Planning for Mexico


Carrying the Gospel into a country represents an invasion of that country. It is, if you will, an attack. It is not an attack upon that country, but upon the forces of evil and sin, of darkness and delusion that are there. Especially it is an attack upon the ruler of these powers. An attack may not be carried out in a “hit or miss” fashion. It must be planned and effectively executed. The attack may well fail or succeed depending upon the plan of attack. In this article we will speak of our planning for Mexico. The hope is that our plan is sound so that the attack will not flounder. A good plan will not guarantee success, but success is not likely to be gained without it.

There is a well known saying about best-laid plans going astray. But the wayward nature of some of our most thoroughly conceived plans furnishes no argument for the abolition of plans as such. Errant plans simply can for new ones.

Plans are an unstable mixture of intentions, methods, and circumstances. At one time or another, one or another of the ingredients predominates, and at times the ingredients are in tension, each appearing almost irreconcilable to the others. Unless we have the three, however, we do not have plans.

Intentions without methods and circumstances are stubborn resolutions or ineffectual dreaming. Intentions alone do not make plans, although no plans are made without them. Sheer intention is no more a plan than, for example, desire to enter the ministry is its own course of study.

Methods and plans are often confused; many speaking almost as if they were the same thing. Methods, without the other elements of a plan furnish the kind of skill, adeptness, or proficiency that can be measured by the “change of opinion” poll after a debate. We are often enamored of a method, seeming to think that all there is to a plan is method. But method alone is no more a plan than improvisations on a theme make a concert.

Circumstances are rarely substituted for plans, nor are situations often thought to be the strategy. But they are the stuff that makes fatalism and recklessness (but what is recklessness but practical fatalism?). These as well as hopelessness and uselessness result from only looking at the circumstances instead of making a plan. A knowledge or awareness of the circumstances is no more a plan than being a sinner (and the awareness of it) makes me saved.


Missionary activity in Mexico requires the making of a plan. Knowing that all our plans are short.sighted and make-shift does not discourage us; we know that we will probably alter the plan, and perhaps even make a new one at some future date, but if we are going to work effectively we must have a plan. At this stage of our planning for Mexico our emphasis is on the ingredients. We shall discuss them one by one.

Our intention is to destroy the reign of Satan and establish the reign of Christ. This of course is our general goal. It is important that in the spelling out of our intentions that we both include and exclude certain elements. For example, we could include the salvation of souls as a specific intention. And in a sense, it is that. But in another sense, the salvation of souls is a method of destroying one kingdom and building another. While the salvation or souls is not outside our intentions, our goal is wider and less specific.

We would quick1y add that to build the Church is likewise not outside of our intention. As Professor Anthony Hoekema of Calvin Seminary has often said, the Church is the powerhouse and lighthouse of the Kingdom. One does not work toward the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ without serving and building the Church. The fact is that if we would serve Christ’s Kingdom and destroy the kingdom of Satan, we must concentrate on the Church. The Church and Christ’s Kingdom are so closely identified that we may say that concentration on the Church is the best method of building the Kingdom. The best method of battling against the reign of Satan is to strengthen, nourish, instruct and exhort the Church. For the Kingdom’s sake. we must purify her and increase her number and her membership. When we consider our intention of destroying Satan’s kingdom and building the Kingdom or Christ, we turn our attention to the Church and consider her strategic importance to the Kingdom.

To make our intention more specific we may say that in order to build the Kingdom we must search for souls to recruit, through their conversion, as citizens of the Kingdom of Christ. Moreover, soldiers need to be recruited in this same way to battle against the powers of evil. We specifically concentrate on the Church because the Kingdom does not and cannot exist without the Church, and because when one becomes a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, he is by that very fact also a member of the Church. In order to fight and serve, he is nourished and trained in the Church. We may not view the saving of souls apart from the Church and the Kingdom, nor the Church apart from souls and its unique relation to the Kingdom. Our intention, our purpose, remains: to establish the Kingdom.



The second part of our plan is our method. This part is equally simple. Our method is to teach and preach the Word of God. Our specific technique is to specialize in the establishment of a training center. We are to specialize in teaching in order that preaching may be promoted and enhanced.

This is not to say that other techniques are not legitimate or may not be used. It may be that at some future date we may decide to use a medical approach in Mexico. Or perhaps we will begin an evangelistic program among students at the University. But we are saying here that for the present our plan for Mexico centers around proclamation. The seminary is a training center for prospective preachers of the Word.

The Kingdom is never built without preaching. At times other methods may be used in addition to or as a technique of preaching. but preaching itself is indispensable. Therefore we have decided to concentrate on that which is the most important, namely preaching and the training of preachers, so that God’s Word may be heard more fully in Mexico.

By concentrating our energies on training preachers, that is, by teaching the Word to prospective preachers, we aim to furnish what is necessary to call sinners to repentance and thereby recruit citizens for the Kingdom, members for the Church, soldiers for the missionary army, and at the same time strengthen the Church by feed ing and equipping it. We look upon teaching as a form of preaching. Our voice is magnified by the students whom we teach.

Our training center is a seminary. We teach the Word to young preachers. We are not overly concerned with teach. ing methods. We teach homiletics as a theological science. Practical theology aims to be practical, but it is at the same time, theology. Our method means that we intend our graduates to be expositors of the Word. The seminary is the “seed bed.” And “the seed is the Word of God.”


We believe that the circumstances in Mexico call for such a method. The seminary is the key link in the missionary chain. The method always stands between the intention and circumstances of a plan, and it is determined by both. We turn our attention now to the circumstances in Mexico.

The Mexican constitution specifies that only native-born Mexicans can be pastors of churches. While some may dispute the wisdom of this prescription, we feel that in the long run if will benefit the church. But a dispute on this point is not in order. If we are to aid the church in Mexico, we must reckon with this fact. It means that if there is to be a trained clergy in Mexico, there must be means of training Mexicans to be pastors.

Coupled to this is the fact that a convert group in Mexico has no church experience. There are very few “mother” churches. The group begins because someone has heard the Gospel and tells it to another. It is often true that the one who tells is not himself a believer; he merely tells what he heard.

We have had this experience not far from the seminary in Coyoacan. There is a small group of believers served by a lay-worker who taught himself to read when he was already at an advanced age. This worker attends the seminary as an oyente, an auditor. Before the seminary was formally established in July 1963, special classes were given for this man and several others. Such men have very little church experience, hardly any formal theological training, and very little preparation for resourceful study, but they repeat what they have heard and stay very close to the Bible. Such groups as the one near Coyoacan continue to grow, and as the pastors receive more training. the depth and outreach of the members will increase.

There are usually always visitors at the services in such a place. Many do not return; some do. Some attend sporadically for a long time before the answer is si or no. One such person moved away from the evangelical meeting place before he gave his si or no. In the village to which he moved there is no church. A priest visits once a year on the day of the village’s official saint, but that is the only formal religious service ever conducted in this village, although some old ladies meet occasionally to say the rosary together. In a very casual, no-committal manner the new resident told of the protestant services he had attended and some of the things he had heard. Others asked about these messages and this began lengthy discussions concerning the meaning of the protestant doctrines. After a time a group of twenty-five sent a letter asking the lay-worker to come and explain the Bible to them. They were not believers, but they did have genuine interest. Today the man who first brought the Gospel to this village is hardly interested in it himself, but every Sunday a protestant service is held there, attended by men and women who are hungry for the Gospel. Sometimes the lay·worker goes to conduct the service, at other times a seminary student is in charge. Occasionally the lay-worker and the seminary student go out on Friday night and spend Saturday visiting and testifying, then conduct the Sunday School and worship serv. ices, and return to Coyoacan on Monday.

TIlls group. like so many others, needs a pastor. Seminary students can tend to those congregations that are near to Coyoacan by week-end visits, but eventually there must be a regular flow of seminary graduates into the villages throughout Mexico.


Religious and theological error is prevalent in Mexico. All the sects and cults are represented here. Many come in from California, where a great many Americans of Mexican ancestry live. They send hack to their relatives and friends in Mexico religious literature of every conceivable kind. This literature and the activities of adherents of various sectarian groups are constant sources of trouble for the few poorly-trained, protestant workers and pastors that are available in Mexico.

This is the situation that sent at least two of our young men to the seminary. One gave his testimony at a program which the seminary choir gave in a village church. (Such programs are presented in order to acquaint the churches and young congregations with the seminary and to encourage them to continue until there is a better hope of their having a pastor.) This student told of his conversion, and how, within a few weeks he had been approached by many different sects, all of which claimed to possess complete and final truth. His church did not have, and still does not have, a pastor. The young man turned to an older Christian for advice, and they suffered together. They weathered the storm which the sectarians hurled against them, and their faith was strengthened by it. Out of this experience came the young man’s call to the ministry. He feels compelled teach others, especially new converts, the truths of Scripture which alone can save them from the confusion of the cults.

The other student is a graduate of an independent Bible school. When he left the school, he was on fire for evangelism, but the fire soon burned out because he knew no theology. He had no answers for the questions which were asked. He began to serve several young groups of Christians, but he could not instruct them. Now he is in the seminary and is one of the better students in his class. His favorite course of study is Systematic Theology, for he knows, from experience, that the only answer to error is truth.

New groups of inquirers are continually seeking pastoral help as a result of Christian Reformed migrant work in various parts of the United States. When a migrant worker returns to Mexico, he may forget about the protestant teachings for quite some time, but later his interest is rekindled and he seeks further instruction. During this time he frequently meets with a sectarian group that is only too willing to instruct him. If and when he eventually is contacted by a Reformed or Presbyterian evangelist, he has already picked up numerous misconceptions and sectarian perversions which must be eradicated. This calls for pastors and evangelists that have been thoroughly trained in a Reformed and Biblical seminary.

Satan has not left the churches alone. He is present in Mexico with all the theological errors that the rest of the world knows. Liberalism and neo-liberalism are not unknown, although they are often unrecognized. Sometimes, however, Christians can sense when error is being taught even though they may not be able to pin-point the exact doctrinal discrepancy. Recently a group of pastors from a number of independent churches having Calvinistic leanings approached as with a problem. They meet together each month for fellowship, prayer, and instruction, and occasionally they invite outside speakers to address them, One such invitation was given to a professor in another Presbyterian seminary. This professor has been trained. in various Presbyterian seminaries in the United States and he is now teaching Systematic Theology in a Presbyterian seminary in Mexico which some people regard as being true to the Reformed faith. However this professor told the group of Mexican pastors that Karl Barth was a fundamentalist, a sound Calvinist, the modern expositor of the theology of St. Paul. Theology, he said, is the faith of the church, especially of the early church. Furthermore he said that the churches of Mexico ought to unite on the basis of Barth’s theology.

The evangelical pastors were divided as to their reactions to the professor’s address, and they felt that they need guidance in evaluating Barth. For that reason they approached us at the Seminario loon Calvino and asked us to address them on this subject at a future meeting. The need for a solidly Reformed seminary in Mexico is unquestionable.

A member of our faculty recently visited a Presbyterian church in Texas and was depressed by the rampant liberalism of the minister’s sermon. Meeting the minister after the service, the visitor discovered that this man was well acquainted. with the work of theological education in the Mexico City area for he himself had been a professor in the other Presbyterian seminary for some years. There is no doubt that some of the students in that school learned from him tile perversions of Scripture which were so evident in the morning sermon. The need. for a vigorous, Reformed, and evangelically-orientated seminary in Mexico is plain to everyone who acquaints himself with all the facts of the situation.

The educational level of the Mexican people is rising and the newly-educated young people are vitally important for the overall development of this country. Their abilities and skills give them importance in society. The universities and elementary schools (there are no colleges here) are crowded. Communism is active everywhere, and particularly in educational institutions. Many students claim to be atheists, supposing that the form of Romanism followed by their parents is the only form of Christianity that there is. They think that they are rejecting Christianity when they reject Romanism, but in reality they have never known true Christianity.

We must have theological education on the university level so that students can be reached with the Gospel, and through them the message will spread throughout Mexico. In Mexico, as in so many places and on so many university campuses, literary, scientific and philosophic sophistry drowns out the call of the Gospel. But our seminary must make this call heard in no uncertain tones.

As we said at the start: our efforts here represent an attack against the powers of evil and darkness, and the ruler of all these. To make an attack you must have a plan. A plan is made of intentions, methods., and circumstances. Our plan is not complete, nor faultless. But we are going ahead with it because we believe it is the correct plan for Mexico.