MONTERREY, MEXICO (June 11, 2012) – Forty leaders and volunteers of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) participated in a ceremony recognizing a complete “handing over of the baton” to local leadership as Patty and Lisandro Restrepo, the last Evangelical Covenant Church missionaries to be working onsite, return to the United States.
At least 12 Covenant missionaries have collaborated with volunteers at different times since the foundation was started in 1999. The Restrepos have served with FDF for nine years.
The ceremony, which was held May 19, marks the culmination of a vision from co-founder and missionary John Kerl. From the beginning, he desired that FDF would “come to the place where it would operate without (formal) mission presence.”
The FDF started as a family ministry that offered parenting and marriage enrichment classes as well as Project Down, a support community for families with children who have Down syndrome. Those ministries continue, but the services have expanded over the years.
Today FDF serves hundreds of people each year and operates more like a community center. The ministry serves nearby low-income and violence-ridden communities through kids and youth clubs, moms groups, English classes, violence prevention courses, Bible studies, a cyber cafe and tutoring center, as well as a summer vacation Bible school.
The ceremony was filled with symbolic acts that gave witness to the years of ministry and transition. Lisandro presented a Bible to co-directors Claudia Bahena and Sandra Cazares – they became the first Mexican leaders of the foundation in 2010. Click here to read more.
Several leaders washed the feet of representatives from the different groups that are served by FDF and also celebrated communion.
The ceremony closed with a mutual act of blessing as each participant was invited to take white strings and tie one on the wrist of another while offering a blessing upon them.
Covenant missionaries Nils and Erika Clauson traveled from Oaxaca, Mexico, to participate in the ceremony. “It is always hard for missionaries to leave the people and the ministry to whom they have given their lives and hearts,” Erika shared later. “This ceremony reminded us that the FDF has always been in God’s heart and hands from even before we arrived on the scene, and that is where it remains even when there are no more missionaries present.”