The Johnson's in Mexico City

Paul & Nydia Johnson, direct the Spearhead program, Latin America Mission's short-term mission's program in Mexico City, fostering relations with local Mexican pastors, defining ministry options for young people, developing training courses and materials, providing member care for Spearhead volunteers and serving with a local Mexican church to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Johnson Family Summer 2015

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ana Paulina turned 2 on November 5th!

Ana turned two years old on November 5th. We had a birthday party for her and she was dressed as a lady bug. After a while she got tired of her outfit, but was excited to hit her pinata (also in the form of a ladybug).

Pray with us for the new YearOut team

Pray for:

• Ashley serving with the Ig. Anabautista Mennonita Seguidores de Cristo in the north of the city and in student ministry.

• Stephanie serving with Ministerios de Amor, a mininstry working with street children. Stephanie is serving as assistant to their social worker.

• Carolyn serving part-time with the Mennonite church and with AMEXTRA a Mexican community development organization.

• Jonathan & Patrick serving in a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to serving those who live in poverty.

• Nicole serving with a church in the southwest of the city in a poor neighbourhood up in the hills and also in student ministry.

Looking back at the summer

We had a very full summer of ministry. Twenty-three young adults served with our Spearhead program in 12 Mexican churches/ministries throughout the city.

In our 10 day Ignite program we had 43 participants…34 from Gordon-Conwell’s COMPASS program, 5 from a church in Boston and 4 individuals from various parts of the U.S. They worked in 5 different churches and ministries.

We celebrated Spearhead’s 40th anniversary in Mexico this summer and were blessed to have Harry & Bernice Burke (Spearhead founders) with us for the celebration. Steve Johnson, current LAM president was also present along with former Spearhead directors Enrique Rojas and Tracey (Moore) Pieters.

On a number of levels it was one of our hardest summers of ministry, yet also one in which we saw much fruit. We thank you for upholding us in prayer.

Speaking of prayer…during our service leave Nydia and I sensed that the Lord was calling us to Himself in new ways and impressed on our hearts the importance of not only modelling an active commitment to ministry, but also following our Lord Jesus’ model of drawing apart to spend time with His father. So, in the middle of July, after our busy Ignite week and before our summer participants began their last weeks of full-time ministry, we drew aside for a day long prayer retreat.

The Lord was good to us in sending us the former president of LAM, Jack Voelkel and his wife Mary Anne. Mary Anne is gifted in the area of intercession and led the retreat. We have received many reports from Spearhead participants that this was the highlight of their summer.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Celebrating Spearhead's 40th Anniversary

This summer Spearhead celebrated 40 summers of ministry here in Mexico City. Spearhead founders Harry & Bernice Burke joined us for this celebration, as well as former directors Enrique Rojas & Tracey (Moore) Pieters.

Mexico is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its Independence and the 100th anniversary of its revolution. Our summer theme was “God of this City” based on Jeremiah 29:1-14. We prayed that the Lord will use the churches and ministries we work with as well as our Spearhead and Ignite participants to be a blessing to this city in this important time in its history. Please continue to pray with us as we pray for the “peace and prosperity of the city” Jer. 29:7 and for the “good plans” that the Lord has for this city as they “seek Him and find Him” (Jer. 29:11 & 13).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are Short-Term Missions Effective? How does Spearhead rate?

By Paul Johnson, Spearhead Director

This question has been asked by many recently. The July 2005 web edition of Christianity Today (1) dedicated various articles to this theme and a recent edition of Missiology: An International Review October 2006 also addressed this theme. Some of the questions being asked are: Do short-term missions really accomplish the goals their proponents say they accomplish? Are more individuals committing to long-term missions? Are they developing a larger world vision and a less ethnocentric approach to life and a deeper financial commitment to missions? Are they making a positive impact in the host country?

These questions are very important for the church today when the number of youth and church members of all ages, participating in short-term mission trips has increased dramatically. Likewise, practitioners of short-term missions ought to reflect on the questions being raised.

One of the articles in Missiology suggests that “Since a majority of STM groups travel to regions where indigenous believers and churches are already present, then the nature of their relations with host Christians needs to move to the foreground of our analysis…” (2) and that “the receiving local church must be respected as a source of authority and as the key to any long-term ministry gains.”(3)

It is encouraging to note, that in Spearhead’s 35+ years we have sought to establish strong, enduring relations with the church in Mexico and in other parts of Latin America. For example, I know of Spearhead volunteers who came with Spearhead in the summer of 1984 and continue to have regular contact with their host family and church more then 20 years later. This is not an isolated example. Furthermore, a key point in LAM and Spearhead’s principles is that we work with and under local Latin leadership. We assign Spearhead volunteers to work under the leadership of local Mexican pastors and ministry leaders who guide, and in some cases, mentor and disciple these young adults in Christian ministry service.

Additional conclusions from this article include that short-term missionaries ought to be viewed “…as “trainees” rather than “helpers,” and suggests putting their supervision and spiritual formation directly in the hands of the overseas churches they serve.” (4) Again, in Spearhead we aim to have our volunteers viewed exactly in this light (i.e. as trainees) and encourage our national partners to provide this type of leadership and spiritual guidance. We are not always successful in reaching this goal, but we can share many specific examples where this has taken place.

An important aspect in analyzing the effectiveness of short-term missions is considering the types of experiences which provide positive results in the long run. I believe that Spearhead’s commitment to working under national leadership, studying Spanish to minister directly in the language, and identifying with the people through cultural immersion and living with Mexican host families, gives just such results. I can name many individuals whose experience on Spearhead shaped their life direction in concrete ways and served as a key influence in their current professions as missionaries, teachers, pastors, and as business people.

In Spearhead we are constantly seeking to evaluate what we do and why we do what we do in order to be more effective in reaching our goals. Towards this end, we are aiming to improve our intensive Spanish program, examining how we facilitate cultural adjustment and service under national leadership, and providing better follow through with participants once they leave the program. We are also interested in analyzing the type of impact Spearhead has had on the national church. Ultimately, we are encouraged that scholars are now seeing short-term missions as a serious area for missiological research and investigation and we invite them to make Spearhead a focus of this investigation.(5)

Are short-term missions effective? Research suggests that it depends on various factors. How does Spearhead rate? In light of recent research we seem to be heading in the right direction, but concrete investigation is needed so that we can more adequately evaluate the outcome of our efforts. Our prayer is that the Lord would continue to guide us as we seek to improve and serve Him more faithfully.

1. See
2. Missiology: An International Review, Vol 34, No. 4; October 2006, Special Edition, p. 429 emphasis mine.
3. Ibid.
4. Zehner, Edwin, “Short-Term Missions: Toward a More Field-Orientated Model” in Missiology: An International Review, p. 509.
5. If you or someone you know would be interested in making Spearhead a focus of their master’s or doctoral research project please contact us at

(Reprinted from the Spearhead Frontline Focus, Spring/Summer 2007, Volume 36, No. 1)

Friday, October 02, 2009

You Can Support Us For Free!

We are excited to announce a way that you can financially support us without any cost to you! Thanks to Fund-it BenefitBar, they have created a toolbar using the Yahoo! Search engine. We receive ten cents each time you click on a sponsored link when you search using our new customized toolbar. No purchases are necessary. You simply download it to your Internet browser and do your internet searches through the toolbar. There are no pop ups, spyware or adware; your privacy is protected and it will not replace your existing toolbars. The download process takes less than a minute and the toolbar is un-intrusive.

Every time you click on a sponsored link (anything listed in the shaded area with bullet points or anything listed on the right side of the page) you are raising money, 10 cents a click on a sponsored link for LAM on our behalf…..NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

It is simple to perform your normal, natural, everyday searches and only click on a sponsored result if that sponsor is of interest to you. It’s that EASY!
What are you waiting for? Click on the link above to download our Toolbar.

To Download the Benefit Bar:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Service Leave Opportunities (August 2009 - May/June 2010)

We are accepting invitations to share about our ministry in churches, Sunday school classes, home groups, etc. In addition to sharing about what we do in Mexico, we are also available to speak on the following subjects:

• Ministering with Latino Immigrants
• Building Mission’s Vision in Your Local Church: A Mexican Model
• Latin’s in Missions: God is Using the Church in Latin America to Impact the World
• Mexico: People, Customs and Religion
• The Latino Church in the USA
• Protestantism in Mexico
• How to Interpret the Bible: A Brief Introduction(or as Theologians say: “Hermeneutics”)
• Best Practices for Latino Youth Development

Also, we are also available to share in campus ministry groups or young adult groups regarding opportunities for service with Spearhead.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We’d like to Visit

We are beginning to contact friends and supporting churches to arrange visits during our service leave. If your church, university fellowship, or small group would be interested in a visit or hearing more about Spearhead we’ll be glad to set a time to come your way.

We look forward to seeing many of you soon. Thanks again for your generous support and prayers.
Points for Prayer
• God’s grace as we turn over responsibilities in preparation for our service leave.
• A fruitful summer by Spearhead volunteers.
• A sense of the Lord’s presence and leading as Wendy Der and Carlos & Carrie
Morales carry-on with the Spearhead ministry.
• Pray for Andres as he begins kindergarten this fall.
• That the Lord will provide $1000 in new monthly support over the next year.
• For many opportunities to share about ministries opportunities with Spearhead.
• Times of rest and renewal while on service leave.

Wendy Der

Carlos & Carrie Morales
Spearhead Leadership Team

As we mentioned a few months ago, we are thankful to the Lord as He has provided capable leadership to lead Spearhead as we are in the States. LAM Missionary Wendy Der, will serve as Acting Director and co-LAM workers Carlos & Carrie Morales will serve in Ministerial Relations and Administrative Support.

We continue to ask for your prayers for all of us in this time of transition.
Summer Ministry 2009

We are thankful to the Lord for 14 enthusiastic Spearhead volunteers who are serving in 8 ministries throughout Mexico City.

Thanks for your prayers for them as they enter a time of full-time ministry after completing a 4 week intensive Spanish course.
• Lauren and Olivia – Cristo es el Camino Assemblies of God Church
• Nicole and Jamie – Resurrección Baptist Church
• Carolyn – Santisima Trinidad Lutheran Church
• Lee – Odre Nuevo Baptist Church
• Mary Till and Lori – Nueva Generación Church (independent Charismatic)
• Andrea and Molly – Jeruel Pentecostal Church
• Faith and Hannah – Principe de Paz Presbyterian Church
• Josh and Noah – Tetitla Presbyterian Mission
Reporting on Recent Activities

• Paul gave a workshop on missions & evangelism at a thriving church called Vida Abundante.
• Paul & Nydia spoke on the theme “What is a Servant? at a cell group church called Re-encuentro.
• Paul preached on “Essential Focuses of the Church” at the Iglesia Vida Abundante.
Announcing our upcoming Service Leave

After the summer Spearhead program we will be taking a service leave from August 2009 – May/June 2010. We will be staying with Paul’s mom in Minneapolis, Minnesota which will serve as our base.

We have four main goals for our service leave:
First, we want to express our gratitude to our faithful team of churches and individuals who have supported us during the past 4+ years and to expand our support network for the future.
Second, Andres will attend Kindergarten in Minnesota so that his English skills grow.
Third, we want to spend time with family and friends.
Forth, we aim to promote the Spearhead program in as many venues as possible.

We will continue to be missionaries with the Latin America Mission and will continue to live off the support we raise through donations to the mission. Your support will be vital during this time as always.