International Ministries

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Pray for Rick Barnes as he begins a new ministry to detainees on the Mexico border and for Mercy Gonzalez as she teaches and trains leaders for the church in Mexico

January 11, 2012

Mercy and Rick have worked with the Dios con Nosotros (God With Us) Baptist Convention in Baja Mexico since 2002. Their ministry in Baja includes leadership development for new church planting, teaching at the Seminary, and work with short term mission groups from the United States. Rick has recently begun a new work of ministry to immigrants being held in a detention center in El Centro.

Rick writes: In my recent US/Puerto Rico assignment I took the year to participate in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). … At the end of my tremendous CPE year, I started gearing up for using these skills back in Mexico. In fact, one of the courses I am currently teaching is “Clinical Pastoral Care.” Suddenly, I became aware of an opportunity in my own back yard that allows me to more fully use the gifts and talents I believe God has given me. Church World Service has extended an invitation to me to be the Religious Service Coordinator for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center in El Centro, California.  Because of this, my eleven years with International Ministries came to an end on December 31, 2011, and I am now working with Church World Service.

The immigration policy of the United States government is a hot button issue, I know. But regardless of how one feels about this, there are 300-500 men in that facility who are a long way from home and facing an uncertain future who need someone to demonstrate a caring and compassionate presence. There is also a staff that is subject to the trials of life and need that presence too. For me [it is] a leap of faith to go into this new setting. But God has been calling me to hone and use these gifts, and has now given me the opportunity to respond.

Let me be clear. Mercy will be continuing on with International Ministries. I only accepted the call from Church World Service after it became clear that Mercy would be able to continue with her call and passion as a missionary. You have been so very faithful in your caring support of us, including prayers, encouragement, and finances. I ask you to continue to remain faithful, even as Mercy continues faithful to her call.

And I have grown to dearly love my Christian compañeros (brothers and sisters,) both Mexican and American, and will still stay in contact with them. In fact, I envision working with them as we seek to get a handle on how to minister with deportees after they are deported.

Going means leaving, I know. I, too, have a mixture of feelings right now. And again, I thank you for being with us this decade plus. I ask your prayers of blessing as I respond to this new call. I also ask for your continued blessing of Mercy as she fulfills her call, and as we make our experience even more of a cross-border one. May God bless and keep you.

Mercy writes: I will continue to be working with International Ministries as a missionary to Baja California, Mexico working with our students at the seminary equipping them to better minister with their communities and congregations in planting new churches. I also look forward to see what new and exciting adventures God has in store for my ministry as I start this new phase on my own

  • Pray for Rick as he minister to the detainees both personally and with other believers.
  • Pray for Mercy as she continues her ministry of equipping church leaders as an American Baptist missionary.