Tequila resident pastor Jose Benitez successfully spread the word of God to villagers in the remote mountain village of La Laguna, Mexico by partnering with Samaritan’s Purse. The group has been running Operation Christmas Child, an initiative that involves filling shoebox-sized packages with small gifts and booklets with the Gospel message.

Pastor Benitez shared his story with Christian Post on the day of the dedication of the first church in La Laguna on Oct. 22. He admits that it took years of hard work and it did not always seem like he was making any progress in his quest to introduce Jesus to the villagers who he described “once have been violent”.

The disabled pastor suffers from limited mobility due to paralysis caused by polio. He said that he was once like the indigenous villagers in La Laguna called Mexicaneros or Nahuatl people. He once lived a hedonistic life typically lived by a traveling musician. He says that God changed his life and he started to dedicate his time and energy to the ministry of faith.

A La Laguna resident heard him preaching over the radio and she asked him to come to her village. Because of his disability, Pastor Benitez thought that the task was impossible. However, God works in mysterious ways. An anonymous donor provided him with a truck that enabled him to reach the remote mountain village.

Despite visiting La Laguna for many years, the pastor was never really able to successfully integrate the Christian faith into the residents’ hearts until he partnered with Operation Christmas Child. Through the Christmas gift boxes, young children were touched by Jesus. In turn, they were able to spread the grace of God into their homes and families.

Apart from messages of the gospel, the gift boxes are filled with toys, school supplies and other basic necessities such as hygiene products. Donors are able to contribute to evangelism efforts through the boxes which are sent by Samaritan’s Purse to 160 countries. Many of the locations are hard to reach places where people may have never heard about Jesus.

Thanks to the partnership between Pastor Benitez and Samaritan’s Purse, La Laguna now has a new church and a growing number of Christian devotees. During the church dedication, over a hundred people of all ages attended.