By Katie Best-Richmond, Stark College & Seminary
Many Christians go on mission trips as a way to serve others from different cultures and situations. However, what if your mission was not to travel to some far unknown land, but rather, to return to the place your parents were born? What if your mission was to take the knowledge you obtained in seminary and transport it to the country and people you know and love?
Marco Barron, a student at Stark College & Seminary and the Youth Minister at Segunda Iglesia Bautista in Corpus Christi, found his greatest mission was just that: to return to his parents’ hometown and spread the love of God. “A few years ago, I was walking through the streets of a small community in San Luis Potosi, North Central Mexico where my parents were born,” Marco tells us. “I had walked these streets many times before, but this time it was very different. As a child, these streets were overflowing with people. It was a community where everyone knew and cared for each other. But this time, it felt like I was walking through the streets of a very different town.”
As the living conditions of his town deteriorated with little access to basic necessities such as potable water and education, the place Marco knew and loved transformed into a place where the streets were empty and people feared going outside.
“I felt God asking me, ‘Marco, are they exempt from my salvation or from my love?’” he shared. “At that moment, God gave me a new vision for this community that radically transformed the way I viewed missions and ministry. Jesus commanded his disciples to go to all nations, making disciples, teaching them to obey His commands. He called me back home to fulfill this very commission with my own people and within my own culture.” After a year of praying and planning, Marco and a friend put everything into action during the week of Thanksgiving this past year. With the help of local pastors, they assessed the spiritual and physical needs of several communities. “In order to create true transformation, the church should be involved in both of these aspects of life,” Marco explained.
To do this, they first addressed the spiritual needs. Many believers in those communities lived a Christian life, but did not know how to share the Gospel. Many thought they only needed to attend church and stay away from the ways of the world to be right with God. Often, people relied entirely on their pastor to help them grow spiritually, but if they only attended church once or twice a week, it was not enough. Additionally, without proper instruction or attention, many left the church.
Because of this, their trip consisted of teaching fellow believers how to disciple and share the Gospel of Christ so they in turn could help their local pastor foster spiritual growth in their own communities. “We visited three established churches and trained 34 Christians,” Marco said. “We preached at two churches, and visited 15 homes so our trainees could get hands-on practice. We prayed for the sick, shared Jesus with their families and friends, and held Bible studies in homes.”
One of the pivotal moments in that first trip occurred during a conversation with one sister in Christ.
“Until this moment, I thought that all I had to do was come to church and bring people to church,” she told Marco. “Now, I want to bring church to them.”
Marco said this is just the beginning of God’s plan.
“We will continue to visit our family in Christ in Mexico and equip them with evangelical tools and biblical studies.”
In the following months, Marco plans to begin a project to cater to the physical needs of the town as well. They plan to bring 20 new computers and media equipment to a small community high school in San Luis Potosi and help fund the local community dining room, which feeds 35-45 people in need.
“I can’t help but think of the ways in which Stark College & Seminary has equipped me to serve others in Mexico,” Marco said. “One class in particular, Principles of Teaching in the Church, taught by Dr. Chris Stapper, has greatly influenced my ministry. In that class, I learned that many people have knowledge of the Bible, but not everyone knows how to apply that knowledge to their lives. As pastors and community leaders, it is our responsibility to help everyone apply the word of God to their lives and to our world.”
Marco is humbled and honored to transfer this information from the classroom to his community in Mexico. He is excited to see the ways in which God will continue to work through the people and place he holds near to his heart.
Are you interested in developing your skills as a leader in the local church? Contact Stark College & Seminary at stark.edu or 361.991.9403.
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