Posted on August 1, 2019 A Journey with “Topes”
The more obstacles you have, the more opportunities there are for God to do something. ~ Clarence W. Jones
by Rev. John Simmons – Former Associate Executive Minister of Mission and Administration of the West Virginia Baptist Convention. 

It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  In the mountains of Chiapas, México a journey of 100 miles begins with the first tope.  Tope in México means speed bump. And in Chiapas one can find roads with more than 300 in a 100-mile trip.  In the US one can travel 100 miles along the interstate in 90 minutes.  Here in Chiapas the trip is more than four hours.

When Juan and Denise first came to Chiapas, they met with leaders to discuss their needs.  The Tseltal leaders requested to be trained and equipped to do Christ’s work.  Juan worked with them to develop topics that they desired covered over the next two years.  

Recently Rev. John and Lisa Simmons visited the Aragon’s to encourage them in their work.  Krystal and Henry Ramirez traveled with the Simmons to spend time, not only with Juancito and Ziba, but to visit their grandparents who live in the mountains near the Guatemalan border.  While Lisa took the kids to visit family for the weekend, John taught a seminar on the book of Acts.

In the book of Acts there are many obstacles (topes) that must be overcome for the Gospel to spread.  Fear, language, prejudice, funding, geography, opposition… and the list goes on.  One can easily make the case that these same obstacles still challenge mission today. But as we learn from Acts, there are no barriers to the movement of God’s Spirit! God’s work, God’s will, will be accomplished.

In spite of all of the obstacles; in spite of all of the challenges; in spite of hardship, persecution, and imprisonment; we find in the final verse of Acts Paul preaching the Gospel in Rome “openly and unhindered.” (Acts 28:31)

A missionary’s life is filled with topes. Juan’s recent health issues being one. This was a huge speed bump on the journey as it stopped Juan from traveling to the communities.  The recent trip to Yajalón was the first in two months.  While waiting for clearance to travel, Juan spent time calling partners to encourage them in their work.  The churches in the communities made Juan’s health concerns a matter of prayer. It is evident that there is a mutual love and support between the churches and the Aragons.  Some of the indigenous churches have voluntarily taken “love offerings” to help with the medical expenses and extra travel.  

August 6 and 12 are important days when Juan will visit the specialist in Mexico City to determine diagnosis and treatment.  Please make this a matter of prayer!

Another recent tope is that IM has informed the missionaries that their support goals must increase.  Costs have increased and so too, must support.  Please pray about your support and do what you can to increase it for next year.  Please share what God is doing with others and invite them to join the Aragon´s work in Chiapas to empower and equip God’s people for God’s mission.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Let the work we do together be unhindered as it is empowered by the Holy Spirit.