about $400.  To date we don't have a medical insurance plan, but have relied on various sources including the fact that we count several doctors and surgeons among our friends. Only Rose needs legal documents that incur yearly fees or biannual trips out of the country ($500 each trip), and now all three girls have their Mexican birth certificates.
Rose's family is scattered across Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. She has six siblings with their children and some aunts, whom we'd like to visit at least every three or four years. Our last trip to PA was in October 2008, but in 2010 we were able to see the family members who live in TX. Now that two siblings live in the Rio Grande Valley, we see each other every six months.
Chuy's sister Claudia put on our first Christmas play, 2011

At some point the congregation will need things such as Spanish language Sunday School material and supplies, furniture, kitchen equipment, communion trays, and so forth. We would happily accept any donations of this type.

A prayer covering is vital for the Lord´s work to flourish, which each year has become clearer to us.  We have experienced heavy blows in these past several years. Since our arrival, we have been to five funerals: Chuy´s father (Aug. 2011), his sister´s husband (May 2011) and her son (May 2012), his aunt (fall 2012) and another sister´s father-in-law (spring 2011). I have been sick with several infections (including kidney, throat, and bladder), blood poisoning,  and severe attacks of colitis and gastritis. The girls have had multiple throat infections and such, two need braces, and Chuy suffers from high blood pressure and migraines and needs dentures urgently. We have lost support and lost members who gave the most financially. It really seems to us that we have had more than the average amount of trouble and that we do have an enemy who wants to discourage us from completing our mission. Please pray for us that all his plans would not prosper against us and we would be encouraged and filled with wisdom, peace, joy, and strength for each day´s labor.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know us and the vision God has given us for Torreon, Mexico. We pray the Lord will make clear to you how He would have you become involved in this vision.

God bless you,

Jesus and Rose Salazar