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by a GRN staff member
On our last outreach trip into Mexico a unique thing happened. To understand this well, first I should explain what we have been doing for the past decade. My wife and I have traveled far and wide searching for the migrant farm labor camps that dot the Mexican coastal planes in the states of Sinaloa, Sonora and Northern and Southern Baja California.
In each area we have targeted three goals: 1. to effectively reach out to the migrant Indian farm laborers, 2. to minister to our accompanying team, giving them an experience of growth in the Lord, and 3. to minister in the local Mexican churches, encouraging them to be involved in the work and training them to continue in our stead. While each area had its similarities it also had its differences that made it unique. We never did exactly the same thing in one area that we did in the other, often depending on the Christian churches present. The goal of 'passing the baton' brought us to integrate our American teams with the lives of the local believers to the extent that we often lived the way they did. If they took showers from buckets, so did we. If they endured heat without air conditioning, so did we. If they would be digging a deep septic tank or out house using hand tools, so did we. Etc. etc.
But in some ways we were different and there remained obstacles is us truly modeling a ministry pattern that could be copied by the nationals. That was in the ministry equipment that we had. We would use high speed cassette duplicators and video projectors that were way outside the range of the Mexican church budget. Sometimes I was able to obtain extra equipment and leave it on loan, but inevitably it would break down, the blank tapes would run out or interest would fade in using the strange equipment.
What made this year very interesting and brought great joy to my heart came about as we started to use CDs. I actually have not been very excited about CDs since they are so much more vulnerable than cassettes and can not be expected to last nearly as long in the harsh environment of the camps. But the time came when I heard the fateful words from our stressed duplication crew, "We are missing a master for one of the languages we need!" It happened every year, that master tapes would get copied over by mistake, be given out with the copies or simply vanish into thin air. I often had a second set of Masters for this very reason, but on this occasion the extra set had been given away to other missionaries.
"How many copies do we need?" I asked, the crew. "At least three," they replied, "perhaps more."
Knowing that the hardworking fellows in GRN have amassed a huge collection of downloadable recordings on line I drove two miles to a nearby Internet Cafe. Looking up the language I was so very pleased to fined the very one we were missing. Downloading it took about 15 minutes since the connection was far from a T-1, but soon enough I was burning the three copies I needed. Back at the camp, having been gone about half an hour, the CDs were ready to deliver and more could be made on a laptop if necessary.
Adding to the excitement of this event was the curiosity on the part of the Mexican coworkers. A young fellow named Jamie heard of what had happened and asked me which site had the downloads. I told him about it and we scheduled a time for training. How happy I was when several guys showed up one from a church eight hours drive from us! Computers are becoming a way of life for many in Mexico and most kids learn how to operate them in school. So it wasn't a very difficult thing to show them how to navigate the English site to locate and download the recordings they needed. One of they fellows spoke Mixteco, so we used his language as an example, and to our happy surprise found that there are nine recordings in that language now although we have only carried one with us!
"I want to download them all for my family and neighbors" he said with a gleam in his eye, "I'm going to be able to use a lot of these!" For the first time our work was fully transferred to the Mexican believers to such a point that they were able to use equipment that is familiar and accessible to them. I wish I would have had more time on that busy trip to train more people as it opens doors to a greater level of ministry than we have ever had before. Praise the Lord for the access to this great recording archive through the Internet! Just think of the potential when we have our basic catalog searchable in a few different languages? Very little training will be needed and perhaps many hundreds of local believers in the areas of the Indigenous farm workers can be involved in personal ministry.