“If you are from America, you live in Disney World all the time.”
That’s the message a group of 21 students and eight adults with New Hope Community Church in Cambridge brought back to their congregation after spending seven days doing mission work in San Quintin, Mexico.
New Hope Youth Pastor Mark Katzenberger and his wife Krystal Katzenberger, New Hope youth director, led a group of 21 high school students to San Quintin July 27 through Aug. 5.
The group partnered with Go Missions to Mexico to be partnered with a specific church in San Quintin, which is located four hours south of San Diego, Calif.
Go Missions to Mexico is a Christ-centered, non-denominational mission organization that was founded 15 years ago and has 19 years of experience in missionary work. It exists to incorporate short-term mission teams in reaching the un-reached and to strengthen the churches and believers of Christ in Mexico. The group stayed on the Go Missions to Mexico Mission Base for lodging and meals.
While in San Quintin the group put a roof on their partner church.
“It was exciting being able to help them put their roof on, and it was extra special because we were able to take part in their first church service in their new building,” Mark said. “They have dirt floors, no windows or doors, but they now have a roof on their building so they can hold services in there. It was a pretty special feeling being able to take part in that.”
A lot of time was also spent on prayer ministry.
“The prayer ministry was really special because we got to go into peoples’ homes to pray and see how they live,” Mark said. “It was a really eye-opening experience for all of us to see poverty. Some of the homes were nicer and had a couch and television, but the majority of the homes were one-room single level homes with cinder block walls and a tin roof. Everyone in the family lived in one room with one bed. The kids played in the dirt for fun. When we got there, the director of Go Missions told us, ‘If you’re from America, you live in Disney World all the time,’ and he was right.”
Mark explained while they were down there they also spent afternoons leading Vacation Bible School, which was attended by about 80 to 90 kids. They also did outreach work with adults and youth in the area.
This was the first time New Hope as a group has done mission work outside the United States.
“I think the kids had a great time on this mission trip,” Mark said. “For most of the kids if was their first time on an airplane, seeing the ocean and being out of the country. This was also the first time New Hope had done mission work outside of the United States except for the work we do in Canada on an Indian Reservation. Some of the people at New Hope have done mission work outside the country individually, but this was the first time we had done anything as a group.”
Mark and his wife have previously travelled outside the country on mission trips or through college travels, and realize how important it is.
“These mission trips cost a lot and there’s always a potential for danger, but it is always worth it,” Mark said. “It’s worth it because you can go and spread the word about the love of Jesus Christ. This mission trip was important for myself and my wife, and I’m glad New Hope gave us the freedom to go for it.”
New Hope partnered with Go Mission because it seemed like a good fit.
“Go Mission to Mexico fit the mold of what we were looking for,” Mark said. “It’s a very Christ-centered organization that is about helping the country’s physical needs and spiritual needs. Go Mission is not about just building a building and leaving, but about connecting with a local church and creating a long term relationship.”
Mark said the students were inspired by the trip, and some talked about doing mission work as a career.
“A lot of students talked about how grateful, thankful and joyful all the kids were despite the fact they have very little to play with,” Mark said. “Basically the kids play with whatever they can get their hands on.The kids go to school until they are 10 or 11 years old, and then they go to work in the fields with their parents for the rest of their life. It’s a very agriculturally-based area.”
New Hope began planning for the trip in October 2011, which cost $1,100 per person, and was paid for through fundraising opportunities.
“We would really like to thank everyone through New Hope and the community for their generous donations that allowed us to go on this mission trip,” Mark said. “We had wonderful support through the church, but also by many individuals in the community.”
This was the first time Mark has lead a group outside the country.
“We put everything into God’s hands in how he was going to provide for us to be able to go,” Mark said. “This trip really made me look at my life with my office, my home, my cars and made me realize how amazingly blessed I am. Now the challenge for me is to figure out how I’m going to respond to what I’ve seen to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the church we partnered with. This was a very eye-opening experience, and we hope to continue the relationship and do whatever we can to help.”