A Case Study In Adopting An Unreached People Group: An Exciting U.S./Mexican Partnership!
Can adopting an unreached people group bring renewal to your church? Discover how the Holy Spirit releases new life among two churches in Yakima, WA as they serve the Lord together by reaching out to the Zoque of Chiapas, Mexico. Share the excitement of these churches as they witness the harvest, the result of partnering together with their denominational mission agency and national missionaries in Mexico to bring the Gospel to the Zoque people. (The following dynamic story is adapted from the Global Adopt-A- People Campaign's Global Countdown 2000 Mexico video.)
I think we have to stop and see what is on God's heart for this world," remarks Jim Carpenter, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Yakima WA, "and it's pretty simple. It's that all people and all languages have a relationship with Christ."
Two churches in the United States, Westminister Presbyterian Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Yakima, Washington, have recognized the significant importance of world evangelization and have taken up the challenge to adopt an unreached people group. By contacting the Worldwide Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church USA, these churches were directed to the Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship which was instrumental in assisting them in their selection of adopting the Zoque Indians of Chiapas, Mexico.
Pastor Andy Ross, missions pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Yakima, explains their commitment to this unreached people group. He states, "We are looking at the Zoque people of Chiapas, Mexico as a long term relationship and partnership in ministry--of evangelism and outreach, bringing the gospel to people who have not heard it and staying with them as a church." Dr. Mike Buehler, Westminister Presbyterian's missions committee chairman, also shares his enthusiasm--"We're committed to the Zoque people. That action has crystallized a vision for missions in our church that was never there before. It has brought the congregation alive! People are more active in all aspects of our church now."
When asked how being involved in the Adopt-A-People Campaign has impacted her life, Westminister Presbyterian Church member Marjory Clements said, "I just find it a tremendous privilege to be a part of this outreach to the Zoque Indians. I feel God's moving us to be a part of drawing His people, the Zoque, into the body of Christ." Phil Hull, a Westminister missions committee member, told how adopting a people group has impacted his church. He exclaimed, ''I've been astounded at the interest that this project has stirred up. People that have for years just simply come to church every Sunday...now I see those people going to Mexico to do work among the Zoques."
An isolated mountain tribe in Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, the Zoque number more than 25,000 people. Ongoing short term mission trips are being made by the Presbyterian adopting churches in an effort to provide medical and dental care as well as to assist in evangelistic outreaches while encouraging the growing group of Zoque
believers. Senior Pastor Mark Snelling of Westminister Presbyterian Church has been involved in these mission trips to the Zoque region. During one of his visits he shared, "We feel humbled that God would give us this privilege to be servants to His people, the Zoque people, whom He loves. Our goal, our desire is that when we leave this place, not only will people be better physically because of the medical and dental help, but they'll be transformed spiritually; they'll be new in Christ."
The two Yakima churches have also partnered with the Mexican Presbyterian Church to reach the Zoque people for Jesus. Jorge Lopez Perez, President of the Association of Presbyterian & Reformed Churches of Latin America, shares more about this partnership--"After seeing all the needs and presenting them to the churches in the U.S., we are now working together. And how beautiful it is that we are helping our brothers among the Zoques. We believe that the work that is being done will bring great fruit, a very strong church, and maturity among the people." Pastor Andy Ross of the First Presbyterian Church in Yakima echoes Pastor Perez's enthusiasm. He shares, "We are working in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Mexico. So we are not just going in and doing something to them, but we are really working in partnership with people that are down there."
Another project that the Yakima adopting churches have financed and overseen is the translation of Campus Crusade for Christ's Jesus Film into the Zoque language. Using Wycliffe's Zoque translation of the book of Luke, an authorized ministry, Scriptures In Use, has completed the dubbing of the Jesus Film into the Zoque language and it is now being shown in villages throughout the Zoque region. Hermano Celledonio Cruz, a local Zoque Evangelist, shares his gratefulness for the churches' involvement--"As the Christian brothers pray and help us, we are able to minister better now. They have given us video cassettes and tape players to be able to share God's Word, telling us how Jesus was born and also how he died and rose again. There are other villages and remote settlements where they also want to see the life of Jesus. And thanks to God we can do this work now because of the help of the brothers."
Wycliffe Bible Translators has done marvelous work among the Zoques for 35 years. Ralph Engel, a former Wycliffe missionary to the Zoque people is excited to see how his efforts through the years are now bearing fruit as other churches catch the vision and partner together with mission agencies to see these precious people reached. He shares, "Now that the New Testament is available and the Jesus Film is available and other churches have stepped in to help out and people are praying both in Mexico and the United States for the Zoque people...now we want to see real spiritual progress in the lives of the people and their understanding of the gospel and living for the Lord."
Dr. Michael Buehler, Westminister Presbyterian's mission committee chairman, tells how adopting this unreached people group has also had a tremendous impact on his church. He explains, "Since we have worked with the PCUSA in developing this program with the Zoque Indians, our mission budget has grown over 60 percent because people now have something specific to give to. They've got a hands on project they can work in, they've got people they can see, they can touch, they can work with. Without a doubt, taking the step to adopt an unreached people group has impacted our church more than anything in the 20 years that I have been a member there."
Just as these Presbyterian churches have obeyed God's call to reach out to one of the world's remaining 10,000 unreached people groups, you too can become involved in this exciting, front-lines movement. By choosing to adopt an unreached people group, your church's prayers and involvement can have a powerful eternal impact!
Moises Lopez, Director of COMIMEX, shares how the missionary efforts in Mexico have been a tremendous blessing to him and his family--"I do believe in missions because I am a result of the first missionaries coming to Mexico 4 generations ago. So I believe that by praying and working together, we will see all these unreached people groups reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ by the year 2000."
For more information on how your church can link up with a mission agency to adopt one of the world's remaining unreached people groups, call the Mobilization Division of the USCWM at (818)-398-2200 or contact the:
To purchase a copy of the complete Global Countdown 2000 video on Mexico or one of the other three GC2000 videos on India, Cambodia or Central Asia, see the Global Countdown 2000 ad on the following page. Jim & Sara Meyer are on staff with the Global Adopt-A-People Campaign and are the producers of the Global Countdown 2000 video series. You may contact them by e-mail at: [email protected]
All photos for this article were taken from the Global Countdown 2000 Mexico video.