July 21, 2018

Concerning Work in Mexico

By Charles F. House

Ten years ago (in 1954) I supported myself and family by working as a wholesale grocery salesman 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 need of personal support for a young Mexican preacher. 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 man as he preached the gospel in Nuevas Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. At my first opportunity, I went to El Paso and brother Kercheville and I flew together to Nuevas 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 Nuevas 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. - MEXICO border out here 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 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, 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 that 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 and Vernon Hawkins, both of Talca Chile, South America, as they too saw the great opportunities among the Spanish speaking people.

I had made my decision, and began at once to try to do something about it. In 1954, the young preacher from Nuevas Casas Grandes came to Tijuana, Mexico 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. The young Mexican returned to the interior of Mexico, and I went back to Lomita to continue my work there.

We tried again in 1955. But still we were unable to enlist the interest of the faithful brethren in the States. But a bit later the good church at Ontario, California, began supporting this young man and finally helped get a meetinghouse built at Nuevas Casas Grandes. Brother Floyd Embree, presently an elder at Yuma, Arizona was preaching for the Ontario church at the time. In 1956 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.

In August 1958, brother Santos Gomez and I 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 Rose and Ibbetson in Bellflower, California had promised to supply Brother Gomez's needs. William S. Irvine was preaching for Rose and Ibbetson then; David Harkrider is the capable preacher with this fine congregation now. I was continuing to support myself by secular work. After the meeting at Tecate, I returned to my work as a grocery salesman, and brother Gomez and his 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 weekend, 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 church, I considered myself 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, 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. Since then, congregations of the Lord's people have been started among the Mexicans at Fallbrook, California, and just north of San Luis, Arizona USA, Valle de las Palmas, Baja-California and Caborca Sonora in Mexico, here along this far western U.S.- MEXICO border. Three other preachers ready to go into the field and are seeking support. This will make a total of TEN of us who are taking our stand for the truth. Most of these brethren are working with their hands to support their families and need to be supported by the Gospel as they labor in the Gospel. This was my situation. 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; thus, it became necessary for me to give up my secular work and go into the Mexican work full time as I worked among the churches of Tecate, Sonoyta and San Luis. I began a full time schedule of preaching every Lord's Day and teaching six classes each week. For eleven months (from January until December, 1960) I was in the Mexican work full time with no support at all. But in December of that year the faithful church at Wilmington, California (where I had formerly preached in 1953-54) began sending what they could to help. Later the faithful church 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 San Bernardino church (Arthur Atkinson preaches there) and the Montebello church (where Wright Randolph formerly preached), became interested and began regular support of me in the Mexican work. Little by little, others began to become interested in my work and have helped as they could. I am trying to find one or two congregations who would be willing to assume my full support in order that funds coming in, in smaller amounts could be released to support still other Gospel preachers in Mexico who are presently working with their hands. Santos Gomez at Tecate has just lost $100 per month. This must be made up at once. John Dillard, who begins working with me soon, needs support. Andres Guiterrez needs $80 per month. Gregorio Sierra needs $12 per week. Who will supply the needs of these gospel preachers, who will take advantage of these wonderful opportunities to preach the Gospel of Christ in Mexico? Lack of space will not allow me to list their addresses. Write me for more details.

Truth Magazine VIII: 7, pp. 11-12
April 1964