Article | Missions magazine

A Gospel-Saturated School in Southern Mexico

Apr 16, 2024
April 2024

By Nathan Cedarland

Puerto Escondido is a small but rapidly growing city on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast. It is one of the large population centers in the vast but more sparsely populated Mexican state of Oaxaca. Getting an accurate number for Puerto Escondido’s size is a challenge, but the metropolitan area has a population of roughly 75,000 people and boasts more than 800,000 tourists per year. 

Puerto Escondido is known as the surf capital of Mexico. Apart from attracting tourists, the excellent waves, beautiful beaches, and bohemian subculture draw a significant number of international residents too. This creates a contrast between the modern, New Age, and progressive lifestyles of the beach denizens and the inhabitants of the more conservative Indigenous towns in the surrounding hills. But the cultures come together at Manantial School, where my family serves. 

Manantial School, in Puerto Escondido, currently enrolls 219 students and has a waiting list of more than 200. The Lord uses Manantial to reach the community and region with the good news of Jesus Christ, and the school hopes to expand soon so it can extend that impact for many years to come. 

Establishing roots and bearing fruit 
The Lord led Casey and Meg Herring to found Manantial School in 2013. They desired to start a Christian school that would focus on reaching non-Christians with the Gospel and would be affordable for everyone in the community. The school grew from 27 students in its first year to maxing out its current facilities—with more than 200 students—by year six. With a staff of 35 teachers and administrators, Manantial now provides classes from kindergarten to 12th grade. The school is also laying the groundwork for developing a Bible college in the coming years. Through it all, God has shown Himself faithful and continues to bless this ministry with numerous gospel opportunities. 

Every day, Manantial’s students hear the good news of Christ proclaimed by their teachers, who are trained to weave the Gospel into every class. All subjects are taught in light of a biblical worldview, with Christ at the center, which is particularly exciting because more than 70 percent of Manantial’s students come from homes that do not know or believe the Gospel. Manantial offers an English immersion program at the primary level and affordable tuition for lower-income families, so many non-Christians are willing to send us their children, even though we promote Christ and His Gospel above all else. 

This effort to saturate our school with the Gospel is bearing fruit: we have seen numerous students come to faith in Christ. Throughout the year, we offer parents several workshops on topics such as parenting, pornography, digital technology, and marriage. We base the content on the principles of God’s Word and incorporate the Gospel. Students also bring their families to the Sunday gatherings at our local fellowship, and some parents have come to know the Lord. Many others are drawing near and beginning to attend Bible studies or our Sunday gatherings. Our desire is to reach entire families, not just the students, and we are thrilled to witness the power of the Gospel in so many lives.

Reaching the world from Puerto Escondido
We are not specifically an international school, since we open our doors to locals and internationals alike. While the majority of our pupils are Mexican, our student body currently represents 14 nations. This makeup reflects the diversity in Puerto Escondido and literally brings the nations to our doorstep. It is not uncommon for our local church to see visitors from numerous countries on any given Sunday. We conduct the worship gathering in Spanish but translate our sermons into English, transmitted through headsets, to reach the many European, Canadian, American, and Australian residents and tourists.

Every year, our school presents Cultures Night, an event that highlights the nations represented in the school and includes traditional Mexican folk dancing from around the country. This outreach has been effective, with more than 700 people attending and hearing the message of the Gospel. 

Besides international diversity, this region has its own internal diversity, with more than 155 Indigenous language groups. In some cases, the Mexican citizens who make up these groups speak little to no Spanish. Some still lack the Bible in their native tongue and any gospel witness in their communities. In fact, the state of Oaxaca has one of the highest concentrations of unreached people groups in the Western Hemisphere. All this diversity—from the international to Indigenous communities—makes Puerto Escondido a strategic location for gospel impact in this region, and Manantial School plays a significant role in the effort.

Weaving the Gospel into the curriculum
The school has also been a means of discipling young men and women in the faith. Besides equipping students through Bible classes and weekly chapels, we have implemented a classical Christian approach to education—one that emphasizes the integration of every subject with the truth of God’s Word. In other words, students learn to think about all of life through the lens of Scripture and the lordship of Christ. 

At the primary school, it is always a joy to walk on campus and hear the young students singing not just hymns but also Bible verses, math facts, and history sentences all to the glory of God. To give one example, the kindergarten and elementary students recently memorized all the verses of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in English and Spanish, and we heard about a kindergartner who continues to cheerfully sing this hymn to his non-Christian father. Pray that the Lord will use this child to soften the man’s heart. 

Building our home
Two years ago, the Lord opened the door for us to purchase a tract of land on which to build a facility for the school. Currently, Manantial School rents two separate facilities: one for the kindergarten (K2 and K3) and elementary grades and one for the junior high and high school. We hope to begin constructing our multiuse facility soon. Lord willing, it will serve the school during the week and our local fellowship on Sundays. 

Additionally, we run a small Bible institute, the Christian Leadership Institute, which equips future leaders and prepares Christians for missions. We hope to expand it into a Bible college with on-campus experience with young people from Mexico, the United States, and other nations. It would also share this property in the future. We greatly appreciate your prayers for the accomplishment of this massive project. We know all things are possible with the Lord.

Ministering as a family at Manantial
After many years of home schooling, six of our seven children now attend Manantial. Our son and daughter in junior high understand the mission and actively encourage their classmates to attend the youth group and the church fellowship on Sundays. Currently, more students participate in the youth group than at any previous time.

Julissa has also served at the primary school, leading the assembly time on Monday mornings and helping support the young international teachers. Please pray for God’s continued provision of teachers, as we are often being stretched due to a shortage in that area. Since the primary school’s classes are mostly taught in English, we can recruit missionary teachers from the United States and Canada. Our kids are blessed by the presence of these young missionaries and have enjoyed making connections and friends from all over the world.

Besides serving as an elder in our local fellowship and as an instructor in the Bible institute, I am also the general director of Manantial School. At times, all of that together becomes overwhelming, but I am blessed to have a great team of four principals serving under me at the school and several colaborers in the local church. Our family would appreciate your prayers for the Lord’s sustaining grace in this work.

Sending our students to the world
We are incredibly grateful for how God has been working through Manantial School and our local fellowship, and we look to the future with great expectancy. It is exciting to think about the impact these students will have in this region. We suspect many of them will join the Bible institute, and Bible college down the road. We pray that some will be called to minister to the unreached people groups in this region and other places around the world. We indeed serve a great God who works through the prayers of His people. Your prayers for our students, teachers, this ministry, and our family truly make an eternal impact.

“Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” (Luke 10:2, NKJV) 

Nathan Cedarland and his wife, Julissa, are commended from Kaleo Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington.

Originally published in Missions magazine, April 2024. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at