Nearly every Saturday morning, two minivan loads of PLNU students drive away from campus heading south. Though some travel to Mexico for the tacos and night clubs, these students go for the orphans, the dilapidated buildings, the sick and the hungry.
The students are a part of Ministry with Mexico, which consists of three different groups who take monthly trips to Tijuana. The ministry seeks to promote education, equality and peace by working with churches and government officials on projects such as construction and orphanage visits.
Ministry with Mexico coordinator Michal Hoenecke, a PLNU senior, says the ministry creates space for students to encounter a different culture with the intention of spreading love.
“I learned what it means to serve – to be present rather than just doing things,” Hoenecke says. “We have just as much to give as we do to gain from both people in Mexico and the people on the trips.”
David McKeithen, a senior who also helps lead the ministry, says the trips are teaching platforms enabling students to get a taste of international missions work.
“It provides students with the opportunities to engage in general service versus partying, practice sharing time with others and learning to serve.”
Ministry with Mexico started nearly 30 years ago and has greatly developed over the years, largely due to the help of Melissa Tucker a graduate from Point Loma who worked as the campus’s Associate Director of International Ministries for several years until becoming associate pastor of First Church of the Nazarene this past summer.
Tucker says that at age 19 she was changed by interactions she had with cross-border issues and her time spent in Mexico.
“Some of the best growing that we can do comes from being uncomfortable – anytime we change our environment out of what’s familiar, it has the potential to stretch us in good ways,” says Tucker.
The ministry is organized into three different groups – Eunime, which works with orphans who suffer from HIV and AIDS, Las Casas, which teaches English workshops and other tutoring programs at a Tijuana orphanage, and La Iglesia, which partners with local Nazarene churches on construction projects. The groups are organized by a team of student leaders and the new Associate Director of International Ministries, Esteban Trujillo.
Corrie King, a junior who has gone to Tecate, Mexico with La Iglesia in the past, says her favorite part of Ministry with Mexico is the building of cross cultural relationships.
“We only go where we are called to go, and participate in work that is vital to both countries,” she says.
Students can sign up for trips on PLNU’s website at pointloma.edu/experience/faith/spiritual-development/international-ministries/mexico-programs/ministry-mexico and can contact Esteban Trujillo for more information.