For most Canadians, there is a strong attraction for many destinations in Mexico in the month of February. Perhaps some of the Global Exchange participants had those same thoughts when they signed up for this trip. In reality, those who have been on a Global Exchange trip know that we usually have a pretty full schedule, and this trip was no exception. Based on all the stories we heard at the end of a busy week in Mexico, I believe every team member was blessed and deeply impacted by this Global Exchange experience, which of course is very different from a typical winter vacation in Mexico.
It is true that several of our team have visited this special location in Mexico many times before. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is indeed a tropical paradise but behind the scenes lies a vibrant church community and a local population that is desperate for strong leadership with Christian values.
We were a team of thirteen from Alberta and Manitoba. This being a “level one” Global Exchange, we were a slightly larger team than what we might normally look for at an entry-level Global Exchange, but it worked out really well due to a strong partnership with five churches located in the area. There were several outstanding highlights of this trip that I believe had a big impact on both our team and also our partners in Mexico. First, since one of the main goals of an entry-level Global Exchange is to develop strong relationships with local Christian leaders, we took the opportunity for five members of our team to speak at five different churches as part of the Sunday program. Wow, what a challenge for those on our team who had never done anything like that at home before, but also what a memorable experience for our whole team as many attended multiple services that day in support of the five speakers.
The next big highlight was the main Forum event. Our partners in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo had never done anything like this before but with our encouragement, they completely sold out the venue at our hotel and there was standing room only after all 120 seats were filled. Our keynote speaker Reg Penner, relying heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit, was amazing and delivered a very personal talk based on his life story in business and how his faith in God was renewed. All while dealing with his very personal emotional connection to the story, and battling a stomach bug at the time. The result was also amazing as 94 “full page” response forms were completed and 68 people prayed to renew or accept Christ for the first time. As you can imagine we had a wonderful “Mexican Style” celebration at the end of the week. God was able to use us in amazing ways that led to strong lasting relationships and true “Inspiration” for us and so many of our Mexican friends.