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March 9, 2011

Mexico is at War
Soldiers patrol the road to Ciudad Mier.
Soldiers patrol the road to Ciudad Mier.
Ciudad Mier is just one of many Mexican cities currently protected by heavily armed military.
Ciudad Mier is just one of many Mexican cities currently protected by heavily armed military.
Bullet holes mark a building in Ciudad Mier, a constant reminder of unrest.
Bullet holes mark a building in Ciudad Mier, a constant reminder of unrest.

By Mike Richardson

As believers we are called to be a servant of the living God! We are called to be Christ-like in our attitudes, our actions, and even our thoughts. The servant is the lowest of a household, yet being a servant of the living God is the highest calling that anyone can realize.

Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

You may never be called into long-term foreign missions, but every believer must develop a missions mindset—for yourself, for your family, and for your church. The Great Commission is not just an option to consider; it is a command that we must obey.

Mexico is currently at war with the drug gangs, the mafia, and other violent outlaws. It is a real war, much like the ones that have been fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet there is another war that is raging within the borders of Mexico—a war for the hearts, lives, minds, and souls of men. This is a spiritual battle that began in the heavens and has moved down to the earth. Satan isn’t holding anything back in this battle. He is fighting to win.

Many believers are simply sitting on the sidelines watching life pass them by. We, as believers, must be holy, set apart, for the work of God. When the Bible talks about something as being set apart, it is set apart by a touch of the Master’s hand. It is the Master’s touch that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary—the common into the exceptional. Are you ready to be touched by the hand of the living God?

We, as believers, must not hold anything back. We must give it our all. We must fight the good fight. We must be found faithful in our service for the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We must go where he leads us. We must do what he calls us to do—without hesitation—without wavering. It is time that we take a personal inventory of our lives:

  • In the use of our time
  • In the way that we use our money
  • In the way that we speak
  • In the way we do our work
  • In the way we treat others
  • And in the way that we worship a living God

We must not only take inventory; we must also be willing to change—be willing to make our lives conform to the truth of Scripture. We need to stop using others as our point of comparison and use the word of God as our measuring stick. When we do that, we will see ourselves for what we really are—dirty sinners standing before a holy and just God. It is then and only then that God will be able to transform our lives through the powerful touch of the Master's hand.

I would like to use a recent event in my life to help you see how God uses events in the world to call us to reach the lost. I will do my best to try and accurately describe these events although I am not sure that I really have the words to express the deep emotion that I have felt. I have witnessed heartbreak, fear, terror and needs that are far beyond anything that I have ever seen in my life.

A Living Example

On Sunday, at the end of the service at our church, Lucio prayed for my safety and for the souls of the military men that I planned to visit. Then I drove from my home in rural Mexico to Monterrey. During that drive I was stopped at three different inspection stations by the Federal Police. My son, Joshua, and I were able to talk with an officer at each of the stops along the way as well as pass out some literature to each of them.

When we arrived in Monterrey, I picked up some Bibles to distribute to the soldiers. The man who gave them to me said, “Mike, if you need more just ask. I will give you all the Bibles that you need.” God is good. He always provides for our needs.

Since risks are greater at night, I decided to spend Sunday night in on the outskirts of Monterrey. I left Monterrey Monday morning to continue my trek toward Ciudad Mier. I made five strategic stops before arriving in Ciudad Mier. The police were manning two of the roadblocks. They were very open to what I had to say. The military that were strategically staged outside the city were also willing to listen to the Gospel. I spoke with Sergeant Medina for well over an hour. He not only shared his fears and concerns with me; he also shared his hopes and dreams that he had for his children. He asked me for literature for the 30 men in his platoon.

The environment within the city limits was the most somber setting that I have ever seen. The heavily armed military made up about 20% of the current population. The reception that these soldiers gave me was very different from the others. They would not speak to me at all. I finally came to the conclusion that they were under orders not to speak with the civilian population. So I left them to their job of protecting the people and turned my attention to the civilians in the area.

The general population was very sober and sad. Dismal might be a better word to describe the outlook of these people. Over 300 families have abandoned their homes and moved to other towns. Those who are left are not only struggling with the emotions of having their homes shot up, looted and robbed, but are also dealing with the fact that many of their neighbors, friends, and relatives have been killed, kidnapped, or maimed.

When a grandmother, who was sitting in the center of town, told me that there had been two Christian churches in town but that the pastors had left months ago when the violence started, I wanted to cry. In the time of greatest need, in the time of deepest hurt, in the time of the greatest potential harvest, there appears to be no Christian witness in the town.

As I was driving out of the city I began to cry and pray. “Lord, this place is ripe for the harvest. Lord, these people need you. Lord, where are the laborers?”

Luke 10:2, “Therefore said he unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Oh Lord, who will go preach your word to the lost and dying world? Lord, send workers—send laborers. People are living and dying here. The bullet holes that riddle nearly every home, the burnt-out police station, the destroyed cars, show clearly that life is not only brief but that it is also uncertain.

With tears in my eyes, I must ask, “If not you, then who will go?”

I have always said that I would be willing to give my life for the cause of Christ. We heard on the radio last week that another pastor went to this area over a week ago and has not been heard from since.

The truth is that it is pretty easy to say, “I am willing to lay down my life for the advancement of the Kingdom.” It is still relatively easy to go to an area where there is danger and believe that God will protect you. But it is a powerfully emotional issue to actually go where the one who went before you really did lay down his life.

The greatest likelihood is that you will read this writing and be moved—perhaps even to tears and then you will lay it aside and do absolutely nothing else about it. But that is not the way God meant it to be.

Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

I believe that we are in a spiritual warfare for the hearts, lives, and souls for our Mexican brothers, yet we do absolutely nothing. Oh Lord, how can it be? Oh Lord, don’t let it be. Oh Lord, would you send me?

We, as believers, must become mission-minded. There is no other option for a true believer. Ask God to open your heart and your mind to the ways that he wants you to get involved in missions—in the hearts and lives of people.

Get Inspired

Begin by reading biographies of missionaries. Read newsletters and reports written by missionaries who are living and working on the mission field today. When a missionary is traveling in your area, invite them for a meal or to spend the night. Ask them questions about how they were saved, how God called them to missions and what they are doing on the mission field. Ask them to tell you stories of God’s faithfulness. Be sure and include your children. Let them ask questions, too. Ask them to tell you about how they live and what they do—day to day. If you have the nerve, ask them to tell you all their “gross food stories.” They will likely have many of them. You will not only laugh with them as they tell the stories, but you will also be grossed out by details—yet these stories will help make missions “come to life” at your table. Look for examples of missions at the library and on the internet.

Many missionaries are beginning to use Facebook, websites, and other modern technology to keep in touch. Ask for their contact information.

Find practical ideas that will help your family develop a missions mindset. Do all you can to impart to yourself, your family, and friends a passion for missions—a deep burning fire that cannot be extinguished.

Prepare to Go

Prayer changes things. Pray regularly. We must develop a deep, intimate relationship with our Lord through prayer or we will fail miserably at our task of reaching the lost. Live frugally, give generously, save the rest.

Try different foods. Learn to eat everything—even green peas. Ask God for grace.

When You Go

Live among the people. Play with them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Be with them. Develop deep long-lasting relationships. Dig deep into their hearts and lives. It is easy to look down on people from the protection of our home, yet Psalms 1:1 tells us not to sit in the seat of the scornful.

Psalms 1:1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Do not be afraid—God has not given us a spirit of fear. The goal of a missionary—long or short term—is not to be martyred for Christ! It is to go and reach people and come back. Then go again and reach more people.

International travel can be dangerous. Some may, in fact, be martyred—but that is not our objective. Yes, there are risks involved but we must still go. A profound desire to do the will of the one whom we serve must become the ultimate reason for doing the things that we do—for going the places that we go-for saying the things that we say.

Practical Ways to Help

Pray regularly for missionaries.

Look for people around you who are burdened. Then find practical ways to help lift that burden from their shoulders.

Sponsor a child through a reputable organization that is providing not only food but also instruction in righteousness.

Help missionaries who live in rural communities by buying a goat, chicken, cow to help a local family.

Help missionaries who live in cooler climates by buying a propane heater and tank for a local family.

Give regularly to international missions. Look for a mission family who is doing a good work that you feel comfortable supporting. It is best, in my opinion, to give to the front line missionaries who are making a difference in the day to day lives of the people. A missions-minded family is focused on eternity, not on the cares of today.

Matthew 6:19–20, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

Go on a short-term mission trip as a church or as a family. Take your children, even the younger ones, on the trip. Use your practical skills to help the missionary with his work. Many times trips do not go as planned. Be flexible.

Due to the increased violence by the drug gangs in Mexico, the number of short-term missionaries has been reduced to nearly zero. This fact has impacted—negatively—the work of many missionaries and churches. Do not be afraid to go—God has not given us a spirit of fear. Do not be foolish, be wise, but go.

There are many who are serving as missionaries today who went to the mission field later in life. Consider going to the field yourself as a long-term missionary.

I want to conclude by sharing a truth with you—not new truth—just truth.

In John 17:18 Jesus prayed, “You have sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world.” Jesus in his wisdom has sent us into the world—not to be conformed to the world but to transform the world as he has transformed us.

Romans 12:1–2, “I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.“

God works through ordinary people and life’s circumstances to bring others to Christ. The key is to know God and his word. We must study his book well. It will give us strong faith. And when faith is strong, everything is strong.

I believe that God is calling his people to a complete dedication to the Lord. There is joy and fulfillment that comes from that dedication.

God uses people—ordinary people—to bring others to Himself. We must be diligent in sharing the gospel with those around us—faithful in the little things. Hudson Taylor said, “A little thing is a little thing—but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing.”

God is calling his people to live a holy and sanctified life of service. We must be open and available to serve were He calls us—to go where he leads us. The person that is living a holy and sanctified life will be conscious of God’s forgiveness and will be diligent in eliminating every element of sin from their lives. They will be ready to say, “Here I am Lord; use me and guide me in the way that you think is best.” There is not a better way to use our time than to use it for God’s glory. There is nothing better than and there is nothing bigger than our God. He is our life, our hope and our joy. To follow after anything else is simply crazy. Examine your heart. Eliminate the trivial things that are taking your time and energy. Follow God, the creator of the universe, with a whole heart. I believe there are those reading this today who are feeling the call of God. Seek him diligently—ask him to help you find the people to whom he is calling you.

In following God you might get discouraged—feeling unappreciated and perhaps a lot more. Sometimes depression may come, but God is good. It is time like these that God will send a little note of encouragement—a small nugget of truth from his word. Perhaps something like—“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Mike Richardson is the father of 10 children whose ages range from 34 to 2. He is also a missionary, a pastor, a conference speaker, an author, publishes the Spanish home school magazine, El Hogar Educador, publishes books, CDs, DVDs in Spanish for the family, and organizes four national home school conferences in Mexico. For more information about the homeschool movement in Latin America or the Richardsons contact Vida Nueva Ministries 1001 South 10th Street, Suite G-529, McAllen, TX 78501 USA,, U.S. cell phone 770-713-9053.