By Steve Rees, Special to ASSIST News Service
LAREDO, TEXAS (ANS – August 24, 2016) -- When a ministry with headquarters in the United States and Mexico marks its 25th year in early 2017, it will celebrate something more valuable than a silver anniversary gift: It will rejoice over precious souls.
One million souls that is.
To be precise, the souls of 1,001,074 men, women, young adults and children who've publicly professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior since Victorious Christian Harvesters (VCH) began proclaiming the Gospel throughout Latin America in 1992 from its home bases in Texas and Mexico.
With numbers finally crunched at its offices in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, VCH Founder and President David Blanchard says the ministry surpassed its goals of one million Bibles for one million souls during three weeks of intense evangelism that began in July 2016.
Targeting nine cities for Bible distribution, VCH exceeded its original mandate of putting one million Bibles into the hands of one million souls at what it calls Invasions, which are citywide mass-evangelism training seminars and outreaches.
The Gospel of John, New Testaments and Bibles, totaling 1,110,000, now belong to new believers and churches in Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador, thanks to VCH missionaries, staff, students and others who’ve supported -- prayerfully and financially -- Blanchard and wife Donna’s vision for 24 years.
“I wrote the vision down and made it clear as Habakkuk 2: 2 and 3 states,” says Blanchard, recalling a meeting in 1990.
“During prayer, I received from the Lord a vision of Mexico covered with ocean waves. When the waves receded, they left big black Bibles with gold crosses on them,” says Blanchard, now 59.
After the vision the Lord spoke to Blanchard, who was 34 at the time, telling him to distribute the Word of God “for it will not return to Me empty or void without accomplishing what I've sent it forth to do.”
“The Lord told me that He wanted to save the whole nation of Mexico – as I had asked Him to do in my prayer time – but in response He asked me, specifically, how many souls I wanted to be responsible for.
“I told him, ‘I’m not Dr. Billy Graham, nor am I Dr. T.L. Osborn. I’m just me. But I want to see a million souls come to know You,’” Blanchard recalls.
Two years later, in 1992, the Blanchards founded VCH in Texas with the goal of world evangelism and, specifically, reaching Latin America with the Gospel. Nine years later, the Blanchards commissioned the International Harvesters Institute (IHI) to help them achieve their ambitious goals by sending Latin American nationals into the harvest fields.
Students across Mexico from the IHI, a two-year evangelism training school that accepted its first students in 2001, put their ministry and Bible training to good use as team members participated during the recent Invasions.
In early July, VCH team members from across Mexico assembled for five days of intensive training in effective methods of sharing the Gospel.
This group of 90 students, staff and missionaries trained church members throughout southern Mexico, forming national evangelism teams that spent witnessed and ministered for 21 consecutive days.
Three VCH teams of 30 spread over nine Mexican cities, preparing youth and adult church members to present the Gospel in one-on-one encounters and to groups in public and private places during three weeks of Invasions.
Traveling in six vans, three trailers and a suburban, the teams headed first to the southern Mexico cities of Oaxaca City, Cuautla and Jalapa.
The highway to Oaxaca City was littered with burned buses, torched cars and decommissioned tow trucks destroyed by leftist protestors, forcing the VCH team to travel country roads instead. Upon arrival in Oaxaca City, 1,300 citizens were gathered, anxiously awaiting the Invasion by VCH.
Of the 13,508 people who heard the Gospel in Oaxaca City, 7,390 people made public decisions for Jesus Christ.
In each subsequent Invasion, thousands of youth and adults responded favorably to the Gospel and received free Bible literature. Many people were healed of physical conditions as well, like the man in Cuautla who received prayer from two members of the VCH team.
“After the girls prayed for him, Juan got up walking easily, telling them, ‘I feel like something happened to my heart, too. I feel like it's stronger, and I have more strength,’” Blanchard says.
Spiritual gifts, including the word of knowledge, reached more desperate souls in places like Cuautla.
There, a staff member named Brisa Hernandez, was drawn to another woman when she heard the word “tattoo.” As Brisa approached her, she noticed a tattoo of the Disney character “Tinkerbell” on the woman who said her name was Amara.
“Tattoos mark our lives and have special meanings for us,” Hernandez told Amara. “Like the butterfly, we start out as a worm and many times we feel we are of little value because we can't see the process God is taking us through, how He’s calling out to us.
“When I talked about the butterfly with Amara, her eyes lit up and she showed me the butterfly tattoo on her shoulder.
“I told Amara that God sees a butterfly, not the worm,” says Hernandez.
Tears streaming down her face, Amara prayed to begin a new life with Jesus, asking him to deliver her from prostitution.
In advance of the Invasion in the City of Orizaba, pastors spoke to the mayor and obtained necessary permits for their church members to evangelize alongside the VCH team.
“A newspaper reporter came to our event and interviewed some of our team for an article that was published the day before our outreach,” Blanchard says.
“We were met with stiff opposition from authorities, and one official said he would grant a homosexual group permission for a public event over our Christian outreach.
“We were told by him to present only values and morals, but to conduct no evangelism,” says Miguel Hernandez, a VCH team leader.
After prayer for a change of heart by the official, the morning newspaper headline read “City Secretary Resigns.”
Three weeks later in Puebla, with the numbers of souls from eight previous Invasions growing, VCH surpassed its goals of one million souls for one million Bibles at the same time one of its veterans experienced a heart attack.
A VCH missionary since 2004, Bob Gabelman, began to experience chest pain during the Puebla outreach. He chalked it up to a rib strain, resulting from lifting heavy baggage earlier in the day. With no relief for Gabelman, Mexico City director, Alma de Leon, took her teammate to the hospital to deliver some pain medication.
“As they were administering it, Bob had a massive heart attack. There were seven attempts over the course of 25 minutes to revive him,” Blanchard says.
“Prayer warrior that she is, Alma prayed, declaring ‘this is not the day you're going to die.’
“Meanwhile, all 90 Invasion team members prayed as well for Bob who, today, bears no signs of brain damage, according to doctors,” Blanchard says.
Physical miracles among VCH team members and the people they ministered to are reasons to give God glory, says Blanchard.
As are souls and Bibles.
“Glory be to our heavenly father, our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit who enabled us to accomplish our goals,” says Blanchard, who sees new vision for VCH and IHI.
What's next? How do you top reaching a million souls and distributing more than a million pieces of Bible literature?
Millions more Bibles. Millions more souls.
VCH has a fivefold strategy to accomplish the vision. They train harvesters to become effective ministers at the IHI, as well as equipping nationals throughout Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador through hands on evangelism seminars and outreaches.
They distribute Gospel literature to new believers from children's books to whole Spanish Bibles. VCH has planted 38 churches in Mexico, 50 in Cuba, and has built three more in El Salvador. Mission trips are regular annual events held throughout Latin America and Asia.
“That is what God has put on my heart as VCH and IHI continue to train nationals -- who are empowered to destroy the works of the devil with the full Gospel -- by going to the unreached and telling the message to the untold,” Blanchard says.
VCH has a website -- www.vcharvesters.org -- where you can find out more information.
Photo captions: 1) A grateful recipient of Gospel literature which includes Bibles for those who want them. 2) Donna and David Blanchard. 3) A van carrying team navigating difficult road to Invasion. 4) Prayer drives the evangelism and benevolence ministries of Victorious Christian Harvesters. 5) Victorious Christian Harvesters logo. 6) Steve Rees.
About the writer: Steve Rees is freelance Christian journalist, and regular contributor to ANS, who loves the Church, and writes about how it engages the culture and works toward fulfilling the Great Commission. He lives in Longmont, Colo. and attends Resurrection Fellowship, a nondenominational, missions-driven church that honors all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the five-fold ministry offices. The church is in Loveland, Colo. Rees formerly worked as a newspaper reporter and was among the first journalists who wrote about Promise Keepers before it spread nationwide from Boulder, Colo. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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