Gospel Fellowship Association Missions
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By Jonathan Latham, Mexico

God Did It His Way

Nationals who themselves evangelize, disciple, train leaders, and establish local churches are the ultimate fulfillment of the Great Commission. As missionaries serving in Mexico, our goal has been exactly this – to train nationals to assume leadership for churches that in turn send out missionaries and perpetuate the cycle. In June 2018, we reached a milestone of “handing over a work to a national.”

We have served as missionaries in Mexico for 10 years. A year after we first arrived, we began serving at New Life Baptist, a church plant that had recently been established as a church but still had no constitution or formal membership. In fact, it had hardly any members. Nine years ago there was exactly one faithful man. Our prayer was, “Lord, give us men.” And God did.

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The church grew. Six years ago we asked three young men to join me as co-pastors. Last year we added four deacons and two assistant pastors, single young men who wanted to be mentored for ministry and missions.

 

This summer many pieces of the puzzle were reorganized. Josué, one of the co-pastors, was invited to another church. He accepted this position and will begin in October. Álvaro, one of the assistants, is getting married, and we’d like to bring him on as the youth pastor at New Life. On June 23, just before leaving for Peru, we ordained Joel as the senior pastor of New Life. You’ll hear it described as “handing over the work to the national.”

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My method of raising up leadership for the church didn’t work. Seven years ago I asked Joel if he wanted to come on as an assistant with the idea of his taking over as pastor of New Life Baptist. He shot me down! “No,” he said, “I want to get married.” I had made some previous attempts to “put someone in there,” so at that point I disgruntledly said to the Lord, “Fine. Do it your way. I’m done trying to make it happen.”

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"And God did it His way! He did it in His time, and it was natural."
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And God did it His way! He did it in His time, and it was natural.  We grew and trained leadership from within. Joel and now Josué each have six years of pastoral experience. They still have lots of room to grow, but they’re ready to lead a flock of God’s people.

 

At the church plant where God has sent us a bunch of men, we have been able to help two men transition from seminary grad to pastor. Also, our one faithful man from nine years ago is now our first missionary. And last night another seminary graduate started his first Bible institute class—as the professor!

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Jonathan Latham

Bio

Jonathan Latham teaches at Universidad Cristiana de Las Americas (UCLA) in Monterrey, Mexico. As the first Christian liberal arts university in Mexico, UCLA is preparing the next generation of Hispanic Christian leaders academically and spiritually through quality higher education and church planting missions. Theology students are assigned a mentor during their four-year program. This mentor is a seminary teacher and local pastor, giving the students opportunities for experience in the ministry as well as mentoring the students in their spiritual lives. This fall, UCLA began a Master of Arts program in expository preaching. The response has been incredible. They have 22 students, 5 auditors, and a waiting list to get in. Twelve students are in the classroom, and ten attend virtually from places such as southern Mexico, California, New Jersey, and Michigan.

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