Candelario started his church. Serving the needs of Mexico City’s urban poor, he felt called by God to minister to his community. He worked hard and poured himself into the lives of his church members and community. He was extremely busy, and he was only one man. Due to the massive needs of those he cared about, life spiraled out of control. On weeknights and weekends and in addition to his full-time job, his ministry duties quickly began to take their toll.
Candelario preached an evening service on Tuesday. Wednesday he led a prayer group. Thursday he led an adult Bible study. Friday was youth group. Saturday he led prayer meeting again. Sunday he preached two services. Monday was his day off; of course, he still had to work at his day job. Physical, spiritual, and mental exhaustion eventually set in. Candelario found there was nowhere he could go to renew and refresh himself. He did this for 25 years until eventually he had nothing left to give.
Unfortunately, Candelario’s story is not unique. The struggles in Mexico are extreme. Gang violence, the drug trade, and corruption within law-enforcement and among political leaders all create an environment conducive for burnout among Christian leaders and pastors. In addition, domestic violence can lead to family disintegration among Mexico’s rural poor and exploited slum dwellers within the inner cities.
Jean-Luc Krieg is founder and executive director of Urban Mosaic. He asked EMI to join his team in fulfilling the vision to care for overburdened pastors and Christian leaders serving on the front lines in Mexico City. It is their dream to provide a comprehensive spiritual renewal, training, and counseling center that specifically addresses the needs of urban Christian leaders and pastors. “Centro Renovar” was designed by EMI to become that place of retreat, rest, and renewal.
After seeing the EMI design presentation for Centro Renovar, a group of local pastors visited the site designated for this much-needed ministry. It was a sight to behold as these pastors and the EMI team joined together in petitioning God, pouring out their hearts in Spanish and English. Some were on their knees, some pleaded with tears, some spoke in tongues, but all had faith in a God that can move mountains, a God who cares for His children.
As the group left the site, a local pastor named Julio talked about the difficulties in his church and community related to crime; specifically drug dealing—which often results in the destruction of families. At the same time he estimated that 80% of pastors serve independent church bodies. No place like Centro Renovar exists currently, and he felt strongly that such a place was needed. “Pastors work with all their strength in their churches but without anyone to help them with personal problems, or to care for them spiritually… and there are no vacations here because no one can afford it… A place like this will help give new strength to pastors and church leaders.” He believes a facility like Centro Renovar could be a place of restoration for pastors struggling through depression, frustration, or other difficult times in their lives.
The pastor of Living Water Fountain church has been serving the Lord for twenty years. He said, “It fills my heart with joy to do something for my society, to see my city transformed.” He acknowledged that he had invested significant time and energy walking alongside individuals through many difficult situations. He was excited about how pastors would benefit from a facility like Centro Renovar. He spoke of the hidden needs of Christian leaders and how counseling in marriage and other areas will lead to stronger ministries. With a big smile he said: