Marta’s Story: Tamales & Audio Bibles for the Mayo de Sonora

The warm Mexican sun streams in through Marta’s window as she washes her hands at the kitchen sink. She readies herself for work and for the conversations she will have that day. Not far from her home, the Mayo river is flowing. It is this river that gives Marta’s community their name and identity.

Mayo De Sonora Map
Mayo in the Mexican State of Sonora

Marta is a Mexican Mayo woman. She is part of an indigenous people group that lives in the Mexican state of Sonora. “The people of the river bank”, as they call themselves in their language, mix Roman Catholic traditions with Aztec mysticism. Although many of them have learnt Spanish, their mother tongue continues to be Mayo. Forty-thousand people speak this language and Marta is one of them.

Her hands clean and ready for the day, Marta begins to prepare the “masa” needed to make tamales, a time-consuming Mexican dish comprised of steamed corn dough wrapped around meat that was stewed in chilies. Marta earns her living by travelling through the village selling tamales, the smell of toasted chilies calling her neighbors out from their homes to buy her handmade meal. But this is not the only meal she gives them. Marta is also a missionary to her people. She surrendered her life to Jesus Christ and has been using her small business to share the Gospel with her community. Lately, Marta has done this with the help of a very special tool.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, “so faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (ESV). This is especially true for the Mayo de Sonora, an often illiterate community. Nancy Hagberg would know this. As part of Wycliffe, Nancy and her late husband translated the New Testament into Mayo, making it possible for this people group to understand God’s Word in their language.

Courtesy of Vistoso Community Church in Oro Valley, AZ
Nancy Hagberg

 

In June 2021, Nancy was given 40 audio Bibles by a missions pastor who had contacted Digital Bible Society. Those 40 audio Bibles travelled from our office in Conroe, Texas to Catalina, Arizona and onward to Nancy’s office in Sonora. From there, a small handful made their way into Marta’s home and became the tool she would rely on to share the Good News with her community.

 

Marta arrives in the home of a family who wants to buy some of her delicious tamales. She begins telling them about Jesus and the difference He has made in her life. The family takes interest and begins to ask questions. Marta decides to leave them with an audio Bible. Several days later, as she is making her rounds selling tamales, she comes back the house of the family that showed interest in the Gospel. They are filled with excitement as they tell her what they have heard. She asks them questions about scripture they listened to and they engage in conversation. Discipleship begins to happen.

Several families have come to Christ through Marta and the use of audio Bibles. Nancy believes that audio is “a powerful tool” to reach this people group. The Mayo are a people who are hungry. Tamales cannot satisfy their deep need for Truth, but God’s Word, spoken in the Mayo’s heart language can.

Please pray for the Mayo de Sonora, for translators like Nancy, and local believers like Marta.