By Nikole Hahn
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” – Mark 16:15
In a world filled with bad news, here’s a story of faith, dedication, prayer, courage, hope… and over 2,000 Spanish Bibles! And a special partnership between the pastor of a small rural church and a WorldVenture partner church making a gospel impact in Mexico.
The journey of the Bibles to Mexico and the partnership between the two churches began with Pastor Jason Hamilton at Skull Valley Bible Church.
Creating a Network
Jason Hamilton began pastoring at Skull Valley in 2016. “When I first came here, I realized that 30% or so of the area is Spanish speaking at home, so, within six months, I had told our deacons that one day we would have a Spanish service at our church.” A year later, his daughter would meet a new friend named Paulina out in the crisscrossing dirt roads of the rural community of Kirkland.
Paulina lived 27-miles from the church and expressed an interest in the youth group but did not have a way to get there. Spanish was the family’s first language. While Paulina went to the youth group, the family stayed home. They needed a Spanish service. Paulina and the family eventually moved closer to the Lake Mary area for a while. Pastor Jason and his family kept in touch. Since then, Paulina and her family have moved only 200 yards from Skull Valley Bible Church.
While Pastor Jason organized groups of Christian musicians to come each quarter and play at the church, Paulina provided him with the names of a Spanish Christian music group, which was comprised of her grandfather and cousins. They came and played traditional Mexican-style music with a guitar and accordion while sharing the Gospel.
God used Paulina to shape the purpose and ministry of Skull Valley Bible through that event. As a Spanish family got saved and another lady at church informed Pastor Jason, she had a Master’s in TESOL, Pastor Jason started a class at the church. Eventually, a Spanish service led by Iglesia de Dios Torre Fuerte expanded Skull Valley Bible Church into two services—English and Spanish.
“After that,” Pastor Jason said, “I was looking for a way to work in Mexico, too.” He met the Pastor at Primera Iglesia Bautista “Amigos de Israel” through the reference of a pastor friend in Peru and a missionary in Douglas, Arizona. Pastor Roberto Morales expressed a need for Spanish Bibles. During a snowstorm, Skull Valley Bible Church was one of four churches in the area that received a shipment of Gospel of John’s. Pastor Jason discovered Spanish ones in the boxes but needed more Bibles to answer the need in Mexico. The local Gideons provided 50 New Testaments in Spanish and 80 Nueva Version Internacional Bibles.
Pastor Jason made his first trip to Mexico to visit Pastor Roberto in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. That delivery brought over 200 Bibles and portions of the Bible, and met practical needs like clothing, bedding, and food. Pastor Roberto asked for one thousand whole Bibles, and over time, five thousand more. Often this included providing for conferences and other needs in the community, either buying in Mexico or bringing in unavailable supplies.
As Pastor Jason built this relationship with various Spanish pastors, including Pastor Roberto in Nogales, and missionaries and pastors spanning from Douglas, Arizona to Agua Prieta, and Navajoa, Mexico, to answer the need for Bibles in Mexico, he began to answer each request with, “Yeah, I’ll take a look,” without any idea how to fund or provide the need for them, but asking the Lord to provide.
“In May, I get a phone call,” said Pastor Jason. Pastor Roberto in Nogales needed folding chairs as his conference and camps were outgrowing their capacities. Folding chairs on Craigslist were $9 each. Pastor Jason went visiting his congregation, and one person, after hearing about the mission to bring Bibles to Mexico, pressed a hundred dollars into his hands.
The person refused to take back the hundred despite Pastor Jason assuring him that wasn’t the reason for his visit. “You need to use this for your ministry.”
Pastor Jason returned to his online search soon after getting home and, to his surprise, found a man in Sedona selling 35 interlocking folding chairs for $2 each. He could buy all 35 folding chairs and pay for gas to get to Sedona and back home. The chairs also fit in his truck. “A request comes up, and God provides.”
The Purépecha are indigenous people in the northwestern region of Michoacán, Mexico. According to the Joshua Project, the Bible is only available in the New Testament. The whole Bible will not exist in Purépecha until 2025. Getting whole Bibles in Mexico is an expensive endeavor beyond the budget of most local churches. In Mexico, 143,000 Purépecha speakers need complete Bibles, and only 500 New Testament Bibles have been printed and already distributed. Pastor Jason endeavored to fill a need from Pastor Roberto on getting New Testament bibles in the Purépecha language. While it was available online, most Purépecha people don’t have access to the internet due to the mountains and canyons. He sought to gain permission to print off copies from the internet, but copyright law prevents the Bible from being printed without authorization. Pastor Jason looked for available New Testaments. He sought out the copyright owners.
Wycliff helped with the translation but did not hold the copyright. The Mexican Bible Society didn’t answer their email.
“I was trying to get permission to download to a USB and do Amazon publishing,” said Pastor Jason. His journey to answer the need for Bibles continued. He went as far as to contact the United Bible Society in London, UK. Finally, after a long ten days, the Mexican Bible Society called and said, “We have 50 of them. Do you want them?” And 50 copies in the Purépecha dialect were delivered.
In March of this year, Pastor Jason’s wife would have surgery. Neither of them has health insurance, and many friends, family, and congregation members provided for the cost of the necessary surgery. Pastor Jason’s Dad called.
“If you have extra money from me,” His Dad said, “Put it towards more Bibles for Mexico.”
Pastor Roberto called Pastor Jason later that same day and asked, “Can you find us Bibles in Mayan?” With Jennifer’s surgery paid for, extra money was left over to cover the cost of Mayan Bibles. Mopan Maya is a language from the Yucatan. The language spans Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.
“Mopan Mayan is a Yucateco language but is distinct from the dialect on the Yucatan. The larger language, Yucateco, is spoken in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, however the Mopan form, according to Wikipedia, is limited to portions of Guatemala and Belize. This turned out to be the issue with buying Mopan Mayan Bibles when we needed Yucateco,” explained Pastor Jason.
Within hours of Pastor Roberto’s phone call, a friend of Pastor Jason’s wife discovered that the Digital Bible Society had bibles available in numerous languages including Mopan Mayan using print-on-demand. Pastor Jason and others transported one thousand Bibles, which included this purchase, across the border to Pastor Roberto for distribution just in time for Easter.
WorldVenture partner church, Grace Church in Chino Valley, AZ, purchased a Proclaimer from Faith Comes by Hearing in the proper Yucateco Mayan dialect to send to Mexico with Pastor Jason.
At a conference, three Mayan pastors from the Yucatan Peninsula approached him. “The audio Bible is perfect.” One of the pastors looked at him and said, “Pastor, my grandmother does not even speak one word of Spanish, and she can’t see. And now, she’s going to hear the Word of God for the first time.”
Three weeks later, they sent a text which said, “The written is in the wrong form.”
Pastor Jason pursued the proper dialect of Mayan for the pastors in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mexican Bible Society had the correct translation but no digital copy.
“Can you print them off on lithograph?” He asked. The Mexican Bible Society shared that their slides were too worn out. Pastor Jason helped direct them to the correct dialect of a digital copy.
“Are you sure you want this printed?” The representative asked. When Pastor Jason affirmed he wanted to purchase Mayan Bibles in the proper dialect, the Mexican Bible Society began to paginate and format the correct dialect, which is currently in process.
Since Pastor Jason has begun providing Bibles to Mexico, other churches have also helped. They provided Strongs and Vines concordances for struggling seminary students who couldn’t afford the textbooks and whole Bibles, too.
The Journey of Over Two-Thousand Bibles
This summer, to answer the need for more Spanish Bibles to Primera Iglesia Bautista “Amigos de Israel,” Grace Church paid for two thousand Bibles for Pastor Jason to bring down to Mexico.
Someone asked me why Pastor Jason couldn’t buy the Bibles in Mexico.
“Whole Bibles are difficult to buy and cost-prohibitive. It’s less than $2 a Bible to ship to a US location and only costs $150 in gas to drive them over the border,” said Pastor Jason. International shipping would have cost from Skull Valley to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, over $5,000.
Over two thousand bibles arrived at Grace Church in Chino Valley a week ago. They are my supporting church. On Monday, December 6, 2021, I am documenting the journey of the Bibles all the way beyond the border and sharing the stories of what God is doing in Mexico as they partner with our small rural churches in Arizona.
Follow these pages for interviews, live updates on the road, and prayer requests as I ride along with them to beyond Nogales, Sonora, Mexico from Monday to Tuesday: Skull Valley Bible Church, Grace Church, and WorldVenture.
You’ll find updates under this hashtag: #MXBibleJourney.
Photo by Pastor Jason Hamilton