When Cancun was just a little village about 40 years ago and plans were forming to create a tourist city, a dear Maya pastor and friend summoned Les and LOGOI to come to the state of Quintana Roo and help train, equip, and encourage pastors. He had big dreams for planting churches and proclaiming the Gospel but knew Bible and pastoral training were foundational. Les and LOGOI accepted the challenge and, one by one, churches were planted and pastors were trained while on-the-job. God has indeed blessed them with dozens of churches planted and a host of men, women, and children coming to a saving faith in Jesus.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the joy of going back to Cancun to enjoy a wonderful week with my oldest son, Ken, his wife Kim, their daughter Mary, and her family which includes two of my beloved great-granddaughters. Of course, I cannot go to Cancun without visiting members of my extended Cancun family, where I am known now as “Abuela Carolina” (Grandma Carolyn).
On Sunday, we attended Puerta del Cielo Church (Door of Heaven) where Ken, Kim and baby Mary attended and helped in leadership back in the 80’s. Ken gave a sweet testimony of God’s faithfulness and joy of being steadfast serving the King of Kings. The pastor’s wife told me that if it hadn’t been for our LOGOI pastors’ conferences all those many years earlier, her husband would not be in the ministry today. What joy to hear!
Another one of my “LOGOI grandkids” who attended all of our pastor conferences was Neri Gonzalez. His church began in a squatter’s village and Les and I had the joy of helping them get a well. They just got electricity a few years ago. And right in the middle is Neri’s church—which is constantly being improved as funds allow—and they don’t seem to mind that they have no windows or doors. “We have a roof and concrete floors,” Neri says with a huge smile.
I took Leydy (pronounced “lady”), Neri’s wife, two wedding dresses… like many of you know I love to do. One of the donated wedding dresses was over 40 years old and I wasn’t sure it would be appreciated. When Leydy opened it up, she could hardly believe it! The dress had crocheted work around the neckline and she exclaimed, “This exquisite work is what we love here but none of us can afford it!” I felt a pang of guilt in my heart as I thanked God that His way is always perfect.
s I was showing Leydy the dresses, I looked over at Neri. I had brought some of our LOGOI books for him. As we ladies excitedly carried on about the wedding dresses, Neri had no idea what we were doing. He was already totally engrossed in reading his new book on prayer. It was hard for him to put it down, and he said, “Pastor Les always reminded us to never stop studying, Abuela Carolina, and I never have stopped.”
Neri’s church is just a few miles away from the luxury hotels along Cancun’s beautiful beaches. Many who attend Neri’s church work in the hotels along Cancun’s strip. I often wonder what that must be like to serve others in such luxuries and then return home to tiny homes void of anything most of us would even consider comfortable.
But there is Neri… one of the happiest pastors I know. He is exactly where God wants him joyfully proclaiming the Good News and making disciples. I am thrilled to be his “Abuela Carolina” and you should be thrilled to be his “primo” (cousin). Neri exemplifies the national pastors and missionaries God has called us to equip, help, and encourage. What a privilege to do so.
“LOGOI’s ministry is a gift from God,” Neri says. He sends his love and greetings to “all my hermanos y hermanas (brothers and sisters) who help me tell others about our Father’s amazing grace and love.”