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Rev. Esequiel Sánchez has served as a pastor in Mexico since 1999, when he graduated from the Lutheran seminary there. He currently lives in the city of Torreón, Mexico, where he oversees the congregation El Redentor (Redeemer).

In addition to his congregational duties, Sánchez is the president of the Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Confesional (Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church–IELC). The IELC is a sister synod to WELS and operates in a similar way as WELS, but on a smaller scale.

Throughout his years of service, Sánchez has looked for ways to build up the synod in Mexico. This includes finding and recruiting more men to study in the seminary and become pastors.

“By God’s grace, I’ve met men with great gifts to serve in the ministry,” says Sánchez. “I’ve always thought that many have talents to serve in the public ministry, but sometimes they are afraid of doing so. I try to help them move past any fears they might have and enroll in the seminary.”

In addition to talking to these potential students, Sánchez serves as a professor at the Mexican Lutheran Seminary.

These efforts have helped increase the number of pastors currently serving in Mexico. “During the last 15 years, the majority of our seminary students have come through the encouragement and involvement of Pastor Sánchez,” says Missionary Michael Hartman, who oversees WELS mission work in Mexico.

Having a growing number of Mexican pastors provides stability for the congregations they serve. “When you live in another country, you realize that foreigners are a temporary thing; missionaries come and go,” notes Hartman. “That’s why it’s so important to have national leadership. They’re the ones that will stay, as it’s their home.”

The process of helping a church body grow often involves a number of steps. “The first step is to establish national leadership,” notes Hartman. “Then, the second step is to develop national leaders who grew up within the church body.”

Much of the mission work in Mexico currently focuses on encouraging current pastors and members. “Pastor Sánchez is serving as mentor to these new and upcoming leaders in the church,” says Hartman.

Sánchez also sees his current role as one that is temporary. “There will be others that can take my place, and the blessing is that there are many who are, and will be, apt to do so in the coming years,” he says.