Monday, December 19, 2011

The Upper Room Project

Help make a difference in Cofradía through The Upper Room Project.


Merry Christmas Everyone from Cofradía, Mexico!  As the cool weather approaches, it’s nice to sit down in the morning with a hot cup of coffee and consider the day and the different aspects of our life and ministry.  Our prayer is that this time of year is a joyous celebration for you as we are reminded of our Savior's birth.  Some of you will be with family, others may not.  Still, others might be missing loved one’s who have passed this year.  Our hearts go out to you.  May the Lord bring His Peace upon your life, especially in this time.

Last month, we asked for your prayers concerning:

  • Pastor Gollo, he is in good health.  He has had some studies done and after investigating, it appears to be something very minimal and for no need of an operation.  Thank you VERY MUCH for praying for this issue.
  • Youth Concert Thank you for continuing to lift up the student ministry as they make good efforts to reach out to their peers.
  • Border Trip Thank you for your prayers over our family as we travelled to and from Tucson, AZ to take care of a couple of business items and spend time with our friends’ family during Thanksgiving.  It was a very busy time for us leaving us with minimal time to rest.  However, we enjoyed our time and the new people we met.
  • Pastor Rafael Gradilla came last weekend and, as always, he made a great impact on the lives of our Pastor, Leaders, Church, and even the visitors who came to our Evangelistic outreach.  There were 6 people who have never come to church before who responded to the invitation of receiving Christ into their hearts.  One of which was a wonderful surprise to see step forward, Doña Chuy (for those of you who know Pastor Horacio, it’s his mother-in-law).  We had an excellent time of fellowship and teaching and wish that the time could have been longer.  Thank you for your prayers.

Links to the news:

This Month’s requests:

  • Parents’ Visit: We are all excited for a visit from my parents between December 13 – January 5.  It will be their first Christmas with us in Mexico.  Please pray for travel safety and good health while they are here.
  • Youth Christmas Party: Each year the students have a Christmas Party where they invite their friends to youth group.  This usually has a good turn-out.  Please pray that the students who come will be impacted during this time (December 17).
  • Youth Winter Sports Tournaments:  Our Annual Winter Sports Tournament for the youth will take place the week of December 26 – 31.  This is another door for the unchurched to know Christ.  
  • Upper Room Project: We have started building our upstairs rooms and are praying that you can be part of the Lord’s provision to finish the roof before the rainy season.  Sometimes, a rain or two will come in January or February.  We need to raise at least $8000 more dollars.  You can send a one-time gift before the end of the year or extend a gift over 6 months, whichever is more convenient for you.  Donate here and make a note that it’s for the Silberman’s Home: 
  • Follow up of New Believers: Please continue to keep in prayer the new believers and that the Lord will give us wisdom in the follow-up.
  • Ministry Transition: Thank you for continuing to keep this ministry in your prayers as we follow the Lord’s direction during our transition period.  The initial changes have been set in place, our mission and new vision have been established, now we need patience and wisdom to carry out God’s call on us in this part of the world as more changes will be necessary.  Please pray, also, that the church body adjusts well to this transition time as well.

Thank you very much for partnering with us through your prayers and financial support.
Click here to donate to our personal support.

Steve, Geña, Rebecka and Emma Rose Silberman
Missionaries to Mexico
Alternative Missions Cofradia
Area Director
SKYPE: “srsilberman”

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Greetings Everyone from Cofradía, Mexico!  New beginnings is a good summary of the past month in Cofradia.  A Marriage Class was started and will meet the first Sunday of each month, it’s called “Unteaching Marriages” as some of the things locals have grown up to “know” about marriage are contrary to scripture.  Also, our new Missionary Staff spent a couple of days in Mazatlan on an Off-Site Retreat to reflect, plan, and prepare for the future.  And, another ministry transition has taken place as I have stepped down from being the Student Ministry Director and handed to my right-hand man, Pastor Luis Vazquez.  Finally, we have begun the continued construction of our home.

Last month, we asked for your prayers concerning:

  • Staff Retreat.  This was a great time of getting away, being with each other, and re-evaluating our goals.  Thank you for your prayers, you can read about it here.
  • Visitors.  Thank you for your prayers as a couple from the US came to travel up to the mountains with Jay to minister to the Cora Indians.  Their trip was very smooth and were able to communicate the gospel to the people.

Links to the news:

This Month’s requests:
  • Pastor Gollo is going through a series of tests for his health.  Please keep him in your prayers as surgery is in his near future.  Finances will be an issue.
  • Youth Concert The Student Ministry will be putting on a concert to invite their friends to learn about Jesus.  Pray for open doors and open hearts. (Nov. 12)
  • Border Trip Our family will be going to Arizona for a couple of weeks to take care of some business, do some shopping, rest a little, and spend Thanksgiving with some friends. (Nov. 14-28)
  • Pastor Rafael Gradilla from Hosana Asamblea in Bellevue, Washington will be sharing with our leaders and congregation soon.  His pastoral leadership has a tremendous impact on the people here and we’re all excited to have him come.  Please pray for open hearts and safe travels. (Nov. 30 – Dec. 4)

Thank you very much for partnering with us through your prayers and financial support.
Click here to donate to our personal support.

Steve, Geña, Rebecka and Emma Rose Silberman
Missionaries to Mexico
Alternative Missions Cofradia
Area Director
SKYPE: “srsilberman”

House Construction

The final phase of our house has begun.  Hugo (Geña's brother) started working last week and we're pretty excited about this--especially Rebecka and Emma!  It will be nice to have some extra room as the girls are getting older.

Our immediate goal will be to put up the walls and roof before the next rainy season.  To make sure that we can do that, we'll need $10,000.  Can you help?

Donate online here or click here to view other ways if donating online is not for you.  Thank you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Staff Retreat

What an exciting time in Mazatlán we had with our Cofradía Missionary Staff!  We spent three days in a very nice Hotel/Hacienda in Old Mazatlán's downtown called The Melville.  We rented two suites, each with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, dining, and living rooms.  It was a great, private place to refocus as we edified, planned, and prepared.

We spent the first day having fun together and talking about cancer in teams as opposed to what makes a great team.  We hiked up to the lighthouse and had a very nice dinner at La Playa Mazatlán as we caught the tail end of the beautiful sunset over the Pacific.  

The next day we talked about almost every aspect of our ministry.  It was a series of long needed discussion and clarification of our responsibilities as team members and ministers.  We finished the evening with a very engaging and exciting game of Pictionary.  Men vs. women.  The women had us beat, but the we came back very strong at the end to squeak out the win!

The final day we prepared ourselves to return back to Cofradía.  It was a great three days that brought our team together.  We are unified and ready to RAISE UP LEADERS IN RURAL MEXICO.

If you are interested in ministry as a missionary or intern, don't hesitate to email us.  We would love to give you an opportunity to minister.  You might want to come down with a short-term missions team, as an intern, or consider a longer term commitment.  Alternative Missions' catch phrase is "Creative Ways of Serving the World."  What creative way would you like to serve God, serving the World?
Staff at the top of the Mazatlan Lighthouse
Dinner at La Playa Mazatlan
The tail end of the sunset during dinner.
"Pictionary" awaits
Max drawing...something

Student Ministry Transition

As I've been mentioning in our monthly reports, our ministry in Cofradía has been going through a transition since June. In July, I was appointed as the new Area Director for this ministry.  I am excited about the opportunity to lead this ministry in the next step of raising up leaders in rural Mexico. 

Pastor Luis Vazquez
For the past couple of years I've been able to watch my right-hand man in the Student Ministry, Luis Vazquez, grow and take ownership of the Youth Group. He's really been leading it for a while, I've just been there coaching him.  With new responsibilities and knowing how God has developed the Student Leadership team, I'm confident in taking new steps myself as I step down as the Student Ministry Director in Cofradia.

In my opinion, I couldn't ask for a smoother transition.  For the newer and younger youth, this change is not even close to monumental. Luis has been their "Pastor" for a while.  It's a strange feeling not being in charge or working first hand with the youth, it's hard to imagine doing anything else.  I love the Student Ministry we have; they're awesome!  At the same time, I'm excited because this was my goal as a Missionary--to work myself out of a job.

As we continue to move forward, we appreciate your prayers and continued support.  Please pray for Pastor Luis as he accepts the responsibility the Lord has given him in leading the Student Ministry of Centro Cristiano Cofradia.  Also, thank you for your prayers for our staff as we follow the Spirit's leading in this ministry.
Alternative Missions Cofradía Staff:
Max, Jay, Faith, Mati, Pastor Gollo, Geña, Steve, Sandy
Thanks again for your continued support.  Your donations are changing lives.

Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden

Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden

I just finished reading this book that has been staring at me for a few years now since my dad gave it to me.  It was a little difficult to get into just because I'm not an enthusiastic reader.  Once I got about half way, I could relate to a lot of what Greg was writing about.  This book is very similar to one I read earlier this year, They Smell Like Sheep, which I really enjoyed.

Transforming Discipleship is all about that, Discipleship.  This is not a new concept to me although he claims to have invented it.  Maybe I've heard or read something about him before??  Either way, it is something that I've always been passionate about.  He talks about getting into small groups of 3 or 4 same gendered people and spend a year together studying, reading, praying, and challenging each other to grow as you keep one another accountable.  This is a great concept and is similar to a couple of relationships I already have down here.  The obvious purpose is for discipling the believers.  The goal is that those other two or three people in your small group do the same thing the next year, but with different people.  This, ideally, would create solid multiplying growth.  We can sometimes get caught up in "such and such a number of people got saved."  That's great, but I've always wondered who's discipling those who get saved??

I am very interested in integrating this as a "process" (he calls it) in our ministry.  I want to try it out for a year.  To start it, it will take $100 to buy two Transforming Discipleship books in Spanish and four Discipleship Essentials manuals in Spanish.  Pastor Gollo and I are planning on starting this as soon as we can purchase them.  I'm pretty optimistic about this since we already have a men's group that is integrated in the Church Ministry.  It would be great if we could develop some more solid believers who are not ashamed of the Gospel.  Cofradía would continue to be transformed into a different place.  God is moving here and we're excited about it!

Here are just a few quotes that caught my attention:

  • "The tragedy is that most Christian leaders have placed almost no priority in transitional leadership."
  • "Discipleship is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples in order to encourage, equip, and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ.  This includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well."
  • "Intimate, accountable relationship with other believers is the foundation for growing in discipleship."

I recommend this book, not just to church leaders, but anyone who is interested in learning more about God and developing a more intimate relationship with Him.

You can be part of this transformation by making a donation so we can purchase manuals.  Click on this link and choose "AM Ministry Location" "Cofradia" and make a note for "Discipleship."  Thanks for transforming the World.

Friday, October 07, 2011

October Ministry Update

Greetings Everyone from Cofradía, Mexico!  The rainy season is coming to an end and an occasional cool breeze is reminding us that the hot muggy weather is only temporal—Praise the Lord for that!  We have just finished our annual Student Ministry Outreach called EL RETO (The Challenge).  It was another amazing time.  We were able to make connections with many new students and I’m excited to see the enthusiasm of the regulars as they interact with new students.  The captains did a great job and we really were able to pull the reins on competitive spirits this year with emphasizing that we are all on one team and our goal is to reach out to students—the games are just a tool we’re using to draw them in.  I don’t recall in years past that teams would help each other (opponents) as much as they did this year.  I was impressed with our students!

Last month, we asked for your prayers concerning:

  • Finances for EL RETO.  We received 1/10 of the $2,000 that was our original budget causing us to cut back on a number of things.  EL RETO was a success, but unfortunately we did not feel free to do more than what we did.
  • Impacted lives in EL RETO.  I believe God uses EL RETO to bring to light issues in all of us, including myself.  This is such a unique outreach that I do not know what to compare it to.  Yes, lives were touched and changed.  God is still working in many of us.  Confrontation has always been difficult for me and through EL RETO I have been able to put into practice what I’ve never liked to do.  EVERY TIME through the Lord’s guidance, we are able to resolve the conflicts that arise.  For that reason, I know that God has His hand in this ministry!  It became aware to me in 2007 that this was not just an outreach to students, but an opportunity to develop leadership skills in myself, the team captains, and the adult staff helping.  It’s simply INCREDIBLE!

Links to the news:

This Month’s requests:

  • Staff Retreat.  All of our staff will be heading to Mazatlan for two nights to discuss vision, responsibilities, future plans, and how to grow together.  I’m looking forward to it in spite of being drained after EL RETO.  Please pray for wisdom in all of us, that the Lord would have His hand on us, that His Spirit would guide us to make wise decisions, and give us the strength to complete the tasks He’s given us (October 10-12).
  • Visitors.  We have a few visitors coming at the end of October to work along side Jay and the Indigenous Ministry with the unreached Cora Indian people group (October 16-30).  Pray for safety as they travel up into the mountains and favor with the people.

Thank you very much for partnering with us through your prayers and financial support.
Click here to donate to our personal support.

Steve, Geña, Rebecka and Emma Rose Silberman
Missionaries to Mexico
Alternative Missions Cofradia
Area Director
SKYPE: “srsilberman”

Thursday, October 06, 2011


EL RETO 2011


We had 94 participants this year in EL RETO.  This year had a different twist in terms of its seriousness with the messages.  The teachings we encountered were not light-hearted.  The main theme was that our existence continues; I believe that message got across.  Many of the students encountered other teachable moments such as asking for forgiveness and forgiving, humbling oneself, dealing with anger, recognizing that there are false doctrines that look like the truth, learning about the reality of heaven and hell, and the list goes on.

Saturday, October 1, we began with our students leading the worship.  Martin followed with a great Word as he encouraged the students to make a decision about who they will serve.  After Martin preached, Pastor Luis led a time of prayer with the students.  It was a great time.  Not all the students came forward, but many of them did, as they were hungry for a touch from God.

Finally, the staff as well as students gave testimonies of how their lives were changed and gave encouraging words to others.

Since many of the people present were visitors that had been invited, I gave a quick summary of events before we presented those who had found the hidden treasures and then carried out the raffle.
Jay TenBrink made three of these mini caskets for us as our Hidden Treasures
All three hidden treasures started with the same clue, but different dates.  The first clue stated that, "The treasure was in a piece of land that I used to own," then it gave the dates of birth and death of the person.  That means the students had to go to the graveyard to find those dates and work on figuring out what land they used to own.

Grace: Grace was hidden just outside of Arrayanes.  The Faithful found the treasure and it redeemed to them all the points they used in the RETO Auction: 9,300 points!

Justice: Justice was hidden just outside of Cofradía.  The Chosen found this treasure and it allowed them to add points to other teams.  For every two points they added, they would get 1 one point.  They could give up to 5,000 points.  They added 5,000 points to The Humble and in turn received 2,500 points for themselves.

Resurrection: Resurrection was hidden just outside of Santa Fe.  The Heirs found this treasure that gave them the opportunity to challenge the team that ended with the most points in one final challenge (EL RETO FINAL).  This was a free pass to the "Championship."

Once we finished with that, Max carried out the Raffle with Rebecka's help.  Two of the items have yet to be claimed, but Juan Luis and Pola of Arrayanes won the stereo.

Then, the moment that the students had been waiting for: the announcing of the points...

In Sixth place with 3,809 points - The Prudent
In Fifth place with 5,739 points - The Servants of the Lord
In Fourth place with 6,198 points - The Chosen
In Third place with 11,654 points - The Humble

Between first and second place, there was only 1,800 points difference.  Considering the high scores they had, that's not very much.  The two teams left were The Faithful and The Heirs.  If The Faithful has more points, we would have a final challenge between these two teams since The Heirs had found the Hidden Treasure "Resurrection."  If The Heirs has more points, they win.

Second place points: 22,047
First place points: 23,808

Congratulations to The Heirs who dominated all six weeks and by the skin of their teeth, won EL RETO 2011 with 23,808 points!

The Heirs

Wednesday, September 28, 2011



One of the key words you will learn on a missions trip to Mexico is "flexibility."   Sometimes you have to be ready to make split decisions given the circumstances that arise.  This is how we started on Saturday.

Because of a death in town and a town meeting, the Town Commissioner asked us if we could do our open-air program on Sunday.  Our plan was to carry out our activities in the Center of town after we were given permission last week.  Since Town Hall is less than a block away and the funeral wake was directly in front of Town Hall, it didn't work out. 

It was 3pm already, time to start.  Instead of cancelling the whole event, we decided to go back to the church for our annual RETO Auction.  Each team had a drama or skit ready as well; this was all to take place in the center as part of the outreach and open-air evangelism.  Instead of performing the dramas, each team did a "practice run" in preparation for Sunday as we decided to do just the open-air evangelism at the south end of town in front of the Jr. High. 

So, we had three activities on Saturday (The Auction, the practice, and Part Two) and one on Sunday (The Evangelism).

The students had been anticipating the auction all week.  It is something we've done for the past four years and has turned into a classic.  Each team is given a secret note informing them of how many points they have.  All the teams can bid on any item they want, however, all of the items are hidden in a box.  They "buy" theses unknown items with the points they have.  Some teams use up all their points as they really have fun bidding and receiving the prizes we give them.  Some prizes are good; others are not so good.

The RETO AUCTION 2011 begins!
Each time a team bought an item, we would bring out another box so they could choose between the two.  Sometimes, they chose the one we brought out instead.
The Servants of the Lord bought the first item--a cake!
The Humble bought the second item (some kind of tree gum).
They also bought #3--ICE CREAM!
The Heirs entered into the action taking #4--another cake!
When The Prudent got in on the action, they got A NEW CAR!--a matchbox car, that is.
The Chosen's first item bought were the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Grace."
The Faithful bought some Oreo Cookies in #7.
By this time, the students were on their feet going crazy as they bid the most points ever in the history of EL RETO AUCTION!
The Chosen would say that it paid off by getting three 3-liter cokes in #8!
and The Servants of the Lord got a bunch of chips!
The Humble finished their ice cream and bought some Snickers!
The Prudent entered in again and got the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Judgement."
The Faithful won 3,000 points!
Then, right away, bought the next item--all the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Resurrection."
The Prudent took the candy.
Fran is about to open a note that says his team has to do chores after church on Sunday.  He wasn't happy.
The Heirs entered the bidding again and had to distribute 3000 points amongst two teams.  They decided to give The Servants of the Lord 500 points and take 2,500 points for themselves.
In the end, Alfredo's team won a taco feast for the second year in a row!  This is the item that all the teams are hoping to get!

  • The Prudent - 11,600 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord - 11,100 pts.
  • The Chosen - 8,100 pts.
  • The Humble - 7,900 pts.
  • The Heirs - 2,400 pts.
  • The Faithful - 9,300 pts.

Once we finished the auction, each team did a practice run of their team project.  We saw dramas, skits, and human videos.

In Part Two, we shared about what the Bible says about Heaven, where it is and who it's for. 

Part Two begins
The teams, then, came up for their final vote as they voted for another team to receive a prize (all of the clues to all of the hidden treasures).  

Here are the votes...

The Heirs voted for The Humble.
The Prudent voted for The Humble.
The Faithful voted for The Humble.
The Servants of the Lord voted for The Humble.
The Chosen voted for The Humble.
The Humble voted for The Chosen.
Amazing!  The votes were unanimous as all the teams (except for The Humble) voted for The Humble.

We had the staff pass through the graveyard to the voting room as well so they could experience what the students experienced each week.  They even got to cast a vote for the team they thought had done a great job during EL RETO.

The Staff makes their way through the Graveyard.
Without knowing how the teams voted, the majority of the staff voted for The Humble, so they got the vote.

The next day, we held the open-air evangelism at the basketball court in front of the Jr. High.  Five of the six teams performed their project and they all did a great job.  Pastor Luis shared about the Rich Man and Lazarus followed by the students leading a couple of praise songs.  The energy was incredible and it was a very exciting time.  The students are learning about Christ, learning about the need to share their faith, and learning about what it means to persevere in Leadership.  I am proud of every one of them!

Worship to begin with.
Chuy in action.
Fran and Cintia in the Lifehouse-Everything Human Video
The Faithful had probably the best performance as they put together a skit of the story about the Talents.
Team captain, Alfredo Garzon, rocking out on his homemade electric guitar.  He was absolutely hilarious as he had the crowd roaring with laughter!

The students led a time of praise in the end.

Next week, EL RETO FINAL.


Thursday, September 22, 2011




Ninety-two students have participated in this year's event so far.  Right away, the students hopped in the vehicles to get started with all the action in Las Pilas, a town about 3 miles west.  EL RETO goes from town to town in an attempt to attract attention and draw in not just students, but adults as well.  As we are reaching out to the students involved, the people watching get interested and start asking questions.  What an opportunity!

Getting ready to start in Las Pilas
After taking roll call, the teams' first challenge was to toss as many small sandbags into buckets as possible.  Each bucket had a different value; the more points the farther away.

  • The Faithful - 1,350 pts.
  • The Heirs - 900 pts.
  • The Prudent - 750 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord - 400 pts.
  • The Humble - 300 pts.
  • The Chosen - 50 pts.

After finishing in Las Pilas, the teams travelled another two miles to the town of Paso Real del Bejuco.  There, the teams played a basketball/footbal style game as they tried to get as many balloons in guarded buckets as possible.

  • The Humble - 2,800 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord - 2,500 pts.
  • The Heirs - 2,400 pts.
  • The Prudent - 1,900 pts.
  • The Faithful - 1,700 pts.
  • The Chosen - 1,600 pts.

From there, everyone got back into the trucks and headed back to Cofradía for the much awaited annual RETO Banquet Fear Factor style.  This has proven to be one of the biggest events that everyone looks forward to every year!  This year, with Martín Garzon's homecoming, we asked him to prepare some of the food that he experienced during his time in Oaxaca (not that the food is bad, just different).  Also, some of the staff prepared some other dishes as well along with the classics that the students always expect: Cow Eyes and Jalapeño Peppers.

Here is the menu:
Mixed Cactus Drink
Grasshoppers (from Oaxaca)
Tamale with Black Beans (from Oaxaca)
Homemade Pocket Bread with Zucchini (from Oaxaca)
Eggroll-style flour burrito with zucchini and black beans (from Oaxaca)
Homemade Pocket Bread with Chicken Liver filling

Cow eye

Jalapeño Peppers

An onion the size of a racket ball
Then the whole team had to down a 3 liter bottle of coke.
The Banquet is always an incredible time with lots of energy.  It is probably the most desired event by the students.

  • First Place: The Heirs - 3,000 pts.
  • Second Place: The Chosen - 2,000 pts.
  • Third Place:  The Prudent - 1,000 pts.
  • Fourth Place: The Servants of the Lord - 750 pts.
  • Participation Points:  The Humble and The Faithful - 500 pts.

After the Banquet, we continued with Part Two.  This was going to be a very unique Part Two since the Lord showed us how we could incorporate a very important lesson about real life, "Things Done in Secret."
Part Two
Each year we have what in English would be called "The War of Coins."  Each Mexican peso coin has a point value. The greater the coin; the greater the point value.  The ten-peso coin is worth a negative 250 points.  Each team has the opportunity to deposit coins each week in their bottle as well as deposit ten-peso coins in other teams' bottles.  This is why it's called a War.  This year, the students have not waged any war for fear that they'll be seen.  So, we set it up for them to be able to wage war in secret while they had their voting time.  After each team had waged war, I removed the coins so that the other teams would not notice what had happened as they came in to vote.  The end result was that 5 of the 6 teams waged war.

After the voting and the Coin War, I shared about how hurtful things can be to others, ourselves, and God, when we do things in secret that do not glorify God.  Not only are those things hurtful, but also the Bible says, in real life, that those things that are done in secret will come to light.

At this point, I asked the students if they could put themselves in the place of being victimized.  Then, for those who were responsible for the actions, I asked if they would like to come forward to the microphone to ask for forgiveness for what they did against the other teams.  It was an amazing time!  EL RETO is just a game, but we were able to create a teachable moment that had a huge impact on the lives of not only the students, but the adults as well who were watching.  Four of the five teams came forward to ask for forgiveness, and each one was forgiven.  The negative points were nullified and the slates were wiped clean.