No Longer Alone

“Our work is all about building relationships,” Kandi Ostertag said. She, husband Matt, and children Kaitlyn and Mckenzie have served in Guadalajara, Mexico, for 10 years. They lead a team of International Mission Board (IMB) church planting missionaries in the Bajío (central highlands of Mexico). They also encourage and help Mexican church planters as needed.

The Bajío covers a large area. As a result, many house/simple churches planted by the IMB and national partners over the last several years feel alone. Kandi Ostertag said the church plants often feel like “the ugly duckling and different from everyone else.” Since they differ so much from traditional churches, the house/simple churches’ sense of isolation can grow intense.         

To help overcome such feelings, the Ostertags host retreats and other events for these churches. Those activities allow church members to “get away from everything and have time with the Lord.” They also foster prayer support, encouragement, and friendships.

Simple Gestures Open Doors to Gospel

Mandy Wells prepares “memelas” (small tortillas brushed with bacon grease) with some national friends in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Sharing a meal or inviting someone into your home for coffee or water shows hospitality in this city of about 300,000. Though simple gestures, they create opportunities to establish friendships with indigenous people and share about Jesus Christ.

Wells and husband Jim are missionaries in an area of Oaxaca (pronounced wah-hah-cah). The couple and their 2 young children have been there 16 months.

“One thing that we really try to do is build friendships,” Mandy Wells said. “Whether people come to Christ or not after having heard the gospel, we will still be their friends and continue investing in their lives. . . . Simply spending time really getting to know people opens the doors for us to share the gospel with those around us.”

Although the nationals often mix religions and practices (idol worship, animal sacrifice, etc.), the majority of them know about Jesus Christ. Yet “they have no understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection,” Mandy Wells explained.

Starting Over Again

For Loren and Karen Dickey, the beginning of 2017 brought many challenges as they moved from Veracruz, Mexico, on the Gulf Coast inland to the Bajío. This region is considered the “Heart of Darkness,” the least reached area in Mexico, where only about 2% are Christians. This was the Dickeys’ fourth move in 18 years as International Mission Board missionaries in the Americas (having served in Nicaragua, Chile, Peru, and Mexico), but they sensed that they were “starting over again.”

From the onset, the couple knew this move would be different. Even though they only moved to another state in Mexico, they are learning the culture of the Bajío. They are also “still getting a grasp on Mexican Spanish,” which is different from the Spanish they’ve used before.

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