Providing spiritual and emotional support for pastors in Mexico
Compassion partners with churches around the world because we want to equip the Church to fulfill the mandate given by Jesus: to make disciples in every nation. By empowering churches, we are investing in the people who understand their communities’ needs and are deeply committed to loving others in a Christ-like way.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Compassion’s frontline church partners in Mexico have been working tirelessly to support children and families. But the impact of the pandemic has taken its toll on them, too. Many congregants lost their jobs, putting pastors’ livelihoods on the line as offerings dwindled. Pivoting to virtual platforms for church services and pastoral work was a challenge that most churches were simply not prepared for.
Local church pastors are key leaders in their communities who play a vital role in helping children break free from poverty. But they have needs, too—and the pandemic has been emotionally and spiritually draining. When surveyed, many of the pastors we partner with in Mexico reported feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Some were on the verge of burning out and leaving ministry work permanently. Compassion Mexico knew they needed to step in to offer training and support for these servant leaders, but they couldn’t do it on their own.
Compassion believes that the local church is key to seeing communities break free from poverty, and that building the church includes supporting those who have dedicated their lives to serve it. That’s why Compassion Mexico initiated “Pastors in Fullness,” a training program designed to provide pastors from our frontline church partners with the professional training and support they need to remain spiritually and emotionally healthy.
Thanks to your support, 330 pastors from 218 of Compassion’s frontline church partners in Mexico have attended virtual conferences and workshops with specialists to support their emotional and spiritual health. This initiative was run in partnership with the Higher School in Psychotherapy and Biblical Counselling, who presented the training program and provided pastors with personalized attention where requested. First, Compassion staff met with the counsellor team to review the plan that would be carried out with the pastors. We also scheduled and met with speakers to learn about the topics that would be taught virtually and in person. For the first conference, Dr Jose presented on the importance of healing the soul. In these times of uncertainty, it was necessary to reinforce the care of the emotional and spiritual health of the pastors. We invited pastors to complete professional psychological assessments, which helped identify the type of support they needed. Surveys were sent to 32 pastors but only six pastors decided to start the therapeutic process because it was considered a taboo topic. A professional therapist from the Higher School of Bible Psychotherapy developed a plan of ten individual sessions for pastors interested in pursuing counselling. Next, through a series of 15 virtual conferences, pastors received pastor-to-pastor support from trained professionals with a wealth of experience and gained valuable knowledge and training tools they can implement when counselling others.
Following the initial schedule of 15 virtual conferences, which took place throughout 2021, pastors participated in a satisfaction survey with overwhelmingly positive results. Due to the high level of interest in further teaching and training, we requested an amendment to the budget and extension of this intervention to hold a second series of virtual and in-person conferences, which took place in Mexico City and Chiapas state and were attended by a total of 213 pastors and spouses. The counselling lectures were given by the Survival Specialist, Youth Specialist, Program Senior Manager and the National Director and focused on equipping pastors to handle situations involving domestic violence, destructive relationships, codependency, misogyny and child abuse.
For the second series of face-to-face workshops 200 pastors and their wives from seven different areas of Mexico gathered in one of two venues. At one venue, the workshop included how to give support for victims of sexual abuse and how to give therapy for both the victim and the perpetrator. Seventy-seven people attended this workshop. The second venue held workshops teaching on biblical counselling, victims, victimizers and disorders, and principles for pastoral intervention. This workshop saw 92 attendees. Pastors were eager and attentive and participated actively in the workshops. Many had been encountering these complicated situations in their ministries and expressed how grateful they were to receive this valuable wisdom and advice.
Counselling lectures and workshops: Pastors gathered to participate in lectures on various topics, including sensitive topics such as child abuse, domestic violence and misogyny so they can be better equipped to help their congregations through these situations.
Expert Christian speakers: Featured speakers included Compassion’s National Director in Mexico, professionals from the Higher School in Psychotherapy and Biblical Counselling and the Director of the National Evangelical Alliance for Children, who gave a lecture on Biblical counselling.
Worship and fellowship: Pastors were refreshed with times of worship and fellowship at the conferences.
Certificates: Pastors received certificates upon completing the program.
Your Gift Provides...
Your support provided a training program for 330 pastors from 218 frontline church partners in Mexico:
• Virtual conferences offered by specialists (Phase I)
○ 15 virtual workshops offering training in counselling and the use of counselling tools
• Professional psychological assessments for 32 pastors
• One-on-one counselling for 6 pastors
• 2 “Psychological First Aid” workshops, including hotel, food and conference room for Indigenous pastors in the Palenque and San Cristobal areas
• Counselling lectures (Phase II)
○ 3 conferences in Chiapas state
○ 1 conference in Mexico City
○ Transportation expenses
ReportA message from a pastor
The conferences that I have received from Dr. Jorge Garcia have impacted the beneficiaries, opening my mind to new topics such as sexual and emotional abuse and some other topics that have impacted my life as a pastor. This has included how to deal with issues with parents, and this can be of support to young people, adolescents and children.
My life as a pastor has been impacted since they have taught me a new perspective about the church and the work we are doing. This has led me to work together with the leadership of the church and with the centre staff, doing conferences and workshops where parents and children interact together. The conferences have been a blessing for the entire church. As a pastor I feel more committed and safer in accompanying parents together with their children in their education and in the teaching of the Word of our God, discipling them and converting them into followers of Christ. We can see healthy and stable families, and in this way the church of Jesus Christ is growing every day.
I have focused more on the needs and problems of young people and adolescents since they are the present and the future of the church, doing what the Word of God tells us in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Our desire and the effort we are making is to influence them to be good children, citizens, good leaders and good disciples of Christ, so that they can have a better life here on earth and be able to enjoy Jesus.
I am deeply grateful to each one of you from the bottom of my heart. I thank you, and I greatly appreciate the financial support, the time and effort you have invested in these conferences. Your investment has not been in vain; the wishes and purposes you have to bless the pastors give great results in the lives of children, adolescents, young people and parents, achieving the great vision that God has for them.
ReportA message from those your gift helped
This was a wonderful experience. Undoubtedly, this Intervention not only impacted my life, but also led me to reflect on how necessary it is for us as pastors to be trained, given that our ministries need tools that can complement counselling. We remain motivated to continue, and there will always be much to share. Now we know the importance of psychotherapy and that this can be a tool that we can implement in our churches.
As a pastor, these tools help me to be able to teach new and different things to our congregants. We know that the next generations will be blessed by all the learning that we will be sharing. We all need Christian discipleship. This is not just about participating in a course; it is about sharing life.
May our kind God continue to use you and repay you in blessings until they overflow in your lives. I hope to follow your example, because it is better to give than to receive.
ReportThank you for your generosity
Thanks to your support, Compassion Mexico has been able to equip hardworking pastors with the training and knowledge they need to continue ministering to their communities during these difficult times. Many of these pastors are guiding families through difficult and complex situations that require specialized knowledge and care, while also trying to maintain their own spiritual and emotional well-being in the face of very daunting challenges. Your timely investment in these faithful men and women has given them the time and support they have needed to refuel, so they can face the future with confidence.
Feeling refreshed and encouraged, pastors are now shifting their focus toward developing individual plans to implement their new knowledge, as well as tools to better serve their congregations. Five out of six pastors who requested individual therapy have now successfully completed all 10 sessions. Stigma around mental health is very common in Mexico and prevents many people from seeking out the help they need. But by continuing to educate and support our partners, we believe this can—and will—change.
Hebrews 10:24 exhorts us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” By supporting this initiative, you are spurring on men and women who have committed their lives to serving the church, through thick and thin. Thank you for helping us nurture and equip local pastors in Mexico, so they can minister to others from a place of abundance in Christ.