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Flooding creates opportunity for spiritual harvest in Mexico

POZA RICA, Mexico (BP)–Southern Baptist missionaries and volunteers and their Mexican Baptist partners have launched ministry evangelism projects in an area of eastern Mexico devastated by massive flooding in late October.
Twenty inches of rain fell in two days, capping weeks of heavy rains that sent the Cazones River in Veracruz state surging 70 feet above flood stage, said Jim Brown, human needs consultant for the International Mission Board. Brown was part of a four-man assessment team that traveled into the area to identify ways Southern Baptists could share God’s love in the disaster’s aftermath.
“Normally that river is about 100 yards wide,” Brown said. “After the storm, it was running almost five miles wide. The result was a mud flood that wiped out many homes. In many places, the entire first floor of buildings was under water.”
Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless by the storm, which overwhelmed the coastal plain east of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. At least 400 people died.
“The Mexican government has been extremely helpful to the people,” Brown said. “They have worked hard to provide water, shelter and feeding programs for the people affected by the floods. But there still are many ways we can present the hope of the gospel by meeting the needs of people who are suffering there.”
The International Mission Board immediately allocated $50,000 to help purchase food, blankets and bedding mats, Brown said. Immediate efforts are being focused in the towns of Cazones, Papantla and Teziutlan. Relief work in the area will touch members of the Totonaco people group, among which there has been no Baptist work.
Work in Cazones focuses on cleaning out more than 40 mud-filled water wells, rebuilding homes and providing food parcels to families, Brown said. Texas Baptist volunteers are assisting missionaries in this project. In Papantla, Baptists will provide bulk food for feeding stations set up in emergency shelters and deliver food parcels to families as they return to their homes.
Shelter feeding efforts in Teziutlan are being spearheaded by Baptists in the Puebla Association.
“We’ve got both logistics and spiritual leaders in each place, to make sure not only that we’re meeting people’s needs but also that everything we do is spiritually focused as well,” Brown explained. “We’re recruiting Mexican Baptists to serve as local, indigenous facilitators in each place as well.
“We’ve met with mayors in these towns and they have warmly welcomed our efforts,” he added. “The mayor of Cazones even made a house available to us for our local facilitator to use there.
“The storm has given us a huge, wide-open door for ministry in these towns. We believe a loving Christian witness in this situation could lead to the same kind of spiritual harvest we’re seeing in Honduras because of the hurricane relief efforts there this past year.”
Contributions toward the relief efforts in Mexico can be sent to: International Mission Board, Hunger and Relief Fund – Mexico Flood Relief, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

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  • Mark Kelly