PUEBLA, Mexico – Several years before leading his congregation to partner with a church in the Mexican state of Puebla, Pastor John Jones stood on the streets of a Sri Lankan city named Candy—a city popular among Buddhist pilgrims because of a large temple purportedly containing Buddha’s tooth.
Some passersby on the streets of Candy spoke English, Jones recalled. But no matter what he said to them, they replied with the same question.
“Have you been to the temple yet?” they asked. “Have you seen the temple? Have you been to the temple to see the tooth? Oh! It is so beautiful.”
“They looked deranged, like they were under another power,” Jones said.
After walking the streets of Candy, Jones traveled back to his hotel, where he met with other pastors for prayer.
“We were on our knees before God, and God Himself just laid His hand on me and broke my heart over the lostness,” he said. “And I cried without any consolation for hours.”
The Lord Jesus Christ died to save men and women from their sins, yet the Buddhists of Sri Lanka worship a tooth, Jones thought. Who will share God’s love with them?
During this trip to Sri Lanka, Jones began to grasp God’s love for the world. His renewed vision for reaching the world for Christ inspired him, eventually, to lead members from Cadet Baptist Church, Cadet, to the Mexican state of Puebla.
This year, during the second week of March, this east-Missouri church sent its second mission team to Puebla, where they partnered with Bautista Pueblo De Dios, a church in the town of San Jose Tlacuitlapan. During their trip, they proclaimed the gospel to some who had never heard before. They also helped some Mexican Christians grasp the reality of God’s love for the world.
Throughout their week in Puebla, the Cadet Baptist mission team shared the gospel from house to house, leading many people to faith in Christ.
In one home, the mission team met with a woman, her children and her elderly parents, who were visiting from another part of Mexico. As they shared the gospel, the woman’s mother began crying. She surrendered her life to Christ.
Afterward, still with tears in her eyes, she said, “I am just so thankful that God brought you here today. I am only going to be visiting for this time in this place. I am leaving early tomorrow morning. And I know that God brought you here to share this message with me, for I have never heard it before.”
The presence of this Missouri mission team also communicated God’s love to believers in a village where Jones was preaching. During the service, one woman stood up and said, “Now I know that God does love people everywhere, to the uttermost parts of the earth, because we are in such a remote place that we just never really thought that God would send people to reach out here. And He has.”
For Jones, these words resounded with the same truth that God drove into his heart on the streets of Sri Lanka: God loves the world.
Missouri Baptists, he said, shouldn’t hesitate to share this message with people around the globe. By no means should they wait until the people of Missouri have heard the message and responded. In fact, as Missouri Baptists grasp God’s love for people around the world, they’ll grasp His love for their neighbors all the more, Jones said.
“Won’t we be more conscious to reach out to them as we’re going to the uttermost parts of the earth?” he asked. “I think we are. I think we are more emboldened. I know I am.”