The COVID-19 worldwide plague continues to be a big issue in the areas served by True Path Ministry (TPM), as missionaries Stephen and Tonyia Williams discovered on a recent visit. The couple have a house in Galeana, NL, Mexico where they normally live several months each year, but not this year. However, there is good news on the construction projects at the Iglesia Getsemani church building and the parsonage. Progress on both projects have accelerated this year (see Good Progress at Galeana Construction Projects).
Normal activities of TPM, such as the Marcos 10:14 Kids Club, evangelism to remote villages and even worship services have been either halted or altered. The US-Mexico border is closed except for folks who have essential business in either country. After a long discussion the Williams got special permission from a Mexico health official to enter. In addition, Galeana, NL, has a special medical checkup tent setup at the entrance to the town. The missionaries had gained prior permission to enter the town thanks to Pastor Reynaldo.
Unfortunately, Mexico has one of the highest percentages of deaths per person who gets the sickness in the world. The country as a whole is suffering. We understand, the bulk of those with the virus in the state of Nuevo Leon, live in Monterrey. They believe locally only about 100 persons have had the illness. An ill person can be tested at the small local hospital, but it is not equipped to handle a COVID-19 patient. They will be sent home or if a person’s condition becomes very serious they are taken to Monterrey. We heard stories that when someone dies from the virus their body is cremated and no funerals are allowed.
Inside Galeana there are numerous restrictions affecting everyday life. The central plaza, which is the life blood of the community, is closed with a fence around it. The schools have no in-person classes. Masks are mandatory all over, especially in the stores. I (Stephen) saw a health official in the plaza area reminding people to “social-distance” and wear masks. There is a nightly round of sanitation spraying in areas where people gather during the day.
The government now allow churches to meet, but have issued restrictions. No one over 60 years of age, no one with preexisting conditions: heart disease, diabetes, etc., are suppose to attend and no young children. Masks and the social-distance rules apply and no hugging or even hand shakes. Chairs in the Iglesia Getsemani church building have a big area of separation around each one.
For this group of serious Christ followers, Church services are an essential part of life, especially during this time. I noticed during worship that every seat was taken (even on a Wednesday night), the services are still Spirit filled and Christ is being proclaimed and glorified.
There have not been any members here who have had the COVID-19. We pray the Lord continues to shield these good folks and that this worldwide plague soon passes.
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (NKJV)