Through church planting and community engagement, local leaders in Mexico City are being empowered in new ways
“God is transforming my life!” Manuel joyfully exclaimed. Earlier this year, Manuel was found unconscious on the street, malnourished and having overdosed on drugs. Juana, Manuel’s mother, recruited the prayer support of a house church at the Servant Partners site in Mexico City. Church members continuously visited the hospital and supported Juana’s family. And though the doctors claimed there was no hope of life, Manuel began to slowly respond to the treatment he was given. In the hospital, met with the fragility of his existence, Manuel decided to give his life to God. At a gathering of house churches this summer, he publicly shared how this experience transformed him.
“The church has supported me in prayer, and now I have a job,” he said. “My boss delegates work to me with confidence and trust, seeing that I’ve changed. My family has changed, and I’m able to spend quality time with my wife and daughter.” Manuel continued to reflect on the journey of healing and restoration ahead, recognizing he can rely on his church community for support.
“Our strategy is to see community transformation flowing out from the church plants,” said Phillip Ndoro, Servant Partners staff in Mexico City. The team has planted two house churches and three children’s ministries across Chimalhuacán and Los Reyes. In these communities, church leaders are also organizing neighbors to advocate for municipal rights–like drainage, running water, and electricity–and environmental health. Additionally, the house churches are gathering in a newly constructed community center for children’s programs, women’s ministry, and mental health classes. With these many different efforts happening throughout the community, Servant Partners staff Beauty and Phillip Ndoro stress the importance of locally led work.
“Church planting is a journey into which we invite our local leaders to participate,” Phillip said. “From the outset, we let leaders know that they are responsible and equal partners in the journey. We are not coming in to do the work for them; we are coming in to help them do the work.”
“We believe that everyone has within them the capability and capacity God has given to serve him in unique ways,” Beauty said. “Much of the Mexican population here has been devalued or not listened to, or made to feel they are less than others, so it can be challenging for them to know that they are valued and can lead.”
In the local church culture in Mexico, the pastor and pastor’s family are the central players in church affairs, so Beauty and Philip were going against the grain when trying to empower local leaders to take ownership over church programs.
“When we asked locals to lead efforts, they would often respond: ‘No se puede’ (‘No, I can’t’).” Beauty said. “But they can! Their involvement helps them see their own value and to see God through it. It’s been a joy for us to see the growth of our local leaders, as they step out in faith to lead.”
Because of local leadership, the house church movement has taken shape around the ideas and needs of the community. Local leaders decided to hold children’s ministry and house church services at the same time, inviting parents to come to church. As the churches were facilitating mental health classes for children, women in the church felt drawn to do their own classes to exercise mental and emotional health. The community center is allowing the churches to reach many different people throughout the community, regardless of their spiritual background. And even those intimidated by the thought of leadership are stepping out in faith to learn, do what they can, and to lead. It is this kind of church community that allows for people like Manuel to connect with God and recover hope for their lives.
“There are challenges to not having many full-time staff available for ministry, but we are so thankful for our local leaders, and their desire and faithfulness to serve the community in their own ways,” Beauty said.
You can learn more about our work in Mexico City at www.servantpartners.org/mexico-city.