Planting the first church
As a result, with the blessing of their own local church, Steven and Christy moved to Mexicali in 1982. They had two small children with another one on the way and only $15 a month pledged in monthly support. They did not realize at the time how reckless or bold their actions appeared to others. They were convinced that there was a great opportunity to reach people for Christ and, as they put God first, He would provide. To this day, they’ll admit that this is not the ideal way to go to the mission field, but God used their unique experience to build a faith necessary for their calling.
The Shepards’ goal was to start a church, and they learned early that this is not a task that human beings can do. Jesus said, “I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18)
They worked very hard and tried a lot of things. Yet the work always seemed to be hanging by a thin thread. They felt like giving up. Then God showed them that they needed to stop all activities that made the work dependent on them. The key was to work toward a self-sufficient church dependent entirely on God and led by national leaders. By His mercy, God formed a work in Mexicali through the Shepards, which is still going strong to this day. During their four and a half years in Mexicali, they saw the supernatural provision of God. He not only provided for their personal needs, but also for the construction of a two-building church facility. Many of the people who attended this church were among the poorest of the poor, sometimes living in cardboard shacks or even in the city dump.