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Mexicans’ ministry makes missionaries out of migrants

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Pastors in their native Mexico, Ruben and Celina Zuniga never imagined the ways they’re now shepherding a flock when they immigrated to Canada 20 years ago.

The Zunigas settled in Abbotsford, B.C., as Spanish-speaking people began to immigrate to B.C.’s agricultural areas. Ruben and Celina started a church, one of the ethnic outreaches of Bakerview MB Church. After a time, the Zunigas and their group sensed a call, then a strong desire, to become parents – to plant a new Hispanic church in Chilliwack.

They found a willing connection in Chilliwack’s Broadway MB Church, and with the help of Church Planting BC, Ministerio Cristiano Broadway became a reality. “Parents” from Bakerview came to help and the new plant grew. It has just celebrated its third anniversary, and the Zunigas now divide their time equally between the two congregations.

The “unimaginable” part of their pastorate is the multiplicity of roles they perform. Ruben still pastors the established Abbotsford work. But in Chilliwack, he not only preaches and counsels, but also spends a lot of time reaching into the community.

His added challenge is a long-distance telephone ministry. Some Central American workers (a seasonal part of B.C. agriculture) return home to their families in winter. Some come to faith in Canada, then leave. They still need discipling – so Ruben keeps in touch by phone.

The Zunigas are realizing a part of their ministry “is to prepare missionaries to go to their homes.” Who would have thought?

—Barrie McMaster

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