For 15 years, the Mission (Texas) MB Church congregation has waited, worked, dreamed and prayed for an opportunity to expand. Limited by space and lack of a parking lot, the congregation purchased land for a new building 10 years ago. But, sidelined by financial restraints, the project hit a roadblock. The congregation persevered in hopeful expectation, while the land remained empty and waiting.
After getting the green light to build in 2019, the Mission MB congregation is not only erecting a new meeting space but has also added an English service in order to build for the future.
Watching and waiting
Mission MB was established in 1957. The congregation met in a wood-frame building until the early 1970’s, when they purchased land in an area of the city where growth was expected and moved the building to its current location, placing it on a concrete foundation, covering it with brick and adding Sunday school rooms. The congregation later added new restrooms, a baptistery and an additional room.
But the expected city growth didn’t happen.
“It’s a neighborhood, but it’s not what was expected as far as the growth goes,” says church council member Moises Tagle.
Mission MB leaders first began talking about building in a new location 15 years ago, around the time pastor Rafael Nuñez began serving the congregation.
“The first few years that (Pastor Nuñez) was here, the church began to grow a lot,” Tagle says. “We started looking at expanding.”
Five years after those initial conversations, in 2010, the congregation obtained a loan from MB Foundation to purchase 5 acres of land, including a residential home, located in a more commercial area of Mission, a growing city of about 80,000 west of McAllen.
“It was a good opportunity for us,” Nuñez says. “It’s in the middle of the city. A good location.”
According to MB Foundation vice president Bruce Jost, MB Foundation met with church leadership to provide guidance for the building process so the building would meet the needs of the church’s ministry and be fully funded.
The project did not unfold as Mission MB leaders anticipated, however.
“We were thinking we were going to start right away, but we were not there yet financially,” Tagle says. “They were going over numbers with us and telling us, ‘You’re not there yet.’ For us, it was not encouraging at the time, but it was wise counsel.”
Jost says MB Foundation sought more detail about design and cost to ensure the project would reach completion.
“Based on our experience, the proposed facility was going to be too costly,” Jost says. “As we analyzed their financial statements and giving trends, we determined a construction budget that was affordable. Our encouragement was to work on defining the scope and cost of the project so that we could all count the cost as inspired by Luke 14.”
So, for nearly 10 years, the project was put on hold.
Jost says he’s seen the congregation display patience, perseverance and partnership on the journey.
“The church was persistent,” Jost says. “They received our advice graciously and went to work on each step. All along they have been humble and focused on the Lord so as to reach their community.”
Realizing a dream
In 2019, Mission MB leaders resumed conversations with MB Foundation about the building process.
“The things that led to the proper timing were: construction drawings were complete, an experienced contractor had bid the project, attendance and giving had increased, their debt had been significantly reduced, the cost was manageable without deterring their ministry and the district was willing to partner,” Jost says. “They got serious about eliminating the debt from 2010, making extra monthly payments and several lump sum payments over the years to significantly reduce the balance. That was key for putting them in position to start this project.”
So, in June 2020—in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic—the congregation was ready to begin building.
“I thought about it a little. Do we start? Do we wait?” Tagle says. “I guess one of the things that personally I learned is when God opens a door, it’s open.”
With additional financing from MB Foundation, Mission MB moved forward with plans for a new 6,000 square foot structure accommodating 200 people and essentially doubling the church’s current capacity.
The building includes a sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen, classrooms, a nursery, an interpretation room and a large area for parking off of a street that recently expanded into a four-lane as a result of anticipated growth in the area.
The congregation is helping with construction in order to limit costs, including painting and laying tile.
In April 2021, Mission MB held a service in the still-unfinished space to allow the congregation to write favorite Scripture verses on the frame and take ownership of the space. The church hopes to be in its new space in February and would like to sell its old building.
“I’m excited for what is ahead for Mission MB Church and the district,” Jost says. “This project is the first of its kind in the district for several decades. May it stir greater kingdom impact together in South Texas.”
Moving locations and adding space in a strategic location is just one part of Mission MB’s plan for the future. Another building block is adding an English service.
The church will continue offering two services, but has made the switch to English for one of them.
The congregation, which had previously offered interpretation from Spanish to English via headsets, discovered it was losing the younger generation to English-speaking churches, Tagle says, adding that about 80 percent of young people are now primarily English speakers.
“They go to school in English, and once they are stronger in English than in Spanish, then it becomes their primary language and the next generation will struggle with the Spanish,” Tagle says. “If we don’t address or provide something for our kids, then our grandkids might be going to different churches.”
Some opposition to the idea exists among the older generation.
“Yes, the older generation wants Spanish to continue,” Tagle says. “They want their kids and grandkids to speak Spanish. So there is that resistance, but it is the reality that we see around us. That, I think, is what pushed us.”
Beginning Nov. 7, 2021, Mission MB held services in Spanish and in English, with Nuñez preaching the message during the Spanish service, and, following Sunday school, Tagle giving the same message in English.
Adding an English-speaking service will also serve as an outreach to a neighboring trailer park where snowbirds from northern states spend the winter.
“There’s many that have a church (up north) and they come down here and look for a church,” Tagle says. “The whole idea of the English service is to broaden the people that we can reach. We can attract both English speakers and Spanish.”
Everything, from the location to the building to adding an English service, is all part of Mission MB’s continuing plan for the future.
“The most important thing is the future,” Nuñez says. “We only do this for the glory of God.”
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.