Gil and Marie Contreras
After 40 Years of WorkIn October of 1997, Gil and Marie Contreras will have been on the mission field in Southern Mexico for fifty years. What a record! Fifty years ago in Southern Mexico there were no Restoration church congregations. Gil started with one man to whom he had preached in the vegetable fields around Bakersfield, California. The seed planted then has matured into a forest!
Gil and Marie were sent down to Mexico by the Inglewood Christian Church to establish self-supporting and self-governing congregations. Gil had no guidelines but the Scripture to establish his mode of operation. No one from the states told him what to do. He did remember what he had learned about the church in college.
After 40 years, all of the Contreras family is involved in the work of Christ in Southern Mexico, both in and out of the Mexico City area.
Over 140 congregations have been established. (Some of them are mission churches and are not fully developed.) This is over three per year on the average in fourteen different states. Mexico City D.F., Mexico, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Vera Cruz, Hidalgo, Guerraro, Coahuila, Durango, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Tlaxcala are included.
At least seven Indian tribes have had the gospel delivered to them and in one of these tribes there are congregations of 1200 to 1400 people.
Hundreds of church leaders have been trained to carry on the work of the gospel. Many of the congregations have also sent out evangelists to other areas. The church in Zaragosa, Oaxaca alone has sent out 30 evangelists to serve throughout the whole country of Mexico, plus three men to the San Antonio, Texas area.
Second and third generation Christians have taken or are beginning to take up the work of the gospel teaching others.
Hundreds of seminars have been held, countless sermons preached, and thousands of people counseled about personal problems. Many hundreds of meals prepared for guests at the Contreras' home.
Great numbers of groups such as CIY, and various congregations from the US, have sent hundreds of young people to Mexico City.
Many of the missionaries around the world have visited Gil, been inspired by the work in Mexico. This mission has served as a catalyst for young people dedicating their life to missions.
Seven other evangelists now work with SMM because of Gil's teaching and leadership. One is his own son, Curt. The work is now spreading across Mexico, and the majority of Southern Mexico now has churches in their states.
As this is being written (April 1997) the work is exploding. In Hidalgo alone, there were 12 congregations that asked for help, and recently five other villages came asking for Bible teaching. One of our evangelists, Raymundo Soriano, is currently working with Indian groups in the corner of the state of Puebla with the state of Vera Cruz. These villages are Tetela de Ocampo, Papalotlan, La Laguna. Hueytempan. They have baptized believers now and are conducting services every Lord's day. Raymundo has help from another evangelist from Mexico City.
To date, many of the written manuscripts are being printed in Mexico. The Unfolded Plan of God by Donald G. Hunt has been printed once and will need to be reprinted again in the next few months, along with the work manuals for the latest videos that Gil has made. Gil has also been responsible for beginning or influencing the start of a Bible Institute, an orphanage, a publication ministry, a video ministry, and a humanitarian ministry.
At the time, Gil divides his time between training the evangelists and church leaders, writing materials for the churches to teach, preaching in new areas, counseling, and video taping lessons. He also serves as Director of Southern Mexico Missions.
Marie Contreras continues her work in hospitality and teaching to those who arrive, often without notice, on their doorstep. She is invaluable to the work.
The success of Southern Mexico Missions is phenomenal! Around the globe today are people who have been touched by the work of the Contreras Family. Mexico has been changed because of God's work in that nation. And, America is being changed because of SMM also. Now, more than ever, we are receiving reports of Mexican nationals that are now leading and teaching in churches here in the United States. As the face of America changes, the work of God in Mexico is affecting the spiritual change of its newest immigrants. What began as an outreach is now coming back home.
Video MinistryTwo years ago, the directors of the Board of Southern Mexico Missions became greatly concerned about the number of training appointments that occupied Gil's time. He would travel to one area of Mexico or the US, present a seminar, then travel hundreds of miles another direction and teach the same materials again. This was not only time consuming, but an ineffective use of time. As a result, we began to have Gil record his already prepared lessons on video format. Gil had previously worked with Good News International to produce lessons. To date, we have the following lesson titles:
The Church Revealed in Scripture
The Holy Spirit
Daniel's 70 Weeks
The Body of Christ
This ministry, like the Church Planting ministry, has been incredibly effective. On a daily basis, Good News plays some of these tapes via satellite to Spanish speaking countries around the world. The tapes have spread throughout Mexico.
In the Dominican Republic, the tapes have served to train leaders in the churches there. In Nicaragua, the tapes are used in a lending library to train leaders of the Latin American Mission. In Florida, the tapes have been used by Manuel Noriega to provide training to inmates. Many Spanish churches in the US use the tapes to train and indoctrinate their leaders and congregation. A little spark has been blessed by God to produce a large inferno!
To reach Gil and Marie by E-Mail write to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webmaster's personal note: Marie was among the first Christian that I met more than 50 years ago and her encouraging, optimistic spirit is still a joy to recall.
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