In 1991 a young Mexican, Rudy Reyes, crossed the U.S./Mexican border headed for Oklahoma. He was going to Southern Nazarene University to study on a soccer scholarship. As the second group of volunteers for Bulgaria began forming, Rudy was in his senior year.
Rudy was a very good soccer player. He was also a very good chemistry student. However, in the fall of 1995 neither chemistry nor soccer dominated his thinking. Instead, he began asking: "Can I go to Bulgaria?"
A thousand questions bubbled up: Rudy was not a Nazarene. He was a very active Baptist. So, how effective would a non-Nazarene be in planting Nazarene churches?
Because he wasn't from a Nazarene church on SNU's region, the school's ability to encourage friends to help him seemed limited. Where would Rudy possibly get the funds? Mexico, his home country, was struggling economically. U.S. newspapers told of the peso's downward slide in value against the dollar. That slashed the value of financial support coming from Rudy's family and home church in Tampico, Mexico.
One day, concern about Rudy's financial support was mentioned to the other 1995 graduates going to Bulgaria. "Don't worry about Rudy," said team member Ted Snoddy. "We'll take care of him. We won't let him starve."
Even if Rudy came up with enough support, what about his legal status? Would the Bulgarian government issue a visa to a young Mexican? Would they refuse, fearing Rudy wanted to escape Mexico's economic problems? Would they think he planned to stay on illegally after his visa expired?
Even in the face of these negatives, this Mexican thread was offered to the Lord. From the Bulgarian project's inception, Dr. Gresham had challenged students to have willing hearts. He asked for students to trust God and put themselves at His disposal. Rudy met those requirements perfectly.
As the group prepared to go, it began to dawn on people that Rudy might become one of the project's most effective volunteers. That's exactly what it happened. Rudy knew how to learn a new language. He knew how to survive and even flourish in a culture not his own. So, very quickly after arriving in Bulgaria, he moved into effective ministry. In addition, his soccer skills opened all kinds of friendship doors. With soccer being king of sports in Bulgaria, people looked up to someone who played soccer as well as Rudy.
There was another thread related to Mexico. That came to light one day during the first year. One day, Rob Burgess was sitting in an outdoor ice-cream parlor in Sofia with a visiting SNU professor. Suddenly Rob looked up and said: "If it hadn't been for that mission trip to Mexico, I would not be here today."
Rob's story goes back to his home state of New York. In 1990, three or four SNU students spent the summer in New York working for a Christian camping organization. There they met Rob Burgess. After only a few classes, Rob had dropped out of college and gone to work. They mentioned a trip they were making to Mexico over the New Year's holiday. Rob got excited about going as well. So, after Christmas of that same year, he joined 200 other people on that Work and Witness trip.
There, in Mexico, Rob got turned on to missions and to getting his college degree. When he went back to New York, he quit his job at the grocery store. He packed up and returned to Oklahoma to major in church music at SNU. In his three and a half years at SNU, Rob's interest in missions was fanned into a flame. As a result, Rob was part of that initial pioneer team to Sofia.
Because of Rudy and Rob, there is a "south of the border"
element in the Bulgarian tapestry. The Lord put Mexico into that design!. . . [
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1: Weaving the Tapestry |
2: A Presidential Thread |
3: Thread from Empty Spools |
4: Directors' Threads |
5: A German thread |
Colored Thread |
7: Broken Threads |
8: A Youthful Thread |
9: Of Shuttles or Spinning Wheels
10: Faded Red and Gold Threads
11: Discarded Threads |
12: Some West Coast Threads |
13: A Very Weak Thread |
14: Some Mexican Thread |
15: Threads of Greenbacks and Tears
16: The Compassionate Ministry Thread
17: Some Parental Threads |
18: The Emerging Pattern
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|"Where will we get the money?" students ask as they consider joining this pioneer adventure. None of the young people graduating from college had enough money in the bank to get to Bulgaria and live there for a year. After all, they'd just spent four years in a Christian college. . . . [ read more ]|
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
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