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It Takes More Than Money/Se Requiere Mas Que el Dinero

The new sanctuary building is larger than the old and will have a balcony seating over 100 persons

The new sanctuary building is larger than the old and will have a balcony seating over 100 persons

December 29 of last year, the Disciples of Christ Church in Maravillas, Mexico saw its new roof on the sanctuary collapse. In the following interview, Maravillas member Ramiro Ortiz Pardo describes the remarkable progress made in rebuilding the sanctuary in the past year. As President of the Building Committee, Ramiro testifies about the congregation’s growth in faith as they marvel at what God and they working together have been able to accomplish.

The English translation by Doug Smith precedes the original interview conducted in Spanish. For more of the Maravillas story enter Maravillas in the search engine window of “Erasing Borders” to locate the blog articles published on Feb. 13 and May 5 this year.

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El 29 de diciembre del ano pasado el nuevo techo de la Iglesia Discipulos

After a month of grieving the loss of their sanctuary, the congregation began making plans to rebuild

After a month of grieving the loss of their sanctuary, the congregation began making plans to rebuild

de Cristo de Maravillas, Mexico se derrumbo. En la entrevista que sigue, un miembro de la Iglesia,
conta la historia del progreso impresionante en la reconstruccion del templo durante el ano 2013. Como Presidente del Comite de Construccion, Ramiro da testimonio sobre el crecimiento de fe dentro los fieles de la Iglesia tanto que alaban a Dios por lo que Dios y la congregacion trabajando conjuntos han podido lograr.

La traduccion en ingles de Doug Smith se sigue con el espanol de la entrevista originale. Para leer mas sobre lo que ha succedido en Maravillas el ano pasado pase a la ventana de Busqueda (“Go”) de este blog para marcar” Maravillas” y hallar dos articulos del 13 de Febrero and 5 de Mayo.


Ramiro, give us a recap of the progress and the Church’s experience in rebuilding the sanctuary this past year –

“We’re all surprised that in less than a year we’ve made this kind
of progress on the construction. It is a sign that God has been with us in

Ramiro Ortiz in  the turquoise shirt stands next to Pastor Rosendo Arvizu Avalos (l.) and wife Olivia

Ramiro Ortiz in the turquoise shirt stands next to Pastor Rosendo Arvizu Avalos (l.) and spouse Olivia

this project. It’s a sign that God has been with us even with the loss of the sanctuary, even when the roof fell in. Always with us up to this moment. It’s like a testimony before the whole community that we in this church believe in a powerful God that has been able to help us go forward in spite of our loss. And it’s a testimony for all those churches that have helped us with their shared offerings, a testimony that we are strong in the faith with their help.

With the help we have received how could we get discouraged? We have shown that we are strong in our faith, stronger in reality than we were a year ago, stronger in every way, even in our daily lives, since we now have a charge, a work to carry out for the honor and glory of God. So, finally, the work has become a testimony that we are not alone.

Tell us more about the financial support the Church has received for the construction project.

To be frank, as a Church with no insurance on our buildings we always had the idea that other churches were going to help out. We had faith that we would receive aid, but as it is our project and our responsibility we

Jim Piper, Idaho Disciple, Global Ministries service volunteer,  with three members of the Ortiz family at the Ortiz Machinery plant

Jim Piper, Idaho Disciple, Global Ministries service volunteer, with three members of the Ortiz family at the Ortiz Machinery plant

wanted to go ahead without depending on other churches. If they helped, thank you and may God truly pay them for it but we weren’t going to cross our arms and wait until they sent us financial help.

We’ve received help from various churches of the Cofraternity (Disciples of Christ in Mexico) and from churches in the U.S. We also received a grant from the current administration of Maravillas township for the construction of the roof. Their donation amounted to 50,000 pesos (around $4000). I visited with the mayor and within a month his administration helped out.

Tell us about your own experience in being involved in this project –

A short while ago I had some good advice from a sister in the Church who
described how God knows whom to give to and whom to bless abundantly. If God gives a lot to someone who doesn’t know how to manage what they have that person is going to spend purely on material things. This sister told me that God had given me resources to manage for Him and for that reason I need to seek for ways to do just that. God knows to whom money should be given. Here on earth I consider myself one of God’s treasurers. All that God has chosen to give me carries for me the message that I am to watch over it, take care of it, manage it for Him. I don’t feel that I own it because in reality it isn’t mine, it belongs to God. Therefore I have to give, I have to put it to work as my sister in Christ advised me. But I also believe that we all have the opportunity to be blessed by our giving even though we don’t have much money.

I appreciate your sharing about the real pleasure you have found in giving and helping others –

I don’t give with an eye on how much you are giving to give. It’s true that I have felt joy in giving. It’s like when one gives to another person 10,000 pesos and that person feels happy, it’s the same happiness that I should feel in giving this amount to help out. I am happy when I can give to someone who needs help. I tell myself that this is my opportunity to show that God is truly in my heart.

There have been times when I wanted to give a testimony about how God has blessed me in many ways through my giving. But I don’t do it because there are others who give testimony about how they give so much and God has returned double the amount to them or how they received a good job after they gave or how with the money received after they gave they were able to buy a machine for their factory. I don’t want to speak about giving in that way because people could think that giving is like I’m investing and also that I’m boasting. I feel this way even though in my nine and a half years of running my company I have never failed to pay my employees on time. We’ve always been able to cover our payroll even at times when it’s been complicated by a lot of bills and unforeseen costs.

What are the Church’s plans for finishing the sanctuary building?

The congregation understands that during the month of December when most people receive a little extra at their work place – a salary increase, a loan, a bonus, a little exta money – we are hoping that this month they’ll be able to give a little more to the project. They aren’t obligated to give more. Only that with what extra they receive this month they will

Entry portico for the new sanctuary in July 2013

Entry portico for the new sanctuary in July 2013

want to give a little more. If they don’t want to give they shouldn’t because that would be worse. When someone gives because they feel obligated or their heart isn’t in it that won’t really help but for those who give from the heart, may they come and do so. Then in January we will see how much our debt (now at 300,000 pesos) has been lowered or hasn’t been. But in any case we can continue putting finishing touches on the roof because not much expense is involved there.

With 20,000 pesos a month we can put the finishing touches on the roof. And then we’ll proceed step by step inside and out with a window here and something else there until we spend the 300,000 pesos (around U.S. $24,000) that we estimate will be needed for the final stage of the project. That way it won’t look like we’ve abandoned the work. It’s important that we carry on and people won’t forget the need to pitch in. And with the much and the little that people are able to give and the help we receive from others God will enable us to finish the new sanctuary in the year to come.

No one can ever say this new sanctuary is mine; no one can ever say this is mine and I’m going to sell it. At the same time I can say it’s mine, it’s ours, it belongs to us all. So we are going to pledge among ourselves that we will complete the project. The worse would be to say no we can’t go on because I’m sick or I don’t have the money. Money and the material supplies it buys aren’t everything. This sanctuary is being built with something other than money and that’s why I am sure we will finish it before the end of this year.

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Ramiro, danos un breve resumen del progreso y la experiencia de la iglesia en reconstruir el santuario este año pasado:

“Estamos muy sorprendidos que en menos de un año hemos hecho esta especie de avance en la construcción. Es una señal de que Dios ha estado con nosotros en este proyecto. Es una señal de que Dios ha estado con nosotros aún con la pérdida de nuestro santuario, aun cuando el techo se derrumbó. Siempre ha estado con nosotros hasta este momento. Es un testimonio frente a toda la comunidad de que nuestra iglesia cree en un Dios poderoso que ha sido capaz de ayudarnos a seguir adelante a pesar de nuestra pérdida. Es un testimonio para todas las iglesias que nos han ayudado con sus ofrendas, es un testimonio de que somos fuertes en la fe con su ayuda.

Con la ayuda que hemos recibido, ¿Cómo podríamos desalentarnos? Hemos demostrados que estamos fuertes en nuestra fe, más fuertes de lo que éramos hace un año, fortalecidos en cada aspecto, incluso en nuestro día a día, ya que ahora tenemos una encomienda, un trabajo que llevar a cabo para la honra y gloria de Dios. Finalmente, el trabajo ha sido un testimonio de que no estamos solos.

Dinos más acerca del apoyo financiero que la iglesia ha recibido para el proyecto de construcción

Para ser honesto, al ser una iglesia sin seguro en nuestros edificios siempre tuvimos la idea de que otras iglesias iban a ayudar. Teníamos fe de que recibiríamos ayuda, pero como éste era nuestro proyecto y nuestra

Jovenes de Maravillas despues del drame presentado el domingo de la ninez en 2013

Jovenes de Maravillas despues del drame presentado el domingo de la ninez en 2013

responsabilidad, queríamos empezar sin depender de otras iglesias. Si ellas ayudaban, gracias y que Dios realmente les recompensara por ello pero no íbamos a cruzarnos de brazos y esperar hasta que nos mandaran apoyo monetario.
Hemos recibido ayuda de varias iglesias de la Confraternidad (Discípulos de Cristo en México) y de iglesias en los Estados Unidos. También recibimos una suma de parte de la actual administración del pueblo de Maravillas para la construcción del techo. Esa donación alcanza los 50,000 pesos (alrededor de $4,000 US dolares). Yo visité al presidente dela comunidad y en un lapso de un mes su administración ayudó.

Cuéntanos más acerca de tu experiencia formando parte de este proyecto

Hace poco tiempo recibí un gran consejo de una hermana en la iglesia que describía cómo Dios sabe a quién dar y a quién bendecir en abundancia. Si Dios la da mucho a alguien que no sabe cómo manejarlo, esa persona va a gastarlo enteramente en cosas materiales. Esta hermana me dijo que Dios me ha dado recursos de Él para administrarlos y por esa razón necesito buscar maneras para hacerlo. Dios sabe a quién debe ser dado el dinero.

Aquí en la tierra me considero uno de los tesoreros de Dios. Todo lo que Dios ha escogido darme conlleva un mensaje de que debo observarlo, cuidarlo, administrarlo para Él. No siento que me pertenezca porque realmente no es mío, le pertenece a Dios. Por esa razón yo debo dar, debo poner todo mi esfuerzo justo como la hermana en Cristo me lo aconsejó. Pero también creo que todos tenemos la oportunidad de ser bendecidos por nuestras ofrendas a pesar de que no tengamos mucho dinero.

Agradezco que nos compartas acerca del placer que has encontrado en dar y ayudar a otros-

Yo no doy fijándome en lo que voy a recibir a cambio. Es verdad que he sentido gozo en dar. Es como cuando uno le da a una persona $ 10 000 pesos y esa persona se siente feliz, es la misma felicidad que yo debería sentir al ayudar con esa cantidad. Soy feliz cuando puedo ayudar a alguien en necesidad. Me digo a mí mismo que ésta es mi oportunidad de demostrar que Dios realmente está en mi corazón.

Ha habido tiempos en los que he querido dar testimonio acerca de cómo Dios me ha bendecido en muchas formas a través de mis ofrendas. No lo hago porque hay otros que dan testimonio de cómo han dado tanto a Dios y han recibido el doble o han recibido un buen trabajo después de haber dado o gracias al dinero que recibieron después de haber dado pudieron comprar una máquina para su empresa. No quiero hablar acerca de dar en esa manera porque la gente podría pensar que dar es algo parecido a invertir o podrían pensar que alardeo. Me siento así a pesar de que en los 9 años y medio que he estado dirigiendo mi compañía nunca he dejado de pagarles a mis empleados a tiempo. Siempre hemos sido capaces de cubrir la nómina incluso en ocasiones complicadas por las cuentas por pagar y los costos no previstos.

¿Cuáles son los planes de la iglesia para terminar la construcción del santuario?

La congregación entiende que durante el mes de diciembre la gente recibe un poco de dinero extra en sus trabajos – un aumento de salario, un préstamo, un bono, dinero adicional – Esperamos que en este mes la gente sea capaz de dar un poco extra al proyecto. No están obligados a dar más. Es sólo que con lo extra que reciben este mes ellos mismos querrán dar un poco más.

Si ellos mismos no quieren dar simplemente no deberían hacerlo, eso sería peor. Cuando alguien da porque se siente obligada o su corazón simplemente no está en eso, eso no ayudará. Aquellos que sientas el deseo de hacerlo en sus corazones, adelante. En enero evaluaremos nuestra deuda (actualmente en $300 000 -ed.) y qué tanto ha disminuido o aumentado. En cualquier caso podemos continuar colocando los toques finales en el techo ya que no implica mucho gasto en esa acción.

Con $20 000 pesos al mes podemos poner los toques finales en el techo. Entonces podríamos proceder paso a paso adentro y afuera con una ventana aquí y otra cosa allá hasta que gastemos los $300 000 pesos (alrededor de $24, 000 dólares) que estimamos necesitaremos para completar la etapa final del proyecto. De esta manera no parecerá que hemos abandonado el trabajo. Es importante que sigamos adelante y que la gente no olvide la necesidad que tenemos de avanzar. Y con lo mucho y lo poco que el agente sea capaz de dar y con la ayuda que recibimos de otros, Dios nos permitirá acabar su nuevo santuario en el año que viene.

Nadie podrá decir nunca que este nuevo santuario es mío; nadie nunca podrá decir que es mío y que pienso venderlo. Al mismo tiempo, puedo decir que es mío, es nuestro, nos pertenece a todos. Así que vamos a pedir entre nosotros para así completar el proyecto. Lo peor sería decir que no podemos continuar por enfermedad o falta de dinero. El dinero y los recursos materiales que compra no lo son todo. Este santuario está siendo construido con algo más que dinero y esa es la razón por la que estoy seguro que terminaremos antes de que termine el próximo año.

New Wonders in Maravillas

Pastor Rosendo Arvizu on left with Pastor Josue Maartinez and their spouses in the Maravillas sanctuary.  Mural was painted by Caleb, Rosendo and Olivia's son.

Pastor Josue Martinez, in white shirt, with wife  Ruth and daughter Sarid visit  with Pastor Rosendo Arvizu and wife Olivia  in the Maravillas sanctuary. Mural was painted by Caleb, Rosendo and Olivia’s son.

Is there another place in the world where one can worship in El Porvenir – “the future” – one Sunday and the next Sunday praise God in Maravillas – “the wonders”? Doug began his sermon with that question a week ago in the Maravillas Disciples Chuch, the congregation closest to the seminary grounds where we live.  It was, he noted, a challenge to preach in a community that called itself “the wonders”.

The church in Maravillas is justifiably proud of the social hall, education wing and sanctuary buildings they have built in the last 25 years.  Pastor Rosendo Arvizu and his spouse Olivia lead a congregation whose schedule every Sunday begins with Sunday school and morning worship followed by a meal before concluding with another worship service.  Kate and Doug brought an appetite along with our admiration for such a congregation.

And the admiration was increased by the spirited worship we experienced.  In spite of the disheartening setback in their latest building project the congregation was full of life and energy. Their beautiful sanctuary had needed a new roof.  The congregation worked hard to raise the funds and finally they were in the last phases of the building!  Eight men were on the roof when it collapsed.  Pastor Rosendo, on the ground, held his breath as the dust settled and they began to hear the voices of all of the men calling out to one another.  No one was hurt!  It took a little while to free all of the men from

Maravillas sanctuary after collapse of the new cement roof

Maravillas sanctuary after collapse of the new cement roof

the wreckage, but each had been protected in one way or another.  A member of the congregation provided the funds to help clear the rubble and demolish what remained of three of the walls.  In spite of the realization that all of the money raised for the project had been spent, there was confidence they would rebuild an even lovelier, larger sanctuary.

The congregation’s fast recovery from the shocking loss was due in part to the assurances of forthcoming aid from the CICE group of Disciples congregations led by Pastor Josue Martinez.  An offering for the rebuilding of the sanctuary is being collected among the CICE churches.  On the day we preached in the two services, representatives of another CICE church were present in the afternoon service to pledge their support and prayers.

Rev. Felix Ortiz, Disciples/UCC Executive for Latin America also has responded quickly to the Maravillas congregation’s loss.  In his response message to Josue, Felix thanked God that none of the 8 workers on the roof  was injured.  He then shared the information that a specialist in construction projects in the U.S. was ready to assist in the design and planning of the new sanctuary building.

In the sermon Kate preached following lunch, she reminded everyone of the promise found in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who trust in the Lord.  Even in the worst circumstances, God can help us to find growth and become stronger.  God is with us always, accompanying us in the hard times and the good.  Alvaro, Kate’s interpreter and youngest son of Pastor Rosendo and Olivia, commented after worship that the congregation felt God was providing an opportunity for them to become a more spiritual and inspired church.

Maravillas Church grounds where picnics now are enjoyed

Maravillas Church grounds where picnics now take place

We expect to follow the progress of the Maravillas project and will keep you informed of new “wonders” in that community.  In the meantime we know the congregation continues to raise the roof of their social hall and kitchen by their praise singing in worship.  And we know they will continue to enjoy their Sunday meal shared “picnic style” outdoors on the church grounds.  And that construction volunteer, “Santiago” Jim Piper, who arrives tonight from Caldwell, Idaho, will enjoy sharing the meal with them.