In this article you will find:
1) A profile of a web designer in Oregon
2) Issues relating to the mission field in Mexico
Dreams and visions characterize this child of missionaries
Infoglut in America doesn't translate South of the border, as churches there struggle for solid Bible study materials, according to this Oregon web designer
"The biggest burden on my heart for Latin America, beyond the lost, is just the dearth of leadership -- even basic Bible training." -- Mark Roth
Oct., 1997 -- Woodburn, Ore.--A man who was raised in the mission field in Mexico, and returned later, with a wife and children, is exploring a new mission field: the Internet.
Mark Roth considers his childhood in Mexico a real blessing. "God had mercy on me. He knew I was awful at language learning so he had me learn it on the street," says Roth, who is fluent in Spanish, but almost flunked German when he took a course in school.
After returning to the States and working in a church school, as a teacher and as principal, Roth stumbled onto the Internet a couple of years ago through his fascination with macros, when working with Word Perfect for DOS. "I thought I ought to sort of doctor them up and see if I could peddle them," said Roth. He got his first web access figuring he would be on the Internet for a month or so, then shut it down when he made a little money selling his macros. But he found that the five free megabytes of web site space he received with his Internet account tickled his imagination. A devout Anabaptist, Roth launched a web site introducing people to the Anabaptists. Then, one thing led to another, and Roth found himself with a web design business, Clear View Web Design, bolstered by local traffic in Woodburn, Ore., a farming community between Portland, the state's largest city, and Salem, the state capital.
Roth is currently working on "Woodburn's Own," a comprehensive listing of Woodburn's businesses, as well as being webmaster for the local library. "Basically, I'm spending full time on it, but not generating a full time income," he said, with a gentle laugh. "In this type of endeavor, you can spend quite a lot of time putting out bids, then sort of sigh and wait for the next one," he said.
Roth figures he'll eventually return to the mission field in Mexico, where he spent the first 16 years of his life, but for now family concerns take priority. The father of five children ranging in age from three to 15, Roth left the mission field in 1991. His heart is still burdened by the special needs of the church south of the border.
"The biggest burden on my heart for Latin America, beyond the lost, is just the dearth of leadership -- even basic Bible training," said Roth. "As far as fairly good Bible study courses -- they're few and far between. There's a huge gap, particularly in Mexico."
Roth said part of the problem is that the Mexican Constitution forbade foreign missionaries, until it was revised in 1993. "The only way to get in as a foreign missionary was to get in as a tourist. We weren't missionaries, just tourists with Bibles.
As a result, said Roth, a lot of little congregations were started by those who were green in the faith themselves. "Pretty soon you end up with congregations that are really unstable or have some strange doctrines," said Roth.
Roth has worked on one Spanish-language seminar himself -- a family life seminar that he adapted from a Canadian ministry's work, with their permission. He has traveled to Mexico himself to give several workshops using the teaching material. That seminar material is currently in Costa Rica, where fellow Anabaptists are preparing it for reproduction and distribution throughout Latin America.
Is the Internet the answer to the lack of materials in Mexico? "One of my own visions for my web page is to put on line Spanish Bible study material," says Roth. "The problem is that a lot of the church leaders who would benefit most don't have access to the Internet."
One thing is for sure: Roth will continue to bear the burdens of the church in Mexico in his heart, even as he runs his web design business 1,500 miles north of the border.
by Jan Fletcher