Evening seminar with Stan Slade
Conference week led by David Wheeler
Mylinda Baits facilitates group dynamic
Maine-Mexico encounter led by Sheila Heneise
It’s been a long time – 165 years to be sure—that the borderlands in which we minister has been just that, a strip of land along adjoining countries. It wasn’t always this way; that is until the United States decided to declare war on Mexico in order to expand its horizons to the west and southwest by taking half of Mexico’s territory. Much has happened over the years and dynamics have changed with the times, but one thing has remained constant, both sides of the border depend on the other, socially, culturally, and economically. Cross border activity has never ceased and in fact the Tijuana/San Diego border crossing continues to occupy its place as the busiest international port of entry in the world.
In some ways we serve in a unique ministry context, yet it is one that has much in common with so much of our world where those imaginary lines (or so we baby boomers were told in grade school) on a political map have become more and more visible, in plain sight, whether viewed from ground level or through a jet’s window at 30,000 feet.
The Mexicali Seminary lies but one mile from the border fence. Some students come from the north, but most live and minister south of the border and the great majority of those are not permitted to cross into the Unites States. We wrestle with key questions. What does it mean to be as Christ in such an area? How do we go about mission as God’s people when our backyard fence is now a wall that not only marks property but serves the purposes of exclusion in a most stark and real way? Our world is one composed of those who can and those who can’t, those who have access and those who don’t, a life of separated families, illicit movement of goods, drugs, arms and people. The list goes on.
Yet, our very proximity to the north provides a most poignant working field for embrace as well as exclusion. (Yes, some of you who read this may recognize Miroslav Volf’s ‘epic’ work from 1996 in the terms ‘exclusion and embrace’.) There really is no end to how all this applies to our life as followers of Christ. But in this posting we limit our thoughts to one particular way in which the Mexicali Seminary community has been blessed by the embrace of others in our American Baptist family. We speak of those who have crossed the border and spent extended time in community with us—over meals, in worship, informal sharing and prayer, facilitating workshops and leading conferences. Here are some who have joined us recently:
- Stan Slade, IM global consultant in theological education, takes a week out of his busy schedule each year in order to engage us in Biblical study at its best.
- David Wheeler, Pastor of First Baptist Portland, Oregon also helps in our formation as Christian leaders as we seek to better understand important theological and pastoral issues through week-long conferences.
- Sheila Heneise, former IM missionary in Nicaragua and Chile, along with four other pastors from Maine, spent 10 days with us, a time of refreshing and revitalizing cross-fertilization between those called to pastoral ministries from two distinct contexts.
- Mylinda Baits, IM regional missionary with particular focus on human trafficking, engaged both students and pastors in our understanding of and response to this present-day evil.
- Pastor Terry Steenburg from Owego, NY, led a small team that joined Mexican churches in evangelistic outreach and shared time, prayer and resources with the Seminary community.
Your 'embrace' of us really matters and we at the Mexicali Baptist Seminary community are thankful.