Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1964
NUMBER 6, PAGE 8,11a

Mexico Calling

Charles F. House

Ten years ago (in 1954), I supported myself and my family by working as a wholsesale grocer salesman-supervisor in the Los Angeles California area. At the same time I was preaching each Sunday for the church at Lomita, California. One day I read a short announcement in one of the gospel papers 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 as he preached the gospel in his home town of Nueva Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. At my first opportunity, I went to El Paso, and brother Kercheville and I flew down to Nueva 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 and college, but had forgotten a good part of it. When I returned to California, my wife and I started to night school immediately to prepare ourselves to speak fluently 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 I had made several trips to the ten towns along the U.S. - MEXICO border here in the far west, and after making certain that there was absolutely no congregation of the Lord's people along the border from Cuidad 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 preach 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 whatsoever, 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 who lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and Vernon Hawkins who lived in Lordsburg, New Mexico, as they too saw the great opportunities among the Spanish speaking people. Phil and Vernon are presently preaching the gospel in Talca, Chile, South America.

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 came to Tijuana to help me start the Lord's work in this great sin filled city in the extreme northwest section 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. The Mexican brother then 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 at Ontario, California, began supporting this young Mexican evangelist, 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 have grown numerically — still "under the oversight" of Chula Vista, so far as I know. Latest report has it that there are now three congregations in Tijuana and one church and a school in Rosarita, just south of Tijuana.

In August 1958 Brother Santos Gomez and I, together with the help of another brother, 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 Avenue) had promised to supply Brother Gomez's needs. William S. Irvine was preaching for the Rose Avenue 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 the preacher at Nueva Casas Grandes. After the meeting at Tecate, I returned to my work as a grocer salesman, and brother Gomez and his good wife became the first members of the church 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 on Lord's days with the Tecate congregation, I considered myself as a member of this group, even though I lived 170 miles away.

Within a two year period, we converted a number of people in Tecate, winning quite a number away from the Methodist church there. Brother Gomez and I both have preached in the Methodist church. Also, we 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 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 went into this Mexican work on a full time basis after leaving a good job and a beautiful home. In January, 1960, I began the schedule I am now following — preaching every Lord's Day and teaching from six to twelve Bible classes regularly each week in the Spanish language. 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. Later, the faithful congregation at Studebaker Road in Long Beach California (where W. S. 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 Montebello congregation where Wright Randolph preached at the time, became interested and began regular support of me in the Mexican work. Both of the two named churches are still helping to support my work. Later on, things became easier. Both individuals and congregations began to get interested. After three years of trying to raise support, 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 1964, 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, An ideal situation would be for one congregation to assume my full support in order that the aid coming from others in smaller amounts could be released to expand the work still farther in Mexico and help other evangelists there to devote their full time to the work.

At the present time there are six Spanish speaking evangelists working along this far western border and in Mexico. These men are working full time in the Lord's business. Plans are going forward for two more men to start full time very soon. Each one is faithful to God's Word and fully capable to handle it. These men have been thoroughly taught and indoctrinated in God's Word. They believe that each local autonomous church of Christ is all sufficient to do the work that the Lord expects of it. They are every one standing for the truth as contained in God's Holy Word, and will work with their hands to see it preached rather than violate their convictions to preach the wisdom of men.

If interested in further details please write; better yet come down to see me. San Luis Arizona is on the U. S. — Mexico border and is 24 miles to the south of Yuma, Arizona. We live in a trailer parked on the Bill Crane Place. Brethren, can you help in the Mexican work? If so, write me,

— P. O. Box 641, San Luis, Arizona — 85349