Owning a piece of land to develop a place to worship has been a dream for Vida Abundante’s (Abundant Life) congregation. For years the congregation has borrowed space to worship in a garage, rented a small empty building and when they didn’t have the funds to pay the rent, they moved to a rented lot. Members have been working tirelessly every week to earn money by cooking/selling food, used clothing and other efforts just to raise enough money for the rent, electricity and water.
They’re a growing congregation willing to work hard to create a more stable center for worship for the purpose of reaching out to help other families in need. Click here to learn more about Vida Abundante and see before/after photos of donations and mission projects Friends of Cozumel donors and volunteers have contributed to support their efforts.
During church service Sunday evening Pastor Mariela announced the first step church leaders are taking to turn their dream into reality . . . They have set a goal to raise 30,000 pesos ($2,700 USD) by December 1, 2011 for down payment to purchase a lot. Each adult is asked to personally contribute 1,000 pesos ($90 USD) and each child 300-500 pesos ($27-$45 USD). Children are encouraged to save 2 pesos daily by not purchasing a snack like they normally might do and putting the money in a can to save until December. For most adults 1,000 pesos is a daunting amount of money, especially during the next seven months when tourism is low (and therefore many people will not have work). For those who work, the general minimum wage is about $4.70 US per day (not per hour); not enough to support a family let alone contribute to the congregation’s goal. “Professional” minimum wages range between $7 – $16 USD per day depending on the type of job. Curious about wages in Mexico? Go to: http://www.wageindicator.org/main/minimum-wages/mexico
Will they reach their goal? I don’t know . . . but if their incredible faith, determination and personal commitment to making this happen are indicators, I predict YES! Speaking of commitments . . . you have to admire leaders of challenging efforts like this one. Pastor Mariela who is a single mother supporting her two sons without a consistent income said “I’m going to be the first to make a personal commitment of contributing 1,000 pesos by December . . . Now who is with me? Raise your hand.” Yep . . . she was taking names and writing it all down right there from the pulpit in front of everyone.
For those who didn’t volunteer by raising their hand Pastor Mariela handled it with such grace, making personally supportive statements but calling on nearly everyone to assume some responsibility by saying things like “Sister Minerva, we know you are out of work and times are hard for your family, do you think you could personally commit to 500 pesos by December?” Friends of Cozumel volunteers who have helped at recent Gran Bazars may remember that Minerva is the church volunteer who greets people (and guards) the gate. To a group of men from an addiction rehabilitation program who were participating in the service, pastor gently explained to them and the rest of the congregation “We don’t expect you to contribute unless you feel you are able because our first concern is your healing rehabilitation and you are helping us build a strong congregation.”
While we might be surprised if this approach was used in a traditional church service in the US or Canada, it works here with a congregation and culture where everyone tends to know everyone else’s family situation and they all pitch in to help one another.
Vida Abundante has not asked for donations for the down payment nor did Pastor Mariela ask us to personally contribute. Larry had volunteered to play the keyboard for special music during the service. We looked at each other and instantly independently decided we wanted to contribute too so we raised our hands and made the commitment. Later Larry shared with me “It is less than $20/month for the next seven months so I can easily set that aside by not eating out once a month.” I’ll pose the same question as Pastor Mariela did . . . Who is with us? I admit that I THOUGHT about raising my hand several more times and making the commitment for several other Friends of Cozumel volunteers/donors as well as the SAIL Group . . .but I didn’t want to get in trouble by speaking for others! Please join us if you’d like to contribute . . . any amount will be appreciated. We can facilitate the church receiving your donation. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org to request info how to make US tax deductible contributions. We like the fact Vida Abundante is not looking for a handout or a quick fix . . . they expect to work hard over time to develop a worship center to reach out to the community.
The church has already submitted documents to the municipal government requesting the option to purchase a discounted lot in one of the new developments where new homes (small one and two room cement structures) are being built. The city government will select and sell a few lots at a reduced rate to ensure community services are available to support families. At this point they don’t know if/when or where they might have the option to buy a lot, but they want to be ready! ~~Karen