Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 13, 1962
NUMBER 32, PAGE 6,14

Concerning Work In Mexico

Charles F. House

Some eight years ago (in 1954), I was supporting myself and my family by working as a wholesale grocery salesman in the Los Angeles area. At the same time, I was preaching each Sunday for the church at Lomita, California. One day I read a short announcement in the Gospel Guardian by brother Mack Kercheville, preacher for the Mexican church in El Paso, Texas, saying that there was a certain young gospel preacher in the interior of Mexico who was in urgent need of personal support. I contacted brother Kercheville for more details, and on the strength of his recommendation, the little congregation at Lomita determined to have fellowship with this young Mexican evangelist as he preached the gospel in his home town of Nueva Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. Mexico. At my first opportunity, I went to El Paso, and brother Kercheville and I flew together to Neuva Casas Grandes to view the work first hand, in order that I might more completely inform the faithful brethren at Lomita concerning the work.

This marked the real beginning of my interest in the work in Mexico. What brother Kercheville and I saw in Nueva Casas Grandes was original New Testament Christianity in the lives of these wonderful neighbors of ours south of the border. Their love for one another was a thing of beauty. I was so deeply impressed with my first visit that I determined then and there to have some part in the work in Mexico itself. I had studied Spanish for three years in high school many years before, but had forgotten a good part of it. But upon returning to California, I started to night school immediately to prepare myself once again to speak the language of the people with whom I was determined to work for the rest of my life. I continued this intensive study for two years.

After several survey trips to the ten towns along the U. S.-Mexican border in the far west, and after making certain that there was absolutely no congregation of the Lord's people along the border from Ciudad Juarez (El Paso) to the Pacific Ocean, I wrestled for many months with the idea of trying to get a faithful church started in each border town in this thousand mile stretch of territory. The more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, the bolder I became. Although I was a little frightened at the magnitude of the idea. I still had the personal conviction that I must reach the gospel to the limit of my ability, as every Christian should. I realized that opportunity plus ability equaled responsibility. With this thinking in mind, I tried to analyze my situation at Lomita as contrasted with the ten towns along the border having no church, and where I longed to work.

The decision was not an easy one to reach, but after earnest and prayerful study I finally came to the conclusion that actually I had no choice to make — I MUST go to these border towns which were without Christ. No matter what personal sacrifice it might bring to me or to my family, there could be no other course to follow. Mine was the same sort of decision made by Don Atherton (now deceased), Wayne Partain, Glenn Rogers, and others, all of the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas; by Mack Kercheville of El Paso and Phil Morgan of Phoenix, Arizona, as they too saw the great opportunities among the Spanish speaking people. Phil is presently seeking support to go to Chile in South America. Vernon Hawkins has already gone, but is still in need of more support.

I had made my decision, and began at once to try to do something about it. In 1954, the young preacher from Nueva Casas Grandes, Josue Espino by name, came to Tijuana to help me start the Lord's work in this great sin filled city in the extreme northwestern section of the state of Lower California within Mexico itself. Tijuana is only 16 miles to the south of San Diego, California. Our gospel meeting there lasted two weeks and some favorable results were apparent. We then visited several congregations within the United States in an effort to find support to fully support a man in Tijuana. We were unsuccessful in this effort. Brother Espino returned to the interior of Mexico, and I went back to Lomita to continue my work there.

We tried again in 1955; but still were unable to enlist the interest of faithful brethren in the States. But a bit later the good church a Ontario, California, began supporting brother Espino, and finally helped get a meeting house built at Nueva Casas Grandes. In 1956, the "liberal" brethren from the Mexican church in Los Angeles started sending a preacher once a month to Tijuana, and soon got a little church going there. It was only a few months later that the liberal congregation in Chula Vista, California, "took the oversight" of this Mexican congregation in Tijuana, and today the Tijuana congregation is in their own building and seems to be growing numerically — still "under the oversight" of Chula Vista, so far as I know.

In August, 1958, brethren Josue Espino and I, along with brother Santos Gomez, started a congregation at Tecate in Lower California, just 29 miles east of Tijuana. We were able to get support promised for brother Gomez before we started the work, as the good church at Bellflower, California (Rose and Ibbetson), had promised to supply brother Gomez's needs. William S. Irvine was preaching for the Rose and Ibbetson congregation then; David Harkrider is the capable preacher with this fine congregation now. I was continuing to support myself by secular work, and Ontario, California, at this time was supporting brother Espino. After the meeting at Tecate, brother Espino returned to Nueva Casas Grandes; I returned to my work as a grocery salesman, and brother Gomez and his good wife became the first Christians meeting regularly for worship in Tecate. My working hours on the job I had were such that I was free from noon on Fridays until 9:00 A.M. on Mondays. I was usually in my car by 1:00 o'clock on Friday afternoons, driving the 170 miles from Los Angeles to Tecate. I would work with brother Gomez over the week-end, and still be back on my job by 9:00 o'clock on Monday morning. This schedule was continued for nearly two years. Since I was meeting and worshipping each Lord's day with the Tecate congregation, I considered myself as a member of this group, even though I lived 170 miles away. Within the two years period, we converted a number of people in Tecate, developed several young gospel preachers, and started two other congregations — one at San Luis and one at Sonoyta, both in the state of Sonora, Mexico.

With so many miles to cover in evangelistic work each week, and trying to support myself and my family in secular work, I realized that the years were slipping away too rapidly. There was so much to be done, and so little time to do it! I decided to give up my secular work and go into the Mexican work full time as a preacher and teacher, working in the towns of Tecate, Sonoyta, and San Luis, In January, 1960, I began the schedule that I am now followng — preaching every Lord's day, teaching six classes regularly each week, plus as many more cottage classes as we can arrange in addition to this. For eleven months (from January until December, 1960), I was in this full time schedule with no support at all; but in December of that year, the good church at Wilmington, California, (where I had formerly preached in 1953-54) began sending what they could to help. My devoted friend and brother. Ira B. Sandusky, who was then preaching at Wilmington, encouraged the church there much in sending to me. Later, the faithful congregation at Studebaker Rd., in Long B e a c h, California (where W. E. Irvine now preaches), began to help, bringing down canned goods and money gifts for my wife and me as we lived in a hunter's cabin up in the Tecate hills. Still later, the San Bernardino congregation (Arthur Atkinson preaches there) and the Montebello congregation where Wright Randolph preaches, became interested and began regular support of me in the Mexican work. And now things became easier. Both individuals and congregations began to get interested, and thanks to a gracious God, and to my wonderful, generous brethren, I can now say with Paul, "I have all things and abound; I am filled.." After two years of trying, the response has been all that anyone could ask or desire. I am now trying to work out plans for my personal support for the year 1963, and have every confidence that the same generous response can be anticipated. While some who have helped generously in the past will be unable to continue their support, I have complete faith that others will take their place.

My work in Mexico has been, and is, the greatest experience in my life. I came among the Mexican people to convert them. But I now realize that this has been a two-way street.... they have converted ME to the meaning and understanding of true Christianity! When these people accept the gospel it is a total and unquestioning commitment of their lives. They go all the way. All the time I have worked in Mexico, I have been a member of a local congregation, assisting that congregation in doing the work the Lord intended for them to do — and this without the aid of any institution, agency, sponsoring arrangement, or other organization separate and apart from the congregation. When I was working and helping in the Tecate work, I was a member of that congregation. Presently, I am a member of the Sonoyta church, helping there in every way I can, as well as doing evangelistic work both in San Luis and in Tecate. The Lord willing, we plan to start a congregation in 1963 to the east of Sonoyta. Both the Tecate and the Sonoyta congregations are now in their own building programs, and both groups hope soon to complete suitable meeting places.

My work in Mexico is simply that of a simple New Testament Christian. I am a gospel preacher, a member of the Sonoyta congregation. I have no authority in any of these congregations (Tecate, San Luis, or Sonoyta) except the authority of any faithful Christian to follow the will of Christ. I believe with all my heart that it is the will of Christ that I preach his gospel to the full limit of my ability. I have authority (all the authority of heaven and earth) behind me as I seek to do that — and the anathema of Heaven rests upon me if I preach any gospel other than that.

This, beloved friends, is my work in Mexico. I solicit your prayers and your interest in this great venture. Visit us when and if you can. If you would care for monthly reports of our progress in Mexico, I will be happy to send such to you. Just send me your name and address.

— P.O. Box 640, San Luis, Arizona