Fr. Nicholas Andruchow

Mexico Update

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On Sunday, California Border Patrol closed the crossing at San Ysidro for 3 hours. The Central-American asylum seekers were protesting the lack of resources, slow processing of their asylum requests and the rapidly deteriorating conditions of their makeshift shelter. Most are families who have traveled far to escape violence in their home countries.

First, I want to let everyone know that we are fine in Tijuana. It’s not impacting our operations. If anything, it provides us another opportunity (along with our fellow non-profits) to help our neighbors in Tijuana. Yes, having several thousand extra “temporary” residents has complicated things. The people of Tijuana and Mexico are very resilient and we pray this immigration crisis can find a timely workable resolution. 

Please keep us all in your prayers but for the most part it is life as usual.

And life is plenty busy. Thanksgiving was filled with blessings having family and friends celebrate the day. We had several of the older boys come and enjoy the feast with us. The largest change at the orphanage is the two new boys who arrived and became a part of the community. They arrived last Tuesday and are adjusting to their new home. Please keep them in your prayers. 

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Once again, it is Giving Tuesday! A group of supporters have committed funds to our Matching Grant Program. Today is an excellent opportunity to put our thankfulness into action and give. 

A gift of $50, $100, $1,000 or even more can make a big difference for us here in Tijuana to continue God’s work. 

Please consider giving and help us to continue sharing the hope of Christ through His Church just over border. 

May the Lord touch your hearts and bless all of you.

 

In Christ,

 

Fr. Nicholas Andruchow

Priest/Associate Director

Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage

A House Where the Spirit Can Dwell

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Here at Project Mexico there are many challenges. One of the greatest it seems is the demands to just pay the bills. Through God’s grace, the ministry has persevered and flourished despite the lack of predictable income. With this in mind, I was apprehensive when a local Orthodox Mexican man approached me with a sincere desire to improve our chapel. We are always cautious of expenses for the community’s liturgical needs because paying salaries and keeping food on the table is our top priority. In the end, we decided that the Lord was working through this man and the construction should begin. 

The remodel included tearing down walls, removing old concrete footers and hauling off loads of debris and dirt. As the worship space was expanded, the shape of our new chapel started to form.  On the feast day of the Panagia, the Dormition of the Theotokos, we celebrated our first liturgy. It was a blessed day. Unfortunately, the work was not done. There were numerous details that had to be completed to fully complete the project. A thorough cleaning needed to be done. Screens had to be put on the six the new windows. Fixtures for the adult baptismal fount needed to by installed and a multitude of other tasks. Our goal is to be finished for the feast day of St. Innocent on October 6th.  

The process has been extensive and intricate which is similar to our own efforts to fortify our life in Christ and build up the temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell.

For the past 30 years, Project Mexico has brought over 15,000 volunteers to build homes for needy families and to spiritually construct souls worthy to house the Holy Spirit. St. Paul wrote that we are the temple of God’s Spirit.  (1 Cor. 3:16-17) When the missionary first comes across the border they are faced with the harsh reality of poverty but realize God is present despite the suffering. This dramatic experience allows for the spiritual debris to be cleaned out and to start fresh. As the week goes on a subtle, sublime process occurs where prayer and reflection provides the tools for the soul to be strengthened and purified. 

The salvation of your soul is more valuable than the entire world.

Christ teaches us that the salvation of your soul is more valuable than the entire world  (Matt. 16:26). The chapel of the orphanage serves as a home for all of us to grow stronger and to foster our souls where the Holy Spirit can dwell. We are blessed that our place of worship has been improved. And we are blessed that Project Mexico provides a place where hundreds of faithful can work on their own soul. So, becoming stronger in Christ they build up a place where the Spirit can dwell, and their souls can be saved. 

May all of our souls be strengthened and built up.

 

30 Years - The Beginning by Father Nicholas Androchow

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When we look at the history of Project Mexico we can see the message of hope shouting out at us.  Hope in that we are not alone. Hope in what the future brings. Hope in the fact that God is active in the world. Since 1995, I have been involved with the Orthodox community in Tijuana, Mexico. Ten of those years have been as a full-time missionary living in-country. I have spent at least one week annually in the field either building homes for the needy families or ministering to the young boys who have been orphaned. The impact I have witnessed is layered and expansive. The Lord works through our humility and out of weakness God creates miracles. God has used Project Mexico to do great things and it is obvious that the Lord is not finished yet. Through the power of God these 30 years are just the beginning.

Out of the compost
Three decades of ministry has brought countless challenges and blessings.  In the early years, the ministry was nothing but a dream where two inspired Orthodox Christians, Greg and Margaret Yova, persevered to establish a community where Orthodox believers could live the faith while bringing comfort to the afflicted of Mexico. To maneuver between two countries, two cultures, two languages, two currencies and various economic levels is extremely complex. As St. Paul said “our battle is not against flesh and blood … but against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).  

In 1994, after building homes for six years, the doors of the St. Innocent Orphanage were opened for the first time. Unfortunately, the hired director never arrived, the donors who planned to cover the mortgage expenses could not fulfill their commitments, and after eight months the Mexican government removed all the boys living on site because the bureaucratic demands were too vague in order to comply. Those days were dark and difficult. It nearly resulted in selling the property and focusing solely on the homebuilding ministry.

The tides began to change in 1995 when Project Mexico received the relic of St. Innocent. Shortly afterward, a new Orphanage Director was hired who brought stability for 17 years to the program.  Through tremendous labors, the mortgage was slowly paid off by the donations of hundreds of sacrificial believers.

Today we have a 16-acre ranch, which houses the largest Orthodox cross-cultural missionary movement in the world. The Gospel is being lived and is flourishing by God’s grace via Project Mexico. These fruits are the outcome of years of struggle and sacrifice that provided soil for the ministry to grow.

Exponential Growth
In the fast-paced modern world, we see the extreme growth of economies and societies because of better communication and technology. In the past several decades we’ve seen the world’s population, reliance on technology and consumption of increase three-hundred-fold. This type of growth can be overwhelming but at the same time, it can provide opportunities to capitalize and make the world a better place. This is essentially the message of the Gospel, to make the world a better place. God has come to save the world, to show all creation the path of light and love, to put an end to the curse of sickness, anxiety, and death. 

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Project Mexico is a ministry within the Orthodox Church to bring the message of God’s hope to the faithful and the afflicted. In the past six years our short-term missionary numbers have nearly tripled and the number of families annually who have received a home has more than doubled. The children impacted by the orphanage are experiencing a stability that is unprecedented. The Orthodox faithful living and ministering in Tijuana has hit record highs. Summer homebuilding interns are at full capacity. 

Cautiously we give thanks to God for providing such results. I say cautiously because we need to keep our focus always on the ONE goal of salvation, not on the accounting of people being shuffled through.  With all this in mind, we take to heart the Lord’s words...

“…open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). 

Project Mexico has the capacity to not only maintain this growth but to expand it significantly. The foundation has been provided through sacrifice, prayer and three decades of developing reliable infrastructure on our 16-acre ranch. Faithfully we persevere in doing God’s will. We pray to God that we are provided with the laborers and resources to continue and to grow the ministry of sharing the Lord’s compassion and love for the world. 

Project Mexico and the St. Innocent Orphanage has 30 years of blessed history and with the Grace of God we will continue to labor in His Harvest for generations to come eagerly waiting for His glorious return.