This update is from Lorenzo Arroyo, mission developer for GCI-Mexico and GCI-USA regional pastor.
On April 3-5, GCI Mexico held its annual Equipping Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. Attending from the U.S. were Gary and Cathy Deddo, Heber and Xochilt Ticas, and Lorenzo and Rita Arroyo. Approximately 65 pastors and other congregational leaders traveled from various states in Mexico to attend. In addition to plenary presentations, workshops and small group sessions were provided for pastors, ministry leaders, men’s and women’s groups (pictured below) and emerging leaders. Alfredo Mercado, GCI Mexico national leader, coordinated efforts with local churches to provide conference transportation, lodging and meals.
A particularly inspirational event during the conference was a special service held Saturday evening at GCI-Mexico’s newest mission outreach in Santa Rosa (near Guadalajara). A bus was chartered for conference attendees to travel there for a community outreach service. The group was welcomed by a procession of children and over 100 people attending. There was lively worship, dynamic preaching and great fellowship and food. The highlight was a blessing of children conducted by visiting pastor and church planter Heber Ticas (pictured at left), who lined up the children in pairs then anointed, prayed over and blessed each one. As over 30 children were blessed, tears were shed by parents and friends. Though economically impoverished, the children received the gentle touch of Jesus, present through the Holy Spirit.
Pastors Alberto Luis Soto and Humberto Perez, along with Deacon Jose Rodriguez oversee this new mission outreach, which was planted about nine months ago. Though the building where it meets has no floor and a partial roof, the evening gathering felt like meeting in a cathedral. During the lively worship, many “Hallelujahs” were expressed with great joy (see picture below).
During the main conference in Guadalajara, Gary Deddo gave a plenary session entitled “Union with Christ and the Kingdom of God.” Cathy Deddo (pictured at left), Rita Arroyo, Xochilt Ticas and Selena Soto gave talks for women’s breakouts. Heber and Lorenzo led group discussions on implementing next steps toward community outreach. Their presentation emphasized Trinitarian evangelism, participation in mission and church renewal. Heber also worked with the younger adults on leadership development, including making plans to hold the next GCI-Mexico youth camp over the New Year holiday, possibly in the area of Cuernavaca. Heber and Xochilt will be camp instructors.
At the conference, Alfredo Mercado announced that a congregation in Chihuahua, Mexico, recently joined GCI. Its pastor, Jose Luis Cruz Flores, after checking out our website, contacted our home office, resulting in Alfredo’s visit. The congregation has about 60 members. We look forward to their involvement in future conferences and camps. God is good!
On Sunday, over 100 people enjoyed an uplifting Easter celebration. Cathy Deddo presented “Receiving the Self-giving God” from John 13. Her moving plenary talk focused on the Triune God’s unconditional love that knows no bounds except those we make for ourselves. Like Peter, we need to learn to let go and let God love us extravagantly.
Next, Gary Deddo (pictured preaching at right with his interpreter) gave an inspirational sermon entitled, “Don’t Cry for Jesus.” His message emphasized that Jesus was not a victim of fatalistic circumstances leading to a pitiful death as is so often portrayed. Rather than a victim, Jesus is the victor, who of his own choosing laid down his life for our redemption. Natanael Cruz led Easter worship with a dazzling arrangements of spiritual songs. Those in attendance were moving and clapping to the music!
Thanks to individuals and congregations in Canada, Washington, Oregon, California and elsewhere for the generous gifts that made this conference possible. Donations to the GCI home office help fund events like this and are very much appreciated.