Benjamin Sutter, Franconia Conference Communications Intern, email@example.com
Rockhill Mennonite (Telford, Pa) youth pastor, Angela Moyer, had taken groups of high school youth to Mexico City to do mission work before, but this time was different. This time, Moyer wanted to bring young adults and focus on building relationships. This past July, she traveled with a Franconia Conference-sponsored team to do just that.
Moyer was joined by Janine Bergey, also from Rockhill, Deanne Delp, from Laurel Street Mennonite in Lancaster, Pa., Rachel Spory, from First Mennonite in Johnstown, Pa., and Benjamin Sutter from Kern Road Mennonite in South Bend, Ind. Although most of the team spent their time at Iglesia Anabauptisa Menonita Fraternidad Christiana Prensa, Moyer and Spory also traveled to Iglesia Anabauptisa Menonita Fraternidad Christiana Espartaco for five days of the trip to assist with a shortened Bible School week there.
“Espartaco was a joyful and kind church,” said Moyer. They even moved the site of their Bible School to a location closer to a community with more children, she said.
While in Prensa, the group connected with Alicia Alvarez Uzcango and Ariel Avila Muñoz, a couple who serve on the Prensa leadership team. Alvarez and Avila, who also organized Bible School, emphasized lives of Christian service, along with the importance of Scripture.
“We understand that we need to have a balance of both the theology and living it out,” said Muñoz, through a translator.
“Service is something that has characterized this church,” Alvarez added through translation. “In spite of not having a lot of money resources, [in the past, the church was] able to hand out food, clothes, and help to refugees. … We’re in the process of helping others [in the church] to understand, to make it part of their lives.”
Hosting a week of Bible School during the summer is one way the church is reaching out to the surrounding neighborhood; only five of the forty kids who participated in Bible School attend the church regularly.
“Bible School is not just for the kids, it’s for the families of the kids,” said Alvarez.
One man who attends the church, Manwell, brought his sobrinos (nephews and nieces) to Bible School for the first time. He told Avila that they sang the Bible School songs at home all evening.
“I told him, ‘God is using you, because you are bringing your sobrinos [to church],’” Avila said. “’What would your life have been like if you would’ve known Jesus as a child? This is your responsibility, so that they won’t go through the same things.’ And he got it!”
Overall, the relationships left an impact on the Franconia Conference group.
“Each time I visit the churches in Mexico City, I’m overwhelmed by their generosity, hospitality, and love for the people in their communities,” Moyer said. “I’m encouraged by their passion for the Anabaptist and Mennonite witness in their communities and world.”
“[Prensa is] a small congregation with much potential for growth, impact and outreach in their community,” added Bergey.
The team, as well as leadership in both churches, is hopeful about future relationships between Franconia Conference and CIEAMM.
“Each conference has gifts that God has given to the people there,” said Delp.
“I’m encouraged that each conference, as a whole, is interested in a continuing relationship with the other,” Bergey added. “There is much to be learned from each other in areas of vision, mission, hospitality, outreach, and more. I’m eager to see what dreams may come from the interactions between the CIEAMM and Franconia Conference.”
“Mi familia es tu familia,” said Avila. “We are all a part of the Body of Christ.”