Mike and Lori (right) with pastoral family in Mexico, 2015

Mike and Lori Cassel have served as church planters in Latin America since 2005, first in Mexico and now in Guatemala. Their vision is twofold: to plant churches through evangelistic outreach, discipleship, and leadership development; and encourage and equip others to plant churches as well.

As part of our Risky Faith series, we connected with Mike and Lori to talk about their call to cross-cultural ministry, the challenges and fears they faced, and the joys that motivate them to continue the work.

Who were some of the key people in your life who helped you process and discern this call?

I (Mike) sensed a call to full time missions after a trip to Honduras to help people who had been displaced by Hurricane Mitch in 1999. Later that year, I took second short-term trip to Caracas, Venezuela. There I met Mike Holland. Mike and I went out on the streets of Caracas to hand out invitations for a Christmas service. I think I was hooked after that. Mike was an invaluable mentor in our discernment process. He gave me some affirmation and advised me to go to Bible school.

We applied for service with World Missions and waited for the right position to come available. About 6 months later, a member of the Missions’ staff came to our church looking for a family to serve in Mexico. We ended up being that family. The staff in the Missions’ office helped guide our preparations, and we completed some of the same training that is now part of the MDC (Missionary Development Community). Our family (Mike, Lori, and three children) deployed in 2005.

What preconceptions about mission’s service did you have when you first deployed that ended up being wrong?

We went to language school full time for one year, and we thought we would come out of that school fluently speaking Spanish. We did speak Spanish, but we only had a foundation. Sixteen years later, I am still somewhat diligent about improving my Spanish. It’s not a bad thing really, as long as there is patience on both sides. I wasn’t aware that this experience would involve such a lifetime of learning in the areas of language, culture, and ministry.

Worship service in Mexico, 2007

What were some of your fears, and how has God calmed them?

Perhaps one of our biggest fears had to do with the immigration process and the daunting tasks of providing notarized letters, notarized passport documents, FBI criminal records, notarized letters from the church president, etc. God helped us clear all the hurdles, and we eventually obtained permanent residence in Mexico and later Guatemala when we moved in 2016.

Another fear was that we wouldn’t see fruit in the ministry. God has been faithful. We have fruit in the ministry, and we continue to trust him to bring about even more.

What was your work when you first deployed, and how has it changed?

When we first deployed, we were a support couple to other pastors in the first two congregations we helped plant in Mexico. When we planted a third church, we became the pastoral couple. We were blessed to turn the work over to a Mexican pastor when we left.

When we planted a church in Guatemala in 2017, we became the lead pastors. Our vision is for this to become a multiplying church, one that church planters are sent out from. A woman who has worshipped with us in the past is now pastoring a group of believers near her home. We are supporting her and praying about giving her covering as a new church plant in 2024.

Baptism in Mexico, 2012

As you look over your years of missions, what has been your greatest joy?

It has been our greatest joy to watch people draw close to Jesus: accepting him as Lord and Savior, getting baptized, worshipping, responding to the preaching of the word, and engaging in prayer. We are also overjoyed when people are eager to serve in the ministry.

Last but not least, there have been some relationships and friendships that developed over the years where people have shown us love and kindness in ways that will never forget.

What is your dream for the future of your work in Guatemala?

Our dream for the church in Guatemala is that we will see a powerful movement of the Holy Spirt, that we will see our churches grow, and that the influence of the church will help transform culture instead of vice versa.

What advice would you give someone who is discerning a call to missions?

Find someone who will stand with you, pray with you, and mentor you in your calling.


This is part two of a four-week series about the risky steps of faith global workers took in obedience to Jesus and the legacy of service that followed.

BIC U.S. Communications
Posted by the BIC U.S. Communications team.

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