These Ten Years

The First Years

I lay very much alone, staring up into the darkness about me. It was overwhelming, the lonesome black coldly ignoring my hot, bubbling emotions, a wallowing of self-pity. No one could understand.  No one knew my contradictory pain. Except for one. I looked up, the tears streaming down my young cheeks and realized for the first time the agony Christ felt at leaving His Father’s home to come to a far country, to do His Father’s perfect will, to suffer for His very obedience. 

It was a moment of epiphany. I was perhaps alone in the world. A slightly naïve, occasionally criticized, 18 year old, about to embark on a lifetime of decisions completely foreign to her peers. No one else in that conference hall had heard the call. No one else was getting married, leaving home, and flying far away at this age. Yes, I was the only one. But alone? Hardly.  There was one; He knew all about and beyond it. He knew exactly what it was to leave the splendors of glory, the home of His loving Father, to descend into the very best the world could offer the Son of God-a dirty, rugged manger.  

That night before our wedding was a culmination of several years’ worth of heart work. Saying yes to David implied not only marriage, but also life on the mission field. Long before, I had known this was where God was leading me. Still, there had been doubts. There had been questions and concerns. Yet superimposed, above them all, I kept seeing those nail pierced hands, stretched out towards my soul, and simply could not turn away. The world and complacent Christianity called. The sufferings of a lifetime ahead threatened. Mesmerized, I walked on. There could be no turning back. The crucified Christ had called and I would follow.

We were married and about a week later flew down, arriving to the tiny airport on the island of Carmen on the 19thof August, 2009.

That night I unpacked my suitcase, hanging my things on the opposite side of David´s already occupied closet (he had been living in that home for almost two years). I remember taking a step back, looking at all my summery, girly, teenager dresses gracing the left side, swaying against harsh, pink, concrete walls, the sweat dripping incessantly down my back, all those khakis and buttoned shirts on the right….then collapsing on the bed and weeping. It was not that I was unhappy to be there or regretted any decisions made. It was simply the finality of it all; the seal on what was my new reality. I was here and this was it. No amount of glowing missionary stories could have prepared me for the change. 

I had read all the books, I had heard all the reports, I had visited several times, had been prepared as much as possible. But all those things simply cannot replace nor adequately prepare anyone for what it is to truly leave all that you know, most of what you love, to arrive to a 115 degree concrete square and be able to say, “I’m home.” 

Perhaps it was for the best that I was only 18. I had nothing to give up, nothing much to leave behind. As hard as the first bit was at times, a young heart and mind is malleable. There were no years of habit or experience that governed my outlook, nothing to inhibit openness to understanding the new world around me. Some traces of the sponginess of infancy still lurked in the corners of my newly minted adult brain. 

I had the unique privilege of marrying someone who was basically native to my new country of residence. The pain of struggling to grasp cultural and linguistic concepts was hugely alleviated. Any question or confusion could be promptly put to ease by simply turning to my husband. He wisely carried me when necessary, pushed me forward when he saw fit, stood in the shadows to maybe let me fall but staying close enough to pick me up again. There were times it really hurt, when I rebelled against leaving my comfort zone, when I wanted to kick and scream like a spoiled child and never again leave my ugly little house. Yet slowly, slowly Calle Francisco I. Madero and Justo Sierra and Avenida Camarón became as familiar as Lansing Ave, Parnall Road and Michigan Avenue. The shouts of street vendors somehow eventually faded into white noise. Feelings of severe seclusion, even among believers, regularly lessened as my ear acclimated itself to Campechean accents and phraseology (you know, those little things you never learn in your high school Spanish class!). 

There was a lot to learn. How to kill a cockroach with the first smack, for example. Onions and potatoes must be refrigerated. Footwear other than flats is a waste of time. Muriatic acid can only be described as a faithful friend. Mosquito bitten scarred legs have no remedy. 

But there were other, more important things as well. Things like patience with believers. It was foolish, impossible, ridiculous to expect new christians to be just like the ones I was accustomed to back home. I had to learn to appreciate freshness, or unique ways of expressing oneself (how awful that sounds now!). It was necessary to listen graciously to advice or correction that went against how I had been raised. I had to learn that gospel work was not magic, like sometimes reports could make it seem. 

The group of believers in Carmen enveloped me in love. Most were (and are!) old enough to be my parents or grandparents. They respected me for being David’s wife and for coming to live among them, but so kindly, so gently, took me under their wings. They were there when our babies were born, they were there for me when David was gone or vice versa, they taught me to eat their food, how to embrace their culture, to love God with simplicity and sincerity. 

During this time, we worked in Carmen, here in Zapata, and with the Lord opening the way, in Paraiso, Yucatán and Cancun as well. They were busy, full, and joyous years, but also years of learning and growing. We knew the pleasure of seeing people saved and experienced the grief of seeing them fall. We felt the pressure of teaching and guiding while we needed it so much ourselves. 

Those first years were really quite paradoxical, looking back. In a lot of ways, we were very lonely. Far from any other foreigners or older, more experienced helps, our days went by largely the two of us struggling together with God, apart from the occasional visit or a weekend at a Bible Conference. From the very beginning, God kindly began teaching us dependence upon Him alone. When days finally came when no help came at all, when we were shunned and ostracized, they were deeply soothed by the balm of His faithful presence known for those first five years. Loneliness was certainly no alien but neither was the kindness of God. 

The Years of Sadness

I tread carefully over the next four years of our life. They were like one long eternal funeral of the deepest grief, a funeral for the living, a funeral for the dead, a funeral for all we had ever known. We lost nearly all there was to lose. No graveside was easy. Your imagination can perhaps fill in the necessary blanks. 

Mexico has taken much from me. She took my youth and health. She stole my innocence, my naivety, my ignorance of the human heart’s depravity. Her soil cradles the body of my baby boy; her winds have carried off plans and dreams. She has also gifted me with more than I could ever express. She has given me mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. She has made me into the adult that I am. God, through her, has patiently molded my heart and mind, teaching and exhorting.  But those things, good or bad, are the very things that have made Mexico a dearer home than ever. I never imagined what these years would bring. I never thought there could be such sadness, such overwhelming, daily grief in the life of a believer. I never really knew that our God would come down and walk beside His children, or that such an intimacy was ever possible. 

I wish there was, dear reader, a way to adequately describe what it is to drag your wounded, ruptured soul back to the foot of the cross, to look up at that broken, bloodied figure, to bathe again in the freshness of His fountain of love. To stand again at the place of the skull, still a bit bruised, still some mangled and to cry out to the heavens and to the four winds of the earth that HE IS WORTHY. 

That is the moral of this story. 

The reality of Mexico’s mission field is that Christ alone is worthy. 

The Last Years

I come to the last few years of my ten years in Mexico with poignant humility. This is the year of the Mexican believer. It is his time to shine. We are workers, servants together with the Lord. We owe so much to these dear, godly people. This work is now their work and with the help of God, will carry it forward for generations to come.

As I look around my house, I see these ten years stamped clearly over our life. My fridge is always home to habanero and cilantro and queso de hebra. Books in English cohabit happily with those in Spanish. I have like 5 liters (liters, no gallons around here!) of fabuloso in the laundry room but not a vacuum to be seen. My kids tell jokes in Spanish, wear sweaters when the temperatures drops to 80, and eat pork rind drenched in hot sauce. 

There are a lot of times I still can’t properly pronounce words. I still don’t eat tons of spice. There are mindsets and certain ideologies that frustrate and confound me. I’ll always be the weird güera with a floppy hat on her head. But I’ve learned to accept those things instead of fighting them, to just ride along with it because they really don’t matter.

As I think back over it all, I feel as if we are just beginning now. My first years, dedicated to getting accustomed to this life, growing into adulthood, gaining bits of experience to help the people here, seem so unproductive, so hesitating and unsure in character. Those middle and later years where just a fight for survival. We did little more than breathe while God chiseled away at all our lives. Yet now, looking forward, it is with a great, bursting hope that finally, with God’s help and grace, we might be able to live in absolute freedom and spiritual energy to see the gospel truly spread and flourish across this great peninsula. 

Because that is why we are here. To see HIS name honored and glorified, lifted high in praise from the lips of men and women won to the resurrected Christ. 

Fried Shrimp

We pull up just as the sun begins her habitual descent into the aquatic horizon, igniting highways from west to east of rippling, glowing fire. The gulf laps quietly against the bows of some fourteen fishing boats, resting sleepily after another long day of relentless toil. Gulls soar overhead, searching for one last treat before complete darkness. The wind begins to pick up, merciless in her endeavor to blast billows of sand onto every exposed inch of sweaty, sticky skin. Natural exfoliation at her finest. Delicious, enticing smells come wafting on the breeze, woodsmoke and frying shrimp. 

I remember the first time I was given shrimp in a home here in Campeche. They served us up enormous bowls of shrimp broth, heads and tails separated but still in the shell. Except I didn’t really know it was shrimp. I thought the heads were maybe some exotic brand of grasshoppers, six-inch long antennae, beady black eyes and oh the legs. So many legs! I whispered my doubts of horror to David. Shrimp, he assured me. I looked with mortification at my bowl. As far as I was concerned and according to small-town Michigan, shrimp came in vacuum-packed black bags in the freezer section of the grocery store with pictures of cute little curly pink things jumbled around a dish of dipping sauce. These enormous, whitish grey creatures floating in my bowl, of which I was expected to reach in and peel and suck and scramble through had to be of absolutely no relation! 

But that was 10 years ago. 

Our friends welcome us under a simple wooden structure, topped with dried palm branches. Their daughter is busy in the kitchen, frying shrimp and little fish, cutting limes, making up tortilla dough. They are old friends, dear people we have known for years. We peel our shrimp by the light of a lantern, it’s greenish glow casting just enough lambency to distinguish faces and whose coke is whose. 

The talk always turns to the sea. 

How do you know where the shrimp will be? Ah, the wind. The wind will tell you were to find them, in close or out far. 

Have you ever had a close call? One time. One time, yes. It was night and we were resting, but not sleeping. We saw a light coming closer and closer. Thankfully our engine was still running. It was a huge boat. It would have run us over but we were able to move just in time. 

Cazón that we eat, do they stay little or do they grow into big sharks? Oh, sister, those are just the babies. Out there are some seven kinds of sharks, there’s hammer head, black fins….all kinds. Because the oil rigs throw their wasted food overboard, the sharks all crowd around below. 

What are those two lights way out there? Those lights there you ask? That’s the Usumacinta oil rig. It exploded about 12 years ago. Those aren’t lights out there, actually. It’s really fire, still exploding from escaping gases. We were here when it happened; not long after a man in a life vest washed up to shore. He was almost gone. An engineer from the rig. We brought him up, washed him, gave him food and drink. We named our son after him. Another man was also found, his leg had been torn off by a shark. Most everyone else died. 

It’s totally black now, except for their couple lanterns. No electricity out at the beach. The kids are shrieking and laughing, spinning around and falling in the sand, loving having older kids to play with. We talk and laugh and share. Time doesn’t seem to matter. They hardly sleep anyhow, swinging in hammocks with half an eye open to watch the boats in their care. 

Good nights are finally said, they stay to their night long labor and to semi rest before another busy day tomorrow, ourselves gone to fly down the lonely beach, salty air whipping our hair into tangled messes. 

It is times like these that one feels so at home. So in love with the people God has chosen for us to live with. These occasions help smooth out the rough ones; they give new life and energy to flagging souls. God help us if we ever think we’re the only ones who can encourage and uplift. A plate of fried shrimp on the gulf shore did more for me tonight than any amount of literary genius scribbled across a thousand pages in Times New Roman ever could.

Emiliano Zapata, Campeche

Workers Together

I will be honest and admit that I have no idea which book I was reading three years ago when I took a picture of the page to send to some dear friends. The quote, however, has never left my conscience and so I share it with you today (despite perhaps not agreeing 100% with the entirety of the situation referred to).

We may share the conflict or shun it. When at length William Carey had succeeded in persuading his fellow ministers to form a missionary society, to Andrew Fuller “it seemed that the project of sending missionaries to the heathen world was like a few men deliberating the importance of penetrating a deep mine which no one had hitherto explored. We had no one to guide us. Whilst we were deliberating Carey said, ‘Well, I will go down if you will hold the rope.’ But before he descended it seemed, says Fuller “as though he took an oath from each one of us that whilst we lived we should not let go the rope.” Did we take hold of a rope some years ago and have we with the lapse of time let go? Shall we take hold of it again?

There are men and women across the globe who are holding the rope to the work in the south of Mexico. From the bottom of our hearts, the hearts of the believers, the hearts of the unsaved (though they do not know it yet), thank you.

This past weekend was a vivid example of men and women, some down in the mine, some up above holding the rope, working together with God to see the gospel penetrate farther and farther down the shaft of the world.

Believers in Canada had worked and organized to get John 3:16 texts printed and sent down. They had also labored for months to produce, publish, print and ship a gospel magazine called Via. Boxes and boxes arrived, filled with encouragement to get on to the streets and share the gospel.

Several couples in the state of Michoacán, some 15 hours away from Campeche, felt burdened to help in a practical way as well. They sent us bags and bags of good clothes to help the believers here and reach others with the gospel.

So, that´s what we did this weekend. The assembly here in Zapata organized a text and clothing distribution, going out in the morning to evangelize and invite. The clothing was spread out on benches after the gospel meeting for people to freely help themselves. Several women came who had never been to our little meeting place before. They heard the gospel. They were loved. They were filled up with Christian care.

Mission fields are not always (or even usually!) a place of huge, abundant, overflowing blessing, halls packed daily with searching sinners. Three, four, six new women and a bunch of kids is an enormous victory for the gospel.

It could not have been done on our own.

Workers, together, with God.

There is no other place I would rather be than down here in this mine and you there, up above, holding tightly on to our rope with all your godly might.

Spectacles of Insight

Preface

There are people the world over who live utterly unimaginable lives. The anecdote I choose to tell occurred less than a week ago, but it is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last. It is also a story that is in no way restricted to a small village in southern Mexico. So, I humbly ask you reader friend, to don your spectacles of insight, prepare to read some uncomfortable things, remembering that these are real people. I have hugged their sweet little children; they have played with my own. 

For delicacy´s sake, I choose to change names. For storytelling´s sake, I have taken the liberty to add descriptive detail and dialogue, which may or may not be exactly as it all went down. However, the heart and soul and main points remain unequivocally based on the sad facts of some of the most desperate lives I have ever witnessed. 

Story

Elizabet watched anxiously up the road for Pedro´s arrival. He had worked all week, she had even gone some days to help him, and today he would be paid. She looked down and her children´s gaunt eyes stared wonderingly back up at her. They had been to the garbage dump that morning, as usual, but had little success that day. 

“Mama,” little Pedrito said plaintively, “I´m hungry.” 

“I know you are little love, but just wait a bit longer. Papa will be home soon. When he comes I will get something to make you.” Pedrito appeared hardly convinced at this optimistic opinion.  

They heard the gate bang shut, all flinching involuntarily. 

Pedro came stumbling up the dirt drive, heaving himself through the curtained door. All five children huddled behind their mother’s tiny, skeletal body, wasted for their own sake, to give each a couple extra bites that should have been hers.  

“Where’s my dinner?” roared Pedro in the incoherent slur of any inebriated human. 

“Did you bring me money? How can I get food if I have no money, Pedro?” 

“Don’t talk back to me woman!” And as Pedro lifted his fist, Elisabet gave an imperceptible signal to the innocents behind her skirt. 

The sound of his slap was enough to cover the slight, harried shuffle of 10 feet out the back door. 

He continued railing, yelling, shouting, abusing, his bloodshot eyes bulging in anger. 

“Come, Pedrito, quickly! Come, oh come little Mary! Don’t look back, just come!” Isabel, in her anguish, fairly scooped up Pedrito in her thin arms and ran recklessly through the coconut grove. 

The others followed behind, trusting their big sister to take them as their mother had shown them so many times. 

Always take a different way, she had said. He might discover a worn footpath. Go quickly, go quietly. Skirt around the mango and head down to the dip. On they went, beating through the long grasses, the hot, hot sun burning mercilessly upon their heads. 

At last they arrived, panting, to their special hideout. Mama had made it herself, a refuge from the storm of a drunk and violent husband. It was just a little structure, four wooden poles as corner posts with an old, faded canvas sign strung across the top. The children, heaving with fright and exertion, sat down on a couple of logs Mama had dragged in the last time and said nothing. 

Pedro by now had crumpled on the floor, his soiled pants filling the house with their rank odor. 

Elisabet quickly, silently, grabbed a jug of water and followed her children out. There was no telling when he would wake again, no telling what else he would do to her or the children. Between alcohol and drugs, he was completely unpredictable. She remembered clearly their last child, conceived not of love but of drunken, lustful, brutal demand.  

She arrived to the little tent, hugged her frightened children around and gave them all a drink of water. 

“Come, little ones, Papa’s bad off. It’s best if we were gone. Follow me quickly and quietly.” 

She scooped up the littlest and the four others fell into single file line behind this tiny woman who would give her all for their little selves. They walked through the bush, eventually cutting across to the main road, keeping always to the shadows, an ear open for a follower, eyes alert to certain danger. The children said nothing. They had nothing to say. Hardship, hunger, poverty and violence had beaten into their brains the uselessness of complaint. Silence hung about them, broken only by the buzz of mosquitos and the whistle of a golondrina, as they trudged on into the village to find help. 

They made it at last to the home of Elisabet’s sister who, knowing the drill, ushered them in, closed the door then peered up the street for a long, long while. Convinced at last Pedro had not perceived their escape, she turned her attention inside. Fresh fruit juice all around, the baby on her hip, forcing her sister to sit, the children to play, Soledad was a flurry of activity. She made them empanadas, filled them to the full. Showered them with the love and attention they all so desperately needed. 

“Come with us tonight to hear the gospel preached,” Soledad suggested, knowing her sister’s urgent need for Christ in her life. 

“I would go. You know that. I would love to go. But he will find me there. Remember last time? We had to hide in the bathroom, the believers had to lock the front door for us. He will find me and make a scandal, cause a terrible scene, try to fight the brothers. He won’t even let me go when he’s sober. And now like this?” 

Soledad acquiesced, determined instead then to show her the love not just of a sister, but the love of Christ to a poor, lost family. Elisabet and the children stayed until they could find out if Pedro was finally sober again to go back home, which they did. Admittedly, quite anticlimactic.

Epilogue

But how did they? How could they return to such an environment? Questions abound. Why does she put up with him? What will happen to the children? Will there ever be any change? 

There is a strength in impoverished women that supersedes any I have ever seen.

Today, we think of strong women as ones who have climbed the corporate ladder, who run their own businesses while homeschooling 6 kids, women who write long articles on how they are equal to men.

Strong women are women who will go hungry for their children. They are women who are faithful to their husbands even when they deserve everything but. They are women who have no running water, yet manage to wash clothes and kids and dishes and floors every day. Women who are not afraid to look for help. Women who will risk their lives for those of their children. Strong women are ones who wake up every single morning and simply do it all again without murmuring against their unfortunate lot. 

As much damage as a husband like that can do, it is impossible for his wife to leave him. She needs the physical security of a man’s presence, she needs the occasional money he actually does bring home, she needs his help and even his love, for when sober he is truly a pleasant man. She is left with little choice. 

And the children? Where does it leave those precious, sunburnt kids with big brown eyes? It leaves them with little education, little hope for advancement, little opportunity to learn what a functional family should be. They will only watch and grow up believing it is somehow normal, leading down similar paths in life. 

Oh, if only the wretched cycle could be broken! If only the light of God’s glorious gospel could shine into their dark hearts! Hope, love, joy could all be theirs. 

As I ponder back over what I have just written, I am remembering the last time I talked to Elisabet. She came over to the house with her sister and we had a lovely little chat. She was happy and peaceful, laughing and enjoying conversation. Yet her 22 year old eyes always belied her mirth. They are the eyes of an old woman, eyes full of miserable, hard knowledge. They are heavy with care and pain. I wish I could scoop them all up, take them home and make everything better. But I can’t. Only God can work to make it all right, only He can provide the necessary miracle to save their family. 

I am well aware that this family is not the only of it’s kind. There are others in this town, this state, this country. Families like this exist the world over. 

There is only one word left to add. 

Pray.  

A Special Day at Quinta Querit

It was my intention to write once a week on Wednesdays to keep myself accountable. I suppose that works for the uneventful, mundane weeks but I am learning that I also shouldn´t limit my writing schedule. Sometimes interesting things do actually happen!

A few weeks ago, a couple teachers from a nearby university stopped by our place. Responsible for classes on communications and specifically English, they came up with the idea to bring students to our home where they could be encouraged to study the English language and to work hard, no matter where you are from or where you live, focusing on our hen farm as an example. They also asked us, in so many words, to encourage them to seek God above all else.

It was no ordinary request. Since when do we normally have 50 some 18 to 20 year olds obligated to listen respectively to the benefits of a Christian life?

They arrived today on two large buses and parked a ways up the street to not block our little lane.

I watched them through the kitchen window, row after row of young adults coming down the two track, past the bamboo, on to the palapa and my heart was filled with thankful humility. We did nothing to arrange it, except to open our doors to a bunch of seeking strangers. God led them straight to our doorstep.

We had a half hour talk in which we shared our story, why we are here and what we do, the ways in which being believers has helped us in life and encouraged them to choose the road that leads to God. We had a time of dialogue in English and answered their many questions, ranging from how many hens we have, to what the style is of our meetings, to what our favorite Mexican food is!

They enjoyed a tour of the hen farm, orchard, and grove then spread out to have their lunch, hold the puppies, and buy their moms some eggs.

Just a few days ago, several boxes arrived with John 3:16 texts, so we were able to share them with the students. One young woman from the island of Carmen exclaimed to David, “my mom has one of these at home!” It was some 10 years ago those texts were distributed.

And I definitely forgot to turn off the porch light this morning…..

These are the little things that keep our flame of service burning, our love of souls warm and reaching, our minds clear and focused on the why of this life.

In some ways though, this was the easy part. It was simple to receive them, give them a tour, befriend and show them the love of God. Now, for me, comes the difficult part.

Is there much purpose in handing them a Bible verse, sending them on their way and forgetting about them, leaving them to the rude chances of university life?

Help me, please, to pray for these young men and women. Pray that their day here at Quinta Querit would be remembered not just for a lovely time out of school in the countryside, but that it would be the special day they realized their need for Christ as Savior.

Paradise

They rushed out of their mud and palm huts into the dirt streets, eyes shielded against the blazing afternoon sun. It circled around again, sending flamboyant flowers fluttering down from their delicate perch. For the first time, the residents of the Hacienda Paraíso saw a small airplane, glinting like a daytime star, flying overhead. They looked at one another, incredulous. 

Up in the plane, no doubt a couple of men were also looking down. “There they are!” one would have exclaimed, “here, I’ll start the speaker.” The pilot responded, “yes, you do that. I’ll circle around again and the next time we sight them, drop down some 15 packages.” 

Standing next to his grandma Elda, five year old Eduardo watched the plane, amazement in his little mind. But what happened next would be the foundation for the rest of his life. Out from the little plane began to sound the sweet notes of hymns, telling the people of the Lord Jesus and His great love for them. Care packages were dropped, filled with bits of love from absolute strangers. 

Paradise, how I love you

Years went by. I will share with you sometime the story of how the christians in Paraíso were eventually saved and how we came to know them, but that is for another day. 

Paraíso, Yucatán is a small village, originally part of a large hacienda, situated in the middle of nowhere. The chimney stacks are still there, as well as some of the original stone buildings. It´s about an hour outside the beautiful city of Mérida but time has had little say in their mode of life. Mayan is spoken more fluidly and readily than Spanish; most homes would continue the regular use of a mud and palm home with hammocks strung across the rafters for sleeping. Pork, sour orange, lima and freshly milled corn are still the word of the gastronomical day. Women sit in their doorways embroidering beautiful flowers along the edges of white blouses and dresses. Wide and airy, the wind blows through the fabric, refreshing women taut with a life of hard work. 

It’s very much their town. It’s a comfortable feeling to know who everybody is, what time they go to sleep at night, what their favorite food is. It’s nice to know who owns exactly what properties and to which church everyone belongs. 

So the minute a white van comes dieseling in, heads pop out of every window. Anyone who happens to be on the street stops and stares. 

Flying in and out, just to have a meeting with the believers is merely maintenance. It’s no way to win new people, an impossibility to expect an outsider to feel the confidence to attend. You will always be a stranger. 

For a several years, that’s what we have done. Maintenance work. We couldn’t do more. Emotionally, physically, spiritually pushed to our absolute limit, it was all we could do to just get through the day. 

But God is our Healer. He filled us again with the grace and spiritual energy necessary to truly work in His field. 

And it really is work. Systematic evangelization, visiting contacts, listening to stories of witch doctors and curses and dreams, faced with indifference, distrust, spiritual confusion. It´s walking in the hot sun, occasionally shifting your stack of literature so the bottom page doesn´t go totally soggy with sweat. It´s wishing you could cover your children´s ears as they hear of a father and son beating each other up and threatening the other´s death. It´s talking with your mouth and praying with your head. 

It´s leaving all the results with God. 

You can’t force a woman, steeped in idolatry to understand or even want Christ, just because you showed up at her door. You can’t reach in and clear out the cobwebs of ancient superstition to make way for the light of the gospel. You can’t grab the beer bottle from a man’s hand and shove a Bible at him instead.

Slowly, steadily. Through the Spirit’s power. It’s the only way. 

There is little in life that can give greater joy than plopping down in your car, sweat dripping down your back, inhaling a bottle of water, knowing that however many families just heard the gospel or received literature to read and that the Holy Spirit is striving with them. There are so many people, not only here in the south of Mexico, so many who need Christ. 

Please remember the little town of Paraíso in your prayers. There are people there who the Lord wants to save and use for His glory. Pray for the believers and their growth and for their children who still need Christ. Please pray the devil would hinder us no longer and that we would be able to work with freedom in our Lord. 

Obedience, Simply

Pulling up the old horse, Charlie, the D.O.M [Mr. Robert Wilson] turned to Amy. “Which blow breaks the stone?” he asked. Then, pointing with his whip he said, “Thee must never say, thee must never even let thyself think, ‘I won that soul for Christ.’ It is the first blow and the last, and every one in between.”

A chance to Die, Elisabeth Elliot
Beach at Emiliano Zapata, Campeche

Mr. Wilson’s words, spoken nearly 130 years ago ring with ageless truth. Can it be that one and one alone is solely responsible for the joy of winning a soul?

About 11 years ago, before we were even married, David and a group of men came to Zapata. The first family they visited were the Mendozas. We visited them off and on throughout the years, with varied success at igniting interest in the gospel.

A full 7 to 8 years later, the first member of the family accepted Christ.

Several months later, a couple came to visit and spent nearly every single day with this family, encouraging them, loving them, laughing with them, teaching them.

A few more trusted the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

Two years later, a brother came and in house meetings spoke through translation. Oh, and that blessed light came shining through again, to another soul, lost and found.

A couple months later, her husband, in the darkness that is a tropical night in the countryside, watering plants in that refreshing sunless moment, he too realized his sin was keeping him far from God and accepted the gift of salvation.

Four months later, another brother was visiting who encouraged them several times to obey the Lord in baptism.

Which blow breaks the stone? How could anyone know? How could any of the 15 or so people alluded to here be marked as the one?

We are simply, humbly, “workers together with him [God]” 2 Corinthians 6:1.

And so, to battle the waves and the currents, two men walked the couple out into the salty sea, through sprinkling rain to show to the world that they are dead to sin and alive in Christ. There was no fanfare, no visitors, certificates or great ceremony. Just a small group, gathered on the shore, witnesses with God to obedience. Simply obedience.