Pastor from Mexico visits Austin church

Published 10:07 am Friday, July 17, 2009

Members of the Iowa-Minnesota Lyle Area Oaxaca Mission Group have made 14 mission trips to Oaxaca, Mexico and are now excited to bring a leader from Mexico back to their community.

Pastor Samuel Sanchez Mazas of Oaxaca (pronounced “O-wah-kah”), along with his wife and four children, arrived in Lyle on July 9 for the opportunity to share his experiences, culture and family.

Sanchez will speak at two church events this week before departing on July 21.

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On Friday at 6:30 p.m., Sanchez will speak in Austin at the International Word Fellowship Church, 827 Fourth Ave. N.E. The pastor will also speak at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lyle on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for a joint service between Our Savior’s and Trinity Parish. Both events are open to the public.

The Lyle area volunteers, most of whom belong to Mona Lutheran Church in Mona, Iowa, or Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church in Lyle, have been in contact with Sanchez from their first mission trip in 1996 to the capital city in southeastern Mexico.

The Mission Group’s goal in traveling to Oaxaca has been to build a church for Sanchez’s congregation. But their purpose is not only to lay bricks; they are laying the foundation for his ministry and outreach as well.

Janice Helgeson, secretary of the Mission Group, remarked on the “spiritual, financial and prayerful support from our communities” that has supported Sanchez’s ministry.

“We wanted other people to see why we continue to go back,” Helgeson said. “Pastor Samuel wanted to come and personally thank the people who have come to support his ministry.”

Sanchez has already started six congregations and is the president of New Generation Churches in Oaxaca State.

This is the pastor’s third trip to the Lyle area, his wife Angelina’s second trip and his children’s first trip.

The Mission Group plans to return to Oaxaca in February 2010. Even when construction of the church is complete, the group will continue to travel there for an ongoing partnership with Sanchez’s congregation.

“He is speaking on what he is doing and how his ministry has expanded,” Helgeson said of the upcoming events.

In addition, the whole Sanchez family will provide music.

In a letter to friends in the Mission Group, Sanchez wrote, “So many times we have seen God’s hand moving here in Oaxaca — changing lives, families and blessing people in supernatural ways. I feel that I have really found the reason for my existence on this earth — preaching about God’s love to my people.”

Helgeson voiced the Mission Group’s connection with Sanchez that has no doubt grown over the course of 14 mission trips.

“He and his family are just like our family,” she said.