Update: Hispanic Leadership Initiative

Hola queridos,

I am finally back home in Chattanooga. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement along the way. The Lord knew I was going to need them. As you may imagine, being in Juarez, Mexico for six weeks had many highs and lows, and even culture-shock. Yet despite this, I am glad I visited. I am sure there are many things I will continue to process, but I will share some highlights of my last month there.

After the three weeks of English camps, and another week for a medical missions team at Iglesia Cristiana del Sur (ICS), I was able to join the Pastor and his wife on regular house visits, discipleship, and follow-up with contacts from the English camps. I met with the youth leaders during the camp weeks and started meeting with the whole youth group after the camps. I enjoyed the meetings because the youth were open and ready to play goofy games. These opportunities allowed me to see more of the regular church life and I was challenged by how the pastor encouraged, rebuked, prayed alongside, and loved on the people in his church and community. I am now eager to practice some of those things here in Chattanooga, such as the house visits.

During the first week, I saw a woman receive Christ through one of the English camps. She apparently had professed faith in Christ twice before in her past, the first time with a prophecy that God would give her a blessing. However, she was discouraged when she didn’t receive a blessing, and her faith wilted. Two weeks after receiving Christ, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she had brought a sixteen-year-old girl to church, and even more so after learning that this girl was her estranged daughter, D.

D was raised by her mother’s sister, as her mom wasn’t able to care for her as a baby. Estranged from her mom, abused by her relatives, and lied to about her mother’s love, she was left to believe her aunt’s lies and to grew to hate her mother. I had only met her at church a few days after she had escaped from her aunt. She shared that after contacting each other, she and her mom had planned her escape. She is now living safely with her mom, though working through some terrors from her past. I noticed D still clutches people’s hands like a frightened little girl needing reassurance or security.

During a prayer meeting one night, D boldly stood up and praised God for safely bringing her to her mother. Her mother believes that God has finally answered that old prophecy of blessing by reuniting her with her daughter. In their testimonies, I see the reality of Jesus’ good news to the oppressed. Luke records Jesus’ first words in ministry to be the proclamation of liberty! “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18-19) D, her mother, and I can testify that this is indeed the year of the Lord’s favor.

My time in Mexico tested my cultural aptitude. Although transitioning to a country with different cultural practices has its challenges, I am glad to see that I was beginning to adjust to Mexico. I believe that God has pricked my heart for Mexican missions, so please join me in praying for discernment as I begin to seek God’s guidance on details during the next ten months of my apprenticeship.

After a week visiting friends in California, I am refreshed and ready to serve the youth at New City East Lake. Please continue to pray for the launching of this ministry. God has answered our prayers for male volunteer leaders and I am reminded of His faithfulness to work out the details in spite of our worries.

Con la gracia y amor de Nuestro Redentor,

Eva Castillo