South Gate choir on mission to Guadalajara communities - Word&Way

South Gate choir on mission to Guadalajara communities

By Jennifer Harris
Word&Way News Writer

Members of the South Gate Baptist Church, Springfield, choir traveled to Guadalajara, Mex­ico, at the end of June to sing and share their faith with residents of the local community.

“Every location we sang at was special,” said Mike Den­bow, associate pastor for music and family ministries. “It was humbling to see God work, and especially work through us. We are just a group of normal everyday people who have no special training or skills. Just a heart to be used by God.”

This was a first mission trip for choir member Marla Smith.

“How it has altered my life!” she said. “After being there in Guadalajara, seeing the people who have so little, yet worshipping before our King, knowing they are rich in blessings — well, I know I was ministered to just being with them in worship, even though I went to minister to them.”

One of the highlights of the trip, according to choir members, was a visit to a prison. The large prison was home to thousands of prisons, Denbow said, and covered acres of land.

The 23-member choir presented a concert during the regular worship meeting of Christ­ian inmates, which happened to be during a visiting day.

“Streams of women with little children were coming in,” said choir member Donna Terrell. “Out in the large open courtyard, there were hundreds of male prisoners dressed in white and khaki, visiting with their families. Many were so young. The Christian prisoners with their Bibles in hand sang and praised the Lord with us.

“One young man brought his little daughter to listen. There were a couple of wives and one young man who kept walking by with his mother…. The whole scene was just so moving. I just kept thinking, ‘Thank you, Lord, for letting me be here.’”

Smith also found the experience moving. “We heard from the prisoners that they feel neglected by people, especially churches, and they reminded us of the scripture in Matthew where it says ‘I was in prison, and you visited me.’”

On a hill beside the prison sat an orphanage, home to children of the inmates.

The choir performed nine concerts in five days. “At every venue, people made decisions to follow Christ,” Denbow said.

“Even though there was the language barrier, we communicated through our music, but mostly through smiles and tears and hugs,” Smith said. “We saw many people, mostly adults, receive salvation, and that was truly awesome.”

“I witnessed firsthand God’s sovereignty and provision in this trip,” Smith said.

(Photo: Members of the South Gate Baptist Church choir sing a concert outdoor in front of a massive fountain in Guadalajara, Mexico. The 23 singers from Springfield reported that people made professions of faith after all nine of their appearances over five days, including at a large prison.)