But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. Ex. 1:12
These have been two months of crazy physical and emotional affliction for my family. My mom was hospitalized with a heart attack the first week of May. The following week, my dad had surgery to insert a g-tube to alleviate his chronic swallowing difficulties. A week later, my grandson, David, now 4 years old, was diagnosed with relapsed leukemia, this time in the central nervous system, after completing 3 ½ long years of chemo and having been declared cancer-free just weeks prior. I had oral surgery including a bone graft in Guadalajara last week. This stuff is not easy, nevertheless, we know well that it, too, is a good gift from our Father, and He has a perfect and sovereign purpose in it.
My last lesson before summer recess for the IBBM-Tepic Women of Excellence was about God’s provision of a liberator/redeemer for Israel in the very most intense times of affliction. The children of promise found that in spite of conditions much worse than we can imagine, in a world full of the vilest of infidels making multiple unacceptable, unbearable and ungodly demands upon them, God was faithful; and surprisingly, at that moment at least, they were faithful to Him. He provided through His providence exactly what He had promised. I love Exodus 1:7. They “were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” We learned that the word Moses (actually, God) uses for “filled” specifically denotes “swarmed” with them!
This recent personal affliction of ours doesn’t really hold a candle to the suffering that the Hebrews endured at the culmination of their 400 years of bondage in the hands of Egyptian despots. But it does put into perspective the immense joy that comes with witnessing fruitfulness, great increase, multiplication, excessive strength, and the filling of the land with faithful followers that God delivers in the face of simultaneous suffering. And the following are a few examples of the swarms of fruitful increase in and around Tepic these past two months!
IBBM-Tepic celebrated its mothers the first week of May. The church platform was swarming with its beautiful ladies who are striving to follow God’s direction for loving Him and their families well.
There has been fruitful increase in the Huichol village churches, as well.
In the village of Zoquipan, yet another shaman has made the decision to trust Jesus as his Savior. For lots of years Asunción was a passionate persecutor of the believers at Zoquipan and the neighboring village of La Quemada. After he inherited the religious relics and position of shaman from his father, he grew even more antagonistic. Recently lots of personal afflictions stirred Asunción to begin to question his life-long trust in his false gods. While Pastor Manuel from Zapote and José Luis from La Bendición were visiting, teaching the book of Acts segment (When the Church was Young and Bold -- Ha! How ironic, right?) to the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) students at La Quemada, Asuncion put aside his pride and hiked to the neighboring village to hear the truth. He asked Manuel and José how much it would cost for him to become a believer. Manuel wisely answered, “Everything you have.” The shaman made the wise choice to place his trust in the One, True Savior. A day later, he burned all of his powerless charms and religious trappings making a public statement that he, Asunción the shaman, was now a follower of Jesus. And the more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew.