For nearly a decade, volunteers in Montgomery have been sowing the gospel in Mixtec homes, planting seeds and praying they would grow into new brothers and sisters in Christ.
And this summer, they reaped the harvest.
The Montgomery Mixtec Task Force, made up of volunteers from various Baptist churches in the area and a ministry arm of Montgomery Baptist Association, hosted Mixtec Outreach Weekend on Aug. 26–28, with four evangelistic events specifically aimed at reaching the approximately 2,700 Mixtec residents in the area.
“We’ve spent 10 years building relationships and building trust,” Lisa C. Rose said. “We’ve often offered the gospel along the way but they hadn’t trusted us yet.”
That is until now.
Nine Mixtec people placed their faith in Christ over the weekend, and six people requested Bible studies in their homes, said Rose, director of Montgomery Association’s church and community ministries.
First of its kind
The weekend, thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, was significant because the gospel was shared in Mixtec, an only oral and tonal language. That’s never happened before.
Forest Park Ministry Center hosted the Aug. 26 evening event with food, worship and a gospel message. On Aug. 27 a block party was held at Serenity Apartments in the morning through Community of Hope and another event was held at the Nehemiah Center of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, in the evening. Every Tribe Ministries hosted the evening event Aug. 28 at Hopper Gardens Apartments.
The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ office of evangelism participated in the outreach weekend by providing financial assistance to help with setup, food and other resources — like CD copies of the first-ever translation of the first six books of the New Testament in Mixtec — made possible by Wycliffe Bible Translators. One hundred copies of Scripture in Mixtec were handed out over the weekend. One hundred copies of the “JESUS” film in Mixtec also were distributed.
Through a partnership with believers in Virginia, three Mixtec Christian men, along with Lloyd Rodgers, who works in global continuing education for the International Mission Board, traveled to Montgomery to share the gospel in the Mixteco heart language.
The Mixtec, originally from the mountains of Mexico and saturated in spirit and ancestor worship, often only speak Mixtec, although some in Montgomery have picked up bits and pieces of Spanish and many of the children and young adults speak English, according to Rose.
Passion for sharing gospel
Odilon Mendoza, one of the Mixtec believers from Richmond, Virginia, told The Alabama Baptist how he found Christ six years ago after his wife and children were invited to a Hispanic church in their city, and he eventually tagged along.
After accepting Christ and serving in the church for two years, Mendoza realized his passion for sharing the gospel. He attended the 2015 Maximum Impact National Mixtec Summit in Montgomery, where he met with other believers trying to reach the Mixtec people in the United States.
Mendoza said when he discovered his “people are very needy” and they don’t know who Jesus really is, he wanted to share the gospel with them even more.
Now Mendoza works with other volunteers at his church and about 20–30 Mixteco people are attending a weekly Bible study.
Highlights of Scripture
During the outreach weekend in Montgomery, Mendoza shared his testimony along with passages from John 3, Romans 6 and Mark 4 — highlights of the gospel but also bridges to sharing the Truth in a way the Mixteco can relate to, Mendoza said.
Antonio Lopez, of Lynchburg, Virginia, also came to share his faith at the outreach weekend.
His testimony is drastically different from Mendoza’s. He’d had three traffic tickets and when he was issued the fourth, he was taken to jail. But while there he heard the gospel for the first time when a Spanish-speaking evangelist came to share the good news. When Lopez was released from jail he immediately sought out a church to continue to grow in his faith, he said.
Although Lopez only speaks Spanish and Mixtec, the nearly 40 English-speaking volunteers could relate to his passion for his Savior. Lopez would open each of the four weekend events with prayer and he and Mendoza would alternate sharing a Bible story or sharing their own testimony.
Donna McCullough, director of Forest Park Ministry Center and a member of Heritage Baptist Church, Montgomery, said of the weekend, “God is giving us a front row seat to see Him work.
“That’s awesome to me. For so much of my spiritual life I would look back and see how God had worked. But I love being in the moment and seeing Him working live. It’s beautiful.”
Now volunteers from area Baptist churches have the task of leading Bible studies in homes and discipling the new believers, Rose said. But they are not going in unprepared. Several volunteers have already been trained as Bible study leaders and in Bible storying — a method of orally sharing parts of Scripture by telling stories in chronological order and often using visual aids.
Prior to the outreach weekend, few Mixtec had accepted the gospel and found Christ, despite years of area believers working hard to cultivate relationships and trust. But Mendoza refreshed volunteers with his passion for the Mixtec and encouraged them to keep planting seeds.
‘Don’t be discouraged’
“Don’t be discouraged,” he said. “We saw a lot of people (this weekend). It’s a spiritual battle with these people that don’t know Christ. But we’ll continue to battle and fight and you will see a Mixtec church in this place. Amen.”