As soon as we open the doors of the van, step out and stretch our weary muscles, we know we’re in Oaxaca again. Maybe it’s the dryness, the dust or the mountains, maybe a distant whiff of tasajo and string cheese. Or maybe it’s just the kids tickling the baby and saying “oooh Gali, are you glad to be in your native land?” and her replying “yup!”.
We drove past the house where we lived for nearly a year, locked down by the local police: sir, you’re foreigners and so you must have brought coronavirus to our town and you’re not allowed to leave your house except for groceries and we will be watching you. Yay we all said.
We drove past Hospital Reforma: Galilea, did the doctors cut you open there? Yeahhh! (She’s very enthusiastic about the affirmatives of life). Someone else-Gali, did you live there for two weeks? Yeaaa….. Baby, did you miss us?
We visited all our old haunts, making the always bittersweet journey down memory lane.
And of course, we visited the believers-the reason we made the trip in the first place.
I think it had been 6 months since our last visit. Far too long. Unfortunately, that’s the way life goes sometimes.
They are doing well despite different and varied trials. It was great to visit with them and spend time answering questions, shepherding and grounding in the faith. It was also wonderful to see ones at the meetings they had invited to come in. One man in particular told us a moving story. It appears he has been a believer for some time and awhile ago he served in the municipal government of his hometown. The date of a religious festival was fast approaching and they began making their plans, including the tradition that everyone in the government would walk through town carrying an idol. Sorry sirs, he informed them kindly, I cannot participate in idolatry.
I imagine them at that moment metaphorically gnashing their teeth. What happened next should astound and concern each of us.
If you, they threatened, refuse to carry an idol–we will throw you in jail.
and they arrested him.
Thankfully a few careful words about little things like the law of the land and repercussions prevented actual incarceration and after some time at the police department he was released.
Maybe that sounds all very far away. Some unpronounceable state in southern Mexico, very religious, very idolatrous, nothing like where I live.
But let’s take this brief opportunity for reflection.
First, would I have refused? Second, is there some invisible idol I carry around all the time that keeps me from being marginalized in society?
Is incarceration just for criminals? Has Canada not arrested believers for obeying God? Has the US not inflicted heavy fines on believers for obeying God? Is Oaxaca really so far away?
May we all be courageous enough to refuse any idols: plaster, wood or social construct.
We held meetings each night in the living room of the original contacts in Magdalena to take advantage of the limited time. We were burdened they had gone so long without any, that we didn’t know when we could next make a trip. Months and months without teaching, without meeting, without that sense of a family in Christ. It’s wrong and unfair but we live so far away. So, it was with deep joy they let us know they are ready to hold meetings on their own.
Many perhaps won’t agree with that.
Thankfully ‘missionary’ is not in the list of requirements for a church to be established.
Please pray that they would be filled with the Spirit, that God’s Word would reign and flourish and that despite setbacks, an assembly would be established in Magdalena Apasco for the glory of God.