In 1989 a young, single man named Ted Vail packed his bags and moved from the U.S. to Mexico City to serve as a missionary. Little did he know the adventure to come, the places God would take him. Today, 22 years later, the 43-year-old minister is associate director of Foursquare Missions International—U.S. Missions as well as Foursquare’s area missionary to North America, specifically overseeing missionary personnel and the denomination’s relationship with the national churches of Mexico and Canada. He and his wife, Dawn, and their three children now live in Longmont, Colo.
Ted has served in his role as area missionary since January 2001, a role that dovetails his years of ministry with Mexican people as well as his love for Canadians. With some of his relatives being Canadian and having grown up in Washington, he frequently visited America’s neighbor to the north. There, he says, he gained an appreciation for the anointing that rests on the nation. His passion for both Mexico and Canada is strong, and he would love nothing more than to see believers in the U.S. catch that same vision.
“The uniqueness of the region I serve is that the U.S. is in it,” Ted tells foursquare.org. “Ministry in Mexico and Canada is nearly impossible to separate from relationship to the U.S., and increasingly vice versa. We are connected. There is so much opportunity to reach into all three of our nations by reaching our neighbors. A more cohesive region is like mending holes in the net: We’ll see a great catch as we team up. That’s the joy and great potential of this region!”
Statistics document 1,783 decisions for Christ, 881 water baptisms and 982 Holy Spirit baptisms throughout Mexico and Canada in 2010. (U.S. statistics are tabulated separately.) There are 263 Foursquare churches and another 121 meeting places between the two nations. Both Mexico and Canada are self-supporting works and Stage 4 nations in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model, meaning they have progressed to the point where they have produced responsible, reproducing, missionary-sending churches that send workers to other nations.
A Closer Look
Mexico has a many ongoing humanitarian and community outreaches, as well as six Bible institutes. New areas of growth, Ted notes, include central and southeastern Mexico. Canada, he says, also conducts many community outreaches, such as street ministry and ministry to First Nations, or indigenous, people groups. Additionally, the Toronto Challenge is an outreach- and church-planting project in Toronto that has involved many Canadians and Americans working together, and has planted over six ethnic churches this past year alone. Short-term missions teams from the U.S. regularly visit both countries.
We in the U.S. would be remiss, however, if we were to ignore the significance of immigrant ministry in our own nation. Ted notes that this is the fastest-growing component of The Foursquare Church in the U.S. and estimates that one in six Foursquare churches are pastored by leaders who were not born in the U.S. Additionally, he affirms, there are some 300 Hispanic congregations in the U.S.—that’s approximately one in every six Foursquare churches—with growing numbers of other immigrant ethnicities such as Chinese, Nigerian, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Russian, Korean, Brazilian, Haitian and Indonesian, to name a few.
When it comes to Canada and Mexico, how can the U.S. best partner with the neighbors to our north and south? And how can we best pray for them? Ted notes, first of all, that it is important to understand them.
“Mexico is a nation of rich culture and natural diversity,” Ted explains, adding that Mexican people are proud of their nation but cannot always survive there. “They are very open to the gospel and to friendship with people in the U.S. We can reach out to Mexicans whether they are here or at home in Mexico, but we have to be able to see them as equals.”
Mexico, Ted asserts, is an emerging missional giant, already involved on the global missions stage and just getting started in sending missionaries to other nations. Mexicans are appreciative, he says, of how the U.S. and Canada have made missions contributions to their country, and now they want to participate as a missions force, as well. So now is a crucial time to ramp up prayer efforts.
“The supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in Mexico is vital,” Ted says. “Mexicans are very spiritual people, and the supernatural is a must in Mexican ministry. There is a much-needed release of young leaders in Mexico, as well. They are in preparation but need the empowerment and resources to go.”
Canada, too, should not be overlooked as a missions powerhouse with incredible potential to reach those within its borders and beyond.
“Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world,” Ted states, “and Toronto is the world’s most multiethnic city. Canadians can reach the nations without leaving their own nation. North America’s least-reached population, in fact, is Quebec. Pray for grace and supernatural ministry to connect, reach out to, and enfranchise the multitude of ethnicities there.”
For information on helping FMI works around the world—including how to support the Global Missions Fund, a missionary or project, or to donate toward disaster relief, visit https://give.foursquare.org. One hundred percent of every dollar given to the Global Missions Fund goes directly to the mission field. For details on short-term missions teams or other information related to FMI, visit http://www.foursquare.org/missions.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles