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I have been privileged to become heavily involved with the mission work of the Presbyterian Church in Chiapas State in southern Mexico since July 2007.  I have made three week long mission trips to Chiapas during that time and have been privileged to have Pablo Feliciano Cruz, a tzeltal speaking Mexican missionary stay at my home for six days in late 2007.  I anticipate that this mission work will continue to be an important part of my life.  It will certainly impact how I practice law for the foreseeable future.  I offer the following explanation so that my clients and potential clients will better understand what is underway in Chiapas, why I am involved and why it is so important to me.  While I am not a misionero, I am a man who has been deeply touched by the indigenous peoples of Southern Mexico. 

First Presbyterian Church (“FPC”) was proud to send nineteen members of the church to Chiapas in late July of 2008.  The team spent five days in Ocosingo where it was involved in the continuing construction activity underway on Las Manos de Cristo Clínica Médica (“Hands of Christ”), the health clinic for the indigenous peoples of Chiapas.  The clinic is nearly completed and will soon begin delivering primary health care services to indigenous peoples.  The team also visited the village of Matzam to worship with the tzeltal-speaking Presbyterians of that village.  During the stay in Ocosingo the team led two days of afternoon Bible school for the children living in the vicinity of Alfa y Omega Instituto Biblico, where the team stayed during its time in Ocosingo.

            Two members of FPC, Colin Herbertson and I, traveled to Matzam, Ocosingo and Lacanja in Chiapas in January 2008.  We participated in worship services two evenings with the tzeltal-speaking people of Matzam and Lacanja, and where I was accorded the privilege of preaching the sermon both nights.  We had the opportunity to work at Las Manos for three days, becoming the first American group to work on the interior of the clinic (see www.millsfamilymission.com and go to “blogspot”). 

            Pictured below is a young tzeltal family in Matzam.  The infant girl was named Marianna[1].  This picture was taken in January 2008 by Colin on the morning that the parents brought the child to the Matzam Presbyterian Church so that she could be prayed over in the hope that a miracle might save her life.  Marianna had whooping cough, a very preventable illness when a child is properly vaccinated.  Tzeltal villagers do not have easy access to such routine medical care.  The doctor in San Cristóbal told these parents that their child would probably die.  For the tzeltal, hospitals are where people go to die.  The goal and hope for Las Manos is that basic health care will in the future be provided in the tzeltal tongue and will be readily available for the tzeltal and other indigenous peoples in an area of Mexico where they are mostly shut off from such care.  The hope is that these people will come to see a medical clinic as a place where people go not to die but for healing and comfort.  In the future, once the clinic is operational, the prayer of Hebron USA and its Mexican partners is that such preventable tragedies as the condition of little Marianna will be a thing of the past.  This is the vision that FPC is helping to bring into fruition by its continued involvement in Chiapas.                                                         

            Jesús le dijo: Ama a tu projímo como a tí mismo –love your neighbor as yourself.  FPC is proud to partner with Hebron USA to show its love to its neighbors in Chiapas.  In Jesus there is neither brown nor white, gringo nor tzeltal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Marianna died shortly after Colin Herbertson and Randy DuVall were in Matzam in January 2008.

            There are many stories such as Marianna’s in the United States.  Many have, justifiably, asked “why Mexico?”  Why go and why commit resources to such a far away place?  There are several answers.  First, FPC did not seek out Chiapas for mission.  Rev. Rob Evans, interim pastor, invited missionaries from Chiapas to this church in 2006 and from that visit sprang the 2007 mission trip to Chiapas.  In this way, Chiapas was laid in our lap and recognizing the need, FPC responded.  Second, the need is great everywhere but God calls us to respond somewhere.  The tendency is to think that we cannot make a difference because of the enormity of the problem but the truth is otherwise.  Third, when called by God to preach to Nineveh, Jonah ran rather than respond to the call.  Ultimately, but only half-heartedly, Jonah did as he was called to do and the result was remarkable.  FPC did not run when called but instead went to “Nineveh” willingly and God will undoubtedly multiply the result beyond our wildest dreams.  Jonah was not called to send money to Nineveh but to go in the flesh to preach God’s word.  So FPC has been called to go in the flesh so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ might be preached to the tzeltal peoples by our actions and not mere words alone.  ¿Por qué?  Because  it is what we were called to do as Christians.  God will find others to send elsewhere.                                                                                        

            Tax deductible contributions to the construction of Las Manos can be made to Hebron USA, 6080 Old Brickstore Road, Greensboro, NC 27455.  Hebron USA is tax exempt under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Please direct that your contribution be used for construction and operation of Las Manos.

            Hebron USA was founded in 2004.  It is an American mission organization headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina.  The Board of Directors is composed exclusively of Presbyterians from various backgrounds who serve to share the saving love of Jesus Christ with all peoples.  Hebron USA exists to provide volunteer, technical and financial support for Christian missionaries, cross-cultural mission opportunities, medical and service ministries, leadership development and church development through partnerships with other mission organizations.        

In the summer of 2007, FPC was privileged to send a mission team of eleven to Ocosingo, Chiapas, through Hebron USA.  We saw first-hand the wonderful work underway in Ocosingo.  We actively participated in the construction work.  For more details on that trip, go to www.firstpresvb.org under “Missions”.

            Pablo Feliciano Cruz is a native born tzeltal speaking Maya college-educated in the United States.  He is currently overseeing the construction of Las Manos.  In addition, Pablo pastors rural Presbyterian churches, runs mission programs for foreign Christians, serves in the Synod in Southern Mexico and is affiliated with Alfa y Omega where lay people are trained to preach the Gospel and serve as pastors of small mission churches in Chiapas.  John Mills recently completed serving a 2½ year stint as a missionary in Ocosingo.  A member of the Mount Airy First Presbyterian Church in North Carolina, John and his family (wife and two teenaged daughters) moved to Ocosingo in 2006.  His background is in the development and operation of free health clinics in the United States.  John has worked to raise the funds necessary to build, open and operate Las Manos.  He has also coordinated the work of American mission teams in Ocosingo.

            Over one million people in Chiapas do not have access to basic health care.  Most are living in outlying villages, miles from the nearest medical facilities.  Most speak a Maya dialect and not Spanish.  When they are able to access government sponsored health services, language differences and prejudice often prevent them from receiving appropriate and adequate health care.   Las Manos will provide a variety of medical and dental care services.  Phase I will include five medical exam rooms, four dental operating rooms, a minor surgery suite, a laboratory, a pharmacy and space to train “barefoot doctors” to serve in outlying areas.  Soon, this dream will become a reality.

 For more information on the work in Ocosingo:

  • www.hebronusa.org

  • www.millsfamilymission.org

  • www.starfishfund.org

  • www.firstpresvb.org under "missions"

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfRoSczhzik

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