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El Grito (The Shout)

At exactly midnight last night, all over Mexico, calls and responses of “¡Viva la Independencia!” “¡Viva la Libertad!” and “¡Viva Mexico!” were shouted from balconies, rooftops, and through neighborhoods, as people celebrated the historic events of September 16, 1810. The President of Mexico leads thousands of people in The Grito from the Palacio Nacional in our home of Mexico City.

Yes, today, September 16th, is Mexico’s 209th birthday as a free country; independent, no longer ruled by Spain.

That Grito was given all over Mexico last night in Spanish, but did you know that Spanish is only one of the official languages recognized by the Mexican government?  As a matter of fact, there are sixty-eight recognized official languages in Mexico, with over three-hundred variants.

T
This map illustrates where you might most easily find each indigenous language.

God loves every one of those peoples and language groups, every tribe, and every nation (Rev. 7:9). He knows them each by name. Each of them must be included in worshiping the Lamb of God who sits on the Throne.

In the state of Durango, one way Huichol men celebrate their Mexican heritage is by wearing this decorative headgear.

As we shout and proclaim the freedom we find in Jesus, we must invite every one of our Mexican brothers and sisters to join.

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest for more workers amongst all peoples of Mexico. 

What is our “why”?

Psalm 96:1-3 and 7-10

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”

Sandy and I spent eight years as the Area Directors for Mexico. It was a fulfilling and important ministry. However, lately we had begun to notice that that this role was taking us away from the specific ministries which God has called us to.

There are enormous needs in Mexico. Living there, what we see is often quite different from what visitors see. Many churches in the US often consider Mexico a “reached” country. People think they know Mexico. They make regular missions trips to the border. They might vacation at Mexico’s beaches.

What people don’t see is that Mexico City is the most populated metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere.  But while it is home to between 25 and 30 million people, it has less than 50 Assemblies of God churches.

The UNAM, in Mexico City, is the largest university in Latin America—a quarter of a million students are enrolled.  But it has almost no evangelical presence. Pray with us that God will raise up campus ministry in this academic “city.”

The library at the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

In the Central region of Mexico there four states where less than 2% of the population identifies as Evangelical. That percentage is less than in the United Arab Emirates.

Mexico is not the only place where there are pressing, enormous, life-threatening needs. Everywhere in every country we see needs and needy people. If we focus on needs, emotional paralysis can take over.

So, it can’t be just these needs that answer our “why” questions. 

Why are we anxious to return to Mexico? What motivates must be more than the need.

Why do we work hard to return to the work? Even claiming that God called us is not enough.

We go to declare His glory among the nations. So that the nations may join us in chorus to ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. So that people from every nation, tribe people and language can join us around the throne saying

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13b)

Amen

Next week we tackle the question of what?

Why?

Why?

Genesis 3: 8-13

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

After the first couple broke the one commandment that God had given them, they hid, perhaps thinking that God would not see them. God enters the scene with a series of questions, all of which would be obvious to Him, an all-knowing deity. With His final question He asks, have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

His question resembles the question of a parent, frustrated with a child who has spilled a glass of milk for the umpteenth time, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Clearly Mom or Dad knows what the child has done. What they really want to know is “why did you do that?” God knew the answer to His questions. Seems that what God wanted to know is why they had done what they did.

The couple had perfect living conditions, a great job, the best Boss and lived together in perfect harmony.

Why would you risk that by not obeying?

Did God not know why they did it? Hard to say. The question why hardly ever has a simple answer.

In this ministry, we are often asked why questions. Why would you leave your family and friends? Why would you move to another country? More recently, why would you resign the Area Director position?

Over the next few weeks this blog will consider its own series of questions:

Why we are anxious to return to Mexico?  What we will be doing once we get there? Where we will work and with whom?

We will be back with some answers.

Paul

About Paul and Sandy

Paul Kazim was born and raised in a nominally Muslim family in New York City. He was the first in his family to come to Christ, when he met God in His word, just as he finished High School. He studied Chemistry at Queens College of the City of New York, before spending three years on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on the East Coast. He later received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, in Boston. He earned a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 2017.

Sandy (formerly Woodworth) was born in Santa Clara de las Villas, Cuba, and was raised by two giants in the faith, who themselves served in Latin America for all of Sandy’s childhood. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in family medicine.

Paul and Sandy married in 1987. Both are ordained AG ministers, with credentials from the Southern California Network. The Kazims have been with Assemblies of God World Missions in Latin America for the past 25 years, first in Peru, and in Mexico since 2000.

Paul with his first Hebrew Diploma cohort

Recently, Paul resigned as the Mexico field’s Area Director after eight years in order to dedicate more time to his teaching ministry. He is involved in pastoral education in local Bible institutes, and bachelor’s (ISUM) and master’s (Facultad) level TEE (Theological Education by Extension) programs. His goal is to develop hermeneutical communities with a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds which will produce indigenous reflections on the Scriptures.

The bulk of Sandy’s time is spent discipling Mexican health care providers to participate in medical outreaches to new and developing churches, and be self-sustaining and self-propagating. She helps organize and carry out several medical outreaches each year, particularly to isolated or disaster-impacted areas. Sandy also teaches on issues regarding identity, family dynamics, and the prevention of sexual abuse, and helps coordinate pastoral counseling seminars on these topics for church leaders.

Sandy on a recent medical outreach with the phenomenal MISAD team (Ministerio Integral de Salud de las Asambleas de Dios)

Paul and Sandy have three adult children who grew up on the field with them. Hannah, Stephen, Stephen’s terrific wife Emily, and Andrew now live in Long Beach, CA.

From left- Stephen, Emily, Paul, Sandy, Hannah, and Andrew Kazim

Paul and Sandy love living in Mexico City, and getting to enjoy its vibrant culture, food, and community. They can’t wait to get back, and pick up where they left off!

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