Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking tourist destinations, Mexico is a nation as rich in history as it is in beauty, with cultural and architectural remnants dating back thousands of years. Despite its bountiful resources, however, the nation of over 111 million people faces daunting social and economic challenges. Escalating drug-related violence even led to an official travel warning recently from the U.S. Department of State.
Not all the news out of Mexico is bad, however, as Bobby and Joanne Bainbridge, Foursquare Missions International’s (FMI) missionaries to Mexico since 2008, are quick to point out. Residing in the beachside city of Rosarito with their two children, Katie and Travis, the couple reports that Foursquare has 239 churches and meeting places throughout the country, as well as 11 Bible colleges, 15 Bible institutes and 4 orphanages. There are also many food banks in each district, and plans are in the works for a Bible university in Mexico City that would confer bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
The country is predominately Roman Catholic (76.5 percent), with a Protestant population of 6.3 percent, according to the most recent statistics from the 2000 census.
Mexico is what Foursquare calls a “stage three” nation in the denomination’s four-stage church development model, meaning they are nationalized and self-supporting, with an emphasis on the multiplication of churches. They are moving into “stage four,” where they will be sending missionaries to other countries.
Tell us about your calling to serve in Mexico.
Bobby: I am thankful for my cultural background and heritage, and want to give back and be a blessing to the people of Mexico. My mother was born in Mexico, and my father was born in the U.S. I was born in Nevada. Being Mexican-American, I grew up learning both cultures and speaking both languages. I lived in the U.S. and visited relatives in Mexico often.
As I grew up, I wondered why I was unique in being raised bi-culturally. When I received the Lord at age 32, I began to search how I could serve Him with this cultural mix inside of me. I found it very easy and comfortable to share with and witness to Hispanics. Of course, I am one, even though I look totally Anglo-American.
At my church, New Hope Fellowship (Pahrump 2 Foursquare Church) in Pahrump, Nev., I was encouraged to seek short-term missions by taking teams from our church out to the field to fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19. That started out as men’s work teams, then ministry teams, and then youth teams. I would lead teams that would share God’s Word, give testimonies of His handiwork, and do construction that involved the Bible institute or local churches.
Ministries represented from our church consisted of worship, drama, dance, youth, men’s, women’s, prayer and much more. Elders, deacons, council members, pastors, lay ministers and many members of the body came on trips. Growth and blessing were evident in everyone who came to serve. That led to our current call to go out as full-time missionaries in Rosarito, Mexico.
What would you like people in the U.S. to know about people in Mexico?
Bobby: The Mexican people have an inexplicable joy in enjoying life and family with much passion. Even though life is difficult in regard to making ends meet, they are grateful with less instead of more. And believe me, many times there is less.
Mexicans don’t want charity. What they want is friendship. They value getting together, knowing one another, and working together. They admire Americans and think of us as a confident people. They defer to us with respect and don’t regard themselves in a prideful way.
In essence, and collectively, they are a humble nation. Mexicans are not proud of the recent difficulties they have endured, such as the drug violence, that are being shown on the world stage; nor are they proud of how they are portrayed in the media. I have even been asked by soldiers at checkpoints to pray for them, and for the violence to end.
Mexico is a beautiful country with a vibrant people, a land with a rich and storied history. Not all of Mexico is dirty, dusty and poor. Mexico has challenges as a nation, but has much potential to rise up. It is ready to receive the planting for the future God has for them.
God loves both the U.S. and Mexico, and wants us to bless each other by working together to solve our difficulties that arise in today’s times. What affects the U.S. will affect Mexico, and vice versa. We are neighboring countries and will need each other during these trying times.
Have any short-term missions teams from the U.S. come to help out?
Bobby: Yes, teams have come out from Foursquare churches as well as other denominations. A variety of ministry opportunities have presented themselves to each of these short-term teams. They have ministered through evangelism, outreach, construction, serving and training.
In June, we had a team come from San Jose, Calif. A woman on this team had the idea of teaching sewing at workshops, while another part of the team worked at the Bible institute doing construction. The team brought eight new sewing machines with them across the border. At customs they were stopped and, after about four hours, had to pay a fee. The woman thought that maybe this hadn’t been a good idea.
However, after five days of workshops with several women, they had learned how to sew, were given materials, and also were given the sewing machines. To see the look of accomplishment on these ladies’ faces at service, wearing the beautiful skirts they had sewn, was priceless.
These women have a desire to reach and teach other women. Their goal is to invite women to learn how to sew—but before they start, they will have a short Bible study. These are the types of ministries we get to see with each team that comes in.
What do you see God doing as you look ahead?
Bobby: My vision for Mexico is twofold. One, we are to train up and equip our future missionaries to reach the lost. As churches train up their people, especially the youth, at home, it is great to see them grow and blossom in the field and minister in the Holy Spirit. That is why we encourage churches to take advantage of the proximity of Mexico to minister, either because of a calling or to use the opportunity as a training ground to go to other fields.
Second, we want to see Mexican pastors and their churches take ownership of the Great Commission. The current mission assignment I feel the Lord is giving me is to take Mexicans to Haiti in January 2011 and be a blessing to their people by preaching the gospel in action. This way, Mexicans can be blessed in going out, serving in obedience and watching the Lord open up many paths to reach other nations where we as Americans may not be welcome.
I see God opening up opportunities like the one above, and soon many other churches in Mexico will follow, because they will see the Word showing its truth—that with God, everything is possible.
How to Pray for Bobby and Joanne:
- The Lord will continue to protect His workers in the field.
- Evangelism and planting in Mexico City and southeast Mexico—Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco.
- An end to the drug cartel violence.
- God will continue to provide for our every need.
- God’s direction, guidance and vision to raise up the next generation of the church in both the U.S. and Mexico, especially in evangelism and missions.
- Our first international missions trip with Mexicans coming alongside us to minister in Haiti (Jan. 2011 and future trips).
How You Can Bless Bobby and Joanne:
Our Foursquare missionaries are always encouraged by and grateful for any prayers and correspondence they receive. Whether it’s a gift sent on a holiday, or simply a letter or note of encouragement, you can make a difference by expressing your support in a practical way.
To send correspondence to Bobby and Joanne, e-mail them or write to:
Bobby and Joanne Bainbridge
P.O. Box 439030
PMB # 113
San Ysidro, CA 92143
Interview conducted by: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles