The flight down was long and fairly uneventful, except for a rather bumpy landing in San Diego...going through Chicago adds about 2 hours in the plane. We weren't able this time to connect with the CFCI Base people in San Diego/Ocean Beach, due to a little different schedule. Pastor Jesús & Rosa Rodríguez picked us up at the airport, and we headed almost immediately for the border crossing. There is a great deal of construction going on at this, the primary border crossing in the southwest. There are two smaller crossings a few miles from here, but then one must go to Juarez area and cross into Texas. Therefore, you can imagine the density of the traffic using this crossing daily, as many Mexicans work in San Diego and must make the crossing on a daily basis. The typical wait in the lines at the border is now 3-4 hours....yes, in your vehicle! Many of the regular crossing lanes are now closed for reconstruction. A new pedestrian crossing has been constructed over the checkpoint into Mexico, which allows a great deal more foot traffic, but even the wait in the lines there is over 1 1/2 hrs. long. From our perspective this is all rather interesting as the route heading into the border from Mexico is lined with little shops and all kinds of vendors working through the vehicles selling everything you can imagine, and providing all kinds of entertainment.....for a donation, of course! Every kind of food and drink is available, including my personal favorite...the very decadent sugar and cinnamon deep-fried churros! But, bearing in mind that we're never doing the driving!!
Rather than staying in Tijuana, we're staying this entire week in a beach town called Rosarito at the invitation of a pastors alliance and then driving back into Tijuana for our scheduled meetings there. We're finding it to be a very interesting community. You might ask, "How so?" The first thing thing we discerned was a very different kind of spiritual heaviness over the entire town, whose population is about 90,000. They are located approximately 30 minutes south and a little east of Tijuana right on the ocean...which means that it's very much a "party" community and this weekend it will get very noisy with their main beach day/night club right next door. What is over this area is a very different feel from the spiritual activity in Tijuana proper. It feels much more like something that is assigned to block a move of God here....not oppressive in a heavy way....much more solid spiritual resistance. However, there are some very interesting things going on here!
The history here has been one of extremely active involvement with the occult and witchcraft. Without going into great detail, I've had some in-depth conversation about this with the pastor God has moved here to begin to mobilize some things. He is particularly anointed with a Psalmist/Worship anointing, and leads a meeting every Friday evening (which Mary and I are begging to attend!) that is ONLY worship, warfare, and a subsequent victory/praise celebration! I believe God has called him here to stand in the face of the satanic worship which is very much a part of the community. Just south of where we are, there is a satanic temple that is connected in several ways with the satanic worship center in San Francisco....ponder on that for awhile.... Pastor Fernando Pina tells me that there are a number of active covens in the area. Additionally, there are three pastoral alliances in this city who have never been able to come together to work on pretty much anything! He has just recently been elected as the president of one of those alliances, and is called of God to try to bring them together for the sake of the Kingdom.
Dave taught yesterday morning, and the Lord gave favor and anointing with them. His presentation was a clear, concise overview of how to penetrate the city, and what it will cost them. The 12 pastors present were very much on board and looking forward to additional time with us on future trips. They normally pray for 2-3 hrs. together weekly for Rosarito, but gave us that time to share. At the end, we spent a significant time in prayer, and we had opportunity to minister personally to the pastors and wives who were present. Wow! It's hard to put into words the depth of the anointing that the Lord sent during that time....haven't felt anything that strong for several years!! God is definitely doing something significant here that is in the infancy stages. And we will definitely continue to work in this community, as there is a very clear sense that it might be what Ed Silvoso calls an "igniter" city for this whole area of Mexico, including Tijuana.
We're staying in a lovely hotel here directly on the oceanfront....and I do mean directly! We can walk out the end of the game room right onto a pier about half a mile out into the ocean. It's really rather breathtaking! Our rooms face the ocean, and we can look out the walkout doors onto a tiny patio (about 2 feet wide!) to watch the surf, the beach, and the awesome sunsets over the ocean....well, we would if we were here! The gigantic sun was just turning red as we left yesterday evening. As I write this, I'm watching the surf rolling in with the tide and wondering when the surfers will begin to appear! Jesus felt led of the Lord this time that we needed to have some downtime just to enjoy and rest, so we have breaks of several hours at a time built into the week....like little mini-sabbaths. We can walk directly out of the hotel onto miles of sandy beach, and I think Dave, Mary, Steve, Jesus, and his son have just gone down to rent horses to ride on the beach. I've opted to skip that part for the present, as I'm thinking I need to be able to stand and walk on Saturday!! They also are equipped with 4-wheelers for driving on the beach, too, so who knows!? If they're anywhere near as much fun as jet-skis, I may take a spin!! An amazing thing that God did is to make all the connections for us through a man in Pastor Fernando's church who is on the executive staff at this huge hotel, to get 1-bedroom suites for us at $29/night!! Yes, you heard me correctly! It's a bit of a drive for our "taxi", but still works well for him, and allows us to stay right here in the community long enough to get somewhat acquainted.
Last night, Steve spoke on "Hearing God" in a church where we've all ministered many times. We have made wonderful relationships within the congregation there, and have watched as their children have grown from babies into toddlers, and eventually into teenagers serving the Lord in their own right. We've had opportunity over the years to pray over many of them, and to encourage them on a regular basis. Steve did a great job, and again, the Lord gave great favor and words of encouragement for the people.
This afternoon, there is tentatively planned a meeting with Pastor Fernando, Jesús, Dave, and Steve, with the local police officials here in Rosarito to share with them some things about the cooperative efforts of Omaha 360, and pose some thoughtful challenges to them about how they can begin to partner with the faith community here to effect change in their own city. Please pray for great favor with that, if you read this in time. We're two hours behind you, and we're hoping that meeting will take place about 4:00 p.m. PST (6:00 PM Omaha Time). It will be a first penetration for the faith community into the government/law enforcement agencies.
Tomorrow we meet with a pastors' cell group led by Pastora Conchita. You may remember that we ministered to her a couple of years ago when her son had recently been shot and died in her arms just outside her home in the street. God has so transformed her that I did not recognize her when we once again met last April! Now she leads an entire group of pastors, and we have the privilege of sharing with them in the morning. Tomorrow evening, Dave and Steve will be attending another small group....and Mary and I are hoping to get to go to the worship/warfare time at Pastor Fernando's church.
Saturday morning, Dave and Steve will go to Pastor Raphael's cell group of pastors (which I'll sorely miss being there!), but Mary and I will be at a women's retreat, where I'm scheduled to speak to somewhere around 75-100 pastor's wives, and women pastors. That will be quite a challenge, as they have given me barely any information to work with....including no timeframe, no number of sessions, and barely any topic...."We are queens!" I still need to finish fleshing that teaching time out, so am thankful for the time to sit in the breezy sunshine on the pier and work on it this afternoon. Saturday evening Dave will be speaking to a large youth rally and the team will be ministering.
The rest of the schedule we are keeping flexible for connecting to local pastors, their families and churches. Dave will be speaking to the Pastoral Alliance in Tijuana on Monday evening just before "dashing" across the border for a 6:40 AM flight home . Please pray for anointing and continued favor for him.
We are so thankful for all the sacrifice and provision that has been made to allow us to be here, including the way that the Lord has reduced expenses for us this time, while providing a beautiful, restful place for us to recuperate between times. I believe that may be because of the significant contact with the witchcraft and what's in the spiritual realms here. He's watching and guarding over us, and aside from Steve having a bout of "Montezuma's Revenge" the first night, we've all been sleeping well and experiencing good health and energy, and lots of spiritual energy. It is also true, however, that we are still about $500 short of covering what we had hoped to raise for expenses for the trip. What this means in practical terms is that we will be limited in what we will be able to pass on to bless the pastors here with dinners, personal financial gifts, etc. If God moves on your heart to help with that, you can still send contributions to Christ For the City or online in the column to the right... designate "Gehrls-Tijuana" then emial us so that we can plan accordingly over the next few days. Thanks so much for your love, your care, and your prayers for us as we minister here.
More to come....
Sheryl for the Team