It’s Saturday morning in Tres Reyes. Kids trickle in through the front gate of the new community center property. You’d expect them to sprint to the soccer field, palapa, or basketball courts. Instead, they eagerly gather inside a small orange building just behind the gate for Bible class. Inside, coloring pages receive carefully placed hues and a ball is tossed around before the morning begins with worship. Cristian, a 10 year boy, walks in wearing his backpack — and a big grin.
For 4 years, the Bible class has been a key space for Back2Back Cancun to cultivate trust and rapport with children and families in Tres Reyes. After meeting in a local pastor’s church the first two years, it moved when the property was purchased for the community center. Over forty kids gather every Saturday for worship, memory verses, and a Bible study (currently the Bible’s big story), followed by free time.
At first glance, Tres Reyes is tough, untilled soil. But underneath is a rich, potential-filled garden. Like Jesus’ parable, the Kingdom is like a scenery-changing tree emerging from a farmer’s small seed-like investments (Lk 13:18-19). Similarly, volunteers and staff like Ivonne Mendoza and her husband, Jorge, want Tres Reyes to become a garden. So they invest their time, energy, and prayer in the kids who come, kids like Cristian.
Cristian has attended Bible class for over a year. He’s energetic and loves to ask when he can play soccer, sometimes in the middle of class. He also brings his younger brother when he can, who has a number of special needs. Cristian, like many of his friends, has a lot on his shoulders. Time to play is vital for fun, exercise and building social skills, but can seem like the only thing on his mind. Like a farmer gets his hands dirty to plant one little seed, ministry like this is intentional and messy. It’s tempting to think nothing is changing when the only question you hear is “When can we play soccer?” Then, out of the tough soil a sprout catches your eye. One Saturday, Cristian walked in to Bible Class with a backpack and a grin.
He ran to Ivonne, instead of the closest soccer ball. He carefully placed his backpack on the ground, unzipped it, and held its content like newly found treasure, “Look, I brought my new Bible.”
The week before, Jorge gave Cristian a copy — his first copy — of the New Testament. Judging by how quickly he took it and ran to the soccer field, it wasn’t clear if he was excited about it. But a sprout had emerged.
“Here’s my Bible. Do you want to see it?” he asked. “Now I can read the verses we learn in class.”
“He is so excited. Now, he has a hunger to know God,” said Ivonne.
“That’s the goal: we want the children and families to know God, to have a relationship with Him.”
Excitement over a Bible might seem, at best, cute. For Cristian, and for Tres Reyes, it’s a mustard seed beginning its journey to become a tree.
Cristian still asks when he can play soccer, occasionally in the middle of class. Now, he also asks where to find that day’s memory verse in his new Bible.