Servant Senders in Mexico—Part 1

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Servant Senders in Mexico: Building a House of Faith

Story by Carmel Flippen
Photos courtesy of Servant Senders

This is Part 1 of a two-part series about Servant Senders, a Calvary Chapel-based in Juarez, Mexico, which trains local pastors and ministry leaders to reach their own communities for Christ. Look for Part 2 to learn how God has used Servant Senders' police ministry to transform a violent city into a stronghold of faith.

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Servant Senders-trained pastors Javier (left) and Juanito baptize Don Polo, an 85-year-old man Javier met while handing out food during the pandemic. A lifelong alcoholic before Jesus transformed him, Don Polo is now leading his neighbors to Christ.

When Pastor Javier met Don Polo, the 85-year-old man was sitting outside the shack he called home—a dilapidated one-room structure with no electricity or running water. The elderly man, a lifelong alcoholic, had trouble enough providing for himself before the pandemic; now he was in dire straits. Javier began regularly bringing Don Polo “dispensa”, bags of grocery staples provided through Servant Senders, the organization which trained and supported Javier as a ministry leader. During these visits, Javier also fed Don Polo spiritually, telling him about Jesus, then providing him with a large-print Bible so he could learn about Jesus himself. Eventually, Don Polo began joining Javier at the Tuesday Bible study for Servant Senders’ ministry leaders.

On his third visit, he arrived beaming ear to ear. “How are you, Don Polo?” asked one of the pastors.

“I am fantastic!” he exclaimed. “I am happier than I have ever been in my life, because now I know Jesus!”

His own salvation was only the beginning. Like many in Mexico, Don Polo lived in a cluster of independent homes sharing the same inner courtyard. The more he learned about his own need for salvation, the more concerned he became for his neighbors. Now, he began sharing what he had learned about Jesus with Consuela, an elderly woman. As her interest grew, he asked Javier to provide her with a large-print Bible as well. Soon, Consuela also committed her life to Christ, and then another neighbor.

In May 2021, Don Polo was one of 11 people baptized in a horse trough which Servant Senders carts around to their various churches for that purpose. He continues to witness to his community and is able to care for himself a little easier due to the small stove his church installed in his home.

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Psalm 127:1a

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Pastor Manuel baptizes Ricarda, a woman from his home group, in a horse trough the Schockeys bring on such occasions. This May it was used for 11 baptisms.

“It’s so encouraging to see it’s never too late [to begin serving God],” rejoiced Marie Schockey, who co-founded Servant Senders with her husband Nolan. The Schockeys began full-time ministry in Juarez, Mexico, in 1999, building houses for the poor. They soon learned that what local Christians needed more was help building their faith. Now they model their ministry on 2 Timothy 2:2, equipping Mexican believers to reach their own communities for Christ.

 

Firm Foundation

During the six years the Schockeys spent building houses with another ministry, “We kept meeting men who were passionate about God’s Word but lacked education,” Marie explained. “They said, ‘Sister, I read the Bible all the time, but I don’t understand it.’ Many of these men only had a 5th-7th grade education. We realized with their education level, they were lacking comprehension. If you don’t have reading comprehension, how can you understand God’s Word? If you can’t understand it, how can you teach it? We went back to our home church, Rocky Mountain Calvary in Colorado Springs, CO, and said, ‘We want to train these men to be pastors and leaders.’”

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Pastors at the Tuesday bible study pray for Jose Manuel, a frequent attender. "The study is mandatory for our students, but is also open to anyone who wants to know the Word," clarified Marie Schockey.

Launched in 2006, Servant Senders’ intensive three-year training program for prospective pastors is deeply rooted in God’s Word. Its linchpin is the Tuesday Bible study, mandatory for Servant Senders-supported graduates and students but open to anyone wanting to learn about God. Some participants began as guests before being drawn to ministry by a growing love for the Word. The all-day event includes three hours of testimony and training, and three hours of in-depth Bible study. “That’s how we stay connected,” said Marie. “Every week they see how relevant God’s Word is to their lives. It refreshes them to go out to the [spiritual] battle again.”

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

During the rest of the week, students have two other days of mentoring and more individualized education, and three days of service and evangelism in which they put their book learning into action. At the program’s culmination, they are encouraged to launch their own ministry, resulting in a far-flung net of affiliated church plants and ministries. Today, Servant Senders has 11 established churches and two blossoming home fellowships, as well as many ministries—to all levels of police and many first responders; various military bases, drug rehabilitation facilities, and prisons; the influx of migrants huddled at the border; and the indigenous Tarahumara people marginalized by society and living in extreme poverty. Because Juarez is a hotbed of cartel activity, many of these men risk their lives proclaiming God’s Word.

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Pastors' wives gather for their monthly, all-day bible study with Marie. Since most of the women do not have transportation or childcare, they greatly look forward to their one chance to gather together and study God's Word.

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

While Mexico’s schools are technically free, in reality, many poor parents struggle to afford school fees, uniforms, and supplies on an average $100-per-week salary. Servant Senders’ “Feed My Sheep” programs offer neighborhood children a safe place to play, learn about God, get help with homework, and have a nourishing meal.

As parents see their children’s hearts transformed by the Gospel, they become curious and begin attending as well. Many of Servant Senders’ churches were launched this way. Since traditional church buildings can become targets for cartel violence, often Servant Senders helps pastors add a large addition to their house, literally providing each community with a spiritual home. This summer, Servant Senders also hosted seven Vacation Bible Schools in five weeks, reaching hundreds of children throughout Juarez.

“Assuredly, I [Jesus] say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16

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Nolan & Marie Schockey, center, stand amidst their current class of pastors-in-training. After their graduation, these men will launch ministries and churches of their own, boldly preaching the Gospel despite the risk of cartel violence.

Obstacles and Opportunities

When life in Juarez ground to a halt due to the pandemic, Servant Senders’ ministry went into overdrive. Closed factories, restaurants, and buildings meant thousands of lost jobs; closing the border caused even more, as many people depend on work in El Paso, TX. All these people competed with the thousands of incoming migrants for the few remaining jobs. In Juarez, most people work to survive—there is no money or food stocked up for emergencies. “For some of them,” Marie explained, “their daily meal is a small bowl of noodles with tomato sauce. We know families where the husband eats one day, the wife eats the next.”

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Lorenzo passes out "dispensa," bags of groceries Servant Senders has provided during the pandemic. With the border and most local businesses closed, many people are out of work and struggling to feed their families.

Through supporters’ donations, Servant Senders began their Dispensa program, giving 13 of their pastors a $20 weekly stipend to buy groceries for desperate families in their community. Supplies are carefully stretched and receipts given to Servant Senders. For many of the 60-some families they now support, Dispensa has literally been a lifesaver. “The kids are excited to grab the food; the moms are crying and saying, ‘I didn’t know what I would feed them,’” Marie related. “Some of them haven’t eaten in three days.”

Desperation caused crime to rise even as police forces dwindled due to sickness and quarantine. “Firefighters, EMTs, state and federal police, and special forces told our guys more than ever, ‘We need you!’ We never stopped going to any of those places,” said Marie.

Meanwhile, Servant Senders has been facing some of the most intense spiritual attacks their ministry has ever experienced. In addition to the incredible pressure put on ministry leaders by the overwhelming needs around them, lately they have faced one unexpected disaster after another, from one pastor’s serious car wreck to another’s sudden unexplained neurological illness, which causes the Schockeys to fear for his life.

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Displaced immigrants at a migrant shelter line up to receive food from Servant Senders. Nolan & Marie Schockey always pass around a notebook for prayer needs; this day they received six pages of requests. "As Christians, we see [the border crisis] as an opportunity, not a problem," said Marie. "If God brought all these people to the border, shouldn't we make sure their hope is in Christ rather than America?"

Nonetheless, they persevere. “I’m doing a lot more counseling for stress, anxiety, and depression,” admitted Marie, but “we have all experienced that with added stress, spiritual attacks, and darkness, people are looking for answers and are more receptive to the Gospel. The Number One question most police ask us, having some biblical background, is, Is this the End Times? To which we reply, ‘It could be, and if it is heading that way, wouldn’t you say, ‘Behold, now is the day of salvation?’” (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

Meanwhile, Servant Senders relies on the prayers of their supporters and the goodness of their Heavenly Father to bring them through. He has shown them many miracles before; now they wait expectantly to see what He will do next.

                  

Click to learn more about  Servant Senders

Read Part 2 of this series to learn how God has used Servant Senders' police ministry to transform a violent city into a stronghold of faith.
                  

 

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2021 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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