Defeating Disease and Darkness in Mexico
December 7, 2017
Besides suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes and heart disease, a 54-year-old villager in Oaxaca state, Mexico, had to put up with the loud music of the church next door.
Sabino, an ethnic Triqui like everyone else in the tiny town (unnamed for security reasons) nestled in high-altitude mountains of western Oaxaca, made regular sacrifices and offerings to the gods of his ancestors, above all the lightning god tasked with bringing harvest rains. He dutifully joined the villagers in the annual sacrifice of a black chicken's blood to the lightning god.
He entrusted his lung, heart and other ailments to the local witchdoctor, and when his efforts didn't help, Sabino visited other shamans in the region. They tried things like taking him to places where he might have been frightened, there trying to undo the scare by offering intoxicating drinks and blood sacrifices of animals, besides burning incense. They told him to eat certain plants and animals and perform various rites.
Unsuccessful and fearing that Sabino had fallen victim to the "evil eye," a malevolent spell or curse someone had inflicted on him, the witchdoctors compelled him to pay money for them to intercede for him with the gods.
When none of these techniques worked, Sabino went to medical doctors.
"The doctors treated his diseases as much as possible, but finally they gave up on him," said Celso*, director of a ministry indigenous to Mexico. "The doctors said he was terminally ill and told him to prepare himself, because he would die. He had lost a lot of weight, and he looked like a walking cadaver."
"The doctors said he was terminally ill and told him to prepare himself, because he would die," the ministry director said. "He had lost a lot of weight, and he looked like a walking cadaver."
His wife and adult children watched as he drew closer to death.
"Sabino and his wife were always bothered to hear the church praising God, even the preaching of the word of God, but after searching for healing by all human means within his reach, finally one day he decided to attend the worship service as a last resort," Celso said.
What seemed to be noise from the outside seemed more like warmth on the inside. Sabino began to get a feel for the fellowship unified around the one true God. He had visited the church a few times before he happened to attend a service when Celso and his wife were visiting and praying for the sick with their ministry's two indigenous missionaries.
"They prayed for me," Sabino said, "and from that moment on, I felt a change inside of me. I felt something happen inside, and since then I began to recover. I made the decision to follow Christ and gave my heart to Christ, and God answered."
That was about a year ago, and Celso said the change in Sabino has been incredible.
"He is now completely healed, and he is a testimony to the people of the community, because his physical appearance also has radically changed," he said. "He is much strengthened. He has left the area to work elsewhere, and currently he is meeting with a church there and is being discipled in order to become involved with the church here once he returns."
Working exclusively to bring Christ to unreached people groups, the ministry also spreads its passion, organizing conferences to promote missionary vision among churches in such far-flung places as Celaya in Guanajuato state, Mexico City and San Luis Potosi in the state of the same name.
At the same time, it regularly encourages and counsels indigenous Christian workers.
"For the past four years our ministry has been organizing and promoting bimonthly meetings with pastors, missionaries and local leaders from tribal indigenous villages," Celso said. "Our intention is to encourage and build the lives of tribal leaders."
An average of 20 tribal pastors from the Mixteco and Triqui ethnic groups recently attended such meetings.
In its "training and multiplication" program, the ministry meets the need of indigenous Christian leaders to receive theological instruction without having to leave their communities. The training covers topics such as missiology, anthropology and Christian character.
"Believers are trained and discipled so that each one will take his position within the body of Christ according to the gifts that the Lord has given them," Celso said. "The purpose is that each church generates a movement of church-planting with indigenous leadership, self-governing and self-sufficient."
Workers in some 30 indigenous tribal communities are discipled through this program. The ministry also trains indigenous missionaries for gospel work primarily in Oaxaca, with others in Jalisco, Nayarit and Guerrero states. Some of the workers help the ministry leader give training to 10 to 12 people for six months.
Those 10 to 12 trainees then serve as apprentices to an indigenous pastor for several months. Of these, some God calls to plant a church in a given community. Such was the case for the two indigenous missionaries who planted the church next to Sabino's home.
Sabino regularly bears witness about what God did in his life, Celso said.
"The Lord not only acted in his illness, but He radically changed Sabino's life for the glory of God," he said. "Sabino now serves the Lord with a grateful heart in both the church and in his village."
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*Name changed for security reasons