The Church of the Nazarene in Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico, like others, closed its doors due to the pandemic. However, that did not stop them from continuing to minister to their community, growing, or expanding their number of members, small groups, and missions. All have grown during that time.
Even “behind closed doors” the Etla congregation continued to help its community and its members with food, prayer and live broadcasts, but recently the government of the country authorized the churches to reopen their doors again. They began with five meetings. Four of them were held in the church building with an attendance of 350 people. The fifth meeting was on October 18th in a new community called Villa de Etla, a rented space where they are ministering to about 90 people.
“Doing ministry during this global health situation has been a total challenge,” said Pastor Barrera. However, he mentioned that the small groups have been important to shepherd the church in a better way. At the beginning of this year they had 22 groups and currently they have 32. They opened new groups for pre-teens, teens, college students, women, and men. Every Thursday they meet to meditate on the Word of God, to pray, and to have fellowship through online platforms.
He also said that discipleship has been key to continuing growth in the faith. A group of approximately 100 people from the community and other places connect through social media. As a result of this, on October 17th he performed a baptism for 12 people.
The church is also expanding. “They,” said Pastor Barrera, “took up the challenge of starting two new missions, and they did it, they are: IDN Visión Central and IDN Vida Nueva. Two new missions that join the vision of reaching Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico, and the world for Christ.”
Pastor Barrera said that it has not been easy, because the church has suffered the loss of family and friends and many members have also been ill. Even still, in this time they have seen the hand of God and have felt his comfort. “We are witnesses of many that have recovered and give testimony to miracles of healing,” he said. “The economic situation is complex, but God has motivated many to undertake ventures that have been a blessing for their family and for people in their community.”
Pastor Barrera ended by saying: “We do not know what the future holds, but while we are in this place, we will strive to share God with everyone we can and we pray to God that He gives us courage to continue forward.”
Source: Josué Barrera, Pastor of the Church of the Nazarene Etla, distrito Oaxaca Norponiente (Oaxaca Northwest district) of Mexico.