When Rudy Lizarraga attended a friend’s wedding in Mexico a few years ago, he had no idea it was just the beginning of a new mission field for him. However, God had started preparing his heart for the work He was planning for him down the road – both literally and figuratively.
As he was driving home along the Baja coast, past the coastal city of Rosarito, he found himself talking with his wife, Claudia, about previous mission trips to countries further away and how it would be ideal to do one closer to home in Mexico.
“While we were in Baja for the wedding, we saw firsthand how there was a great need to share God’s love there,” Rudy said. “We claimed by faith that one day we would do it.”
Rudy’s passion for traveling to different countries and sharing the love of Jesus to people in different cultures came about at a young age.
“Since I was young, I have felt God’s calling to go on mission trips and thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to go on a few of them,” he explained. “Each trip has always been a different experience for me, and has brought me closer to God and my brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Just a few months after Rudy and his wife attended the wedding, Hillside announced their new global partner, Kingdom Builders, and the first opportunity to send a team to Mexico. After meeting Pastor Daniel Nunez, Rudy says he felt a strong connection with him, and it quickly became apparent that this was the next step in his faith.
It was during one of their pre-trip training meetings that Rudy heard a great analogy from Pastor Jeff Gokee that provided encouragement and a new level of peace leading up to their trip.
“He told us there are two ways of getting into a river. One is to test the waters by getting in a little bit at a time, and the other is to just cannonball in,” Rudy said. “No matter how much I said I’d cannonball, and even with my previous experience on mission trips, at times I found myself a little unsure about the trip.”
Not knowing what to expect, figuring out childcare for his kids at home, finances, going with a team of (at the time) unknown people… All these things and more ran through Rudy’s head in the days and weeks leading up to the trip.But, he cannonballed in; and God, as He always does, showed up in the best way. While on the trip, Rudy was reminded of what he was called there for and of the times he prayed for an opportunity to minister in Mexico. The team, though unfamiliar before the trip, became family to Rudy, with strong relationships that continue today.
“I was able to cannonball in and find that the waters were just right,” Rudy said. “I took the liberty to swim around and allow God to use me in great ways to touch the lives of others.”
Rudy has served on both trips to Mexico, with his wife, Claudia, joining him for the first one. He said the experience is one he will never forget. In the small, rural community of New Dawn, right across the border, the team helped put up drywall and paint the outside of a small room addition at a church that would hold Sunday school classes for local kids.Additionally, they had the opportunity to meet some of the neighbors in the community, where they introduced themselves, shared who they were, and even hosted a fun VBS event for the children.
Pastor Daniel also took them to the different Kingdom Builders sites throughout the Baja area and showed them the great need to feed the hungry, provide homes for the homeless, and share the gospel.
Claudia said that coming in contact with people who live in poverty – like much of the world – deeply impacts you when you come in contact with issues of justice.
“It’s natural that when people find themselves face-to-face with poverty, something significant happens,” she said. “The rest of our lives are irrevocably shaped by what we have witnessed. It changes our hearts and gives us new vision.”
As the team has now built strong relationships in Mexico – with the people of Kingdom Builders, but also the members of the local communities – Rudy feels an even greater desire now to return again and be a part of the continued ministry work.
“The day that we were leaving to come back home, one of the ladies from the church pulled me to the side and asked me, ‘Will you be coming back?’” I told her yes and she got very happy!” Rudy explained. “She told me she’s seen a lot of churches come and go, but she rarely sees the same people again. I would love to go back and continue the relationships with the people we’ve met.”
For those on the fence about being a part of a serve trip, don’t let your circumstances, your age, your language barrier, or even your comfort level get in the way, Rudy said.
“Jesus commands us to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation,” he says. “The people in Mexico don’t have the opportunity to come to your front door to hear the Gospel, but you have the opportunity to travel just two hours and take the Gospel to them.”
Your step of faith could make all the difference in someone’s life as they hear the Gospel and experience His love.
Go ahead and cannonball in.
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
Join Us In Mexico!
Be a part of one of our next serve trips to Mexico! We have TWO trips coming up: February 28-March 1 and April 24-26. Applications for the first trip close soon, so click below to apply now.APPLY NOW