Don and Martha Wehmeyer (Antioch Partners) - March 2014 Update
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings from Mérida and Del Rio. Martha and I are so excited about the wonderful opportunities the Lord has placed before us. We were able to serve the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile in late January. I traveled there with Rev. George Wortham, pastor of First Presbyterian, Monroe, LA and a seminary classmate of mine who served as a missionary in Chile for seven years in the 1990s. Since returning home he has continued to visit there each January. Several years ago, we were privileged to help one of the four presbyteries of the EPC in Chile to set up a non-residential seminary program. That little seminary has graduated four people who have been ordained as pastors, and this doubled their clergy! After a three year pause, I returned with George to help lead a three day workshop. The topic was the Lord’s Prayer, and yes we needed to work a lot on prayer. It turned out the pastors of the presbytery were severely divided over how to handle a ministerial issue, and they had been waiting months for us to arrive and be their arbiters! Because one of George’s friends was involved he chose not to be a part of the reconciliation effort, and that left me as the moderator of an informal but formal meeting (if you know Latin countries this is a quite common occurrence). Gracefully we did make some great strides towards sorting out the problems; the key will be if both sides keep to their agreement. When emotions are high and feelings are hurt there is a LOT OF MISCHIEF our adversary can do. Pray for the Presbytery of Norte Chico (the area from La Serena to Antofagasta). I hope to return and continue working with this church that is very much in need of finding its way in the changed circumstances of Chile.
After a 38 hour trip from Vallenar, Chile to Mérida, Mexico, I met up with Martha who had arrived two weeks earlier. She went to help the retreat center prepare for two mission work teams, one from North Carolina and one from Indiana. We are grateful to the churches who continue to come to Mexico as the negative publicity of the drug wars has drastically reduced the teams that arrive. Yucatan is not involved in the problems of the Northern Mexican border, so please don’t assume all of Mexico is lawless. The teams worked on the Gethsemane Retreat Center and with the San Pablo Seminary.
At the seminary I have a class with Pastor Aldo Chale on liturgy. We each teach two weeks a month. This is an agreement we have worked out with the Del Rio Presbyterian Church until June when there will be an evaluation to see if this is a good model for all concerned. We are grateful to the Del Rio Church because they are actively trying to develop into a missional church and are taking the perspective that missions in Mexico is part of their primary mission. In Mexico I am an active member of the Presbytery of the Peninsula with one laser focus, sharing the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. There are several ways Martha and I do this. First is the retreat center. This is our primary ministry. We offer weekend retreats for churches and small groups throughout the year. Secondly I teach as needed at the San Pablo Seminary. They are going through some serious re-organizational steps just now as the Synod of the Peninsula (14 presbyteries) is preparing to divide into three. In Mexico the primary focus of a synod is to run a seminary, and so there is great concern that the number of students will drop at San Pablo. They are also suffering from serious financial problems as a result of their separation from many PC(USA) presbyteries that helped them in the past. Fortunately the overhead at the retreat center is considerably lower than the seminary’s so this is less of a problem for us. With the presbyteries in the region, I am very interested in teaching about the Reformed view of the deaconate. This important office was lost in practice when the missionaries brought the Presbyterian Church to Mexico in the late 19th century. Finally while I was in Mérida in February I received a very interesting invitation to help with a small group of families who want to begin a House Church ministry. This is quite different from our traditional neighborhood churches, but I am very interested in participating and learning. What was quite unusual about this particular group was it was formed by people from both Roman Catholic and Protestant backgrounds who wanted to go deeper into the Word. Their comments were surprisingly similar, they all had been to different pastors and priests who did not have time (or interest) to lead them into a deeper relationship with God. I agreed to return in March to learn more and see if we can be of help.
Another educational project we are working on is a paraphrased translation with study guide of a section from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. We are calling this study “The Authentic Christian Life,” and prayerfully we will have this completed in 2014. We are also working on a small book in Spanish to teach the depth and width of the meaning of baptism. Many Presbyterians have not understood the significance of this sacrament which we hope to be able to remedy. In Del Rio we are working with the local session to discern what a missional church means in our context, and Martha and I go across the border to teach at the Presbyterian Church in Acuña on two Wednesday nights a month. The little church there is presently without a pastor, but they have forty members hungry to learn more about serving the Lord Jesus.
Please keep us in your prayers. We do need your prayers and support. If you would like us to visit your church please send us optional dates as we do want to be your partners in cross cultural ministry with the Hispanic world. We can visit for a few hours or lead a workshop or retreat for several days, whichever is most helpful to you. We ask your prayers also for our sponsoring agency, The Antioch Partners. The brothers and sisters there are helpful in every way and very knowledgeable about mission service around the world. Their web site is www.theantiochpartners.org. The Outreach Foundation is still advocating for us and receiving gifts in support of our ministry with Spanish-speaking people.
Don and Martha Wehmeyer
Amount needed in 2014
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