Last Thursday evening, I was privileged to attend the annual Alumni Banquet of Mount Hebron Bible Baptist Institute. Over 100 of our graduates and friends of the institute attended. I spoke briefly about the humble beginnings of what is now a full-fledged Bible college. In 1963, my father, Dr. L.H. Ashcraft, started three churches in the Monterrey area. Several members of those churches approached Dad about teaching them more Bible than what they were receiving in three weekly church services.
We started in the living and dining rooms of our house at 109 Honduras Street in Northwest Monterrey. Mom and my sister, Billie Sloan, taught the ladies in the living room. I sat at the dining-room table with Dad and the men, helping Dad translate his lessons. I think he knew what he was doing, but little did I know that he was also awakening the appetite of his 17-year-old son for teaching and preaching God’s Word. These classes developed into what is now a Bible college that has graduated over 700 men and women who are serving God all over Mexico and in 18 other countries. A year later, I surrendered to the ministry, and in 1969, Brenda and I joined Dad to work in the Bible institute.
Pastor Jonathan honored me with an invitation to deliver the commencement address of the institute graduation ceremony last Wednesday night, May 23. What a beautiful, moving, and fitting service for the men and women who had finished their academic preparation and were beginning the next phase of their Christian service!
We honored my dear friend, Pastor Carlos Sauceda, who has faithfully taught in the institute for the last 30 years. We also honored the local pastors who give their time to invest in the lives and ministries of our students. We are so grateful for them.
Bro. Bill Martin, who was our college dean for 25 years, was also in attendance. He and I both resigned our positions—he in the institute and I in the church—at the same time, two years ago last February. Bro. Bill and his wife Lupita left their mark on this great ministry. He and I are both privileged to be able to visit many of our graduates and see what God is doing with them. Before the service, we conversed about how amazed we are at the way our graduates are being used of God to build great soul-winning churches across the country of Mexico and around the world. Thank you very much for being a vital part of preparing these men and women for their service to God.
I am in Madera, California, today in a missions conference in a Spanish church, pastored by Bro. Carlos Lucatero. I will be in three other churches here in California. I leave on June 7 for Campeche to preach the missions conference for one of our graduates, Bro. Erik Panti. He and his wife Sonia are doing a marvelous job. Sonia is sister to Laura, the wife of Bro. Iván Ramírez, the present dean of our college.
My schedule is almost completely full. I have 45 meetings for the remainder of this year. When I visit a church, I tell them that I am there for one of two things: (1) to raise money and (2) to recruit students for the institute. God has been so good. I am grateful for the many invitations. I need to keep busy. It is good therapy.
Pastor Jonathan called me this morning to wish me “Happy Birthday” (today is my 72nd). He told me that they had 100 soul winners in the program last night, and they led 247 people to Christ! I had the joy to be in that group the last two Thursdays. Because our people live all over the Monterrey area, we meet in the Walmart parking lot south of the city. (Brenda would have enjoyed that!) We go out from there and then meet back after soul winning to give the report. It is an exciting time.
Thank you again for your faithful support. Thank you also for the many expressions of kindness during the last few weeks. I have never felt so loved. Thank you for praying for and thinking of me. I am so blessed.
Yours for souls,
Bro. Tommy Ashcraft