We had a baptismal service on the last Sunday of April. We were able to do this on the roof of the four-story building where our largest mission meets, using our portable, outdoor baptistry. We baptized 8 believers (6 men and two ladies) and have another 8-10 candidates that we hope to baptize this fall. This mission is still saving money and looking to purchase a permanent meeting place. The zoning restrictions make this a very expensive but not unreachable goal. They hope to buy something in the 500-750,000 dollar range.
The new Bible Institute here in the City is off to a good start. The attendance has held up with over 50 men attending each weeknight session. These are new students and with few exceptions have no theological preparation. The monthly Institute studies in Merida, Guatemala City and Managua continue to progress. I returned last Saturday night from Guatemala and have a special two-day conference scheduled for the 23-24 of this month in Cuernavaca. Then I will be traveling the following two weeks to Merida and Guatemala.
Many of you know that we recently had another unhappy experience with the Mexican police and judicial system. Our oldest son Mark hit a lady (pedestrian) who jumped out in front of him while on his way to work. The traffic was bumper to bumper and Mark was barely moving. The woman was not seriously injured but the police sent her to the hospital anyway. I was leaving on an early flight to Guatemala at the time and was assured that everything would be settled without any further consequences. When I arrived in Guatemala I learned that Mark had been detained and the lady was pretending to be in bad shape We discovered later that this was not the first time she had jumped in front of a moving car. All this set in motion a sequence of events that included the police refusing to accept the medical studies and doctor report that confirmed that she was OK (they claimed the studies were falsified), the judicial authorities refusing to allow her to sign a release for Mark, and the insurance company failing in their attempt to get him out on bond. Mark ended up spending the night locked up in dangerous circumstances and was not finally released until about midnight the next day.
What usually happens in these situations is that the police manipulate the incident as a means to kidnap people and hold them hostage until someone pays for their release. The authorities were very angry because we did not bribe them or pay a ransom for Mark, (apparently they were counting on a 10-15,000 dollar bribe) and so they subsequently held his car ‘hostage’ for three weeks.
This is the fourth time that we have been through an ordeal similar to this in the last three years. The difference this time was that I was out of the country and our political contacts (who are usually necessary to force the issue) were also out of the country. Pastor German, our son Luke, and various brethren were of great help in keeping Mark safe and dealing wisely with the situation. We are also very thankful for many who prayed for Mark and for a resolution to this ordeal. We all learned some important lessons and are thankful to the Lord for his deliverance.
We are finishing up this week with the translation on the next part of the Baptist Catechism by Pastor Bill Downing. The first volume has been well received. Some of our workers are using the outlines for teaching and many believers are studying it for their own personal edification. This is a very helpful title that will be published in 7 or 8 smaller booklets.
Mission work always includes the ongoing preaching, systematic teaching, translation and publishing of sound materials, training of national workers and pastors, along with never-ending evangelism; all in the context of the humanly impossible task of planting self-supporting, independent churches. We are grateful for the privilege of working with you in this gracious, divinely ordained endeavor.
Missionary Tom Montgomery and Family