Sunday, October 01, 2023

August-September 2023 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Ps. 90:1-2

August-September 2023 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Ps. 90:1-2 

Moses, the “Man of God” continues in verse 10 of his Psalm 90 prayer to say that we may live to be 70 or even 80, but even the best years will be filled with pain and difficulty; then, like a vapor, they will be gone. This fallen world groans with corruption, but more importantly, our God abides from everlasting to everlasting. 

Praise God that the past couple of months in Tepic attest to the truth that from before the foundation of the world, from everlasting to everlasting, there is hope.

In my unlikeliest dreams, I never would have imagined myself celebrating my 71st revolution around the sun last week by kicking off an 8-week OANSA series based on the Insect World, comparing the Everlasting’s marvelous creation with His faithful promises in His Word. We learned that there are an estimated 10 quintillion bugs in the world and that if placed on a scale together, they would weigh 70 times more than all living humans if they were positioned on the contrasting pan. Ten quintillion is a VERY big number (10 with 18 zeros following it). We also learned that God called Abram to leave his home, his family, and his comfortable life in the idolatrous city of Ur to go to some mysterious place. He told Abram that He would make of him a mega family (like more than all the stars in the universe, kind of like all the bugs in the world), that He would provide them with mega lands, and that he and his descendants would receive and be a mega blessing to the whole world...especially through his everlasting, saving, hope-offering Descendant, Jesus, the Messiah. Lots of bugs, lots of descendants, lots of blessings. 
Nor would I have imagined making my own “birthday cake” (90 cups of dirt with gummy worm “candles”) to share with the OANSA kids and leaders. Leaving country, kindred, and father’s house, metaphorically or literally, is unsettling for sure, but the Everlasting’s resulting legacy is unfathomable. And being a part of His special family is a big deal for all generations. 

 In the Sierra Madre village of San A (actual village names redacted for security), the Huichol family is suffering persecution from a sin-cursed world in bondage to corruption, rejection, and hatred. Placing their faith in the true and everlasting Kakaɨyari and His provision for their forgiveness is not without cost in their slice of this fallen world. The emancipation of seven San A families from their former slavery to the enemy is a miraculous story of the Everlasting’s election, sacrificial and faithful evangelism, and their personal acceptance and obedience. 

 *(Spoiler Alert: You’re going to need paper and pen to diagram and make sense of the participants and geographical villages of the next paragraph of this story, the details of which only the Everlasting could have authored.) 

Pablo from the village of C, first heard the liberating Truth from the faithful missionary heart and mouth of José. Pablo believed and shared his faith with Raul, also from C. Raul, a friend of Nicolasa from San A, shared the Gospel with her. Sometime after Nicolasa from San A believed, she was visiting the distant mountain village of San MH when José “just happened” to be there on a missionary follow-up trip, and she chose to be baptized, publicly declaring her faith in the Everlasting Savior (The “publicly” part is very easy to say!). Together, Raul and Nicolasa carried the Good News back to Nicolasa’s village of San A. Now, there are seven believing families in her village. Raul, along with Marcelino (Pablo’s son), both from C, alternate every Sunday, trekking four hours through the mountains to preach to the little body of believers who were known and loved by the Everlasting in eternity past. This glorious story doesn’t end here. The unbelievers who are worshipers of the traditional Huichol gods and the prince of this world, are enraged. There are far too many details to share here, but the essential part is that they have fiercely persecuted the little body of San A believers, threatened them with confiscating their fields and crops, and banished them from their homes, church, and the village. 

José Guadalupe and Francisco came this week from San A to ask for prayer and counsel from José and Huichol pastors from La Bendición, Vizcarra, and Picachos. They ask prayer from you, my friends, as well, as in the next couple of weeks, they will be having an audience with the tribal judge and council, who are not known for justice. This is certainly not the first case of intense persecution of Huichol believers, and there’s no doubt, it won’t be the last, but it’s the most current and urgent. From everlasting to everlasting, there is hope. 

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Monday, July 31, 2023

June-July 2023 …Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord

June-July 2023 …Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today… ~ Exodus 14:13a 

The young students of the IBBM-Tepic children’s church memorized this verse last week as we finished a six-week segment of a series called Paths of Faith. For the past 26 weeks, we’ve been studying the panorama of the entire Bible which will take over 3 ½ years to complete. The children learned that Moses bravely spoke these words on the brink of crossing the Red Sea. God had divinely designated, preserved, and prepared Moses during the course of 80 difficult years as he was crowned prince, turned patriot and fled for his life to Midian as a refugee. Every student in the class has learned the keywords from the sequence of events in Genesis and Exodus – creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, covenant, chosen people, cruelty, and crossing. But of greater importance is that the children are learning to apply these true Bible stories that were designed by the divine Author to be examples for His followers today. God called Moses to be their liberator, and under his leadership, two million chosen people escaped from Egypt after God’s mighty, saving hand repeatedly and conclusively defied their useless gods. He gave His people three important things to do in the face of their urgent, humanly impossible obstacles: the Red Sea, the hostile desert terrain that flanked them on both sides and the approaching murderous Egyptian army. He orders: 1. Don’t be afraid, 2. Be still, and 3. Prepare to watch the Lord’s miraculous salvation. 

This course of action is exactly what God expects from all His followers as He performs the task of rescuing and saving. It applied to the chosen people fleeing Egypt, and it applies to His chosen ones today. 

The past two months in Tepic
have held some seemingly unbearable situations that are purposely designed opportunities to obey this biblical mandate.
After the long-anticipated OANSA fair in which the children enjoyed the fruits of their year of labor, IBBM-Tepic hosted our annual ladies’ retreat. The theme this year was “Transformed.” We marveled at the power and handiwork of the Creator as He alone works His metamorphosis and transformation in the lives of His children, and we contemplated the fact that sometimes that process is long and painful. 

No sooner was the retreat over than a couple of our sisters experienced graphic examples of that process in their own lives. 

After years of begging God for his salvation, Romy’s unbelieving husband died, rejecting the Savior until the end of his life. Noemí, the mother of two young daughters, was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. Both are clinging to the truth that the very dark transforming moment for the caterpillar which seems to be the end of its world, is actually the light-filled moment that, for the butterfly, is the beginning of true transformation. Both sisters are gripping Moses’ admonition: Don’t be afraid. Be still. And see the Lord’s salvation. 

Thirteen years ago, Isidro, a much-loved, dedicated, and faithful worker and leader in the Huichol church in the village of Zapote de Picachos, died unexpectedly leaving fatherless his little family with four young children. Fourteen-year-old Secundino, the oldest, went to work to support his mother, Hortensia, his sisters, Elvira and Alma Luz, and his younger brother, Isidro, Jr.   

Praise God that Isidro’s son, Secundino, heard the Gospel as a child and responded to it. As one of God’s chosen people, his Heavenly Father saw to it that, though overwhelming and seemingly impossible circumstances surrounded Secundino, he had nothing to fear. He stood firmly as God sent leaders, teachers, and mentors his way. He finished the OANSA program, hiding texts from God’s Word in his heart, and now he’s one of the OANSA leaders. He worked alongside the men at the Zapote church in every project they pursued. The year after his daddy died, a team from NVBC, my sending church in Phoenix, planned a project to place a cement OANSA game court in Secundino’s village. What a project!
Kenny, the concrete foreman from Phoenix, took Secundino under his wing, and they worked together dumping heavy wheelbarrow loads of cement, filling in the forms until the job was complete. Secundino learned to play the violin and formed a singing group they call, “The Gospel Four.” They provided some of the music at the Huichol youth camp in April. This past month, the group traveled to Tepic one weekend to lead us at IBBM in singing praises, Huichol-style. That harmonious, joyful noise was music to our Father’s ears and ours. Who knew that a little Huichol kid named Secundino would be rescued so spectacularly from the enemy’s devious clutches as he is vying for control of the kingdom? His Father knew, for sure.
Secundino learned to obey Moses’ God-given exhortation to Fear not, Stand firm, and he has Seen with eyes of faith, the Lord’s rescuing salvation.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

April - May 2023 Benaiah…went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow… II Samuel 23:20 

 What? Benaiah, the valiant son of Jehoiada and doer of great deeds, killed a lion down in a pit on a snowy day!? That sounds ridiculously impossible, first, that it even happened, and more importantly, that this historical narration is included in the verbal plenary God-breathed Word. It must be tremendously important. 

It is tremendously important to recognize that the seemingly impossible tasks God has designed for us don’t always make sense and may not seem possible, and His timing for their outcome is positively His own. These days have been filled with “chasing lions into pits on snowy days,” and standing back in awe to exclaim with Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! …Nothing is too hard for you.” 
The tenth annual Huichol youth camp is history along with the nine previous camps. We expected about 200 people this year, and what a surprise when on Day 1 the total came to 290. Coming up with last-minute additional food, camp logo t-shirts, blankets, supplies, etc., is tantamount to chasing a lion into a pit on a snowy day! Pastor Martín and Erén did an excellent job of caring, ministering, and administrating, and lots of helpers joined in to help. Jeremiah is right: “Ah, Lord God…Nothing is too hard for you!” 

This year’s theme, Who Am I? is perfect for the needy hearts of young people, world over, and especially in the Huichol villages of the Sierra Madre. At least 27 kids recognized their need for the Savior Who has known, chosen, desired, loved, accepted, redeemed, sanctified, created, forgiven, adopted, preserved, heard, and called them. After camp was over and the kids returned to their villages, the new believers chose to proclaim their identity with their Savior and be baptized on that Easter weekend. In honor of the tenth anniversary of Huichol camps, Jonatán García produced a video showing clips from each camp and God’s amazing outreach during the past decade. 
Last Saturday was the IBBM-Tepic OANSA Awards Ceremony Day. You can see Jonatán’s OANSA video here. Next Saturday is the OANSA fair where the budding young Approved Workers will be spending the OANSApesos they have been accumulating all year and enjoying the fruits of their labor. My favorite award is one we invented, not officially OANSA-endorsed, but the most meaningful of all. We call it the annual NOBEL prize. It goes to one single person who stands out for faithfully and consistently loving Jesus and conforming to His image, working hard to hide His word in their hearts, putting the learning into practice, joyfully following directions, loving his or her classmates, and a long list of other qualities. This year, Yancy received the unanimous vote of the OANSA leaders. Her life has been far from easy. She has seen, lived, and suffered more than any little girl ever should. Yancy rides the OANSAmobile that crosses town for her and a bus full of other children. Despite her extreme timidity, she stands in line every week to share with the whole congregation of children the verses she has learned with great effort. I’ve never seen a child more deserving or more surprised to hear her name called for the highly-valued Nobel Prize. She smiled through tears as she made her way to the front of the auditorium for her award. 

I was sitting near her little sister, Daniela, who also started crying when Yancy received her award. I thought Daniela might have been disappointed because she wasn’t chosen for the Nobel. No, Daniela’s voice quivered through her tears to say how happy she was for Yancy! I could only imagine how ecstatic Yancy will be when she finds herself before her Savior when her name is called from the Book of Life; and how grateful we leaders, the “Danielas,” will be that she will be there with us and the rest of the great cloud of witnesses who generously participated in making it possible for Yancy to hear the Gospel message in OANSA-Tepic. 

These are just a few of many reasons God calls us, along with Benaiah, whose name aptly means, “Built by God,” to chase lions into pits on snowy days. Benaiah was trusted with some humanly impossible tasks as well as the supernatural power to do them. It wasn’t easy, and the environment was not supportive, but ultimately, he was honored with a valued place in the service of the king.


Saturday, April 01, 2023

February - March 2023 Christ… died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for themselves, but for him who died for them, and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

February - March 2023

Christ… died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for themselves, but for him who died for them, and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:15 According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey “there is an epidemic of loneliness today”; around 60% of people in this country regularly feel lonely. How is it possible that in this world, more connected than ever, with opportunities to share “selfies” of me, by me, and about me with the world at large in a mere instant, hearts are starved for real love? The apostle Paul reminds us that “It’s not about me!” The cure for loneliness is not to live for myself. Ron Hutchcraft says to reverse the camera lens and start taking “youies”! A meaningful life is derived from being there for someone else and living for Him who died and rose again. It's refreshing to see brothers and sisters in the Tepic church who have caught hold of this remedy and are learning to put it into practice with those whom God places in their paths, especially some of the IBBM-Tepic young people who have spent years in training for such a time as this. A well-tuned team of student-leaders is willingly giving up their Spring break to serve God and their Huichol “neighbors” with their whole hearts at the 10th annual Huichol youth camp. This camp would be impossible without their creativity and hard work, and their choice to live for Him who died for them and rose again. Camp starts on Sunday afternoon, April 2, but the labor of love in hauling and setting up camp at a very rustic converted brick “factory,” has already begun. Everything must be transported from Tepic: the canopy (auditorium), tables, chairs, kitchen supplies, refrigerator, stoves and gas tanks, blankets for the campers, tents, musical instruments and audio/video equipment, stage and scenery, everything. Then when it’s over, everything must be dismantled, returned, cleaned, and stored for next year. It’s nothing short of a miracle to watch the student leaders joyfully in action, focusing on “youies,” and offering their hearts of love and service for their Huichol brothers and sisters. Just this past month four of these IBBM-Tepic students stand out for their excellent “youies.”

David is Pastor Martín and Erén’s son. He has grown up, following Jesus’ example looking for every possible opportunity to prepare himself to serve. He graduated from the School of Music; he’s an excellent conductor, violinist, and pianist at church. He was chosen to go on a mission trip to Canada, so he learned French, and now he teaches French in a private junior high school. Then he enrolled in an intense school of English from which he graduated with honors. He has used that skill to interpret for visitors to IBBM from the States and as a liaison with a youth group that is coming to help with the Huichol camp. That’s not enough; he’s studying Chinese and just passed the first level. He graduated this year from the University of Nayarit with a degree in biochemistry. He is a leader in OANSA, the game director, and just recently coordinated a six-week teaching series for which he made a soldier piñata to dress in the “whole armor of God.” This coming week David is Huichol youth camp game director and pianist for the worship team, and for the first time, he'll be part of the panel of Bible teachers. No “selfies” for this guy! 

is Pastor Nacho and Lorena’s son. He, too, has grown up, following Jesus’ example of service. He’s in his last year of Economics after passing a very selective entrance exam at the University of Nayarit. His nickname at church is the “erudito” (scholar). In addition, Josué (Joshua) is a very effective OANSA group leader, teacher, and club secretary/ coordinator. He also graduated from the School of Music, and he’s the IBBM worship team leader. He plays violin, bass, guitar, and the cajon. Josué did an excellent job preaching his well-prepared first sermon this past month on the attributes of God. This guy has no time to be lonely; he’s into “youies.” 

Nearly 20 years ago, Armando began bringing his little daughters to the Tepic church OANSA club. María (4) and Lynethe (5) cried every single Saturday when their dad dropped them off at “Cubbies.” Finally, they realized how much they really loved hearing stories from the Bible and hiding God’s Word in their hearts. They learned how much their leaders loved them, and best of all, that Jesus loved them and gave His life for them. Years have passed; the girls have learned not to live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. María and Lynethe are nurses. Both sisters are dependable OANSA leaders, willing servants, excellent Sunday school teachers, and worship team participants. María plays flute, and Lynethe manages the church A/V equipment. They’ll be working next week at camp, too. Their love for Jesus spilled over to their parents, and they also believed and have become faithful disciples. 

David, Josué, María, and Lynethe have discovered by experience that joy comes from not living for themselves anymore but for Him who died for them and rose again. Their fulfilling life mission is simple: No “selfies.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

December 2022 - January 2023 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1
To be loved, known, and chosen by Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, is the greatest need of every single person created in His image. Missing the mark of His perfect design provokes an agonizing and eternal identity crisis that can be resolved only by accepting Jesus' unmerited gift and the transformation that His sacrificial, redemptive payment makes possible. The transformed relationship with a loving Father provides a brand new, forgiven, pure, and blameless identity and a worthwhile purpose for living. The past two months in Tepic and surrounding Huichol villages have been filled with examples of that purpose in action and multiple miraculously-resolved identity crises.
Christmastime here is always an opportunity to make the most of sharing the unimaginable provision that the Creator of the universe humbled Himself to provide for a lost humanity whose identity is in shambles. As usual, the Christmas Celebration at IBBM was a platform for presenting the Gospel to a church full of those whom He came to seek and save. In addition, kids from all over town attended the OANSA Christmas party. The young OANSA leaders, who have been chosen, forgiven, gifted, and called, made the piñatas for the party, one for each group, as a tangible and sacrificial display of love. Not one person left these celebrations without hearing that the Omnipotent became a baby, wrapped in rags in a stable, born to die, to offer us the gift of salvation…because He is not willing that any should perish. God’s children are known, wanted, loved, accepted, and adopted. What an identity! 

And speaking of identity, Oscar is yet another young person who has wisely chosen to publicly identify with our Savior. He shared an amazing testimony of his experience of being accepted, redeemed, and set apart to serve Him, not because Oscar earned it; he certainly did not, but according to the riches of God’s limitless grace. 

Preparations are underway for the upcoming Huichol youth camp, our 10th anniversary of these camps! The current worldwide identity crisis has infected not only the most privileged person in town, but also, as implausible as it seems, the Huichol from the remotest village in the Sierra Madre who insists on looking for counterfeit worth in what other people say, in physical appearance, or in personal possessions. Pastor Martín’s wife, Erén, and I prepared the teaching materials and handbooks, and the Huichol teachers and leaders met with us this past week to go over each lesson and to finalize the logistics. We will teach that the answer to the key question: “Who am I?” has nothing to do with what you do, what you own, or who you’re with. Our Creator reveals that a child of God is known, chosen, desired, loved, accepted, redeemed, sanctified, created, forgiven, preserved, called, heard, adopted, and gifted for a purpose. Our true identity is found in Him, who offers to be our loving Father, and from whose unconditional love nothing at all can separate His children. 

Pastor José López and Juanita buried her daughter, Petra, on Monday, the day before we arrived in the village of La Bendición for our camp orientation and teaching sessions last week. We were all very sad. Petra’s life was hard. Her husband violently victimized her, constantly. They have seven children; the youngest is four years old. Petra came from her village of San Andrés Cohamiata seeking medical help in Tepic, and she was diagnosed with cancer. During her months of agonizing treatments, José shared the Gospel with Petra, and she believed. She lost the battle with cancer, but she gained an eternal identity, a redeemed child of God. Her husband had left her all alone to fend for herself, but the church family at La Bendición cared selflessly for her during her long illness. Fire-eyed and furious, along with the hobbling witch doctor from San Andrés, her husband showed up threatening and cursing Pastor Refugio at the village cemetery just as the casket the church family obtained for her was being lowered into the burial plot they purchased and excavated. The law requires burial within 24 hours. The local judge intervened and made him leave; he said the cemetery hours were now over. Praise God for Petra’s new identity and the amazing reminder that nothing at all can separate us from God’s unconditional love. 

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1

Thursday, December 01, 2022

October-November 2022. The LORD is God; there is no other. 1 Kings 8:57-60

The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways … that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. 1 Kings 8:57-60 When all the work for the temple was finished, the Ark of the Covenant had been positioned in the Holy of Holies, and the glory of the Lord had filled the temple, Solomon led the people to worship Him. He began with giving thanks and praising God for His provision of time, talents, and resources. He continued recognizing that God had provided in the past, and he asked for direction for the future. His request was not self-focused but instead, that God’s name would be proclaimed to all the world. Much more important than Solomon’s earthly temple, Jesus is building His Church, and nothing can stop it. The past two months in Tepic and surrounding villages have been filled with examples of that marvel in action.
In the first week of October, more than 30 leaders and workers from the Huichol church at La Bendición left at daybreak to head for Guásima del Caimán for a 4-day discipleship conference. They traveled in the back of a pick-up and in two rented rural transport vans as far into the mountains as a vehicle can, then they got down and started hiking the remaining hours to the village. That’s so easy to say, but the doing is quite another story. No one asked them to go, no one bankrolled their transportation expenses, and no one covered the days of missed work this mission trip required. They love their Savior, they love their ex-persecutors who had previously banished them from their natal village, and they understand and obey the biblical mandate to make disciples. Three weeks later, some of them returned to Caimán with a truckload of materials to get started laying the foundation and building the walls for a building in which to meet. The Lord is God, and He will build His Church! 

Also, in the first week of October, IBBM-Tepic celebrated our 31st anniversary. God has faithfully provided in the past, and we can be sure that He will provide for the building of His Church in the future. Pastor Phil from NVBC-Phoenix and ITMI’s Steve Evers shared the importance of Trusting God for the Impossible so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God

Meche, Toña, Carlos, and Karen chose to incline their hearts and walk in all His ways being baptized on anniversary Sunday. 

Unbelievable! The Huichol church at Vizcarra, that I shared about in the July 2022 update, is not satisfied with being only on the receiving end of blessings.  Five of them took a “break” from their own building project to travel from their village to Tepic, machetes in hand to serve, helping clear the very overgrown land behind and alongside the church. The rainy season had turned it into a formidable jungle. Those machetes whirled like fan blades, and within a few hours, the job was done! 

It's amazing to see the domino effect of sharing with brothers and sisters. They have been recipients of much-unexpected help, and they couldn’t wait to find something to share with the family. Another brother, Romualdo, from the sister church at La Bendición, offered to lay the bricks that were also unexpectedly donated for their new building, and he did an amazing job finishing in record time.
Martín got an unexpected call from a Mexican pastor friend in Durango (Mexico) who is friends with a bunch of very hard-working German brothers, also from Durango, who, as they said, “because He first loved us,” were chomping at the bit, to get involved serving in a work project.
Twenty-two Mexican and German brothers and sisters arrived ready, not only to lay the cement floor, weld the trusses, and install the roofing on the new church building in Vizcarra, but also to donate their time and skill to replace the roof on the Tepic church! 


That work team wasn’t satisfied with only one project. Materials for the Tepic project were also donated, unexpectedly. The dedication of the new Huichol church building in the village of Vizcarra took place last Sunday.

The logistics of carrying out projects in Caimán, La Bendición, Tepic, Vizcarra, and beyond are daunting. While we’re at it, may we never lose sight of the truth that, although it’s exhausting, “It is easier to build temples than to be temples to God.” —Matthew Henry 

Along with Solomon, we give thanks that God has provided in the past, and He promises provision and direction for the future. We will proclaim His name to all the world that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other

See photo albums of more Tepic activities than we could ever have imagined here and here.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

August-September 2022 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken… Psalm 37:25

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken… Psalm 37:25

This past month, Elizabeth II and I celebrated our Platinum Jubilees! Her Majesty began her record-setting 70-year reign just months before I was born. I’m grateful to God for the life He has given me and for the army of people who have surrounded and loved me during these three-score decades and ten that have seemed “but a vapor,” and I have not seen the righteous forsaken. 

It’s sobering and appropriate to realize that I most certainly will not experience another Platinum Jubilee. This world is magnificently inviting, but it is not the end. It’s merely a temporary assignment, not home; it’s a nice place to pass through, but it’s not the destination. In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, Eugene Peterson asserts that I’m not a tourist, I’m a pilgrim on my way to a better place. He wrote this book at the début of the age of universal cell phones, pocket computers, wireless internet, fast food, Netflix, and social media with instant access to entertainment, information, and addiction to hurrying. Peterson insists, “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”  

José López is a vivid example of implementing a long, unhurried, obedience in the same direction. He came to faith late in his second decade, after too many wasted years of wandering and wallowing in sin. But once the Savior rescued him, to this day, he has never wavered as a steadfast, dedicated disciple, an available apprentice of Jesus. 

Pastor José is not stunning or personally attention-grabbing; his commitment is not logical, his efforts are seemingly thankless and not trendy, nor will they be included in the latest Barna stats. As he plods along as an ordinary but loyal disciple in his long obedience in the same direction, his focus is not on his work and effort, but on that of his Master. 

José was won to Christ and trained in the faith by the very first Huichol Christian, Román Díaz, whose place he occupied as the main Huichol pastor/leader after Román graduated to heaven. José learned to read from the only Huichol book in print, the New Testament. Then he worked hand in hand with Kirt, until Kirt’s graduation, sharing the Gospel throughout the mountains, establishing churches, and suffering for his faith more than anybody I know. His very first evangelistic effort, after he learned to read and was discipled, was to return to Guásima del Caimán, his natal village, and to his family that he had abandoned years before when he took off to seek his “fortune” in the big city. He was met with solid rejection of himself and more importantly, of the Savior he now represented. How disappointed he was when everybody who heard his message mocked him, rejected his pleas, and insisted that he leave the village never to return. Twenty-five years later, he was unexpectedly invited back to his village, and thirty-six Huichol people believed. Those new believers experienced horrendous persecution from the other villagers, and ultimately, they were forced to relocate. They named their new village La Bendición (The Blessing) and began their own long obedience in the same direction following José’s resolute example.

There are way too many details to share here, but before long that infant church, now pastored by Refugio, reached out with their exemplary leader, José, to establish sister churches in new villages like Vizcarra, Tutuyekuamama, and Pueblo Nuevo. (You can search for and read about these village churches in previous blog posts here.) 

Not only was José purposefully unstoppable in sharing the Gospel throughout the Sierra Madre, but also, he was front and center in getting the ball rolling for the translation of the complete Huichol Bible. Dr. Grimes, a consulting linguist, commented that in the context of the translation workshops, José was somewhat on the margin, not being great on technology, though not afraid of it either. He would take a seat on the side choosing to use the oldest computer in the project. His knowledge of the Bible and humankind was and is impressive, especially in the translation of difficult passages, making him a vital contributing member of the team.

José has hiked innumerable miles, flown countless more in UIM-A planes, ridden in the back of rattle-trap pickups, spent days and nights on the trail, been imprisoned for his faith, whatever it has taken to share the Gospel, baptize, and disciple many Huichols, who because of His Savior and his long obedience in the same direction, have believed. José has not seen the righteous forsaken. See photo albums of José’s long obedience and other August-September Tepic activities here.