“People come together Strange as neighbors Our blood is one. Children of generations Of every nationOf kingdom come.” -Hillsong Worship.
Go, and make disciples.
This is the life work of a Christ follower. As a body of believers, it is our passion, our purpose, and our greatest commission – to make Christ known and to love Christ’s people. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….” Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. Although going requires a destination, it also requires a beginning.
For Ricky Maxwell, his journey with a new ministry opportunity began one morning during quiet time with the Lord. Shortly after reading scripture and praying, Ricky felt compelled to contact his friend Mark Bennett, a Mill member and missionary in Mexico. “The Lord laid on my heart that I needed to look into a Hispanic ministry in Spartanburg, so I called Mark right then and there,” Ricky said. This conversation allowed him to discover a unique opportunity that he says he “never saw coming.”
Although Ricky has previous experience with mission work, he had no particular attraction to one people group or ethnicity. However, this notion did not prevent him from obeying Christ. Mark informed Ricky of a long-lasting friendship with Pastor Greg Castillo at La Reunion, “The Gathering,” here in Spartanburg. Following an invitation to a member’s Quinceañera (a coming of of age celebration for 15 year old girls in Hispanic culture), Ricky acknowledged this was the beginning of something beautiful. Since then, Ricky has involved other members of the Mill to meet regularly with the people of La Reunion. Together, they attend worship, pray, and even play soccer. The Mill is currently assembling a volleyball team for which The Mill will be sponsoring the uniforms. From those effortsOn March 2 of this year, the churches will connect for food, fellowship, and a photo booth. However, the story does not end there.
Many of the people involved in this ministry are immigrants from Mexico. They are learning to adapt to American ideologies, cultural norms, and day to day struggles. They come from all walks of life and work hard to maintain integrity in a divided nation. For years, they have experienced a perpetuated sense of vulnerability and immobility that comes with being “different.” This intersection of lost and found is where The Mill can step in to help.
Take a moment to think about it, and put yourself in their position. You arrive in a new place that is foreign to you, perhaps with a language barrier, with feelings of isolation; and despite this, people choose to love you anyway. This is our story too: a story of redemption. Because of this, God reminds us, we too are immigrants. This world is not our home. Hebrews 13:14 tells us, “For we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” This is what The Mill is all about – a place of new beginnings and real relationships. The vision of this ministry is a simple one, resulting from pure obedience and sincere hearts, “To be a living conduit of God’s grace,” according to Mark Bennett.
This partnership does not stop with the city of Spartanburg. Mark Bennett’s ministry, “La Esperanza” (“The Hope”), addresses the needs of native Mexican tribes – mostly Aztec descendants – in La Nogalera, Mexico. The Mill assists this outreach from a “Behind the Scenes” support group as well as hands-on teams guided by Mark Bennett; and Greg Castillo has involved members of La Reunion in the ministry as well. Our Mill missions staff views it as the perfect chance to foster relationships at La Reunion while also impacting indigenous tribes of Hidalgo, Oaxaca, and Michoacán. While teams have completed successful construction and infrastructure projects in the past, the primary goal is to invest in the people. Hoping to “gather some steam,” Mark encourages all to go to on missions across borders. Whether coming from a native Mexican or United States background, his key emphasis is just to go and make disciples of Jesus.
How can you get involved? What is the Lord saying to you? Several mission opportunities are in the works, including a trip to Mexico in July. Whether serving 2,000 miles away or close to home, God can use YOU to transform hearts.