Saturday, June 21, 2008

Student Leadership Retreat Report

JUNE 11-13, 2008


“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” (Nehemiah 6:15,16)

Thank you for your prayers over this retreat. We were all blessed during the time we had and God showed himself to us and challenged us in many different ways. It was a success because the Lord had his hand upon us.

“Taking Another Step” was the theme of our retreat this year. Taking another step closer to God in our relationship with Him, taking another step in our leadership by being trustworthy, and taking another step by not believing the lies of the opposition. We spent three days being challenged in leadership and our relationship with God. We also had some time to debrief the past year in areas that we “won” in and talking about other areas where we can do better.
(Discussion Time on the Roof)

This continues to be the most fun time for me as the Student Ministry Director because everyone is blessed during this time by being challenged to “Take Another Step”.

This year, we reviewed Nehemiah spending some time looking at how devoted to God he was and the way that he faced opposition. We included some studies of Moses that show how dedicated he was to God as well; a leader who loved God with all his heart who was hesitant at times, but other times he took charge and “went for it.” We also spent some time talking about being trustworthy to God, His Word, and to each other.
(Breakfast at Pura Vida Restaurant)
(Trust Fall Game)

One of the most exciting things we did was watching the movie, Facing the Giants. This was not only for entertainment, but it was with great intent in order to apply many of the messages this movie has for us in our spiritual life and our leadership as well. Everyone enjoyed it; one student was so into it that he got excited enough and fell off of the bed he was sitting on! If you have not seen the movie, do it and ponder on the messages it has for you and me.

In all, during these three days, our team was able to grow closer to God and to one another. We spent the last afternoon at a water park in Mazatlán before going back to Cofradía. Everyone enjoyed the relaxation and the opportunity to let loose and just have fun. The students arrived home energized and excited about what the Lord had done during our three-day retreat as well as prepared to take the next step in “preparing our fields” for the Lord’s future harvest among our youth and in this entire area of Mexico!

The Lord has been good to us and He has kept us under his gracious hand. We praise Him for his work during the retreat, and we look to Him with expectancy for what He is going to continue to do as we hit the ground running with renewed vision and passion.

Here is a little information on the five students we invited and what they had to say about how God spoke to them individually:

Jesús Hernández is in his second year as a Student Leader and will be with us only for the summer. He plans to attend a Bible School in Oaxaca, Mexico starting in the end of August. Jesús has grown from an influential, quietly-rebellious leader to an influential ministry leader as a positive role model for the younger guys. Students would flock to him and do anything he did, although usually it wasn’t what was asked of him; he had his own agenda and did what he wanted. But that was three years ago. Since then, after attending a discipleship course, he received the Lord into his heart as his personal Savior, was baptized some time later, went on a short-term mission trip to Tijuana, and began meeting with an adult mentor to help him become more responsible and disciplined. He has been doing great and is our lead brick-layer for the new church project as well. His heart’s desire is to serve the Lord with all his heart and see young people give their lives over to Jesus Christ. He would like to be a youth pastor and is taking steps toward that vision. Here is what he had to say about the retreat:

This was a chance for me to get to know the other leaders better and I could see other areas of my life that need to improve, especially the area of believing God. There are various things that the Lord has given me – dreams or goals – but I believe I was a little indecisive, maybe a little fearful, about pursuing them. But during the retreat the Lord put those things on my heart once again, and I know that He is going to be with me and that nothing is impossible for Him.

During this time God responded to a prayer request that I had been praying. I had been praying for quite a while to have a better relationship with Him and to be able to spend more time in prayer and in reading my Bible. During this time, He motivated me to do so, and I feel a greater need to seek God more and to be more committed to Him.

One night during the retreat, I was alone and the phrase “in love with God” came to my mind. I believe that what God is asking of me is that I fall in love with Him. So, I started thinking about what it means to be in love with God, and I could see what it would be like: it would be the inability to be far from Him, in every moment to be with Him, sharing everything with Him, what I do as well as my dreams, to trust completely in Him and to be willing to do whatever for Him and leave everything for Him.

Martín Garzón is in his second year as a Student Leader and will be with us only for the summer. He plans to attend a Bible School in Oaxaca, Mexico starting in the end of August. Martín attended this Bible School a couple of years ago, but the school did not offer the second year, so he stayed here and began to work with the youth. He has been a huge influence in the young men of his town, Arrayanes. He has dedicated his time to reaching out to new students, taking them on camp-outs at the river, and going fishing, hunting, climbing, all the while teaching them about Jesus Christ. He would like to be a missionary to the un-reached tribes of the Cora Indians who live in the mountains at our back door. By going to this school, which has focuses especially preparing for work with indigenous groups; he is taking steps toward that vision. Here’s what he had to say about what God is doing in his life:

God ultimately has shown me that it is time to give up more of my life in certain ways as His disciple and to continue growing as a co-laborer in His work in order to share with others by grace that which the Lord has by grace given to me.

God has shown me strategies to truly and actively continue to link my life in with that of the Lord’s. The primary one is to go out from here to receive training and equip myself to go live and work with the Cora Indians in the remote areas of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

I thank the Lord for the things that unsettle the life of man because it’s that unsettledness that moves us to extend our limits until they completely disappear….because God has no limits.

Sandra Garzón is in her second year as a Student Leader. She has been a great role-model for the younger girls in the youth group and is stretching herself to reach out to new students. She has been part of our youth group for a number of years and has been taking steps towards maturity in Christ by meeting with an adult mentor each week, doing bible studies together and spending time with the younger girls. In her testimony, you’ll see that she is very transparent about her relationship with God and how he spoke to her during the three days.

It was a special time; I believe God had reserved it just so. The truth is that for some weeks now, my mind was in chaos, my spirit was agonizing, it was dying and I really didn’t know what to do. I knew we would go on this retreat, but I wasn’t aware of what would happen there. It was just normal for me to go on that trip. And once we were finally there, yes, I was having fun, but there was a moment in which I reacted and started asking myself these questions: “What am I doing here? What is the purpose of it?’

So, I started praying to the Lord saying these words: “God, do you really think that what we haven’t been able to fix for all this time, we can fix in these 1 or 2 days??” I was really mad at Him. I didn’t want to know anything about anything anymore, and I found myself getting carried away, saying that if He wanted to do something with me, okay. There I was. And if not, then that was fine with me too.

That same day in the afternoon we went to hike up to the lighthouse, and that’s where it all started. The higher we climbed the more convinced I became of the greatness of God and of how small I was in this world. I was also able to hear God saying to me that just as He could take my life with one breath from His mouth, He could also give me that life, and that was a sign to me that something was going to happen. That night we had a time of worshiping God, and His Spirit was with and in each one of us working out the purpose for which He had brought us there. It was in that moment that everything happened. God gave me His breath of Life, and He showed me His great love and mercy. I felt like a renewed person as much physically as spiritually, but at the same time I didn’t know what to do. So I just prostrated myself before the feet of Jesus and I surrendered myself, giving myself completely to Him. When it was all done, I had a spirit of freedom and a spirit convinced of wanting to live and serve the Lord.

The next day in the morning, I got up to have my devotional time, and something incredible happened. The Lord spoke to me through various scriptures. First, he showed me the prayer that I had prayed. It is found in Psalm 39:2-13. I had prayed that prayer without any knowledge that it was found in the Bible, and when I read it, the truth is it left me speechless and tears started to fall out of gratitude to God. I also asked Him what He wanted me to do, and He responded in Psalm 50:14-15. And that’s where I just laugh because my understanding doesn’t begin to comprehend the greatness of God’s love (Job 37:5). And well, after seeing, feeling, and listening to God in this way, I could finally escape the traps and lies in which the enemy had me. “Thanks to the great mercy and goodness of God.”

And well, today I am here in my daily life, and believe me that it is no longer the same, even if I do go through the same motions. God has put in my heart and on my face the happiness that I had lost and that I needed, causing life to be more enjoyable and especially with people I love most. And for that reason it has become infinitely richer.
(Hiking up to the Lighthouse)
(Taking a Break)
("Overcoming The Enemy"[Neh. 4-6])
(Martin and Luis Listening to the Study)

José Soto joins us as a Student Leader this year. Last March he was recognized in the youth group for setting an example as a servant. Whenever there is something that needs to be done, he’s right there to help. Many times, you don’t have to ask him, he’ll just do whatever needs to be done. This past year he has taken huge steps of growth in his relationship with the Lord. He rejoined our worship band playing the drums and at the end of April started helping out with our sound equipment and setting up for services. José is a shy but fun person to be around. God is molding a fine jewel out of him. This is what he has to say about what God showed him:

While on the retreat, God touched my heart and told me how, or in what way, I can be with Him. He also showed me some things that I need to give up and how to talk to people about Him.

I have never felt that way before: that God had called me.

Liliana Garzón joins us as a Student Leader this year. She has been part of the youth group and worship team for many years and has played a huge role in leadership. She just turned 18 and is attending the local high school that started this year in Cofradía. Liliana, or “Mily” as she prefers to be called, is a very energetic person who has a contagious smile and a great attitude. She was recognized a couple of years ago for taking huge steps in her relationship with God and leadership by leading worship while no one else was available. In the past year, she has taken more steps in her maturity with the Lord and is excited about being part of the student leadership team. Here’s what she had to say about what God spoke to her about during the retreat:

God spoke to me and touched me like I’ve never experienced before. He touched my life in a way that just thinking about it makes me marvel at how amazing He really is.

Well, at the beginning I was so excited about the idea of going to Mazatlan, the beach, the hotel, etc. But in my mind I never imagined what God was about to do. Upon arriving at our hotel, yes I was very content, but then as we got into the retreat, I started thinking, “What am I doing here?” Maybe we were all wondering the same thing. Anyway, I said to God, “God, the truth is I have no idea what’s up with me. In the first place, I don’t know what Your purpose is for me, and I think that without purpose, this is going to be rather difficult, don’t You think? So, show me what Your purpose is. If there is a purpose for everyone else, there has to be one for me too.”

And that’s how I spent the first day. But the second day was when God touched me with power. It was then that the light bulb finally went on in my head. Honestly, I was thinking, “Ohhhh!” But that night God told me, “Hey, hold on a sec and relax. For starters, I already showed you my purpose for you. The thing is, you haven’t known how see it or hear it. The fact that you are here is not coincidence. I have brought you with a purpose. Now, listen very attentively every time you pray and you’ll see that my answers are instantaneous.” That was when I realized that He really does listen to me, but it’s we who don’t listen to Him. We are so distracted with other things that we neglect our relationship with Him, our prayer time and reading the Word.

For me, the simple ability to have experienced all of that marvelousness, well there is nothing with which to compare it because now I know that there really is Someone on whom I can depend and that I am important to Him. The simple fact that we are able to feel His Spirit flow over each one of us demonstrates to us that there is nothing impossible for Him and that He can do whatever it takes to make sure I know He loves me.

Now I feel a great peace, responsibility, and, above all, the great privilege of knowing that my Father God is the one who really understands and loves me.

Thanks again for your prayers and those of you who made donations to the retreat. God is receiving the glory!

(Worship Time was Awesome!)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Washington Highlights

We’re back in Cofradía after a very eventful three weeks in Washington.

Our trip started a day early in order to drop our truck off in Tepic, Nayarit and catch a 5am bus to Puerto Vallarta. The bus ride was long and the girls’ stomachs didn’t like it very well. We ended up getting to the airport earlier than the Alaska Airlines staff so we waited and had breakfast at a little café. The banana was $15 pesos ($1.50 US Dollars)!! WOW, we decided not to go there again.

The flight up was good and my parents met us at the airport after arriving an hour late at 8pm. We couldn’t believe that it was still light out at 9:30pm, we had to get used to that. Normally, we’re in bed by 8:30.

Our first few days were spent hanging out and enjoying the beautiful scenery. There are so many colors in Washington! On the 18th, I got to meet with the Keyport Bible Church team that is coming down to Cofradía later this month. They’re excited and so are we.

Dad had his birthday on Monday, the 19th and we went to the ocean at Long Beach together for a couple of nights. That was nice to hang out at the beach and the girls got to play in a sand box in a playground area at the hotel.

After one week of doing “nothing”, I started to feel guilty so I spent a full day at the computer getting things ready for the wedding, catching up on emails, etc. The next day, we went to Sequim to meet with someone and Trisha had her Bridal Shower that evening.

Then, the final week, was a very busy week. We started it out going camping on Memorial Day and spent one night in a tent. This was the first time our girls had been camping and it was really fun! We got to go down to the beach and see all the oysters, play on the play structure, get up close and friendly with squirrels, cook over a fire, and just enjoy one another’s company. It was really fun to have Mom and Dad, Dave, Sheri and Kenny, and Trisha and Joey all show up for s’mores.

The next day our friend, Fabian Gomez, took us flying to the San Juan Islands where we had dinner. It’s always nice to get tossed around like a leaf; Friday Harbor is very windy. We had a blast!

The last couple days leading up to the wedding were, as you can imagine, somewhat hectic. Trisha and Joey Sanchez were married on May 31 at Keyport Bible Church in Keyport, WA. This was the main reason why we went to Washington; Rebecka was a Flower Girl, Geña was the Matron of Honor, and I was the Officiant. They looked spectacular and everything turned out good.

We then shared a little at Christ Memorial Poulsbo in the morning services, went to Sheri’s for a barbecue in the afternoon and managed to make it back out to Bremerton for the evening service at Living Waters Fellowship to share about what’s going on in Cofradía.

What a fun time! It was definitely busy, but we did get to have a few “fun” days. Thanks Mom and Dad, Fabian, Luis, Joey and Trisha, and Dave and Sheri for making our time most enjoyable!

Save A Sole

You may have to make this a little bigger, but here's an article from Tuesday's paper in Sequim, Washington.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Youth Scholarship Fund

One of the most exciting things about working with youth, especially in a small ranching community, is to see their hunger and thirst grow for Christ. We have a number of students who have expressed interest in furthering their education in Bible Schools, Discipleship Training Schools (YWAM), studying music, and what few students here have the opportunity to do…go to university.

Our desire as a staff is to help these students in any way we can to fulfill their dreams of being pastors, worship leaders, missionaries, and strong Christians in the community in which they live. We believe that investing in a Scholarship Fund for these students is one way that you can help as well.

There are currently two students who are pursuing further education at the Victory Bible Institute. This Bible school, located in the state of Oaxaca, “trains men and women called to serve God by developing their spiritual lives, clarifying the understanding of their call, equipping them with occupational training, and planting them in a ministry where they can serve, grow and apply the training they receive.” You may read more about the Victory Bible Institute at

In order to realize this call, Jesús and Martin both need to raise individually a minimum of $1500 by September 1 in order to cover their educational expenses. As you read their profiles below, please pray and consider what donation you can make towards this Scholarship Fund and the further training of these two young men.

Jesús Hernández is the oldest son of the head pastor in Cofradía. He received Christ into his heart as a youth during a youth event. Several years later, while on a missions trip to Tijuana, he felt the Lord calling Him to a deeper commitment. Shortly thereafter he was baptized and sought a spiritual mentor, and he has grown in discipline and leadership ever since. He is now part of our Student Leadership Team for the youth ministry as well as one our master builders in the construction of our central church facility. He has demonstrated a passion for the Lord and a willingness to serve in every area, and we are excited to see how the Lord will continue to use Him for His Kingdom and glory.

Jesús says, “God has called me to study in a school in Oaxaca in order to learn more about Him so that I am better able to share Him with others. I know this will make me stronger in Him and help me to have an even better relationship with Him by learning more about the Bible and learning how to depend on Him more. I believe that studying at this school will enable me to carry out the vision He has given me: to minister to youth and lead them to Christ. I believe that youth need to learn more about Christ and know Him more in a personal relationship with Him. I would like to one day go to other towns and start youth groups that are solid and founded in the Lord, and I believe that through those youth we will reach even more for the Lord.”

Martin Garzón is the oldest son of the pastor in Arrayanes, and he too came to Christ at a young age. He has already completed one year of Bible school, and the effects have been tremendous. Besides demonstrating personal spiritual growth and maturity, he returned with a resolve to serve. He has been involved in evangelizing the Cora Indians in Mojocuatula, in the worship band as a bassist, and in the Student Leadership Team in our youth ministry. In addition, he has been instrumental in a harvest of youth in his town through the creation of a drama team and a Christian youth rap band. He is excited and passionate about evangelism and missions with indigenous groups, especially the Cora, and we are excited to see how the Lord realizes this call in his life.

Martin says, “I want to take the gospel to the Cora Indians that live in the mountains. However, I need to learn how to disciple or teach with more depth as well as strategies that motivate others to grow in leadership. I know that in Christ I can do all things and that in Him we can reach every indigenous group of the Sierra Madres, teaching them to know Christ. I believe that a relationship of trust in Christ is the answer and that that relationship is what the Cora
Indians, and all ethnic groups, really need.“

How can I help?
Each of these young men will need to raise at least $1500 by September 1 to cover the cost of tuition, books, transportation, and outreach activities. If you would like to partner with us financially by donating to the Youth Scholarship Fund there are a couple of ways that can be done.

· Send a check made out to “Alternative Missions” accompanied by a separate note with the designation "Cofradía Youth Scholarship Fund" .. Mail the check to: Alternative Missions, P.O. Box 5835, Goodyear, AZ 85338.

· Donate online. Your donation is secure, consistent and automatic. Just click on the link:

Missionary José Luís Gonzales

Jose Luis is a product of our Youth Ministry. He attended a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Mazatlan last fall. While he was there, he felt the Lord calling him to missions and the Lord opened a door for him to retrun to Mazatlan as a staff member for YWAM. On June 1, Jose Luis was prayed for and sent out from the Cofradia church as our first full-time Missionary. Here is his first newsletter. If you would like to be added to his contact list, please let me know and I will give him your email.

Hello, I hope that you are doing well. I’m writing you from my home in Cofradía, Nayarit, México where I feel very blessed for having learned so many things about God this past year. My purpose for writing you is that I want to share with you a personal need.

Last year I attended a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Mazatlán, México. During that time, I learned a number of things; one of which was in my relationship with God. My relationship with Him was not very good and while I was in Mazatlán, I was able to experience how to listen to the voice of God and learn about His character. Now I know better how to have a stronger relationship of obedience to Him. God has given me a greater desire to share His love to other people who don’t know Him.
During the outreach phase of the school, I had the opportunity to go to Tunisia, Africa. God spoke to me there about what He really wants from me. He told me to return as a member of the Staff in YWAM Mazatlán because I will be able to take greater steps towards Him in being responsible in my relationship with Him, in my personal life, and without a doubt I will grow in Leadership. This is something that I’m really excited about.

While I am in Mazatlán on Staff, I will have a financial need of $350 (usdollars) a month. Today, I am asking you to join my support team with financial donations and prayer. Please take a moment and ask God how much you could donate monthly or with a special gift. By doing this, you will be ministering along side me to the students who come to attend YWAM Mazatlán. Thank you so much for your consideration of becoming part of my support and prayer team and may God bless you!

Your Missionary,

José Luís Gonzáles Linares

Please send your donations* along with a separate note designating it for “Jose Luis Gonzales in Mazatlán” to:
YWAM El Paso 4444 Edgar Park Ave. El Paso, TX 79904 USA

*Make checks payable to YWAM.

Translation by ss.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Steve Clark

A good friend of mine from College passed away last Monday. His wife, Veronica, called yesterday to let us know. Please pray for her comfort and that she would sense the Lord's presence at this time during her loss. Steve was a great man of God, I remember him as always happy and excited about people, he loved people. We'll miss him.