In Mexico, souls ‘are starving to know God’
Jim Taylor’s adventures began at a young age. He served the U.S. Air Force in Okinawa, Japan and China. He studied math at the University of Colorado and worked for a government contractor that produced control systems for the Apollo moon missions.
Though his future wife was an elder’s daughter, Jim Taylor didn’t grow up in a Christian home. After his baptism, he sought opportunities to study the Bible and enrolled at Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas. In 1973, the couple moved to Poncha Springs, Colo., where Jim Taylor helped plant a church. He used his own hands to help construct the church’s meeting place and served as its minister for 24 years.
Eighteen years ago they moved to the lively tourist city of Mazatlan, Mexico, on the Pacific coast intending to relax. Soon they found opportunities to help the local congregation.
They work with Iglesias de Cristo (Churches of Christ) in Colonia Olimpica and Villa Union. The Poncha Springs church provides funds to help with the benevolent needs of the small Mexican churches.
They spend their summers in another Spanish-sounding town, Buena Vista (although it happens to be in Colorado). The Mountain View Church of Christ in Buena Vista also supports the work in Mazatlan.
The Taylors meagerly support themselves with social security and income from their U.S. rental property. Their children are Brent in Missouri and Becky in Colorado.
Describe your ministry in Mexico.
Our ministry is largely one of buying and distributing food to hungry brethren.
The church in Poncha Springs helps support the church in Mazatlan by buying food and other necessities for the brethren who are very poor. Poncha also supports a preacher who serves both Mazatlan and Villa Union. About every two months we buy large quantities of beans, rice, oil, milk, canned tuna, tomato puree and other items. These things are bagged and distributed to 35 families in our congregation.
I have taught Bible classes. I once asked the students, “Who would you die for?” The total response was no one. Then, “Who would you lay down your child’s life for?” God did that for us.
That is a point they remember.
Are you also working to help the poor Mexicans improve their lives so that they can feed themselves?
We have no way to help the poor improve their lives. I don’t see any possible way. There are very few jobs, and the ones that exist are temporary and pay very little. Most the people we help are elderly and totally rely on what they get.
What is the most difficult part of your ministry?
The poor morality of some church leaders. We have seen it a lot — people who try to acquire the church property for themselves or try to get financial support from the States. Churches that fight each other is another disappointment and challenge. When we encounter that, we move to another location.
What advice do you give churches that support work in Mexico?
I suggest strongly that supporting churches know what is going on in their mission points. It is nearly an impossible challenge.
I would suggest that when the eldership sends someone to visit their mission church, they send at least one person who speaks the language well. Do not tell the church when you are coming. Just show up some Sunday morning, unannounced. Otherwise, I assure you that you’ll get the “greatest show on earth.” It is called a “campaign,” and they are scheduled when the elders come.
I am sure the churches that support these men have no real idea what is going on in those churches. We were at a church when the supporting elders were coming to visit. The preacher “hired” an entire Pentecostal church to visit the Sunday morning the elders were coming. The building was full and the elders were greatly impressed.
No church in the U.S. should build a building in Mexico unless the property is in the name of the church. In cases where the church has purchased a building or built one, it has been put in the name of the preacher, and later sold or lost.
What about the drug-related violence we hear about in Mexico? Has that affected your ministry?
Judy and I live every day by faith. We are treated with the greatest of respect and courtesy.
The violence here is all between the cartels. They are fighting over drug territory. For an innocent bystander to get in the way is highly improbable.
Mazatlan has lost many businesses since cruise ships no longer come here. Many of our friends, whom we love dearly, are out of business. But the violence here for the past year has been non-existent, so the cruse ships are starting to return.
What relationship do you see between U.S. and Mexican churches?
We have traveled coast to coast and border to border — several times by bus. Mexican churches would benefit from the experience of U.S. churches. We wish there could be a lot more joint work and fellowship with churches in the States, but we see very little of that.
There are so many people in Mexico who are starving to know God, to worship him and be taught his Word.
Some of our brethren, very poor, travel great distances and at great expense to attend church service. There are towns 100 miles west of us here in Mazatlan, across the Sea of Cortez, on the Baja, that have people who desperately need a preacher.