Over 30 years ago, God laid it on my heart to establish a training center and mission base in Mexico. Every night I’d pray with our kids and they’d say, “Lord, give daddy a camp in Mexico.”
It was complicated. We needed land with access to water and electricity to build on. It needed to be in proximity to a city. We needed access by a main road. And, oh yeah, we needed the money to pay for it all. We prayed for a couple of years.
Ask Bill Britton or Rob and Lisa Finney about it – the Lord gave us so many miracles along the way. We got the property in February and by that summer had built the dorms and meeting rooms. We called it “the Gateway.” Close to a thousand short-term missionaries went through it in 1994.
Over the years, many thousands went through the Gateway. We started a training center headed by Jacques and Flor Goy that trained Latin missionaries to go to the middle east. Benito and Patty were a couple from the local village that became key workers for us.
And when more recently the drug cartels began to take over the border area, our missionaries, Richard and Gail Rogers, continued overseeing our work there in partnership with a local ministry. Recently Richard sent us the update below.
From Richard Rogers:
I was told that the travel warning has been raised recently. A policeman and two cartel men were killed last week in a little village called “Control”. That’s about three miles from our base.
Three weeks ago we pulled out of the children’s home property across the highway and about 6 guys with machine guns stopped us. They let us pass, but I think if we had a police escort there would have been a huge gun fight. Several of my friends have been hearing gunfights going on at night in Matamoros lately.
Last December Patty and Benito were at a stoplight in Matamoros and three cartel trucks went around the corner and several Marine trucks were chasing them. They were shooting at each other and two bullets hit Benito’s car. One hit the windshield about 3″ away from his head. The broken glass cut him up and he had to go to the hospital.
Benito has warned me to not travel at night right now. That’s not good because we just started a Bible School at a drug rehab center in Matamoros and the only hours that we could do it is from 5pm to 8pm.
So, the Mexico base is still operational, but it has had to change substantially. The drug cartels have made it both difficult and dangerous. Without the Rogers and some key local partners, it never would have worked.
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about mission bases. They tend to function well for a season, and then as circumstances change, they too need to change or be shut down. We’ve shut down bases in the inner city of Philadelphia, New Zealand, Kenya, Ireland, Thailand and West Virginia.
We’ve learned that when a base no longer is able to make a difference for the people around it, if God is saying “that season is over,” generally it is better to recognize the fact and shut it down.