By Brian Jewell
In 1980, Gayla Congdon was working in a Tijuana orphanage when she noticed a cultural disconnect between missionary groups that came to Mexico and the local people they had come to serve. So she and her husband began Amor Ministries, an organization that helps American missionary groups connect with Mexican pastors and help build homes in their communities.
Today, Amor Ministries works in cities throughout Mexico, as well as in South Africa. The work ties in closely with Congdon’s experience in Mexico’s orphanages, where poor families sometimes leave their children because they cannot afford to raise them. So Amor Ministries constructs houses in poor areas, allowing parents to bring their children home from orphanages and build healthy families.
Today, the organization has taken some 300,000 people on mission trips, during which those volunteers have built more than 60,000 homes. Field directors work with local pastors in each community who identify areas of need and the families that would benefit from new homes.
In addition to giving missions groups opportunities to serve, Amor Ministries also helps them make cultural connections with the areas where they work. Groups stay in camps near the worksites and eat meals prepared by pastors’ wives in the area. During the construction process, workers mix concrete, lay foundations and frame houses by hand, using traditional techniques instead of power tools to help better identify with local customs.
Amor Ministries takes youth, college, adult and multigenerational groups to Mexico and South Africa, and has additional opportunities for training and evangelism.