Some might underestimate the impact of packing shoeboxes during the holidays for Samaritan’s Purse, but a disabled pastor has used the ministry project to witness to an entire village of unreached people in a remote mountainous area of Mexico where they now have their first church.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, has provided an open door for people to be a part of evangelism efforts around the world by filling shoe sized gift boxes that are sent to over 160 nations, including 50 hard to reach areas. Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and booklets with the Gospel message. The project then delivers the boxes to children in need around the world in over 160 nations, opening the door for the next generation to hear the message of God.
Last month, The Christian Post witnessed how the ministry has impacted a secluded village in Mexico.
La Laguna is home to an indigenous people called Mexicaneros, or the Nahuatl people, and up until a few years ago these people had never heard the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ. It was the bold faith of Tequila resident pastor Jose Benitez that changed the spiritual fate of the villagers forever. On Oct. 22, the village dedicated their first church on the mountain.
There were over a hundred professing Christians — both young and old — at the church dedication, along with a small team from Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child and Edward Graham, a grandson of the late world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, and this CP reporter.
Benitez, a native of Mexico, contracted polio when he was 2 years old and has never been able to walk. But the pastor did not allow his disability to stop him from answering the call of God on his life. Benitez has repeatedly risked his life over the years to make a six-hour trek up the mountains to the village of La Laguna to witness to the indigenous people who live there.
After years of traveling up and down the mountain to preach and not see much fruit from his labors in the dangerous area, the minister decided to host an Operation Christmas Child shoebox giveaway in the village, which has resulted in nearly a hundred children accepting Jesus as their Lord. The children, in turn, became little evangelists to their own families who were all present at La Laguna’s church dedication ceremony.
So who is this man willing to risk his life and go into the mountains to win souls in Jesus name?
While in La Laguna, CP sat down with Benitez to learn more about his life and brave journey to make disciples in a region of the world most people wouldn’t want to go to.
“It was 42 years before I received Jesus in my heart,” Benitez said of his background.
Before coming to God, he admitted to living a life of drunkenness while traveling around town with a group of musicians.
“God changed my life,” he declared of his transformation.
The pastor, who gets around on a scooter because he cannot use his legs, came to faith after overhearing an evangelistic event in Tequila. He recalled hearing a young girl singing the lyrics “I have a friend that loves me and my friend is Jesus Christ.” Those words compelled him to surrender his life and be baptized.
“The Lord told me, I want you here in Jerusalem,’ in my neighborhood, ‘You’re going to begin to work there,’” Benitez recollected. So after hearing from God he started “knocking on doors.”
“This is a calling, I saw a lot of need in my town and I said, ‘God, I want to proclaim Your Word, send me,’ and here I am. There are a lot of families, a lot of kids that have received Jesus Christ through my life,” he testified.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeannie Law