Your Generosity in Action

Turning the “Circle of Silence” into a “Circle of Praise”

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Five years ago when Bob and Cheryl Fugate redeployed from Chile to start a new church-planting ministry in Mexico, they ran into a very real and daunting challenge: How would they be able to access the “Circle of Silence” in the center of Guadalajara, the second largest metro area in Mexico? They knew they couldn’t do this alone, even though they already had 25 years of church-planting experience under their belts.

A God-Sized Problem

Central Mexico is a region with the greatest population and the smallest percentage of evangelicals in all of Latin America. The so-called Circle of Silence consists of 115 counties in six states that have 1.9 percent evangelicals and is named as such because the gospel has not yet gained traction there. Most communities inside this notorious circle have no churches to teach them how to attain a new life through faith in Jesus Christ.

The situation indeed seemed bleak when Bob and Cheryl first arrived in Guadalajara after accepting the invitation from Tim and Janice Greenfield to join them in planting a new church. Mexico was experiencing unprecedented outbreaks of drug cartel–related violence, reprehensible corruption in nearly every sector of life, and tremendous hopelessness and civil unrest. It was a national crisis that rattled every Mexican to their core and forced them to reconsider the important issues in life.

Many Mexicans who were living in the violent rural areas were relocating to major cities—like Guadalajara—seeking a total change for their lives. They were questioning every tradition they once held as true and dear and became more open to the good news of the gospel in hopes that it could radically change their lives. In the midst of this complex and dangerous social milieu, Bob declared, “There has never been a time when Mexico needs workers willing to invest their lives in reaching Mexicans with the gospel more so than today.”

Lives Dramatically Changed

Six months after the Fugates arrived in Guadalajara—on Easter Sunday, April 19, 2015—the newly formed Breath of Life Alliance Church held its first service. But to suggest that it was an easy task would be grossly inaccurate—for just four days from holding that first service, the congregation was forced out of its carefully prepared meeting place due to the influences of a drug cartel based in that very neighborhood.

The cartel leaders wanted to establish a restaurant (for money laundering activities) in the space that the church had legally leased. During the tense deliberations, Bob’s life was threatened several times, and in the end powerful forces were used to move the church out. But a new location was found that has served as the church’s temporary meeting place for more than three years. And God’s hand of blessing has been evident: since the first service held in the new location in April 2015, the church has grown to 180 regular attenders, 125 new believers, and 49 people baptized!

Unexpected Helpers

But there’s more to this story than appears at first glance. Just six days prior to the opening service of the Breath of Life Alliance Church, four men from an Alliance church in Echo, Minnesota, had come to Mexico to help the Fugates with what they thought would be tying up last-minute items concerning the inaugural service. Little did the men know that at the same moment their plane was landing in Guadalajara, the Breath of Life ministry team was being ousted from their meeting place.

The work team arrived at the Fugates’ house, and they prayed along with the church’s leadership team about whether or not to continue with the church launch that next weekend. However, when God provided a place to rent just two days later, the four hardy men from Minnesota shifted into high gear to help get the church ready for the first service in just four days. Because of their generous hearts and willingness to use their skills for God’s purposes, a new church was launched, which has since given birth to two additional campuses and which reaches into a community of nearly 500,000 people with a message of HOPE!

It Takes a Family

These four men are representative of a larger U.S. Alliance family that has gotten behind this incredible church-planting opportunity in central Mexico. Even Alliance children have gotten involved. A small church in Erie, Pennsylvania, began a brick-buying campaign with their kids to support the building fund for the Breath of Life church. The church staff presented the need to the kids, and as each brick was bought ($35 each), a cardboard brick was placed on the wall of the classroom so that the kids could see a “church being built” as they gave each week.

The kids were excited as they were exposed to the concept of “sacrificial giving,” and in a short time 150 bricks were donated and the church on the wall was built. They still had a few weeks remaining in their campaign, so they built another church beside the original church!

A Ground-Breaking Opportunity for the Alliance Family

The vision of the Alliance church-planting team in Guadalajara is not merely to provide gospel access within the Circle of Silence but also to develop future church leaders and pastors. Our plan is to open satellite churches in communities across Guadalajara and then into the rural regions where there is virtually no evangelical church presence.

This strategy is called “Vision 5/5/25”: five churches planted in Guadalajara, which will then plant five other groups in the five least-evangelized states in Mexico—all by the year 2025.

To begin moving this vision forward, the Breath of Life church family (now 200 strong) has purchased a parcel of land that will serve not only as a permanent church home but also as an operational base for future church plants in Guadalajara and beyond.

A Circle of Praise

Thank you, Alliance family, for helping the Breath of Life Alliance Church turn the Circle of Silence into a Circle of Praise! The giving of your time, talents, and treasures is making a lasting spiritual impact in central Mexico and across the globe.

Continuing Generosity in the COVID-19 Crisis

Thanks to the generosity of the U.S. Alliance family, we’ve been able to extend our COVID response in Guadalajara to hundreds of Mexican families in need. Every two weeks, we distribute food bags and supplies to more than 50 families in four Guadalajaran neighborhoods and the small community of Apan, a town about eight hours from the city where we are planting our third campus church.

Those begging on the street corners know us as the pastors who are helping in this crisis. People who were once antagonistic to our churches are amazed that we help without asking for anything in return. Your generosity and selfless giving make this possible—thank you!

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