Rev. Jason Boyle is a born missionary, and one of our own seminary grads now ministering the gospel in Mexico City, the fifth largest city in the world by population. While his church is but a dot on the city’s map, it has made its mark in reaching the people of that needy city. With their own building, and membership of people committed to the proclamation of the gospel, as well as two sister congregations to the east in Veracruz, the Lord has been pleased to signally bless the vision and diligent labors of His servant. No small part of Jason’s steadfastness has been without the loving and cheerful support of his wife Danielle, who was born in British Columbia, Canada, and was a member of Cloverdale FPC. As editor, and as minister of Cloverdale church, I take joy in this connection with the ministry in Mexico City. May all of our readers become more personally connected through our interview with Rev. Boyle.
God’s people know that missionaries must be a special kind of people. They need a special calling from the Lord and special training for the many extra challenges of ministering to people of another language and culture. What has helped you the most to enter into your work and stay the course in Mexico City?
I try to always emphasize to people that missionaries are not super-Christians, but are simply Christians living and ministering in another culture. I think that’s important for people to know, especially so we can encourage others to consider the call of God in their own lives. At the same time there are particular challenges and difficulties living and working in a language and culture that are not what you grew up with.
What has helped the most in the beginning years of ministry in Mexico is having a clear and undeniable call to minister here, as well as a love for the people that God has brought into our lives. We have been embraced whole-heartedly by our congregation, and that love has been a great help to us.
The remarkable thing I have observed from your first announcement and then your preparations to minister in Mexico City has been your clear sense of direction. How did that direction come about?
When I was in third and fourth grade Sunday School class, our teacher went to Mexico for a mission trip during part of a summer. When she came back, she showed us pictures and souvenirs that she had bought, but she also told us of all the children our age that needed to hear about Jesus. Even at that young age of eight, the Lord touched my heart and gave me a burden, not just for missions in general, but specifically for Mexico. From that point on, that’s what I told people I wanted to do when I grew up.
When I was a junior in high school, I was preparing for college and thinking about where to go and what to study, and although I still had the same burden and desire to go as a missionary to Mexico, I also wanted to confirm that call and be sure that it wasn’t just something I wanted as a child. So, I sought the Lord for a few months as I read His Word, and He gave me two verses: Matthew 4:16 and Acts 26:18 to confirm His will for my life. Matthew 4:16 has been very special to me since that time: “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”
After my college freshman year, I was able to go on a mission team and visit Mexico for the first time, even though at the time I didn’t speak any Spanish! Then in 2002, I spent ten weeks in Mexico City as part of my internship, working with the Goldfuss family, and the Lord gave me a specific burden for the city, with its millions and millions of people in need of Christ.
When did you commence your ministry in Mexico City and how were those first few months as you set out to gather in people to hear the gospel?
We arrived in Mexico in July, 2010 and took language classes for the first year or so. We officially planted the church on January 1, 2012. During our time of language study, we began to make some contacts, and when we started we had 13 people, including ourselves. The Lord brought in this beginning group in various ways, and then allowed the church to grow, during that first year, almost entirely from family members and friends of that beginning group. We have a slightly broader reach now as a church, but that type of organic growth continues and is part of what I consider vital to the life of a new church.
What was it like to transition from preaching in English to Spanish?
Challenging! Very, very challenging. I had completely written out my sermon the few times I had preached in Spanish before coming down to Mexico full-time, and so I continued to do that when I began preaching here, sending my notes to a friend in Paco Orozco’s church in Hermosillo every Friday to correct my mistakes. I did that for a couple of years, until there were much fewer mistakes. I remember the first time that I was able to get away from my notes for a couple of sentences while I was preaching, and speak from the heart, which was an encouragement! Then little by little I became more and more comfortable, and now I’m more at ease preaching in Spanish than in English!
With some experience now of the needs of the people to whom you minister each week, are they any different from a congregation in the USA or Canada?
I suppose that’s a little hard to say, seeing that I haven’t pastored anywhere but Mexico. On the one hand, I imagine that the needs of people are the same everywhere. On the other hand, understanding cultural differences is important to be able to explain and apply the Word in an effective way.
What is the underlying influence of Roman Catholicism upon the people in Mexico?
It’s a combination of oppression, corruption and complacency. The political and spiritual oppression of the Roman Catholic church dates from the time of the Conquista, and although it’s not as obvious now, the grip of the church over the people continues. The corruption of the church has influenced the rest of society, and the results are obvious in the government, or any other type of authority. And then there is complacency because, even with all the current mistrust of the Roman Catholic church, people are still holding onto at least part of their faith — specifically that everyone is a son of God, basically a good person, and therefore, eventually, everyone’s going to get to heaven.
You have been diligent and careful to minister to others, then others seemed to look to you for further fellowship and ministry. How has that come about, and what present opportunities do you have beyond your own congregation?
The Lord has brought like-minded men and congregations to fellowship with us, without us really doing anything. Marcus and Lalo were looking for fellowship and supervision from those who held the same doctrine and distinctives as them, and Ramón was looking for a Presbyterian denomination, and contacted the mission board. We made contact with another man in a city not too far from Marcus and Lalo at a leadership conference in Hermosillo, at Paco Orozco’s church, as well as other contacts there in the north of the country. We are very thankful for the opportunity to fellowship with those of like precious faith and many doors have been opened to preach and give conferences in different churches. Sometimes people are interested in what we believe and who we are as a denomination, and whether or not they ever join with us, it is a blessing to share with them what the Lord has done and is doing in our churches.
How should readers pray in specific terms for your ministry?
Pray that the Lord would save souls in Mexico City, believing that He has “much people in this city” (as was the case in Corinth in Acts 18), and that our church would be a light in the darkness. Pray that men would be raised up in leadership positions, that young people would be saved and dedicate their lives fully to the Lord, that they would wait for and find godly spouses, and that the Lord would bring in young children and save them early on in life. Pray that God would strengthen the marriages in the church, and use every believer as a testimony in his own house and work and neighborhood.
Apart from raising money, how can people get involved to support your ministry and to advance the cause of Christ in Mexico at large?
The prayers of God’s people are the most important thing for us. We send out an update regularly, and are thankful for so many people that uphold us in prayer and remember the specific requests that we have. Apart from that, if anyone knows Spanish and wants to use it for the Lord, or has a burden for the mission field, we would love the chance to show them what life is like down here and provide ministry opportunities.
When we think of the geographical size and population of Mexico, the need for men on the field must be overwhelming to you. Where do you think the future lies for growth in evangelism and pastoral ministry to the Mexican people?
In the young people, without a doubt. The generation of people in our church that are in the their forties, fifties, and sixties are the ones that are taking on responsibilities and being trained, but the future lies in our young people. They have the advantage now of growing up in the church (unlike their parents) and being trained from a young age in the gospel, and they have less bad habits and misunderstanding of Scripture to get rid of. We have been blessed with about 20 young people (ranging from age 15 to about 30), and we are thankful that many are saved and want to serve the Lord. But we ask for special prayer for the young men that at a young age they would be burdened for full-time ministry, or to serve as leaders in the church.
It’s a long way from Vancouver. How has your wife Danielle found life in Mexico City? Do you both find that you are at home where you now live and minister for the Lord?
It was definitely not an easy transition, but Danielle loves life here and is an invaluable part of the ministry. We are very much at home here. We love the people and the food, but are not as fond of the traffic and pollution! We enjoy going back to the States or Canada to visit, but it’s not home anymore. When we talk about going home, it’s when we’re on our way back to Mexico.
One last question: Are Mexicans good at soccer? When did you last play the game?
Mexicans are absolutely obsessed with soccer, and in general are quite good at the game. I played soccer from the time I was little, so I can hold my own when I play. I’m not able to play as much as I would like to, but when we get together as a church, there’s always time for a little soccer. I played at our youth camp in April and was pretty sore afterwards! Danielle doesn’t play, but cheers me on.