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The Gateway: Requiem for a dream

It’s a season of violence that has scared all but the most intrepid American teams away from the Gateway. The drug wars have spilled over onto the streets of Matamoros and into the newspapers of people who love the place. And so, it was with sadness that last week we laid off many of the Gatewa…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
It’s a season of violence that has scared all but the most intrepid American teams away from the Gateway. The drug wars have spilled over onto the streets of Matamoros and into the newspapers of people who love the place. And so, it was with sadness that last week we laid off many of the Gateway staff.
It made me think back to the beginning. In 1991, I felt God whispering to me about starting a missions training center called The Gateway somewhere on the Mexican border. Starting the Gateway took all the faith I had at the time.
 
Mexico afforded the perfect venue for a short-term missions trip. Just across the border was a different culture and people living in slums who needed help. And so, God and I dreamed about building a launching pad for missions there.
 
For a couple of years I had my kids praying that God would show us a piece of property to buy. It had to be close to Matamoros, have access to water and electricity and roads, and it had to be cheap enough that we could buy it. Elma Fonseca combed the border area for us and then one day, she found the perfect property – 72 acres ten minutes from the border and 15 minutes from Matamoros.
 
In
1994, we felt God leading us to build a camp on the property. My good friend Rob Finney was the mastermind and driving force behind
it. We had a thousand people scheduled to come on short-term teams that
summer and three months to build enough of the camp to house them. We had to build a bridge, a road, and string electric lines in. Somehow, Rob and his team pulled off what seemed to be an impossible task; we were all amazed.
 
On a project to Mexico in 1997, I felt God strongly saying that we were to begin training Mexicans to become missionaries. Through a series of miraculous events, we did so. And since then, the Missions Training Institute has sent hundreds of graduates out, many to the middle east.
 
Today, if you take Highway 2 to the dirt road at colonia Buena Aires and drive by okra fields for about a mile, you’ll see the stuccoed, warehouse-looking
buildings called the Gateway. For tens of thousands of visitors, it has facilitated one of the most transforming
experiences of their lives. 
 
It was the fulfillment of a dream. But today the buildings sit empty and the future seems uncertain. We don’t know what’s next. A few intrepid church groups have said, “We’ll come this year no matter what happens.” And we still welcome those who feel the call. We can’t predict if the drug violence will stop. But our prayer is that one day, the dream can live again. 

Comments (13)

  • “Oh Jesus, please raise Gateway up again. Holy Spirit, we ask that you would do things that are beyond our thinking. Lord, we give this up to you. I ask that by your power you would perform wonderful things and make this bigger, better, and more effective than Seth and all of us could ever have imagined…”

  • Reading this breaks my heart. I did the FYM program in 2005 in Matamoros, and we spent a good deal of time partnering with students at the Gateway. We also would go there for fellowship time or an occasional “retreat”. I’ll be praying that God enables ministry to continue at the Gateway somehow. I had actually just been thinking about looking into short-term mission trips based at the Gateway, so I’m sad to hear that those aren’t happening right now. But I KNOW the ministry that has happened through the Gateway has not been in vain, and I believe God will revive it again.

  • the longer I live, the more it seems that life is a series of seasons.

    some seasons are abundant, or easy. some seasons are not.

    The Gateway has enjoyed incredible favor for many years. For some reason, right now it seems to be in a season of repose.

    if we are to be the servants of the Lord that we say we are, serving Him comes with no qualification or expectation. We simply serve.

    I don’t know what’s ahead for The Gateway or the dream God has you dream. Only time will tell that.

    One of my sons told me something a couple of months ago that I continue to carry around in my heart.

    Here’s what my son, Kevin, said…

    “I was looking at pics of my son Trey on my Facebook page. (dan note: Trey is Kevin’s 3 yr old son)

    “In every one of those pictures, Trey is looking at me, not where we’re going or what we’re doing – he’s just looking at me.

    “I used to be that way with God. I just looked at Him, went with Him, not caring where we were, what was going on around us, or when we’d get to wherever it was He was taking me. I was with Him – that was enough.

    “I wanna be like that again.”

    Only God knows what’s ahead. I guess all we can do is keep looking at Him.

  • Praying and believing that somehow this very thing (drug violence) that has hindered this ministry will someday be the cause of its exponential growth and will flourish in ways beyond what we could imagine. God does things like that. For now, I grieve with you all.

  • Indeed there are seasons…and perhaps in addition to this season of repose is abiding. And looking up, and allowing God to work through all these situations. I pray that the drug violence would end, and that the Gateway would again be just that, a Gateway between God and His people, who do and do not yet know Him.

  • Seth – I remember being there for several weeks the first year it was built. A lot of great memories – and a lot of lives changed because of this place.

    I look forward to seeing a blog post in the future titled “The Gateway: Renaissance of a Dream”

  • I have been praying for a while now but will continue. My Dad is a missionary in Mexico and has a heart for the Mexican people (that is how him and my Mom met). Anyway, the problem isn’t as bad in his area but it’s still a problem.

    Mexico tugs at my heart just a bit and so this news brings me sadness but I know we serve a God who is bigger and greater than any drug cartel. I know we serve a God who is still moving mountains.

  • Our son Samuel and I shared father/son time there. I have never forgotten. Neither has he. Much love Seth.

  • Seth-
    We want to present some ministry opportunities to the nwe interns when they arrive in January. Can you or someone jot down and send us some job descriptions/requirements/ideas that we could present to our interns as an option after graduation? Thanks//Dave

  • That was good, Dan. My daughter Leah looks at Karen that way.

    Dave – I’ll get back to you with a database of opportunities.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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