Our first Christmas in Mexico is one I will never forget. Warm tropical weather for the advent of Christ’s birth was something so new to me. I preached my first message on the birth of Christ from the written text Becky had brilliantly translated for me…some said I had a knack for pronouncing the words, but I actually understood little of what I preached. When conviction fell and folks came to be saved, others had to lead them to Christ. The frustration of those first pulpit experiences were my burning motivation to master Spanish.
The holiday season in 1974 was especially difficult for us. After only six weeks of deputation, our support level was so low that Dr. and Mrs. McCoy subsidized us for six months until his health would allow us to leave for our “year of deputation.” We became entrenched in the work and did not return for another ten years. We were young and inexperienced, but God taught us that we could trust Him for our needs.
Days before Christmas, a bush pilot in a little Cesena 180 flew me to Tlapa with checks from Ralph McCoy to pay bills for the homes. When I left, Billy and Bobby were very ill. Our trip to the doctor drained my wallet and we were unable to fill the prescriptions. I was too proud to ask my in-laws for help. We wept and prayed.
After a lonely night of prayer in Tlapa, God spoke to my heart. I returned to my little family with renewed faith. We had to drive to the border the day after Christmas to renew our papers. We had less than $20.00. On Christmas morning an envelope from Lakewood Baptist Church arrived with a check for $466.00. Billy got a little tee shirt, Bobby received a three-inch plastic truck and Becky got me with a red bow around my neck.
Christmas 2017 is going to be similar. After a year battling cancer and celiac disease my strength has been largely depleted. Our budget has been wrecked with surgeries and medical expenses. I spent a sleepless night of prayer and sickness before preaching the Sunday before Thanksgiving. God touched me. I’ve been symptom free and graining strength since that morning. Cancer markers dropped from 30 to 8. Even the oncologist agrees, God is at work. The needs are greater than in 1974 but our God is able. Merry Christmas! Thank you for your prayers and continual sacrifices that have made our ministry possible for nearly forty-four years.
In His love,
Mike and Becky Patterson
P.S. We’ve had our best year ever in the Bethesda Homes. All but five of the children are already supported. A multitude have been saved. Three major building projects are complete. We fly to Mexico in late January!