Brothers and Sisters,
Grace and peace I pray would be given to you from the Father and from Jesus Christ our savior.
I am sorry that it has been so long since my last update, I had fallen into a state of being discouraged in writing them. I lost my focus in why I write them, and fell in to the schemes of the evil one in thinking that no one read them or that if some did it wasn’t that important, but God has once again in His mercy brought me back to a right vision and state of mind, for I do not write to make an appeal to man but solely that He would be magnified and delighted in as he is given most glory. I will once again try to send out an update every Wednesday that will be a little shorter and more personal.
We left this past Tuesday in the evening to return to Chiapas along with some brothers from Quitman Texas. There is a man named Cary Butler (Mr. Jamie) that a lot of you have heard me speak of, he lead the team from Quitman along with a brother Daniel and their pastor Bro. James. Mr. Jamie is 74 years old, and I wish all of you knew him for truly he is an inspiration of what Paul wrote to Philippians when he told them to “press on”. He has walked with me in places where people half his age would not dare tread, and I am truly indebted to his example. I am not sure that he has ever read Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”, but he could have written it! Daniel is a layman in Quitman and set a huge example of how to be gentle and merciful this past week. He was a marine and has seen some crazy stuff, but God has given him a gentle spirit that I truly envy. It was such a blessing to finally get to meet Bro. James, Mr. Jamie has been telling me of him and how much he thought that I would get along with him, and how right he was. He is an intellect and theologian, and we had the opportunity to have those great conversations that edify that no price could be made for. I am grateful for his direction in Quitman and am so looking forward to worshiping with the brothers there in a couple of weeks!!
Our team of nationals was made up of the most beautiful girl in the world, Ivonne, sorry I am pretty biased!! Abbimiel, one of the guys that I am disciplining, and hoping that one day will be one of the missionaries on staff with Sing For Joy Missions. The Lord has His hand on Abbi. This week he preached his first sermon, and loved it! And Mildred, a young lady here that Ivonne is disciplining, and truly has a heart to make known the glories of His name. All three of them are so bold and did such great job this past week, and I am so blest that God has placed them in my life!
Once again it was a long bus ride down to San Cristobal, but the Lord was so gracious in allowing me to sleep. I felt so bad for the other brothers on the team because I know how miserable it is when you can’t sleep on those buses, but really was glad the He showed me grace in that!! Our goal in this trip was to help our brother Josue with his work there in San Cristobal, but like every other time God had other plans that consisted in sending us throughout different regions in the area. I would love to share each and every conversation we had while we were going house to house preaching the goapel, but it would make this update very long. I will ask the people who were a part of this team to post to this update their experience so that you can hear a different point of view and stories that maybe I do not know. We split up into two groups so I have not even had the opportunity to hear them all. However, I will take a few minutes of your time to share a few of my personal experiences.
The first that I want to share is from the second day that we were out is a city called Tuxla. A group of us went to Tuxla to help a couple brothers with their work there. We were going house to house sharing the Good News of the Kingdom, and a young man came walking down the road. Mr. Jamie and I approached him and begain talking. Not long into our conversation he told us that his whole family were believers, but that he was not. He explained to me that he felt that he was too bad for God to save him, and that the pull of the world was too strong for him. I shared with him that Jesus didn’t come to save the righteous, but the unrighteous, that those who are not sick don’t need a doctor, and read to him Romans 5:6 and could tell that the Spirit had an effect on him. After encouraging him to cry to God for mercy, and trust in His name and the blood of Jesus he said he would and we departed. I do not know if the Lord saved him that day, but I am confident in the work of the Spirit and that if God is drawing him He will continue and will save him. The sheep will hear His voice!!!! I will just share one more thing, and this is probably what impacted me most on this trip. One night we were sitting with a pastor, who has been preaching in this region for over 30 years, talking after dinner when he begain to tell us what has been going on in that region over the past few months, then throughout the past couple of years. Here I am going to list a few places and what has happened, and although I will make these explanations short I hope that they will have some effect on you.
Acteal: In 1992 there was a fight going on in this town between two groups of people about a piece of land. One day a group of about forty from one group went into the Catholic Church for a service and members from the opposing group came in with guns and killed them. They then took their guns and hid them in a cabin in the woods. The officials from Acteal arrested the Christians saying that they killed them because they did not like the Catholics. In January of this year they released these brothers. They spent 18 years in prison wrongly accused.
Hualenchan: I am not exactly sure of the history here, but know that within the last two years brothers have given their lives for their faith here.
Chenalo: In December three college students from San Cristobal went there to visit a friend of theirs and they all had spiked hair that upset the leaders of the community so they put them in prison, then decided that that was not a sufficient punishment so they took them to a cave that they have there which is about a kilometer deep, and they threw the three boys in it. After some searching one of the boys father paid a young man of the town 20,000 pesos to tell him that they had thrown the boys in the hole. So the government sent the army and police to send someone in the hole to search for them, and they found their three bodies along with about 50 others, including a van full of people. The people who we were working with told me that they believe a lot of these people were from this town and when they proclaimed their faith in Christ the people of the town would throw them in the hole.
Chamula: You have heard me speak often of this town and the persecution there, and it is still as strong as ever. There is a story of a young man that not too long ago heard that it was now ok to preach the gospel there, so he went with that intention and did not leave.
Agua Azul: A week before we arrived in Chiapas 40 Pentecostals came here to preach the Good News, and the people of Agua Azul got upset killed one of them, and beat the others. Hitting them with poles and cutting them with machetes.
Mitziton: There is a sign in front of this town that says that the “Elect of God” are not welcome there. In this town there are several Christian families but are denied electricity and water.
My heart is broken for these areas and many more like them in this area of Chiapas. I ask that you join me in praying for the freedom of these places, and that one day we will have the opportunity to preach Christ crucified there!!
This was truly a great trip, and as always will leave an impact on our hearts!
Food for Thought:
This past week I could not get the word “redemption” out of my mind! So many times we ask “Who are we that He would redeem us?”, but it hit me this week that it is not who we are, but who He is making us. God does not saves us based on our condition or anything found in us, but He does save us to impute His righteousness to us conforming us to His image. Sin was in us, but charged upon Him as if He was the guilty. It is not a righteousness found in us, but in another, not something inherent, but imputed! An end in Christ’s coming was to impute this righteousness to us “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Gal. 2:21. He stood in our stead, though guiltless as guilty, though pure as one tainted. Nothing in His nature changed, that is what made it a sufficient sacrifice, but He was charged as one who committed all the sin in the world. Why? Because righteousness could not come from the law, so through Him becoming sin we are made His righteousness in Him. He imputes His righteousness to us and we are a reflection of His glory lighting up the world. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 2 Cor. 8:9
I love and miss you all! Thank you so much for you prayer and support, please continue to hold the rope!!!!
Por La Gracia,