Mexican children watch, enthralled, while two clowns in colorful costumes perform a skit in a field near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “How do you get to heaven?” one clown asks, holding up a ladder.

The crowd of children, some with their parents, offers all kinds of responses, none of them correct.

Then a young girl steps out and puts her hand on her hip. “I know! I know!” she exclaims, squirming with excitement. “It’s Jesus! Jesus is the ladder! He’s how you get to heaven!”

It’s a moment when Jean Gregory knows for sure she’s making a difference in Mexico.  “We’re planting seeds for the Gospel,” says Jean, a Stonecroft volunteer from Littleton, Colorado.

Actually, Jean and her husband, Mac, do much more than plant seeds in several impoverished communities near a resort area along Mexico’s Pacific coast. They’re helping to grow a movement God began nearly a decade ago when Jean met Michelle Cartwright at a Women’s Connection brunch in Colorado.

Michelle, now Stonecroft’s Mountain Division Field Director, and Jean, a Women’s Connection Prayer Coordinator, discovered their common interest: reaching the people of Mexico with the Gospel.

Jean shared that she and her husband, both retired, owned a vacation condo in the Puerto Vallarta area. During their winters there, they made friends with local Mexicans, got involved in a Mexican church, and observed the physical and spiritual needs of the people who lived beyond the beautiful beachfront resorts that draw tourists to the region.

Jean and Mac Gregory

“I really have a heart for reaching the Mexican people,” Jean told Michelle.

“I do, too!” Michelle said.

Michelle mentioned that she is half Mexican and had been an exchange student in Mexico. She, her husband, and two sons vacationed annually in Mexico – in Puerto Vallarta as well. Michelle, too, had noticed the needs of the local Mexicans and felt a burden to share the Gospel with them using methods she had learned and taught others through Stonecroft.

“One of my dreams and prayers has been that someday I want to do Stonecroft in this area of Mexico,” Michelle told Jean.

Jean also thought Stonecroft’s approach to sharing the Gospel, training leaders, and building community would work well in Mexico, where many people are nominally connected with a church but don’t attend or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Let’s do this!” Jean said.

The women pledged to stay in touch and pray about how God might use them to take Stonecroft to Mexico. From there, Michelle and the Gregorys made contacts and prayed together regularly about the project.

“God is such a great connector,” Michelle says, recalling the network of people He placed in their paths to help make their dream a reality.

“It’s amazing to watch what He’s doing,” adds Jean. “It’s like a spider web that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

This past February, Michelle led the seventh annual Stonecroft mission trip to the area, partnering with the Gregorys and local Mexican Christ-followers. This year’s Stonecroft team included volunteers from Colorado and Wyoming. Led by Michelle, they worked with the Gregorys and a partner church in the area, Divino Salvador (Divine Savior), to conduct a “Prayer Bean Walk” in several communities where many of the people live in ramshackle, dirt-floored houses and struggle to feed their families. The team gave away about 600 pounds of pinto beans – a staple in the local people’s diet – and shared the Gospel in the process.

After one of the clown-shows held in tandem with the bean distribution, Stonecroft Speaker Lourdes Suarez shared her faith story. Lourdes, a native of Mexico now living in Colorado, told the crowd how they, too, could begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. A total of 40 children and 14 adults prayed to receive Christ after she spoke.

Michelle Cartwright

That was especially exciting for Michelle, who several years ago had introduced Lourdes to Stonecroft and mentored her. “Lourdes said she began to realize even more while we were in Mexico what the real heart of Stonecroft is –  that nonbelievers need that connection of our going out to meet them where they are, as they are,” says Michelle.

Team members helped to lead other outreaches and various training sessions, including some that introduced Stonecroft’s new outreaches for young women.

Through the team’s work this year, at least 45 adults and 40 children began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and several Mexican believers committed themselves to a deeper involvement in sharing the Gospel through Stonecroft. And that’s just part of what God has done through Stonecroft’s seven-year involvement in Mexico.

So far, several hundred Mexicans have received Christ, a team of Mexican partners leads several ongoing Stonecroft Bible Studies, and two monthly women’s outreaches are up and running in the Puerto Vallarta area. Local Mexican women also have conducted an outreach modeled after Stonecroft’s new “Pretty Hurts” event, a way to introduce women to the healing Jesus can provide for their emotional brokenness.

“None of this is about us,” observes Michelle. “It‘s about God. We‘re so thankful He’s used us to connect with the people there.”

“We’re just the ‘yes’ people,” adds Jean. “We say, ‘Yes, Lord. We’ll go serve you in Mexico.’ … Saying ‘yes’ is the key to His work being done on earth.”

Mary Speidel
Writer and Editor