International Ministries

Falling in my lap

January 6, 2012 Journal
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Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

according to His power that is at work within us…”  Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)


By Rick Barnes

Almost exactly 23 years ago, Mercy and I were married in Puerto Rico.  The first time I met her family was when I flew down for the wedding. Even though I was definitely among strangers to begin with, it became very quickly apparent that I was part of the family. The ones who were fastest to accept me were Mercy’s nephew and nieces, particularly Gretchen, who was two at the time. I was resting on the patio in a hammock, barely awake, when I heard this little girl call out to me excitedly “Tio (uncle) Rick.” At the time I didn’t even know Spanish, but hearing my name got my attention enough to see this little girl flying toward me in mid-air. Just by instinct, I reached out and snagged her, and we both laughed and giggled. Talk about something falling into my lap!

I have had something else almost literally fall into my lap that I need to tell you about. As many of you know, in my recent US/Puerto Rico assignment I took the year to participate in Clinical Pastoral Education. While this is part of the training a chaplain undergoes, it is also a great way to look at how one does ministry, and why, in any setting. At the end of my tremendous CPE year, I started gearing up for using these skills back in Mexico. In fact, one of the courses I am currently teaching is “Clinical Pastoral Care.” Suddenly, I became aware of an opportunity in my own back yard that allows me to more fully use the gifts and talents I believe God has given me. Church World Service has extended an invitation to me to be the Religious Service Coordinator for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center in El Centro, CA.  Because of this, my eleven years with International Ministries came to an end on December 31, 2011, and I am now working with Church World Service.

The immigration policy of the United States government is a hot button issue, I know. But regardless of how one feels about this, there are 300-500 men in that facility who are a long way from home and facing an uncertain future who need someone to demonstrate a caring and compassionate presence. There is also a staff that is subject to the trials of life and need that presence too.

For me, it is every bit as much of a leap of faith to go into this new setting as Gretchen jumping into my lap, perhaps more. But God has been calling me to hone and use these gifts, and has now given me the opportunity to respond.

Let me be clear. Mercy will be continuing on with International Ministries. I only accepted the call from Church World Service after it became clear that Mercy would be able to continue with her call and passion as a missionary. You have been so very faithful in your caring support of us, including prayers, encouragement, and finances. I ask you to continue to remain faithful, even as Mercy continues faithful to her call.

And I have grown to dearly love my Christian compañeros (brothers and sisters,) both Mexican and American, and will still stay in contact with them. In fact, I envision working with them as we seek to get a handle on how to minister with deportees after they are deported.

Going means leaving, I know. I, too, have a mixture of feelings right now. And again, I thank you for being with us this decade plus. I ask your prayers of blessing as I respond to this new call. I also ask for your continued blessing of Mercy as she fulfills her call, and as we make our experience even more of a cross-border one.

May God bless and keep you…


Our Adventures by Mercy

    As you can see in the second picture Gretchen has  gone on from being a trusting two year old to a beautiful young woman who plays soccer, enjoys sailing and owns her own business. She loves life and embraces it with a passion. As Gretchen has grown and changed, so have we;  One of the many lessons that I have learned in my life is that it is always changing and evolving. That is a good thing! Rick will now be doing ministry with men who are going through a very difficult time in their lives. I will continue to do my work in Mexico but in a different way. There will be new challenges as we seek to serve. We see this as an opportunity in which we can expand our ministry and the way in which God uses us. You may have some questions about this transition. I will try to answer them as best I can.

 I, Mercy will continue to be working with International Ministries as a missionary to Baja California, Mexico working with our students at the seminary equipping them to better minister with their communities and congregations in planting new churches. I also look forward to see what new and exciting adventures God has in store for my ministry as I start this new phase on my own. Here are some of the thoughts for this year and I want you to pray for them so that God may open and close doors as God sees fit.


Goals for the next year


  As you can see ministry will continue to happen and I continue to be in need of your prayers, support and partnership. Please consider becoming part of my network of supporters.


Family News

Change seems to be a constant theme in our household. As we are writing Aida has just arrived to Lille, France for five months of study abroad. As parents we were quite anxious about her solo journeying but she is doing just fine. We skyped with her and she is tired and happy. Please keep her in your prayers.

 Richie also left to return to Chicago for his second quarter of studies and we just spoke with him a few minutes ago. He is safe and on the shuttle back to his dorm. It doesn't seem possible that he was here for three weeks.

 Josh keeps growing taller each time I turn around. He is almost as tall as Aida. He enjoys being the only child at home and is going through the process of changing from a child to a teenager. He is doing wonderfully in school and is doing some fundraising to attend an educational trip to Florida.

All of the family went to our yearly missionary retreat at Palomar Mountain with the other Baja missionaries, with Bob and Barbara Santilli and with Virgil and Lynn Nelson. It was a wonderful time of renewal with gorgeous weather. Sirius our black Lab was very happy to see us when we returned from our trip!


Happy New Year 2012 from the Barnes Family!