MEXICO CITY, Mexico (FR) – “What was there to live for?” thought Aixa, a young university student at the University of Mexico. Her brother had just been diagnosed with brain cancer, her parents never stopped fighting, and now they were talking of divorce. Studying accounting seemed to take forever because of the Mexican system. And she wondered who would guarantee her a good job – even professionals were earning a shabby living these days.
Aixa pondered on this and went on to a greater dilemma: there was no one who seemed to care – not even God, if He did exist. She had never felt His assurance; since she was a child she was taught to revere the statues of saints in the Catholic church. Instead of having any security and faith, however, she shuddered with fear and despair.
Then Aixa made up her mind. She decided to give God until the end of the school day to prove His love – or she was going to end her life. It was not a new idea to her. She had planned many times how she would commit suicide: a sure, lethal overdose of tranquilizers. “God,” she prayed desperately, “If You do live and You do care, You have to show me today! I can’t go on anymore.”
As she slowly shuffled out of her last class, Aixa mentally said goodbye to everything. The always present, contemptible Mexico City smog stung her teary eyes relentlessly as she trudged along, realizing that God had not answered her prayer. The gray smoke hung in the air and stung her throat as she tried to swallow the lump growing there. She then decided to allow herself one more little pleasure before she ended everything when she returned home to her empty house. She bought herself some chocolate, savored every bite, and then lit a cigarette.
In the distance she could see a crowd of people gathered around a young man who was speaking, almost shouting in urgent tones. “Probably another communist decrying the bourgeois,” she thought to herself. Putting off her fatal plan for just a little while longer, she approached the group to hear what the speaker was saying. He did not look like a communist, but was in fact a well-dressed American who spoke with the aid of an interpreter.
“God put that yearning in your heart to know Him,” he said. “He gave His son to die for your sins – and now He lives and wants to live in you!” The young evangelist, Nick Pappis, looked right at her. He pointed to her and cried, “You know how you have wanted to know if God is real! Today He is inviting you to know Him!”
Today Aixa de Gallego is the wife of a pastor in Mexico City. She became a Christian during an outreach in July, 1981, when a team of 15 students from the U.S., Haiti, and Colombia came to the city to start Maranatha Campus Ministries’ first Mexican base. Those who became Christians with Aixa are now missionaries in the Mexican cities of Monterrey, Saltillo, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, and in other Latin American countries.
Members of the Maranatha Christian Church in Mexico City continue to see students come to Christ in similar ways. Veronica Ireta Leon, a folk dance teacher with a degree in Spanish literature, said she had been searching in many books for fulfillment. “I found many inspirational themes advocating the meaning of life in friendship, drugs, alcohol, and hedonism. But nothing produced a positive, lasting change until a friend told me about Jesus. It was something more powerful than I had ever heard before and I began to be transformed on the inside.”
A chemistry student, Dionisio Bautista, said his friends in college were “a bunch of bad-mouthed, heavy drinkers, and I was one of them.” He became a Christian after hearing students preach on his campus.
Another student, Ventura Farfan, who was studying physics, said he dropped out of school because he couldn’t find the answer to life in his studies. “I had many questions which I could not answer,” he said. “Because of this I began to question the existence of God and was determined to find my answers through other means such as physics. I was at the point in my life where I didn’t have a reason to live and dropped out of the university.”
Some friends dropped by Ventura’s house one day and talked to him about God. They then loaned him a Bible, which he began to read out of curiosity. Later a friend invited him to a seminar exposing rock music, and he became a Christian.
Besides starting a church, the believers in the Mexico City Maranatha Church have also founded a medical clinic and primary school offering a Christian education – which had not been available in the city until that time. Students in the church are also active in politics and have staged marches against abortion, as well as demonstrations “proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” according to Robert Hucklebridge, founder of the Maranatha Church in Mexico City. Today the church is pastored by Aixa’s husband, Ricardo Gallego.
In Oaxaca, students marched in protest of a witches’ convention and received favorable press coverage. The head warlock issued a statement saying that the next convention would not be held in Oaxaca because of the resistance they encountered.
Besides confronting communism and occult activity, church members have also experienced God’s supernatural protection during earthquakes. During the 1985 quake which devastated the city, not one member of the church was harmed or affected by damaged property. “The church building was left unscathed,” said Hucklebridge. “The building across the street was condemned because it was uninhabitable (after the quake).”
One member of the church arrived at work 15 minutes late to see his office building fall in front of his eyes. It would have been his grave had he arrived on time.
Mexico is usually in the headlines because of its unstable government, its drug rings, and most recently the cult slayings in Matamoros. But Robert Hucklebridge says he wants to see Mexico make the news because of the impact that Christianity is having upon its culture. He also challenges American Christians to pray about their part in helping this troubled land: “The gospel is aimed to all the uttermost places of the world, but let’s not forget our next door neighbor.”
- Joy Hucklebridge and Leilani Corpus