We cannot tell you how much we appreciate your prayers and financial support for this ministry. God is using your investment to further the Gospel in so many ways. Thank you for helping make it possible for us to be where we are.
January started with a great Fires of Evangelism Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference in Panamá January 6-9. God moved on the hearts of His people, and over 25 surrendered to full-time service. Our graduate, Bro. Maximino Sánchez and his wife Consuelo, missionaries in Perú, were there. David Diehl, who spent 13 years here at Mount Hebron with his parents, Wayne and Barbara Diehl, is working in Panama City.
Bro. Andrés Gómez, Pastor of the Spanish Department of our sending church, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, asked me to speak at a Workers’ Refresher Conference January 16-19. Bro. Gómez has been greatly used of God to take that ministry to another level. He commented to me that we covered some new ground and that he could tell a difference in the spirit of the Sunday school teachers, bus workers, soul winners, and other church leaders. Praise the Lord!
Emily and I traveled to Theodore, Alabama, January 23-26, where the Spanish Department and the English-speaking of Lighthouse Baptist Church were having simultaneous Missions Conferences. Bro. Randy Tewell is the senior pastor and was very gracious with us. I have known Bro. Miguel DeAnda, the Spanish pastor, for many years. He served faithfully as youth pastor and assistant with my dear friend, Bro. Ezequiel Salazar, at Montecito Baptist Church in Ontario, California. The Faith Promise commitment increased by over 50% in the Spanish Department. Praise the Lord.
Friday through Sunday, January 31 – February 2, Emily and I went to Xalapa, Veracruz, for a Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference. My nephew, Philip Sloan, is the missionary pastor. My sister, Billie Sloan, was there, and it was like a family reunion. Emily was a great blessing, giving her testimony on the first night. She has touched so many lives teaching in Christian schools and serving in Bus Ministries for over 25 years. She keeps in touch with many of her “bus kids” who are faithfully serving God all over the world. Emily is still working full-time in the Christian school here at Mount Hebron.
Friday through Sunday, February 7-9, we traveled to León, Guanajuato, for a Workers’ Conference with Pastor Francisco Jiménez. Several of our graduates attended, and it was so good to see how God is using them in their respective places. These are men and women who were trained for God’s work because of your faithful prayers and support. I preached Sunday morning for Pastor Jiménez and in three other churches from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. I think some of these pastors forget that I’m almost 34 – uh, I mean, 74 years old!
Monday through Wednesday, January 10-12, I preached in a Fires of Evangelism Conference in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, with Pastor Edgar Ávalos. It was a blessing to see so many pastors cooperate and work together to put on this meeting. Once again, several of our graduates attended. They are literally all over the country.
Tuxtla Gutiérrez is an hour from San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, where my sister, Billie Sloan, lives. She and her daughter Ana, Ana’s husband (Andrés López), and their three children (Andrew, Debbie, and Tommy) provided beautiful special music. Billie has eight children. All of them and their spouses are serving God in full-time ministry in the U.S. and in México. What a great job she and my brother-in-law, Tom Sloan, did with those kids. Tom has been in Heaven for 11 years.
Emily and I went soul winning with the church program on a recent Thursday night. We went to a local plaza and witnessed to people as they walked around the square. I stopped a young couple, Enrique and Adriana, and gave them the Gospel. It is amazing to have people stand for 20 minutes to hear the plan of salvation and then bow their heads out in public and trust Christ as their Saviour. What a privilege it is to work in a place where people are so responsive!
Last week, Heaven came down as our church hosted our 37th Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference. This was a Fires of Evangelism Conference. Please pray for my dear friend, Bro. Elmer Fernández, the director of these conferences. He pastors Bethel Baptist Church in Bartlett, Illinois. That church provides a large portion of the expenses of these conferences. Bro. and Mrs. Fernández are both battling major health issues.
We had 121 pastors, missionaries, and evangelists attend the conference, aside from assistant pastors, pastors’ wives, and other full-time workers. Eighty-two of our graduates attended, including their spouses. Pastor Jonathan said that the spirit and atmosphere was more like a family reunion than a conference. The music was inspiring, the preaching was Christ-honoring, and the teaching sessions were challenging. There were many first-time attendees; 1,119 attended the evening services, and more than 600 attended the morning teaching sessions. Fourteen people surrendered to full-time service on Thursday night. Our people worked, as I have never seen them work, to host this conference. Pastor Jonathan and Jenny did a marvelous job coordinating and organizing the different activities and sessions. I’ve never been so proud of and thankful for them and all the folks who worked tirelessly before, during, and after the meeting.
An important part of our conference every year is delivering BEAMS Bibles to the national pastors who attend. These Bibles are distributed to new converts all over México. Many of our churches support the BEAMS ministry, which supplies these Bibles. Also this year, 100 pastors were given a water-treatment system designed by Bro. John Hays, a member of Marion Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, Iowa. This self-contained device makes it possible for people in remote areas to have clean, pure water, which they would otherwise not have. It is unbelievable that at least 10 pastors in the conference knew of people in their town or village who had died because of unsanitary drinking water. The pastors were encouraged to teach that Jesus is the Living Water while demonstrating how the device works.
Please plan to attend our conference next year, February 15-18, 2021. We are already making great plans. You will see so much of what you have sacrificed for all these years to provide. I promise you that you will be blessed and encouraged.
Thank you again for the part you have in making all this possible. We need your support more than ever. People are being saved and baptized, workers are being trained, and Christians are being challenged to expand their efforts in getting the Gospel out because of your faithfulness. Thank you.
Yours for souls,
Tommy and Emily Ashcraft