In April 2017, Peter and Sarah Sholl were visited by a team from one of their supporting churches in Australia, Jannali Anglican Church. The team came to partner with the Sholls in a 2.5-week mission trip aiming to train and encourage leaders in Mexico in reading and teaching the Bible faithfully. Cameron Hyslop, one of the team members and youth minister at Jannali Anglican, writes about the mission trip with an introduction by Sarah.
The Jannali team threw themselves 100 per cent into engaging with the Mexicans and the Mexicans loved them dearly for it. The trip provided an enormous boost to the youth here, helping to spur on their relationships with one another. The openness of the youth has flowed over to other church gatherings and we’re praying that it will continue and grow. We’re also praying that the enthusiasm to be reading and teaching the Bible will bear long-term fruit and that they will have opportunities to put into practice what they have learnt.
We were encouraged by working with both our Australian and Mexican brothers and sisters. We give thanks to God for Jannali’s generosity and the willing service by many Mexicans.
On 5 April 2017, a team of 10 people from Jannali Anglican Church travelled to Monterrey, Mexico to team up with the Sholl family in running some training events at their church, Jesucristo Fuente de Redención Presbyterian. The goal of the trip was to help equip leaders in understanding the unfolding story of the Bible as it centres on Jesus, as well as to encourage the Sholls in their ministry to Mexico. We held a full-day training event for Sunday school teachers and then a three-day training conference for youth leaders (Formando Lideres). There was also a youth evangelistic event and many church services as we were there during the Easter period.
The Sunday school training day was well attended, with about 80 people coming from a range of churches. We ran some workshops on the use of craft, drama and memory verses. There were also some short ‘tasters’ on how to use puppets, sketch and tell, and other techniques to teach Bible lessons. The emphasis of the day was on understanding the Bible story correctly before teaching it creatively.
The Formando Lideres conference had a similar emphasis on understanding a passage correctly in the context of the whole story of the Bible. During the three days, we worked through Ephesians with 50 delegates. We taught them how to identify the big idea of a particular passage and how to write a Bible study that helps others identify the big idea for themselves. There were also role-playing sessions on being a good group member and a good leader, time each day for teaching games, and plenty of opportunities for stimulating conversation over excellent Mexican food.
One of the difficulties for the ministry staff at Fuente has been finding time to train and equip leaders due to busyness. The ministry staff have pastoral roles in other organisations and churches. Consequently, they are time poor. Our visit was a great opportunity to partner with them in getting leaders trained. Our prayer is that the various leaders will have opportunities to implement the skills they have learnt during their training.
Life in Mexico
During our trip, we stayed in the homes of members from Fuente and had the chance to experience Mexican life. We did some sight-seeing, had a day canyoning, and spent a few days in the desert oasis at Cuatro Ciénegas. Some of us also had the chance to attend a major league football game and eat some indigenous Mexican food.
The Sholls had put their regular ministries on hold while we were with them so we didn’t get to see their work with MOCLAM and small groups. However, they didn’t put their family on hold so we did get to hear about and see quite a bit of what life is like for them. Each of their girls, Karina, Lucy and Miriam, were very impressive. Karina and Lucy did a lot of the upfront translating for us during the training events. Karina also spent a lot of time trying to study for her final exams yet didn’t miss any of the church activities. Sarah stood out to us as well; she was constantly serving, affirming, organising, cooking, listening, encouraging, chauffeuring, teaching, comforting, praying and covering. It’s hard to recall a time when she was able to simply sit back with a cuppa and relax!
We prayed beforehand that we would be an encouragement to the Sholls, able to deposit into their ‘account’ while visiting. On reflection, however, it feels like they deposited so much more into our ‘accounts’. We are so thankful for the whole Sholl family and the ministry they had towards us.
We have returned with a greater awareness of the importance of partnership. We have a number of CMS partners at Jannali Anglican and we easily assume that they are all more spiritual than us, that they are all doing well in serving the Lord in other cultures, and that they don’t have struggles. This is simply not true. In the Sholls, we saw a family with the same struggles that we have, yet seeking to manage those struggles far from family, close friends and ageing parents. We saw a family faithfully seeking to serve the Lord, and to provide for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of their children. Their strength is from their Lord who promises to be with them always to the end of the age and even to the ends of the earth. Prayers, emails, letters of encouragement, Skype conversations, birthday cards, Facebook messages and so on are a great reminder to them that the Lord has them in his care. Our trip reminded us of the need to move on from assumptions and practise partnership!
The Sholls' ministry with MOCLAM throughout Latin America and Spain is all about training leaders to be better gospel teachers. We are thankful for the opportunity we had to partner with the Sholls in doing this within their home church. Our trip is one step in helping move towards a world that knows Jesus.
For more photos and information about the Jannali mission trip to Mexico, please see the Facebook page ‘Jannali in Mexico’.
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