Mexico church sees growth despite COVID-19 pandemic
Iglesia del Nazareno Etla in Oaxaca, Mexico, closed its doors due to the pandemic like many others, but that did not stop the church from ministering to its community and from continuing to grow and expand.
Even behind closed doors, the Etla congregation helped its community and its members with food, prayer, and live broadcasts. The church’s membership, small groups, and even some church-type missions have grown during this time.
Recently, the Mexican government authorized churches to reopen their buildings. The Etla congregation began with five meetings, four of which are held in the church building with an attendance of 350 people. The fifth meeting is held in a new community called Villa de Etla. This is a rented place where they are ministering to about 90 people.
"Doing ministry during this global health situation has been a challenge," said Pastor Barrera. He said that small groups have been important to shepherd the church in a better way.
At the beginning of 2020, they had 22 small groups, but that number has since grown to 32. The church created new groups for youth, college-age, women, and men. Every Thursday, they meet to meditate on the Word of God, pray, and have fellowship through online platforms.
Barrera also said discipleship has been key to continuing to grow in faith. A group of approximately 100 people from the community and elsewhere connect through social media. As a result of this, 12 people were baptized.
The church is also expanding. They took up the challenge of starting two new missions, Iglesia del Nazareno and Iglesia Del Nazareno Nueva Vida.
Pastor Barrera said that it has not been easy because the church has suffered the loss of family and friends, and many members have also fallen ill. In this time, they have also seen the hand of God and have felt His comfort.
"We are witnesses of how many have recovered and bear witness to miracles of healing," he said. "The economic situation is complex, but God has motivated many to undertake ventures that have been a blessing for their family and for people in their community.
"We do not know what the future holds, but while we are in this place, we will strive to share God with everyone we can, and we pray to God that He gives us courage to move forward."