On October 4, 1987, the Mexico City Church of Christ held its inaugural Sunday service. Having arrived in July of that year, the members of the mission team were full of vision and hope for a great turnout. Several members of churches in the U.S. had flown in for the great event, arriving a few days early to join the mission team in a one-week evangelistic outreach effort. As we have described in earlier posts, the 13-member Mexico mission team had prepared for months, not just to have a great inaugural service, but to lay the foundation of what could become a pillar church for Latin America.
It was customary at that time to set goals. We used to set goals for many things: personal evangelistic contacts, personal visitors, Sunday attendance, numbers of people who started a Bible study … We even set a goal to have 100 people baptized during the first year of the church! Yes, in retrospect we could be criticized for coming across as competitive and even too work-focused. But it is not easy to convey, to those who were not there during that time, the child-like faith that motivated us to set those goals!
We decided that we wanted to have 153 visitors for our inaugural service. You might wonder where this number came from … but it’s actually a Biblical number. In John 21, it is written that, with the resurrected Jesus directing them from the shore, the awe-struck disciples pulled out of the lake a miraculous catch of fish. When they brought the nets ashore, they counted the fish and there were 153 (John 21:11)! Since we believed that it was our mission to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19), we figured that 153 “men-fish” would make a great goal!
And on that historic morning of October 4, in the “Salon Carnaval” ballroom of Mexico City’s Hotel Diplomatico, 174 people gathered to worship God and hear the preaching of the gospel! Three young people were baptized! The Mexico City Church was off to a great start, to God’s glory!
For that inaugural service, my task was to lead the worship songs! Please do not be mistaken: I could carry a tune (and even played a little guitar) but I had no formal musical training. I was not a ministry-staff person; I was in Mexico as a guest scientist at a local university. But I was the only brother who was a native Spanish speaker and actually knew the songs! That everyone stayed through the whole event, that nobody walked out, is a convincing testimony that this was a work of God, not of men!
That was 25 years ago. Some of the original mission team members are still in the full-time ministry. Some have moved on to other fields of activity. The Mexico City Church now has a membership of over 3,800, led by Mexican evangelists and ministry leaders, as the mission team hoped. In those 25 years, the Mexico City Church has been directly responsible for the planting of more than 20 churches in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia and Bolivia. Several of those second-generation mission churches have also planted other, third-generation missions in their geographic areas! History is still being written…and it is our hope that we can continue to record that history here in the Mission Diaries.
Happy 25th Anniversary to the Mexico City Church!
J De Anda