Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Burgan Newsletter November 2005

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Ps 27:13-14 NIV

As hard as it is to believe it, 2005 is almost over!

This has been a year of waiting – waiting in line at the border, waiting on the Mexican government but most of all just waiting on the Lord. Many years ago, I took a verse from Ecclesiastes to heart.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” Eccl 9:10 NIV

So that is what we have done this year.

To read the entire newsletter, click on "Read More" below.

La Sombra is a work planted and pastored by Rich Barcelona who, along with his wife Lori and their five children, has been in Mexico for eight years. This past summer, the church celebrated its fourth anniversary. It is a work that, like all work in Mexico, sees good days and bad. The folks accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior then comes that “working out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12) Fornication and adultery are so common that it is difficult to convince the people of the need for purity. It must come from the Holy Spirit. The same holds true for lying, gossiping and back-biting. These things are so ingrained in the culture that only revelation brings liberty.

Rich and Lori have, by the grace of God, established a good work here. They stand steadfast and faithful. They have proved to be good friends, for which we are grateful to God. It has been our privilege to lead worship on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings for them this year. Cody has been doing an incredible job on the drums, but we haven’t been able to convince Alissa to sing with us as yet. As out-going as she is with the kids, she is still shy in front of groups.

Also, this summer, I spent a number of weeks working on a house remodel in Palm Desert, CA. Erica’s great aunt (her grandmother’s sister) Rachel, moved to Palm Desert, which is right next to Palm Springs, last year from Los Angeles. We had the pleasure and privilege of taking some time away and visiting with her over those months. Rachel has been involved with some friends there in the Coachella Valley in some real estate ventures; mostly remodeling, but now some new construction as well. Anyway, they were going to hire someone to help out at the house and asked if I would do it.

We were certainly grateful for the opportunity to work to help meet the bills and for Rachel’s generous hospitality in hosting us at her house even a couple of weeks when she was back east.

Erica has continued pressing forward with the kids and their education. Thank God for the Internet and public libraries! With those two resources, it has been easier to find what she needed. Erica is also serving as vice president for the local homeschool support group – H.E.Y. (Home Educators of Yuma)

Since we had the time, we have taken the opportunity to spend more time together as a family. Cody and I have been building a model airplane of the Corsair used by Pappy Boyington of Black Sheep Squadron fame. Both Cody and Alissa are working on earning badges through the Contenders for the Faith and the Keepers at Home programs. The kids must fulfill certain requirements to earn a badge, similar to merit badges in Boy Scouts.

We have also added to our family recently. Two years ago, the kids received parakeets as gifts from Adalberto and his wife. This summer, Erica decided to let the birds build a nest. You buy these pieces of logs to put in the cages which the birds hollow out into a nest. As long as they don’t have a nest, they won’t lay eggs. Well, our little birds got busy and soon had a nest of eight eggs. When we returned from one of the weeks in Palm Desert, we found all the eggs broken. It wasn’t long, however, until we had eggs again. This time they have begun to hatch. So far we have three new baby parakeets. There are still 3 or 4 more eggs so we may yet have more.

Just a few weeks ago, we were blessed with a visit from the ACTS Church of Bedford, PA. They spent several days blessing the folks in SLRC. Their days included preaching and sharing at the Dump, hosting a movie nite at La Sombra (which was a packed house), clowning at an old folks’ home and sharing the Gospel with the Oaxaca and Chiapas Indians on the outskirts of town. They all had a real servant’s heart and were an encouragement to us as well.

I would like to share with you some of what we see as needs here in San Luis. Though I am not entirely sure as to the reason why, most Mexican couples that we encounter are not married to each other. If there are children, and being good Catholics there is usually a brood, the chances are real good that the man currently in the house is not the father or at least only the father of the youngest. Because of the cultural dominance of the Catholic church, divorce is not an option. So, rather than divorce, they just commit long term adultery.

What this means is that if a woman gets saved and the man she is shacking up with does not, she is faced with a dilemma. If she stays in the home, which often belongs to her and not the man, she commits adultery or fornication. If she asks the man to leave, then she may be separating a couple of children from their father and she has no income coming into the home. If she leaves, then you add to the above that she has no place to live.

There is such incredible need for a place where these women can go and find refuge and safety, where they can learn a skill, where they can get out from under the oppression and away from the danger of drug and alcohol abuse. There is such need for a place where women can learn how to be mothers, how to manage their households and how to walk right with the Father.

School is mandatory up to 6th grade which is called Primary. Grades 7 – 9 are referred to as secondary and are not mandatory. To go to Secondary, parents must supply uniforms and often pay a small fee per month and buy books and supplies. What we in the USA would recognize as high school is called Preparatory and is not free. Not only are there uniforms, books and supplies but there is also tuition required for attendance.

For many teen girls, the future is pretty bleak. Even if they can finish Secondary, job perspectives are slim and low paying. The lure of the sex industry is strong with prostitution legal in Mexico and “table dance” clubs very popular. Even if the girls know enough to stay away from these jobs, the cultural pressure exists for them to find a man to take care of them. Again, because of the moral climate of the culture, 15 and 16 year old girls are shacking up with 25, 35 or 45 year old men. The chances are very good that they will get pregnant quickly and their fate is seemingly sealed having prostituted themselves one way or another. We know of one woman, and I am sure that she is not unique, who is in her mid-forties and has eleven children by five different men. She has grandchildren older than her youngest daughter.

There is a need for a place for these girls, a place where they can be safe, where they can receive training in computers and English, sewing and cooking, and following Christ in purity and integrity. There is a need for a place of refuge and comfort where they will be loved for who they are, protected from the wolves who would use them and then cast them aside, pregnant and desolate.

Statistics tell me that about 6% of Mexicans are non-catholic Christians. What those statistics don’t tell me is how many of that 6% are Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon or some other sect or cult. What I do know is that in our town there are many small churches. I am talking about churches with less than 25 people in attendance. Of those churches who really are Christian, if there is a pastor, he or she has very little if any training in understanding and teaching the Word and no training whatsoever in nurturing a flock.

When you are confronted with a society that is corrupt to its very core from the lowliest beat cop to the highest level of municipal, state or federal government, mediocre Christianity is not going to have an impact. When the culture is saturated in a religion whose expressed purpose is to squelch the evangelical movement and which has such a stronghold on the people as to be demonic in nature, a Christianity without the power and demonstration of the Spirit is an exercise in futility.

There is a need for a center where the local pastors can come and to where they can send their flock knowing that they will not be proselytized but that they will receive Bible-based training for the whole man. There is a need for a place where life skills can be taught – what the Bible says about finances, government, marriage, and parenting, where the Word is taught in its fullness, in its entirety, where one can learn to flow in the gifts of the Spirit by example and by receiving instruction to avoid abuse and misuse.

These are the needs that we see, that burden our hearts:
- a place of refuge for mothers from the sex industry or those just trapped in ungodly situations
- a place of safety and training for young women to prevent them from falling into the traps of this culture and the enemy
- a place for training Christians, preparing them so that they may help prepare others for the soon return of Christ.

We recognize, however, that we cannot meet these needs, especially not on our own. More than anything, we need people, people with a burden, people with a calling, people willing to lay down their lives here in Mexico.

There will be other needs but unless we have the people the rest is moot. Join with us to pray the Lord of Harvest to send laborers here – from the USA, from Mexico, maybe you!

Please do drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

Joe, Erica, Cody and Alissa Burgan

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