Pastors from all over Mexico came together Sept. 23–24 to inaugurate the Mexican General Conference at Rancho Betania. The bishops from the United States were there along with the Latin American Area director and missionaries past and present. This was a historic event that will have a great impact on the kingdom of God in Mexico and speaks to many years of hard work by many people. I only know a part of the story.
I was 6 the first time I went to Rancho Betania (affectionately called simply “the ranch” by most) in 1994, by which time the ranch was already seven years old. My parents are missionaries in northern Mexico, and soon after we moved there a team from Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church came down to do some construction. I remember being allowed to go up onto the roof of the comedor (cafeteria), to watch them put in the tiles. For me, that was the beginning of what I hope will be a lifetime of events at the ranch.
When my parents decided to be missionaries, I lost many of my first friends, so starting over meant finding new friends. I met Angel at church in Mexico. Not long after his parents moved to work at the ranch. Angel and I spent long hours during the summer running all over while teams were working on new buildings and amenities at the ranch. When the soccer field was installed we spent hours shooting penalties at each other. I still have a couple scars from the scrapes I got in the dirt on that field.
Over the years, I went to a lot of family camps, kids camps, youth camps and missions reunions at the ranch. A few stand out, like the year I got baptized at family camp by Pastor Javier Orozco or the year our youth group won the soccer tournament. One year at youth camp, there was a hard rain all night. In the morning the normally dry river bed had spilled over its bank and flooded our cabin. Our youth group was supposed to lead worship that morning, so after cleaning up we trooped over, a little muddy and in our basketball shorts, to lead worship, something I would not have done without the advice and encouragement of my pastor, Juan Carlos Rodriguez.
Several years ago we had a missions conference at the ranch. I helped with the worship at the conference, and it was a huge blessing to see the calling that God placed on the hearts of so many there — pastors who have gone to new missions districts, led trips to the Yucatan, and churches that have sent missionaries to Colombia and Ecuador. The gospel is overflowing from Mexico to the world thanks in large part to the leaders who were called to missions at that conference.
Last weekend, I ate meals with pastors in the comedor where I “helped” put the roof on. I watched people swimming in the pool where I was baptized. I went for tacos with Angel and renewed a long friendship. I talked vision for the Mexican church with Pastor Juan Carlos Rodriguez. I listened as Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver shared what’s happening in missions around Latin America, from the same pulpit where God used her to inspire a generation of new Mexican missionaries. I watched as Bishop David Roller (former missionary to Mexico) blessed new Mexican Suffragan Bishop Rosario Castro.
God has done great work at Rancho Betania. My prayer for Mexico is that the work would not only continue, but be multiplied in the coming years. My prayer is that new leaders would be raised up out of the vision that was set forth of a church in Mexico that impacts the whole world.