Wow – so much has happened since last month that I hardly know where to begin. Therefore, I will focus on something very important to us – discipleship.
While of course we strive to raise all our children in the Lord, we have a particular burden for the discipleship of our youth. Since our church service has to be simple enough for the littlest of our kids to understand, we have to intentionally find ways to give our teenagers the deeper material they need. Our older kids have walked through some really tough circumstances and have a deeper understanding of their own situations than our little ones, and so they especially need to be rooted in sound doctrine and a relationship with the Lord.
A lot of our discipleship happens through formal times of teaching. They just finished taking the “Alpha Course”, which covers the essentials of the Christian faith. It was taught by a pastor from a church in Juarez, who each week addressed an important question like “Who is Jesus?” and “How can we have faith?”. They also recently participated in a group Bible study along with our staff, led by a visiting pastor. Ironically, the topic was the book of Revelation – quite a step up from the Alpha Course! Despite the “deepness” of the material, they were quite enthralled! We are always encouraged to watch them digest new truths from God’s Word and ask good (and sometimes really hard!) questions.
In addition to classes and such, we also disciple our youth by giving them opportunities to serve – alongside us whenever possible. We are always delighted to see our children and staff living out (sometimes quite unintentionally) the mandate of Deuteronomy 11:19, “Teach them [God’s words] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”. Some of our deepest conversations occur when we involve our youth in daily, one-on-one activities like cooking, preparing for a party, working on a car, tending the animals, making a grocery run, organizing a closet, gardening, etc. Spending time with our youth in these mundane activities builds a trusting relationship through which the Gospel can be shared effectively.
This Christmas we did something a little different. We wanted to show our teenagers empathy for others and the joy of giving instead of getting. So, we contacted a pastor (who grew up at Ranch 3M) who pastors a church in a low-income area of Juarez. He provided us with the names and ages of all the children in the church, and our kids put together personalized gifts to bless them. We explained to our youth that some of these children would not have ordinarily received anything for Christmas – something they understood very acutely. Our kids also prepared delicious tamales and a special Mexican drink to share with them. It was so good for our kids to see how much work and preparation goes into serving others. They enthusiastically served the tamales and drinks with the Juarez church; and then they had the joy of being able to hand out the gifts to an excited group of children. There was a sweet mentally-handicapped girl there who seemed to be the happiest of all.
The biggest lesson I think they learned is what the Lord Jesus Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I am confident that this is something you have also experienced as you have blessed the children of Rancho 3M with your time, prayers, energy and giving. Thank you for being an example to our kids! May your joy continue to abound!
By His grace,
Execcutive Director, Rancho 3M