Tuesday, September 22, 2015



The race is on!  Week three started right away with a race to the Refuge.  A simple activity at the church allowed other staff members to leave and set up their activities in the other towns. 

This simple activity was to balance a ball on a table while eight team members carried the table from one side of the church to the other and drop the ball into a bucket.  They were not allowed to touch or blow on the ball; if the ball fell or missed the bucket, they had to start again.  

Most of the teams accomplished this on the first try.  In a surprisingly quick one minute, The Brave of Heart team finished first.  Along with first place also came a secret prize!  They were to detain another team for five minutes once that team showed up at the final activity of the day--which turned out to be the perfect teachable moment for which it was intended (I have placed an asterisk* at the beginning of the paragraphs that expound on the teachable moment).

Once they finished that task, they got a not that led them to find Martin in the town of Las Pilas.  He was waiting for the teams at the small lake where they were to fill up a bucket of water on a teeter-totter that had metal bucket on the other end where they were to make a fire.  As the water bucket got heavier, it lifted the fire bucket up.  

Once they caught on fire a bag hanging on a tree, they were finished with their task.  Their next clue was waiting for them inside an anchored balloon in the lake.

That message sent them to the town of Santa Fe and contained instructions for their next activity.  This activity was a revision of kickball where the base paths were plastic covered with soap and water and the bases were swimming pools.  Someone posted this of Facebook.  We liked it and tried it.  If you are a youth pastor, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!  The students who participated loved it!  Here are a bunch of pictures...
1st Base

Returning to 2nd base

Sliding into Home!

3rd Base!

After they scored three runs, their team was to distribute care packages to families who had been affected in the recent flooding.  The river grew over its edges and some homes had three feet of water in them; the baseball field where they played kickball had been under water a week earlier.

As they left Santa Fe, they headed back to the mission base in Cofradia where there were a plethora of activities for them to do.  They divided their team into five small groups for five activities: Puzzle, Accounting, Sports, Couples, and Remembering.  The Puzzle group put together a 300-piece puzzle, which was the longest of the activities.  The Accounting group counted all the bricks in the south wall of the mission base (1,497).  The Sports group had to take turns at trying to make a difficult basket, The Couples group had to match two designs that were facedown (see picture), The Remembering team had to memorize the RETO theme verses (Psalm 139:13,16) and tell them to someone who lives about four blocks away.  If one of the five groups finished, they could help the other groups who were still working.  
The Puzzle
The Accounting
The Couples
*This was the final activity location of the day where The Recognized by God team was detained for five minutes.  This was a teachable moment that we took advantage of in order to bring to light the fact that the world rejects Christianity and tries to discredit our beliefs.  What does it feel like to be rejected?  What does it feel like when someone does something wrong to you when you didn't deserve it?  How do we respond as Christians?  Is it important for us to know who hurt us? (I did not tell them which team detained them).  Our reaction should be love and forgiveness.  In the end, there is a prize waiting for us in heaven.  We need to try our best to let Christ live through us to love and forgive others just like he has loved and forgiven us.

The Brave of Heart, The Christ-Sent, and The Recognized by God teams all finished before the allotted time while the other three teams came very close.  We sent everyone to the Refuge at the church at 7pm.

Pastor Luis did an excellent job of integrating these activities in his message to the students that night.  Using the story of the Prodigal Son, he related that family to a puzzle and the son that left was a missing piece to the puzzle of that family.  When the son came back, the Father was extremely happy, for that missing piece to the puzzle had been found and now they were complete once again!

We are all important to God the Father.  When we stumble and mess up, God is always willing to forgive.  He gets excited that we, as missing puzzle pieces, are found.

*During the reading of the votes for chores, it was revealed that the team that was detained was to receive a prize--Immunity to Chores plus all the clues to the Hidden Treasures.  As the captain was walking back to his team after receiving the prize, I stopped him and let him know that this is the principal that we wanted to get across to his team.  It could have been any team, but God chose his team to receive this message.  The message was to know that God rewards us for obeying him.  In this case, forgiving others for wrongs done against us.

There were a number of different teachable moments in this third week.   This is one of the exciting things that happen during EL RETO.  We get an opportunity to speak into students' lives that we normally don't have.  So many of these students don't know Jesus.  Please continue to pray for soft, open, and receptive hearts as we share God's love with them.

Enjoy the video recap...

You can be part of this great event by making a special donation to EL RETO online here.  Your gifts provide the resources, preparation, promotion, transportation, prizes, and the opportunity for the young people to come to this event.  NOT ONE of the students is charged any kind of admission fee because we want them to come.  We thank you in advance for participating with us!

Monday, September 21, 2015



This week we had the pleasure of hosting a group of young people from Las Varas, Nayarit, nearly three hours from Cofradía.  In March, we went to their church to do a mini-RETO with them and they were anxious to be part of the original EL RETO.

With well over 100 students in attendance, the activities began right away due to a full agenda.  The first activity was "Jala la Dona" (Pull the Doughnut).  Six people, one member from each team, pulled on an inner tube as they tried to reach their team's flag outside the hexagon.  This game proved to be a lot of fun as they all battled it out on a big piece of plastic covered with soap and water.  Thank you to Pastor Joe Franco from 3G Student Ministries in Gresham, Oregon for this idea!

The next two events have become RETO classics as the students look forward to both of them each year.  The first one was Water Balloon Gladiators.  Each team had a chance to throw water balloons at the other teams running through an obstacle course that finished at the soccer goal.

The final event was our famous Fear Factor Banquet!  Our disclaimer is that they DO NOT have to eat any of it.  However, if they want points for their team, it needs to go down and they have to show a clean mouth.  This year chicken liver was introduced and also featured a couple of repeats form years past with green peppers and live gold fish!

After the events, we had a quick Refuge time with some worship and a message from Pastor Luis about how to find your identity in Christ.  Life is challenging and we are learning how to deal with those challenges through this creative outreach!

Here is a recap video of week two:

You can be part of this great event by making a special donation to EL RETO online here.  Your gifts provide the resources, preparation, promotion, transportation, prizes, and the opportunity for the young people to come to this event.  NOT ONE of the students is charged any kind of admission fee because we want them to come.  We thank you in advance for participating with us!



The eleventh year of the RETO (Challenge) has begun.  This is a Survivor, Amazing Race, Fear Factor event geared towards reaching out to young people who are either unreached or have not made a decision for Christ in their lives.  The dynamics of this outreach seep into the hearts and lives of everyone involved.  God is always teaching us something; we just need to be aware of what He wants to show us.  Life is a challenge sometimes.  Whether we are experiencing a mountaintop high or struggling through the valley, God's desire is that we always look to Him, keeping our focus and faith in Him alone.  Author Dr. Neil Anderson wrote, "People may not always live what they profess, but they will always live what they believe."  Our desire is that everyone has a true biblical concept of God that allows them to live according His Spirit and Truth.

The theme for this year is "Identity".  We will be talking about the identity God gives us when we surrender to Him.  We become His children and receive his unconditional love.  This is a very important theme, not just for the young people, but for adults as well.  We are excited to see what God does during this time.

The event started out just as in the past with some team time as they chose a name for themselves that relates to the theme and Bible story they were given.  During that time, they creatively designed a flag that represented them.

From the church, they ran out to the soccer field.  On their way, they stopped at a tug-of-war challenge that led three teams to victory and the other three to defeat.  In the soccer field, there were a number of activities in different stations such as: kicking a soccer goal, knocking down an opponent with a ball while on a balance beam, passing a slimy water balloon behind you to your teammate, running through a simple maze to fill up cups and blow a foam ball from cup to cup, and finished with a small project that encouraged them to think about their identity.

After all the activities, everyone returned to "The Refuge".  The Refuge is the youth room at the church where all the teams blend together as they sit and talk, play games, watch Christian music videos, or just hang out.  When we start a time of worship, the students know to come together as we all sing a couple of songs together before Pastor Luis comes to share an applicable message that has the games and themes both integrated.

The final activity is for everyone, team by team, to go beyond the curtain and privately vote for the team of their choice to do the chores and clean up.  Everyone knows that the team that gets chosen also receives a clue to the hidden treasures that are revealed the final week (if found).

This year, we have six teams again:
Sporting yellow, The Christ-Sent, with last year's champion, Karo, as the Captain.
Sporting black, The Recognized by God, with last year's runner-up and former champion, Luis, as the Captain.
Sporting red, The Brave of Heart, with multi-year runner-up, Alfredo, as the Captain.
Sporting green, The King's Kids, with second year Captain, Cecilio.
Sporting orange, God's Sowers, with first year Captain, Lalo.
Sporting white, The Brotherhood, with first year Captain, Keren.
Week One Video Recap...

Thank you for your prayers for this event.  Pray that:
  • Unreached students will be reached with an understanding of God's love for them.
  • Undecided students will have the courage to make a decision for Christ.
  • Everyone to learn something: Non-believers, believers, Captains, Leaders, Pastors, and Missionaries.
  • Courage for the captains as they grow in their leadership skills.
  • Wisdom for all leadership in their communication with all students in order to show God's love to them.
  • That we can take advantage of the "teachable moments" that the Lord orchestrates.
You can be part of this great event by making a special donation to EL RETO online here.  Your gifts provide the resources, preparation, promotion, transportation, prizes, and the opportunity for the young people to come to this event.  NOT ONE of the students is charged any kind of admission fee because we want them to come.  We thank you in advance for participating with us!

Monday, September 07, 2015


Greetings from Cofradía, Mexico! We’ve made it back to Cofradía after meeting up with Lain and Kelly Grant, new Alternative Missions Missionaries, a couple of weeks ago in Tucson.  We crossed the border together and had one of the most smoothest trips ever all the way to Cofradia—Praise the Lord!

It was unusually dry and hot in the states while we were there.  One thing that sticks out to me about the weather here, is that it’s not as hot as it is in California, just a lot more humid :).
In our last update, we asked you to pray for our EL RETO youth outreach.  We are pretty close to reaching our goal of $2,000 to fund this event that reaches out to so many students in this area who do not know Jesus.  These are students who have not heard a clear message of who Jesus is and why he is important.  In my opinion, that would make them “unreached”.  We are two weeks into the event and will be posting some reports as we go on our blog.  In the meantime, here is a link to the video of the first week.  Click on this link to safely donate online to EL RETO.

Here are some links to more:

This month, will you please pray for...
  1. Civil Association Status.  Tomorrow, September 8, we are headed to Culiacan to finalize details of our Civil Association and sign papers.  Please pray for everything to be led by the Lord. 
  2. Mexican Religious Association.  We are still working on this.  We’ve run into many obstacles and hope that tomorrow we can get some questions answered.  Thank you for your prayers. 
  3. EL RETO.  We have four more weeks of the event.  Please continue to pray that students will be reached, the Lord’s guidance through the leadership, and safety for all people involved. 
  4. Bible School. We’ll be starting our fall quarter the first week of October.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever!

Thank you so much for being part of our team as we work together to RAISE UP LEADERS IN RURAL MEXICO!!!!


Steve, Geña, Rebecka, Emma, and Mackenzie Silberman
Missionaries to Mexico
Alternative Missions Cofradia
Area Director


ONLINE. Click here to donate to our personal support.

BY POSTAGE MAIL/CHECKS. Send a check made out to Alternative Missions to Alternative Missions / PO Box 3107 / Ferndale, WA 98248.  On a separate note, indicate that it is for The Silbermans.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Pastoral Perspectives

Here are reports from our local Pastors in Cofradia.  In order to safely donate a tax-deductible gift to their families' well-being, click on their name.

Pastor Gregorio Hernández

I am pleased to share with you what is happening at Cofradía Christian Center. It has been satisfying to see the development of this ministry.

Because of the Bible school, several issues have been addressed. One of them was "vision." For our exam in that class, we had to present a vision statement, which was most interesting. The point is that every student wants to walk in that objective. Having vision generates a stimulus to the church providing a good motivation to press on.

This really gets my attention because in our culture, especially in these localities, having a vision isn’t really thought about. The difference today is that every student that is attending the Bible school now has a vision. That will be transmitted to the church, and it makes me see that we may be on the verge of entering a new phase.

For many years we were evangelizing a young man.  Several people from the church visited him regularly, with no apparent result. This lasted seven or eight years. We have been visiting him again for the last three months and to our surprise, it came to pass that on May 24 he was baptized and is joyous and eager to grow in the knowledge of God. He is now serving in the church, and we are meeting every Wednesday for discipleship. It is of great joy that this man has decided to walk in obedience to God.

In an earlier report, I had commented on Las Pilas and on the growth there. The gospel continues to take root, and more than twenty people are gathering together in that town.

Thank you for your spiritual and financial support. All that is happening is because of your prayers for this ministry.

Thank you very much for your prayers and support.

Pastor Gregorio, Maty, and family

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you through here, hoping that you are well and enjoying the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This is an opportunity for me and my family, my wife and children, to express our gratitude for how faithful you have been to God in your partnership with in which you continue even today. Thank you very much.

We are working hard at this time in the Bible school that gathers in our church on Tuesday afternoons. I'm facilitating the Hermeneutics class, which I enjoy. I am comfortable sharing because teaching is a strong call I have received from God, and I'm happy about that. Though I have been given the opportunity to facilitate a class, I am still a student in the school, and we are halfway through the requirements to graduate this program that will better prepare us to effectively serve Christ and others.

In another month we begin EL RETO. The event lasts for six weeks: it begins August 29 and ends on October 3. This time we hope to reach three hundred young people. I ask for your prayer support, which is essential. Over the course of EL RETO, we will talk about our identity in Christ. The six weeks of EL RETO will be a time of much work but also of great joy and blessing.

After EL RETO ends, I will be inviting three more young people to join our team of youth leaders, which is made up of young people who have completed high school and are now adults.

My vision for the youth group:

    That they have VISION for their future.
    That they be sure of their IDENTITY in Christ.
    That they make DECISIONS that honor God.
    That they serve in ACTION in their own group, their church, and their community.

(Translator’s note: “VIDA” is the Spanish word for “LIFE” and is also the name of the Youth Ministry at Cofradía Christian Center.)

My children are out of school for the summer, and all four will move up to new schools: one each to college, high school, middle school, and elementary school. My wife and I hope to be better able to help them in their studies and are committed together to achieving this.

I say goodbye to you, thanking you again for your generosity toward us. May God supply all that you may lack according to his glorious riches in Christ (Philippians 4: 19).

Pastor Luis Vázquez

Brothers and sisters,

As always, I am pleased to write these lines to greet you, hoping that you are blessed and prospering in Christ our Lord.

For our part, my family and I are well, thanks be to God. Maria, Martin, Alfredo, Ruben, and Kenya send their greetings. From me, receive my deepest gratitude for the blessings we have received from you, both through your prayers and your financial support. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for all the support you have poured out on us.

Brothers and sisters, thanks be to God that his work is alive and his marvelous plan of salvation continues to manifest itself in my life and in that of others.

We continue learning in a discipleship class every Tuesday at 5 p.m. We are almost to our goal; it’s so close! This class has been so beneficial, as it has equipped us in aspects that apply to very important areas of life.

I'm pleased to see Martin, my son, teaching a homiletics class. We have also learned about counseling through books by writers God has used greatly, such as those by Dr. Neil T. Anderson. With these powerful tools we can better guide people in the remote mountain villages where we minister to a clearer understanding of the great truth of Christ.

Thank you, brothers and sisters, for helping me to be effective in the work of Christ. Receive from me greetings and thanks!

Thank you and may God bless you.

Horacio Garzón Orozco