International Ministries

Gerardo’s Rap (The things we do for love...)

October 18, 2009 Journal
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“I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some”

                                                                                  1st Corinthians 9:22 NRSV


As I write to you, I have to tell you what happened last Sunday night. As you know, Mercy and I teach classes at the Seminary. We are so excited about a Nuevas Obras (New Church Planting) class we give on Tuesday nights. This class is intentionally designed for lay people who have an interest in planting churches, but are not able to attend Seminary full time.


One of our students is Gerardo. Gerardo is a general contractor. In fact, he contracted to build the Administrator’s house years ago at the Seminary, and did a very nice job of it. For years, he did not have contact with the seminary, but recently felt a call to plant a church.


Gerardo explained that he had been happy being a general contractor, and he had more work than he could handle. But he recently married, and he and his wife started sharing about Christ with (her) their extended family. Immediately, there was an interest, and several accepted Christ. The new believers had no real church background at all. Gerardo though about incorporating them into a local church, but realized that God might be calling him to start a church, and use the family to reach others later on.


He invited us to participate last Sunday night. Having had Gerardo in our class, and hearing him talk about the new plant in his homework, we were curious as to what we may find. You need to know that not every work that has been described to us as vibrant and flourishing by the planter has been experienced by us that way. Once we heard a planter go on and on about his congregation, only to go and see that the congregation consisted of himself, his wife and children and a sister in law. So we go everywhere we do with eyes wide open.


And we were pleasantly surprised to see what we saw. In this work of four weeks, we saw several children go to their Sunday School class. We heard good quality music, especially a wonderfully touching solo by a lady in torn jeans and a T-shirt who had a voice we don’t often (enough) experience in our work. We saw very amiable people, and we had a pretty mean bowl of Pozole after worship, too!


But the thing that struck me the most was Gerardo’s rap. Right now, rap music is pretty popular with teens in our part of Mexico. Gerardo explained that he was going to do a rap song even though he didn’t like rap music at all. Now this was a serious effort, not trying to make fun of rap or its listeners. He did this to model to his congregation something very important. In order to reach teens, you need to be willing and able to navigate their culture. In a broader sense, in order to reach anyone for Christ, it is necessary to be able to relate to them “where they are at,” even if it is way out of our comfort zone. It was not, ahem, the most professionally done song I have ever heard. But the point was well delivered and taken. As the old 10CC song recounts the things we do for the love of another human being, Gerardo demonstrated the lengths to which we must go to share the love of Christ with others. May we all be encouraged by Gerardo’s lesson.


In Christ’s service, Rick


Family and Ministry Update

By Mercy Gonzalez-Barnes


As the fall season has started our life has gotten busier. We are adjusting to life with one child out of the home. We try to “Skype” every Sunday to keep in touch with Aida. She is doing well, adjusting to University life and learning to manage time and finances. She is just finishing her mid-terms.


Last night, October 13, we went to the monthly School District meeting where Richie was recognized as the student of the month for the 11th grade. He had to be nominated and approved by his teachers. He is currently taking 4 AP classes plus Trigonometry and Art. Needless to say we are very proud of him. Please keep him in your prayers as he goes this Saturday to take his PSAT. It seems like we just went through all this with one child, “deja vu”.


Joshua is also enjoying his 5th grade class. He just finished a project on Cesar Chaves. I volunteer at his class once a week and I can testify that he is a well behaved young man.


Rick and I continue to work at painting and updating the bedrooms with Rick doing much of the grunt work. I do paint but most of my contribution is in the design aspect. So if you were to visit us today, you would see plenty of “clutter” as the design shows call it. I call it a mess. But we look forward to seeing a complete and beautiful job.


We have also been extremely busy on the ministry front. Rick and I are co-teaching a class on Tuesday nights on New Church Planting which has been lots of fun. The students certainly like the participatory aspect of the class. We’ve visited neighborhood communities, done group dynamics, shared cake and other snacks. Last week the students each shared a map of their communities and what they learned about them. Some of the comments that stand out in my memory were the amount of deaf people in one community, the amount of single mothers in another community; another one had problems with youth and gangs. We are hoping that the students in our class can be a resource to each other.


We have also been visiting new church plants and enjoy seeing the diversity and creativity displayed in them. As described above there was an attempt at rap, another one had a new couple trying out their wings at teaching the adults and children.


The convention with whom we work has also decided to support a missionary from Tijuana to the indigenous population in the Mexican state of Campeche. Her name is Teresita and each church is being encouraged to give to her support. As missionaries, we are proud of their mission effort, and are aware of all that this implies. The churches in Mexicali have also decided to work together on some projects and worship in a joint worship service in December.


We are also getting request for short term mission teams for this year. Two weeks ago we were able to drive up to the LA area to share with a local church as well and I participated in an ABW retreat. In the midst of all this activity we feel so blessed to be part of this wonderful ministry and are thankful for your part in this ministry. To that effect, we also received a beautiful wooden chair from “A place at the table”. We will be taking this chair to Mexicali to symbolize how many of you are participating in this ministry by your prayers, offerings, support and short term mission teams.


Prayer concerns and prayers of thanksgiving

  1. Please pray for our family and each of our children.
  2. We are thankful for achieving our goal for 2009 and are thankful for the people who have already made pledges to support this ministry on a regular basis.
  3. Please pray for more people and churches to pledge to our support.
  4. Please pray for Teresita and the willingness of local churches to support her ministry.
  5. Please pray for Gerardo and “Restauración Familial”(the name of his new church plant, “Renewing and Healing the Family”).
  6. Please pray for Misión Monte Sinai as they work on plastering the outside walls of their church building before the winter weather gets to the mountains.
  7. We are thankful for the creativity of our new church planters and pray for a closer relationship between established churches and new church plants.
  8. Please pray for the endurance of our vehicles, our goal is to eventually purchase a vehicle dedicated for ministry use.
  9. Please pray that we may be open to the leading of God’s Spirit as we minister here in Mexicali and all of Northern Baja.
  10. We are thankful for the support of our friend Kerry as he continues to work on our new website. Please check it out and send us your thoughts and suggestions for improvement. (Remember it is still a work in progress) J
  11. Please continue to uplift our missionary colleagues around the globe and the important ministries that they do in your prayers and in your support of the World Mission Offering. This offering continues to be as important as ever.

If you wish to financially support our ministry, please go to the following link


or send donations directly via U.S. Mail to:


Lisa Schnovel

International Ministries

P. O. Box 851 Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851

In the memo portion of the check write for the “Ongoing Support of Rick and Mercy Barnes” (Targeted Giving)