Open Doors: Five Flags Student Home
by Matthew Morgan
One by one, Ernesto wore out his welcome at his friends' and relatives' homes in Monterrey, Mexico. He felt that God was literally closing doors he had thought were open to him.
Ernesto Zuñiga Azúa had grown up in a family with very low income in Linares, Mexico. He had felt certain that God was calling him to study at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, and so at 18, he moved out on his own, from his home in Linares to Monterrey.
Ernesto stayed with relatives and friends in the area until they could no longer afford to let him stay. Monterrey has become 'the industrial capital of Mexico,' and has developed into a wealthy city with rising housing costs.
In addition to feeling called to study, Ernesto felt called to serve as a 'praise and worship' leader, but there seemed to be more than enough worship leaders already at the churches nearby. Was this yet another door being closed? Ernesto said, "I was seeking God's will, but began to realize that I had been depending too much on myself and others to get there, instead of trusting in God to provide a path." The following Sunday he shared his story with some members of a Methodist congregation, and they recommended the "Cinco Banderas," or Five Flags Student Home, and suddenly, God opened a door for Ernesto.
The Five Flags Student Home began in 1989, when representatives from the US, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden collaborated to begin a mission that would provide housing for college-age students. These four countries’ flags, plus the Christian flag, are painted on the front of the building to honor its founding. Since 1989, the home has housed more than 300 students.
Students pay approximately 400 pesos (about $32) per month, which includes food and utilities, and is a quarter of the price of housing in other parts of the city, where students may pay as much as 3,000 pesos ($240) per month. The student home provides a Christian environment with devotions, a curfew, and opportunities for the students to serve in local Methodist congregations.
Ernesto moved into the Five Flags Student Home and soon joined El Mesias Methodist Church, where he now plays the electric guitar, sings with the 'praise and worship' team, and volunteers with the church in the community. He is pursuing a degree in international relations with hopes to start his own international transportation company.
When asked about these aspirations, Ernesto responded, "I am seeking God's will, and putting everything in God's hands. I know God will direct my path. I don't know when or how, but I have faith that God will reveal all this to me at the right time."
The Five Flags Student Home is currently under construction to create space for more students. The 2010 fundraising goal is $7,500. You or your church can support Ernesto and more students like him--so they can live in an affordable, Christian environment in Monterrey--by giving to Five Flags Student Home Monterrey, Advance #14824A. Pray that God will continue to open doors for students like Ernesto to pursue their callings to study and serve in ministry.
Matthew Morgan is project manager for The Advance office of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Nov 22, 2010