Archive for August, 2014

Church Planter Training
Dave & Ivan in Monterrey, Mexico

Dave & Ivan in Monterrey, Mexico

Today we are finishing up our church planter’s incubator training in Monterrey, Mexico. It’s been a wonderful experience!

This morning pastor Ivan Casados who’s going through the training told me that it’s not only met, but exceeded his expectations. That is good news. Ivan is the first pastor from Tijuana that we’ve had go through this training. Our hope is that one day soon we will hold the training in Tijuana, which will help us tremendously in building a stronger church planting movement.

We are seeing a number of churches planted in Tijuana, but there is still a need for more and better preparation and training for our church planters.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about the church planting incubator is the variety of the types of men that are here. There are guys from different denominational backgrounds. Some are full-time pastors, some are bi-vocational pastors, some are not yet pastoring.

The Lord is using this to better prepare these men, but also to lift up their vision for the great need for church planting in Mexico.

Praying for La Paz
Church planting incubator

Church planting incubator

We’ve prayed for a church planter for La Paz, Baja California. La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur. There aren’t any Reformed churches presently in this city. We do have a candidate here that is considering working with us and leading the church plant in La Paz.

He’s still in the beginning process of praying with his wife about where the Lord is calling them, so I won’t mention his name. Please join us in prayer for him and his wife. Pray that the Lord will raise up the right person for the job.

Hope for New Church Planting Projects
Praying for the cities we represent for new churches and renewed cities

Praying for the cities we represent for new churches and renewed cities

While I’ve been here I’ve also been able to work on developing new church planting projects for Tijuana and Ensenada. It starts with the vision and prayer. As I get ready to fly back home later today, I leave with more hope for the future. The Lord is giving me greater hope and a renewed vision for reaching people through starting churches on the border and in the Baja.

Thanks so much for praying with us! I know the Lord hears our prayers. There’s so many things that have to come together for these projects to get off the ground that I am continually reminded if the Lord doesn’t build the house our labor is in vain.

O Lord, we don’t want our labor to be in vain. Build your church!

In HIs Grip, Dave

Training for Church Planters
Dave with Pastor Ivan

Dave with Pastor Ivan on the foundation for the new church plant – taken before we built the church

Pastor Ivan Casados and I are in Monterrey, Mexico for church planting training with other Mexican church planters. I’m grateful that Ivan can go through this training, and that I can be here with him. The Lord has given us an opportunity to learn together.

Our hope is that through this training Ivan will be better equipped to plant his church with Lo Mejor del Trigo in Ribera del Bosque. Ivan and his wife, Rocio are off to a good start. They have doubled in size growing from 30 to 60 since April.

We praise the Lord for his good work through them!

A Great Opportunity!

It is a great opportunity for us to work with Mission to the World’s (MTW) Monterrey team. The Church Planting Center, which are Monterrey team operates is a great resource for us. The team here is more advanced in some areas than we are on the border, so I want to learn from them and collaborate with them.

As we work with the team in Monterrey our ministry on the border and the Baja will be able to advance in providing training for church planters. I’m also partnering with the Monterrey team to develop mentoring/coaching for our church planters.

Coming Alongside Our Church Planters
Monterrey, Mexico

Monterrey, Mexico

Our church planters are great people who love the Lord, but they need support. Most people who are starting new churches flounder if they don’t have any type of training or coaching, We desire to see our churches and the leaders of our churches thrive.

One of the things I’ve learned in my years of ministry is that it is not easy to work in partnership with other ministries. It seems that there are many obstacles, and one of the principle ones can be our ego.

On the other hand, it is powerful when God’s people come together for the kingdom. I believe this is one of the reasons it’s so hard to pull it off. The enemy seeks to derail kingdom work.

Join Us In Prayer

Dawn and I covet your prayers as we attempt to develop this training for our work on the border and the Baja. We realize we are a target. We need for the Lord to guide us and protect as we seek to see the advance of the kingdom. Ultimately we want to see the church grow for the glory of God. We pray that many will call on the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In His Grip, Dave


The Need of Many Pastors
Dawn with Rocio and Ivan

Dawn with Rocio and Ivan

I’m excited about seeing pastors equipped to do their work. The pastors I work with our choice men. They love God and they love the people they are serving.

Yet, there is a problem that I see frequently. Many of them have little training. This is especially pronounced when you compare the training they are receiving to what most church planters in the U.S. receive.

Training in Monterrey, Mexico
Some of the pastors that we are working with in Tijuana

Some of the pastors that we are working with in Tijuana

That is one of the reasons I’m stoked that this next week I will be taking our good friend, pastor Ivan Casados to Monterrey Mexico for training on church planting. This will be a time of learning for both of us. We will learn together, and by going with Ivan it enables me to better coach and encourage him.

I am collaborating with our Mission to the World (MTW) team in Monterrey, Mexico. Our team there has developed The Center for Church Planting, which provides training for church planters. My hope is that one day we will be able to offer this training in Tijuana, but we are not there yet. Even though it’s hard to be patient, I know that’s what the Lord is calling us to.

MTW has a wonderful team in Monterrey, and I’m grateful that I get the opportunity to partner with them in ministry. It’s what kingdom work is all about – ministering with and alongside others to see God’s kingdom expand on earth.

This remains our prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. O Lord, Hear our prayer! Hear our cry for help!

In His Grip, Dave

Connecting Pastor Paul Kim and Family in TJ
Paul and Linda Kim and family standing in front of the last church we helped build - the Lo Mejor del Trigo Church in Ribera del Bosque

Paul and Linda Kim and family standing in front of the last church we helped build – the Lo Mejor del Trigo Church in Ribera de Bosque

One of the many things that I love about what I do is introducing others to Mexico and the work we are doing there. Earlier this week I was able to take Pastor Paul Kim, his wife, Linda and their three children into Tijuana. They got to know Tijuana some and the partners we work with.

Pastor Kim is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Diego. Redeemer has brought down groups to build a house, to build a church and to do community outreach. They are valuable partners, and I appreciate their ministry with us in Tijuana.

An Uplifting Time!

It was wonderful to be able to introduce Paul and Linda Kim to the pastors we are working with from Lo Mejor del Trigo. God used the trip to touch the hearts of the Kims, and it gave them an opportunity to minister and encourage some of the pastors.

Daniel Nuñez along with four other pastors joined us. They shared stories about what God is doing in their community and through their church. We visited two churches, one in Ribera de Bosque and one in Rojo Gomez. It was an uplifting time.

Praying for and Encouraging Pastors
Paul and Linda Kim with the pastors from Lo Mejor del Trigo

Paul and Linda Kim with the pastors from Lo Mejor del Trigo

Some of the things that I most enjoyed about our time was being able to pray together for the pastors and their work. The other time that was especially encouraging was sharing a meal together and sharing in the interaction that went on between the Kims and the pastors present. They asked some wonderful questions.

I pray that God will use this trip to make a lasting imprint on Paul and Linda Kim and their family and the pastors that they met. I also pray that God will use it to aid our partnership with Redeemer and the connection between Redeemer and Lo Mejor del Trigo.

God works in powerful ways as churches and ministries come together and join forces for the kingdom.

In His Grip, Dave

Jacob T. Griffiths – A Life Well Lived
Scott Griffiths sharing at the memorial service for his son, Jacob. Turi Nuñez translated for Scott

Scott Griffiths sharing at the memorial service for his son, Jacob. Turi Nuñez translated for Scott

Sunday afternoon Dawn and I attended a memorial service that our friends from Lo Mejor del Trigo in Tijuana held for Jacob Griffiths. It was a moving and heart warming service. Scott Griffiths, Jacob’s dad was there and Susan Griffiths, Jacob’s step mom.

Dawn and I never met Jacob, but we do know Scott. Jacob lived 32 years. He packed a lot in to those years, and even though his life was cut short he lived it to the fullest.

Jacob loved the Lord and he served him in Mexico and other places in Orange County where he lived and around the world as he had opportunity to travel. We mourn his loss, and we hurt for the family. I can’t imagine losing one of my children. He also was a husband, and his wife is pregnant with their first child. A baby boy on the way. That’s the sting of death. It’s painful.

Our prayers go out for this family.

Even in this tragic loss, there is hope. Dawn and I were encouraged to see how the Lord is ministering to Scott. He is sad, but God is giving him and his family hope.

Christ Gives Us Hope in Loss

It was wonderful to hear all the beautiful testimonies and words of encouragement from all the pastors with Lo Mejor del Trigo. Even though it was a memorial service it was a hope filled service.

God reminded me that Christ takes away the sting of death for those that are in Christ. I shared from 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 when I had a chance to share with Scott and Susan the others in attendance. It’s a passage that gives us courage as we are confronted with the reality of death.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” —1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭54-57‬ ESV

Dawn and I pray that the Lord will continue to comfort Scott and Susan and Jacob’s widow and other friends and family members who are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. I’m grateful the Good Shepherd promises to be with them though out the journey.

Scott & Susan’s Faithful Service
The people of Lo Mejor del Trigo comforting Scott and Susan after the service

The people of Lo Mejor del Trigo comforting Scott and Susan after the service

Scott and his family are special friends and partners in the ministry with Daniel Nuñez and Lo Mejor del Trigo. Scott has led numerous trips from his church, Mariners in Irvine. In the last couple of years we’ve gotten to know Scott as he’s organized some of the building projects we’ve done with Lo Mejor del Trigo and Harbor church in Tijuana.

Susan Griffiths coordinates the sponsorship program for over 300 children in Tijuana. Both Scott and Susan have served tirelessly on the border. God has used them to be a blessing to many. We pray for the Lord’s blessing and comfort as they mourn. O Lord, please do wrap your loving arms around them, and encourage them along the way!

In His Grip, Dave



Blessed by God’s Servants
Dave with Pastor Jaime Rodriguez

Dave with Pastor Jaime Rodriguez

The Lord blesses Dawn and me richly as we connect with the pastors and the pastors’ wives that we serve alongside in TJ. I know that it encourages them to have our support, but it also enriches us. We always come away marveling in some way about what God is doing, and grateful for the special people that he has given to us to work with.

Earlier in the week Pastor Jaime Rodriguez and I got together. He was helping get my car fixed, which was a huge need I had. My need gave us an opportunity to get together.

Sowing the Seed of the Gospel

One of the things I love about Jaime is his passion for sharing the gospel and his desire to equip others to share their faith.

We spent most of the morning talking about outreach at his church and some of the other churches in the Lo Mejor del Trigo network. Jaime is a gifted evangelist. He builds relationships with new people and then shares the gospel with them.

One of the keys to having a growing church is sowing the seed. If you don’t plant the seed, you can’t expect a harvest. Just as this is true in farming, it is the same in regards to the gospel.

God Gives the Fruit
Pastor Abraham Velazquez and Martha with Dawn and Dave

Pastor Abraham Velazquez and Martha with Dawn and Dave

God causes the growth, but he uses us, his people to plant and water. I’m so grateful that we can minister with friends like Jaime, and discuss tools and strategies for reaching the lost.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. —1 Corinthians 3:6,7

I’m also grateful that the growth is not dependent on us. God has to do it!

Pray with us!

O Lord, I do pray for a bountiful harvest. I pray that we will be faithful to plant the seed of the gospel and that your Spirit will touch the lives of the people. That we will see many come to Christ!

In His Grip, Dave


John Kyle, Cameron Townsend and Wycliffe
During his 50 years as director-mentor of SIL members around the world, Townsend traveled a great deal. Here we see him enjoying a visit with members of a minoritygroup of Papua New Guinea (1969)

During his 50 years as director-mentor of SIL members around the world, Townsend traveled a great deal. Here we see him enjoying a visit with members of a minority group of Papua New Guinea (1969)

Recently the Lord re-connected me with John Kyle, the former coordinator for Mission to the World (MTW). John also spent several years as a vice president for Intervarsity and one of the key leaders for Wycliffe.

Wycliffe Bible translators actually began there first works in Mexico. Cameron Townsend, the founder and president of Wycliffe ministered among the poor indigenous tribal people in remote areas of Mexico.

Townsend meets President Cardenas
(Left-right) Lazaro Cardenas, Mrs. Cardenas, Mrs. Townsend, and W. Cameron Townsend on the Townsend's wedding day. Mexico Cardenas Museum Waxhaw, Union County

(Left-right) Lazaro Cardenas, Mrs. Cardenas, Mrs. Townsend, and W. Cameron Townsend on the Townsend’s wedding day. Mexico Cardenas Museum
Waxhaw, Union County

While Uncle Cam (as many called Townsend) was working with the people the president of Mexico was Lazaro Cardenas. Cardenas took a keen interest in the rights and needs of the poor indigenous people in Mexico. He learned of Townsend’s work and came to visit him. The president was impressed when he saw how much Uncle Cam was helping the people.

Cardenas told Townsend that he wanted 50 more people like him to come work with the indigenous people. That’s how their friendship developed.

The president aided Townsend in his work. It’s an amazing story when you think about it. It reminds me some of Daniel dealing with the Kings of his day, although Townsend wasn’t in captivity while he served but they both had a profound influence on the foreign lands that God brought them to.

Cameron Townsend and President Lazaro Cardenas became such good friends that later when Townsend was married Cardenas was his best man. I believe the wedding ceremony or party was held at Cardenas’ house.

Church Plant in Lazaro Cardenas Community
Dave with pastor Jose Luis Rivera and Raquel

Dave with pastor Jose Luis Rivera and Raquel

I bring all this up partly, because it is interesting history. Also, the area of the city where our friends, pastor Jose Luis Rivera and his wife, Raquel are working is called, Lazaro Cardenas. It has been a tough community to break into.

John Kyle gave me a book, Lazaro Cardenas: Mexican Democrat written by William Cameron Townsend, that shares the story of Cameron Townsend and Lazaro Cardenas. I’ve talked to Jose Luis about setting up a lunch so we can meet the community leaders in Lazaro Cardenas to share this story and give them the book.

Jose Luis liked the idea, so he is working on setting up a time when we can meet with the community officials. We pray that the Lord will use this to open some doors into Lazaro Cardenas.

Join us in prayer for the Lord to go before Jose Luis and Raquel as they minister in the community of Lazaro Cardenas. We continue to pray for a person of peace, and for God to open doors for the gospel among the people who live there.

We know that nothing is too difficult for our God!

In His Grip, Dave

Continued Opposition in Lazaro Cardenas
Dave with pastor Jose Luis Rivera and Raquel

Dave with pastor Jose Luis Rivera and Raquel

Yesterday I met with Pastor Jose Luis Rivera and his wife Raquel. They are facing tremendous opposition in an area of Tijuana called, Lazaro Cardenas. A witch and a mean-spirited family have set out to turn the community against them.

Jose Luis and Raquel have been doing prayer walks and sharing the love of Christ in the neighborhood. The people are receptive to the message, but they don’t end up coming to church.

Pray for a Person of Peace

We talked about various things, but one of the things that I encouraged them to pray for is a person of peace. A person in the community that is influential that can open doors for them.

When Jesus sent out the 72 in Luke 10 he encouraged them to look for a person of peace.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. —Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭5-6‬ ESV

Join us in praying for a person of peace! Pray that the Lord will open avenues for the gospel to enter in. We know that sometimes the ground is harder, and it takes more time for the gospel to penetrate the hard soil.

Yet nothing is too difficult for the Lord, so we look to him to work. Pray also for the Lord to encourage Jose Luis and Raquel. It’s discouraging when you work and you see little tangible fruit. O that the Lord, would strengthen them and give them wisdom as they serve in the Lazaro Cardenas community.

Pastor Leo – Praying for Healing
Pastor Leo in the middle with the green shirt, and his wife, Gloria is behind him to the right with Jose Luis and Raquel and a young couple from Leo's church

Pastor Leo in the middle with the green shirt, and his wife, Gloria is behind him to the right with Jose Luis and Raquel and a young couple from Leo’s church

After I met with Jose Luis and Raquel we visited pastor Leo and Gloria. You might remember that pastor Leo was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his kidney. He is waiting on the hospital to schedule the surgery.

God is working in Leo and strengthening him. He is upbeat and positive. After the doctor’s warning about needing to take better care of himself, Leo has started to eat better and to exercise. He’s already lost some weight!

We are trusting the Lord with Leo for God’s intervention and healing. While we were there we gathered around Leo and we prayed for him. We cried out to our loving and gracious God and asked him to bring healing – to remove the cancerous tumor. O Lord, hear our prayer!

In His Loving Grip, Dave