Greetings! I have just returned from a trip to Mexico (June 21-30), which your gifts and prayers have made possible. I wanted to send this letter right away to thank you and to report on the significant ministry, which occurred.
The objective of this ministry project to central Mexico was to set up the JARON Bible Institute Extension in Tehuacan (a city of some 300,000 people four hours southeast of Mexico City) and begin the first two classes: New Testament Survey and Principles of Bible Interpretation. My traveling partner and main interpreter, Gil Hernandez and I arrived in Tehuacan at 3:00 pm on Saturday, June 21. We ate, showered and got settled in. That evening I met with a couple to plan their Christian wedding to be held the next day.
On Sunday I preached at one of the host churches called Manada Pequena (Little Flock). Afterwards we were whisked off to the wedding ceremony. There were maybe 80 guests in attendance in a nice rented courtyard. I performed the ceremony with Gil interpreting. Afterward there was a nice dinner with some very different kinds of Mexican cuisine.
The JBI classes began Monday with two tracks of a New Testament Survey course: an early session from 6:30-8:30 am and an evening session from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. We had expected perhaps 30 students between the two tracks. Monday we had 85 and it grew during the week to 96. I have to say that the Tehuacan folks more than fulfilled their end of the arrangement. They made and distributed nice brochures about the Bible Institute, as well as posting a large attractive banner at the class site, saying “Instituto Biblico JARON: Campus Tehuacan”. The class materials were all translated and the notes copied and bound into a spiral notebook. My English PowerPoint slides were translated and ready for class each day, with all the technology provided.
Tuesday I accompanied several of the leaders to the local jail for their weekly ministry there (Yes, I spent time in a Mexican jail). I taught 18-20 prisoners for well over an hour on the life of Jacob and his transformation from a shady character into a man of faith. These men later chipped in on a gift for my family—very touching, considering their situation.
Friday Gil and I had breakfast with Ezekiel Vasquez and his family, who are key leaders in the group of churches hosting us. We sat for almost two hours as these people poured out their dreams to train people who can expand ministry in this region. I was encouraged by their vision to break through the traditional boundaries of denomination to see the Bible Institute offered to all who would benefit. Even this first week there were Brethren, Baptists, Nazarenes and others enrolled in the classes. For Mexico, this is “thinking outside the box”. These leaders emphasized that the 96 enrollments had materialized by word of mouth and a brochure they handed out a couple of weeks prior to the event. They believe that, with radio advertising, etc., there could be as many as 300-400 in the future.
Saturday my colleagues, Gene Beck and Kenton Rahn arrived to teach Bible Interpretation the week after I left. That evening the three of us participated in a time in which students could pose Bible questions. Many of the questions showed profound insights and a background of Christian experience. I trust our answers were helpful to the 50 or so gathered.
The next Sunday Gil and I accompanied Enrique (another of the key leaders) to the neighboring city of Coapan where we preached via loudspeaker to a good portion of the 10,000 people in that place. I wasn’t feeling well that morning but managed to get through the very strategic time of ministry. I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon resting and recovering from a week of physical stress and a touch of Montezuma’s Revenge. Sunday evening I finished the New Testament class, said some farewells to the assembled students, was very moved by their words and tokens of thanks and then went back to my lodgings to continue my recovery. Thankfully, I was nearly 100% by the next morning for the long trip home, arriving in Fresno after midnight.
You may wonder how we could do justice to a subject like the New Testament in just six sessions of two hours apiece. The answer is that we can’t— but that was the time available. In training Christian leaders who are “working people”, we give them as much as we can in a limited time, and do so in a form that is challenging, interesting, relevant and above all, practical. What we aim for is a good overview of the flow of the subject, the major teachings, key turning-points and issues. The rest they can get from the extensive notes we provide and from the readings in the Bible itself. I am convinced that this is the best way to train leaders in this context. We’ll see how effective it is as time goes by.
Personally I had the time of my life. I forgot how much I love the real Mexico, where people are more gracious and relaxed. The people there went to great lengths to show us the fantastic variety of Mexican food. I never ate a single enchilada —and tacos only on one occasion. Instead there were mimelas, champurado, chicharones, a very different kind of chile relleno, yucateca pork, membrillo and other dishes, the names of which I forget. I hope to bring some teams in the future to help with ministry to women and children. Maybe some of you can participate and enjoy this culture. I think I can promise that your Spanish will improve, you will see the real Mexico and be able to do some significant ministry.
Of course all the real glory goes to our Lord Jesus, but it is with heartfelt sense of gratitude that I say thanks again to you for making this possible.
I am writing this brief letter to bring you up to speed on our most recent missions project. Several colleagues and I have made plans to establish a training center for Christian leaders in Tehuacan in the southern Mexican state of Puebla.
The first session is planned for June 25- July 7, 2008. During this time, we will offer a condensed Bible course and a practical seminar to a group of pastors and leaders from various churches in the area. Most of them are already serving Christ in some significant way, but they lack the in-depth training necessary in Bible and ministry skills to be as effective as they could be.
In February, my colleagues Jim Cecy, Gene Beck, Gil Hernandez and I made the same trip to survey this ministry possibility. We saw first-hand the impressive commitment of these believers. These men and women are, in some ways, the keys to their city of 200,000 people. To the degree that they are effective, certain types of change can happen to advance Christ’s Kingdom. In other words, we multiply our efforts by training those who have already shown their commitment to make a difference.
Publicizing our courses on radio station XHTE, Tehuacan, Puebla
I believe that what we can accomplish will bring dividends to the cause of Christ in that region of Mexico far beyond the investment. Our goal is to do only the things we believe are highly strategic and will have long-term beneficial effects for people and for God’s Kingdom.
Some of the organizers from the churches of Tehuacan.
Thanks for praying, Mike and Melinda Bogart
My cousin, Roger Tomlinson, asked me to return and teach at the Dayspring Outreach Missions Training Center in La Haciendita, Nuevo Leon, (Northern Mexico). The project covered the two weeks of February 23- March 5.
The class consisted of a mixed group of about 20 Mexican and American students, who were instructed in:
- Missions strategies among people from a variety of religious backgrounds.
- Pastoral counseling and conflict resolution.
All of my teaching was done through a translator in order to be perfectly clear to the students and to get them used to a bilingual setting. After this, accompanied the team on an outreach weekend five hours away in a remote mountain part of southern Nuevo Leon, near Doctor Arroyo. It was a blessing to serve the Body of Christ in these out-of-the-way spots.
Thanks for your prayers and interest. Mike Bogart
Some of the students at Dayspring’s Training Center
Melinda and I have had an amazing couple of weeks in South Africa. Our partners on this mission team, Howard and Debi Foreman have been a joy to work alongside. We arrived in the middle of a government workers strike in which hospitals, schools and other offices are closed. The government is negotiating with the workers who want more money. Yet, things appear to be much as normal.
We stayed at the Giyani-area Police Guest House on the outskirts of town. The local police officials have rolled out the red carpet for us. We were able to hire a cook and were allowed the use of the full accommodations. The police commander for crime prevention in Giyani lives at the guesthouse. He and his son and a friend gave us a large brie (BBQ) one night earlier this week. The seven of us had great discussion and fellowship.
One of the local African pastors, Pastor David, loaned us his Indian-made Tata car so we could get around on our own. What a sacrifice on his part! That kind gesture saved us from the sometimes complicated and expensive process foreigners must go through to rent one. Both Howard and I drove the car, which for me was a bit weird because in South Africa they drive British-style (on the left).
The week of ministry included pastoral training classes in theology, taught by Howard and a general church leadership seminar on Christian counseling, taught by me. The two wives presented a women’s seminar and craft session, as well as met privately with several wives of pastors for encouragement.
While in the city of Malamulele, about 40 minutes north of Giyani, the four of us were invited briefly to the home of a local pastor in the area and given a gift of fresh garden spinach, which we ate later that night. We were allowed to present a gospel-oriented devotional at three police station chapel services, where we given a profuse welcome.
Believe it or not, the week also gave us opportunities to hold youth meetings and speak in several other church services, where we presented a welcome from the churches in the US. A highlight was driving 25 miles to the NW and visiting with the chief of the five villages in the Diangheza area. Once again the chief rolled out the red carpet, inviting us to lunch and outfitting Melinda and Debi in Shangaani costume.
What we have seen here in this northeastern corner of the country is a wild mix of western and traditional cultures. Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants exist side-by-side with traditional food vendors. We have seen women in traditional costume with fruit baskets on their heads and people in business suits; serious poverty and affluence; Africaans, Tsonga and English all spoken simultaneously.
Each morning we awoke to vervet monkeys in the trees outside our window. Several afternoons we were guests of the local Spar grocery store, where the managers made their computers and internet available to us. Americans can learn much about hospitality from South Africans.
If you ever get the chance, you should experience this place. We are amazed at how people are open to the message of Christ and the Bible and the pervasiveness of at least a positive attitude toward Christianity. Please pray for our friends, pastors Rex, David and Jackson; for our police friend Peter; Betta (our cook) and many others. Though tired, we came though the week very well. Thanks for your interest in this very effective project. We pray for you and trust you are well.
Mike and Melinda
Here are some typical scenes from Limpopo Province in northeastern South Africa.
The large picture was taken at a wedding we attended. This is the bride’s family. Her dad has three wives. Can you pick them out?
December 1, 2006
Greetings! It is that special holiday time of year, which gives us the opportunity to report to those who have prayed, given and shown interest in the ministry we have with JARON. We trust all of you are well and finding fulfillment in serving where you have opportunity as well.
As I mentioned in June, JARON has been invited to begin a ministry training course for pastors who serve in the villages of Limpopo Province in the northeastern part of the country. The first phase of what we hope will become a multi-year Global Leadership Training Project took place July 21-August 12.
More than anything else, this trip confirmed the need (and renewed the invitation) for us to become involved in the training of Christian leaders in the region. In those eventful three weeks I was involved in the following:
One week was spent networking with Afrikaans leaders in the Pretoria area, discussing needs and touring existing ministry projects. There are multiple layers of ministry we can easily plug into and provide training and other things in north-central part of the country.
The final two weeks were spent working with Shangaan ethnic people in Limpopo Province. A brief summary of this training week follows:
I taught a Christian leadership seminar to fifty church leaders from two different churches.
I led a marriage seminar for pastors in the city of Giyani.
I met with key pastoral leaders to discuss the details of a JARON Bible Institute program to meet the academic and practical ministry needs in the area.
The JARON team put together a medical / relief project in several area villages.
I along with several others, participated in a discussion for future development of a Christian camp that would serve the entire northeastern region of South Africa.
We met and established good relationships with many wonderful people, whom I hope to see again in future trips.
Thanks for your prayers, Mike Bogart
Let me give you a quick report on our recent missions project in Haiti, March 18-28, 2005. Our team of seven (Mike, Melinda and Dan Bogart, our daughter Andrea Cole, Patrick Mitchell, Glenda Farrer, Carl Camp) arrived in Port au Prince on Saturday. The weather throughout our time there was hot and humid.
It was startling, and yet reassuring, to see U.N. troops in full battle gear in various places throughout the country during our time there. Upon arrival, the team met our missionary hosts, Robert and Jean Vilmenay of Mission to the Americas, and prepared for the week.
Monday through Wednesday the team worked at the Center for Integrated Development (in Delmas) featuring various training sessions, designed to equip Haitians to do ministry more effectively. All of this had to be translated into French and Kreyol. The rest of the time we spent visiting local pastors and assisting the full time missionaries. So, what did we accomplish?
We brought much-needed items for Haitian leaders to use in ministry (two full computer / printer sets, medical supplies, used eye-glasses, which the people appreciated very much).
We brought greetings and encouragement to three Haitian congregations (Victoire, Amitie, Cabaret).
We encouraged pastors to continue the ministry under difficult circumstances.
We trained 30-40 Haitian church leaders in various practical issues.
The use of the Wordless Book materials for children.
A missions seminar aimed at mobilizing Haitians to go where others cannot.
We addressed various issues related to women in ministry.
We taught the use of computers in music ministry.
We instructed leaders in the use of various types of games as a ministry tool.
We trained and exposed Americans to cross-cultural ministry.
We encouraged and supplied the missionaries.
We brought the Body of Christ together a bit more.
It was touching that many of the Haitian leaders we had known from our trip in 2003 were so appreciative that we had returned. It means a lot to them because their impression is that few people want to come to Haiti at all, let alone return—and you helped make that happen. Thanks for your prayers and support. Be encouraged!
Mike and Melinda Bogart
March, 2005. Dear friends–
Just after the first of this year, I was invited by my cousin, Roger Tomlinson, to teach at Dayspring Outreach’s Missions Training Center near Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
The class consisted of a mixed group of about fifteen Mexican and American students. Over the course of four tightly packed days I taught the following subjects:
Bible study methods
Characteristics of the Cults (including the background and teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses) Time-table of Bible History
Though my Spanish came back fairly quickly during the week, all of my teaching was through a translator to make sure of its accuracy.
On Wednesday evening the group attended the midweek service of the tiny La Haciendita church. One of the students shared, another sang. I presented a brief encouragement and challenge. It was a blessing to be with the Body of Christ in this out-of-the-way spot.
As always, it was my privilege to be of assistance to those serving Christ’s Kingdom in this part of the world. Many of them will be graduating and going on to a period (perhaps a lifetime) of service in Mexico. That’s what we do: equip people to serve Christ better. Thanks for praying.
Be encouraged, Mike Bogart
July 1, 2003.
Our first full year under JARON ministries has turned into a very busy one. Having just returned from a trip to Haiti in May, I (Mike) set out again as part of a team who traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to do ministry. Here are some highlights of that project:
Even though I was part of a five-person JARON team in Congo, I have decided that three weeks away from family is too long. It was, however, a phenomenal time. I was privileged to teach Old Testament Survey for two weeks (30 hours total) at the Missiological University Center in the Binza District of Kinshasa. There were consistently between 22 and 26 students in class. Most of these students were taking the course for credit through the Center, with me acting as guest professor.
Words tend to fail in describing the depth of discussion and personal connection with these future leaders of the Congolese evangelical churches. Rarely have I ever had this type of experience in the classroom. Their response was due, in part, to their gratitude that someone would come to their country to help them during such an uncertain time. Congo has lost many millions of people during the past decade, four million of which have been killed over the past 5 years. Congo is a broken country that is ready for change.
The two Sundays I was in Congo, I preached in two radically different settings:
On June 15, I was honored to preach at the Protestant Chapel at the University of Kinshasa to over 1200 people in two services on “Pre-requisites for Christian Leadership”. It is no exaggeration to say that many of Congo’s future leaders were present on this occasion.
The next week, June 22, I was invited to speak at a recently established rural church of around 70 people, about half of which are children. The setting is a three-sided building, partly of corrugated metal and partly of palm branches, among houses and huts. The topic was “The Relationship of Prayer” from Matthew 6. Honourine is a student from the Missiological Center that has begun this work in an unchurched area. Again, this was an honor to be able to assist her in this work on that memorable day.
Other teaching venues included:
An interview at a large Christian radio station for a program that had several hundred thousand listeners.
Presenting an analysis of Islam and how it differs radically from biblical Christianity on two consecutive weeknights in a leaders training course (60 students present) of one of the larger indigenous churches.
I also preached for fifteen minutes as part of a multi-denominational pastors gathering at the impressive and beautiful Protestant Cathedral on June 11.
During the week, the JARON group had the unexpected opportunity to act as unofficial diplomats from the evangelical churches of the US, meeting with:
Protestant Bishop Marini Bodho, who has been appointed President of the interim Senate being formed by President Kabila;
His Excellency, Theodore Mugalu, Minister of Civil Affairs (a cabinet level position in the interim government). We met with him twice (a couple of hours each time—unheard of). The second time we were his guests for dinner.
The Director of Health for Kishasa District, Dr. Miakala. These were truly high points.
1) Food: fufu (like corn-flavored playdough), fish with heads on, and fried grub worms.
2) Getting mugged by a Congolese soldier “Mon ami. Je fam.” (Hey friend, I’m hungry—) I gave him 150 Congolese Francs (less than a dollar).
3) A dugout canoe ride on a tributary of the Congo River.
4) The similarity between Haiti and Congo (use of French in education, familiar looking faces, and some cultural similarities. I have since learned that many of the slaves transported to Haiti in the 16th and 17th Centuries by the French came from the Congo River area.
5) Driving down a major street and pulling over as a motorcade passed by a high speed, guarded by police on fast motorcycles. It was President Kabila (wow two presidential motorcades in two trips—In my trip to Haiti, the same thing happened with President Aristide!)
6) Sleeping under a mosquito net and taking anti-malarial pills.
7) The flight attendants on South African Airways fumigating the cabin as we taxied for takeoff to Johannesburg, South Africa on June 24.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is crystal clear that the evangelical church is the key to lasting change and social betterment. While governments and social agencies have often been inefficient or corrupt, certain groups of churches have maintained a high level of integrity. If we can equip the leaders of these churches, we can help rebuild these countries. In other words, if change is to take place in these places, it must happen through the churches and their leaders. This is at the core of what we do through JARON.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sending us on Christ’s behalf. Your faithful prayers and giving are an ongoing investment in the Kingdom of God, which will pay eternal dividends.
July 1, 2003.
It is with fullness of heart that we write to report on our first short-term missions project under JARON Ministries. We believe that our trip as a couple to Haiti accomplished more than we dared hope for. We honestly don’t know how to be brief in summarizing what was accomplished, so please be patient as we try to boil it all down:
Haiti: May 14-24, 2003.
May 15-17: We were the featured speakers at a pastors and pastors’ wives retreat, in the Port au Prince suburb of Delmas. Mike’s subject was Purity in Ministry. These men had not looked at biblical teaching on the subject of sexual purity in this type of package before and responded very well. Melinda taught a women in ministry workshop, in which she led a Bible study centered around the challenges, joys and issues related to pastoral families and ministry within the local church. Approximately ten pastoral couples were involved.
May 18-20. Mike was priviledged to be the guest preacher on Sunday at Amitie Christian Church of Delmas. The text was Acts 1:8 “The Local Church and World Missions.” The following Monday through Wednesday: he taught a Bible Survey mini-course for pastors and Christian leaders at the Center for Integrated Development in Delmas. The class averaged about 25 students over three nights.
May 21-23. Mike presented the same Bible Survey mini-course for the leaders of a recently established church in Petit Goave, 40 miles southwest of Port au Prince. Class size averaged around 20 and provided training for the leadership of this church which has the potential of being a very effective witness in this rural area.
As always, the seminars and workshops served as springboards into other related issues and a chance to connect with dear fellow servants of the Lord for encouragement, fellowship and mentoring.
Our goal is to work with local groups who will be able to follow up and expand on ministry after we are gone. Our hosts were Robert and Jean Vilmenay of Mission to the Americas, and Gillomettre Herode of the Center for Integrated Development. We have a standing invitation to return to continue ministry through these organizations in years to come.
1) Enjoying the very tasty Haitian cuisine, such as delicious fruit, spicy chicken and papitas (fried plantain chips).
2) Trapping a huge tarantula in the “wee” hours of the morning on a trip to the restroom.
3) People and tap-taps (like taxis) everywhere on the streets from early morning until late night. Haitian driving is not for the faint of heart!
4) The poverty and yet general cheerfulness of most of the people we met, along with the serious commitment of the Christian leadership we worked with.
5) The experience of being 50 yards ahead of President Aristide’s motorcade with helicopters zooming overhead, while he was stuck in traffic on Delmas Route 1. The Haitians were not particularly concerned about getting out of his way.
6) Melinda’s dugout canoe ride to a beach near Petit Goave, skimming over coral reefs, but unable to lean out to really see them for fear of the canoe tipping over.
7) The chance to get better acquainted with our friends, the Vilmenays, and hopefully encourage them as they continue ministry in that needy country.
Thanks for praying, Mike and Melinda Bogart
JARON Ministries International exists to:
…build a team of Ambassadors of Jesus Christ who will teach, disciple, counsel and encourage Christian leaders in the United States and abroad.
…serve as a ministry of instruction and motivation to local churches and Christian organizations through conferences, seminars, retreats, short-term ministries and special services.
…produce and provide biblically sound and currently relevant written, audio and video training materials.
…organize and lead short-term ministry teams to other parts of the world.
While pastoring local churches in California, Dr. James Cecy took a variety of ministry trips overseas, ministering primarily to Christian leaders in Asia. His heartfelt burden for pastors and church leaders became, in 1990, a call to full-time ministry through conferences and teaching, as he became a “Pastor to the pastors.” In 1992, his newly completed doctoral dissertation, written on the subject of why pastors fall into moral decay in ministry, became the cornerstone of JARON’s ministry through the Building Personal Purity and Immorality in the Ministry seminars. JARON Ministries International was incorporated in 1992.
As the ministry grew, demand increased for other Biblically-based training that resulted in dozens of other timely conference, audio and video titles.
JARON Ministries continues to grow and minister world-wide as a non-profit, religious organization, with a diverse staff of conference speakers and administrative staff. Ministry funds are raised through donations from local churches and concerned individuals who have either benefited from JARON’s teaching ministry, or who simply believe in JARON’s mission and want to help make this ministry available to others around the world.