Our support of ministry in China has a far-reaching effect on the spiritually and physically needy. The work itself is of a sensitive nature, so this webpage will provide no specific details about the missionaries we support or the work they do.
The world’s fourth largest country, China is slightly smaller than the US, but it boasts the largest population at just over 1.3 billion people. Beijing, the capital, alone is home to 12.2 million people, though Shanghai hosts more at a population of 16.6 million. The country’s infamous one-child policy has functionally increased the rate of sex-selective abortions and has resulted in significantly more males under the age of 20 than females.
China’s geography varies greatly, from mountains and deserts in the west to plains and deltas in the east. A country rich in natural resources but suffering from the effects of deforestation and desertification, China suffers from frequent natural disasters and widespread pollution.
More than 90% of people in China are Han Chinese, and the main language spoken is Mandarin Chinese, though the country houses many other nationalities and languages. An astonishing 92% of the population over the age of 15 can read and write.
The communist country is officially atheist, and most Chinese people regard themselves as Daoist or Buddhist, which they regard as merely philosophical (rather than religious) allegiances. Officially, only 4% of the Chinese people are Christians, but a vast unregistered network of “house” churches has contributed to unprecedented rise of evangelicalism over the last quarter century: from 2.7 million evangelicals in 1975 to over 75 million in 2010. Meanwhile, the underground church in China undergoes great persecution, often from Chinese authorities: “More Christians are in prison or under detention in China than in any other country.”
What to pray for:
Nicolae & Svetlana Sili
Once part of Romania, then part of the Soviet Union, Moldova has had independence since 1991, but her people still speak several “native” languages. More than 4 million people inhabit this landlocked Eastern European country, which is slightly larger than the state of Maryland. Moldovans lack a unified sense of national identity, which may be one of the reasons for their 2009 riots and their ongoing lack of political clarity.
One of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova imports almost all the energy supplies used in the country. Around 25% of Moldovans seek work in other countries, often resulting in forced labor and sexual exploitation. Moldovan women are the type of person most frequently found in human trafficking rings.
Virtually the entire country belongs to the Eastern Orthodox church, but Moldova currently enjoys freedom of worship. Many Moldovans have readily received the gospel in recent years, and the country remains fertile for evangelization.
Several of our church staff enjoyed the Silis’ hospitality (long story) during a visit to Moldova and therefore about their ministry. We saw how God was using the Silis to spread his gospel in Moldova, especially by providing camps for Moldovan children. Their faithful dependence upon God to truly provide their every need is remarkable, and we are privileged to partner with them in their work.
Their El Saddai ministry began as one camp for children but has become more than hundreds of camps per year for children, young adults, and older persons. The Silis have also found favor with local officials and have been invited to minister in local prisons, schools, and orphanages, beginning providentially with the same orphanage in which Svetlana lived as a child. Meanwhile, the Silis continue to conduct door-to-door ministry to share the gospel and learn of individual families’ needs.
Jim & Maria McCarty, Felix & Enedina Castanon, Victor & Regina Castanon
Nearly 80% of Mexico’s 113 million people live in urban areas, packing into the capital, Mexico City, which is the second largest urban area in the Western Hemisphere. This is at least partly because only 10% of the country’s land is arable, and clean water remains difficult to find throughout the country. Drug-related crime has elevated crime at border towns and throughout the country to unprecedented levels over the last four years, with gangs largely eluding or overpowering local law enforcement and even the country’s military.
The evangelical church has grown steadily in Mexico since 1960, with members numbering now over 9 million, though more than 75% of the population is Roman Catholic, and Catholic leaders directly oppose evangelical efforts in many regions. Evidence of the cult-like worship of Our Lady of Guadelupe can be seen on nearly every bend of the mountain roads. Our missionaries in Mexico are part of the Mixe people, and they live in Mogoñe, a city in the southern region Ouaxaca. Many of the Mixe people practice a form of Roman Catholicism mixed with naturalistic tribal practices, and they can take violent offense at the gospel.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, which is the world’s largest Spanish-speaking nation, even though only 93% of the population actually speaks Spanish: nearly 300 languages are spoken in the country. The Mixe people have their own tribal language, and very few speak Spanish; our missionary Victor has spent a good part of the last decade translating the Bible into Mixe so that the native people there can read God’s Word for themselves or have it read to them.
Our church met the Castañons many years ago, when church members began taking medical mission trips affiliated with the Mexican Indian Training Center in Cordoba.
Felix and Maria studied at MITC, while their father, Victor, continued to minister in their hometown of Mogoñe. Meanwhile, Jim McCarty was introduced to the Springs of Grace family through the summer intern program, then through “preacher school,” and after one week-long trip to MITC one spring, he decided to spend the next summer working there and eventually married Maria Castañon before starting medical school in Puebla, Mexico. Felix and Victor continued to labor in Mogoñe while Jim and Maria lived in Puebla through medical school and residency; now the entire family ministers together in Mogoñe and the surrounding region.
Victor leads the ministry, overseeing all preacher training and church work in the Mixe region. He also diligently continues to work on translating the Scriptures into the Mixe language. Felix is the main preacher for the church in Mogoñe, and he leads the youth choir; he also partners with his father in preacher training and providing leadership to the churches in the region.
Jim’s primary work is his medical clinic, where he serves as the first and only resident physician for miles around. A gifted Bible teacher, he also joins Victor and Felix on missionary trips to provide medical care but also to assist in the proclamation of the gospel to the indigenous people.
Regina, Enedina, and Maria minister to the women and children in various way: the churches remain primarily female, though God has saved many men as well and is raising them up as leaders in the churches and their larger communities.