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Every summer since 2006, Life Fellowship Church, Denton has traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to start new churches. They partner with Juvenal and María Gonzalez and their church La Iglesia de la Calle (The Church on the Street), in association with the San Diego Baptist Association.
I believe you will be inspired by the following description of their experience as shared by church member Carol Lynn Wolfram and Pastor Rafael Natividad!
Every year, Pastor Juvenal scouts out different unchurched neighborhoods in Tijuana in which to hold five-day community Vacation Bible Schools. The VBS is for all ages, including adults, and are conducted during a 4-5 week time period every summer. Each week La Iglesia de la Calle holds VBS in different neighborhoods. The teachers and workers ride and carry all of the equipment and materials needed each day on a school bus to each neighborhood. Yes, it is hot and crowded, but the bus is full of laughter and singing and joy. For one week each summer, Pastor Rafael, his wife Natalia, and other church members teach and volunteer at two of the Vacation Bible Schools. One is held in the morning and another during the afternoon. Literally all ages are welcome to come help, from children to adults. Everyone has a job to do, even children in elementary school. One of the girls at Life Fellowship is affectionately known as “Tijuanita” by the church members in Tijuana because she has been going on these mission trips since before she was born!
Prior to the first day of VBS, the teachers/volunteers canvas the neighborhood where the VBS will take place with flyers to advertise the event and invite residents to attend. Even before VBS formally begins, these invitations open the door to share the gospel, and some residents accept Jesus on the streets or standing at their front doors.
The school bus arrives at each VBS location approximately 45 minutes ahead of time in order to set up for registration, music, Bible story, arts and crafts, missions, recreation/games, and snacks. Folding tables and chairs and portable shade pavilions are set up for each area. Attendees are grouped by age. The teachers for each area stay in their areas for the entire VBS, and teach each group as it comes through. After the daily VBS session ends, the shade pavilions, tables, chairs, and VBS materials are reloaded on the bus for the next stop and the next day.
Every day, in every group, in every area, is a fresh opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. Opportunities are provided in each session for children and adults to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Repetition is key since some students only come one day. Some need to hear the way to come to Jesus multiple times before they understand and are ready. The students hear the story so much they can tell it themselves and lead their families and friends to Jesus.
The members of La Iglesia de la Calle immediately plant a new church from the VBS in each neighborhood for new believers to attend. They use the same school bus, the same shade pavilions, tables and chairs faithfully returning each Sunday (and many Wednesday evenings) to hold church services and Bible study. Sundays make for long but glorious days. Why? Because we are commanded to make disciples, not just evangelize. Because what these faithful believers are doing is part of their abundant lives in Christ. Because the people of Tijuana matter immensely to God. Because we must pass the torch of evangelism and discipleship to others, especially the next generations. Because God’s only plan to transform the world is to use his children to bring the Good News of who He is to the lost. Lastly because walking in obedience in the paths of God is fun, even when it’s hard!
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