Archive for February, 2013

Rodrigo & Nancy, Dawn & Dave, Martha & Abraham (from left to right) pastors, ministers, pastors wives

Some of our pastor friends and their wives: Rodrigo & Nancy, Dawn & Dave, Martha & Abraham (from left to right)

In my discussions with my pastor friends in Tijuana, they are asking me questions about the gospel. They love the powerful message of the gospel, and they are hungry to learn more. This has me studying more about this subject.

What is the Gospel?

The question, “what is the gospel?” has led me to the book of Galatians. One of the best commentaries ever written on Galatians was penned by Martin Luther. I’m reading the, Commentary on Galatians, by Martin Luther, published by Fleming H. Revell a Division of Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1924, 1988.

Luther says we need to beat the gospel into our heads, because we are so prone to forget it. I enjoyed beating the gospel into my head today. It is so powerful! The great thing about studying these truths is that it strengthens my heart as well.

On pages 38 and 39 of Luther’s commentary he addresses the fact that Christ has taken our sins. Galatians 1:3-5 says,

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Dave & Dawn with pastor Leo and Gloria Nevarez (they pastor in Rosarito)

Dave & Dawn with pastor Leo and Gloria Nevarez (they pastor in Rosarito)

This is mind-blowing that the God of the universe, Jesus Christ would give himself for our sins. Wow! Christ gave himself for sinners, for those that are unworthy and those that deserve God’s wrath. He didn’t give himself for the religious, the moral, or the righteous. I don’t mean that there is no hope for them. I mean we all are in need of Christ, but if you are relying on being religious, moral or righteous to be justified before God, then you are lost.

A great example of this is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18. The Pharisee thought he was righteous, because of what he did for God. The tax collector was repentant of his sins. He recognized his need for a savior. He said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13b)

The Accuser versus The Gospel

Luther addresses how our enemy seeks to trip us up. The devil seeks to accuse those in Christ saying, “you are a sinner, and therefore you are damned,” p. 38. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus already paid the price. He was damned for us. “Christ was not only given for other men’s sins, but also for yours,” p. 39. It is a personal salvation that we receive when we are in Christ.

There are many benefits to having received the grace of the gospel. Paul at the beginning of the passage speak of grace and peace. Those are two of the many blessings believers receive. Luther states, “there is no fear, but sweetness, joy and peace of conscience,” p. 39. If you feel condemned, if you lack peace it is most likely our enemy the devil deceiving you. Remember he is called the accuser of the brothers. He is the father of lies.

But praise be to God, Jesus defeated Satan on the cross!

In His Grip, Dave

ESL, friends, English as a second or foreign language

Some of our friends at the ESL lunch meeting

Sunday afternoon Dawn and I had a wonderful lunch with our friends who are involved in the ESL ministry. It warmed my heart to be with these dear friends. I love the privilege we have to serve with them.

Our New Endeavor

At our meeting we discussed our goals, how to improve, opportunities, needs, etc. One of the things we decided is to start a third ESL class.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the Lord opened a new door for us at a local elementary school. Now we are ready to walk through that door.

It’s our next new endeavor! An expansion of our ESL ministry.

Seeking to Remove Barriers

This will be the first class that we are not holding on the same campus that a church is on. We believe this will remove what could be a barrier for some people who aren’t quite ready to go to a church, even if it’s just to learn English.

Some of the people we are meeting come from backgrounds that would make it difficult to go to a church, or at least it’s a big barrier for them. For example, one of the people we invited a couple of weeks ago seemed interested, but once we told her that the class was at a church she handed the flyer back to us.

ESL, English as a second or foreign language

One of our Growing ESL classes

We are so excited that we can hold our English class on another campus. This will enable us to reach some new people. Our prayer is that we will be a blessing to the community. The light of the gospel goes forth as we bless the city. The Lord uses this to draw some who are far away to himself.

There are still a few hurdles we have to get over to be able to start the class. I have to fill out some paperwork, and get approved to use a classroom at the school. That is the main hurdle. We also have to promote the class, and pray that people will come.

Thanks so much for standing with us in prayer. When I send out these posts and updates you write back and say you are praying. I know that is a big reason the Lord is blessing. A number of friends are lifting us up in prayer.

Prayer Requests
  1. Pray with our teaching teams as we seek to get more organized and do an even better job teaching English.
  2. We’d like to start up our new class the first week of May.
  3. That the Lord blesses our efforts as we promote the class to get more students.
  4. We could still use at least four more teachers.
  5. We’d like three strong teaching teams.
  6. We need help with childcare, as some of the young mothers come with small children.
  7. Wisdom and direction as to when, who and how we should go about starting up citizenship and GED classes.

We couldn’t do this ministry without a strong team of prayer warriors standing with us!

In His Grip, Dave

ESL, English as a second or foreign language

Our Growing ESL class

It’s So thrilling to see the Lord touching people’s lives here on the border!

Taking Jesus to the Streets

I mentioned in past posts that we’ve been taking Jesus to the streets each week, inviting people to our English class. Vicente and I have been walking the streets in the neighborhood where we hold the ESL class to pass out flyers and to get the word out.

We’ve enjoyed meeting new people, and going back to some of the stores and community centers to see that they have our flyers. Many of the parents in the community don’t speak English. When they go to pick their kids up at the school they have an opportunity to take one of our English class ads.

God is Blessing – People are Coming

The Lord has rewarded our efforts. New people have started coming!

students, ESL, English as a second or foreign language

Students are eager to learn

It’s so wonderful to see the Lord work through his people. He’s provided more teachers which led us to believe that he wants to grow our ESL outreach. Now he’s starting to bring more students. Immigrants and refugees are coming and they are enjoying the class. It’s fun to watch the Lord at work.

When Vicente and I are on the streets, some of the people ask us if we offer GED classes, or citizenship classes. We realize there are more opportunities to minister in the community.

The Lord Hears Our Prayers

I realize one big reason why the Lord is blessing is that many are praying. Thanks so much for standing with us in prayer!

Pray with us for wisdom and God’s blessing as we seek to minister in the community. Some of the things we need for this outreach to grow are more people with the expertise and willingness to teach, and more classroom space to hold the classes.

“Lord, please do bring us workers and provide the classrooms and space for us to expand our reach, so that we might be an even greater blessing to the community. May the light of your gospel shine forth, that many might come to know and serve you.”

In His Grip, Dave

Rodrigo & Nancy, Dawn & Dave, Martha & Abraham (from left to right) pastors, ministers, pastors wives

Rodrigo & Nancy, Dawn & Dave, Martha & Abraham (from left to right)

I have often wondered, who will encourage the pastors? I ask this question in part because I spend a lot of time with pastors. I see them loving and ministering to others, but I realize they also need to be loved on, prayed for and encouraged.

Pastors and their Wives in TJ

Tuesday afternoon the Lord gave us a wonderful blessing. Dawn and I spent the afternoon with two pastors and their wives: Abraham and Martha Velazquez, Rodrigo and Nancy Vallarta. Young couples involved in ministry with Lo Mejor del Trigo in Tijuana.

You might remember that we helped build the church in Pipila where Rodrigo and his wife, Nancy are ministering. They are very encouraged by all the Lord is doing in the church. It’s so good to hear how the gospel is entering into that community.

Abraham leads worship at Lo Mejor del Trigo, the mother church in El Niño, and he is the lead pastor in Rojo Gomez. He is a very gifted young guy, and he’s great to be around. I love Abraham’s smile and energy when he leads worship.

Dawn and I have made it a point to get to know some of the pastors in Tijuana and to love on them, and ask them about their needs. After 24 years in ministry together we’ve learned a few things that we’d like to pass on to our friends who are serving the Lord.

Nancy, Dawn and Martha - pastors wives

Nancy, Dawn and Martha

Ministry Flows out of Relationship

One of my mottos is that ministry flows out of relationship. This is even more true in Mexico. Relationships are so important. You can’t shortcut spending time with people to get to know them better and to learn what their needs are.

If we observe Jesus’s life we see he spent time with people. He saw that the people had needs, and he came preaching the good news of the gospel, which brought healing and hope.

It was a joy to be with these couples. We enjoyed a meal together, and spent time getting to know them. They genuinely appreciated our taking an interest in their well-being.

Martha told us, “It means a lot to us, just knowing that you care for us and that you are willing to be there for us.”

Great Dialogue and Discussion

One of the questions they asked was, “what are some of the most important things you’ve learned in your more than twenty years of ministry?” We talked about the importance of growing deep in grace, being humble and always being a learner among other things.

Abraham asked, “how can you emphasize grace, and yet not encourage people to think they can live however they want to?” That’s a really good question, which led to some great discussion.

After this time with our friends I feel filled up today, my cup is overflowing! Even though we sought to be a blessing to them, we received a huge blessing ourselves. Thank you Jesus!

Join us in praying for our friends who are serving faithfully in Tijuana!

In His Grip, Dave

ESL, Dave and Vicente

Dave with Vicente taking it to the streets each week

Each week we are walking the streets of City Heights to connect with people, and promote our ESL class. Presence and prayer are so important to our work. As people get to know us they feel better about us.

As we are present in the community those we talk to grow to be more comfortable with us. As we pray in the streets we claim the land for Jesus!

We are on a journey with Jesus. Our desire is to follow Christ who grew to have compassion on the people as he lived among them.

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

—Matthew 9:35,36 (ESV)

O, that Christ would radically change us, and affect our heart so that we have compassion for those we meet!

The Lord does minister to us as we reach out to others. Our little group grows in camaraderie each week. The Lord gives us more confidence and boldness as we see him open doors. That’s why it is thrilling to take Jesus to the streets!

We are still walking through the door the he opened when we met the principal of the nearby elementary school.

God has blessed our efforts as we’ve had three new students come to our ESL class in the last two weeks. Thanks so much for holding us up in prayer. The Lord hears the prayers of his people!

This last week Vicente and I ventured into a part of the community where there are many Vietnamese. We left flyers in restaurants and grocery stores. Most people seem pleased to find out we are offering free ESL classes.

Continue to stand with us in prayer that the Lord will guide us and continue to open more doors!

In His Grip, Dave

picture, Display, promotion, marketing

Picture of our present display – What do you think we should change?

I’m trying to upgrade how we communicate and appeal to those in their twenties or early thirties. One of the things I’m doing to connect with students and beyond is visiting colleges, seminaries and churches. I have a display that needs to be updated. That’s what I would like your opinion on.

The display has our old logo and name on it, and I’m not sure it does the best job about communicating who we are, and what we are trying to do here.

display, promotion, marketing

The Display from a different vantage point

There are four panels on the display that can be changed out. Could you look at the picture of the display on this post, and give me your feedback on how you think I can improve it? For example, what kind of pictures should I include?

Our vision is to see a renewed bi-national city. Renewed socially, spiritually and culturally.

It’s also important to keep in mind where we are ministering. We are on the border in the largest bi-national city and most land crossed border crossing in the world, San Diego – Tijuana.

Isaiah 61:1,2, 4 is a passage that speaks to our mission on the border.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound… They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” (ESV)

I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what type of pictures and what short relevant message we can use to communicate well with those in their 20’s and 30’s?

Also, Dawn and I appreciate your prayers that the Lord would raise up faithful and loving, God-fearers who would be willing to join on this journey with Jesus.

In His Grip, Dave

English: Traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Ent...

Traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego-Tijuana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this past week I was in Tijuana for a pastors’ meeting. On the way back home I stopped at a PEMEX gas station in TJ to get some gas. The woman who was attending my car’s needs (in Mexico they still have gas attendants to fill up your tank for you!) was very friendly.

When she finished filling the car up, I paid her and she asked me if I wanted a receipt. I said, yes. Then she gave me a compliment. She said, “you speak Spanish well.”

I found that to be very encouraging. I guess, in part because even though I’ve spoken Spanish for over 20 years, I feel a little rusty. When I lived in Colorado I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to speak Spanish.

As I drove away from my encounter with the gas station attendant, who I may never meet again, my spirit was lifted. It made me think about the power of a good word. Even when we speak a positive word of encouragement to those we don’t know, the Lord can use it to lift them up.

pastors, Daniel Nuñez, Lo Mejor del Trigo, Tijuana

Pastors’ meeting with Daniel Nuñez at Lo Mejor del Trigo in Tijuana

Since I’ve moved to the San Diego – Tijuana border I’ve met with a number of pastors and Christian workers, and some of them are discouraged. All of them need encouragement along the way.

Even as I read other people’s blog posts I notice that many share how they are discouraged. Some feel they have to defend themselves, because of the negative words of others.

I was surprised and disheartened to see an example of this the other day on a very good and popular blog site: Bucket List Publications. The author of this site, Lesley, has encouraged me along the way, so it’s disappointing to learn that she is getting some negative feedback.

Many are weighed down by the worries this world brings upon them. God can use us to lift the load, and to carry one another’s burdens. Yes, there is power in the words that we speak! Power for good or evil.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” —Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)

“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” —Proverbs 15:23 (ESV)

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” —Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)

—emphasis mine!

Why not choose to be a blessing to others? Why not bring words of healing and hope?

Pemex, gas station attendant, Mexico

Pemex gas station attendant in Mexico (photo credit:

If something as simple as a gas station attendant complimenting me on my Spanish could lift me up, just think how the Lord can use you if you are intentional and listening to him. Seek to speak words of healing and hope today!

I so appreciate all those that like my posts, and those that take the time to write an encouraging comment! A heartfelt shout out to you!

Hey – if you have an encouraging story to tell, I’d love to hear it!

In His Grip, Dave

Avenida Revolución has many open bars, pharmac...

Avenida Revolución has many open bars, pharmacies, and curio shops that attract many tourists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USA Today reported on February 6th that crime related murder in Mexico was down 21% in 2012. It’s a very encouraging trend!  

In the Mexican border states the improvement is even more pronounced – it’s down 32%. This is actually the first time there has been a drop in drug crime related murders since 2007.

It’s not pleasant to write about all the murder and crime committed in Mexico, but it does give us hope that things are changing.

The USA Today article addresses the problem of the negative perception that many still have of the border. Perception affects even the church’s willingness to get involved.

“But as police regain control of the cities and violence begins to dissipate, people throughout the border region face the next challenge: changing the perception of violence.”

The article goes on to discuss the importance of the relationship between San Diego and Tijuana.

“The importance of the cross-border trade is so important that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is opening a municipal office in Tijuana. He and Bustamante, the Tijuana mayor, are also installing phone on their desks that ring directly to each other.”

“‘Our future is tied together in so many ways — economically, environmentally,'” said Filner, who spent 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives serving Southern California before winning the mayoral election in November. “‘We live in a binational community, but we don’t act like it.'”

You can read the rest of the article here…

God has not forgotten the border!

Check out our prayer page – I just updated it. The prayers of our faithful friends is essential. It’s like the air that we breath is to our health.

In His Grip, Dave

Sanborns, Dave, Marcos

Dave and Marcos enjoying a wonderful meal in Sanborns

Wow! I feel super sentimental to be in a Sanborns today after so many years!

On the one hand there isn’t anything inherently special about Sanborns. The food is above average and they usually have a small store attached with a variety of items. You are usually going to pay top dollar, or in this case top peso for your purchases.

What makes it special is all the memories. All the breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings with family, friends and ministry partners. It’s one of the few restaurants that you can find in most major cities in Mexico. I guess, they are kind of like Starbucks in that they are good places to meet and grab a cup of coffee or a meal when you want to meet with somebody.

Even though I’ve been in Mexico and Tijuana numerous times now, I’m still getting to know the city. An example of this is that I got lost on my way back home trying to find the Sentri border crossing.

Marcos, buffet, Sanborns

Marcos with our waitress and the spread – a buffet today!

Another thing I had yet to do was to visit Sanborns. It brings back a flood of memories. I’m very content with where the Lord has us now, but that’s not to say I don’t miss some of the friends and things I had in Mexico City.

The Lord blessed my time in Sanborns today, apart from my sentimental experience I met with pastor Marcos Gomez. Marcos is a relatively new friend. He is one of the pastor’s from Lo Mejor Del Trigo. It was great to get to know him better, and to talk about his ministry needs.

We pray that the Lord will bless and grown his church!

In His Grip, Dave

English: An Italian immigrant makes an America...

English: An Italian immigrant makes an American breakfast aided by instructional materials from the YMCA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow! We had a great day yesterday. God opened a door for us, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Vicente, Billy, Matt and I walked the streets in City Heights to promote our ESL class. Our hope is that the ESL outreach will grow. The Lord is blessing us with a number of volunteers. Friends that are willing to help teach. This gives us reason to believe God is in this.

While we were handing out flyers and inviting people to come to our ESL class we noticed a local elementary school was ready to end the day. The parents began gathering to pick up their children.

Many of the parents don’t speak English, so it was a prime time and place to be.

ESL, Dave and Vicente

Dave with Vicente

Vicente met one of the teachers and explained to her what we were doing. We asked the teacher, Jessica if we might be able to put up one of our flyers on a bulletin board inside the school. She introduced us to the principal. The principal got very excited when we told her we were offering English classes for free. She said, these parents need some help like this.

We were very encouraged that the principal was open to putting up the flyers, and helping us promote the class. I was really blown away by what she said next. She said that she thought we could use her school after 6:00 in the evening to hold our classes. This is a huge answer to prayer! One of the problems we’ve had is the place we are using is only available in the evenings on Fridays. Thank you Jesus for opening this door!

We have to fill out some paperwork to be able to use a classroom, but it looks positive. Thanks for praying with us. It’s so fun being on journey with Jesus.

“O Lord, please bring more students and work through us to effectively love those in the community of City Heights.”

In His Grip, Dave